One of the most important skills for job seekers is familiarity, skill, and savvy with social media. A working knowledge of how to use sites like Facebook, Twitter and Google+ to enhance a company’s marketing strategy is sought after by many employers in today’s market. This trend is prompting educators to include online courses as a graduation requirement for high school.
Virginia is the latest state to add online education to high school graduation requirements. Governor Robert F. McDonnell signed a bill into law on April 5, 2012 that will require high school students to take one online course to graduate with either a standard or an advanced diploma.
The law applies to all students in Virginia who enter the ninth grade no earlier than the 2013 school year. It also requires students to earn a credential in technical education, which may include a state license or an industry certification. The requisite online course will help prepare students for jobs in the 21st century according to Jeff Caldwell, spokesman for Governor McDonnell. Completing such a requirement in high school may increase the likelihood that the same student would pursue additional IT education at a higher level.
Legislators around the country are recognizing the need to provide high school students with social media skills. Florida passed a law requiring an online course for high school students that took effect for the 2011-12 school year. Students in that state can fulfill the virtual course requirement in several ways, including enrollment in college or the Florida Virtual School.
Michigan has required its high school students to take an online course since 2006, and Idaho passed a law in November 2012 requiring two online courses for graduation. Indiana is currently debating a similar law, and Tennessee requires students to take a course in personal finance that is often taught online. Alabama and New Mexico have graduation requirements that include online experience.
The following states already have or will soon have requirements to improve the level of Internet and social media understanding among high school students:
- South Carolina
States have strong reasons for their high school graduates to improve their social media skills. These skills will allow students to learn on their own as high-speed Internet access becomes more readily available. Social media know-how will also better prepare students for the workplace, higher education and life in general. Students typically acquire computer experience informally while using social media. By contrast, a formal education in social media requires students to meet deadlines, complete assignments and collaborate with other students.
Social media knowledge also provides students with the opportunity to learn material unavailable at their brick-and-mortar schools. This allows traditional institutions to increase variety in their curricula, and will also eliminate the need to commute between schools. This often happens when a student wishes to take an advanced course that their primary school does not offer.
Some students acquire much of their education online in programs called virtual schools. This typically occurs when the student is home schooled or unable to attend a physical school. They usually take the course in a solitary environment, which allows a virtual class to be much larger; a physical class averages about 25 students, whereas a virtual class often has more than 60 students. Social media skills are essential for students in a virtual school, since they typically must interact with their instructors and classmates in an online forum.
Some online courses rely on a learning coach, often a parent or private teacher when the student is home schooled. Some courses also supplement downloaded information with books and materials. This is most common for the primary grades, and the reliance on social media skills generally increases as the student advances to his or her secondary education.
States throughout the country are moving toward requiring high school students to receive social media training for graduation, and this trend is expected to continue. Some pupils may receive most or even all of their education online, reflecting a marked change in the skills sought after in today’s job market. Social media skills will benefit students by preparing them for technical jobs, which are forming an ever-larger part of the job market. Computer proficiency and the ability to navigate social media sites with confidence are valuable talents might not be emphasized in the traditional classroom.