I am a driver. On my 16th birthday I was at the DMV early, passed my license test and I was on my way. Of course the freedom soon was tempered by running errands for my family but … I still loved to take my 1960 VW bug (with the sports muffler to make it sound like a Porsche) out and try to break the 60mph barrier. Downhill of course. 😃
Nowadays I find myself in my jet of a mustang helping “educate" other drivers on the definition of the fast lane on the freeway. It is not the, "moderately faster than the other lane”, or … the “watch the scenery” lane. It is called the “fast lane” for a reason. If you are just going the speed limit, I’m just saying … this is not the lane for you.
Speed of course is relative. What may be fast for me, is super slow for a NASCAR driver. And then the conditions matter too. On a rainy day ( Southern Calif. residents reference “water falling from the sky”), 80mph may not be a wise decision. This idea of going fast is similar when discussing tech innovation with our customers.
For the Gen boomer and before, it may seem that technology changes too fast to keep up. Compare that with the Millennial mindset that is always looking for ways to accelerate innovation. Being a tech steward these days requires us to see things from both lanes.
In Higher Ed, there is a wide mixture of folks who still need to use Overhead projector transparencies and slide projectors with those experimenting with iPads and VR (virtual reality). For my Millennial student tech staff, the “slow lane” or analog approach can often make them impatient. But the “fast lane” of advanced tech tools are not always a good fit for a professor’s pedagogy. In these moments, I encourage my staff to step back and see the bigger picture. Although it is not innate for them, with a little practice these millennial workers are able meet our customers where they are to help them forge a tech solution.
The thing is though … we do live in a “fast lane” culture with regard to technology and innovation. And while the fastest or newest tool may not be the best, we need to help prepare faculty and students to process this continuous wave of change. The constant advance of the smart phone, tablet and laptop into more areas of our work and education promise to disrupt many traditional ways of communication and learning.
One key strategy I use with my millennial staff is to remind them that while they are more comfortable in the “fast lane”, we need to be willing to adjust our desired speed of tech adoption to the customer’s view. In the process, both can come to an appreciation of the other. Millennial workers see the value unplugging the tech tools and just talking, while some gen boomers have become more open to some aspects of innovation in their courses.
As I drive home today, I am reminded that that the fast lane is not for everyone. This applies to driving and technology integration. We all have to find the pace that best works for us.
In academic technology support, my staff and I will aspire to meet with your level of comfort to assist you in finding the best lane and set of tools that match your goals. In driving on the 101 freeway on the other hand, you may need to move over. It’s okay … it’s just life in the fast lane.