The title says high school, but the more I think about it, maybe I should say, 5 technology skills every student needs before they enter middle school. As wrote yesterday, the earlier students learn these skills, the more they can actually use them. These are the skills that allows students great freedom in expressing themselves in the 21st Century. Not only that, these are the skills that are increasingly valuable in the workforce.
photo © 2008 Susan Hersh | more info (via: Wylio)Looking at the list, one might be tempted to say that students already know how to do all of this. That is only true to a certain extent. Having worked with over a thousand students this year, I can tell you that the percentage of students who are proficient at these skills is quite low.
Yes, many students know how to post a video to Youtube, but they have no idea how to actually put a video together using rendering software. Many read blogs, but few have ever written their own. The same goes for pictures. Students are always posting pictures on Facebook, but many don’t know how to transform a picture by add some flare with photo editing tool.
Here are the 5 skills that every student (and let’s include teachers) needs to have:
There are so many ways to work with pictures. One of the easiest is to use the Picture Manager that comes standard on many computers. Online apps such as Picnik are great and are super easy to learn to use. For those that want to get a little more technical, free downloadable programs like Gimp are great. Learning to manipulate a picture is a valuable skill, whether it be something simple like cropping or something more advanced like merging two pictures.
Write a Blog
I don’t think that every person alive should have a blog. That is not the point of learning how to write a blog (though I find it a fun activity :) . Learning to write a blog teaches many other valuable skills that translate to other online activities. Learning to navigate a blog dashboard, creating original content for an audience, and learning to receive and manage content are important skills to have. Blogging is also free. Check out Blogger or WordPress for easy to use blogging platforms.
Record Audio Tracks
Unless they have done it before, most people don’t realize how easy it is to record and audio track, and the possibilities of this technology are endless. Buy a cheap microphone for under 10 bucks, download Audacity, and start recording. This is one of those technologies that opens up a whole world of project ideas for students. Recording is also a valuable skill for the future workforce as more and more of what we do goes digital.
Create a Website
I don’t need to do much explaining as to why this is a valuable asset for students. Every business that wants to make money has a website. Every business, even if they don’t make money, has a website. More and more, just about everyone just has a website. At one time this was somewhat of an expensive proposition and took quite a bit of technical computer training, but that is not the case anymore. Using free apps like Lifeyo or Weebly, students can have a website up and running as fast as they can type and design. Being able to say that you know how to make a website is a definite plus on a resume.
Make a Video
I always seem to find myself talking and writing about making videos with students. It is such an important skill, and it shows that a person knows how to think. We are already seeing the rapid rise in the importance of video in our culture, and it is not going to slow anywhere in the near future. This may be the most important skill for students to learn. I have put making a video last on the list because the other skills on the list lead up to this skill. For beginners, making a video slide show using Animoto is a great way to start. Then try and put together a video using Movie Maker or Jaycut.
Now Go and Do It!
Find a way to start sharing these skills with your students. The first step may be learning them yourself. Once that is done, plan projects that allow students to use and express themselves through these technologies. I guarantee that it will be fun for both the students and yourself, but that is not the main reason for learning with them. A teacher’s job is to prepare students for the future, and these skills will ensure students are ready to be competitive in the 21st Century.