What Are the Facts?
January 19, 2023
Technology is improving at an exponential rate. While colleges and the workforce are keeping up with these improvements, high schools seem to be left behind.
Current New Hampshire requirements dictate that only half a credit for computer education is necessary for high school graduation, according to Learning Path. This means that students are required to participate in computer education for ~1.8% of their 9-12 education. Hollis Brookline substitutes this requirement for the ICT Digital Portfolio, which is automatically compiled by the school, and therefore requires no input from the student.
This lack of compulsory computer education creates some amount of dissonance between the high school curriculum and what kind of skills are needed in the wider world. The last major steps that high schools have taken to keep up with the modern digital age was to implement personal school laptops and Google’s education tools.
Educause held a panel on 2019 – 2020 IT issues in education, which highlights how higher education in the United States has begun shifting towards more digital learning models. They found that only about 17% of surveyed institutions were dedicating no effort towards digital transformation.
Even the application process has become almost completely digital, so students need a strong understanding of College Board’s and Naviance’s online tools.
The Educause panel also discussed artificial intelligence. AI in recent years has become much more advanced, allowing it to completely automate menial tasks. Today AI is able to completely fabricate original images, both realistic and artistic, and produce original works of creative writing. What this means for humans is that we must advance our own average knowledge of technology and how to use it, to ensure that AI doesn’t completely replace the majority of human laborers.
In 2017, the Brookings Institution conducted a study on the increase of digitalization in the workforce from 2002 – 2016. They found that while the share of the workforce that used medium digital skills rose by 8%, the section that required high digital skills nearly quintupled from 5% to 23%. It goes without saying that the share of low digital skill jobs available decreased in that time, by about 26%.
The Brookings study also found that the Boston-Cambridge-Newton metropolitan area had the second highest mean digital score (determined by how many jobs require digital skills, and to what degree) for the United States workforce, after Silicon Valley. Students who are educated in New England should be required to learn advanced digital literacy skills to keep up with the part of the workforce that they will likely join.
Everyday life has been heavily infiltrated by technology, from shopping to entertainment. Denial is no longer an option. That’s why high schools should make an effort to help students embrace technology and teach them how to use their devices to the fullest.