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BELLTONES: Encouraging Technophobes--Old Dogs CAN Learn New Tricks

By Mary Ann Bell - Posted Nov 1, 2006
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All my life, I have been known as someone who most definitely does not have a green thumb. Plants entered my house or yard at their own risk. More often than not, I killed my leafy charges by neglect. Other than grass and trees, there were few growing things in my yard. Even when I tried, my efforts in horticulture came to naught. I accepted the fact that growing things was something other people did. In fact, I came to have a distinct aversion to all pursuits that involved planting, tending, or cultivating. I was a hortiphobe.

Then, actually quite suddenly, things changed. I moved into a wonderful little cottage that had a producing garden in the backyard. I now am the proud caretaker of tomato, onion, squash, cucumber, pepper, and potato plants! In the evening, I love to harvest some veggies and cook them for supper. My latent gardening side is emerging. I want to learn about caring for my new friends, and about planting another garden next year, or even a fall garden! I would not call myself a hortiphile yet, but I am changing.


As I sat on my screened-in porch surveying my little backyard kingdom the other day, it occurred to me that my transition is analogous to that of people who change from being technophobes to technophiles. They go for years telling themselves, "Technology is not for me; it is for other people. All I have to do is touch a computer and things go wrong." As I avoided gardening, they shy away from any activities that require the use of technology.

I also thought about a recent article I had read asserting that most teachers are now technology savvy. My mind went back to a piece I wrote in 1999 on the topic of winning over technophobic teachers and staff. At that time, I went to my LM_NET friends and asked some questions about staff development, technology-shy trainees, and tips for helping people gain confidence.

So I decided to update that previous information and see just how much things have changed by turning again to my favorite listservs—LM_NET, EDTECH, and TLC (Texas Library Connection). I also visited with my own students and colleagues. What I learned was encouraging, but not entirely so.


This article is available in its entirety in a variety of formats — Preview, Full Text, Text+Graphics, and Page Image PDF — on a pay-per-view basis, courtesy of ITI's InfoCentral. CLICK HERE.

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