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Monday
Feb072011

Is it a skill or a mindset?

One of our tech staff got a call the other day from a teacher who was having a problem. She couldn't figure out how to get a GoogleDoc onto a flashdrive so she could move it to another computer. And yes, the other computer was networked.

Now my staff usually goes into hysterics when hearing a story like this. It's a bit too much like the jokes about Ole who was trapped for hours when the escalator stopped running or the blonde who couldn't get out of the convertible when the door got stuck.

But too often I think we forget that shifting a mindset is more difficult than teaching a skill - and we too often neglect the mindset and wonder why all our skills teaching seems fruitless. The mindset that file access has shifted from the local storage to cloud storage somehow didn't kick in.

When I was a little boy growing up on the prairie, my dad tried to teach me how to change the oil in my car. As he explained how to remove the drain plug, unscrew the filter and such, he stopped since I wasn't paying much attention. He finally said something like, "Doug, if you get this wrong you will ruin the engine in your car. And it's not that hard to get wrong." I needed the big picture, the why, before I took learning how seriously*. 

In teaching tech skills do we pay enough attention to the why or do we only attend to the how?

* Yes, children, people did once upon a time change their own oil, air filters, spark plugs, and even windshield wipers. Although somebody else pumped our gas and cleaned our car windows. True story - look it up.

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Reader Comments (3)

Starting with the "why" isn't just good for the learner, it's also essential for the teacher. If you can't start with the why maybe there is no "why."

If Google Docs is just replacing the old word processing software, is there really a reason to use Google Docs?

February 7, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterRuss Goerend

Both ;)

February 8, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJ.

Hi Russ,

There are some economic and maintenance benefits to GoogleDocs even if it is only used as a word processor, but you are right - the real reason to change is for the sharing, access and collaborative editing.

Thanks,

Doug

j.,

Yup.

Doug

February 10, 2011 | Registered CommenterDoug Johnson

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