What is a hacker? Many of us believe it is a person that wants to get in and steal all of our personal information. Some may remember it as a terrible movie staring Angelina Jolie. But there is much more to this word "hacker." What I am going to get into in this post is actually a presentation I made to our staff at our last staff meeting.
Hackers at its core is a few things: 1.) Investigating 2.) Problem Solving 3.) Being Lazy 4.) Sharing what you know so that others may comment. By being investigative, you begin to identify areas of success and areas of improvement. Being investigative also means you look to build an understanding based on an inherent curiosity. Through identifying the areas of improvement, you begin to want to problem solve. Ideally, you want to become lazy because it means you have found the solution that will make your life easier. In finding your solution, sharing starts the cycle all over again as we interact and compare our life notes.
So much of the world has always been trained/learn/do through the resources presented to us. That meant for the longest time a little manual, or a series of lectures or workshops in which you had to get yourself there and sit with the person in the room. Today, there is a neat little invention called "Google." In it contains information from people all over the world. The resources now with Google have become unlimited! So much of how we train/learn/do has now evolved into a bottomless bin of tips/tricks/'hacks" to make our lives easier.
Just because our usage of technology is not visible to a student does not mean that it isn't helping them. My prime example of this would be our usage of Google Drive, specifically Google forms, in Career and Student Employment Service. It originated at my Office at Parkview where previously students would sign-in on a piece of paper. They would sign-in sparatically, so the student working the front of the office would have to come back and interrupt me to let me know there was another student. There had to be a more efficient way... We developed the Career Zone, a drop-in hub for students to get their career needs addressed. On the hypothetical idea train, multiple students could all come in at once. Were we going to have them too sign in on paper, or would there be a more efficient way.
The usage of a Google form which is then accessed in a spreadsheet keeps track of the order in which students signed in. In my office at Parkview, it means the "front of the house" and the back where I am at are in constant communication. We have even developed a system among the staff in the zone to have our own performance tracking. While not visible, at least to the fullest extent, to the student, they are being bettered by the efficiency our use of technology has made.
So what does this all mean, how do I be a hacker? Do I want to be a hacker? The answer is yes and it is simple.
Identify the littlest of problems: How can you resolve this? Is there a permanent fix or a process to make it easier to deal with?
Solve those problems: Can you find an easier way to do it? Do other's already solve this issue one way?
Share your results: Ultimately, we get better as a whole the more we communicate what we have learned. No need for secrets.
You do not have to know everything instantly: Just knowing one new thing means it is one more thing than you did before.
Google is your friend: Just because the first link made absolutely no sense does not mean all 3 million links are going to be the same.
Fail Fast and Fail Often: Through failure, you learn the most. If you are learning by doing, it is better to fail after a few hours rather than a few days of work.
I will close like this, to be a hacker in life it comes down to this:
Be Curious! Be Lazy! Learn! Rome wasn't built in a day...but it did take trials and errors!
P.S. #SAtech is a community on Twitter devoted to the coversation of technology and how it impacts student affairs. We converse Wednesdays at 3pm and the topics change weekly!