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How to embrace technology as a mature age student

By Lisa 14 Apr 2019
2 students using a laptop and iPad to study on the grass.

I have a confession to make. I didn’t grow up with technology. I grew up in a generation where the most exciting technological innovation was colour television (1975), after having spent most of my childhood watching cartoons in black and white. I know it doesn’t sound that exciting in today’s terms, but you have to understand that, at the time, colour TV was cutting-edge stuff.

For that reason, when I started university, I had a bit of adjusting to do. Although I had a very basic understanding of computers when I started university, I do mean very basic. I used emails and I was familiar with what a keyboard was but, unfortunately, that was the limit of my knowledge.

The original computer: a lead pencil, with 'print' as the lead and 'delete' as the eraser.

My first tentative steps into the world of tech

To study at uni, I knew I had to learn … and fast! I started off with a copy of Office and sat down day after day in the weeks prior to starting uni trying to figure it all out. ‘I am going to be on top of this technology thing’, I thought. I clicked on this button and that button and even tried screaming at my computer, but I soon realised that the screaming didn’t help. It was frustrating, aggravating and somehow exhilarating, especially when I finally understood something!

Press any key: Photo of keyboard with an 'any' key

How I learned to use tech once I started uni

Then when I attended my first week of classes, I realised that simply being able to write an assignment in Word would not be enough. The lecturers were talking about PowerPoints, Excel, Access, Publisher, MathType, Endnote and wikis. This was a foreign language. I started to wonder whether I had gone to sleep and had woken up in another country. I had serious doubts in the first semester that I would ever get it.

But by the end of my first semester, I had managed to struggle through and, to my great surprise, even did pretty well. I had made it through the semester completely unscathed, apart from the occasional caffeine overload.

With practice comes confidence 

Throughout my degree, even though it was a struggle at times, my confidence in using technology improved. I no longer hit the panic button when things go wrong, go into denial or wish there was another, much more tech-savvy version of me. Now, I just reach for a strong coffee, and if I don’t know the answer to something … I Google it!

I still forget to save my assignments occasionally as I am writing them and hit the delete key without meaning to. But I now know how to find them hiding on my computer and have just recently set my computer to auto save … I wish someone had told me this was possible two years ago!

When in doubt, Google it!

What I’ve learned

I still don’t understand many of the technologies that are about today and I still don’t have an iPhone, but I now consider myself well on the way to being a full-blown tech geek. In my spare time, apart from the standard boring hobbies that people of my era have, I do enjoy playing computer games. I even understand some computer humour now, like ‘You know you’re a geek when you try to shoo a fly away from the monitor with your cursor’ or Failure is not an option – it comes bundled with Windows.  

Learning about technology when you didn’t grow up with it can be difficult, but it is possible. If you’re looking for support and tools to expand your skill set when it comes to using technology for study, USQ’s Library offers online and face-to-face academic support, advice and guidance. Visit the website or make an appointment to find out how The Library can help you increase your tech confidence.

Image of Lisa.