Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Are You a Techno Dinosaur and Don't Even Know It?

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...stuck in a technology gap?

I think we can all agree that technology is a fast moving target. Just when you think you know a lot, you find out how little you know.  At least that's how I've felt over the past couple of years.

I've always considered myself a pretty techno-savvy professional (actually a "non-tech" geek and proud of it!)  And it wasn't until I attempted to develop my own app (The 1% Edge Portable Coach) and promote mobile and social learning that I began to learn how little about technology I really knew; like, for example, there are lots of different Android platforms. It's not just Google vs. Apple.

The effort to create learning resources for clients in the employee learning and development space helped me realize that I was plopped squarely in my own technology gap.  This was frightening to me as I am a firm believer that functional knowledge of technology is a general professional competency, let alone a competency for L&D professionals. 

Not only is it a competency, but an imperative for personal/life success. Consider the description and commentary by Tim Mazur of Santa Clara University regarding information and the technology gap between rich and poor.

"Information access requires four conditions:
> knowing that the information or information service is available,
> owning or having access to the equipment necessary to connect to the information source (e.g., computer, television, telephone, software, modem),
> gaining access to the information service (e.g., afford cable or online charges), and
> knowing how to operate the necessary hardware and software (e.g., be "computer literate").
A deficiency in any one of these areas inhibits access. In other words, someone who cannot afford the right television or who never learned how to operate a computer may want, or need, information but cannot gain access to it. Persons without access represent one end of a social imbalance that increasingly is aggravated by technology: the gap between the information poor and the information rich. The growing size of this gap provokes the question: As information technologies become the primary, sometimes exclusive, means of communication in our society, what moral rights must be considered regarding access?"
[ I encourage you to read the complete article ]
We can conclude that now and moving into the future, information is king and the ability to access, manage and leverage it is essential to the results companies seek and for individual professional success. 
The specific purpose of this post is to address the need for competency in working with information and technology among all education professionals, whether in a traditional school setting or corporation. In fact, any of us who lead professionally should assess our technological skill set, e.i. how we use information and technology. These skills can impact time management, coaching, employee engagement and more.
So, I went on a journey to power up my knowledge. One of the key insights I gained is that many have learned just enough technology for what was needed at the time. For example, when I teach managing emails, many who use Outlook are not familiar with it's full capabilities. Another example is something as simple as using web browsers (something we all use) -- many don't know browsers have apps and extensions which makes them a sophisticated information management tool in and of themselves, well beyond search and bookmarking. 
As I continued my learning and research, I became starkly aware of the growing gap in the integration of technology into everyday life between young (digital natives) and old. This is particularly disturbing if learning professionals are included in this gap.
(This visual was captured and created with Jing)
If this is new information to you, please don't feel embarrassed, I was really feeling "techno-dynasourish" myself when I learned that YouTube is one of the largest search engines on the web and is one big "how-to" video encyclopedia.
While on this journey, I had the great opportunity last July to share a lot of my new found knowledge with IALL - Iowa Association of Lifelong Learning. The material presented created a spark of interest in gaining knowledge and capability in how to use technology in the teaching and learning space. That interest has resulted in the creation of an online lunch & learn series entitled Virtual & Social Classroom - Web 2.0 with quite a breath of information that will be presented in a way for real-time experience and practice. The great news is it's open to those outside of IAll.  
So to all my colleagues, I invite you to assess your technology knowledge against the list of classes in the series and join us over the course of the next month and a half. Please note this is designed to feel like a Level 1 experience. I want people to feel that learning technology is approachable, so don't worry about feeling embarrassed or not knowing even the simplest thing. We're all in this together!
If you have any questions - don't hesitate to contact me:  | If you need help with registration contact Eric Neitzke -
One final note, you'll notice going forward I'll be integrating many of the items we'll be working with in my posts and other social media activities - keep an eye out!
Want to learn more about the technology gap between kids (digital natives) and adults? Check out this link!   | Also another great article on generation gap in technology with 2 wonderful cartoons

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