Friday 19 November 2010

Bringing technology to a new generation

It's not often I feel like a youngster in a meeting - that's the way it is if you work mainly in education.  Recently though, I've had two different meetings.  In both I bet people were thinking 'he's gone all techie again'.  So what better to do than come home and blog about it?

First meeting was in an old people's home I worked in a long while back, mainly doing art and craft workshops, possibly most known there for unusual crafty christmas thingies - something I'd enjoy, but really wanted to discuss other possibilities.  I'd like to get to know the residents better, addressing more directly why 'thousands of older people feel isolated', document life stories with them using film, sound recordings, start to tempt some to using a laptop, connecting on the internet.  As we discussed possibilities it became clear the care team, all of which I respect a great deal, were probably, in plain Ewan Mcintosh language, proffesional IT illiterate.  It was one of the homes we documented stories in to become part of Birmingham Lives 2001.   Some stories are still on my website, in dusty corners.

Far more effective than me coming in, making willow stars and xmas wreaths, or bringing a flip camera and recording stories, has to be enabling the dedicated staff, get out the computers to provide training and support to staff to support those they care for?

Onto second meeting which was tonight - Fairtrade Association Birmingham is again an organisation I haven't been doing much with for a little while, but did a fair bit a while back.  Again, the talent of people around the table is incredible, all working very effectively in their areas of specialism.  It's greatest strength should be the broad range of different businesses, skills and experience.  However, communication has always been a problem.  With so many different people who rarely meet, it's a problem which at times is amplified when we have a limited time in which all of us want to say so much (maybe that's just me...)

A famously Tech Illiterate Politician - would this be news in UK?
Effective IT networking solutions and social media stuff ala Podnosh are great. I'm still learning, but can see potential in using these relatively new, simple tools, if only it was that simple.  Thing is, problem is unlikely to just be solved with IT.  Could be:

(a) technophobia
(b) poor communication, listening, speaking, using new stuff
(c) lack of time or interest in sharing
(d) lack of confidence in either what people think of what you do, or in taking on new roles or jobs in which you will not be 'expert'.

Can new tech fix age old problems?  No harm to try.

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