Written by Beth Dobler:
The end of the semester seems like a good time for teachers and students to pause and consider what we have learned. These are some of my lessons learned.
- The Internet Teaches Us – I sometimes find myself getting frustrated when I can’t figure out a technology issue. In the past my strategy was to wait until I could get help from my teenagers, my husband, or the IT people at work, but the waiting often added to my frustration. Eventually frustration led to exploration, and I discovered (what some of you probably already know) that one can figure out how to do just about anything by searching online for resources shared by many other friendly and helpful people. This idea extends beyond technology too. Want to make a soufflé or change your shower head – just Google it!
- Problem Solving Adventure – Every time you are stumped technologically concerning what to do next, think of it not as a problem, but as a challenge to use your brain in a new way. We tend to shy away from things that are challenging, but our brain actually likes novelty. Deep thinking is the hallmark of learning, and there is a huge sense of accomplishment in solving a technology problem yourself (okay maybe with a little help from online resources).
- It’s Not Rocket Science – When technology throws you for a loop, take a deep breath, and then think logically. Start with the simple possibilities and move through the increasingly difficult options until you have reached your threshold of knowledge. Check the power source and the connections, then move on from there. Many aspects of technology are based on a logical flow, first do this, then do this. The tricky part is figuring out this flow, and steps 1 and 2 will help.
- Collective Knowledge – There is too much about technology for any one non-expert to know everything! Those people who appear to be comfortable with technology have mastered one important idea – we must rely on each other to make sense of these devices, tools, and online spaces. Blogs, online videos, discussion threads, and even a phone call or text to a friend, are all great sources of information. Take advantage of the crowdsourcing trend, where the thoughts and ideas collected through online communities serve as sources of information. Together we know much more than any single one of us knows alone.
- The Put Down – If you are not confident in your technology skills, challenge yourself to learn more. Friends and colleagues are usually willing to help an eager learner. On the flip side, few people have patience for an uneager technology learner, especially one who continually makes excuses, such as “I am too ______ (old, dumb, stubborn, behind-the-times, etc.) to figure this out. An eager learner asks questions, and there are no dumb questions when it comes to technology, just questions that reflect a different spot along the technology learning continuum.
One might think that with all of these great lessons learned, I would have technology figured out. Not true! I hope to receive a smarter phone for Christmas (if Santa brings me what I asked for), and I am a bit nervous about the transition. I am taking this as a good sign, because it will encourage me to learn more.