A thought-provoking part of my experience in the Gamification Teacher Learning and Leadership Project (TLLP) has been the opportunity to observe various leaders and followers in their response to ever-changing technology. In my role as an IT teacher in a K-8 school, I’m able to observe everyone from those who want to be on the cutting edge (including my friends and colleagues Adele Stanfield, David Bradbury and Greg Holohan) to those who are approaching technology like a passing fad; the Rubik’s cube or ICQ of this decade. What’s even more interesting is to observe how the leaders accept the challenge of supporting these staff members. Can the “lone nut” who created the most recent app or video game relate to the staff member who liked it best when they wrote their report cards by hand and enjoyed teaching the apple unit every fall; long before “THE Apple” was invented? Is the individual who created the most successful regional social media site really the best person to share their program with the staff member who is 3 years from retirement; “…and if I have another class next year like the one I do this year, I’ll be going sooner!”
My approach is to meet people where they are and support them in their progress, at their own pace. I’ll admit, I’m not always the best at it but I can see why the “at your elbow” approach works better than trying to explain the benefits of Evernote to 15 people in a 45 minute session, at the end of the day. After it’s determined we all need to bring a device, 2 don’t know how to create a password and 3 have forgotten their already. Even if I did have a box of wine to share, it would be a challenging task. We’ve all experienced the instructor who wants to share their excitement about a concept or a product who speaks over our head or the individual in a workshop suggested by an administrator and can’t see any purpose in another word-processing software program when there’s already so much paper in the school.
A memorable experience for me was with a group of educators who had to attend a technology workshop. Arriving with expectations of leaving early, a great lunch and a day out of the building, the participants are faced with a trainer who thinks their topic is second only in importance to the invention of the computer.
I’m curious to know about your experiences. Are you the lone nut (and would you admit it?) Have you experienced the staff member who is just learning how to turn the computer on and can’t “deal” with the challenge of learning how to adjust the sound, in the same month. How did you meet the challenge of supporting that person or how did they support you.
P.S. No need to determine whether I’m writing about anyone in particular. Most of the examples are fictional and meant to be light-hearted rather than critical.