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atosniper

Excel, PPT, oh my!

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In some what of a connection to the other thread I posted recently about AI taking all our jobs, I was wondering what level of computing skills people are required to have these days for jobs.

 

I live in Japan, and it always astounds me at the lack of computer literacy. Well, it feels that way, but maybe I'm just biased based on my own ability. I'm not trying to get a big head here because I'm definitely not a computer scientist or anything, I can say that I'm competent with the Microsoft suite - Word, Excel, PPT, and I am competent in C++, and okay in Python. However, people here, fairly often it seems to me, either cant use the Microsoft suite at all, or are barely competent in it. Not everyone, of course, I do know people who are far more competent than myself and use the programs daily.

 

Anyway, I'm somewhat flummoxed when people here apply for a job with basically no computer skills when the job requires them. Does this happen in Australia these days? What is the average skill level like there?

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I live in Japan too. Everyone I know can handle Microsoft Office. But I work at, well, an office.

 

Rob.

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Anyway, I'm somewhat flummoxed when people here apply for a job with basically no computer skills when the job requires them. Does this happen in Australia these days? What is the average skill level like there?

 

I don't live in Japan. ;p Nor am in an office, no work as a recruiter. I do get to see 'regular' civilians doing their shit at the public library (where you would expect basic literacy at least), though... It's all "competent enough to do what I need done". That itself is a bell curve, from grannies who peak at sending email with attached photos, to uni media students setting out their latest assignments.

 

I don't get to see many people who are totally clueless any more, though. When I got started on a serious basis (as opposed to messing about with BBSs at home), and that was late in the game (1992), there were still people starting uni courses in computing that couldn't turn the thing on.

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:)

 

I think it peaked a few years back, street level interpretation with IT is very, very cyclic, but whilst I regard it as overblown Cloud shit and the rise of mobile apps and especially iPads has made a lot of people have a rather false sense of IT literacy.

 

My mother, who is 84, can do Facebook, I would not want to even try to explain to her the code levels down to and back up to her conversations :)

 

Apps are I suppose somewhat different, most people simply do not understand, but it needs to be remembered that we did create these things to do complex tasks quickly, the goal was not craigslist, or Facebook...

 

I've seen the Japanese divide rather strongly a few times though and it is not purely a Japanese thing, the evolution of simplicity in computing so the herd can do selfies and twit does not exactly assist the business side much now does it ? :)

 

Cheers

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Japanese seem to love paperwork. The appearance of being busy is highly valued, and lots of pieces of paper helps with that. Literacy and numeracy is exceptionally high, don't know why computer literacy is lower than average.

 

Polyphony, the company that created the Gran Turismo series, loves employing people who graduated from the university I attended in Tokyo, apparently with total disregard for their IT skills. An associate who works at Polyphony insisted that I apply, on the basis of having English skills and the requisite piece of paper from said university. I had serious doubts about my suitability, and mentioned a number of times that I know bugger all about computer game production, but he continued to insist. Something else came up so I didn't follow through, but I know a number of people who went into Polyphony having studied fine art and possessing virtually no IT skills, who are now designing background visuals, doing 3D modelling, etc, with training provided entirely on the job. Perhaps its the same with many companies in Japan.

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Something else came up so I didn't follow through, but I know a number of people who went into Polyphony having studied fine art and possessing virtually no IT skills, who are now designing background visuals, doing 3D modelling, etc, with training provided entirely on the job. Perhaps its the same with many companies in Japan.

I believe it is the same with many companies.

 

Rob.

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I know a number of people who went into Polyphony having studied fine art and possessing virtually no IT skills, who are now designing background visuals, doing 3D modelling, etc, with training provided entirely on the job. Perhaps its the same with many companies in Japan.

 

I work for a top tier consulting global consulting firm in "digital". Probably 70% of our hires are marketing, communications, fine arts, etc. They take jobs doing UX, BA, "Advisory" roles. Just as important, if not moreso, than the engineering/IT activities. Still, it was a bit of a shock to me coming from a company where 100% of the staff have classic IT or Engineering degrees.

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Working in various education institutes it blows my mind at the level kids leave school at.

The 'simplify IT' age has ruined an entire generation.

 

In primary school, we were taught Microsoft Office, then how to configure Printers, then how to surf the internet, and how to email (including detecting spam, and fake websites).

That was all before grade 6,

 

Now, at most high schools it's not uncommon for kids to not know what a 'start button' is, I genuinely had to explain to people what 'Save As' was.

 

If they cant one click install it, and then 'cloud' it, they dont know how to do it.

"I dont need to save it, I ReTumbled it" suuuure.

 

No shit, there are kids who dont know what 'App' stands for.

Australia as a whole is going to shit in the IT world, they're scrambling for us everywhere. Job oportunities are good :)

 

 

There are teachers like that too. "Its not on my computer" yes it is, I put it under on, it should be under programs "Its not!"

Show up, and it is, they ONLY want to see their desktop. I even had one person SHOCKED there was a menu down there. She was 35 and a teacher of 7 years.

 

 

Off topic; atosniper and robzy, how hard was it to pick up Japanese once you live there? or had you dont some study prior?

Edited by Master_Scythe

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Thanks for the replies. It's interesting to get different views. I think perhaps the prevalence of mobile devices here is a factor in my perceived view of low computer literacy. For a very long time, Japanese people have used mobile devices, ie their phones, to connect to the net. Long before I was seeing a large uptake of mobile phones in Australia, the Japanese had them in quite the abundance. I remember it wasnt really till the advent of the iPhone that the Japanese seemed to lose their advantage in the mobile phone space. I know Japanese people who have used mobile phones forever, can use the 'net that way, yet basically have no clue when it comes to a computer. Just an anecdotal comment, in any case.

 

MS. I've lived in Japan for a long time (the length can be counted in decades... O_o ). I have had associations with Japan since I was young, took classes in Japanese language during schooling in Australia too. These days I have a native-like proficiency, I suppose (you never really perfect a language though). Like most things, great efforts are rewarded by great progress. In terms of difficulty, Japanese is one of the more difficult languages to learn for people whose native language is English. If that needs qualification, well I have a Masters degree in Linguistics & Education...for whatever that's worth lol. Anyway, as I said, if someone was to put the effort in, they will make progress. I also think learning a language is a very good thing to do, at any age; even in, especially in, old age!

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Working in various education institutes it blows my mind at the level kids leave school at.

The 'simplify IT' age has ruined an entire generation.

 

In primary school, we were taught Microsoft Office, then how to configure Printers, then how to surf the internet, and how to email (including detecting spam, and fake websites).

That was all before grade 6,

 

Now, at most high schools it's not uncommon for kids to not know what a 'start button' is, I genuinely had to explain to people what 'Save As' was.

 

If they cant one click install it, and then 'cloud' it, they dont know how to do it.

"I dont need to save it, I ReTumbled it" suuuure.

 

No shit, there are kids who dont know what 'App' stands for.

Australia as a whole is going to shit in the IT world, they're scrambling for us everywhere. Job oportunities are good :)

 

 

There are teachers like that too. "Its not on my computer" yes it is, I put it under on, it should be under programs "Its not!"

Show up, and it is, they ONLY want to see their desktop. I even had one person SHOCKED there was a menu down there. She was 35 and a teacher of 7 years.

 

 

Off topic; atosniper and robzy, how hard was it to pick up Japanese once you live there? or had you dont some study prior?

It hasn't ruined anything, you're judging people because they don't have the workflow that you do. Unless they're computing teachers/students I wouldn't expect them to be proficient.

 

That being said, the primary school down the road from me teach students robotics using click and drag interfaces. Much more useful then learning how to use Office or set up a printer.

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Working in various education institutes it blows my mind at the level kids leave school at.

The 'simplify IT' age has ruined an entire generation.

 

In primary school, we were taught Microsoft Office, then how to configure Printers, then how to surf the internet, and how to email (including detecting spam, and fake websites).

That was all before grade 6,

 

Now, at most high schools it's not uncommon for kids to not know what a 'start button' is, I genuinely had to explain to people what 'Save As' was.

 

If they cant one click install it, and then 'cloud' it, they dont know how to do it.

"I dont need to save it, I ReTumbled it" suuuure.

 

No shit, there are kids who dont know what 'App' stands for.

Australia as a whole is going to shit in the IT world, they're scrambling for us everywhere. Job oportunities are good :)

 

 

There are teachers like that too. "Its not on my computer" yes it is, I put it under on, it should be under programs "Its not!"

Show up, and it is, they ONLY want to see their desktop. I even had one person SHOCKED there was a menu down there. She was 35 and a teacher of 7 years.

 

 

Off topic; atosniper and robzy, how hard was it to pick up Japanese once you live there? or had you dont some study prior?

It hasn't ruined anything, you're judging people because they don't have the workflow that you do. Unless they're computing teachers/students I wouldn't expect them to be proficient.

 

That being said, the primary school down the road from me teach students robotics using click and drag interfaces. Much more useful then learning how to use Office or set up a printer.

 

:)

 

I really have to disagree Cyb3r, it's kind of important to know the basics, does not matter what discipline it is, but IT it is even more important because it is a metaphor.

 

You think they should not be proficient ?

 

Hm, useful to have the proficiency to walk and talk and chew gum but not to interface ?

 

Odd comment :)

 

Cheers

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It hasn't ruined anything, you're judging people because they don't have the workflow that you do. Unless they're computing teachers/students I wouldn't expect them to be proficient.

 

For one, in all honesty, yes they were.

 

and for two, the features they dont know how to use have been core features of doing their job for over 5 years. When the IT guy is grading students or filling in ID photos because they can't do any of it (and should have been for 5+ years) we have a problem.

 

It has ruined a lot.

 

A student needs to know how to print.

They need to know how to open a word processor.

and they need to know how to save a document.

 

They can't do this.

 

 

Teachers need to know how to mark a digital assessment.

How to properly format a task sheet to comply with department regulations

they need to know how to enter information on OneSchool about possible student absences or allergies, or abuse. They can't do this.

 

 

 

Of course, a great deal can, i'm exaggerating a lot, but its still easily 10~25%, and in this day and age, its just unacceptable.

 

I dont expect them to diagnose a network error, or tell me what hardware is broken, just save a god damn file!

They're gonna have a sharp learning curve at Uni.

Edited by Master_Scythe

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I know a number of people who went into Polyphony having studied fine art and possessing virtually no IT skills, who are now designing background visuals, doing 3D modelling, etc, with training provided entirely on the job. Perhaps its the same with many companies in Japan.

 

I work for a top tier consulting global consulting firm in "digital". Probably 70% of our hires are marketing, communications, fine arts, etc. They take jobs doing UX, BA, "Advisory" roles. Just as important, if not moreso, than the engineering/IT activities. Still, it was a bit of a shock to me coming from a company where 100% of the staff have classic IT or Engineering degrees.

 

I just spoke to my girlfriend, who attends the same university I mentioned. She knows about twenty graduates who work for Polyphony, and said that they all do 3D design for cars... I'm not entirely familiar with UX BA and advisory roles, but I'm going to assume that technical 3D modelling would fall outside these roles?

 

Just had a longer conversation with girlfriend about it, and she said that one possible factor is that that computer game designers in Japan are valued for artistic over technical skills, since computer game creation is strongly associated with animation.

Edited by komuso

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M_S, I disagree. I went without printing a document my entire uni degree, and that has continued into my career. I haven't opened a traditional word processor in years, let alone saved an office document. Online tools like Google Docs are what these students are used to, and I dare say that the entire concept of saving a file is archaic.

 

There is a problem with computer literacy, but I think your expectations in particular are stuck in the 90s. Its certainly not "going to shit". If a kid wants to put their work on Tumblr to save it, who cares, it works for them. It's going to be less likely to disappear when compared to being saved on a thumb drive. Show them a more appropriate cloud solution if you want, for sure, but consider that their workflow exists for a reason.

 

For the record, I absolutely think people should be proficient in computing. The keyword there is computing, not arbitrary IT. Learning MS Office isn't computing, it's training for a specific product they'll probably never use again. Teach them how to build software, solve problems, and ultimately think logically. That's what's necessary for information careers, not plugging in printers. They'll learn how to interface hardware on their own when they're eagerly trying to assemble a Lego bot. I can guarantee it.

Edited by .:Cyb3rGlitch:.

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M_S, I disagree. I went without printing a document my entire uni degree, and that has continued into my career. I haven't opened a traditional word processor in years, let alone saved an office document. Online tools like Google Docs are what these students are used to, and I dare say that the entire concept of saving a file is archaic.

Ah, thats the difference though. High Schools still require a hard copy and a USB stick copy to be sent to panel.

People should learn required skills not rely on someone who's job it's not having a kind heart and helping.

 

It hardly matters what they're 'used to' Welcome to life kiddos! Your education REQUIRES you to print and upload your file you saved.

If you can't don't expect people to cry for you.

Imagine in the real world when they get to work "umm, I'm not used to operating a Point of Sale machine, I only ever used paypal, do it for me, I refuse"; that shit doesnt fly. You get fired.

 

I'm half tempted to just say "you're right" about my expectations being in the 90's, but thats because people in the 90's had overall better understanding of the technology. I hate when people go backward.

 

If we accept that you're right about online tools for certain applications; there's still no arguing that iTunes and Digital Cameras are still common place.

 

More and more I hear people reply to questions such as, 'Where are your photos?' with "They're in iTunes".

No, that's a viewer..... where are the photos themselves...... "no idea"

This was unheard of in the early 2000's. Simplicity is breeding ignorance.

 

We invented the escalator and the elevator a bloody long time ago, but I still know how to use steps.

 

 

besides, Education QLD blocks google tools, online storage, and any form of Cloud Computing services, so thats certainly not the norm.

And even if you still feel your agument for the students is valid, the teachers who have needed these skills for 5 (realistically, more like 10) years have no excuse.

Edited by Master_Scythe

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people in the 90's had overall better understanding of the technology.

No they didn't. They just knew what they needed to know to accomplish their tasks.

 

That you needed to know more back then vs now isn't an indictment on users, it's a victory for UX.

 

Get past the idea of "using a computer" as the goal. A computer is just a tool. Tools that have become simpler and more transparent to the workflow over time.

 

More and more I hear people reply to questions such as, 'Where are your photos?' with "They're in iTunes".

No, that's a viewer..... where are the photos themselves...... "no idea"

There's the disconnect and autism-esque lack of empathy that pervades the IT industry. End users don't, and needn't care about files and directories.

 

As far as the end user is concerned, and need be concerned, their photos are in iTunes. Or in iCloud, or on their iPhone, it doesn't matter. The file containing the photo is an abstract thing that we should move away from.

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Get past the idea of "using a computer" as the goal. A computer is just a tool. Tools that have become simpler and more transparent to the workflow over time.

More and more I hear people reply to questions such as, 'Where are your photos?' with "They're in iTunes".

No, that's a viewer..... where are the photos themselves...... "no idea"

There's the disconnect and autism-esque lack of empathy that pervades the IT industry. End users don't, and needn't care about files and directories.

 

As far as the end user is concerned, and need be concerned, their photos are in iTunes. Or in iCloud, or on their iPhone, it doesn't matter. The file containing the photo is an abstract thing that we should move away from.

 

 

First line: I agree with what you're saying, but the way you said it it bugs me a little. By getting their shit done, they are "using a computer" after all - but you knew that, and I'm just being "that guy". ;p

 

Second point I also agree with - sorta. eg: My mother's tablet. n-million pins on Pinterest, also many pics locally stored ("Gallery" since it's an Android). No matter how much I try to explain it, she insists that every place she finds something is "a site", even when it's just a different section of the same site she's been looking at; and has only just managed to get to grips with why the rest of the world can't see her Gallery pics. It really would be a lot easier for her (and, by extension, others) if she knew a little more about "files and directories" (and local and cloud).

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There's the disconnect and autism-esque lack of empathy that pervades the IT industry. End users don't, and needn't care about files and directories.

 

As far as the end user is concerned, and need be concerned, their photos are in iTunes. Or in iCloud, or on their iPhone, it doesn't matter. The file containing the photo is an abstract thing that we should move away from.

 

I love how well computers link to cars for analogies.

 

What you describe is the type of person who doesnt know how to check their brake fluid, or tire pressure.

They just 'get in and drive'.

 

Then when they spin out with no brakes or a flat tire, we have a nice group of people called the police who come through and call them a dickhead for having bald tires and an unroadworthy car. "it still drove though".

I think these people are dickheads. Dont drive on bald tires, knowing which is the 'go and stop' pedal isn't enough.

 

Where as if someone has a million dollars worth of tax records on MYOB or priceless photos, and their hard drive crashes, yet they never made a backup, they get sympathy?!

No, you operated a machine without proper safety precautions in place. The only difference is there is (as of yet) no 'Police' to come and tear you a new one for it. (bad example because the ATO might do that for MYOB.... but still.... my point stands).

 

autistic lack of sympathy or not, if you start using a multi hundred dollar tool without learning how to correctly operate it, regardless of what it is, I think you're a twat.

 

people in the 90's had overall better understanding of the technology.

No they didn't. They just knew what they needed to know to accomplish their tasks.

 

You genuinely, honestly, dont think that in the 90's you needed a better understanding of the technology to 'acomplish their tasks'?

 

This whole apple\android\one touch setup, type of computing lifestyle we've been working toward as a culture hasn't made any progress in your mind? Its STILL just as in depth?

 

Then WTF have we been working on? I genuinely feel everything the last 5~10 years has been about 'usability'.

Which in turn, has bred 'lazy' when it comes to IT knowledge.

 

It really would be a lot easier for her (and, by extension, others) if she knew a little more about "files and directories" (and local and cloud).

 

 

When my parents asked me to teach them to "surf the internet" and use a PC for photos and things, this was my first point of call and they've thanked me ever since.

I made up a quite intensive worksheet for them, telling them to make a file, move it, save it here, file it there, a few places where they had to identify if the file was 'local' or 'remote'.

 

It only took about 4x 2hour lessons for them to be nearly perfect with all the above. Now they know how to use bookmarks, save a picture they like, type a letter and email it (attachments).

 

Still working on scanning though.... seems to be tricky teaching them about something thats on screen but 'doesnt exist yet' because you havent saved it.

Edited by Master_Scythe

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It only took about 4x 2hour lessons...

 

Still working on scanning though.... seems to be tricky teaching them about something thats on screen but 'doesnt exist yet' because you havent saved it.

 

Four two-hour lessons..? Faarrk. My mum would have been a tear-streaked heap halfway through the first one. She's not dumb by any means, but if something can't be explained to her in about 5 minutes or less, she'll assume it's horrendously complex and she's "too stupid to learn that". (Conditioning: Learned Helplessness - thank my father, her mother, and the society of '40-'50s Australia)

 

We tried to get her using a desktop back in the '90s, but it really was pushing it - there was too much she had to know before she could do anything. Tablets and 'phones today, though... She can get results and see that she can in fact do this stuff in seconds - I just have to help with the odd...misconception here and there.

 

 

whoops: forgot second half...

Yeah, that bit she 'got' really fast. "What's on the screen is not real - it's just a picture of what could be real...once you save it."

Edited by Cybes

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What you describe is the type of person who doesnt know how to check their brake fluid, or tire pressure.

They just 'get in and drive'.

That's how it should be. A car is a tool. Unless you are a mechanic, or your hobby is hot-rodding/ricing/whatever, then the extent of your knowledge should only need to be that required to use the road lawfully.

 

Part of "ownership" of a car is certainly maintenance, so you drop your car off at the dealer's garage once a year, or every 25,000km, and they inspect and maintain the inner workings. That's their job, so it doesn't need to be yours.

 

If you want to know more, maybe do some maintenance yourself to save money, that's entirely your prerogative and nothing should stop you from pursuing that. But it shouldn't be a requirement of use of the tool, that you should know that brakes need fluid, let alone how to top-up/flush/whatever the system.

 

In fact, I think that for most people the concept of car "ownership" is unnecessary. There should be a service where you pay a monthly fee to have "a car" in your driveway for your use. When that car flags that a part has failed, or that a KM threshold has been exceeded, the company appears at your address, drops a different car in your driveway, and takes the other one away for maintenance. The hood is locked shut, because you don't need to know what's under there. You just get in and drive.

 

I know that this conflicts with the sentiment of "owning a thing", and probably triggers you as a car nut, but really it's better outcomes for everybody.

 

Where as if someone has a million dollars worth of tax records on MYOB or priceless photos, and their hard drive crashes, yet they never made a backup, they get sympathy?!

No, you operated a machine without proper safety precautions in place. The only difference is there is (as of yet) no 'Police' to come and tear you a new one for it. (bad example because the ATO might do that for MYOB.... but still.... my point stands).

The importance of backups should be stressed, no doubt. But again, it shouldn't be the job of an accountant to piss about with USB disks, tapes, BD-R, what-have-you. The backup regime should be sold as a service, and be transparent to the user. Then when disaster strikes, the physical contents of the building are immaterial, and work can continue. In fact, there's no reason MYOB couldn't be offered as a service, and you just access it via Citrix/Xenapp. Then somebody else (with the knowledge and inclination to do so) gets to piss about with computers and files and backups, and you just do what you do: accounting.

 

And we're finally approaching a point where this is realistic for most service-oriented businesses (almost) regardless of location. Bandwidth is cheap, storage is cheap, and data is valuable. SaaS is the future, for huge swathes of our lives.

 

autistic lack of sympathy or not, if you start using a multi hundred dollar tool without learning how to correctly operate it, regardless of what it is, I think you're a twat.

It appears that we differ in opinion on the concept of "correctly operate".

 

You genuinely, honestly, dont think that in the 90's you needed a better understanding of the technology to 'acomplish their tasks'?

No. From personal experience, I can tell you that people then, just as now, rote-learned the steps to "get past" the non-productive "computery" steps of their workflow, to achieve the desired outcomes.

 

The difference is that back then, the steps inevitably included manipulating abstract computer objects, i.e. files and directories. This probably gave the illusion that people "understood computers".

 

This whole apple\android\one touch setup, type of computing lifestyle we've been working toward as a culture hasn't made any progress in your mind? Its STILL just as in depth?

We have made huge progress. Just not in the direction you'd like.

 

The direction is away from "computing" as a discrete thing, so well integrated and seamless, that you don't even notice it's there.

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This whole apple\android\one touch setup, type of computing lifestyle we've been working toward as a culture hasn't made any progress in your mind? Its STILL just as in depth?

We have made huge progress. Just not in the direction you'd like.

 

The direction is away from "computing" as a discrete thing, so well integrated and seamless, that you don't even notice it's there.

 

And I fucking love it.

 

The correct response to... "If they cant one click install it, and then 'cloud' it, they dont know how to do it"... is "why should it be any more complicated than that?!"

 

Youngins in silicon valley are making squillions of dollars by making it as simple as one click install and 'clouding', because it doesnt need to be any more complicated than that. The future of computing is fucking glorious.

 

These kids are going to be adults that think its really weird to go to the side of the street and put your hand up to get a taxi. Or the idea that you have to go to a special place (a taxi rank) to get a taxi.

 

And on the topic of cars, kids are soon going to think that driving a car is really fucking weird.

 

so what did you do before self-driving cars?"
"we just drove 'em ourselves!"
"wow, no one died that way?"
"oh no, millions of people died"

Rob.

Edited by robzy
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To tie this back to the education system, we need people who can solve problems, not memorise product interfaces. The very best way to do this is to inspire the kids and give them enough resources to go nuts, and offer guidance when requested.

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It appears that we differ in opinion on the concept of "correctly operate".

 

Yep, we can agree to disagree on that alone :)

 

I respect a thirst for knowledge, its why I like it here, and why I hang around with who I do.

If you're going to assume the TV is 'magic' becuase the remote does it, and if the batteries go flat, or the power isnt plugged in, you're fucked?

Im sorry, I can't respect that. I can still respect who you are, thats different, just not that one aspect of you.

 

 

Just like I think a car driver should know how to make sure their brakes are safe, and tires are roadworthy (because it puts hundreds of peoples lives in danger)

I think teachers should know how to correctly upload a file (because it puts hundreds of peoples lives in danger; medical records for example)

 

'Correctly use a tool' for me, includes the basic safety instructions. Whether that be "here is how you back up your work" or "tires are a required part of a vehicle".

 

I can genuinely understand where you're coming from with 'knowing what you need to know' is enough, but when you're holding other peoples lives in your very hands, like a car, or a school teacher, I feel very strongly that its different.

 

 

 

In all honestly, Ive actually been on the butt end of an incompetent IT teacher.

3 years of a Diploma of Multimedia, every assessment completed, every peice handed into the teacher on time.

Not one of them uploaded to the Tafe. (he admitted he didn't know how, after)

He lost his HDD, and with it, 3 years of my life. I never did get that back.

Edited by Master_Scythe

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