• Dave Foord
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I am the master, the computer is my slave!

I was talking to someone last week who was trying to work out how I had evolved from a lowly sport science lecturer, that wasn’t into gadgets, couldn’t use a video recorder and had no desire to understand how technology works; into someone that is quite proficient on a computer, uses it extensively in my work, and now rely on this ability to earn a living.

My simple response was that I had worked out that there was something in this ILT idea, and once I had made that decision I just taught myself what I needed to know, and things just went forwards like that, however further discussion revealed that there is more to it than that, and I can attribute that to a couple of features:-

Finding Freedom

Originally uploaded by empirical_perception

For many people they will use a computer to do what they know how to do. I am different in that I will do things that I don’t know how to do! This may sound daft, but what I am getting at, is that I would think about the teaching and learning first, and think about what desired output I would want, I would then think about doing that on the computer, which often involved me having to learn new skills first. It was these ideas that taught me about animations in PowerPoint, and how to use many of the functions in Excel and many other things that I now take for granted. And the process never stops, with the vast array of Web2 type technologies out there, and the fact that these can be interlinked – gives an almost infinite number of ways to do something, and this is why I have been and will continue to be an innovator in this area of work.

So for me the relationship is me being the master, and the computer being a tool that does what I ask it, to save me time, improve productivity and improve quality. For many people this isn’t the case – they assume the role of the slave, doing what the computer lets them do.

But it isn’t easy. It means that I have to work constantly outside my comfort zone, for me that is OK as I am only comfortable when outside my comfort zone (if that makes sense) – as I need the adrenalin and excitement and challenge of the unknown, and the uncertainty of it all. If I did stay in my comfort zone for too long I would quickly become bored.

Most people are not like me (which is probably a good thing) so I don’t expect people to work outside of their comfort zone the way that I do, but there is an issue here with regards the staff training in this area of work. Over the years I have changed my style of my training, so rather than producing long ‘how to sheets’ which we then work through for each session, I produce much less in the way of support materials, and try to encourage people to ‘explore’ more, to use the help facility more, to use online tutorials in the software, and to learn transferable skills that they can move between software packages, and systems.


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