One area of life competency that interests me is how to function effectively in a world where information and communication technologies (ICT) are rapidly changing, converging, diverging, and everything seems to be in perpetual beta.
Some people seem to thrive in this world, but others really don’t. So, what are the life skills by which people flourish given this environment – remaining excited about new possibilities but not overwhelmed or frustrated? Some of those skills were identified in the tremendously important paper by Henry Jenkins et al, Confronting the Challenges of Participatory Culture (2009).
When I think about my own experiences, I know that I am not thriving when I hope for clearly-written instructions, don’t know how to approach a new tool efficiently, have no clue about troubleshooting a problem, don’t persist in figuring things out, can’t separate out noise (e.g., outdated instructions relating to an old interface), don’t use inexact info productively, and haven’t planned in sufficient time to be confronted with and to solve tech issues.
I am a person who used the same telephone – not just the same type of phone, but the same exact phone – for the first 20 years of my life. But still, I have adapted, and it is my adaptations that interest me. I know that I have much better persistence, that I’m more exploratory, that I have some better instincts about troubleshooting, and so on. I have opinions now about approaching new tools and what I want to know about them. Where did my instincts come from, and can that process of learning-to-thrive be accelerated by intentional teaching and learning? Or is it inevitably the kind of learning you just “pick up” by (often painful) trial and error?
One way that I like to think about my question is that people who thrive, who have less pain in picking up useful skills in this area, are highly social learners. They use their networks to learn things in an efficient and timely way.
This question of whether there can be intentional instruction, or if the best response is showing people how to build networks and use them effectively for learning, feels central to my work as a librarian and to the way we think about approaching information literacies. My pedagogy depends on understanding the kinds of adaptive skills people need and how they develop them.
Anyway, I blogged about one of my “digital literacy” experiences in Apps on Tap at this web site: http://appsontap.wordpress.com/2013/05/21/taking-notes-on-video-lectures/