Saturday, April 15, 2006

Trailing Edge vs. Leading Edge

You can tell from looking at the design of this blog I know just enough HTML to be dangerous. I was able to find a graphic I love and massage it to fit in with the color theme, but I wasn't able to figure out how to place it exactly where I want it. Also, I wasn't able to change the text in the title to stand out more. Ahh, the mysteries of cascading style sheets.

At the school where I work, we offer many technology courses, but there's no vehicle for staff to get continuing education. Let me rephrase that, on paper we offer many technology workshops for staff, but there is a caveat. These workshops require a minimum number of people to attend and the minimum is almost never reached, therefore the classes are often cancelled. I usually find myself surrounded by a stack of dummies books.

A co-worker and I often talk about the trailing edge vs. the leading edge. Let me illustrate with a typical occurrence--for me anyway. One evening our computer tech was out so I found myself helping a student with her spreadsheet homework. She had been to class that day, had her textbook spread out before her, but couldn't solve the problem. Now, keep in mind my much older brain hadn't attended a an Excel class in at least 10 years. I didn't know the answer but, I knew right clicking would give me some options. So that's what I did. I right clicked and kept trying different options until I found the right one--process of elimination. I told her this. Explained this. Asked her if she understood. She said she did. Five minutes later she stood in the doorway of my office asking me to show her how to do that again. What's scary is, this is the generation that will be in charge of my nursing home care.

There's buzz about Web 2.0. Every time I hear that phrase I chuckle because I get a mental image of an Amish horse and buggy driving down the information highway. Seriously, young people may have one or two tricks in their technology bag, but they're missing a lot of needed skills. For every student that asks me why we don't have the latest and greatest on our public computers, there's ten that ask how to delete a blank space from a document. I don't make this stuff up. It's my life--unfortunately.


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