8 Tips for the Care & Feeding of the Reluctant Tech User

Teaching tech in isolation never works. When a reluctant tech user learns how to do something with a project about which they're personally passionate, they're gonna be instantly engaged, work hard at it, and feel super exultant when it works!  For example, when I teach iPhoto, I have the teachers bring in 10-15 pictures of their vacations, hobbies, pets, or yeah...their families and kids. OR if they didn't bring them in, I hand them a digital camera with a grin and say "Go take a 15 min digital safari - lay down, lean over, step on chairs, and take pics of your classroom or the school from freaky angles and come right back!"  From there we teach how to import, edit, crop, enhance, adjust, and then export those photos in different sizes. That way when they email that photo of "little Johnnie on the pottie" the recipient doesn't have to scroll to see one eye...then the other, etc.  In the second session we use those same pics to make an iPhoto slideshow and WOW! LOVE!  The next step would be teach them the amazing & easy to master & totally made of Win the digital image glam studio that is @PicMonkey.  All of a sudden, these teachers are excited and they GET IT!  Make the tech learning and the project personal & they will be more motivated to learn.   
Tweet-tastic! A while back, when I first thought of this post (and before school started! LOL)  I asked my PLN on Twitter their thoughts, advice, & tips to encourage the reluctant tech user and I'm going to include their tips throughout this post:

I run a monthly tech tips PD session and ask these teachers to share what they know...build relationships ahead of time so they feel comfortable approaching me for help with tech  everyone has something to contribute! let them know that I will gladly help if they run into snags - that someone has their back if they try something new 

Hold a  Digital Petting Zoo where each table has a different tech gadget, tablet or laptop with APP, software or super cool website loaded, and a volunteer to casually introduce them & show how they could transform their classroom and practice with this new friend. Then hand it over & let them touch, play, explore, and try the tech. With familiarity comes fearlessness. I'm a visual and kinesthetic learner. I like to see what's going to happen & then do it. That's why I create the Comic Life Comic Tutorials I'm sorta known for! With lots of screenshots & easy to follow bubble directions. Read Creating a Comic Life post for more!
Karen Mensing Karen Mensing@MsMensing
Lots of us are visual/hands on learners for sure! When I see something in action, I'm more likely to DO it! #edchat

Melissa Jensen Melissa Jensen@mjtlbarrieI tweak their favorite activity by adding a tech tool to their plans and hold their hand thru the whole process

Hold ongoing  Tech Tuesdays, Espresso Tech 10 (a fast-paced, coffee friendly 10 min tip session) or a Tech-Fueled Drive By where you teach one tip in 2-3 min, show how it works, and then for the rest of the time let them try it and play with it themselves.  Teachable Moments are made of Win! When a teacher really needs to know, seize the opportunity to jump in with ‘let me show you how to…’ followed immediately by ‘you will so be good at this!’ Keep it short and sweet! Teachers, staff, and admin will respond better when you show them one tip at a time instead of everything you might know about technology. Follow up either situation with a short email with links to more information, examples, a comic, and maybe a link to a Poll Daddy asking for what the next time's Tech Tip session will be!  "What do you want to learn next?"  Baby steppin to tech nirvana?  Yeah, small steps work best!
jake duncan jake duncan@duncanbilingual
We start small. Take lessons and up HOTS/Bloom's by integrating web 2.0 tools. They see more engagement and better outcomes...Then they want to explore more ways to integrate tech. They see they don't have to teach the tools to implement them in class.
Once you identify those reluctant tech users who are baby steppin it to a new world - pair them up with a colleague, friend, team member, cheerleader, coach, who they can learn WITH!  Make sure that their buddy continuously checks in on reluctant staff to make sure they're still trying & haven't gotten discouraged at any step of the way.

Angie Harrison Angie Harrison@TechieAng
@gcouros @gwynethjones Collaborate with them, do coplanning & share lots! I found sharing shared reading interactive lessons to be helpful
Some teachers don't want to come to the library or computer lab to learn with a group of others. They might be shy, intimidated, or just reluctant (hence the title!) to do it. Go to THEM! Make a house call! Bring your laptop to their room during their planning period and have a quick one on one session. How do you get them? Go LOW TECH: Put tech appointment slips in the staff bathroom and in all the mailboxes. Keep the appointment and follow up! 
Meet them where they are, provide lots of scaffolded support & love! Provide work time when you can B there as back-up and...praise! praise! praise! share successes w/students, colleagues, admins, etc. (Please also see Jennifer's fab post: Six Tips to Help Teachers Move From TechnoPHOBE to TechnoFAB! -- Great minds and all that! ;-)
Kris Paterson Kris Paterson@krispaterson  
work w them 1on1, small grps, give them actual technology, support/handhold them, with specific, achievable tasks
Challenge the kiddos to learn the skillz, let them practice on their own (at home, the local library, at a friends house, etc.) and then let them teach the teachers. Tell teachers is great to say things like: "Hey, this is new to me, too...let's learn together!" "WOW...Cool! Show me how you did that!?" "Show me how you would teach this to a 5th grader" (or any grade that is 3 lower than the grade you're teaching - the kiddos seem to go puff up a little with confidence teaching younger kids) If it weren't for my TV studio tech kids I never would have learned how to use iMovie (I'm still NOT great at it!) and I'm NEVER too proud to say "Gee, I don't know how to do that, can you please teach me?!"  It's a good thing.
Confession Time: As they say on Revenge, "Confession is good for the soul" admitting to not being great is good for the kids and reluctant learners. And here's the truth - I used to be great at iMovie, then I taught my kids and they took over and for years they were the experts... I would help with storyboarding, direction, costuming (YAY!) and I let them edit the footage. Then, of course iMovie changed - the new versions didn't look like the old one and I lost my touch. I had to get the kids, a fellow teacher (Thanks dear @emsingleton), and one of my awesome tech coaches in my district (Thanks dear @KrissieMarie!) to get my skillz back. I'm still not there 100% but ...well, I'm baby steppin back! Be honest, ask for help, get help when you need it, and keep trying.

 I do tech training w/ students across each grade level &train their teachers w/ them- it's a "we're all in this together" vibe.

model it's use with a class, sharing your thought process out loud as you go. Positive baby steps.
Random Acts of Awesome!  Every time you see a baby step forward, praise and recognize! It sounds obvious, but it goes a long way. If you have a school electronic forum or conference - take some pics of finished projects, screen shots & links of NEW Cool teacher wikipages, and share them with a WooHoo compliment! Maybe create a series of badges for your school Wikispaces or webpage to show achievements.  I know, badges aren't everything but learning from the #LevelUp Book Club - people enjoy earning prizes, badges, & street cred! The amazing Jennifer LaGarde even came up with a gamification-style ed-tech professional development program! Game Based PD for an Epic Win 
Karen Mensing Karen Mensing@MsMensing  
Patience, support & encouragement!

Tamara Cox Tamara Cox@coxtModel the tech, let them try w/ no audience around, offer to be there when they try w/ students, brag to admin about efforts

Every once and a while (every month, quarter, year, etc.) throw a sharing party! After a group of teachers finish a personally inspired product (Tip 1) or create something fantastic, make sure to have a show & tell session. Teachers are usually super excited to show what they've made and what they're passionate about.  They also can get great ideas of what to do next from their friends & co-workers. A fun way to do this is with a Gallery Walk, a voluntary 2 min LCD Show & Tell (have flash drives handy!), or ask for contributions (give those that private the choice to opt out) and burn a collection CD to give out to all the participants. Snacks are always a bonus!
I'm not gonna give this a number, but do realize that no matter how much you offer, are patient, and even throw in bagels & Keurig coffee... there will be some educators who just don't WANT to learn and will never try to learn and that's OK, too! Always keep the door open but sometimes you gotta cut your losses & go after the newbies! BRIBES WORK! I give out 4G flashdrives to all of my new teachers - loaded with a folder of helpful stuffs!
 With patience & persistence - & to know when it's a lost cause. Some will never move with the times or give new things a try

More great advice from my PLN! 
Ryan Archer Ryan Archer@ArcherMHHS  
Offer unlimited help, let them ask many questions, offer encouragement and console them when they think they can't do it

Adam Carney Adam Carney@acarney_nths
What I've done is find something similar to an activity or tool they already use and gradually move them into the tech version

Join us! 
For more ideas to hear some of the cutting edge leaders [cough cough including yours tryly]  in Library tech - Join us for a FREE Google+ Hangout: “Creating a Culture of Learning: How Librarians Keep Up with Digital Media and Technology.”  Wednesday, November 14 7pm Eastern US time. This forum will be hosted by OITP Fellow Renee Hobbs Bobbi Newman, aka Librarian by Day, Caroline Haebig, Jamie Hollier,  Anu Vedantham and me!

What do you do to encourage reluctant tech user? 
Your comments, suggestions, resources, & ideas are ALWAYS appreciated & desired!


  1. great tips. i think that in the first one, you meant "hand them a digital camera," not "hand them a digital photo," right?

    1. Yup! You're so right dear Anon! I did..and thanks to you I fixed it, Whew! Thanks for your help! [grins wryly] Cheers!


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