“Even more important than any specific bits of advance information, however, is the habit of anticipation. This conditioned ability to look ahead plays a key role in adaptation” -Alvin Toffler. Future Shock (1970)
About two weeks ago, I started to train for an Xterra trail race in Malibu Creek Park (too shy to share the distance). I grew up running, but then I stopped in my late teen years. Fast-forward 30 years (!), and after getting new trail running shoes, the second thing that I have been advised is to get an app to track my daily running progress. To my surprise, there are now tons of applications that make training much easier, but I picked Strava following my trainer’s recommendation. Strava allows me to track, record and compare the distance, route, elevation, speed, etc. not only of my run but also of my friends. Like I needed another example of how digital tools have changed everything we do. My experience with running (or I should say my ignorance) made me imagine a professor that has not taught in 30 years, and then one day she comes back to campus and discovers that there is something called “email” that students want to use to communicate with her, something called Canvas, Zoom, Google Drive, Padlet, hypothes.is, Kahoot, etc. I wonder how this professor would feel: intimidated? offended? lost? confused? excited? overwhelmed? As professors, we can’t stop learning because the pace of adoption keeps accelerating, and we want students to develop an attitude for fearlessly embracing all these tools.
However, this semester, I have found some students resistant to learning about new tools. By now, many of our students seem to be comfortable using Google Drive. However, in my Principles of Marketing class, I introduced some additional digital tools that I expect will help them as future marketers (The Marketer’s Toolkit). These digital tools will make their future career as marketers, entrepreneurs, consultants, much easier in a very cost-effective way. VoiceThread, Weebly, Canva.com, SurveyMonkey, Populr, Animoto, Zoom, Mailchimp, even LinkedIn Learning are tools/platform that I am confident will help students to build their experiential portfolios and to keep learning while in college and beyond. As mentioned, this semester some students have questioned the need to learn about all these: Why do I require different tools to complete the assignments in my class?
This push back got me thinking deeply about why. Yes, I want them to learn about the actual tools for their professional careers, but there is something more important at play here. I want them to develop a key 21st century metacognitive skill: the capacity to learn how to use a new technology, platform or tool confidently. Knowing that the future can only bring more technology into our lives, since the “only constant is change” (Heraclitus), students need to develop the capacity to quickly learn and adapt to new tools in the ever-changing workplace and beyond. It isn’t so much about learning a specific marketing tool, but rather to build a lifelong skill that will allow them to always keep learning and be comfortable and flexible with constant change and new adoptions.
So, my dearest students, if you are reading this, know that we have your best interest at heart… so keep running and kicking out the jams! There is a beautiful road ahead!