4 Reasons Young People Still Need Formal Tech Education
November 16, 2021
With the growing accessibility of online training and learning resources, the need for a formal tech education may seem unnecessary. After all, today’s young people are exposed to smart televisions, tablets, and the internet in general from a young age. This level of connectivity is nothing new – it’s something they were born into and grew up with.
However, while they are undoubtedly more comfortable with technology as a concept from younger ages, this familiarity cannot necessarily replace a structured approach to teaching.
Indeed, it remains the responsibility of educators to ensure that young people not only have access to technology but are informed of its wide-reaching uses beyond entertainment and communication.
1. Many Jobs of the Future Don’t Yet Exist
Some suggest that 85% of regular jobs in 2030 do not yet exist. Of course, that might be an overestimation, but the coming years could mark the most significant shift in attitudes to work since the industrial revolution.
Just because young people have access to technology, that doesn’t mean they’ll stay on top of the job market, especially the rapid shifts. So while educators cannot predict what all of these new jobs will be, it’s imperative to ensure that young people are prepared for whatever comes next.
The workplace is already seeing the benefits of artificial intelligence and machine learning. Everything from work order management to computer-aided design involves significant tech influence. But, crucially, those rapid developments won’t be positioned front and center for young people that spend most of their time online on games and social media.
What is education if not to prepare someone for a career, even if it doesn’t yet exist? Formal technology training can ensure that these new opportunities don’t pass young people by.
2. There’s a Risk of Complacency Replacing Education
Some teachers of an older persuasion rightly assume that many young people broadly understand technology better than they do. However, a knowledgeable audience is a reason for further discussion and a structured approach, not a lack of additional effort.
In the pre-internet days, there were young people in education with a better grasp of algebra than their math teachers. Some students could write more compelling prose than their English teachers. This was never previously a reason to avoid honing and directing their skills towards a career, and it shouldn’t creep into modern technology learning.
3. There’s a Need for Skills to Complement Unprecedented Information Access
Even for young people that do not know a world before the internet, education remains the best approach to encouraging them to harness this information.
Research papers, scholarly articles, and general information are more accessible today than ever before. No longer are students reliant on a solitary textbook as a resource. Instead, technology education can provide vital life skills in conjunction with this unprecedented information resource.
Many students query the need to learn and retain information. With Wikipedia and other resources just a couple of clicks away, it’s reminiscent of a time when math tutors would boldly proclaim that students “wouldn’t always have a calculator in their pockets”.
Whether educators view that as a concern or not, it’s an opportunity for critical thinking, data analysis, referencing, and seeking out multiple sources. In effect, technology education provides a platform for developing life skills that technology itself may undermine.
4. There Remains a Need for Online Etiquette and Cybersecurity Training
No matter how long people spend online, they rarely go out of their way to learn the rules or understand the best way to conduct themselves. For all its benefits, technology has also driven an increase in cyberbullying, the discussion of unethical ideas, and fewer boundaries between different groups.
The nature of technology means there’s a divergence between the online world and reality. Once again, however, it represents an opportunity to reinforce humanistic values that are so often in short supply online. In addition, it’s a chance to demonstrate to students that, no matter whether they’re online or off, actions have consequences.
Meanwhile, cybersecurity threats affect education, along with the wider world, and they’re on the rise. Dealing with personal information, financial details, and online assets is not only critical for personal development but a core component of preparation for the world of work.
The days of one computer to a classroom are gone, and technology will remain a crucial component of everyday life. As a result, there’s an opportunity for educators to combine dedicated IT training with other skills that were previously considered as being separate from core tech training.
There may come a time in the near future where there’s no longer a need for dedicated IT training. Most students will already grasp the basics. However, the use of technology beyond the basics of communication, entertainment, and research will continue to play a role no matter the subject. It is to be embraced, although, in some cases, that may require teaching methods to be brought significantly up to date.
While dedicated tech training may change, it is still needed today and likely always will be.
Featured image: Jason Goodman, Unsplash.