News Column

Business Education Evolves With New Technology

March 21, 2011

Joyce Russell


Don't ask high school students if they're signing up for shorthand classes next semester.

They'll probably give you puzzled looks.

Ask instead if they're taking computer applications, marketing, personal finance, computer programming or Web development.

Then you'll be speaking their language.

The business of business education in local high schools has changed and continues to evolve to meet increasing expectations of students, whether they're seeking a job right out of high school or continuing their education, say local high school business education teachers.

"Students are competing on a global scale now for work," said John Gibson, director of undergraduate and graduate programs for the school of business and economics at Indiana University Northwest in Gary.

"There is a lot more pressure on kids today," he said.

Hammond High School teacher William Rivera agrees.

"It is so insane. With globalization students are competing against kids in India and China. As quick as they can, they have to separate themselves from the pack," Rivera said.

High school students need more than skills in typing -- or keyboarding, as it's called today -- to get a job or to smoothly transition into a higher education system.

High schools are addressing the issues.

"The objective is to prepare students with 21st century skills," said Mary Bachnak, business technology department chairwoman at Crown Point High School.

At Portage High School, teachers are trying to keep up with trends. They're teaching Office 2010, the newest version of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Access and other programs, teacher Chris Kern said.

In marketing classes, she said, they learn concepts by running an NFL franchise. In financial planning courses, they develop five-year plans.

Portage High School teacher Robin Halberstadt teaches her students three levels of computer programming.

It is a similar scenario in most schools.

At Crown Point High School, seniors can participate in the Interdisciplinary Cooperative Education program, in which they spend a half-day at school and the second half on the job so they can explore career options and learn what it's like to be on the job, Bachnak said.

Another change, said Anna Rominger, dean of the School of Business and Economics at IUN, is that students no longer have the luxury to explore career possibilities while in college. That's been pushed sooner to the high school years.

"They are under pressure to find a career, decide on a major early on. They are expected to know what they want to do when they get out of high school," Rominger said. She said high school is when students are introduced to concepts of various disciplines.

Source: Copyright (c) 2011, The Times, Munster, Ind.

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