Mature Learners and “Technopohobia”
I don’t know about you but when I went back to university I was quickly thrown into having to learn how to use a bunch of new technology. First there was the university’s information portal called PAWS where my course resources and other important information was stored. The learning curve for me was steep since all I’d ever done before at home was send or receive an email one in a while. There was a definite anxiety. Maybe even a little technophobia. I felt I wasn’t able to keep up with my younger colleagues. I had to log in and post info to the college’s learning management information system called BlackBoard and use new tools like Elluminate and others. It made my brain hurt. But I guess I’m not alone.
Sean Cordes is an instructional systems coordinator with Western Illinois University. Here’s what he had to say about mature learners and technology in an edition of Educause Quarterly in 2009 :
“Adult learners can require specialized support, both on campus and at a distance. In the campus environment,they sometimes lack the technology skills and motivation required to perform a task, or lack understanding of computing policies. Of course, students of any age may need support, and adults of all ages can and do learn to use technology effectively While age is not a factor, practical experience, confidence, and motivation to use technology are. Formal computer training, practical experience, and the confidence gained from extensive use over time are critical to effectively performing academic tasks. Many younger students who have grown up digitally have this experience. Most adult learners do not, and so often lack the practical knowledge, feelings of competence, and desire to use technology younger learners possess. Many adult students take distance courses. Because online learning often lacks direct contact with faculty and staff on campus, supporting these students can be challenging. In-house systems provide a controlled environment — at the very least we know what systems are in place and can engage students directly. In the world of the online adult learner, this is rarely the case.”
Now here’s a video I did for CBC back in 1994 when the internet was in its infancy. It’s interesting to see how people thought technology would change their lives. What do you think? Were they right?