20th Century Skills and 21st Century Tools

An article by Dan Gordon on http://thejournal.com argues that schools continue to deliver new graduates into the workplace lacking the tech-based "soft skills" that businesses demand.

It more of an indictment of K-12's failure to integrate technology, but I'm not so sure that many colleges are doing a better job.

The author references a 2007 report called "Maximizing the Impact: The Pivotal Role of Technology in a 21st Century Education System" which came from a task force of leading employers, ed tech advocates, and educators.

It was their conclusion that schools were barely using technology, so it was not a surprise that they also felt that schools were not developing technology skills for the workplace.

Of course, the question that is often asked in this discussion is whether or not it is the role of K-12 (mostly 9-12) classes to prepare students for the workplace.

Those workplace skills are often called "21st century skills" that we often hear employers demand. And yet, when you see lists of those skill sets, they don't really cry out "technology."

Beyond the core academic subjects, those skills include the ability to communicate, collaborate, analyze, create, innovate, and solve problems. Those are skills that have been valued for decades and well before the current race to technology.

The current news item seems to be that in the four years since that report, no one is reporting any significant change or improvement.

For all the reports on millennial students who are "tech-savvy" (a very dangerous term to use) and are experts at instant messaging, texting, mobile devices and social media, employers are not finding any transferable tech skills. 

The secret sauce will be to combine those 20th century skills like problem solving and collaboration with the 21st century digital tools.


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