Fear Factor

I have been doing a lot of thinking lately about fear and the fear some educators grown-ups have about technology. When did we stop exploring? When did it all of a sudden become dangerous to click on something on our computer that we really don’t know what might happen? Is it do to viruses? Or are we just afraid that the computer will blow up?

At what age do we loose that sense of exploration, that adventure of that we might not know what will happen and because we can not predict the outcome we do not take the risk?

Or maybe it has nothing to do with fear? Maybe it has to do with experience. We just don’t have the experience with this new technology to have the comfort level that allows us to explore.

I mean how many of us got to grow up playing with computers like we did legos?

This technology causes fear in us because we do not understand it. We did not, like this little one above, experience the computer as a way to explore. No, by the time we were introduced to the computer we were already at a stage were we were afraid that if we hit the wrong button, or click the wrong thing, that the computer might blow up. Of course we all heard the horror stories of of friends losing data, and viruses taking over machines, and that of course made us more cautious. Is this part of the reason our student’s are so much more advanced than we are as a generation?

My job, and I believe the job of every educational technology person is to help people get over this fear. To encourage them to explore these amazing machines. This year at my school we’ve loaded some very cool programs onto every teacher computer, and created shortcuts on the desktop so they had easy access to programs such as Skype, Google Earth, Second Life, and Scratch just to name a few. Yet I wonder how many teachers haven’t even clicked on one of these shortcuts to see what happens. Most haven’t even deleted the shortcuts even though they never plan to use them, or don’t know what to do.

I have two more trainings coming up this next week, and the first thing I am going to ask all my teachers to do is to click on something they have always wondered about, always thought “What would happen if….”. I will be in the room to pull them out of the way if their computer explodes. But I want to try and bring them to a place that allows them to explore their machines, allows them for just a minute to be supported as they explore their new technology. We don’t explore enough, we know the programs we know and that’s what we know. As Educational Technology Leaders we must support teachers, parents, and students to expand there thinking on what computers can do. To, like this father, hold them up and all them to bang away for away and see what happens. Without the support they will never do it, they do not know this tool the way a 10 year old does, we are immigrants in a foreign land. We go where we are comfortable, where others like us go to gather: Word, Excel, Publisher.

It’s time to push, it’s time to expand our thinking and it’s time to support educators so that they too feel like they can explore these new tools, and think about new ways to change teaching and learning.

Encourage them to click on something they’ve never clicked on before…and just see what happens.

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