I have spent some time this summer fixing computers for various friends and relatives. It is amazing to see how connected today’s students are, whether they have devoted time to learn all the details of their computer and network or they just try things until they work. I guess I take this for granted having two very computer capable daughters, but they have good tech support at home and at school! I like what I am seeing with today’s students. They are not afraid to try just about anything from finding and downloading software, television shows, instant message programs and VOIP products.
In diagnosing and removing several different viruses, spyware and useless software plus completing installation of security patches, upgrades and protection software I also discovered correctly configured video players, bit torrent software and effective use of open source software for personal productivity. I asked the people I helped what they did to learn about new software. Many search some popular download sites, but most hear about it or see it on friends machines and want to replicate the experience on their own.
Students today are also using their social networks to learn about best practices for computers and will Facebook or IM a friend to get advice. OK, I wouldn’t have had this set of machines for this case study if it wasn’t for the errant click on a webpage or letting virus protection expire or not knowing that the Mac wants to run overnight for some preventative maintenance! However, employers should be happy, the students of today are coming out of school with significantly better computer skills, well in advance of what we recently considered “basic computer skills”. They are also very good at trial and error though and will test every avenue to find a way to do things faster or easier. So I guess we have to consider how we deliver and allow self-service in our enterprise IT offerings.