Is there a lack of knowledge of basic computer skills for students? Teaching these basic skills is vital to allow them to understand the technology and use it safely and effectively.
Technology and students
Our world is dominated by technology. The digital world we now live in offers some huge benefits to all of us, however, without the correct understanding of the tech we use, the digital world can get very confusing and in some cases have a detrimental effect on our futures.
Children and students need to have an understanding of the technology that they use on a daily basis so that they can use it effectively and safely. Sadly, in some cases, the misconception of understanding how to use technology is about how well you can take a selfie or how well you can abbreviate a sentence in a text message… that makes sense at all.
Many students have had to do online lessons, distance learning and now submit homework online, it appears to be a pre-given that they already know everything they need to know about computers and how to use them effectively. Personally, I think this is far from the truth.
Computing in education
With the rise in usage of platforms such as Microsoft Teams and Google classroom, it astonishes me that students have had to very quickly learn a system with little to no training, yet teachers who have had the training, still know very little about how these platforms work. Moreover, how they can effectively enhance the whole learning experience.
Computer programming is a part of the UK curriculum in a lesson now called “computer science” or “computing” if your child is of primary age. I’m all for this, the world needs programmers, everything is coded, apps, software, websites, even a vending machine uses programmable code.
My concern with this is that not everyone needs or wants to learn programming code. Hypothetically speaking, if one of my children wanted to be a Surgeon, Nurse, or GP will the knowledge of Python Programming Language come in useful? I doubt it. The point I’m making is that certain elements of “computer science” should be an individual choice within education. Although the process of computer programming does enhance a students logic and problem-solving abilities, I personally think there are other ways to do this.
Basic computer skills for students
Teaching our children about technology and what not to do with technology is all well and good, but if students don’t understand how to use that technology then that can potentially have consequences.
Over the years, I notice, generally, there appears to be a lack of understanding of basic computer skills. Basic typing skills, using the internet search engines effectively, using office applications and simple tasks like naming a document something relevant, rather than ‘Document265.docx’. I’m not sure why either. Why is this not part of the curriculum?
With that said, some basic computer skills that students should master are :
Typing is very rarely discussed when talking about computer skills. It really should be, learning to type is a valuable skill every child should learn. Not only will this help with things like homework, it can help improve their English language skills too, but will also help later in life. A lot of courses and employment require quick and efficient typing skills. By just doubling your typing speed from 30 to 60 words per minute you can effectively and efficiently half how long it would take you to do a written task.
Using Microsoft Office
Microsoft Office is huge, it is the worlds most widely used set of applications for presenting the information. It is used for presenting, handling, managing and organising documents and data. Most students will know their way around some of the office applications used within their academic setting, notably, Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel and Microsoft Outlook.
Over 90% of companies worldwide use Microsoft Office and with most companies expecting a high competency level with Microsoft Office it’s an application suite students should get to know and use efficiently.
Documents, Spreadsheets and Emails are all used in part of our daily lives and in-depth knowledge of the Microsoft Office suite can give students an advantage over peers as it will allow them to produce better document presentations and data presentations.
Files and Folder Maintenance
One of my biggest pet hates is to see a folder full of documents and presentations labelled ‘document1.docx’, ‘presentation21.pptx’ and so on.
Knowing how to create and save work on a computer is essential. A clear file and folder structure will help students to be organised with their school work, it will increase efficiency and long term performance.
Organise folders with a simple, clear naming structure. Maths, English, Science, Geography, History etc. Within these ‘top-level’ folders create additional folders for subtopics. Create and save documents with clear document names, such as “03-02-21_WW2_History_Homework”.
Many students already know how to communicate over the internet, but this is generally shortened ‘text talk’, very few will have had the need to email anyone. However, with the use of Teams and Classroom, Emailing or messaging a teacher or lecturer professionally can be a little daunting.
Emailing is much more formal than a simple text message and as such Abbreviations, slang and emojis shouldn’t be used. ‘IDK’ and ‘Dunno’ are not words to use when emailing the teacher. Correct Grammer should be used and utilise the spell checker function.
Using Search Engines
I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve been asked what something means, or when some historical event happened. Most kids have their phones in their hands permanently and underutilise their functionality.
Most homework and projects will require research, students need to learn how to effectively use search engines to their advantage and to be able to correlate their findings with their search terms.
What’s your thoughts?
Technology evolves at such a fast pace and we should be able to keep up with it. Having a basic understanding and some basic computer literacy skills will give children a good foundation to keep up with modern technology, putting them in good stead for the future.
What are your thoughts? Do your kids have basic computer skills or have you noticed a distinct lack of education in the skills? Let me know in the comments below.