Social Skills Workshop

Posted November 21, 1998 at 1:44 am No Comments

Computer Skills Workshop (CSW) is a course that has been required of all CMU freshmen since 1985.  The goal of the course is to familiarize students with the fundamentals of operating a computer.  It is composed of a series of modules covering topics such as word processors, spreadsheets, web browsers, and e-mail clients.  Students who desire additional instruction can take optional “advanced modules” covering topics such as HTML and UNIX.

CSW is a good idea because it ensures that incoming students, regardless of their field of study, are comfortable with computers.  After all, students of nearly ever discipline will be expected to use a computer in their coursework at some point.  But how do we ensure that incoming students develop rudimentary social skills?   Like computer skills, social skills are necessary in nearly every discipline at some time or another.

That’s why I propose that a new course be established in conjunction with CSW.   Called Social Skills Workshop (SSW), it would familiarize students with the fundamentals of social interaction.  The course could be divided into a series of modules covering topics like “Conversations”, “Phone Etiquette”, and “Eating Habits”.  Students who desired additional instruction could opt to take the advanced modules on topics such as “Confrontations” and “Dating”.

“Wait a second,” you may be thinking, “what about the students who already knew how to carry on a conversation?  What about the students who were already capable of interacting with the opposite sex?  Wouldn’t they find this class a waste of time?”

Yes, of course they would.  But think of what a waste of time CSW is for computer science majors right now!  Many of the incoming CS freshmen are perfectly capable of operating a web browser, and in fact could probably write their own.  The last thing they need is a detailed introduction to scroll bars.  On the other hand, many CS majors are lacking in social skills.  SSW would allow CS majors to turn the tables on the socially capable but technologically inept arts and humanities students.

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