- Higher ed institutions ought to be prioritizing digital literacy skills revolving around digital savvy, creativity, and complex thinking, as employers increasingly value these qualities in college graduates. The World Economic Forum predicts 35% of the top ten skills employers say they want will change by 2020, and will increasing include to include these competencies, according to a new report from the New Media Consortium.
- The report shares digital literacy frameworks from other nations and U.S. schools they consider worth emulating, such as The University of Pennsylvania, which offers students workshops on how to produce and share digital content legally, writes Campus Technology. Most of these frameworks revolve around how to use technology to develop communication, critical thinking, technical, citizenship, and cultural and political awareness.
- In implementing and standardizing programs, the report explains that context matters and making departmental changes, rather than sweeping campus initiatives, can better tailor how digital literacy skills are being taught; for instance, a humanities approach would be much different than that of an engineering class.
The nature of the workforce is changing, with a recent study showing that the global workforce will lose more than 7 million jobs over the next five years to automation. This means educators in higher education, and all levels of the education spectrum, are going to have to be disrupters in the classroom by aggressively integrating digital literacy skills into the curriculum, so that graduates are entering the workforce with skills that are still relevant to employers and that can not just be siphoned off to machines.
And, these skills are not just knowing how to functionally use technology, but rather being able to engage thoughtfully with it. As technology gains a greater role in school and the workforce, employers emphasize not just knowing how to use a wide range of digital tools, but adaptability — the idea of being able to acclimate to changing digital environments and have the ability to creatively, as well as critically use the available technology throughout their work.
While the 2016 ACT National Curriculum Survey showed that employers' top valued skills were aspects like “acting honestly,” by treating others fairly, “sustaining effort,” and “keeping an open mind," these skills, though still important, will take a backseat to complex problem solving, critical thinking, and creativity as technology becomes more pervasive — which means that higher education institutions will have to step in to adapt their departmental frameworks, so that students can gain these skills throughout their college careers.