Many of the best IT students are gamers. There may be a good reason for this. People tend to reserve their best energies for things they enjoy. Gamers enjoy putting fingers on keyboards and interacting with friends and social groups over remote network connections. All of that translates into technical fluency, which can improve performance when it’s time to complete less entertaining business-centric IT tasks. The opposite effect can also be noted with respect to students who are new to IT and do not have significant online gaming experience. If IT is all work and no play, the students can feel hesitant and awkward at the keyboard. They worry too much about doing the wrong thing, so they are slow to do the right thing, or anything at all for that matter. For that reason, I have introduced the idea of “play with the code, before you work with the code.” The best way to get a feel for a technology is to mess around with it in a low-stakes way. For that reason, modeling simple break/fix sequences with network connections, or language syntax or database queries or whatever the topic is, can show students how to be casual and experimental in their approach to IT. The United States education system excels at allowing and even promoting casual experimentalism. Not without coincidence, the United States also excels at invention and innovation. How many of our leading IT companies were started in somebody’s garage or somebody’s dorm room? Most of them! It turns out the hobbyist mentality works extremely well for the most serious of results. IT work often demands long hours and interferes with normal holidays, vacations, and recreational opportunities. So why do people like to work in IT? Because IT itself can be a lot of fun! You probably enjoy IT yourself on some level. Share that enjoyment with students and help them connect IT skills to their own “inner child”. That purposeful childishness will help them mature into fully confident, productive IT specialists.
Making Connections: Instructors Guide for Information Technology Copyright © by Robert Bunge is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.