A letter to a learner

Recently, I had lunch with a dear friend. While we were chatting, she told me that she would dearly like to enrol into some computer lessons, so that she doesn’t lose touch with technology. I admire her for realising that this is a need in her life. I was thinking about her comments afterwards and felt compelled to compose her a letter. It is really a letter to everyone, including myself.

Dear friend,

You were raised in a time when learning was only valued if it were formalised. In a time when the teacher was the expert and you were a vessel to be filled with knowledge. Where experiential and collaborative learning was not always considered to be a valuable pedagogy.

It is not to say that formal learning doesn’t have a place in life. I have been studying in formal learning continually for 15 years now, but I consider the learning which means most to me, to be the knowledge and skill I gain from experiencing and collaborating. In fact, most of us tech heads have never taken a computer lesson.

Unfortunately, technology (or any learning) cannot be seen as a ‘shelf’ which we need to reach. It is more like a very long ladder we climb, that we will never reach the top of. Unfortunately, some of us get stuck on one of the bottom rungs. Moving upwards is a scary feeling. What if I make a mistake? What if I break something? How will I know what to do without someone telling me?

My son can build a computer from scratch in 30 minutes. He doesn’t have a Facebook account, however, because he ‘doesn’t know how to use it’. What does this mean?

  1. He taught himself to build a computer and could just as easily teach himself to use other tools.
  2. There is no such thing as an ‘expert’.

We all have knowledge of certain areas and not others. Technology is changing so rapidly so we could never know everything. As soon as you learn a piece of software, it is replaced with a new version.

My friend, I have two pieces of advise for you:

  1. Push lots of buttons and ask lots of questions
  2. Get yourself a Personal Learning Network

So many people are afraid of pushing buttons. Ask yourself: What does this do? What will happen if I press this? Don’t be afraid of making mistakes. We learn from both success and mistakes.

Ask for help when you get stuck. There is nothing like peer learning. This leads me on to point 2… Get yourself a Personal Learning Network! I have written about this before (click the link for further reading). It is a very powerful way to learn. If it wasn’t for my Twitter networks, my learning would have almost stagnated.  Find some blogs to follow with helpful advice on things you want to learn. Comment on blogs, ask your Twitter network for help, join a Wiki.

Ask questions.


Follow links.


My friend, you are on a journey like the rest of us. It is just that you are not on the ladder rung where you want to be. Keep climbing, that is all that matters. You are reading this blog, you have  a Facebook account and send emails = you are learning.

Keep learning.

With love,

Jen (e-blogger)

If you want a good start, try this self paced ’23 Things program’ I designed last year. It is unsupported at the moment but still very useable: 23 Things  4 Swin

To finish off… I have included this YouTube video. It might be a little scary, but it highlights the speed in which technology is racing. Best of all… here is a last resort: Tech support cheat sheet.

Watch it and comment if you feel inclined!




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Filed under E-learning tips, Other, Teaching and learning tips

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