I remembered one summer in middle school (seventh grade) when I signed up for summer school. One of the class available to us was computer skill development. These were the days of Apple II+, Maxwell and BASF 5.25" floppies (sometimes just single sided), BASIC, and Q-Bert. (Also recall those 5.25" boxes that held 10 disks with their sleeves. I went to help a friend clean out his garage last year and I saw them. Wow. Good memories. Simpler times.)
I see smiles all around on the faces of some of the older mobile warriors reading this. I also see confusion on the faces of younger readers. Those were days when you surfed in 64K memory not in MB or GB.
Anyway, we learned to use computers. Write basic programs, learned word processing, and if our Apple had two disk drives we were on our way to becoming the first pirates of Zaxxon and Ultima.
So, what happen to those classes in our school systems in the United States? I'm betting that virtual does not exist anywhere.
We need those classes and, in fact, we need standardized tests or standards by which we can measure our students and see if they are proficient in using computers or mobile devices. I'm not talking about just opening up a browser and surfing the Internet.
But being able to working effectively in the Internet is just as important knowing one's way around Microsoft Office, JAVA, and Firefox. These are important skills that must be taught in school and maybe even tested. They are not difficult skills but we must make sure every student knows them.
What other Internet or computer related skills must we demand our students know in order to prepare them to compete in the twenty-first century? More and more school districts are making available to their students laptops. In expensive laptops like One Laptop Per Child's XO and low end netbooks are priced just right for more schools to adopt them for use in classrooms and at homes. But without proper skills, the students may not fully realize the potenial of the computing power and connectivity available literally at their finger tips.
Please let me know what you think. Also I know this isn't just teaching students how to operate and take advantage of the laptops but we need the broadband connections and student-friendly software to be made available to them as well.