Digital natives get frustrated too

So…I’ve exceded my media limit. After a full ten minutes of trying to figure out why my YouTube video wouldn’t post in my last blog, I finally figured it out. And then I was more frustrated than ever. I didn’t upload the video from my computer to WordPress, it’s linked by URL, so why did it take up precious space? Why wasn’t this all explained to me in some sort of You’re an Idiot tutorial?

Even though I am a Generation Y-er, I do not consider myself a full digital native. I just immigrated young. When I was in kindergarten at Aynor Elementary Annex (RIP), we had the super fun privilidge of using green screen Apple computers once a week in the computer lab. There was only two computers, but we thought they were amazing. “Look, I can type!” Which is basically all you could do on those computers as a second grader. We typed sentences and printed them out on those scary loud printers with the tear-off edges. However, I did not grow up typing papers for school, having a cell phone, or researching on the internet. The true digital natives, I just discovered, are Generation Z. They were born after 1990, and can’t remember a world before the technology invasion.

Let’s face it, even when you’re dealing with technology that you’re comfortable with, somestimes it can still be a little scary. Digital Natives, though we consider them completely competant at dealing with all technological situations, often get frustrated, too. And most Generation Z-ers don’t have the emotional development to continue trying even when they’re confused. Guide to Online Schools offers some advice to use when introducing new technology to students. Some examples are:

1. Prepare Students in Advance: Whenever possible, inform students as soon as you can about the introduction of new technologies. Put details on your syllabus and distribute instructional materials to students prior to the first class when the technology is being used.

2. Be Patient: While some students will quickly catch on to the innovations you introduce, others may struggle to handle both coursework and learning new technology. Keep these students engaged by maintaining a positive attitude and remaining patient with them as you help them learn the technology. Whenever possible, work directly with these students to understand the specific challenges they are having.

3. Ask For and Engage Regular Feedback: During the entire process of introducing a new technology, you need to get buy-in from your students. To do this, you need to engage your students by soliciting their feedback, and it is also crucial that they know that their input is being heard by seeing you respond to their comments in productive ways.

4. Discourage Procrastination: Some students will wait until the last minute to try to complete assignments, but that strategy could backfire if they also wait to learn the new technology. Stagger small, targeted assignments in the process to encourage students to learn the technology and get the ball rolling early on major assignments.

5. Walk in their Shoes: After you have prepared all of your instructional materials, put yourself in the position of a student and try to learn the technology as if you have never been exposed to it before. You should always practice using your own materials to ensure that they are concise and easy to follow.

6. Do Trial Runs: Ask friends or family members to role play as a student so that you can test out your teaching strategy with someone who has no familiarity with the new technology. By doing this a week or more in advance of introducing a technology to students, you will be able to predict a number of potential problems that you will face in the online classroom.

7. Write a FAQ Section: As you’ve likely seen on many website and in many user’s manuals, a guide of Freqently Asked Questions (FAQs) can be a powerful tool for improving a user’s comfort with a new technology. The FAQ is different from typical written instructions in that it anticipates common questions and problems and provides a handy resource for resolving them.

8. Stay Committed: If you run into troubles early, persevere. If you appear to be waffling in your support for the new technology, students will pick up on it and won’t put forward as much effort to learn it. Keep your commitment and spirit levels up and keep working to make the technology work.

It’s easy for us to assume that our children intrinsically know how to navigate technology. In all honestly, they don’t have to be able to. What they need to know, is how to troubleshoot and figure it out without quitting when it gets hard. That’s  the winning skill.

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