When confronted with the question: What tech skills do you want your kids to know by the end of primary school? I was forced to reflect on my IT education and where and when I obtained it. It seemed that most of my own IT education was self taught. Playing computer games, exploring the internet with basic search engines like Alta Vista. Today, employers and society expect 10 essential tech skills in order to cope with this dynamic experience we call life!
- Typing – The force that enables all that we do on computers. Say goodbye to two-finger typing, enter touch typing.
- Word/Excel/Powerpoint – Children need something to do other than surfing the internet. Knowing and understanding these 3 programs prepares students to perform other functions on the computer. From word processing to spreadsheets with basic formulas to presentations for the class, using these programs are an essential skill.
- Email – A powerful form of communication. Students should know how to write emails with the correct intended tone as well as functionality like ‘reply all’ and ‘BCC’. Additionally, email management is never too early to learn (I only wish my expert email management transferred into my real life).
- Internet Search – Ever tried to find your needle in a handful of needles? The ability to trawl through search engines, know which sites to trust and how to research effectively is absolutely essential for students to learn.
- Social Media – Remember the ‘Truman Show’? Now it’s real life! Students need to be aware that their digital footprint can be accessed by the world. They must be taught to manage their online profiles properly as well as managing cyber bullying whether they’re victims, bullies or bystanders. Facebook and Twitter have opened the world to new dimensions but interacting in this world has to be monitored.
- Texting/Mobile Technology – Using mobile devices in schools is becoming ever increasing and knowing how to text with intended tone and meaning is important.
Computer Hardware (data knowledge) - Why don’t teachers teach data as part of maths? Understanding relative terms like 1000MG=1GB is becoming increasingly important. Also, recognising ‘that stick thingie’ as a USB and other parts of the computer is essential to any child’s technical knowledge base.
- Cross OS understanding – Apple and PC’s are chalk and cheese – rhyme aside, it’s imperative to know how to use both operating systems. Especially with iPads entering schools and many schools using PC’s/Android OS, it’s highly valuable to understand both systems.
- Protecting against viruses - Students should be familiar with virus protection, what a virus is, what it does and how it does it.
- Knowing when enough is enough – Our world is becoming increasingly digital and online and one of the most important skills is to realise when it’s time to take a break. Students need to be taught how to recognise the symptoms of being on the computer/device for too long.
As long as your student can master the 10 skills above, they will not only be ready for the next step in their education but for numerous opportunities in the world in front of them.