Software vs. Users

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via It’s Not What the Software Does | Smarterware.

This cartoon by Hugh MacLeod (that is now my desktop background) captures the divide this blog will try to straddle. It applies to all technology but in particular to learning technology. Software solutions often try to predict every possible thing that a user could do and provide a check box or a button for it. But users are unpredictable (as a group and individually) and they will often make unexpected use of simple software and ignore the advanced features of complex software. Twitter is a great example of this. It has almost no features but it has been used for many things unimagined by its creators. Similarly, many VLEs that have very complex features are often used just as a simple forum with good results. But after a while users start asking for features that would have initially discouraged them from using the software in the first place. They can do everything they want with the simple tools but would like to make things easier, more straightforward, and automated. So what is the learning technologist to do? Ultimately, even more important than technological nous is willingness to listen to the users. REALLY listen not just hear. Am I up to the challenge? Lets see.

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