On being tech savvy

I always thought of myself as pretty tech savvy.  What is interesting to me is how quickly I can move in and out of that designation.  For example, I can remember growing up having a Timex Sinclair http://oldcomputers.net/ts1000.html before others in my peer group, but then I remember quickly falling behind in programming after spending most of my time playing games or just doing print and goto line 10 repeat loops.  I got back on board with an Apple IIc, but then fell behind again with changes in Windows.  I could do word processing, but then had to catch up with email and setting up my own modem and Internet connections. I got into building my own computers (from parts not from raw silicon) and my own websites, but then fell behind again with Mobile devices.  I was a pro in programming Speaking Dynamically and a Dynavox, but blinked and was behind in setting up Proloquo2Go or LAMP.  I shared a pay as you go cell phone with my wife for a while and only used it when I traveled. Now I have a rooted Android phone that I almost always have with me, but can see myself falling behind again in the midst of integrated social media.  I’m not sure how I will ever stay on top of all the AAC Apps short of making it my full time job. Ok it kind of is, but I have other stuff to do too.

My most recent revelation about this waxing and waning came in one of my classes.  I’ve caught up to a level of barely passable competence with mobile devices, Apps, blogging, social media (except FB #noFB), Blackboard, etc., but it wasn’t until I started using Twitter in my class that someone made the comment that it was different having a “tech savvy” professor.  I consider many of my colleagues to be extremely tech savvy by my definitions.  Some can make Matlab literally sing with incredible simulations and programming.  Others can manipulate sound signals to baffle Heinrich Hertz.  Still, the measure of savviness varies.  What to me is savvy to others may be old fashioned.  Coding a website by hand may be seen as archaic and unnecessarily cumbersome although I might consider it the measure of a wo/man in development.  Being able to save a document as a pdf or embed code for a youtube video may be valuable to me, but not necessarily to others.

What I learned is that if I think I’m being tech savvy for my students, I need to think about what their measure of savviness is.  Not that I aspire only to be viewed as savvy by my students.  What I do want though is to find ways to meet students on levels that they personally value and can use without struggling with an interface that I think is important.  If my goal is to increase student interaction, then I need to be savvy on the platforms they value and can use fluently.

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