Managing Change and Learning in a World With Updates

os7 iphone 1It never fails!

Just when you feel good about your digital world learning curve, a new device operating system brings a serious case of update-time discomfort. While none of us ever stops learning, sometimes these periods of relearning tasks that, in theory, we already know pretty well can be daunting.

I work with educational technology in a school, where updates are part of the job. Yet each time I need to relearn routine tasks I get a healthy reminder that when it comes to digital skill problem-solving and tinkering, I remain a digital immigrant — always a bit slower at figuring out new things than most of my digitally native students.    [See note at the end of this post.]

A few nights ago, when I read the stories about the new iOS7 for my iPhone, I resolved to wait a week or two and let any glitches work themselves out. But the next afternoon, Julian, a middle school student, stopped by my technology office asking questions about the cool new iOS7 system that he was downloading — that very minute. I did not know the answers to his questions.

Aha, I thought. Some of my students may need my help. So the next morning at 5:30, I downloaded the new operating system on my iPhone. An hour later with a somewhat different looking device, I fumbled around, located my Audible account, and listened to my latest recorded book as I drove to school — while patting myself on the back. I can manage the new iOS7 — not to mention change.

Then I arrived at school, got out of the car, and could not turn off my book. For more than five minutes I stood in the parking lot tapping at vaguely familiar iPhone icons and finally managed to turn it off. But in the process I turned on some bluegrass music. I had no idea where that music was coming from, because as far as I know, bluegrass does not reside on my iPhone.

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Phone Books: Are They Useful Anymore?

My newest phone book.

Yesterday in my town the new phone books arrived on our porches. I brought mine in and put it in the cabinet where I keep them, pulling out the oldest one and depositing it in the recycling bin.

My neighbor used a different strategy. She took the new phone book off of her porch and put it immediately into the recycling bin.

I began thinking about the last time I used the phone book. I haven’t opened that cabinet for at least six months, perhaps longer — definitely a long time ago.

Are phone books at all useful anymore?

On the other hand, Northern Virginia, where I live, just experienced an epic storm, and many people were without power for four or five days. Even streetlights were dark. Landlines worked, but Internet did not. Cell phones ran out of power. I wonder if anyone used the phone book?

Beloit College Mindset List 2010

Each year I pass along the Beloit College Mindset list to just about everyone I know. Compiled by Professor Tom McBride and colleague Ron Nief at Beloit College, the list is a set of observations about the entering freshman class — designed to help the Beloit faculty understand a bit more about the thinking and the experiences of their new students. This year’s entering students are in the class of 2014.

According to the Mindset List introduction, “The college class of 2014 reminds us, once again, that a generation comes and goes in the blink of our eyes, which are, like the rest of us, getting older and older.”  Read about the history and background of the Mindset List which Professor McBride has been compiling since 1998.

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