• Instructional strategies for teaching technology that go beyond “button pushing.”

    There is no doubt that technology has changed the way we do things.  It has made some, particularly repetitive tasks simple but has also made some simple tasks more difficult.  To help users, developers try to make systems easier to use and more intuitive. But many of our students still do not know how to use many of the software tools that are core to their education.  Then, how do we teach them?

    When I did my dissertation three years ago, I looked at ways to help students learn to search online databases.  My study was based on the premise that searching is not just a task but also a problem that needs to be solved.  Therefore could it benefit from users using metacogntive tools?  I developed an instructional aid based on metacognitive questioning.  Such techniques I found helped users think about what they are doing without prescribing a step-by-step process or procedure.

    You may ask, “Why not prescribe a “how-to?”  Technically in searching, as in many other software packages, there is no “one way” to use it.  There are certain “buttons” you need to push but learning the buttons does not really teach you how to effectively do the task.  Interfaces also can be changed on a whim.  Users also come in with pre-existing knowledge and behaviors that they have found “worked before.” Teaching is more effective if you anchor to pre-existing knowledge even if it does not at times seem the most “efficient” way to do things.  If one reflects on the way they do everyday tasks, I don’t think I would be the only one to find that I do things that others would consider “inefficient,” but they work for me.

    Related to this is the overall assumption about this “net generation” by both those who are teaching and the current generation themselves; since this generation grew up with technology and use it all the time, they know how to use it.  But do they?  I have seen many instances where their knowledge and understanding is selective.

    How do we teach searching and software?  I’d like to discuss ideas and share experiences with teaching this current “net” generation and about novel instructional strategies for teaching technology that go beyond “button pushing.”


  1. acavender says:

    Hi, Terry. It looks like your session description and mine might go really well together. What do you think?

    • thuttenl says:

      Yes, I do believe they would go really good together. Is there anything we have to do specifically to combine them?

      • We’re going to have a scheduling session on Saturday morning where we collectively build the sessions/schedule for both days. Just keep in mind that you want to combine your sessions, and you’ll get a chance to do so when everything is put down on paper (we’re going to post something about how this scheduling session is going to work a few days before GLTC starts)

  2. this is a super idea! I would really encourage campers who have similar topics (or topics that fit nicely under a more general umbrella) to plan in combining. This is actually one of the points of these pre-camp discussions.

  3. jlknott says:

    Sorry for the lag, I just got my proposal posted. I may be able to fit in here with you as well. Or, at least in a similar track. 🙂

  4. ajgulyas says:

    Not to be a bandwagon jumper-on, but I think my proposal on teaching students how to ue tech tools to share oral and local history research could fit well with this also.

  5. This is also related to my session on cultural heritage curricula. On one hand I am interested in issues of technology (originally typed as teachnology) in the classroom, but there is also the continuing issue of having students do their own projects and research problems and how one directs them to do so.

  6. thuttenl says:

    Correct me if I am wrong, but it seems we do have an overarching theme of just how do we teach technology to students. And it seems we all feel that they need to be taught because they don’t know how to use the tools they need for their specific projects/disciplines and/or figure out how to use them. I think we have both theoretical as well as practical considerations. A lively discussion indeed!

  7. digiwonk says:

    This topic is near and dear to me, as well. Count me in!

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