Researching a topic on one’s own, and then teaching others about it, often provides a deeper understanding of that topic.

The following activity, drawn from Beverly Amer’s New Perspectives: Portfolio Projects for Soft Skills, can help your students learn more about new technologies, and then gain the valuable — and confidence-building — experience of presenting what they’ve learned to you and their peers.

There’s never a dull moment in the world of technology. This assignment gives you the opportunity to create your own PowerPoint presentation on an emerging technology.

1. Choose one of the emerging technologies or trends from the following list or find one on your own (ask your instructor for permission first):
  • Web 2.0 and Web 3.0 (Define the terms first, and then explore Wikis, blogs, Twitter, YouTube, and other resources.)
  • Social networks (Go beyond Facebook and LinkedIn.)
  • Web collaboration and content portability (Hint: Examine what Google is doing; explore SkyDrive, MobileMe, cloud computing.)
  • Mobile broadband and telecommunications technologies (Consider what’s happening with new devices, such as smartphones, e-readers, and tablets such as the iPad.)
  • Crowdsourcing (Wikipedia is just one example.)
2. Research the topic.

3. Create an informational PowerPoint presentation. In your presentation, provide an overview of the technology or trend, the effect on people, business or society, the global implications, and why it’s an important trend for society, education, or the workplace. Provide examples and use media to support your presentation.
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By providing students with opportunities to strengthen their soft skills in conjunction with their technical skills, you’re supporting their ability to learn what they’ll need to succeed in the workplace.

Looking for additional ideas or inspiration? Watch a brief video, in which Beverly Amer discusses why it’s important to equip students with the soft skills they’ll need to be good employees. 

What suggestions do you have for teaching both technology skills and “soft skills” in today’s courses? If you’ve tried this particular exercise in your course, how did it go? Share your ideas and experiences with us in the comments section below.

Reference: Amer, Beverly. New Perspectives: Portfolio Projects for Soft Skills. 2012. Boston, MA: Course Technology, Cengage Learning.