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Monday, November 14, 2005

Removing Fear

Three times now over the last two years I have lost control momentarily of my car – all three of which owing to terrible, adverse weather conditions. It is a very disconcerting experience, as the dashboard springs to life with warning lights once the onboard computer realises it is no longer in control of the motion of the vehicle. The car manufacturer calls this the ‘Dynamic Stability Control’ which if you stop and think about it is quite a worrying inclusion – as in actual fact, you are never really in control of the vehicle at all. All you are doing is steering. I drive the car in blissful ignorance however, as I unwittingly trust the constant calculations of the onboard computer.

Today I had a great conversation with Graham Dickie, one of the Masterclass members in Argyll & Bute. One of the topics of discussion was how to engage with members of staff that are fearful of technology. I know Graham is very interested in methodology that may help to tackle this situation.

How do we cure the fear of so many to use technology in the classroom? How do we make some teachers leap the digital divide between those that use technology and those that don’t?

Alan November describes a digital divide very well – the students that we teach have always grown up in a world of digital technology – he calls them digital natives. Those that remember a time before digital technology he calls digital immigrants. How do digital immigrants cross the divide? By being fearless learners. It is easy to say this, but let’s think about it – what’s the worst thing that could happen? We make a mistake? In these instances, there is an ‘undo’ button.

How we become fearless learners, and how we learn how to trust are the real questions. Every so often, there will be moments when the computer will cause us to worry – it is in these moments that we need the confidence to know how to make the right decisions.

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