Hitting the wall in the technology marathon

I’m a word person. I am the least visual person I know. Could this be the problem I have with technology? Or is it my age? Perhaps what they say about middle-aged dogs is true; you can teach them a new trick but it takes a long time and will frustrate both you and the dog.

My father, from whom I got the writing gene, asked me today how he’d know when I posted something new. I told him he could subscribe via email, just as soon as I could set it up. That’s why this evening, after a very long day teaching very taxing students, I spent three hours trying to figure out to enable email subscriptions here.

Thanks to a bunch of new friends I’ve made via twitter, I can talk web 2.0, second life and all the rest of the tech talk like a 14-year-old (any 14-year-old other than my wordy son), but I can’t figure out how to do the stuff I talk about. My avatar has no brain.

That you are now able to subscribe to receive notice of new posts by email is the work of one of my twitter friends named @Kolson29. That’s her twitter name. The rest of the time she’s Kate Olson, a generous young special education teacher in the wilds of central Wisconsin . I put out a call on twitter for some technical advice and within minutes Kate was offering to do the work. She no doubt thought it would be easier to do herself than it would be to teach me how to do it. That’s not how special education teachers usually work, but she already has a pretty demanding job and doesn’t need a new student, especially one like me.

Thank you Kate. And dad, I subscribed for you. Think of it as a gift for teaching me all those words and punctuation marks, and how to put them in some kind of order.

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6 Responses to Hitting the wall in the technology marathon

  1. Kate Olson says:

    I was more than happy to help! And for the record, my offering to do the work had no reflection on you as a student, but is a reflection on my shortcomings as a teacher. After a brief stint in which I thought I could be an online technology teacher, I realized that I have a very hard time teaching without being able to SHOW how to do something. I can do it, but it takes me oh so long and I get all anxious about how much easier it would be for everyone if I could just demonstrate, and so on. I’m working on my technical writing skills, but last night, since I knew you had hit the wall big time and it was getting late, I figured I’d shoot for expediency 🙂

    I’m hereby offering you a full WordPress tutorial and infinite consulting services….just email me anytime. Seriously.

    Some amazing people helped me out last year when I got in a bit over my head with a tech project and these guys walked me through self-hosting and installing WordPress step-by-step via IM. This was a HUGE process and these virtual strangers took a LOT of time out of their days to get me where I needed to be. Because they took the time to teach me, I now count playing with WordPress and the code within to be one of my favorite hobbies – I owe you that same instruction. As for last night, I took off my SpEd hat and put on my friend hat, which was hopefully the right decision…….

    I was very happy to help you out, it’s fun for me to play with those little things 🙂
    And thank YOU for everything you’ve done for me, our classroom library would be empty right now without your help!

    @kolson29 (where would we be tech-wise without twitter? it’s saved my tail so many times!)

    • This is what teachers do: we learn and pass it along, then go out and learn some more. Some of the people who helped Kate out last year also tried to help me out last night.

      Kate, I knew you were wearing your friend hat, but there is ALWAYS a special ed head under it. Thanks again.

  2. Ira Socol says:

    We all have our limits. I know that I’ve always been totally willing to ask for help when I reach mine, which, actually, is a skill we should be teaching our students. Because there is a reason for social networking (high or low tech), we can’t, individually, know everything or be good at everything.And together we are always smarter: Community Cognition – embraced everywhere but the traditional classroom (where it is “cheating”) is an essential part of being human.

    • “No man is wise enough by himself.”
      –Titus Maximus Platus (254-184 B.C.) in Miles Gloriosus, Act 3 scene 1.

      On my first day as a teacher I put that quote up on the wall, and it has been on the wall of every classroom I’ve had.

      I teach my students to ask for help. Then I try to teach them not to ask for help so quickly.

  3. Arthur Black says:

    As your father, I thank you for giving me some credit for your way with words. However, in the writing game, genes may give you a good head start, but they can take you only so far. Beyond that, one needs strong motivation and the willingness to invest hours of hard week. I’m happy to say that you have these qualities in abundance. In any event, i hope you will remember the cardinal rule that I follow in my own work: Avoid Passive Verbs.

  4. Devon,
    I learned to use Web 2.0 tools as I needed them. Needing them involved looking for something to engage my students and then learning how to use it. That worked for me. There are also lots of how to videos on line that helped me. I would just google for whatever I wanted to learn and then watch the video. Also, I learned how to use the Web 2.0 tools with my students. It was great. We learned together. They didn’t expect me to know how to use the new technology. So that was OK. I say just go for it. Let the kid help- teach the teacher.

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