Eradicate digital Helplessness

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Standard: 3d. Personalize support for educators by planning and modeling the effective use of technology to improve student learning.

Question: How to evaluate and improve learned helplessness in a digital environment through personal coaching?

When I first started researching this topic, I hoped to find some treatment solution for the learned helplessness. But soon, it was discovered that there was a certain degree of fundamental error in this research direction. Indeed, in psychology, there are different treatments to help solve learned helplessness. There are many psychological definitions and explanations for this situation. But when digital technology has become one of the elements, the problem turns simple to some extent. Want people to need to do is a search over “Google” or “Youtube.” Most problems can easy to find solving solutions. However, is that always true?

Learned Helplessness:

Both animals and humans will stop thinking or think of ways to solve this dilemma when they fail to solve this dilemma or escape in the same environment or event due to repetition. It will evolve into no attempt, even if there is a chance to resolve or breakaway. (Cherry, K., 2021) As a daily example, if a child is criticized for being weaker than others in certain subjects for a long time, it is easy for the child to stop trying this subject or skill. In the end, you will even lose interest in this subject or skill entirely and believe that you have failed. (Cherry, K., 2021)This situation will have a severe adverse effect on students’ self-confidence and emotions. It can even cause more severe emotional and behavioral problems. 

Digital Helplessness:

In theory, the development of digital technology and network search systems should solve most of the problems. But, even in the age of advanced digital technology, this problem has not been solved. On the contrary, for many people, digital technology has brought them more difficulties and helplessness. Including yourself, relatives, and friends, how many times have you heard that? ‘I have no idea about this technology or application!’ ‘I’m a technology idiot; I don’t have the knowledge and skills in this area.’ ‘I gave up; I can’t find the answers in Google.’ As Greenwood mansion, many people attribute this problem to a lack of knowledge and skills in technology. But this is not the case. The question is when and why these skills are needed. (Greenwood, P., 2019) When and why should I use Google? (Greenwood, P., 2019) How can I structure this question to find the answer I want in Google? (Greenwood, P., 2019) Answer yourself those questions. According to Greenwood, If people can do these two things, they also need to build a questions library and improve over time. These people are relatively less likely to experience digital helplessness. (Greenwood, P., 2019) 

Assist teachers in eradicating digital learned helplessness

In today’s world, most teachers or students will not be completely unfamiliar with technology or do not know at all. In turn, Greenwood argues most people may be overconfident in their knowledge and skills in technology. (Greenwood, P., 2019) It’s also because of this overconfidence that creates digital learned helplessness. (Greenwood, P., 2019) There are four types of attitudes and sensitivity Greenwood suggests to the use of technology. Therefore, we also looked at the four types and thought about evaluating and providing improvement solutions.

The four types are digital evangelist, digital pragmatist; digital explorer; and digital pragmatism. (Greenwood, P., 2019) The first two types of people are more accessible to digital learned helplessness. The latter two types are relatively healthy. If they can be balanced and developed continuously, they can also help other people in the team to progress or play a leadership role. (Greenwood, P., 2019) As coaches, we need to assist the first two types of personnel in progressing into the latter two types. At the same time, continue to encourage the latter two types to continue learning and progress and assist the team in coordinating and balancing between digital explorer; and digital pragmatism. Let the team have a more precise direction in the use of digital technology. Also, avoid pursuing new technologies too much. (Greenwood, P., 2019) 

In addition, Greenwood also provides a method that can be measured separately in people’s behavior and attitude and divides the process into three levels: building, accessing, and curating. (Greenwood, P., 2019) coaches can use these three levels as standards to assess the coachee’s improvement. 

In conclusion, either the teacher or the student should attribute learned helplessness to a lack of knowledge and ability related to science and technology. Regardless of anyone, or the so-called old skills, it does not mean that technology must replace them in the post-digital era. (Greenwood, P., 2019) What is worth thinking about is how to help students use their skills and knowledge in suitable places as educators.


Greenwood, P., (2019). The digital-ready worker digital agency and the pursuit of productivity. (Links to an external site.)

Sorrenti, L. & Filippell, P., (2014) Preliminary evaluation of a self-report tool for Learned Helplessness and Mastery Orientation in Italia. University of Messina, Via Bivona, Messina, Italy 

Overcoming Four Big Barriers to a Lean Culture Part 3: Overcoming Learned Helplessness. (Links to an external site.)

  (Links to an external site.)

Cherry, K., (2021)What Is Learned helplessness and why does it happen?

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3 thoughts on “Eradicate digital Helplessness

  1. K. Clum

    Interesting point that some learned helplessness may in fact be associated with overconfidence in knowledge of how to navigate technology and/or the belief that their abilities will be ‘taken over’ by digital technologies and thus…why try? Greenwood’s classification of digital workers is a helpful resource and seems like an effective way for coaches to help “diagnose” the problems encountered by those they’re trying to coach. Great work!

  2. Karen

    I’m reminded of the scaffolding or background info that sometimes needs to be supplied in order to help a student learn. As I think about digital transformation in the workplace I am reminded of a situation I had, where a student who has grown up with technology and can navigate adeptly also has no idea where files are saved on their computer. One person was crying because they thought they lost their final paper and another would repeatedly take screenshots because they’d “lose” where the image was being stored so in some ways, I feel like they’re in multiple quadrants, so I wonder if some of this is also based on context, work or at home or at school…in terms of digital helplessness and attitudes towards technology. I am now thinking about where am I in the quadrant you shared above.

  3. Jeff B

    I continue to find this topic interesting, and I like that you took it to the next level by including digital helplessness. I especially liked your graphic classifying digital workers. I think it helps bring in a different perspective as coaches come in contact with people and figure out where they seem to fall on this graphic. Thanks for writing about such an interesting topic!

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