brokenness and compassion

I’m a bit of a scab-picker as far as technology goes. I’m more interested in how stuff breaks than how it works when it all goes well. This is why I do more troubleshooting than tech creation. I’m good at it and I enjoy the problem-solving angles of it. As a technology instructor in a rural location, I sometimes feel like I’m dealing more with broken stuff than stuff that works. Given this, having an approach to brokenness that isn’t just “Oh, that’s not supposed to happen…” is key to helping people feel comfortable with technology. Leigh Anne Vrabel who runs the Library Alchemy blog has a concise post that summarizes a way to move forward inhabiting this sort of world.

Technology has to be supported by brotherhood, sisterhood, understanding and compassion.

And if I can paraphrase, I’d have to say “We’re all in this together and we haven’t all learned until everyone is leaning.” I’ve definitely been guilty of throwing up my hands trying to teach someone something because they had so much emotion wrapped up in why the computer “didn’t like them” that they couldn’t follow steps to do the actions they theoretically wanted to do.

Just like people who choose to live in the frozen north up here do so “for a reason” I think that most people who don’t know how to use a computer in 2009 — similar to people who don’t drive, who don’t have a telephone or who don’t have electricity — don’t know for a reason. For some people that’s an active reason, they’re not interested, they don’t see a need for it, they’re already busy enough, but for some people it’s a passive reason, they’re resistant to change, they’re easily frustrated, they have a disability that makes technology difficult and no one to help them with adaptive tech, they’re poor. As a technology instructor, part of my job is making technology a genuine option for people who have a need for it, not to sell it to people who don’t want to buy it. At the same time I explain what technology actually IS, apart from the television commercials and relentless boosterism about the promise of the Internet. That’s my interpretation of “technology with heart” [ttw]

why e-learning and learning are different

Upgrades don’t wipe out all your coursework if you use a textbook and a notebook instead of WebCT. This is embarassing, honestly. Switch to a new “learning management system” lose all your old work.

books building bridges

Books Building Bridges is a group of librarians, booksellers, activists and others who use literature and community events as a way of helping bridge the gaps between people in Iraq and the U.S. They create curricula, produce teaching guides and sponsor events among other things. Inspired by the book The Librarian of Basra the self-described “small but intrepid” group is always looking for people to lend a hand, or just to get on board.

Books Building Bridges is a community-building project developed in order to acknowledge and foster a common human desire for learning, authentic connection and a healthy society while transcending political divisions in the United States and the geographic and social distance between the United States and Iraq. Books Building Bridges was inspired by Jeanette Winter’s book, The Librarian of Basra, which chronicles the work of Basra librarian Alia Muhammed Baker who, with her community, saved 30,000 volumes from being destroyed during the current war with Iraq.