A personal reflection on the meaning of technology after one week of working from home
Thursday, 13 March 2020.
I close my laptop after the last email is sent.
After the whole day spent working at home, it’s now time to connect with the family and make sure they are doing well. I usually do this after work; either I call them or pass by to pay them a short visit. In these days, it is more and more important to ensure family is doing well—not only that they are in good health but also in a good state of mind.
I want to call my grandparents. They have a smartphone since last year and they mainly use it to receive passively pictures from their granddaughters. I decide to try out something new today: a video call!
I open WhatsApp, I find my grandpa’s name, I click on the webcam icon, and I call him.
And here they are! Sitting in their living room, their big, smiling faces close to the camera after swiping up on the phone and accepting the call.
Grandma is 83 and grandpa is 82.
They don’t have diplomas. They don’t use social media. They have never owned a computer.
Me: “How are you?”
Grandma: “Fine! You are so beautiful!”
Me: “Thanks! Do you fancy my new pyjama?”
Grandpa: “Mine is better!”
Me: “I am so amazed we are doing a video call! You are technologically skilled! Great!”
Silence on their side.
Grandma: “What? I don’t understand. What do you mean by technology? What does this word mean?”
Silence from my side. I am smiling.
Me: “You are using the mobile really well!”
I was surprised to hear that. My whole life is augmented by technology and my grandmother does not know what “technology” means. She doesn’t know the definition but she uses it perfectly!
My grandparents just nailed a video call. They knew where to swipe, how to switch on the camera, how to adjust the volume.
I feel this is also a projection of what we are all talking about in these days.
Over the past weeks, we started talking about working from home, online meetings, distance education, alternative social hangouts and meet-ups, and home delivery with a worried tone and uncertain words.
The global situation is certainly worrying and unexpected.
But we are doing the “online thing” without knowing it. We were doing it already without naming it.
The good news is that we can access information to learn more about it. We can access technology as well. We can also ask our peers for help. We can try new tools, we can fail at it, and we can learn from it.
I have read about new courses being released on how to work from home, articles about how to teach online, and tips and tricks on how to effectively use technology to collaborate and meet up.
The following is not a list of how to best use technology. The following list is about keeping a positive attitude towards it.
Being a teacher/trainer, you have strong communication and organizational skills, you are adaptable, you have advanced research skills, and finally yet importantly you have enthusiasm for learning. You have shown it already. Build on your strengths and find a new way.
Being a good professional, you know how to organize your schedule, how to work in teams, and how to make decisions based on new scenarios. You will probably move from “too many meetings” to “too many calls”. It is now time to nail time management: I don’t think this sounds new at all, does it? Build on your flexibility and find a new way.
While it’s true that kids learn technology fast and sometimes they are better than us, they still need some guidance. “It’s going to be hard, but it’s going to be fun”: teach children to take on challenges positively and they will likely to become more flexible and resilient humans. No parent is perfect, no child is perfect, and neither are teachers in this time. Build on imperfection and find a new way.