I had a Twitter discussion the other night with Jim Twetten, who’s the Assistant Director for Academic Technologies here at Iowa State University and also has quickly become one of my ‘go to’ people on campus.
Jim took exception to the fact that I had poked fun at the ‘Learn about Facebook’ training session that ISU was offering to faculty. I replied that I was concerned that we never seem to hold folks accountable for being self-learners. After all, Facebook isn’t an extraordinarily difficult tool to learn how to use. Most intelligent people (which university faculty generally are) could figure out much of it if they just sat down and messed around for 30 minutes or so. And of course the same applies to blogs, wikis, and many other technologies. They’ve gotten so simple that the learning curve just isn’t that steep anymore.
And yet many educators (K-12 teachers and administrators, postsecondary faculty, etc.) still are extremely unwilling to just sit down and try stuff. Our digital learners, of course, have little hesitancy when it comes to clicking on things just to see what they’ll do. That willingness to probe, investigate, and experiment helps them learn and master the tools.
As someone who does a lot of training and professional development for school administrators, I wonder how much I’m facilitating codependence. In many job sectors, employees are expected to keep up with relevant technologies or risk job loss. When do we require that of K-12 and postsecondary educators? At what point do we say to them “No, we’re not training you how to use this. It’s easy enough for you to learn on your own. And if you don’t, we’ll find someone else who can.”
It’s a fine line between helping and codependence. And when it comes to educator technology training, I’m not sure we’re always on the right side of that line…