Software supplants old literacy

Computers are everywhere. So is software. Software literacy determines a student’s productivity and creative potential.

Students create by writing essays, designing graphics or presentations and composing music or videos. Content comes as files on a computer’s storage drive.

However, content can be poorly managed – like having a cluttered desktop or a disorganized file system. If mismanaged, the content is usually either hard to locate or unusable.

Traditionally, digital content is stored on a single, local computer or phone – and in many cases, these storage methods are effective. However, cloud-based data storage solutions like Dropbox or Google Drive make content accessible on more than one device. Most cloud drives also offer custom sharing features that allow easy organization and collaboration.

Content creation is all about using the right tool for the job. For a simple essay or spreadsheet, Microsoft Office products may suffice. However, for high quality projects containing immersive content, either Adobe Creative Cloud or their  software competitors are more appropriate solutions. These professional software’s companies often offer student pricing for many apps useful for photo editing, video creation, and even web design.

Many students create websites as online portfolios. Justin Jabbour, senior graphic design major at John Brown University, considers WordPress, Virb and Square Space excellent options for most students, some offering student discounts. However, portfolios are not only for art majors.

The flip side of content creation is content consumption. Websites present information, entertainment, cultural trends and innovators in accessible ways. For instance, TED Talks pique curiosity and spark conversation. Robert Smith, engineering technician at JBU, recommends online magazines like Wired, FastCompany and Success because they cover a wide range of modern trends many fields – all highly valuable to the young professional.

“These curated reflections of culture open up the opportunity to see different perspectives to important matters of life,” Smith said. He reminds students that one of the primary skills to gain during college is how to apply lessons between different fields. Smith also advocates for students of all majors to read business magazines. “The business world is the aggregator of different disciplines,” Smith said.

While most of the new computer and internet-based technologies are used by young people, software is slowly becoming more accessible to older generations. However, there will likely always be a gap in software skill between the young and old because of differing exposure to technology at early stages of development. As such, young people are in a better position than ever to help older people use some of the ever-changing software of today.