Academic Success, Aligning, COVID-19, Digital Literacy, Student, Pandemic
In this paper the alignment of computer and digital literacy as well as student academic success were examined. Lack of adequate functional digital literacy training and the unreadiness of higher education institutions for the impact of random shocks such as COVID-19 pandemic has gravely affected teaching and learning.
The purpose of this paper is to make the case for preparedness of students to meet the needs of technology jobs by mandating and aligning digital literacy and student success. As COVID-19 Pandemic was spreading through the communities of the United States, institutions of higher education transitioned to fully online teaching and learning. Prior to the pandemic, fully online education was secondary to face-to-face format. Only about 20% of classes were fully online while 80% were face-to-face. Digital literacy was given a token treatment as a percentage of the entire curriculum and relegated to only the departments of computer information systems and computer sciences. Faculty, students, staff, families, and communities were not trained for the intensity of fully online education as the only format. Many of them never heard of most of the digital literacy tools. Both faculty and students were forced to learn the use of computers and digital literacy tools to survive the spring 2020 semester. Low-income families were left to the operational schedules of local libraries, many of whom did not have internet presence. The institutions provided limited training for faculty and students to meet the urgency of the time. Faculty and students were forced to purchase expensive tools and hardware to withstand the intensive demand of teaching and learning. Many students were overwhelmed by the pressure of the new way of learning; some dropped out of school while many performed very poorly in their examinations which negatively impacted their overall grade point averages. One year later in spring 2021, the student success outcomes have barely changed. At the same time, technology is advancing despite the raging COVID pandemic. Millions of technology-enabled jobs remain unfilled while millions of university graduates are unemployed. There continues to be a mismatch between current job requirements in the industries and graduating students’ skills.
This paper discusses the indispensable value of building computer and digital literacy training into all undergraduate curriculums. We argue for mandated computer and digital literacy exit skills assessment test for all graduating students irrespective of their discipline. We also make the case for increased institutional investment in faculty training in computer and digital literacy readiness. There are a number of remedies suggested to address the speed of advancement in technology, faculty and student functional mastery of basic computer and digital literacy skills. We conclude that all institutions must be proactive rather than reactive to systemic shocks by preparing students for academic success and technological readiness for today’s job markets
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