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Calming the nerves when it comes to new software or tough texts

Pic from MMC Learning

‘An approach to learning activity design (Sharpe et al. 2005) concluded that, as well as ICT skills, key issues were learners’ emotional relationship to the technologies they were offered – especially feelings of frustration and alienation – and issues around time management.’

In our tutor group and module forums we’ve gone through time management at length.

Understandably.

Though I suspect that for many of us time passing is the only certain thing in our lives. It has required therapy for me to downplay events when they DON’T go to plan … that life as a Dad, husband, parent, portfolio-worker person, studying (two courses, this and sports related), as well as feeding the guinea-pigs, putting out the rubbish, sorting the recycling, putting air in the tyres on the car, fixing the fence … collecting children from an event, taking them to the station … let alone the other generation, four relatives in their 80s and 135 and 210 miles away.

I’m exhausted just thinking about it.

No schedule set for the morning, let alone the day or the week can be followed. (Which is why I get my hours in 4.40 am to 7.00am each early morning … more pleasant with the sun joining me at last)

So, to the emotional response to technology.

I’ve come to apply the same kind of thinking to technology, yet more technology, especially if I don’t like the look of it, as something that WILL, in the fullness of time, have value.

There is no point putting off engagement with it.

The same applies to a difficult to read text (there has been plenty of that lately). It WILL become clear, it just may take three or more attempts, could involve getting advice from others in the peer group, a search on the web and dare I say it a BOOK. I actually pick up copies of ‘Facebook for Dummies’ and ‘Blogging for Dummies’ as a matter of standard practice from the library (remember them?). These books are authentic, scurrilous and engaging. The body and mind enjoy the break from the computer screen.

I got ‘Digital Marketing for Dummies’ for my Kindle though … how else can I read it in the bath while holding a coffee in my right hand (I am right handed) and ‘the book’ in my left, perfectly able to flick on through pages with my thumb.

Design isn’t just programming when it comes to software.

Compare Mac to PC. Mac not only works, but it is obvious, intuitive and often beautiful to look at.

We are so used to the extraordinary simplicity of Google, YouTube and Facebook that we baulk if a piece of software, perhaps Open Source, doesn’t have the look and feel of the familiar. It IS a DESIGN issue, as in creating a love affair with the object that has both form and function, rather than function alone.

Compendium; it is versatile, engaging and intelligent … but could it dress better and be more intuitive and less ‘nerdy’ ?

More from Sharpe and Beetham:

‘The use of technologies can compound existing differences among learners due to their gender, culture and first language’. Beetham and Sharpe (2007)

I like this too:

Learners cannot therefore be treated as a bundle of disparate needs: they are actors, not factors, in the learning situation. (ibid)

And this:

They make sense of the tasks they are set in terms of their own goals and perspectives, and they may experience tasks quite differently if digital technologies – with all the social and cultural meanings that they carry – are involved. (ibid)

Perhaps we should be seeking advice on these feelings too, how they can get in the way of us tackling technology or a tough read/assignment. After all, if motivated, people will overcome such problems, but if we become demotivated it is habit forming.

REFERENCE

Beetham, H and Sharpe, R ‘Rethinking Pedagogy for the digital age’. (2007)

p.s. This book needs an emotionally appropriate cover. Might I suggest a design from Helen A Dalby. Personally I’d like to see academic publishers make all book iPad friendly with illustrations throughout, maybe video and some interactivity too. Why stick with the rough, when you could make it smooth and cool. Video introduction from each of the authors please … and links to their blog.

Sharpe, R, Benfield, G., lessner, E. and de cicco, E. (2005) Scoping Study for the Pedagogy strand of the JISC e-Learning Programme, Bristol: JISC. Online. Available. http://www.jisc.ac.uk/index.cfm?name+elearning pedagogy

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