Tuesday, October 11, 2022

T is for Technology

 I am not a Luddite. I love my technology.

Except when it doesn’t love me back. And this semester, the learning management system we use at school is getting on my last nerve.

It’s not the software. It’s me. And that’s why the situation annoys me so much.

I'm aware that I make mistakes (and not just with technology). I can usually brush them off or even laugh about them, even when I’m less sanguine about them internally. But when they pile up publicly and in a situation where I’m supposed to look like I know what I’m doing, my sense of humor fades fast.

Don't get me wrong, these mistakes aren't enormous, nor do they have grade-crushing repercussions for my students. They are, instead, the same old same old. Forgetting to check a box. Uploading a document incorrectly. Neglecting to check a link to see if it goes where it's supposed to. Small, persistent details that annoy me and, I suspect, my students.

So, if they aren't the end of the world, why do they bother me so much?

Well, the public nature is part of it. I don't think anyone likes looking foolish in front of an audience. 

But, it goes a little deeper. 

The apparent ineptitude on display in front of my students stands in sharp contrast to my aptitude with most of the technology I use on a regular basis. Despite this, however, I find myself wondering if age is a factor here. Is this the beginning of an inevitable slow-down? Does it only get worse from here?

Luckily, some of my recent reads, including a great book I'm listening to right how have helped to allay these fears a bit, and unearthed some of the issues at the root of this. And, ironically, technology itself is likely one of the culprits. 

Accustomed to working at the pace of our phone processors, we have a need for speed that can contribute to us getting in our own way. Layer that on top of a seemingly endless to-do list and a false sense of my own mastery of the software and, before I know it, I'm making silly mistakes not just once, but repeatedly. Sprinkle my global personality atop this confection, and you have someone who's not detail-oriented to begin with, wielding her false sense of technological security as she races through her to-do list, not fully focused on the task at hand.

Well, that I can fix. Checklists to the rescue! Whether mental or physical, they can help me troubleshoot before I step away from the computer, unaware that my work is flawed. Add a few deep breaths and a reminder to check my work like I used to do on high school math tests and I might just solve the problem. 

Still, there's a nagging little voice in the back of my mind that insists that this would all be easier if I were younger. It's probably right. But, as I see it, I have a choice. I can acknowledge that and use the tools at my disposal to make up the difference, or I can sit in a corner and feel sorry for myself. 

Most days, I'll choose the former. 

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