Carine Stewart reports back from the first Tech for Non Tech programme about what she learned.
I was probably as non-tech as they come...
All of my roles have required interaction, to some extent, with tech colleagues and teams - I think that would be true for the vast majority of us. That being said, I’ve never actually understood what they do - their work has always been foreign to me, and I would say the same about the ‘tech language’ they speak - that is, up until T4NT. Admittedly, I was probably as non-tech as they come: I knew how to turn on a computer and how to download apps on my cellphone (most of the time), but that’s about it. Even with very few credentials in the tech department, I still found myself on working groups discussing tech projects for our organisation, collaborating on writing requirement documents, and more often than I care to admit, calling up the tech team because I couldn’t get the ‘thing’ to do what it was meant to do (or what I thought it was meant to do…). They’d ask me if I could describe exactly what happened when I tried to do the thing and it didn’t work, to which I would reply ‘I don’t know what I did but it’s broken and I need you to fix it as
soon as possible, please’. I think I could hear them groan on the other end of the line. Now, after T4NT, I know why they were groaning (it’s all about reproducible errors) and better still, I know how to avoid this from happening during our future interactions.
Tech literacy in a technology-led world
T4NT is a programme designed for anyone who deals with software and technical teams. We all left at the end of the day having learned something new and feeling more confident in our ability to understand terminology, processes and the way tech teams and tech businesses work. In a world increasingly led by technology, it’s certainly worth everyone’s while to become more ‘tech literate’ and perhaps especially, to learn how to communicate with tech teams about tech products and projects.
T4NT certainly delivers on its promise: taught with a scaffolded,
interactive and creative approach, it covered the fundamental language and concepts related to tech (the what and why), gave us insight into the minds of programmers (realisation: they’ve been shaped by computers!) and explained the processes and best practice when working in collaboration with tech teams (the how).
Guest speaker Mary O’Keeffe (agile coach and Loomio) covered how to avoid/resolve conflicts between business teams and tech teams, and shared valuable advice: “it’s not programmers who build software, it’s teams who build software”. The course also included a segment on ‘a day in the life of a programmer’ with guest speaker Jesse Doud (Love to Ride), who demonstrated how complex programming work actually is, even for seemingly simple tasks like changing a date on a website!
As for Josh Vial (Dev Academy, Enspiral), he was the perfect person to take us on the T4NT journey; he could teach anything to anyone. Now even the most non-tech person in the room can explain the meaning of ‘Ruby on Rails’.
Carine Stewart is doing a Masters in Education at Victoria University. She is focusing on new forms of education and using classes that go through the booking platform and education provider Chalkle.