I didn’t grow up with technology. As I have grown older, especially since I started studying at uni, it has been thrust upon me. I grew up in a generation where the most exciting technological innovation was colour television (1975), after having spent most of my childhood watching cartoons in black and white. I know it doesn’t sound that exciting in today’s terms, but you have to understand that, at the time, colour TV was cutting-edge stuff.
So, you must appreciate that trying to understand the digital world that we now all live in can be a little bit of struggle for me at times, although I do try my hardest. I have a confession to make. Before I started writing these blogs, I didn’t even know what a blog was and had to ask. Oh, I had a very basic understanding of computers, but I do mean very basic. I used emails and I was familiar with what a keyboard was but, unfortunately, that was the limit of my knowledge. I was not a complete fool because I was enlightened with regards to the any key.
At this point in my life, I would definitely consider myself a pre-tech geek. But when I started at uni, I had to learn… and fast! I started off with a copy of Office and sat down day after day in the weeks prior to starting uni trying to figure it all out. ‘I am going to be on top of this technology thing’, I thought. I clicked on this button and that button and even tried screaming at my computer, but I soon realised that the screaming didn’t help. It was frustrating, aggravating and somehow exhilarating, especially when I finally understood something!
When I attended my first week, I realised that simply being able to write an assignment in Word was not enough at uni. They were talking about PowerPoints, Excel, Access, Publisher, MathType, Endnote and wikis. This was a foreign language. I started to wonder whether I had gone to sleep and had woken up in another country. I had serious doubts in the first semester that I would ever get it.
By the end of Semester One, I had managed to struggle through and, to my great surprise, even did pretty well in my Excel and Access assignments. But Semester Two was just around the corner. Well, it started off again like a broken record (that’s the original MP3 or iPod, for those of you that have never heard of a record): peer reviews, statistics, more PowerPoints and Turnitin. And yet, again, to my great surprise, I made it out the other end of another semester completely unscathed, apart from the occasional caffeine overload.
Now, here I am at the end of my second year with all of the tech frustration behind me… almost! I still forget to save my assignments occasionally as I am writing them and hit the delete key without meaning to. But I now know how to find them hiding on my computer and have just recently set my computer to auto save… I wish someone had told me this was possible two years ago. PowerPoints, Turnitin, blogs, wikis, publisher, MathType, peer reviews, social media, skype and studying online… easy! It all seems so easy now. I no longer hit the panic button, reach for a strong coffee, go into denial or wish there was another, much more tech-savvy version of me when things go wrong. I now have the answer… Google it!
Learning about technology when you didn’t grow up with it can be difficult, but it is possible. In my spare time, apart from the standard boring hobbies that people of my era have, I do enjoy playing computer games. I still don’t understand many of the technologies that are about today and I still don’t have an iPhone, but I now consider myself well on the way to being a full-blown tech geek. Here is a bit of computer humour that I can now understand:
- Some things man was never meant to know, for everything else there is Google.
- Failure is not an option – it comes bundled with Windows.
- You know you’re a geek when you try to shoo a fly away from the monitor with your cursor.
If you didn’t grow up with technology either, I’d love to hear about your experiences learning how to use tech at uni.