This article was originally posted on the Connected Consulting blog by Drew McConnell.
David was a university student. He had a creative mind and a penchant for media. At the time, I was a technology trainer and media assistant at the same university. I helped students and faculty learn to use a variety of technology and software. Our number one rule as media assistants was to not touch the mouse when assisting people.
This was not to be mean or to avoid spreading germs, but to follow the fundamental idea that in order for someone to effectively learn a skill, they had to do it themselves. Not watch someone do it or hear someone talk about it, but actually do it.
David was a frequent visitor of our media lab. He would come into the lab, sit down at a computer, and begin working on a media project. The thing you need to know about David however, is he would come in with lofty goals for complex video and image editing projects. These projects were always well outside of his skill level, or in the words of Lev Vygotsky, well beyond his Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD).
Whenever he walked in the door, I knew it would not be long until he moseyed over to my desk to ask for help. When he inevitably did, I would oblige and sit down with him at his computer. David would then explain to me his vision for the project. Ignoring the fact that his ideas were outside his ZPD, I would begin to guide him through the process and encourage him to experiment and try things with the software to increase his skills. Without fail, five minutes into the project he would push his chair away from the desk, throw his hands up in the air, and say “You do it.”