How adult learners can thrive in a tech-reliant world

One of my business clients described herself as a “dumb blonde with a Smartphone.” That certainly wasn’t true, but it’s a feeling many of us Generation X-ers can relate to. We didn’t grow up in the digital age, with a phone in our pocket, a laptop on our desk, and the world at our fingertips. Some of us didn’t even take a typing class.

When I enrolled at NWTC in 2015 I was carrying a flip phone. That pretty much sums up my digital literacy at the time. To get ahead in today’s workforce, it helps to be tech savvy. It’s one of the reasons I returned to college. I wanted to feel more comfortable using the technology most people take for granted.

Marketing instructor Ronnie Coyle once told me “Age doesn’t matter.” When it comes to adapting to the digital world, what’s important is a willingness to learn, experiment, and spend time with the technology.

Learn as you go
My Microsoft Word class laid the foundation for working on posters, reports, and presentation materials. My Excel class helped me with accounting homework. Over time, using these programs became more comfortable and intuitive as I kept experimenting.

Plus, I learned the power of the phrase “Just Google it.” Chances are someone has already asked your question, and someone else has answered it. I view Google as an embarrassment-free way to ask a really silly question.
In my social media marketing classes I created a Twitter handle, Instagram account, and WordPress site for blogging. When I told my sisters “You should follow me on Twitter” they just laughed because they knew I was way out of my league. What they didn’t realize is that I was making progress.  Joan Koehne holds up a cell phone

Find a buddy
I know I have plenty of company when I say my kids taught me almost everything I know about using technology. My daughter was my go-to person, and she helped me take my first selfie and design my first marketing poster, created for the NWTC golf outing.

After enrolling at NWTC I took the orientation course for Blackboard where I learned how to submit assignments and use the online discussion board. In my NWTC classes, I was an observer, watching and learning how to create, share, and change a Google document and answer questions in Kahoot!, an online quiz game.

Catching on
It all took patience and practice, and I’m still learning. I know NWTC has my back, with academic resources and classes to help me continue learning.

If you recognize your own shortcomings while reading this article, take heart! If a dumb brunette with a flip phone can jump into the digital age, so can you.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Joan Koehne, of Abrams, is a 2017 graduate of NWTC. A former newspaper editor, she co-owns Writer to the Rescue, the content writing division of Packerland Websites