Teams, Technocrats and Technophobes

We all want to use technology to its best advantage. We live in the 21st Century. We're technocrats. We practically invented the modern world. But there are people out there who are slowing us down. They're called technophobes. We need to do something.

1. Make them Care

Most technophobes have trouble relating to the inflated rhetoric of technocrats.

Technophobes are not won over by talk of multimedia or social networks. Technophobes want to identify genuine, measurable, advantages.

Technophobes don't want to be won over. They won't donate their time to learning our tools. We have to find them time - make it worth their while.

2. A Foreign Language

Most technocrats speak a language guaranteed to alienate the technophobes.

Technocrats use terms like "bandwidth" and "embedded tools".

Technocrats act as if everything from the past is bad; classrooms, books - that sort of stuff.

Technocrats seem to think that everything new and technology-rich is automatically good.

Technophobes view such language with great suspicion; they pride themselves on demanding serious, rigorous learning from students, steering clear of the latest educational innovations.

Technocrats rarely sympathize with technophobes or understand their issues. Technocrats have a different viewpoint. We are also far more tolerant of technical glitches and frustrations. We rarely understand technophobes or how they learn. We find it very difficult to help technophobes.

3. Make it a Team Game

Technophobes don't have time to "mess around." They do not enjoy surprises. They don't appreciate confusion. They don't like taking risks. They value their class time.

Technophobes need tools that plays to their strengths and support their teaching.

They want technology that works. First time. Every time. Technology that doesn't challenge their authority.

At heart they don't trust the technology. They see networks crashing and software stalling. If they are to throw themselves at the mercy of technology, they want someone at their side when everything goes wrong.

Actually, they don't want someone at their side. They want someone out in front. They don't want to walk into battle alone. They want to be part of a team.

And, as we all know, it's amazing what teams can do.

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This post draws heavily on an article by Jamie McKenzie from 1999 at http://fno.org/sum99/reluctant.html

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How much ? NHS spends money like water on ICT

According to the Guardian "BT Group will next month become the third major contractor in as many years to take a multimillion pound writedown on its work with the government's crisis-stricken GDP12.7bn overhaul of the NHS computer system."

This is the most astonishing amount of money.

The NHS is pretty much the biggest employer in Europe. There are something like 1,330,000 employed by the wider NHS - of whom some 133,000 are Doctors.

Yet despite that vast workforce we could (takes deep breath) give every-single-one of those employees TWO top-of-the range laptops (one for work and one for home) AND an iPhone each - and still have some change left over from GDP2.7bn.

Leaving some GDP10bn to spend on connecting them all up...

Let's look at that one more time. Two laptops and iPhone for every single NHS employee, and still have GDP10 Billion left over.

For pity's sake, who runs these contracts?

Because we sure know who's paying for it all.

Update - June 2011 - "NHS Chief Information Officer - Christine Connelly - in dramatic resignation. Terminal crisis for £11.4bn National Programme for IT?" ComputerWorldUK
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Ouch: Virtual Learning Environments are Expensive and Ineffective

Wow. According to the BBC, Ofsted have produced a hard-hitting assessment on the costs (high) and benefits (err, very few apparently) of the VLEs that we are all supposed to be purchasing.

Some of the quotes:

  • The use of online materials to help students with their lessons has been "slow to take off".

  • In many schools and colleges VLEs are still on a "cottage industry" scale.

  • The benefits to learners are so far "not yet obvious".

  • "Despite expectations", dating back some 3 or 4 years, the arrival of these online support services for learners are "still in the early stages of development".

Here at Radley, we bypassed a formal VLE and went for a simple school-wide wiki - using CourseForum software. Much simpler. Surprisingly powerful. And it works.

BBC Education

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From my iPhone

I now have a shiny new 3G iPhone - on the O2 PAYG contract. It really is a very impressive handheld computer. And it runs fully fledged apps for many purposes. Including an excellent blogging tool. But the real strength of the iPhone is the excellent browser, coupled with its excellent connectivity (both WiFi and 3G).

From my iPhone

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The Future of ICT

It's becoming ever more obvious that the future of ICT lies with Web Based Applications. Facebook, Google, Amazon, Flickr, Twitter, etc If you want to keep an eye on the future then you could do a lot worse than to have a look at this list of the best web-based apps of 2008. It is worth noting that Google appears in just about every category (bear in mind that Picassa, Blogger and YouTube are all Google products - and iLike is essentially a Google product). Also note that Amazon do a lot more than just sell books, music and DVDs; they're rapidly becoming a major force in the ICT world.

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"I just use Google": Blogger2.0 launches

It's probably illegal to advertise another blogging product from within my TypePad account... but here goes.

Blogger 2.0 - lots of tools that now make Blogger a good tool rather than a lame one.

Makes that "I just use Google" suite of tools look very attractive.

Mail, Maps, Earth, Video, Spreadsheets, Docs, Search, Calendar, Photos, Feeds... need I go on?

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Extracting Meaning from Data

Swivel looks to be very, very interesting.

It's basically a Social Networking site that allows you to share data.

Think Flickr, but for statistics.

And just as Flickr offers serendipitous connections between pictures, so Swivel allows users to derive value from shared data sets.

Think Freakanomics but with lots of smart users all looking for smart connections.

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