One early evening I found myself recently giving a presentation about ICT and improving learning to a group of school teachers as part of their INSET training.
The presentation was going well; at least nobody had fallen asleep. I had just finished the introduction and a demonstration of the first program I wanted the staff to try out and all this time I had seen one teacher making notes.
The trouble was, she was making notes with a pencil. Ye Gods! there I was talking about and demonstrating high technology and electronic wizardry and there she was using a pencil; possibly the most lowdown piece of technology around!
It made me think, though, why would a person make notes with a pencil?
It occurred to me that this was a piece of technology she was familiar with. She knew how to use it, she knew what it could do and what it could not do, she did not have to learn anything new and she had acquired the necessary skills to use it. I then thought that I too could do the same; I could use a pencil. The pencil was a piece of technology that she and I were both comfortable with. This led me to the notion of ‘comfortable technology’.
At first you might think that being comfortable with technology might be a good thing. In some ways it is but it all depends what type of technology you are comfortable with and how much you are prepared to change or ‘come out of your comfort zone’.
For myself, I am comfortable using a pencil and also comfortable using a laptop. I am quite comfortable using a digital camera though if you give me a new one then I feel a slight discomfort while I get used to its controls. I am comfortable using a video camera but less comfortable performing in front of one!
It seems that being comfortable with a piece of technology can be a good thing but you can become too comfortable and become resistant to change or innovation.
So here is a question for all of us, including those of us who regard ourselves as being quite tech savvy, what technologies are you comfortable with? What new technologies or new uses of technology do you feel less comfortable with?
I think this could be an important question to ask ourselves because if we who are tech savvy feel uncomfortable with any new tech, how can we expect or encourage others to adopt such technologies?