Wednesday, 25 March 2009

A woman's way into technology

It sometimes irks me when women defer to men in matters of technology, because it hits a nerve. For years my husband ran things on my computer. I'm a freelancer working mostly from my home office, and he was all the sys admin I could afford. That put a bit of a strain on our relationship when I couldn't make a deadline because of a technical glitch, but he was tired and had been solving other problems all day. So at some point I simply decided I needed to be able to fix things myself.

I got into teaching distance courses using platforms that other people had set up. Then I took a Moodle course which opened up what things look like in the backend, where the bits and bytes John was talking about live. After that I really wanted to get cracking, so I got professional help setting up my own blog and Moodle platform, learned to work things in the privacy of the internet, and started thinking about what the user really gets out of the online experience. The last really exciting step was to help migrate e-learning magazine content from one system to another.

There is this "wow" factor associated with technology, but like magic tricks, applications can be learned. All you need is a patient mentor or two (!) and the determination and the spirit of wanting to get to the bottom of things. If I can't do it myself, someone on the internet can probably help. And mistakes are there to be fixed. Being a late-bloomer, I feel that if I can do it, anyone (and any woman) can. There's a very nice video interview with Nicky Hockly, director of pedagogy at the Consultancy-E which she co-directs with Gavin Dudeney, where she mentions something quite similar.

The real challenge, truly deserving of the "wow", is the content you put into a tool and how you use it. Nothing beats trying it out. A proven good way into technology, and the one Nicky Hockly says she found most effective, is a blog. So next up you'll find tips here on how to set up your own blog, and what you can use it for. Stay tuned.

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