Using Information and Communication Technology to Maximize Workforce Readiness

Using Information and Communication Technology to Maximize Workforce Readiness

Merideth Dee (Florida Atlantic University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-2955-4.ch013
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Abstract

The following chapter will provide a general discussion regarding the use of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) and how ICT can be used to help prepare students for the demands of the workforce. Additionally, the chapter will explore why ICT fluency is an important factor in preparing students for the demands of the workforce. Furthermore, the chapter will review the literature and empirical research concerned with: attitudes toward the use of ICT, the value of using ICT with regards to workforce readiness and professional development, how different learning environments, such as blended-learning, e-learning, m-learning, virtual learning communities, and social interaction impact workforce readiness, and the theories to consider when designing multimedia and why multimedia can help to prepare students for the workforce.
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Introduction

Information and Communication Technology (ICT) has become an extremely popular tool used in educational learning environments. ICT can help supplement learning as well as learning activities, which can ultimately help prepare students for the time when they enter the workforce. ICT is the combination of Information Technology (IT) and communication technologies. Both IT and communication technologies include different forms of technology that allow for communication. Such examples include: the use of the computer, the Internet, cellular phones, and varied digital communication and multimedia technologies. Many researchers contend that today’s students are fully capable of using ICTs and are prepared to enter the workforce. Other researchers argue that today’s students are not fully prepared for the demands that today’s technology-rich workforce entails and reason that “the ability to use Information and Communications Technology (ICT) is now assumed by most commentators to be a prerequisite to living and working in the ‘information society’” (Selwyn, 2003). As such, the use and growth of information and communication technologies have influenced the approaches in which students learn and the methods in which instructors teach. Furthermore, the growing use of ICT in our global society has increased the expectation that students will possess a high degree of ICT proficiency upon entering the workforce.

Students who are entering the workforce today are said to be skilled and proficient with the use of ICT. These students, or Digital Natives as some of the literature has named them, are said to be proficient with ICT because they have grown up using it. This, however, may not be the case. Regardless of whether or not Digital Natives truly “exist” (Brown & Czerniewicz, 2010; Junco & Mastrodicasa, 2007; Kennedy, Judd, Churchward, Gray, & Krause, 2008; Palfrey & Gasser, 2008; Prensky, 2001; Selwyn, 2008) as there is an ongoing debate regarding the generalizability of this term, for the purposes of this chapter students who were born between 1980 and the early 2000s (Palfrey & Gasser, 2008) and who have essentially not known a time when ICT was not available for their use, will be referred to as Digital Natives. Digital Natives therefore are said to be “students [who] think and process information fundamentally differently from their predecessors” (Prensky, 2001, p. 1). Moreover, it is argued that Digital Natives will enter higher education and the workforce with knowledge regarding ICT that previous generations of learners will not possess as these Digital Natives will have “spent their entire lives surrounded by and using computers, videogames, digital music players, video [cameras], cell phones, and all the other toys and tools of the digital age” (Prensky, 2001, p. 1). Digital Natives are said to acquire knowledge in a distinctive fashion (largely using ICT as it is argued), and therefore, it is important to consider that it may be impossible to make such a daring statement regarding how and why Digital Natives acquire information. One cannot generalize that all Digital Natives learn the same way, i.e., by using ICT, without empirical research to support such a statement. Therefore, as Digital Natives become the workforce majority, it is important for educators to focus upon the research regarding how ICT can be used to help augment learning and help prepare Digital Natives for the demands of the workforce.

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