Trainingless Technology?

It all started in the 1980’s when Apple virtually gave away Mac’s to schools by the hundreds of thousands. Almost every school got at least one. Then, the districts seem to instantly fall in love with them and buy hundreds more. Within eight years of the first Mac hitting the first Elementary school in Southern California, the Apple moniker became just that.

But, no training. Sure, theoretically the Apple operating system was easy enough that just about anyone could learn it on his or her own with virtually no training. And, eventually schools hired media center directors to be in charge of the Mac distribution – thus the training.

But, the cold, hard fact was that they went underutilized and then obsolete before their potential was ever realized. No real training was ever offered in most cases.

Then, the PC came out with Windows. It, too, followed the same pattern but this time was almost impossible to figure out without a college degree in computer science.

The came the laser disc player and a library of educational laser-based content.

Then came a host of other technological gear and software that was well-meaning, but difficult to use. Thousands of titles. All, cheap, readily available and ultimately better understood by the pupil than the teacher. Why? No training.

Now, here we go again. We’re seeing projection technology and all sorts of other AV gear appearing in the classroom–with little of no training attached. Of course, it’s blamed on budgets–everything seems to be, “we don’t have the budget for both the gear and the comprehensive training for everyone to know how to use it”–the story always g'es.

And, in many cases it is somewhat budget-related. Everyone in the educational field knows that budgets are being squeezed more than ever and this d'es cause one to pit one against the other.

But, enough is enough. The computer can be used for much more than it’s being used for now. We all know that. And, so can the projector. It’s not just for PowerPoint presentations and browsing the Internet. In fact, it’s imperative that we integrate AV-based and interactive technologies into every element of the schools or we’ll have a generation of kids that can’t pay attention and are bored–although it will probably be blamed on ADD (attention deficit disorder). And why shouldn’t they be bored. Look how much technology has changed the way we all work and interact in both our everyday personal and professional lives? Yet, school is taught virtually the same way it was since I was there – 20 years ago – heck, since my dad was there – 48 years ago. And, we’re not talking just elementary, middle and high school–college too.

Sure, we’ve added PowerPoint, PDFs and even fancy Web browsing to the curriculum, but can we all agree someone who’s got a GameBoy with them in their backpack is going to be bored in virtually any lecture-style course?

It d'esn’t have to be that way.

Demand training. Don’t buy so much technology–buy some training. Yes, a self-proclaimed technologist just said, “don’t buy so much technology”. Get trained on harnessing the power you already have lying around campus before asking for more. More isn’t always better.

OK, I admit this is an oversimplified solution or soapbox. But, I’m working my end of the deal too. I have been demanding, for years, that manufacturers include some baseline training in their products sold through to the educational markets. I’m making progress, but it’s far from a solution.

But, you got to start somewhere.

About the Author

Gary Kayye, Chief Visionary of Kayye Consulting, has been involved in the audiovisual industry for more than 20 years.

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