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#jiscel10 faster horses

November 24, 2010 by Robin Englebright   

I’m catching up on the recorded Elluminate sessions from the conference. 

In the session “What do students really want? (Usman Ali, Aaron Porter)” it was interesting to hear that this is the first year that student satisfaction in ICT provision in University has DECLINED, as reviewed in their annual survey.

This picks up themes highlighted in recent review of ICT teaching in schools, which found that students on the whole were quite turned off by the way it is taught.

What’s going on here? Surely technology is exciting, dynamic, and groovy?

James Clay asked Usman Ali whether the dissatisfaction was because the students may know what’s best for them? In the way that Henry Ford is quoted as saying, “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses “ 


I think this misses the root of the problem, because it assumes in the Ford case that what people want is to get from A to B as fast as possible.

It may be what they want, really  is a faster horse, a living creature that they can talk to, and care for, and be involved with, but that gets there a bit quicker. The whole process may be more important than one component.

How things are done is often far more important than what is done.

I have in front of me a prehistoric HP pocket pc ipaq I bought in 2004.. it works, but it cannot be said to be a pleasant experience to use it, not due to speed, it is in fact quite quick, and in terms of functionality it can do a fair bit, open excel spreadsheets, word docs, IT COULD COPY AND PASTE in 2004 … However I rarely use it, choosing instead the comfort of my ipod touch.  The difference is entirely down to the user experience. I forgive my ipod for it’s shortcomings, where I’d be cursing the ipaq.

Satisfaction and contentment are elusive, tricksy things to measure and achieve and move beyond the grasp of technologists like myself. I think the bar has been set quite high, and the expectations of the ipod generation will be tricky to meet.

It’s going to be interesting watching.

A clip shown in the session dwells on the perception and motivation of students, and is well worth a watch:


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1 Comment »

  1. James Clay says:

    Great post.

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