Posts tagged ‘Google’

May 18, 2015

Millennials’ poor technology skills are hurting their employers

by Grace

Millennials’ lack of technological prowess is costing their employers big-time”.

Today’s young adults are establishing their careers, but their lack of technological prowess is costing their employers big-time. Yes, you read that right. In spite of growing up having the Internet in the palms of their hands, these so-called “digital natives” have a yawning knowledge gap that’s not apparent until they get into the office.

“Most Gen Ys grew up accustomed to using social media and texting for communicating and collaborating and haven’t had to use email or spreadsheets extensively,” explains Chris Pope, senior director of strategy at technology services company ServiceNow.

In terms of technology, they lack workplace skills but have mastered social skills.

And unfortunately for them, programs like Outlook and Excel are the technologies most companies in America still rely on to get stuff done. Being able to summon a car, book a table or send a birthday gift with the tap of a finger is great, but this kind of streamlined experience isn’t the norm in most workplaces, and young workers just can’t deal. “Many are only introduced to those tools when they enter the workforce and have to change their natural way of engaging to better match the way everyone else in the enterprise is working,” Pope says. “In many ways, Gen Y have to go backwards to use less efficient technology in the office than they use in their personal lives.”

Millennials are lousy at Google research.

And millennials’ technology problem isn’t limited to functions like emailing and creating spreadsheets. Researchers have found that a lot of young adults can’t even use Google correctly. One study of college students found that only seven out of 30 knew how to conduct a “well-executed” Google search.

“When it comes to finding and evaluating sources in the Internet age, students are downright lousy,” an article in Inside Higher Ed says about the study. “They were basically clueless about the logic underlying how the search engine organizes and displays its results. Consequently, the students did not know how to build a search that would return good sources.”

Some of the “most basic information literacy skills” are not being taught in high school, and are apparently not required to get a college diploma.

Duke and Asher said they were surprised by “the extent to which students appeared to lack even some of the most basic information literacy skills that we assumed they would have mastered in high school.” Even students who were high achievers in high school suffered from these deficiencies, Asher told Inside Higher Ed in an interview.

In other words: Today’s college students might have grown up with the language of the information age, but they do not necessarily know the grammar.

“I think it really exploded this myth of the ‘digital native,’ ” Asher said. “Just because you’ve grown up searching things in Google doesn’t mean you know how to use Google as a good research tool.”

Educational institutions are finding that they are enablers in allowing students to do enough to ‘“satisfice” — that is, do what they can to get by and graduate’.


Martha C. White, “This Is Millennials’ Most Embarrassing Secret”, Time, May 4, 2015.

Steve Kolowich, “What Students Don’t Know”, Inside Higher Ed,  August 22, 2011.

January 16, 2013

Quick Links – Public pensions don’t work so well; New York education reform report; Googling still might be making us stupid

by Grace

◊◊◊  How public pensions work

It’s not pretty:

Politicians around the country have demonstrated complete inability to manage pensions effectively. They promise big benefits, don’t tax voters enough to pay for them, and then invest the money in fly by night, risky Wall Street schemes (with big fees for their banking cronies and contributors) in the hopes that a few big wins and aggressive moves will cover the funding gap.

Those are Walter Russell Mead’s words, written upon learning that the New York City comptroller proposed “taking New York’s pension money and investing it in mortgages, loans, and infrastructure projects” to help in the recovery after Hurricane Sandy.  On the surface this might seem like a good idea.

But the temptations and pitfalls are huge. Let local politicians get the idea that pension funds are pots of money that can be invested in pet projects, and it won’t take long before bad things start to happen. The potential for conflict of interest is just too high for this to be a good idea.

◊◊◊  New York State – Governor Cuomo Education Reform Commission released its preliminary report this month.

The report has generated complaints that it includes big ideas with no specifics about funding.

The gubernatorial panel established to recommend a host of education reforms and priorities produced a series of ideas that Gov. Andrew Cuomo himself earlier today admitted would be a heavy lift.

The proposals announced by commission chairman Dick Parsons would expand pre-K and Kindergarten to a full day, lengthen the school year and create a so-called “bar exam” to ensure teacher competency.

Unless they first make fundamental reforms in curriculum and teaching, I would not want my kids to be captives of the public schools for any longer than the 180 days required today.

The report also recommends consolidating schools and districts to save money, an old idea that has repeatedly met strong resistance in many areas.  The idea of “making schools a hub for health care and social services” is a pipe dream given the aversion to raising taxes in the current economic environment.

◊◊◊  ‘Does Constant Googling Really Make You Stupid?’ [Excerpt] (Scientific American)

From Twentysomething: Why Do Young Adults Seem Stuck? by Robin Marantz Henig & Samantha Henig

Preliminary data suggest that all those tweets, status updates and other digital distractions may actually stave off cognitive decline

A small study of 24 older adults found that frequent Googling “appears to enhance brain circuitry”.  However, it seems a wild leap to conclude from this that it enhances “sophisticated thinking and higher-order cognition”.

… Google, it seems, might be doing something different to the brains of digital natives, creating a new set of neural connections and engaging young brains in an unprecedented way. With their brains thus wired, Millennials might be using the web as a vehicle for sophisticated thinking and higher-order cognition. And they might be even more mentally engaged while online than their elders are while reading a book.

I don’t doubt Googling and other digital activities that vie for our attention are changing our brain circuitry.  But there is scant evidence that today’s “continuous partial attention” is making us smarter.  The fact is we need focused attention and a broad base of knowledge before we can become critical thinkers.

Indeed, evidence from cognitive science challenges the notion that skills can exist independent of factual knowledge. Dan Willingham, a professor of psychology at the University of Virginia, is a leading expert on how students learn. “Data from the last thirty years leads to a conclusion that is not scientifically challengeable: thinking well requires knowing facts, and that’s true not only because you need something to think about,” Willingham has written. “The very processes that teachers care about most — critical thinking processes such as reasoning and problem solving — are intimately intertwined with factual knowledge that is stored in long-term memory (not just found in the environment).”

January 6, 2012

A wholesome Facebook profile especially important for scholarship students

by Grace

An untarnished ‘digital personality’ may be especially important for scholarship or honors college students.

A recent survey revealed that colleges are snooping online to check applicants

Nearly a quarter (24%) of admissions officials at 359 selective colleges say they used Facebook, up from 6% the previous year, and 20% used Google to help evaluate an applicant, says the survey, conducted byKaplan Test Prep….

Of survey takers who went online, 12% say what they found “negatively impacted” the applicant’s chances of admission. That’s down from 38% in 2008, when 10% said they consulted social networking sites while evaluating students. Among offenses cited: essay plagiarism, vulgarities in blogs and photos showing underage drinking.

Of course, not every applicant is checked.

Marthers and others say such checks are not routine — it’s too time-consuming, for one thing. But “if ever a post is brought to our attention, you can be certain we’ll check it out,” says Ray Brown, admission dean at Texas Christian University. He says he rejected one applicant who, he discovered through an anonymous tip, had posted pornographic images of herself online.

It appears you are more likely to be checked if you’re being considered for a scholarship or for a spot in a school’s honors program.  Here’s one anecdote.

After I went to a scholarship weekend at my state’s flagship school, I learned that they searched those students on facebook. They only searched the top 100 students out of the 20,000+ who applied, but if you are in elite (top 1%) of applicants at a school, you should be wary that you will probably be searched, whether on Google or Facebook or Twitter or any other site. I know one student who was up for a big scholarship at an LAC, and when she showed up for an interview they asked her about articles and studies she had posted on a website. Granted, these were all great pieces of research and intelligent discussions that she had posted, things that helped her in the admissions process, but she had not included all of it in her application and these things had been found by the ADCOM.

Shawn Abbott, an admissions officer formerly at Stanford and now at NYU confirms digital snooping.

“Though we certainly have better uses of our time than trolling Facebook for evidence of deviant behavior, if we’re prompted to look at a website posting and what we find is in conflict with our standards for admission, of course we may be influenced by that information in making admission decisions or revoking decisions already made,” he said.

Abbott cited situations in which “evidence of illegal activity, academic integrity violations and racist commentary” would prompt a revoked admissions offer. According to the Kaplan survey, 38 percent of admissions officers surveyed said applicants’ social networking sites had a negative impact on their admissions evaluation.

This makes sense to me.  If nothing else, colleges would not want to deal with the bad publicity from any case where one of their star students turned out to be a fraud and/or of poor moral character.

Some students try to evade detection.  One trend I’ve observed and read about is high school students using pseudonyms on their Facebook pages, partly to give the slip to snoopers.  For example, ‘Sarah Ann Springer’ might change her name to something like ‘Sarah Sass’.

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