TED and Me

Technology, Education, Design and Me.

Archive for May 13th, 2009

E is for ease of use

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Perhaps, one of the most common reasons why I see instructors (and students) at my university shun learning technologies is because the learning curve is too steep. Following that is the fact that some technologies are not tested enough, or they constantly need technical support. I can then understand the frustration and skepticism the arise from these problems.

I mentioned in my last post the SECTIONS model created by Bates and Poole, which is as follows:

S “Students: what is known about the students – or potential students – and the appropriateness of the technology for this particular group or range of students?

E Ease of use and reliability: how easy is it for both teachers and students to use? How reliable and well tested is the technology?

C Costs: what is the cost structure of each technology? What is the unit cost per learner?

T Teaching and learning: what kinds of learning are needed? What instructional approaches will best meet these needs? What are the best technologies for supporting this teaching and learning?

I Interactivity: what kind of interaction does this technology enable?

O Organizational issues: what are the organizational requirements and the barriers to be removed before this technology can be used successfully? What changes in organization need to be made?

N Novelty: how new is this technology?

S Speed: how quickly can courses be mounted with this technology? How quickly can materials be changed?”

Students, is, of course, extremely important. And the accessibility of a technology for students, and whether it is appropriate for their learning needs must be considered. But it is the Ease section that I see as important for lowering the learning curve and raising acceptability of technologies by teachers and students. one of the Web 2.0 applications that I mentioned in my last post was Jing. What I like about Jing is its ease of use. It’s simple, but it gets the job that I expect done. For example, here is a potential activity for ESL purposes: I can ask my students to capture a video using Jing of them operating or running another application on their computers, and, while doing so, cite instructions of how to use that application. This would be a great activity to practise technical English and give instructions for specified audiences and purposes. And, because Jing is quit intuitive, the technology does not overwhelm the learning object: to practise English for a specified task.

As I mentioned, I have seen how any lack of eas of use hinders a technology’s acceptance. One particular application (Check My Words) that we use at our university has undergone many tranformations because of this. When it was first released, it was confusing to some teachers and students. But after listening to their concerns or problems, the designers of the application found ways to make it more intuitive — it’s easier to use; what followed was that more people are using the application. And with good results, I think.

Bates, A.W., and Poole, G. (2003). Effective teaching with technology in higher education: Foundations for success. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers. 79 – 80.

Written by seanmcminn

May 13th, 2009 at 7:54 pm

The Joys and Dangers of MET

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Joys and dangers can arise from any MET forum discussion. The joys are the myriad of new tools I learn about. The danger — the amount of time I spend playing with those new tools. Within the first week of the MET course ETEC565A, I have been introduced to a few promising Web 2.0 applications. The time I spent play around with them … well … flew by. Here are a few of the things:

  1. JingSnap a picture of your screen, or record video of onscreen action. It’s free.
  2. zotero — A wonderful researching tool that assists with note taking, citing sources, and creating bibliographies. Just try it.
  3. voki — Create a speaking avatar. Not sure of how to use this one, yet. But it looks interesting.
  4. Adobe Buzzword — Visit Adobe’s Acobat.com. It’s all the buzz. Seriously. This may be better than Google Docs.

After playing with these, it may be interesting to see how each one fits into Bates and Poole’s SECTIONS framework. I’ll comment more about this later.

Bates, A. W. and Poole, G. (2003) Effective Teaching with Technology in Higher Education: Foundations for Success. New York: Wiley, John & Sons, Incorporated.

Written by seanmcminn

May 13th, 2009 at 1:15 am

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