Saturday, March 5, 2011

Teaching new technology

     In my high school tech/computer skills class, I deliberately set aside time for exploration of Web 2.0 tools.  This gives me a chance to see how easy the tools really are for students to work with, and gives students the opportunity to expand their skills as users of new tools. 
Frustrationphoto © 2010 Sharon Pak | more info (via: Wylio)

     They will spend their lives learning new technology tools, so I want my students to learn strategies that work - like persistence, asking others for help (this isn’t obvious to everybody), using the Help function, finding tutorials, using other tools you already know how to use to create a workaround. 

     Workaround example:  we found a nice tool at which allows students to create basic logos (great for a create your own business project), but there’s no easy way to save the logos (no screen capture software on our computers).  Fortunately there is a workaround: if you take a screen shot (CTRL + Print Screen), paste it into Paint, crop just the logo, then cut it and paste it into a new Paint screen, then you can save it and use it. 

      Unlike adults, kids don’t seem to mind workarounds, which have a game-playing flavor to them. 

     Of course, the stumbling around provides many chances to overcome frustration (sometimes a vestigial skill), and to learn by making mistakes. 

     I ask students to tell me candidly what they think of the tools.  They are brutally honest – if a tool is hard to figure out, they’ll let me know.  So I won’t use that one again.

      In the meantime, they may have found a new tool they can use, and they have had some good problem-solving and lateral-thinking practice. 

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