After 25 years of working in the High Tech industry, you wouldn’t think I’d suffer from “technophobia”, yet I found myself dreading having to master the technology required to not only web conference but to blog about it afterwards. It’s not that I don’t know how to go to school – I do. I can sit in a classroom, pay attention and take notes with the best of them. And it’s not that I haven’t taken an online course before – I have. However, in previous online courses, participation was limited to reading the material, doing the homework, emailing the instructor and taking the multiple-choice tests. For this course, I find I am not only having to learn the course content, but also learn the course delivery system – moodle, facebook, blogging and web conferencing. My learning partner shared my trepidation. So it’s not surprising that we chose “learners struggling with technology” as our topic.
Much of what I learned in the web conference I already suspected – that online learning has created learning opportunities in distance learning, that online learning is effective in some circumstances and not in others, that online learning is not very effective for unmotivated learners, and that many adult learners suffer from “technophobia”. But what I found most interesting is something my learning partner, Anita, unearthed.
Although many people might assume that “technophobia” is a generational problem and that this technology knowledge gap will go decrease as aging workers retire, research by Torkzadeh and Angulo (1992) suggests this is not the case. The expectation for technological competency is increasing at a rate that currently available training cannot keep pace with. So, the gap between technology competency expectations and actual technological competency will increase over time.
I’m committed to decreasing the size of my own technology knowledge gap, but then I have the advantage of having two technology-savvy young adults at home, a sort of built-in help desk. It will be interesting to see how educational institutions address this gap since, unfortunately, it doesn’t look like it will be going away any time soon.
- Torkzadeh, G. a. A., I.E. (1992). The concept and correlates of computer anxiety. Behavior and
Information Technology, 11 (2), 99-108.