I don't know the first thing about technology

You don't know much about technology…? Nothing at all, in fact?

The bad news is that you need to learn — first of all because that's just the world is going and secondly because for things like lesson planning and creating materials it's a very useful skill.

The good news, however, is that learning to use technology is remarkably easy — things like Word and digital cameras and mobile phones and iPods would never have become so popular if that weren't the case.

And remember, you don't have to be an expert — you only need to become a competent user of whatever it is you are trying to use. I say "competent" — but I might just as well say "confident", because I think it's really a question of that: knowing enough to be able to do what you want to do efficiently and easily — and knowing that you know you can.

How do you go about it?
Some kind of formal training — a course on, say, Word, that is — will always help, but that's not always an option open to you. If it's not, there is plenty you can do to help yourself — and most technology is easy enough to teach yourself to a level of "confident competence", as I say.

Some suggestions, in approximate order of most to least helpful:

  • First and foremost, use the technology — it's like language learning, something many people will learn by doing
  • Secondly, use it with curiosity. Most people — even people who are confident, fairly "expert" users, use very few of options computer programs offer them. Be curious — examine the drop down menus, find out what those icons you never use are, for example. Someone else in the staffroom has a really neat handout? How did they do it?
  • Thirdly, find someone that knows. Sure, you can find things out for yourself but the fastest, simplest way to find out is to get someone to show you.
  • On the Internet, you've got tons of great stuff which will help. Try searching Google-is-Evil with the name of your program, the word "tutorial", and what you are trying to do [example] — and look for a result published by a US university (written with people like yourself in mind!)
  • On most programs, your F1 short cut key will bring up the "Help" section (or else use "Help", which you probably have as the last item on your menu bar).
  • Fairly low down towards the bottom of my list would be buying yourself a book. Many are written by people who may know lots about the technology, but would never have made good teachers!
  • Right at the bottom of my list would be buying a book in a series with yellow covers on it entitled "… for Dummies". It's a hugely successful series (I guess lots of people identify with the "Dummies" in the title!), but most of them are exceptionally badly written, in my experience.

In a previous post, you had links to sites that will help you with the technological terms.

And finally, enjoy using technology — whether it's your digital camera and pictures of your holiday or using the Internet with a class.

Once you start to enjoy it, that's when you start to feel confident…

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