Competition used to be about who had the most of something — the most money, the biggest army, the most academic degrees. But, as technology has become a bigger part of our world and everything we do, it's more about not what we have — or how much we have of it — but rather how we use it. In this way, technology has become an equalizer in a variety of situations, from making smaller nations more of a threat to traditional world powers to making students from smaller colleges and universities equally qualified for careers as their counterparts from the Ivy League.
Now that students have the answer to everything they could ever want to know in the palm of their hands, at the swipe of the finger or at the click of a mouse, it is becoming less important every day what they know. Traditionally, education at every level, especially college, was about packing as much knowledge into students' brains as possible, memorizing facts, dates, processes and more. Today, it is more important to teach students not what they should know, but how to effectively use the technology and resources at hand to solve real world problems.
Because of technology, students from every background and community have an equal shot at landing the best jobs in our nation. Recruiters are looking less at the education and GPA portions of resumes and more towards the skills and experience sections. The students with the most impressive resumes increasingly prove that they know how to effectively use the technology at their fingers by taking on challenging internships and participating in experience-based courses, strategies that strengthen resumes and position these students for more success than their counterparts with perfect GPAs, but no real-world experience. The tendency toward technology is also shown increasingly at a variety of companies, where interns are often leading the charge in social media and technology, and senior team members look to them for technological advice to keep the company successful and help it thrive.
For educators, it can be challenging to move away from the traditional method of teaching students facts and figures and toward teaching how to effectively use resources to be an important asset at a company, especially when technology is evolving faster than many can keep up with. But, staying up-to-date on technology and incorporating experience-based learning into courses whenever possible can help professors better position their students for success, as will evaluating students more on how they present results for case studies, projects and competitions, than what score they get on tests of memorization.
When we give students the tools they need — i.e. basic knowledge and technological resources — the best way to teach them to succeed is through the trial and error that comes with experience-based learning. The world is changing into one where results are all that matter, not grades, money or memorization of facts, but what individuals can do with what they have and the innovations they bring to the table. While some may consider this shift a change for the worse because it may weaken their positions, in the academic world, it is a challenge we are ready and willing to tackle, incorporating technology and experience wherever we can to prepare our students to effectively use their resources. Moving forward, degrees and knowledge won't be the most important part of landing a great career, just a piece of the puzzle that graduates link together with efficiency, strategic thinking and technology.