There’s one complaint about technology that I hear from almost every single person I talk to: it’s just plain overwhelming. There’s too much to learn. There are too many options. It’s always changing and I’m always behind.
Guess what: I’m an instructional technology coach and it’s my job to help teachers use technology, yet *I* feel like I’m constantly behind. I talk to other technologists and we haven’t heard of half the programs and apps that one other is using even though we’re doing the same job in the same schools. Seriously. It’s not just you.
I also hear people say, “How did you learn all this? I could never do all that. I’m just not good with technology.” You know what I tell them? I Google everything I want to know. I have never received training in 90% of what I do online. I just get curious (or get stuck) and do a quick internet search. I try it out and bookmark the site for my reference. After I’ve done it enough times, I’ve got it memorized. That’s all there is to it. I’m not the computer whisperer, and I wouldn’t even call myself an expert.
In fact, because there is so much technology available, I don’t think technology experts exist. And that means you don’t have to worry about becoming one.
I’ve heard that there are 3,000 new apps launched every single day. There are hundreds of thousands of educational websites. Countless programs you can try. There is simply no way one person can learn all of them. And you don’t have to try. Pick one or two that you’re interested in and that you think would give you the most bang for your buck. Play around with them and practice.
Resist the urge to think about all the things you’re missing. Of course you’re missing things. If you lived a thousand years you wouldn’t have time to learn every resource that is out there right now. But the only resources you need to learn are the ones you need in your life. That might only be a handful for right now. A few more over the next few months. A few more after that. Stop telling yourself you need to learn to be proficient in all technology. It’s not going to happen, and it doesn’t need to.
Google is your very best friend. If you wait until your school district provides training on everything you need to know about technology, you’re going to be stuck in the dark ages. And if you’re fortunate enough to be offered technology PD, you don’t have to memorize how to do everything or keep copious notes about every little detail. Pull up the site or program you want to use, and do what the kids do: play around with it. Experiment. Make mistakes. Fail, a lot. The only way to really learn something is to explore it yourself. Trial and error is your friend.
When you get stuck, Google it. How to copy and paste. How to create an email list. How to download a video from YouTube. No matter where you are on the tech proficiency spectrum, I guarantee that three million other people have already searched for the same thing and there will be dozens if not hundreds of websites with your exact phrase that will explain, step by step, exactly what to do. Don’t get overwhelmed by the results: pick one with a description that sounds like a good match, and check it out. If you don’t find what you’re looking for, pick again. You can do this.
When you find a good resource that explains how to do something, bookmark it/save it to your favorites. (Google that if you don’t know how!) Don’t beat yourself up by saying, “I read it but I don’t remember how! Someone showed me how to do it but I forgot! I’m so bad with technology!” No, you’re not. And you don’t HAVE to remember how. Who could possibly memorize all of this?? Go back to the site you bookmarked and re-read how to do it. Or search again.
I think the sheer amount of technology that’s available is only going to increase with time, so if you’re waiting for that feeling of being overwhelmed to go away, you’re just going to get more and more frustrated. Now is the time to jump in there. You might not ever be a technology expert, but you can be a determined, lifelong learner who is willing to put yourself out there and keep trying.