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Mastering Soft Skills for Success: Has Technology Made Us Soft on Soft Skills?

In this increasingly digital age, of complexity and rapid change in the world, the need to develop social skills is greater than ever.

I know that I have been guilty of being in a room full of friends, and we are all on our laptops or phones, barely speaking or making eye contact with each other for nearly our entire time together. Technology in itself is not the problem, since we can place boundaries on our use of technology, especially when we are in the presence of others. Youth, in particular, are able to interact with technology in ways that can benefit them greatly in their personal and professional lives. It is often social media, for example, that allows us to connect to both tragic and inspirational stories, generating emotional responses and solidarity amongst groups of people (ex. the ALS ice bucket challenge). The basis of these stories we hear about via social media, and behind the countless computer screens, are human beings – yet, these screens can become a barrier to connecting with the human beings closest to us. And, when it comes to the workplace, this can create significant challenges to things like successful collaboration – or even getting hired. Those who work with young people entering the workforce – particularly Career and Technical educators, know this challenge all too well. Ben Furse, QTL Instructional Specialist, recently worked with Career and Technical Education teachers from Rutherford County, NC on implementing soft skills into their curricula in his session, “Mastering Soft Skills for Success.”

Many people may be curious as to what is meant by “soft skills.” Examples would include verbal and non-verbal communication skills, negotiation tactics, collaboration, communicating effectively and appropriately, writing professionally, among other skills; whereas “hard skills” are technical skills. The fact of the matter is that technology has become a way of life around the globe not only personally, but also professionally. The Rutherford County session did not deny this fact, as Ben worked with participating educators on ways they could balance and integrate social media and educational technology within the process of weaving soft skills into their curricula. Developing and mastering soft skills is not only important for students once they enter the workforce, as the vast majority of employers seek well-rounded employees, but is also vital for everyday life as students become adults in a world that is increasingly diverse and complex.

-Adrian Mack, Director of Partnership Development

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QTL
The Centers for Quality Teaching and Learning expands and supports high quality teaching and effective, supportive leadership. QTL Processes bring together technology, teamwork, student data and research-based instruction to create more engaging lesson design for greater student achievement.

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