• Campers

    Terry Huttenlock

    • Wheaton College

    Education: MLS and Ed.D in instructional Technology Position: Head of Systems and Assistant Professor of Library Science, Buswell Library, Wheaton College I am interested in ways to facilitate the effective use of technology. This includes areas of usability, teaching methods, and cognitive approaches such as facilating metacognition. I started my career 30 years ago in corporate IT as a systems analyst and programmer. 15 years ago I made a career change because of an interest in library automation and since then my interest has broadened into other aspects encompassed by instructional technology.

    My Posts

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

    Saturday, March 13th, 2010 | thuttenl

    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.”