motivating new learning

20 Jul 2006 - 6:40pm
8 years ago
2 replies
404 reads
Joshua Gross
2006

Allow me a brief analogy. Imagine if you were driving your car, and
someone pointed out that if you shifted out of first gear, you could
travel much faster than 10 MPH. Sure, before you knew this, you were
driving, and "achieving your goals" (e.g. getting to work), but you
were hardly using the tool (your car) at its most effective level.

Let's forget about power users and keyboard shortcuts - I'm not
interested in GOMS or Fitt's Law level analysis.

My real concern is that software systems often have features that
people don't use, or don't use properly. I'll give a practical example:
an experienced colleague, whose work I often edit, can't properly
outline in Microsoft Word. This creates frustrations for this person
and everyone who works with this person. This is neither a trivial
issue (I've spent about 1 hour fixing a document today alone), nor is
this an inexperienced or unsophisticated user.

I probably can't be convinced this isn't a problem, but I can agree
that this isn't any easy problem to resolve. In fact, I'm not convinced
that it can be solved, but if not, it's likely that we'll always have
tiers of users; the "computer sophisticates" who are starting to take
over the lower ranks of the professional world will see their skills
degrade (or at least stay static relative to a moving target) as the
next generation of more sophisticated users comes of age, and the cycle
will continue.

-Josh

On Jul 20, 2006, at 6:33 PM, Peter Bagnall wrote:

> Why bother teaching users more stuff?
>
> If they are achieving their goals, great, the design works. Why do we
> feel a need to force them to become power users when their current
> level of knowledge is meeting their needs? I'd argue maybe we don't.
>
> Users will take on as much complexity as they are comfortable with.
> I'm all for providing alternative command vectors for power

Comments

20 Jul 2006 - 9:37pm
Oleh Kovalchuke
2006

Obviously it is a question of trade off between effort and value. To promote
learning make effort small (and risk free) and/or make value big. Methods
vary.

In the case of your colleague I would recommend either making value of
learning big or switch to different format altogether, without outline.

Yes, we'll always have tiers of users.

--
Oleh Kovalchuke
Interaction Design is Design of Time
http://www.tangospring.com/IxDtopicWhatIsInteractionDesign.htm

On 7/20/06, Joshua Gross <jgross at ist.psu.edu> wrote:
>
> [Please voluntarily trim replies to include only relevant quoted
> material.]
>
> Allow me a brief analogy. Imagine if you were driving your car, and
> someone pointed out that if you shifted out of first gear, you could
> travel much faster than 10 MPH. Sure, before you knew this, you were
> driving, and "achieving your goals" (e.g. getting to work), but you
> were hardly using the tool (your car) at its most effective level.
>
> Let's forget about power users and keyboard shortcuts - I'm not
> interested in GOMS or Fitt's Law level analysis.
>
> My real concern is that software systems often have features that
> people don't use, or don't use properly. I'll give a practical example:
> an experienced colleague, whose work I often edit, can't properly
> outline in Microsoft Word. This creates frustrations for this person
> and everyone who works with this person. This is neither a trivial
> issue (I've spent about 1 hour fixing a document today alone), nor is
> this an inexperienced or unsophisticated user.
>
> I probably can't be convinced this isn't a problem, but I can agree
> that this isn't any easy problem to resolve. In fact, I'm not convinced
> that it can be solved, but if not, it's likely that we'll always have
> tiers of users; the "computer sophisticates" who are starting to take
> over the lower ranks of the professional world will see their skills
> degrade (or at least stay static relative to a moving target) as the
> next generation of more sophisticated users comes of age, and the cycle
> will continue.
>
> -Josh
>
> On Jul 20, 2006, at 6:33 PM, Peter Bagnall wrote:
>
> > Why bother teaching users more stuff?
> >
> > If they are achieving their goals, great, the design works. Why do we
> > feel a need to force them to become power users when their current
> > level of knowledge is meeting their needs? I'd argue maybe we don't.
> >
> > Users will take on as much complexity as they are comfortable with.
> > I'm all for providing alternative command vectors for power
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> List Guidelines ............ http://listguide.ixda.org/
> List Help .................. http://listhelp.ixda.org/
> (Un)Subscription Options ... http://subscription-options.ixda.org/
> Announcements List ......... http://subscribe-announce.ixda.org/
> Questions .................. lists at ixda.org
> Home ....................... http://ixda.org/
> Resource Library ........... http://resources.ixda.org
>

21 Jul 2006 - 3:08am
Peter Bagnall
2003

On 21 Jul 2006, at 00:40, Joshua Gross wrote:
> I'll give a practical example: an experienced colleague, whose work I
> often edit, can't properly outline in Microsoft Word.

So the problem is not about learning new stuff, he's already using the
outlining feature. It's that he's not understanding how the feature
works. That suggests very heavily to me that that feature is badly
designed. Having used it myself, it could use some improvement. I don't
think the problem you're finding here is "not knowing about features".
It sounds more like a failure to understand the model being used by the
designers of the outline feature.

> ... it's likely that we'll always have tiers of users; the "computer
> sophisticates" who are starting to take over the lower ranks of the
> professional world will see their skills degrade (or at least stay
> static relative to a moving target) as the next generation of more
> sophisticated users comes of age, and the cycle will continue.

Some people drive better than others, to use your analogy. Some
*shouldn't* be allowed out of first gear ;-).

As for skills degrading, that's an issue, but less of one than you
think I suspect. There's a belief that all kids are somehow
techno-wizards. A couple of summers back I taught a summer school group
how to make webpages (the hard way!). The group were gifted children,
each the brightest in their schools, and I found enormous range in
their computer skills. Some were great, but some were really
struggling, and I heard the same sorts of complaints about not being
able to use things that I normally hear from adult and even elderly
users. I even got the same technophobic commentary.

So I don't think that each generation is magically going to out-tech
the previous one. At the moment we're seeing a transition from people
who didn't grow up with computers to people who did, and naturally that
favours those who did. That will stabilise. Now, whether another
technology will come along to destabilise it is a whole other story!
Probably will!

--Pete

--------------------------------------------------
A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade
they know they shall never sit in.
- Greek proverb

Peter Bagnall - http://people.surfaceeffect.com/pete/

Syndicate content Get the feed