When Technology Happens To You — Learning Tech is a Process

The main idea that I picked up from my most recent research article “Educational Technology is a Process” (2013) by Rachel Ellaway is that learning technology and refining it for teaching, is, exactly what the author says, a process. But I’m pretty sure I could make an argument that everything is a process. Learning is a process, training for that marathon is a process, eating a pint of Talenti mint chip gelato is a process. It’s all a process.

This topic interested me because I have some friends that have no confidence in their technology skills. But you don’t pick these things up overnight. I spent several years in a program of study to have a better understanding of how best to use technology in my teaching. And even though Ellaway writes about educational technology in medical education, I believe the core principle is the same: learning about using technology in teaching is a process.

Graham (1999) has this to say about our use of technology, “Technology enhanced learning . . . follows a philosophy of technology use that not only embraces complexity and emergence but acknowledges that technologies change us and in so doing they change our goals and perspectives” (as cited in Ellaway, 2014, p. 427). That is lovely isn’t it? It changes us and change is a process. Again, process.

I wish my friends would relax and not hold themselves up to such high – or even near impossible – standards. You’re already doing your fair share. Relax. Reread my post about being lazy and take my point to heart. You will learn – as much as you’re willing to – slowly. And as Anne Lamott says about how to write a research paper on birds, you write it bird by bird.

Here is my semi-fictional take on what it’s like when you’re trying to learn a form of technology that is new to you.


When Technology Happens To You

“We can use Google Apps for multiple purposes. I especially like Google Docs for my writing classes because it allows for peer review and multiple revision and editing tools. Once I get a document from a student, I can create a folder for this assignment so they’re all in one place. Also, you need to make sure that the student has allowed for the correct permissions, so that anyone can edit. That is ideal for . . .”

I feel like I should know this . . . why don’t I know this?!? . . . I’ve seen this before, I’m sure we talked about this before . . . why wasn’t I paying attention? . . . ugh, maybe I can catch up here . . . it seems like everyone else knows what’s happening . . . I hope I’m not the only one that doesn’t understand this . . . what exactly is happening here???

“. . . I personally like EasyBib, which I have used myself for research. And students, anyone really, can always use more support with documentation. Another is Openclipart. Like I said before, these add more to an essay than just a focus on the traditional format and . . .”

 what the heck is openclip art? . . . where are we? where’s the menu for these things? maybe insert? . . . no . . . maybe add-ons . . . yes, it’s add-ons . . . thank god, now I know where we are . . . wait, what’s she talking about now? . . . I think I feel sick . . .

“ . . . you can add words that are particular to your discipline. That makes assessment go much more smoothly. Under Insert, you can do all the basic things like inserting a picture or a hyperlink. . . . .”

. . . a hyperlink . . . that’s the same as a link, I think . . . I know how to do that . . . I think . . . ok, text and link click ok . . . got it . . . finally something I understand . . . I still feel sick though . . . I wish this weren’t so complicated . . . I wish I could just focus on teaching . . . I’m not sure how much value this has anyway . . . has she talked about that? . . . has she talked about why I need to do this? . . . maybe she has . . . I’m not sure . . . maybe I should have salmon for dinner? . . .

Some things to think on:

  1. Can you evaluate yourself honestly about your technology skills? What are a few things you are good at?
  2. What are a few specific areas you would like to know more about? (If you post in the comments I’ll find some good resources for you.)
  3. If educational technology isn’t a real interest of yours, can you come to terms with that and accept that for what it is?

Tools I used:

Pixaby for the photo.


Ellaway, R. (2013). Educational Technology is a Process. Medical Teacher, 35(5), 426-428. DOI: 10.3109/0142159X.2013.000001

Graham, G. (1999). The Internet://a philosophical inquiry, Routledge.

Thanks again to Mark for the proofreading!


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