You might currently be very busy with all of your university work, but you might be missing the most valuable skill you will need later in life. This skill is severely underrated at university and hence you barely notice its importance. Yet, in the working world after you finished that amazing master’s in Economics, Anthropology, Law, Psychology or whichever study you will need it. If not now, then certainly in the future. So, we need to talk about your digital skills, IT knowledge and how you can learn this vital skill outside next to your normal university course load. Because the truth is, recruiters are looking for it, managers are looking for it, customers are looking for it and the future is waiting for it.
So, where does this necessity to understand come from? The most likely explanation is that the lack of digital understanding makes one vulnerable to exploitation. A clear example according to Nieuwsuur (2015) are the IT-projects that victimized the Dutch government:
- C2000 – emergency communication system (incomplete, expensive and inefficient),
- OV-chipkaart (easily hackable)
- Centralized law enforcement system (inefficient)
Most of these problems stem from a lack of foresight related to an absence of digital knowledge. Asymmetric information between the client and contractor increased the amount of missing feature/security problems during the digital transformation phase whereby concepts became reality. To prevent asymmetric information and increase stipulation in the contracting process, the following question rises; how can upcoming students contribute to preventing similar unfortunate situations in the future? Because, if the current study system does not incorporate digital development, then how can one prevent itself from making similar mistakes like the unknowing or the unwilling people of the past.
University teaches us so many things we supposedly need and they tell us how we ought to do things in practice. But, they seem to forget that in reality the world works very different and is subject to a lot of influences not considered in academics. Indeed, this has been a persistent problem throughout the ages. Machiavelli for example was right when he said
“How we live is so different from how we ought to live that he who studies what ought to be done rather than what is done will learn the way to his downfall rather than to his preservation”
If universities do not change with the digital age, they will become obsolete far faster than they can ever imagine. This might be a university problem but we as students should not go down with the sinking ship. We have the means and the energy to change our own future, to teach ourselves. Initiatives to assist are plentiful however picking the one that works best is a little bit harder. To help you make the right choice I have made a short list of useful digital teachers:
The Codeademy platform enjoys a user-friendly interface that optimizes the learning experience considerably. With features that keep track of your progress completing a course has never been so easy. Their business model is based on a Pro Membership offering additional depth and courses besides the already free to use ones.
The edX platform differentiates by being a multifaced massive open online course provider. They utilize the ‘MOOC’ principle to create open access courses enabling you to study a multitude of topics including coding and IT. The business model allows you to follow a course and in return for a fee acquire a certificate proving successful completion of a course.
Coursera works with universities and other organizations to offer online courses, specializations, and degrees in a variety of subjects, such as engineering, humanities, medicine, biology, social sciences, mathematics, business, computer science, digital marketing, data science
The Coursera platform is similar to edX as it is also a ‘MOOC’ provider. Their business model operates based on the specialization, course or Audit principle. The latter allows a student to have access to all course materials except graded items.
These teachers are available and for the people that are willing to learn it will open up insights into the mechanisms that drive the digital age. For organisations it is a means of aquiring the necessary knowledge that will allows their ecosystem to thrive (Gulati, Puranam, & Tushman, 2012).
Machiavelli, N. (1469-1527). The prince and the discourses (1469-1527). New York: Modern Library.
Nieuwsuur. (2015, 04 08). Mislukte ICT-projecten en andere ICT-missers. Retrieved from https://nos.nl: https://nos.nl/nieuwsuur/artikel/2029208-mislukte-ict-projecten-en-andere-ict-missers.html
Gulati, R., Puranam, P., & Tushman, M. (2012). Meta‐organization design: Rethinking design in interorganizational and community contexts. Strategic Management Journal, 33(6), 571-586.