Monday, April 28, 2008

The Wonderful World of Updates

As a SmartBoard district, we have many teachers using SmartBoards, Airliners, and, of course, Notebook software. So as a Notebook user, I am very excited about the new version 10 that has recently been released. It has many great new features which I will be sharing in later posts. However, as the primary trainer for users of Notebook software, this transition raises many questions about the value of updates.

Many of our users are new to Smart Notebook software. I have trained about 100 people this year alone. Now I need to go back to them and tell them that this great tool I showed them is about to look quite different. To a third of them, this will be welcome news. They want the updates. They want the new features. They will pick it up quickly. To a second third, this will raise trepidation. Just when they are getting the hang of it, they go and change it. They will require a fair amount of support to bring them up to the same level of comfort with the new version. That leaves the remaining third. I am concerned that there is a group of people out there that will welcome this change as an opportunity to jump off the ship. They might say something like, "See. That's what's wrong with technology. It keeps changing. We don't have time to keep up with these changes. Better to go back to the old way of doing things."

I admit, this is not a scientific study. My numbers are probably not accurate, but the three groups are real. How do we unroll this change to maximize the excitement of the first group, while minimizing the anxiety of the other groups? I plan to communicate the change to them often so there are no surprises. I of course plan to have many trainings in the fall, but I still worry that teachers will arrive in September to an unfamiliar looking Notebook program and decide not to use it.

Am I overreacting? Is there something we can do to minimize this problem? Do you have any experiences with similar issues? I'd love to hear from you.

2 comments:

  1. The update *is* good. In fact, an even worse problem would arise if we *didn't* update. If teachers, over the summer, downloaded version 10, only to come back to school with version 9.X still installed, would their version 10 file open and work on 9.X? Without trying it, I'm going to say "probably not".

    I would introduce the new version before the end of the year. Maybe, if possible, using a dual-installation method, so both version could exist for now (so if things went wrong, they could fall back on the older version). Hopefully, teachers who use the old version would get used to the new version, and become more comfortable over the summer / beginning of the school year. As for the people who would be overwhelmed, the training sessions at the beginning of the year would help them overcome that.

    As for the people who would dismiss this because technology keeps changing, that's a terrible excuse. Technology changes because the needs change. I like the line from "Did You Know 2.0" (http://shifthappens.wikispaces.com/) that says, "We’re preparing students for jobs that haven’t been invented yet". How can we do that when we're using antiquated teaching methods?

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  2. Thanks KW.

    I agree that we need to do the updates, for both of the reasons you mention. As people update to 10, we need to be able to open those files. Also, we need to prepare students for the yet to be invented jobs. This requires constantly updating to stay at the forefront.

    I'm not suggesting that we don't do the updates. I'm more thinking about the challenges it creates. I like the suggestion that we update before the end of the year. However, with the reimaging that will take place this summer, it doesn't make sense to do it separately. However, all trainings from here on out will be in version 10 so all staff will see the new interface and learn about the differences.

    I appreciate your ideas. Thanks for the feedback.

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