We’re switching webmail systems in our district in a few weeks. We’ve been using OpenXchange for the last few years, but are switching to Squirrelmail because of its simplicity and extendability. We initially set up OpenXchange with the hopes of implementing a district-wide groupware solution, but the reluctance of some people to give up their Franklin planners, along with Microsoft Outlook’s inability to handle IMAP in a sane way, made this impractical for us. Now, as we try to improve the reliability of the system, it makes sense to go with a simpler product.
I showed the new webmail to my tech team yesterday. This isn’t rocket science. The login screen prompts for username and password, which are the same ones they’ve been using for years. Folders are shown on the left, and the message list on the right. You can sort the message list by sender, subject, date, or size. Click on a message to open it. You can reply, forward, or delete messages. Use Compose to create a new message. There’s a form at the bottom for handling attachments. It’s webmail.
The response was a little unexpected. What kind of training are you going to provide? Can you come to our staff meeting and show us how to use it? Who should the teachers contact when they need help?
Let me put this diplomatically….
No, on second thought, let’s not.
We have had Internet access in every classroom in our district since 1995. We have had computers in every elementary classroom since 1996. Every teacher has had an email account since 1997. If you need someone to show you how to use webmail, you are illiterate in this century, and you have no business working with kids in our schools. I can understand that someone going into webmail would be confused that it looks different. I would certainly be concerned if it was not expected. But if they know ahead of time that we’re changing webmail systems, that confusion shouldn’t last more than 30 seconds.
Today I was stopped in the hall by a professional staff member. “The assistant principal would like this form to be placed online so all the teachers can access it when needed.”
“Do I just use Save As?”
“You could do it that way. But it’s easier to just drag the file over to your T: drive.”
“Do I have to rename it?”
“You should call it something that lets people know what it is so they can find it.”
“Can you come help me?”
“You can do it. You’re just copying the file from one disk to another.”
“Okay, but I might have to call you. Technology is not my thing.”
Not being able to copy a file from one disk to another is like saying subtraction is too hard, because I never understood that advanced math stuff.
“The illiterate of the 21st Century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.” — Alvin Toffler
If you are living and working in this world, you have to take personal responsibility for your learning. If you are writing down step-by-step directions to do things, and blindly following them, you are hopelessly lost in this society. If you cannot do something you’ve never done simply because no one has taken your hand and shown you how to do it, I don’t want you teaching my kids.
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed above probably don’t represent those of my employer, who is gracious enough to extend me the professional courtesy of allowing me to express my opinions on a blog hosted on their server. These opinions probably don’t even represent those of the department of which I am the head. So lighten up already. But stop being so helpless, for crying out loud.