A couple month’s ago I served on the CBIC Innovation Awards research committee. I was able to sit in on an interview with Beth White from Western Albemarle High School who eventually won the Red Apple Award for technology in the classroom. My co-researcher, Sallie Hill, was evaluating, among other things, how a teacher leverages technology as a tool, but doesn’t become captured by the glitz of the technology.
I recently stumbled across this white paper on Leveraging Multimedia for Learning done by Ruth Clark of Vcom3D. The paper was done for Adobe’s Captivate tool, however the lessons learned in the paper are applicable to anyone doing rich presentations.
What was interesting was that the lessons in the white paper mostly echoed the things that we saw Beth White do in the class room. Lot’s of small bite sized use of technology. A willingness to move on when technology became a roadblock. A focus not on the tools, but on the material being learned. Technology allowed the students to learn more effectively by engaging more of their senses and bringing out their creativity.
I’ve been working on a project the involves indexing large amounts of data and pulling out patterns. One of the lessons that I am learning is that while I can pull out lots of patterns, show off lots of details, and do analysis in many different ways, I am becoming captured by my cool techno tricks! The project has mostly been a R&D effort, but now I am looking to start crystallizing the value of my R&D.
I am mentally sitting down and going through the various assumptions that I have made about my users, and evaluating each cool analysis trick through the lens of “Does this actually meaningfully help my users”? And anything that is in there for the “cool” factor is being ruthlessly pulled. This is going to lead to a lot less “wow” factor, but a much better tool.