Cyberphobia is fear of computing.

I saw a classic of example of Cyberphobia last night, and it’s worrying me.

As has been mentioned in the past, I’m one of a group of Associate Lecturers who help out at Open University Open Events.  These are great chances to meet potential students, and I’ve learned a lot from these encounters, when you see people at their best, and sometimes most nervous.  In the past, we used to meet the same students year on year, as they selected their next course along their degree.

But these things change.  I’ve done much fewer of these events over the last year, as other ‘stuff’ crowds me out

The Open University is changing, with some really interesting courses coming through.  Some of which I would really like to take, but the creative writing course is all I’m willing to cope with at the moment.

But the biggest innovation is that for some events we will be supplied with a Windows laptop and battery-powered printer, to surf the Open University Intranet, and print details off directly for students.  A great innovation, though where wi-fi has been available at these events I’ve been doing something similar to this, all be it informally, for a couple of years.

So, I was interested to gauge the reaction of my fellow ‘advisors’ after the demonstration.  This was overwhelmingly negative, and I did feel sorry for the person who was trying to demonstrate the service.  It didn’t help that the mobile broadband connection was ‘flaky’, but it worked well enough, though not instantaneous.  Several comments were along the lines of ‘what do we do if we have 20 students waiting’… the response of course is that in the six years I’ve been doing these events we’ve never had 20 students waiting, a classic example of hyperbole.

I’m looking forward to using the system, though to be honest I’ll still use my laptop and my now much-loved mobile broadband dongle.

What worries me is that the Open Univeristy is committed to technology, at all levels, both from students and staff.  If a potential student gets bad vibes from someone using new technology at the Open Event, will they too contract cyberphobia.


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