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An Open Request to all Fellow Techs: Let’s Remember to Keep it Simple

by Kelly Walsh on March 14, 2016

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KISS-mod

(Image Source)

Keep It Simple (and Short) and You, Your Users, and Your Colleagues Will all be Happier Customers

If you are part of the IT support staff for a school or for any other type of organization, no matter what your role is in the personnel structure, you’re still doing some kind of support … helping someone understand how to do something. That’s not always easy.

But we all have to remember how important it is to be approachable and patient if you want people to feel comfortable looking to you for help.

Lighten the Lexicon

It’s also important that we try to avoid an excess of acronyms and tech terms when helping the folks we are in service to.

Many of us techy-types find it all too easy to talk tech to users, and a lot of the jargon goes right past those who aren’t use to it.

Think of it like when NASCAR fans, or Star Wars aficionados, or Physicists, are talking to each other and you overhear it and wonder, “What the heck are they talking about?!” (unless of course you happen to be a race car driving, Lucas-loving, Large Hadron Collider engineer :)).

When we fail to try and appreciate the perspective of the user, we are falling short. Just like you, other people are trying to get things done and they get frustrated when something isn’t working the way they’re used to it working.

So slow down Spacely Sprocket and let the other kids catch up, okay?

Do That for me One More Time

It’s perfectly normal for people to need to be exposed to a new idea 2 or 3 times before it starts to sink in, so you’ve got to have patience as you introduce new or different techniques to users. (After all, not everyone is a techno-knowledge-magnet-brain like you.)

When Writing, Keep it Brief

Most folks seem to barely glance at a lot of their email. This kind of aggravates me sometimes, until I remember that I speed-read most of the textual information I’m bombarded with everyday too.

So, if you are writing instructions, keep it short! People aren’t going to read your 3 to 4 paragraph email. Edit mercilessly. Make it a set of bullet points. Bold an item or two here or there that really requires emphasis. Maybe make your key point with a well thought-out image?

KISS

We wouldn’t want our physicians to talk over our heads and leave us with our heads titled to the side like a curious puppy, so don’t do it to your co-workers, okay? Try to help them understand, appreciate their differing perspectives, and that they have different things to worry about.

So just remember … Keep it Simple, and be kind. It’ll help you to help others (and it will advance your career).

About 

Kelly Walsh is Chief Information Officer at The College of Westchester, in White Plains, NY, where he also teaches. In 2009, Walsh founded EmergingEdTech.com. He frequently delivers presentations on a variety of related topics at schools and conferences across the U.S. Walsh is also an author, and online educator, regularly running Flipped Class Workshops online. His eBook, the Flipped Classroom Workshop-in-a-Book is available here. Walsh became the Community Administrator for the Flipped Learning Network in June of 2016. In his "spare time" he also writes, records, and performs original music ... stop by kwalshmusic.com and have a listen!

[Disclaimer: The opinions expressed here are my own, or those of other writers, and not those of my employer. - K. Walsh]

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

pankaj karnwal March 16, 2016 at 7:38 am

this is awesome.

Phil March 14, 2016 at 7:55 am

I will keep my comment short and to the point —

Great Advice!

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