Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Kids and Computers

Are you like most adults that believe that kids can do anything on computers? I hear from so many parents that when ever they have a problem with their computer or device they ask their kids and they "fix" it for them. I will admit that my kids, growing up with this technology, have an advantage, a comfort that many adults don't have, but I think we are doing them a dis-service to assume they know what they are doing. They don't know, they're just not afraid to try. They aren't teaching our kids how to use the computers in school, but they are using computers in school. I think the teachers don't know how to use them and they believe, like so many adults that the kids know what they are doing. We are putting our kids at a disadvantage with this kind of development.

When I started teaching computers in 1997 most of the work I got was in companies that were upgrading to Windows 95 from Windows 3.1 as well as Office 95. These were big changes for businesses with the more graphic Windows Operating System and the introduction of Outlook. Companies invested in teaching people how to use the software then because they knew that most people were new to it, and the adjustment from the typewriter to the computer, from mailings to email, from daily planners to virtual calendars was going to be huge. They were right to train their work force and created a more efficient group because of it. Now, it is assumed you know what you are doing, it is assumed you can "figure it out." Technology is moving at a rapid pace and the changes are hard to fully absorb into our work day. This rapid pace added with no training is making for a less efficient and effective work force than ever before.

When people would take my classes they nearly always were shocked by what they didn't know. I was sometimes amazed myself when I would assume a certain level of knowledge and then find someone in the class that didn't know anything about that. I would assume most people knew what a cursor was or Undo, but people didn't/don't. And this is true for the kids, too.

The speed of the development of technology and software infiltrates our way of being. We no longer try to create something long lasting, we just try to make it print either on paper or into a PDF. We don't utilize our internet software well, we just try to get where we're going in the moment. Microsoft Word is a very powerful program. People find it "buggy" and even frustrating, and there were times when I would agree with people, but now I realize, more often than not, it's the user that doesn't know what they're doing that is causing the frustrations, not the program. There are so many fantastic tools that you can use to make your life easier over the long haul, Styles, Themes, AutoText, Bookmarks, Setting Tabs properly, using Tables correctly... so much more. But people don't bother to learn these tools, they just fight with the program until they can get it the way they want it to look. But the next time they want to use that document for something? Forget it, you can't, because everything will go "wacky" on them and they'll blame it on the program. Excel and PowerPoint are the same.

And we're not teaching our kids how to use the programs either. We're just hoping they'll keep up and that their work will "print" okay. Some things I use to do for companies were probably more in the way of art and might no longer be useful, but the tools I can use and teach people how to use are still valuable, they might take a little more time on the front end, but in the long run you will save time and energy because you won't be frustrated and it will "work."

I wish we'd teach or kids that... but instead we keep racing along.

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