Technological Agility

One of the AACSB student learning outcome standards introduced in 2019 is “demonstration of technology agility and a ‘learn to learn’ mindset, including the ability to rapidly adapt to new technologies.” Programs need to figure out how to assess the new criterium.

How can faculty assess a student’s ability to ‘rapidly adapt to new technologies?’ One major problem with teaching (and assessing) technology agility is the tendency for faculty to teach to their own pasts instead of their student’s future. Once faculty embrace the rapid pace of technological change, they can then model their own behavior and create assignments and use technology that challenge their students. Only then can any meaningful assessment be made.

Technological agility goes beyond just using social media or a learning management system (LMS) for assignments. In the workplace, there are applications such as MS Office, analytic presentation software such as Tableau, and customer service software such as Salesforce that employers want their employees to be able to adapt to. Not only is a company’s installed software changing with updates and added functionality, but other software will be adopted by companies over the years. Companies want their employees to be able to not only adapt to but also embrace technological change.

How many faculty still get up in front of class and walk students through a spreadsheet analysis while the students are furiously typing and trying to keep up?  If students fall a few keystrokes behind, they become hopelessly lost, not to mention that while madly trying to follow the instructor, very little understanding of the concept is actually occurring between the ears. There are other and better ways to present the data to students. Video demonstrations of software are excellent for students – the videos can be paused and replayed numerous times. One online site, for example, is Lynda.com, an excellent resource for learning software applications (when students come up to me and ask, for example, how to label the axes on a graph in Excel, I point them to Lynda. Something about teaching students how to fish…)

Perhaps the best way to ‘assess’ technological agility is to have students use multiple technologies in their courses within their program of study. An undergraduate or graduate program can point to graduating students and be confident that they have been exposed to multiple applications. The ‘assessment’ needs to be program-wide to be effective. How many different software programs and applications have the students used during their matriculation? At the course level, instructors can evaluate how well the student learned to use and apply different applications for their assignments. These assessments can be a part of the student’s grade, but also kept separate so that a cumulative technological agility ‘score’ over the course of a program of study can be created.

Creating a useful and meaningful assessment of technological agility will be challenging for programs. But the workplaces of tomorrow demand this skill set from their employees – the creation of proper metrics and accurate assessment will only help our students succeed.

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