I recently read a blog posted by Marc Scott titled “Kids Can’t Use Computers… And This Is Why It Should Worry You”. Now Marc is a teacher and teaches computer Sciences and also lends a hand in managing his school’s network. So you can understand that if anyone has a computer related problem in their home or office he is the one they would call for their rescue. Also he deals with students in an everyday basis so his blog is quite relevant to the subject area.
The blog talks about how today’s generation is being misunderstood as being tech savvy and tries to analyse the impact of such condition may cause. Now it is true that almost everyone has a computer or access to the internet from his/her mobile phone. But what the author truly counts someone able to use a computer is to be able to do simple tasks and fixing (or at least being able to give it a try) Here let me quote the personal anecdotes given by Marc himself on how he categorizes someone as “not being able to use a computer”
A sixth-former brings me his laptop, explaining that it is running very slowly and keeps shutting down. The laptop is literally screaming, the processor fans running at full whack and the case is uncomfortably hot to touch. I run Task Manager to see that the CPU is running at 100% despite the only application open being uTorrent (which incidentally had about 200 torrent files actively seeding). I look at what processes are running and there are a lot of them, hogging the CPU and RAM. What’s more I can’t terminate a single one. ‘What anti-virus are you using?’ I ask, only to be told that he didn’t like using anti-virus because he’d heard it slowed his computer down. I hand back the laptop and tell him that it’s infected. He asks what he needs to do, and I suggest he re-installs Windows. He looks at me blankly. He can’t use a computer.
A kid puts her hand up in my lesson. ‘My computer won’t switch on.’ she says, with the air of desperation that implies she’s tried every conceivable way of making the thing work. I reach forward and switch on the monitor, and the screen flickers to life, displaying the Windows login screen. She can’t use a computer.
A teacher brings me her school laptop. ‘Bloody thing won’t connect to the internet.’ she says angrily, as if it is my fault. ‘I had tonnes of work to do last night, but I couldn’t get on-line at all. My husband even tried and he couldn’t figure it out and he’s excellent with computers.’ I take the offending laptop from out of her hands, toggle the wireless switch that resides on the side, and hand it back to her. Neither she nor her husband can use computers.
A kid knocks on my office door, complaining that he can’t login. ‘Have you forgotten your password?’ I ask, but he insists he hasn’t. ‘What was the error message?’ I ask, and he shrugs his shoulders. I follow him to the IT suite. I watch him type in his user-name and password. A message box opens up, but the kid clicks OK so quickly that I don’t have time to read the message. He repeats this process three times, as if the computer will suddenly change its mind and allow him access to the network. On his third attempt I manage to get a glimpse of the message. I reach behind his computer and plug in the Ethernet cable. He can’t use a computer.
A teacher brings me her brand new iPhone, the previous one having been destroyed. She’s lost all her contacts and is very upset. I ask if she’d plugged her old iPhone into her computer at any time, but she can’t remember. I ask her to bring in her laptop and iPhone. When she brings them in the next day I restore her phone from the backup that resides on her laptop. She has her contacts back, and her photos as well. She’s happy. She can’t use a computer.
A teacher phones my office, complaining that his laptop has “no internet”. I take a walk down to his classroom. He tells me that the internet was there yesterday, but today its gone. His desktop is a solid wall of randomly placed Microsoft office icons. I quickly try and explain that the desktop is not a good place to store files as they’re not backed up on the server, but he doesn’t care, he just wants the internet back. I open the start menu and click on Internet Explorer, and it flashes to life with his homepage displayed. He explains that the Internet used to be on his desktop, but isn’t any more. I close I.E and scour the desktop, eventually finding the little blue ‘e’ buried amongst some PowerPoint and Excel icons. I point to it. He points to a different location on the screen, informing me of where it used to be. I drag the icon back to its original location. He’s happy. He can’t use a computer.
A kid puts his hand up. He tells me he’s got a virus on his computer. I look at his screen. Displayed in his web-browser is what appears to be an XP dialogue box warning that his computer is infected and offering free malware scanning and removal tools. He’s on a Windows 7 machine. I close the offending tab. He can’t use a computer.
The core of the problem is that the majority of his students who use computers are not able to do a task beyond the simple browsing the web or running a few applications. But if anything happens then they are at a loss.
Now I know it is a tough task but is it not essential that a technology that skill be integral to future be understood by the next generation.