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>2.  Can anyone on the list offer suggestions for ways to deal with
>this technophobia?  When I try to teach them a computer package like
>Excel, there is even more resistance and I end up ragged and fatigued
>because so few students can learn it without my personally coming to
>their desk and showing them (despite simple written directions and
>classwide demonstration).  They are afraid to experiment.
>That is the one area of teaching these students that still has me
>stumped!
>
>Annette Gourgey
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Annette,

I taught Excel to 8th graders.  I emphasized that it was a very simple
program and that they needed to know just a few basic  things to get
going ( how to locate cells using the cell addresses and how to use the
formula bar).  To get them started and to ensure some success, I gave
them explicit instructions that included detailed descriptions of what
the screen would look like with  each step.  Many of them completed the
spreadsheet & an accompanying graph in one class period (48 minutes).

What I was teaching, of course, was how to read to follow directions.
They became quite comfortable with Excel along the way, though.  And I
had plenty of technophobes among my 8th graders, believe it or not.

My favorite thing to recount about that experience is that I had a kid
with severe learning disabilities do this assignment and then figure out
how to write more formulas (I had given them the formulas) to further
analyze the data.

It is my hypothesis that had I been able to secure more computer access,
those kids would have been able to use Excel by themselves without
directions in a very short amount of time.

I am fully aware that adult learners have more issues with technology
than even 8th grade technophobes, but I've also taught adult learners in
a computer lab using computers and programs that were foreign to them.  I
feel that the key is demonstration, demonstration, demonstration until
they realize that it's not impossible.  You may want to check into
overhead calculators if you want to try to teach scientific calculators.
TI puts them out for most of their models (I know this because my niece
is a high school math teacher).

By the way, I'm an English teacher.  I was teaching Family & Consumer
Science for a few years -- that's where the 8th graders come in!

Good luck!
Amy Crouse-Powers
SUNY-Oneonta
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