I’ve been trained

It was one of the expressions that used to get my dander up. It was a comment often made by teachers that were “going to be trained”. My response always was that you train dogs; you professionally develop teachers.

Yesterday afternoon, I was having a Zoom beer with a friend from UNI and the topic of Psychology and Teaching came up. Within reach was my university psychology text that I grabbed to show him – Psychology For Teaching: A Bear Always, Usually, Sometimes, Rarely, Never, Always Faces The Front Will Not Commit Himself Just Now Faces The Future. Mine wasn’t exactly this one but close enough. Over the years, I’ve used many of the ideas in here in my own classroom, in my role as a professional developer, and for training our dogs.

It’s the “training” part that was really important as I thought about how I, me, myself have been trained by my Chromebook.

I have a regular morning routine. I’m up about 4:30, put on coffee, grab some cereal and then sit in the rec room with the television on with the morning news and I do my own personal reading. It’s a routine that I’ve had for years and it’s my personal way of staying somewhat current. There was a time when I would arrogantly say “Stay on top of things”; these days it’s more to mitigate the distance that I’m falling behind. All of this reading is done on my Chromebook because it’s so light and the screen is small enough that it doesn’t block the television.

If you follow me in the morning, you’ll know that I share what I’m reading to my Twitter and Facebook networks and I like to think that the reactions and comments push my thinking beyond the original article. I so appreciate teachers for their tolerance. My kids just call me noisy.

As you might imagine, I end up with a lot of tabs open and I do my best to close them off to keep the Chromebook humming along. Since I typically have my Yeti full of coffee in my left hand, it’s my right hand that does all the work. So, CTRL-W is out of the question. My typical way of closing a tab is to navigate the cursor to the little X in the open tab and clicking on it. It’s not always easy, particularly early in the morning before the coffee kicks in. One of the things that appealed to me about Chromebooks is that the screen could flip over and become a tablet but I’m also one of those fussy people that don’t like fingerprints on my screen so that’s out of the question.

I’m a sucker for posts and articles that claim to offer ways to make yourself more productive with technology and, a couple of weeks ago, I read one about Chromebook shortcuts “you don’t know about and should be using”. I do know that titles like that are often click bait but I clicked through anyway and found a new intriguing shortcut.

Instead of navigating to that little X to close a tab, all you have to do is move the cursor anywhere in the tab and click the trackpad with three fingers simultaneously and it closes. To test the theory, I opened a disposable new tab and tried it. It worked as advertised. Why am I just learning about this now?

But, closing a tab isn’t something that a person should have to concentrate on to make it happen. That’s where I realized that years of moving to the X had become part of my training. I’d be hard pressed to call it professional learning though. I do it; I do it well; I’m rewarded when the tab closes much like Jaimie is when I ask him to roll over and then toss him a biscuit.

Clicking the trackpad with three fingers is harder (for me) that it should be. I’ve single clicked and two finger clicked for years and it’s part of my routine. I do them without concentration or thinking.

Three fingers is proving to be something very different. I look at my hand and my ring finger is indeed longer than my index finger so it makes sense to me that I should be able to do index, middle, ring all at the same time without a problem. So often, only two fingers manage to hit the trackpad when I’m doing it as part of my routine. If I stop and concentrate, I generally can get all three right. So, maybe I’m choosing the wrong three fingers!

As I’m experimenting, the mathematician in me is realizing the number of permutations that five, choose three, actually is! I’ve come to the conclusion that my thumb is very useless for this task.

Ever determined, I think I can see the light at the end of the tunnel and I’m determined to master this click routine. I also refuse to allow a piece of technology to train me by instilling a routine in me that I’m having such a tough time changing. It’s actually kind of humbling to realize that I’m in this position. After all, man should master the machine and not the other way around.

It shouldn’t be such a big deal but I’m finding that it is. I will confess that, as I get closer to the bottom of the coffee cup, that I am getting better at it. But still.

Do you have any routines that you have engrained in your computer use that you know there’s a better way but you don’t, or even worse, the technology makes it difficult to change? I’d love to hear your story.

1 thought on “I’ve been trained

  1. Pingback: OTR Links 10/26/2021 | doug — off the record

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