Part of my research time (and hobby time as well) is spent tracking educational and learning trends. Although the topic is perhaps a couple of degrees away from my normal enterprise inquiries (collaboration, unified communications, "Enterprise 2.0") - shifting workforce demographics, rising interest in strategic talent management / human capital management and a resurgence of interest in knowledge management more than justify an expanded radar scope. In any case, I found the article below intriguing in-and-of-itself but also a theme that you can extend from urban situations to many of today's workplace environments.
The point below about judging students by their media literacy skills could clearly be applied to the current workforce as well. With all the talk about Web 2.0 / Enterprise 2.0 from a technology perspective, there are often very incorrect assumptions about the ability of workers to "naturally" learn and apply these tools within a business scenario. You can make a case that younger workers might already be familiar with these tools from @home / @play experiences but that exposure may not transfer over to using them proficiently within a work context.
Addressing media and information literacy should be a more prominent action item for those involved in professional development programs or human resources in general.
When the sixth graders of today take off their cap and gowns in 2018, after graduating from college and entering the workforce, what will it mean to be literate? What will be the media they use to communicate with colleagues, families and friends? While none of us knows the exact answer to this question, we all know that the reduced cost and size of technology, the increasing ubiquity of internet connectivity, and the shrinking of the world through globalization will continue to heighten the importance of developing a citizenry able to critically consume and produce media beyond text.
I conjecture that by 2018, a student will routinely be judged not only by her ability to write a 5-paragraph essay but her ability to represent her ideas via a 5 minute podcast, 2 minute movie, and level in an educational game.
In essence literate in 2018 will mean being multi-literate - the ability to critically consume and produce media such as print, video, sound and screen. Of course this conjecture is not new. Many technologists, educators, and policy makers are espousing this future. However, while the synergy regarding what it will mean to be literate in the future is growing, the blueprint for getting there is still on the drafting table. If we are to prepare our sixth graders of today for the world they will face tomorrow we must begin today to rethink our definitions and methods of supporting youth in becoming multiliterate.