When the student is ready, the master appears

technology master


When the student is ready, the master appears. ~Buddhist Proverb

I really love the parallels between a set of spanners and screwdrivers as hand tools in an Industrial Age and mobile apps as a set of brain tools for a Digital Age.

What strikes me as a key difference is that we take learning about hand tools far more seriously than our learning about digital tools. In an Industrial Age there is an expectation that a professional would have completed a three year apprenticeship overseen by an established master of the craft, before they would be ‘qualified’.

While most knowledge workers would like to consider themselves ‘professionals’ most have never had any training whatsoever with the tools of their trade, even though we use them and rely on the every single day.

Why is this? Why have we been so happy to continue to use our digital tools so poorly?

[tweetthis]Professionalism with digital tools also requires the commitment of an apprentice.[/tweetthis]

Maybe we don’t realise they are tools? Or that we are meant to use them for work? Often it seems that or level of professionalism with digital tools is more that of a tinkerer than that of a qualified tradesperson.

Perhaps we are lacking role models? Maybe there aren’t enough Masters out there to train a generation of digital apprentices (think about your own organisation, who are the digital masters that you could learn from).

Or maybe, once we have realised the importance of digital literacy in the workplace things will change. Maybe when the students are ready, the masters will appear.

This is partly because we have been fascinated with the novel rather than focusing on the practical. We are more interested in downloading and playing with the latest shiny new app than learn how to use the ones that we have more effectively.