Thursday, December 18, 2008

Land of the Luddites

Maybe Luddite is too strong of a word. Technologically naive seems more appropriate. I've been on a crusade to get people in my school to embrace basic technology: email, web-based programs, word processing programs, i.e., nothing fancy. As I've been trying to educate others I've noticed the different levels of technology naivete that people have in my building. My district, like many others in the nation, has moved towards using a web-based program for writing IEPs. The problem has been that only two people out of 6 are comfortable enough with the program to complete an IEP. Everyone else has expressed their trepidation towards using the computer. One of the drawbacks is that the entry fields do not appear as they do within an IEP so that those who are used to completing them by hand do not know what they are looking at on the computer. I remedied the situation by creating a manual that helped everyone work in the computer program with ease. I think that it was well-received.

Another one of the initiatives I started in my building was to post a Tech Tip of the Day. I read a New York Times blog post by David Pogue and it enlightened me on the numerous bits of computer knowledge that I've been unaware of all these years. Since there were things that I didn't know about, I figured that no one else in my building knew these either. So I started posting Tech Tips each day. I thought about sending them via email, but that would have defeated the purpose, since some people are reluctant to check their email. Well, people are reading the posts, I've seen copies floating around the school.

The last week, I've experienced two different eye-opening moments on the vast technological divide that exists in my school. Those on the inexperienced end amaze me. I was asked by a co-worker how to attach a file to an email. I thought that was the lowest, but that was beaten the next day. I was sitting in my office when I got an internal call from another room. A teacher was on the other line and she asked me if I had turned off the computer when I used it in the lab. I used the lab when I taught my coworkers how to use the web-based program last week. I guess I turn off the computer out of habit; I was finished using it so it seemed like the thing to do. I didn't know that there were people in the building that didn't know how to turn on the computer. So I figured it must have been something complex. I went to the lab to see what was wrong. The LCD projector was working so that was one less problem to deal with, but the screen was black. I thought that maybe something was unplugged and when I looked at the computer, I realized that it wasn't on. I pressed the button on the CPU and the computer sprang to life. It couldn't have been that easy, I figured that I would have to do something more than that. Well it appeared that the teacher was pressing the wrong button. Instead of the on/off switch she was pressing the button that opens the CPU. If you're familiar with old Dell computers then you know what I'm talking about. She was pressing the wrong button and couldn't understand why it wouldn't turn on. That was a new one for me. I thought I had seen it all until that moment.


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