‘Gen-Z’ and computer science

When I began working in IT support at the start of my work life, I didn’t think I had a real future in this career path. Why would someone who first got in touch with personal computers when he was as old as 12 years be better in understanding how computers work than the next generation who would be so used to computers, handphones, tablets and so much more. I was certain that they would surely be way better in interacting with computers and solving IT problems because they grew up with it. How wrong I was.

Generation Z indeed knows a lot more than my generation about how to be good in Minecraft, is way handier in using an iPad for creative work or what it takes to have a successful TikTok video. But what most of them lack is knowledge how a computer at its core really works. And I can’t blame them. Neither of them ever had to figure out how to run a Win 98 game in compatibility mode on Windows ME, manually patch a game to run without the data CD because you “lost“ it, or how to troubleshoot a Windows blue screen because you needed the latest drivers for your graphics or sound card. It all wasn’t pretty and if someone would’ve told me back then that I was learning valuable things, I wouldn’t have believed them.

But what that did to us 90s kids was expose and in turn teach us about drivers, file systems and computers in general. Some trainees I met literally had no experience working with a computer mouse prior to joining the workforce, because it simply was not necessary for the use of a common laptop to them before.

Garland thought it would be an easy fix. She asked each student where they’d saved their project. Could they be on the desktop? Perhaps in the shared drive? But over and over, she was met with confusion. “What are you talking about?” multiple students inquired. Not only did they not know where their files were saved — they didn’t understand the question.

Gradually, Garland came to the same realization that many of her fellow educators have reached in the past four years: the concept of file folders and directories, essential to previous generations’ understanding of computers, is gibberish to many modern students.

Monica Chin – File not found

Because of my own experience, the article on The Verge doesn’t really shock me at all. Instead it kind of attests to my observations. Nevertheless, generation gap has never been so obvious than on this topic for me.