Making the Leap: Technology Is About A Mindset

Class icon: shape willed with words related to course theme: connect, learn, tech, create, give it a go.

My salon participants want to learn the tools. More important, they want to become comfortable with their computers, and be people who are comfortable with living in a digital world.

Why is this so hard?

There’s a leap involved, I think, and it’s one many people seem not to make, from the familiar world to a different kind of world, a different way of being in the world.

Whether people don’t make the leap is because they are unable or unwilling, I don’t know. I suspect it’s a combination of the two. I also suspect that the less exposure a person has to the tech, particularly internet-based tool and what these can make possible, the less likely they are to make that leap.

How do you help people make that leap?

Here are some other ways of asking the question: How do you paint the picture of a different learning process than they have known? How do you tip them toward recognizing a new paradigm, of relating to others, creating and sharing information, etc.? I began to talk about these shifts as we explored how to resize browser windows, etc.

Challenges to What We Thought We Knew

  • There is typically no one correct way to do anything with software or hardware. People can end up in the same place in a program by following any number of paths. Participants were interested to share the different ways they’d discovered they could grab a window “and make the little arrows appear.” Who knew there were so many ways to approach one simple action?
  • Why is learning this so bloody frustrating? I mentioned that we were taught that the proper way to learn was to listen to the teacher, remember all the information, pass a test, and move on– a very teacher-directed, linear way to proceed– not the way our learning progressed.
  • Our teachers never would have said, “That’s an interesting possibility– give it a shot and see what happens.”
  • Typically, there is no single “right” process a computer user can memorize. There are patterns we will begin to see, and those patterns can typically be applied across many platforms. We see, remember, and connect them at different times. The implication? We are the agents of this learning. We notice the patterns, we test out our observations, typically without directions. And, we decide what the larger implications are for our daily lives as well as the way we think about things.
  • Another aspect of becoming self-directed as a learner is that knowing why you want to learn something shapes everything from your willingness to stick to the task despite frustration to your excitement about wondering what’s next.

But There Are Things That Aren’t Discussed

As you learn a new tool, you need to expect to make subtle– or overt– shifts in areas of your life where you use the tool. If you begin to use a cloud-based calendar that you can access on phone, tablet, and computer, you first need to shift your habit of reaching for the paper calendar. At first, you may use both. That’s actually more work, and it may be the point at which you balk. But if you expect that your habits may need to change, you can recognize the shift in the moment, think through a new process, and continue to watch the shifts that unfold.

Here’s an example of a simple tech shift that has slowly rippled into my daily life. My husband and I share a cloud-based calendar. This evolved very slowly, from each of us using an individual cloud calendar, to starting a shared calendar for only specific family events, to slowly including on that calendar individual appointments or commitments that will affect things for both of us: from something as simple as a late meeting that changes the usual dinnertime or a grocery pickup time that means our one car won’t be available, to a meeting or dentist appointment that precludes a joint meeting with a contractor.

The effect? On the simplest level, it speeds the starting points of conversations. “How’d that ______ go today?” is different from the very broad, “How was your day?”

It also means my husband sees more of the daily flow of my life, which, as an intensely private person, meant a surprising mental shift about the nature of intimacy. This sounds odd– he’s my husband for pity’s sake. But my definitions of freedom, of independence contain a component of invisibility. Could I feel as free, as independent if someone knew the architecture of my day? That’s a huge mental shift triggered by a simple, seemingly insignificant act of sharing a cloud-based calendar.

Why This Matters to Our Organization

We are entering the process of hiring a new pastor and head of staff. What will their vision be of the future of a cultural institution that no longer really relies on a physical place? Of the traditions and the ways they are expressed? What else might the cyber-ness of the past year affect? The idea of what worship is?

These are important questions. I hope we will be ready to discuss them.


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