Keith Krieger

Happy Tech Holidays

Forget gold, frankincense and myrrh. This year’s best holiday gifts for technology lovers revolve around touch, tablets and games, according to a JCCC technical trainer. 

Keith Krieger, program director for technical training at JCCC and manager of the computer applications classes for continuing education, said those three “biggies” will be the focus for technology in the foreseeable future, and he’d be happy to help you learn more about them. 

Part of Krieger’s job is to anticipate the technology needs of potential students before they even know them.

“It’s a balancing act. We have clients who need help with older technology – old as in five years ago or less – and then we have clients who are on the cutting edge of what’s new, and we have to meet the needs of both,” he said. 

For those early (and-not-so-early) adopters of technology, here’s what’s in store: 

Touch technology. Microsoft recently released its newest operating system, Windows 8, which turns out to be a game changer – in both the literal and figurative sense. Why? Because unlike the keyboard-and-mouse constructs of old, Windows 8 incorporates a touch-screen system similar to those used on smartphones and tablets. 

As the holiday season approaches, and more personal computers are sold with Windows 8, someone will need to teach all of those holiday gift-getters how to use their new computers. 

Krieger is working to convert one of the computer labs in the Regnier Center to a Windows 8 lab, complete with brand-new systems that can make the most of the touch-screen technology. 

“Windows 8 will be very busy compared to what people are used to,” he said. “It will be closer to the interface we use on a newer smartphone – tapping, dragging, scrolling, lots of finger work.” 

Tablets. New classes will be offered in the use of tablets for business and personal use. Experts estimate the sales of tablets like the iPad and the Samsung Galaxy may surpass the sales of laptop computers the end of 2012, Krieger said. 

“Tablets nicely bridge the gap between the desktop computer and the smartphone. It has greater usability without running into the battery and bulk issues of a laptop,” Krieger said. 

For the first time, the Center for Business will be offering classes in maximizing tablet use. 

“I’d say the time of the tablet is here. We’ve gone beyond the early adopter phase and we’re seeing all those things move into the mainstream,” he said. 

Games. The idea of taking techniques most common to video games and incorporating them into daily life is called “gameification,” and Krieger said he thinks this concept will become widely utilized. 

He gave the example of a car he recently rented that posted the miles per gallon of the driver, but it also posted the “best score” (the highest amount of miles driven on a single gallon of gas). For Krieger, the idea of beating the best score became a personal challenge. 

“I did all those things I needed to improve my score: I start slowing down long before I need to, I coast down hills, I avoid jackrabbit starts, I maintain a speed of 55 to 60 miles per hour, and it very much became a game of doing what you need to do to get that score,” he said. Not only did he save gas money but he also had a personal sense of accomplishment at beating the posted best score. 

“I think we’ll be seeing a lot of things like that creep into what we do and how we interact with each other. People are going to expect that approach in the classroom, to help students harness that motivation that comes from the gaming experience,” Krieger said. 

Of course, Krieger will continue to teach popular software programs such as Microsoft Word, Access and Excel. Excel remains the No. 1 choice for business professionals. “Even small organizations most likely have Microsoft Excel, and it can take more skill to put together a good spreadsheet,” he said. 

Review the schedule of technology classes. Register online or call 913-469-2323 or stop by Regnier Center 173 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m.