In August of 2000, 54 million households—or 51%—had one or more computers, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
With these numbers, one could safely argue that computers were a “normal household item” by the year 2000. And technology continues to rapidly shape the world we live in.
However, with the cutting-edge development of technology—such as smartphones, tablets, personal computers and the Internet—comes an irrational resistance and exaggerated fear of technology, known as technophobia.
Described as a fear and aversion to modern technology, technophobia can provoke powerful emotions in individuals, such as panic, anxiety, terror or dread.
But what happens when virtual students feel this apprehension or trepidation about interacting with technology? Since technology is an integral part of virtual training, it is very important for instructors to help students manage their feelings of technophobia and help them embrace virtual training. Here are some useful and effective tips:
1. Alleviate anxiety
Many new students have pre-existing notions about virtual training. These commonly revolve around the myth that virtual training is only for tech savvy students. While it can be difficult to change these ideas, it is not impossible. After all, much of this anxiety comes from fear of the unknown.
As a result, it is important to put students at ease. Instructors can do this by providing a hands-on demo of the virtual training platform prior to starting the online class. Instructors can walk students through the platform, explaining the tools and functionality in detail. And once the course starts, walk students through the course (explain the course schedule), so they know what to expect every step of the way. This will help students grasp how to move through the course.
2. Explain the benefits
Students need motivation to participate and learn. This is even more important for tech-resistant students. So instructors should take the time to explain what’s in it for the students. Give students an idea of how the course can be beneficial, for example, (pay raise, be more productive, or meet a requirement). If they can see the advantages, they are more likely to be engaged and excited to learn.
It might also help to explain to students the financial benefits of taking training online. Most corporate students take training that's paid for by their employer. So if you explain that online training is saving their company between 30-70% (when you compare in person training vs. online training costs), this is another benefit for using online training.
3. Provide ongoing, individualized support
While some students quickly become comfortable with an online learning platform after a short time, others never feel at ease with the software. These students require ongoing support throughout the entire course. Instructors should continuously check in with these students throughout the course.
4. Collaboration is key
Collaboration and community are important aspects of the virtual learning experience. For students with technophobia, this is especially true. Because these students tend to feel isolated, stressed and overwhelmed, creating interactive groups can be very beneficial. For example, some instructors find it helpful to develop online groups where students can ask each other questions, work on problem solving together or develop team projects.
5. Implement the buddy system
In a private, employee-only training class, it might be useful to pair a new student with a student who is experienced with virtual training. The buddy system encourages experienced students to share project tips, knowledge and techniques they have learned from previous classes. At the same time, a class buddy gives the new student an opportunity to get to know someone one-on-one in the class. This connection enhances the student’s experience and makes him or her feel less isolated.
Imagine feeling panic, anxiety, terror or dread when it comes to modern technology. For students with technophobia, these are everyday feelings. But they should not prevent students from being able to learn in a virtual training environment. Instead, overcoming these fears just takes time and effort. Combating fear is possible. And harnessing what frightens you always makes your life richer.