Last week, Fiach Mac Conghail (director of the Abbey Theatre) tweeted the following from the Theatre Forum Conference in Ireland:
It very much seems like a valid point – technology is moving quicker than ever, therefore creating new jobs and opportunities. In the past decade, many of these “new” roles have established themselves into society and can now cater for one to earn a professional living of. These jobs include full-time Ebay sellers, website designers, online shops, network specialists and many other. The newest trend for such positions are related to social media and how to successfully implement a digital strategy. One can’t help but wonder, what the next step will be and how to be there before anyone else.
What bothers me though is – that when talking to teenagers – they seem to have very little interest in the internet and how to use it, especially on a professional level. What I hear mainly is: “Yeah, Facebook and Bebo are grand“. Or, opposite to that, you have your full-on internet junkie who spends all free time gaming, tweeting, blogging etc. Which got me to wondering the following:
To what extend are schools using new applications and teaching how to implement them? Are they forbidding the use of social networks, or perhaps, disapproving of them? When I was in school, not that many moons ago, the internet as we know it had just started off. What we were taught in PC class, was writing letters in Word (Excel was never even mentioned!), how to create a Hotmail address and email each other and how to make drawings in Paint… We also had typing lessons, but they happened on a typewriter (you might remember those, they went ‘tick-tick’ while you typed and went ‘Ping’ at the end of the line, great fun so they were!).
I am aware that colleges and universities cater very well for digital courses – spreading from web design to online marketing. My worry is: how much of that is taught in schools – because, if the information is not made available, how are the next generation, our future supposed to gain any interest in the matter? How will they be able to understand that ‘the internet’ also provides career options that do not entail very technical knowledge? My idea after PC classes and secondary school was that anything to do with computers was uninteresting, boring and had no potential for a future career at all – and, Oh Boy, looking back now, could I have been more wrong?!?
So – I am going to conduct a study. I will survey an example group of 16 to 20 year olds who are in the process of, or have just finished, their leaving certificate. For the statisticians amongst you – it is not the most scientific survey, the purpose is to gain a rough idea of what information is offered to students in secondary school on the subject of social media and technology.
I fear the answer to this question might be “Very little”.