Technology and Baby Boomers!

Have you ever tried to teach technology to Baby Boomers?  I have.  When I train, I also try to be a good student of my pupils, and after observing my pupils, I believe I have finally put my finger on "why" we BB's just can't seem to get it.  (Besides the fact that many of us kept telling ourselves we were "going to retire in five years, so why learn all that stuff?", and that was 15 years ago!  Now we've lost all our savings in the stock market and we are still working and trying to learn what we should have learned ten years ago!)  But, back on point, I think a lot of our technology learning mindset has to do with what we were taught about proper social protocol as a child.  My purpose today is to "Free Willy" so to speak.  

•1.     "Stay within the lines!" 

Boomers are rule followers.  We are always following directions and doing what we are told.  We don't show up somewhere unless we are invited.  All of what we were taught as children goes completely against the rules of the internet and "discovering" the power of internet marketing!  Don't be afraid to click on a tab and see where it takes you.  Be curious.  You will not break your computer!  (You might lock it up, but that's temporary)  The reason your eight year old grandson is a pro is because he surfs the web with reckless abandon!  You do the same -  Get on your computer and wear it out!  Agents complain that the market is slow - well, while you're not busy, how about breaking out of your old patterns and becoming a techie that your grandkids will worship!  Go for the Gold!

•2.    Buffering is not a pain reliever!

The MAIN thing that my students do that really makes learning difficult is to click multiple times all over the page when they are frustrated. This is very bad and a no-no.   This will cause your computer to give you a message like "Internet Explorer is not responding", which will usually require a reboot.  This multiple clicking usually occurs when students are wondering "is the computer doing anything?".  Well, here's what's happening when you are doing all that clicking.  Every time you "click" you are giving a command....and unlike your teenagers, the computer remembers every command and it will perform each command in the order given!  The computer can do this because it is equipped with a BUFFER.  What the buffer does is save the command until the previous task is completed.  Then, the buffer releases the next command in line to be performed.  This is how you sometimes find yourself on an entirely different web site than the one you started on.   This will cause the computer to lock up and will require a reboot.  If you are in a classroom setting, you will get behind while the class goes forward, which brings me to my next point.


•3.     Don't Click!

...Until the instructor tells you to.  I realize that numbers one and three of this blog seem to be in conflict with one another, but trust me, this is an actual phenomenon!  I believe this happens because students think they have missed something and are trying to click to catch up. (Type A personalities looking at their neighbor's screens to make sure they are ahead of them!)   Also, and rarely, student's minds wander . . . I don't know where..... and then the next thing you know, they're rebooting due to computer lock-up.  Bottom line advice here:  students, listen to the instructor like every word is worth a million dollars.  There are always many other buttons on the screen that you will have questions about, but don't go there!  Focus on what the instructor is teaching at that moment.  The instructor has a reason for the order in which they are instructing you.  Don't let your mind wander to the "whys?" - At this point you just need to focus on the "how to" part.  If you follow this simple rule, you won't need to reboot during the class or need the pain reliever I eluded to earlier in number two.


•4.     The GREEN BAR is your friend

Don't click!  You don't have to wonder if the computer is "doing anything".  At the bottom of your computer screen, there will be a green task bar.  It will "fill in" as the page loads on your computer.  ALWAYS look at the task bar and check the status of your page (or task) BEFORE you decide to click.  When you are convinced NOTHING is happening, then press the F5 key (the very top row of keys on your keyboard).  This is the "refresh page" key.  It should take you back to where you were before your last click that went nowhere.  If that doesn't work, then press the "back" button. 


•5.     Don't assume you are the problem and give up!

Today, while on, and, our class all experienced the same error messages from THEIR servers! (Different problems on each site)  It was a great lesson for the class because they realized that when tech difficulties occur, oftentimes it is not the user, but just technical difficulties on the site's end.  I always suggest taking a 5 minute break and going back to try to complete your task.


These are easy things you can do to increase your online productivity .  Try it...You'll like it!


P.S.  I also find that many of my students don't even understand the basics of navigating in a Windows environment.   Most libraries offer FREE classes for learners at all levels.  DO IT!  Let's face it -  You can't function in today's society without accessing the internet.

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Comment balloon 3 commentsKaren Pannell • February 14 2011 06:37PM
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