As organizations have become increasingly digital, their needs have evolved significantly. With a focus on constantly improving the customer experience, today’s business needs a highly adaptable, tech savvy workforce armed with the collaborative skills necessary to fuel constant Innovation.

While businesses have struggled to find qualified candidates, perhaps the best way to make a reality is to engage schools as early as possible to ensure student readiness. As Natasha Singer writes in this New York Times article spotlighting a Google sponsored classroom, “prioritizing training children in skills like teamwork and problem-solving while de-emphasizing the teaching of traditional academic knowledge.”

 

Case in Point

Another recent New York Times article, also by Singer, tells the story of a third-grade teacher Kayla Delzer who has wholeheartedly embraced the idea of revamping early education by partnering with numerous technology firms as well as completely remodelling her classroom “to foster the kind of independent work habits she thought her students would need in life.”

According to Singer, Delzer “teaches them (students) to post daily on the class Twitter and Instagram accounts she set up. She remodeled her classroom based on Starbucks. And she uses apps like Seesaw, a student portfolio platform where teachers and parents may view and comment on a child’s schoolwork.”

 

Social media as a new subject for learning

While spending classroom time on social media engagement may seem like a stretch to some, Delzer uses it as an opportunity to “teach rules” and “help them understand how to maintain an upbeat online image.”

Of course, the question here is whether or not education-tech provider partnerships are crossing an ethical line. Naturally, the technology partners, whether major players or growing start-ups, are looking at these partnerships as a cost-effective approach to build meaningful relationships with the next generation – relationships that could ultimately result in lifelong customers.

However, sponsorships make sense for cash strapped school districts. After all, “most states provide less support per student for elementary and secondary schools — in some cases, much less — than before the Great Recession,” according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

And, if future employers are demanding a working knowledge, being entrenched in these tech-fueled (and sponsored) digital classrooms could provide students with a noticeable advantage.

Other than social media, students can gain an advantage by having familiarity with other technologies as well. The need for skills with collaboration technologies like video conferencing, instant messaging and others are intensifying as businesses become increasingly global. So much so that by 2020, 50 percent of conference rooms will be video enabled.

Too often, kids struggle to have face-to-face conversations, primarily because they are fully engrained in engaging with one another via social networks. However, “being able to see a person’s body language, facial expressions, and gestures makes a world of difference in building a relationship.” When schools add collaboration technology to the mix it is an opportunity to expose students to its capabilities while developing much-needed engagement skills.

 

We plan to take a deeper dive into this topic, talking with educators, business leaders and tech providers willing to provide insights into how this is impacting their world.