Saturday, September 22, 2007

I Woke Up an Old Dog (part 1)

I really didn’t wake a dog nor am I an old dog. However, I woke up and realized I am now pushing the big 40 (I really have 13 months BUT STILL…) and a number of the people I see walking into my lab for New Employee Technology Orientation are younger than the truck I drive.

Recently, I attended a committee meeting where I learned that ½ of our teaching staff had less than 5 years experience in my school district and many of these folks have less than 5 years experience period. That new knowledge caused my forehead to wrinkle while at the same time explained quite a bit.

Let me give you a bit of background on the scene. Ten years ago, I sat in huge hall listening to the Superintendent tell all the staff that we were going to put a computer on EVERY TEACHERS desk in the next three years. My palms began to sweat and I thought “OH MY! How will we ever teach all these people how to use the computer?” Fortunately, I had a boss at the time whose problem it really was and I could do what I was told. Today, those types of statements are my problem to deal with and really don’t scare me. In fact, they are the types of challenges I thrive on.

Over the past three years, I have seen a number of questions come to me in the form of phone calls or email and a few face-to-face asking, demanding and sometime begging for access to various web sites, software and equipment. I keep thinking to myself, don’t these people realize how good they have it and don’t they remember when we didn’t have any of this “Stuff”? Well, they don’t, because they were not here in the beginning.

Back to today. While sitting in that committee meeting scribbling out the words 50% less than 5 years experience, I thought to myself, “Shawn, you became an old dog and you better learn a new trick!”

What has to change?

When I started teaching technology to adults I would literally hold up a mouse and explain what it was, left vs. right click and which finger to use when right clicking. I would also explain to them the CD Rom drive was not a cup holder and the proper way to insert a floppy disk. Most of my students were happy to be there and learn how to use this new tool.

Today, I have students, (adults students), with multiple as well as wide spread technology skills. Many suffer from a phenomenon Linda Stone is calling “Continuous Partial Attention”. This phenomenon is common in the average classroom; it is somewhat new to those of us on the Professional Development side of the house. The question of the day or challenge is what to do? What to change and how to do this successfully? Like many questions, I don’t have an answer which is the reason for this post and the posts to come. My intention is to blog about this challenge, how my team and I work through these challenges and document what to and what not to do the next time.

  • Who are my students?
  • Certified Teachers and Administrators
  • Classified Staff (All areas)
  • Age group 19 to 65
  • Extremely varied computer skills which cross all job classifications, age groups and genders.

Hello Houston, can you say challenge? Can you say, “Been there done that”? Looking at the above text, I can too. So what is so different this time? More on that in Part 2.


Education K-12 Shawn Wheeler Linda Stone K-12 Continuous Partial Attention CAP