By Charlotte Rediker ‘22
NCS freshman technology training sessions are designed to teach students about the opportunities and dangers of new technologies. While necessary and useful, they could be improved. Instead of relearning important, but sometimes redundant lessons from previous years, a better option would be to include discussions led by older students. Students would be more likely to enthusiastically embrace this new structure, whose content would also potentially be more engaging and practical.
This year, at our first training session on Office 365, I heard many of my classmates audibly groan when told that we would learn how to send a sample email and organize files. While teaching these tasks is helpful for those without previous relevant experience, for the bulk of the grade, it provided little new information, and many students were not fully attentive, anxious to get on with their busy days.
While these sessions definitely helped those students new to Office 365, I have a suggestion in regard to those who already know these basics. Perhaps NCS could make the full introduction to Office 365 and email usage mandatory only for students who are unfamiliar with it, while keeping it optional for those who would like a refresher course. This would free up time for the rest to learn about other, new technologies.
Our next training session, on the appropriate use of social media, was better received than the first session, but could still be improved. Instead of a checklist of tasks, it consisted of open-ended questions prompting discussions among students. We got more out of these student-to-student interactions than we did from hearing the undoubtedly important, but somewhat repetitive reminder about social media bullying and the use of caution in posting anything. Discussions were dominated by a few students, who largely repeated the same answers many of us had heard before, while much of the class waited patiently to be dismissed.
One new approach to introducing students to technology at the beginning of each new school year could be for older NCS students to lead seminars and moderate discussions, perhaps in peer groups, allowing younger students to learn from those who have lived through the experiences and who are presumably familiar with the latest technologies and their benefits and risks.
It is indisputable that, at NCS and around the world, technology is an integral part of our lives. We, therefore, must learn how to use it responsibly. But it might be more effective if students were more excited to attend these seminars, approaching them with the enthusiasm that the subject deserves.