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Students’ Top Ten Technological Blind Spots
posted by: Melissa | March 04, 2020, 06:30 PM   

In this day and age, technology is ubiquitous. We carry computers with us everywhere and children often learn how to manipulate a tablet before they can read. In such a world, it’s easy to assume that our students are technologically literate. In fact, it’s often a trope that if someone has a question about their technology, they should ask the nearest ten year old. 

Unfortunately, this belief is misplaced. Just because our students grow up using some technology, it doesn’t mean that they are technologically literate. Our students may be adept at navigating their favorite game system or text messaging, but there are many blind spots in their education. Here are ten blind spots our students have when it comes to technology.

  1. Using keyboards, mice, and other computer peripherals. Until students reach school, their use of computers is almost entirely constrained to phones and tablets. They may be adept at tablet shortcuts and maneuvers, but may not know how to type efficiently or what it means to ‘left click’ with a mouse. 
  2. Understand common terminology. Just because students use technology all the time, it doesn’t mean they know what things are called. My own students would often look at me in confusion when I asked them to open a web browser. Other terms that may confuse students include ‘click,’ ‘drop and drag,’ ‘text editor,’ and even ‘program.’ 
  3. Discern between trustworthy and untrustworthy sources. Young people are all too trusting when it comes to the information they’re presented with. If they hear a fact from a website they’re reading, a social media friend, or their favorite YouTuber, they’re likely to believe it. Students often don’t have the tools to distinguish highly trustworthy material from less trustworthy material without being taught how to do so.
  4. Use a word processing program. When students write on modern technology, they are often texting or in a chat. Without being taught in school, they will never learn how to use a word processor or format a document.
  5. Writing email. Similarly, even though sending email is an integral part of life as an adult, it is not something a student will do without instruction. Just like we were taught the conventions of writing business letters when we were young, our students need to be taught how to write business emails.
  6. Manage files. Finding, copying, deleting, and transferring files may seem simple to us, but it’s one of the more technical aspects of computing our students will come across. If they’re used to tablets, they’ve likely never worked with files at all. Even if they do know how to find files on a computer, they likely will need instruction on how to attach them to emails or transfer them from one computer to another.
  7. Transfer skills between programs. Transferring skills and knowledge from one context to another is an essential component of critical thinking and is often lacking in our students no matter the subject. We shouldn’t assume, then, that just because our students can edit a Google Doc, they’ll be able to edit a document in Microsoft Word or vice versa. Students need to practice technological skills in a wide variety of contexts and programs.
  8. Troubleshoot issues. Anyone who’s worked with students and computers know that as soon as they run into an issue a hand flies up and they’re asking for help. Many times, it’s a problem the student could have solved on their own, if they’d only thought for a little. Just like we teach students how to think through word problems in math, we should teach them to think through the problems they encounter when using technology.
  9. Maintain PC hardware and software. This is perhaps, the most often overlooked bit of knowledge when it comes to computers. We may teach students how to type and how to write a program, but we often forget teaching them how to schedule a virus scan, clean up old files or what to do when encountering malware.
  10. Practice good online citizenship. If our students only know one thing about technology, they should know this. We know that bullying is a major issue in our schools and that most of it is occurring online and out of our sight. We can’t begin to handle this issue without teaching our students how to interact with each other online and what to do when they see someone being mistreated online.
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