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    10 of the Most Useful Digital Age Skills Every Learner Needs

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    10 of the Most Useful Digital Age Skills Every Learner Needs

    There are so many useful and practical abilities to have that can help our learners build success and enable lifelong learning. We’re talking about skills students can build, protect, and preserve an identity with and that can enable them to help others do the same.

    Useful and versatile abilities for any modern student to have are what you’ll find in the following list. These are digital age skills for work and for life in our ever-changing world. Add and subtract as you like, because as the world changes, so will the skills we need to make our way in it.

    1. Personal Branding

    Today, we live our lives online. Our identities are out there for the world to see. Who we are and what we value is represented through websites, blogs, and social media. They showcase our values, opinions, accomplishments, dreams, and desires. How do your students look to the world? More importantly, how do they look to prospective employers and educators? This is what personal branding is all about.

    Personal branding is a digital age skill that can make or break a potential job opportunity or a spot in a prestigious college or university. That means students must put their best foot forward always. It’s something we should encourage them to take very seriously. Resources like the following will help students rock their personal branding:

    2. Portfolio Building

    Online portfolios are a quick and convenient gallery for student greatness they can begin creating right away. As their experience and skills grow, so will their body of work. Students can also build simple starter portfolios on Facebook and Pinterest.

    This article from Mashable features another 20 great portfolio-building tools. Also, check out this post on using online tools to build portfolios.

    3. Search Skills

    Today, information is everywhere online. The Web is a living breathing juggernaut of digital content that is growing and expanding at an amazing rate. According to Cisco, almost 2 zettabytes of data will be produced online annually by 2019. (1 zettabyte is equal to about 1 billion gigabytes.)

    Knowing how to navigate this ocean of information is one of the most crucial digital age skills students can have. It will help them know good information from bad information and assist them with many daily living and working tasks. 

    Take a look at this article from Mindshift about being more search-savvy. 

    4. Proper Citation Practices

    At some point, students will be drawing on the expertise of others to support their own work. Part of this is honoring that work and effort that helped them and others learn. They can do this best by properly citing sources and respecting the intellectual property of others. 

    This article is about basic best practices for citation. When it comes to building bibliographies, there are also lots of online tools available. Try out EasyBib, Zotero, or Citation Machine.

    5. Image/Video Editing

    We are inherently visual learners, and everything has a visual component to it nowadays. Basic media editing is one of those digital age skills you can use on projects ranging from the personal to the professional.

    The projects we do and profiles we manage are largely visual in nature. It makes sense for students to possess basic video and image editing know-how. This list of resources is a great place to start:

    6. File Conversion

    File conversion is another useful overall skill to have in the digital age. Much of the information we share with colleagues and employers is done online including:

    • communicating and sharing files with students and co-workers
    • sending electronic files of projects to teams or to clients for approval and consideration
    • converting files for use on the Web (this applies to social media, websites, and more)

    Understanding how to maximize file sizes for various applications and tasks is good stuff to know. It’s about knowing how to convert and compress images, videos, audio files, and doc files for various purposes. It’s also about knowing what files to use for things like coding and printing purposes.

    Many subheadings fall under the file conversion umbrella. It’s a broad area to get into. Students should start small and build their knowledge one skill at a time.

    7. Coding

    Coding is arguably one of the most important digital age skills our learners can have. Coding is being taught more and more in schools worldwide as it is beginning to be recognized as an essential ability for the future. That’s what sites like Code.org are bringing computer science to the mainstream. It’s more accessible than ever now, and today everyone can learn.

    Explore these 12 sites where students can learn to code for free.

    8. Blogging

    This is more than just about sharing content and perspective. Good blogging also exercises writing, researching, and editing skills. It’s an incredible arena for creativity and specialization. Edudemic even makes the case for blogging being one of the best learning tools students can have.

    Getting started with a blog is a snap nowadays. There are plenty of sites that will get students out of the gates such as WordPressTumblr, or Svtble. Students can also look at these resources on better blogging tips:

    Students can also look at these resources on better blogging tips:

    9. Presentation Building

    Building a good presentation can be a boon to any business or creative venture. You know when you’ve walked out of a good presentation because you feel educated, inspired, and entertained. The rules of making great presentations are the guidelines for success.

    A great presentation is an extension of intention and idea that evolves into an impression. This should be an impression that’s left on the viewer long after the presentation is over. Great presentations entertain and inspire thought and action.

    One of the best people you’ll ever watch regarding presentation mojo is Garr Reynolds. If students want to know about the art of perfecting presentations, they should watch this TED Talks video by Reynolds. They can also check out these tips and strategies:

    10. Creating a Website

    Last but not least in our digital age skills list is website creating. This is partly in tandem with coding. It’s also about knowing the aesthetics of website appearance and functionality. You can build the best website in the world on the back end. That said, if it’s ugly and clunky up front, people won’t go near it. It has to look good to the eye and feel good to the cursor. 

    This article from Hubspot explains effective website design. It also gives you 15 of the best examples on the Web to look at. Even if students are still iffy on coding skills, there are lots of website builders out there they can use. The best website builder reviews are right here. Students can decide the best route to go for their own website adventures.

    Under the blanket of digital age skills there are many useful pursuits. A student’s toolbox will be constantly evolving throughout their life. The need for newer and newer skills will always be the norm. In the meantime, consider this list a useful starting point.

    Editor's note: This post was originally published in 2019 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

    Originally published Feb 6, 2019, updated Nov 11, 2021

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