Digital tools and platforms also afford unprecedented opportunities for building communication skills. Social Media provides multiple venues for expressing ideas and opinions. For example, the character limit imposed on tweets serves as a way to practice concise writing. Through blogging or commenting, students learn how to develop an opinion and express it in an appropriate manner. These practices not only sharpen communication skills, they may also expand the concept of community for students. As the digital sphere continues to grow, it will be helpful for students to understand that they are members of communities both physical and digital.
In addition to an increase in communication exercises, technology and the digital space also equip students with the tools to actually make and create things. Students have affordable and accessible means of using both their heads and their hands. Digital projects serve as a way to build teamwork and project management skills—both critical to academic, professional and social success.
As digital tools begin to provide increasingly specific feedback, students will have the opportunity to learn how to take criticism in stride. Moreover, they can learn how to use that feedback to improve their skills. Feedback is most often delivered to just the individual, which spares them any fear or embarrassment.
These experiences could also help students learn about both sides of the creative process by practicing how to craft constructive criticism.
In short, a digital space may prove an excellent training ground for developing the capacity to learn from feedback and criticism. Students can sharpen this skill in a digital space and gradually transfer this ability to more practical experiences.
Although I’m stressing the potential benefits of technology in this post, time unplugged is still both necessary and worthwhile. These are just a few thoughts regarding the impact tech has on soft skills, but I want to know what other people think. So I ask—are there possible pitfalls or potential benefits I overlooked?
Please let me know your suggestions in the comments or you can connect with me on Twitter!
Catelyn Cantrell is a soon-to-be graduate from the University of Florida and a member of the Omninox Publishing team in Gainesville, Florida, a developer of interactive guides for Advanced Placement® Courses. She is starting a master’s degree in English Education and taking steps towards a teaching career.