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Don't Let Your Fear of Technology Keep You from Earning Your Degree

by Tiffany Lemons, M.P.A. | June 5, 2017

Woman peeking out behind a keyboardLearning something new can be challenging and sometimes overwhelming. Take for example, when you happily unwrap your brand new cell phone. The first thing you do is try to set it up so that it will be as easy to use as your last one. You knew everything about that phone: which buttons did what, how to answer a call, send a text, and take a picture. Now it seems like everything on your new phone is written in a foreign language, and you struggle to figure out the basics.

Does this scenario sound familiar to you? We’ve all been there. These same frustrations and fears of new technology often materialize when considering going back to school or taking a class. I’m here to tell you, don’t let it keep you from taking a class. As an instructor for Management Information Systems (MIS) with the Marian Adult Program (MAP), I can assure you that, while learning or experiencing a new technology can be a challenge, it is possible and really rewarding. In fact, our challenges, as we journey through the process of learning and navigating new technology, often become our greatest rewards. Let’s look at a few challenges adult students face, and how they become successes. 
 
Every year, at the beginning of a new MIS class, I ask the students to tell me their name, how far they are in the program, what goals do they have for their education, and what their comfort or knowledge level with Microsoft Excel, PowerPoint, and Word is. The last question gives me a wide range of answers. Students respond with, “I’ve never used the program and am really uncomfortable at the thought of doing anything with computers,” to “I use it every day and am really proficient.” The amazing thing about being an adult learner is that their collective experiences enrich the class culture; students not only learn from me, but also each other.
 
I have seen many students start with little to no experience with using Microsoft Work, Excel, and PowerPoint, who complete the class feeling confident using the knowledge in their other courses. I have had students say, “I am going to take this information and use it at work. It will make my job so much easier!”—this comment is uttered a lot when we learn about mail merges. I have also had several students say, “I wish I would have taken this class before my other classes. The PowerPoint information would have been really helpful.” Every student walks away having learned something useful, regardless of their experience level. 
 
Students work at their own pace, with instructor support, and on out of class assignments. While deadlines exist, course sessions are set up in a lab format for students to work through the sessions. Students don’t feel rushed as they work through different sessions and topics. Lecture and live demonstrations illustrate points and techniques. Homework allows for even more practice. Prior knowledge is not required to be successful in the course, and many students leave and with a wealth of knowledge and skills that they can immediately apply to their academic and professional lives. 
 
Learning to utilize technology equips you with so many tools and resources which make your life as a student easier. Coursework requires presentations, group work, edits to group papers, writing assignments, spreadsheet analysis, the creation of charts and graphs, and so much more. The same is true for many jobs in professional settings. Students leave the MAP program confident in their ability to open up a Microsoft program and use the tools they need. Even better, is that many students graduate with the understanding and confidence that they may conquer their fears of learning other forms of technology. They realize that the sky truly is the limit and that they can accomplish a lot. The truth is, fear of the unknown should never stop you from pursuing your dreams, and Marian Adult Program is here to help you along the way. 

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