Thursday, April 15, 2010

Connecting with the reluctant learner

I recently co-presented at Computers in Libraries on the topic of the reluctant learner. In particular, how does one connect with the reluctant technology learner in order to bring them into the fold? In my own experience, I have found the following to be essential:

- Develop a relationship with the learner built on mutual trust.
- Be aware that the learner may not have confidence in their own abilities - a patient teacher can offer encouragement and genuine praise to help build this up.
- Let the learner know that it is OK to make mistakes - in fact, it is expected
- Be aware of the learner's mood - nip frustration in the bud. If holding a technology skill building class, ask attendees to buddy up so that they can help each other build their skills. Learners are more likely to raise their hand in class if they know that they are not the only person in the room having difficulty with a concept.
- Become a technology mentor so that you can connect regularly to build up skills - this provides the opportunity to observe the reluctant learner's evolving relationship with technology.

So, once you have connected successfully with a reluctant technology learner, how do you measure your impact/success? In my experience, I knew that I had success with a colleague that I had reverse-mentored because I saw the following differences in his behavior:

- The learner, who had shunned technology solutions in the past, began to suggest the use of technology to his team.
- He began to connect with me outside of our regularly scheduled meeting times to ask about new technology he had discovered on his own.
- Became a "technology ambassador" to others within the organization by sharing his new found skills with his colleagues.

One of the biggest rewards for me in connecting with reluctant learners is witnessing them fulfill the potential I saw in them long ago before they ever saw it in themselves.

So, how are you connecting with your own reluctant learners?

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