I’ve been doing a lot of training lately, most recently a class at the Bayer Center last week called DIY Websites with WordPress. Upon reflection, I realize that I’m hearing a good deal of self-criticism, particularly in hands-on technology trainings. For example:
- “I have a stupid question.”
- “I’ll never remember how to do this.”
- “I’m so dumb when it comes to technology.”
- “I totally screwed this up.”
This makes me very sad. The people who come to my workshops are highly intelligent nonprofit professionals, and yet many seem to lack self-confidence when it comes to using technology. They think that if they can’t learn it easily or quickly, they must be too stupid to do it (effectively establishing or reinforcing a mental block about it). Deep in my heart, I believe this is false because these are folks who do amazingly difficult and complex work otherwise. I know they have the intelligence to learn tech.
People have also said to me, on multiple occasions, “yes, but this is easy for you – you’re a techie.” It may surprise you to hear that, learning new technology is the same amount of difficulty for techies, there’s no magic that uploads tech knowledge directly to our brains. There are software packages (I’m looking at you, Adobe) that gave me absolute fits when I first learned them. Some things take longer for me to wrap my head around because adult learners tend to make comparisons to knowledge they already possess when learning something new. For example, when I first learned WordPress, I kept making mental comparisons to the software I previously used for web design, Adobe Dreamweaver.
If there’s any difference between techies and non-techies when it comes to technology learning, I think it’s likely in the attitude of the learner. Techies seem to be more open to trying and more willing to fail (which doesn’t mean we enjoy it, we are just more willing to make mistakes). I found this terrific graphic on Twitter that demonstrates the personal mindset shift that I believe would make a huge difference if applied to technology training:
— Gavin Sonntag (@Gavin_Sonntag) April 16, 2017
I just love this – every single point on this list could be applied to technology training. To improve our ability to learn, at technology or otherwise, we have to change how we think and alter the self-talk we permit to happen in our brains.
I may print this Tweet and pass it out before my tech classes from now on. It may make a difference to point this out in advance of a class. (If I do, I’ll try to do a follow-up post on here and let you know if it made a difference.)