Back to Basics

Copy, paste, undo, refresh, right click (secondary click), resizing an image, opening a new tab, drag and drop…….. basics right?!?!?! Just like riding a bike! Driving a car!

But, we all had to learn to ride that bike and drive that car.

Chances are if you are reading this blog about technology, then you are already pretty savvy and performing these operations is simple and second nature to you. I know that I assumed it was for anyone who was working with computers often. However, since beginning my work as a trainer with Using Technology Better one thing that stands out to me, almost daily when I’m training, is how many (what I would consider) basic skills people are lacking. This is not because they are slack or cutting corners, it’s the opposite. They’ve never been explicitly shown how to do certain tasks the easiest way and have managed to find work arounds that get the job done. The likelihood is, that if you are reading this blog, on a technology website, then you are pretty savvy. You probably already do all these things without even thinking. BUT check out the people around you. Do they? Have they developed complex workarounds for simple tasks? Can you help them?

If you’re a classroom teacher it is vital that you are explicitly teaching and modelling the following skills. I do this when I’m training others, saying out loud the actions I’m doing as I’m doing them on the screen. I don’t think there’s been a training session where someone hasn’t heard at least one process and gasped or sighed when they realised there was a much simpler way to perform the task.

For example, a few weeks ago I was modelling a lesson in a primary classroom. These students (Year 3 and 4) were perfectly comfortable using drag and drop coding in Scratch, but when we moved on to doing a few things in a Google Doc it became apparent that they didn’t know how to right-click. This got me thinking. When were you taught to do this? When are we teaching our kids to do this? Do they know how to change the settings to their preferences? Can they do this on different devices? What else don’t they know? Of course, at this point I stopped and showed them how to do this. Then they asked why it was called right click. This makes very little sense to people who have not used a mouse often – or ever! After the lesson, when I was debriefing with the (very talented, experienced, capable) teachers, several of them also said that they had no idea how to right click. They just tapped away until something happened! No way! BUT – these teachers have been given brand new, beautiful, MacBooks and have never been shown how to operate them.

Do your students know how to ‘right click’? Do they know the most useful keyboard shortcuts? Is anyone teaching them this? What about the teachers? Click To Tweet

While we’re moving forward leaps and bounds in technology, and the capability to do incredible, inventive, creative projects is exciting and engaging, we must remember to teach the basics and never assume that others just know this stuff, or someone else is teaching it to them.

How can you ensure these skills are being taught at your school/workplace? Is there support in place for basic computing lessons for your staff? Have they ever been shown how to change their settings? It has made me reflect just how incredible teachers are. Not only are you researching, planning, designing, delivering lessons for your students, as well as assessing, supporting, giving feedback and connecting with community daily, many of you are also teaching yourself some very advanced computing skills. If this is not an area of passion or interest for you, it’s likely you get enough of the basics to keep your head above the surface, but not to swim comfortably.

For access to resources to support teaching the basics and other great tools, join our online community.

If you would like some support with delivering the basics in your organisation please get in touch with us here. Keep an eye on our blog posts which contain practical tips and advice across a range of subjects.


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In 2018, Using Technology Better designed and delivered a two phase post-migration training program for this New Zealand based graphic design firm. The initial goal of the training program was to reduce frustration with G Suite, with the long term aim of facilitating a change in culture and collaboration that can lead to transformative practices

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