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Tech Savvy Students Need Different Skill Sets

I received this question today: How can we blend the advantages of traditional teaching with self-learning to provide a more effective and relevant education for today’s youth who are often more tech-savvy than their predecessors?

Let’s first explore the fact that The questions students will be asked to answer in the future will not have answers found in books or on the internet.

We need to face the fact that technology has changed the way students learn. No longer are the lecture style classrooms stimulating to them. The teaching to a test to get A’s won’t help students to solve the problems of the future.

The introduction of technology calls for us to look at what students have gained from technology and how we can capitalize on it, while looking at what we need to change to support our students. We need to explore the skills they have lost and what we now need to teach that wasn’t a concern in the past.


  1. AI can organize everything available on line for easy access that doesn’t require a trip to the library.
  2. AI is creating essays, answering homework questions, and composing essays for college admissions’ essay.
  3. Technology has put information at the finger tips of students. No longer do they need to go to the library to research a topic of interest.
  4. They have instant contact with others. No longer are they tied to the telephone that is plugged into a wall.
  5. Calendars remind them of due dates and appointments.
  6. Their games are portable, so they can take them with them.
  7. Navigation systems get them where they need to be without having to look at a map.
  8. Movies and sporting events can be viewed from anywhere.
  9. Siri can answers questions.
  10. They can speak into their devices and it types it for them.
  11. They can check the weather to know how to dress.
  12. They can listen to music that doesn’t required a record player, CD Player, or MP3 Player
  13. They can even remind us to drink water so we don’t get dehydrated.

Each of these advantages comes with a need for new skills:

  1. Because AI is so easy, students mistakenly assume it is accurate in what it generates. It can contain inaccurate information or be biased toward only one point of view. Students need to fact check everything it produces.
  2. Students need to seek other views on topics.
  3. AI is not going to create the next out of the box ideas, that will require a creative brain like Einstein, Elon Musk.
  4. Students need to evaluate the credibility of the resources they find on the internet. They have to be taught to question how and where the author obtained the information.
  5. They need strategies for dealing with the stress that comes along with always being on. Unplugging is difficult for todays tech users. Learning how to unplug so one is present calls for more strategies in relaxation and meditation to calm the nervous system. They need to learn how to not misinterpret what is found in texts. Dealing with the social media challenges that result in depression and defamation are things we never had to deal with in the past.
  6. Students still need to learn how to backwards planning so the dates they put into the devices actually will allow for promptness. Since they put the dates in, they still need to determine all the steps they have to do through to meet the deadline and add dates to allow for oopsies that can pop up.
  7. The problem of the addictiveness built into video games makes them being portable even a bigger challenge. Students need to understand the neuroscience behind the games and why they have a hard time breaking away from them. Students who were not trained in self-management of their Nintendos went off to school and many flunked out the first year, They could not break away from their games to attend class, and their mothers were not there to stop their playing, When they understand how the games are designed to stimulate their brains like heroine does for the addict, they may delete the games form their phones.
  8. Navigation systems are not always accurate. If students are taught how to read maps and how to determine if they are traveling north, south, east, or west they can find faster routes to take.
  9. Being able to watch programs can interfere with connecting with others. If the games and movies were only on television, when one left home, they would be more in the moment instead of checking their phones while interacting with others.
  10. Siri is not always correct, so it’s important for students to know how to fact check her answers.
  11. One still needs to develop handwriting skills. The connection made by writing something out in long hand allows for quicker recall than something spoken into a phone or typed on a computer. The hand-eye-speak connection made when writing out information creates a stronger connection with the brain and makes for easier retrieval of it at a later date.
  12. Depending on one app isn’t always reliable. My app said there was no rain predicted in the evening, while my friend’s app predicted showers. His was correct and mine wasn’t. I still carry an umbrella and a jacket in my car, just in case.
  13. It is helpful to listen to music, but only at appropriate times.
  14. We can’t rely on apps, so we need to rely on brain friendly learning information to give us a purpose for hydrating properly. Our brains need water and natural sugars from fruits and vegetables to make the electrical connections that help us store information and later recall it.

Educational Needs of Today’s Students:

  1. An understanding of the power of asking questions and why they should ask them
  2. How to ask questions.
  3. How to listen to other’s questions and recognize the importance of a different perspective
  4. How to look someone in the eyes when speaking face to face
  5. How to communicate in complete sentences without emoji’s
  6. How to question what they read, hear, and see
  7. Awareness of propaganda and advertising strategies that are designed to manipulate readers and consumers
  8. How to respectfully discuss topics with others who hold different views
  9. How to recognize and question fake news or scientific evidence designed to persuade
  10. The Edison Ethic needs to be developed. Tenacity is very important today as students have grown accustomed to quick replies. He valued questions and stated, “If I have an hour to solve a problem, I will spend the first 55 minutes coming up with questions, and then I can solve the problem by relaxing for 5 minutes.
  11. How to respect other’s time
  12. How to work collaboratively
  13. An awareness of the digital dangers they may encounter and how to deal with them
  14. Understanding of basic neuroscience principles that technology develops capitalize on to capture and keep users engaged.
  15. Understanding of the neuroscience about how how our brains process information and retain it will help students discover what they need to be efficient and how they learn best.
  16. A shift from lecture driven instruction to a question-answer approach provides the novelty the brain craves in the student’s of today.
  17. Students need opportunities to fail so they can learn what they need to do to succeed. Placing emphasis on “A’s” because one can regurgitate information will not serve our students in the future. Focusing on the process and the lesson learned from mistakes is crucial for success in the future. Only in education is giving back to the teacher the information the teacher gave the student rewarded. The employers of the future will be looking for those students who can problem solve and find answers that have never been discovered before.

Instead of lecturing, we can capture the interest of our students by making one little shift in how we introduce new topics. instead of filling them with information and then asking them to apply it, we need to have them look at what they will be asked to do later on to form questions about what they don’t know yet. Doing this before instruction will create the novelty the brain is seeking. These questions tell the brain that the information they are about to receive is important and needs its attention. if a lecture begins with information they have already heard, they will lose interest. But, if they look at the work they will be expected to complete first, they will pay closer attention.

Once my students formulated questions about what they were going to learn, they were asked to discuss ways they could find the answers if their computer shut down and they couldn’t ask anyone else for the answer. As they discussed strategies for solving the questions, they were developing their independent problem solving strategies. They will need these more than ever as things are changing rapidly everyday.

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