Thursday, November 20, 2008

Learning New Things

BlackBoard,the platform that I've used to teach my two online classes for the past six years, is going away. The Washington State community college system has opted to switch to a different system called Angel. According to the promo information "Colleges and universities worldwide choose ANGEL to deliver powerful online teaching and learning experiences. ANGEL provides a simple and easy to use system, a powerful and rich feature set, and an openness that integrates into today's diverse educational environment."

It's very possible that Angel MIGHT be better. It's also possible that it is not better, but is simply more cost effective for the schools. Either way, for me it means learning a whole new way of doing things and rebuilding my courses from the ground up. With everything else I've got going on in my life right now, I have felt rather overwhelmed about digging into this completely unfamiliar terrain.

My reticince to start working with the tutorials made me recognize something.

Sometimes I stick with something familiar even when there is something way better within my grasp simply because I like the comfort of what I know.

Even when that "comfort" is not so comfortable.

I think many of us form habits of things we do, how we think and/or emotions we typically default to long after they clearly no longer make sense simply because they are FAMILIAR.

MANY organizations I've been affiliated with have policies or practices based on "that's the way we've always done it" even if it makes no sense.

Far too many of the people I've known, MYSELF INCLUDED, have allowed themseves to fall into the trap of staying stuck in relationships or work paths or value systems long after they have proven to be more harm than good.

Why is change so intimidating? Why is it we so often believe that the devil you know is better than the devil you don't?

It can be very unsettling to step off into the abyss of the unknown - striking out toward a new way of thinking, doing or being. Whether it means converting to a new religion, changing your college major, ending an unhealthy relationship and starting a new one (or learning to be solo for the first time), changing jobs, beginning retirement, or any other way we embrace change... It's hard sometimes to give up our native language way of relating to the world, to others, to ourselves, even when we know that the old system does not serve us. But CHANGE is inevitable. It's high time I started being a bit more welcoming of the transitions that come, even the bumpy ones, rather than naming them my foes.

I know one thing that clearly holds me back from trying new things. I LOVE mastery and avoid doing badly at things whenever I can. But for MOST new skills you have to tolerate mediocrity for an extended period before mastery emerges. While logically I recognize that I limit myself if I allow my fear of failure to hold me back from trying someting new, history tells me I've done it a lot. The reason I don't speak Spanish or play the piano is because I hated the practice required that repeatedly exposed me to my incompetence, so I bailed out before I gave myself a chance to develop real competence.

One of the members of my board of directors said to me recently: "A lot of people say if a thing is worth doing it is worth doing well. That's all well and good. But they need to recognize that if a thing is worth doing, it is worth doing BADLY until you CAN do it well. Rome wasn't built in a day and developing new abilities sometimes takes time."

There is wisdom in those words.

So I'll jump in and do the best I can to learn Angel. I will also try to be more open in other areas of my life, to understand that change does not have to be my enemy. There are SOME things that are very much worth holding on to come hell or high water. But there are other things that can be appreciated and savored for a time, and then let go of without lessening the value they once held.

The trick is sorting out which is which.

3 comments:

Rozel said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rozel said...

The only thing constant is change . . .

I have never heard of that program. You are a techno-savy gal. You have switched between Blackboard and eCollege so I am sure Angel will be just fine. I like Blackboard way better than eCollege. Do you have to set your course up from scratch?

p.s. If it shows above me "comment deleted" it was me. I had a million spelling errors that I needed to fix and blogger doesn't let you edit comments. Oh well, there are probably plenty of errors in this comment too.

rajesh said...

A quote by Shana Alexander comes to my mind "The sad truth is that excellence makes people nervous." Its all been in human nature for ages.

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