Learning to Use IT in the Workplace: Mechanisms and Masters

Learning to Use IT in the Workplace: Mechanisms and Masters

Valerie K. Spitler (University of North Florida, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59904-945-8.135


Fluency with information technology (IT), defined as “an ability [to use information technology] to express [oneself] creatively, to reformulate knowledge and to synthesize new information,” (Committee on Information Technology Literacy, 1999, p. ES-1), is an important concern for those who manage workers with jobs that require the use of IT. Training is one mechanism to build fluency, but research about “influential individuals” hints that other mechanisms might also play a role. This article presents an interpretive case study of junior-level knowledge workers at a management consulting firm. To learn to use the IT of their jobs, these workers relied not only on formal training, but also on on-the-job learning through experimentation; reading books, manuals, and online help; and social interaction with their peers. The researcher identified different types of “master users” who were indispensable for this learning to take place. The findings of this study suggest that managers and researchers interested in training users also devote attention to these other mechanisms for learning, especially the “master user” phenomenon.

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