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Saturday
Jun102017

Alpha wolf syndrome and why it hurts technology efforts

... truly great technology teachers know what things beginning learners really need to know to make them productive and what things might be conveyed that only serve to impress a captive audience with the technologist’s superior intellect. (“The email address is comprised of the username, the domain name, the subdomain name, the computer name, all referenced in a lookup table at the NIC.” Like that.) It’s an alpha wolf thing, especially common with males. Be aware of it, and strive as an instructor instead to use charm and a caring demeanor with the pack to achieve dominance. Seven qualities of highly effective technology trainers, Indispensable Teacher's Guide to Computer Skills.

Yeah, you still run into the wanna-be alpha wolves in ed tech circles now and then. I've been seeing it a lot when talking security issues. Somehow, the sales folks think that the more terms they bandy about related to making one's data safe and network reliable and the more frightening the consequences of even the slightest oversight, the more likely I am to scramble for a PO and an account code.

As a pretty good bullshitter, myself, I am pretty sure that the sales folks who will later turn the actual work of doing a security analysis over to engineers don't really understand about 90% of their own jargon. Ask a question and listen to the hemming and hawing over a response.

The danger of substituting tech-speak for actual English actually has a serious consequences. If I cannot make myself clearly and precisely understood in regard to network and data security, I will not be able to convince the powers that be that little things like redundancy and back ups and updated servers and staff security training is necessary - as is the funding for it.

It's fairly common knowledge that underfunding in technology is often the result of poor communication skills by those of us who work in technology. We majored in computer science after all, not English! (Well, some of us majored in English.) 

Just as I urged technology staff development instructors years ago to avoid the alpha wolf syndrome and replace it with clear and precise messaging, so I would advise technology leaders as well. You won't get a budget if you can't help others understand how the services it buys clearly benefit them. Can the TLAs (three letter acronyms).

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Reader Comments (1)

Well said Doug. I am back in the classroom, but during my team as tech coordinator, I certainly ran into these alphas.

July 1, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterSusan Sedro

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