Zack Whittaker at ZDnet wrote a good post (zd.net/nWEATt) on how schools may be teaching Word and PowerPoint, but kids are unaware of data privacy and protection issues.
I would go one ‘P’ further. Along with Protection (of data) and Privacy (of information), add Piracy (of software and media).
Last year, I took the opportunity to build and teach a Computer Merit Badge course for Boy Scouts who were between 12 and 18. The complete learning objectives can be found at Scouting.org, but here is a summary:
- Online safety
- History of computing
- Various Computer Use scenarios
- Part of the computer
- OS’s, Applications, Security Tools and the Internet
- Content (Word, Excel, PowerPoint) skills
- Copyright laws and Digital Media
- Technology Professions
One of Zach’s points in his post is that most schools only cover #6 – creating content.
Most kids don’t get the basics of Protection, whereby if the harddrive breaks or fails, all of those pictures are gone forever.
Many kids excitedly join Social Networks without really understanding Privacy or the ramifications of putting something on the ‘net. (Of course, the ever changing profile settings of large social networks doesn’t help)
And most kids seem to understand that if musicians don’t feel that they are getting paid for their work (because their music is constantly shared) or developers don’t get enough revenue (because their software is pirated), then they are less prone to make the investment next time. That means less great music and lower-quality games. If preaching ‘theft’ doesn’t influence your youth, perhaps a very brief economics lesson might.
This is one more way that Scouting continues to help prepare our nation’s youth for a better tomorrow. Along with character building and leadership skills, there are more than 100 merit badges that give today’s youth a broader education than they might get on their own.
If your son is a Scout (or you are one), I highly encourage the Computer Merit Badge as a way to supplement your technology learning.
If not, you might still consider picking up this $6 book from your local Scout Shop.