As the world becomes more digital, simply knowing how to read, write and do basic math is not enough. Students who do not regularly use computers and other digital equipment are at a serious disadvantage, especially compared to their digitally intelligent peers. Teachers and parents must move beyond traditional skills and standards and start focusing on the skills students need for the digital age.
Conduct a Basic Search
Students rarely use encyclopedias and books to conduct research when most of the information they need can be found online. They must be taught how to find the information they need quickly and efficiently, telling the difference between reliable and unreliable information and weeding out irrelevant information.
Use a Word Processing Program
Knowing how to use a word processing program, such as Microsoft Word, is essential when it comes to writing papers, developing reports and creating other documents. Students must know how to use the program to add images, links and other text features. They must also know to utilize the spelling and grammar check, but also learn the limitations of the spellcheck feature.
Create Online Publications
Often, writing no longer takes the form of a traditional Word file. Students must become proficient in other ways to publish their writing. This involves learning how to create and update blogs, websites, podcasts and other digital forms of publication.
Create a Digital Presentation
Gone are the days of parents running to the store to pick up poster board the night before a project is due. In this digital age, projects and presentations are created digitally. Creating a basic PowerPoint presentation is only the beginning. Students must be exposed to other presentation methods, such as videos, audio files and web 2.0 resources such as Prezi, Glogster and Animoto in order to create high-quality, memorable presentations.
Take and Edit Pictures and Videos
With digital cameras, everyone has the opportunity to take professional-looking pictures and create professional-quality videos. In order to document experiences, share information and enhance presentations, students must know how to use a digital camera and video camera, then edit and refine that material.
One benefit of the digital age is that people do not have to meet in the same location in order to work together. Students must learn how to use social networking websites, video conferencing, e-mail and web 2.0 collaboration resources in order to be prepared to collaborate virtually when they get a job. This includes understanding the basic rules of etiquette that go along with collaborating virtually.
Be Safe Online
As students are exposed to new technology, they are also exposed to new risks. Knowing what risks exist online and how to avoid them is necessary to keep students safe. This goes beyond teaching students about Internet predators and only sharing appropriate information and pictures. Students must also know about viruses, scams and risks that could affect their information or finances. Parents should bookmark quality educational sites such as BrainPop, Math Game Time, Word Game Time and FunBrain.
The more students use these digital skills when they are young, the better prepared they will be when leave school and enter the workforce. As students build their digital skills, they will be able to navigate newer programs and digital resources and be able to adapt easily to a society that is becoming increasingly more digital.