Technological Challenges

One common misperception of second career teachers, and of non-traditional students in general, is that they fall behind their traditional-age peers in terms of technological skill. It is often assumed that because adult students did not "grow up" with computers in the classroom, or use them to compose essays or to communicate with each other in an educational setting, that these teachers will not be able to teach using the most current methods or ultimately adapt to computer-mediated classrooms.

Yet this characterization is simplistic, and in the case of my own writing methods courses, one I found to be untrue. In the case of both Terry and Sally, the two students featured here, both had technological skills that were transferable from first careers and could be used to teach writing. Among non-traditional students in my WMC courses, I often find that these students are more experienced at using Microsoft Word for offering electronic comments and tracking changes and revisions, as they had use these skills when working with documents in their offices. This skill directly transfers in an age of electronic commenting on student papers. While there were several technological skills that needed to be taught, for example, how to use the chat tools and the Discussion Board in the Blackboard Course system, I found second-career teachers to be receptive to instruction by their traditional-age peers and this technological mentoring by the younger students often helped ease some of the strain between the two groups (see "Pedagogical Challenges" section for more detail). Even if they didn't always agree with their traditional peers in terms of the value of these technological tools, they were usually eager to learn from students who had more recent experiences as students using these tools in the classroom. Below Sally and Terry share their experiences learning to use technology to teach writing:


Sally (1:25)








Terry (1:40)