So, this first semester working at a college library has been enlightening for many reasons and critical to my professional outlook since I am working towards librarianship and serving the greater good. The most worrying observation I have at present, which I really had to see first-hand to believe it was true, is that there remains a shocking number of students entering college that are completely or partially computer illiterate. So much of the curriculum and the student’s academic success hinges on the assumption that they can navigate computers and the internet to complete their coursework that basic digital literacy really should be assessed as part of a student’s pre-enrollment process, and if it is found wanting, it should be made a prerequisite for their studies. It seems wrong for the college to accept the money of students enrolling in costly academic programs when the students lack the tools to succeed in the program. On a daily basis I am helping students that don’t know how to:
· Save files to a USB flash drive
· Access and compose email
· Draft and format an MS Word document
· Perform a web search
· Distinguish between a Windows (or any OS) user login and a website login
· Distinguish between filetypes (.jpg, .pdf, .doc, .png)
· Attach files to emails
Twice I’ve had students discover college-provided email addresses with basic assistance that had hundreds of unopened emails from over their past two years of enrollment because they didn’t know it was available, or how to access it. (An overtaxed admissions staff and inexperienced students can be partly to blame for some of this due to not covering or retaining all of the information during OPTIONAL new student orientations.) For the 40-something+ students: I get this; but getting the same questions from the 20-somethings is pretty damn scary because I thought that this would've been covered in high school by now.
And then there's the assumption by academic institutions that current students can succeed in any academic program and the workforce beyond without assessing and enforcing basic digital proficiency because it's assumed that they possess it, which is negligent, but not unusual. I know that since this is a community college I work at, the demographics and proficiencies vary significantly when compared to four-year institutions, but it’s also more reflective of the community’s abilities at large. Why in the world is this not an academic success standard if we know that it’s already a life success standard? None of the colleges I've attended (2 CCs in TX, 1 Uni in TX, 1 Uni in MI) require basic computer proficiency… are there any that do?
I took a computer class in 7th grade 20 years ago! It’s hard to imagine that this isn’t a standard in secondary school’s curriculum. Your thoughts please...