Thursday, June 28, 2001

An interview with Steve Krug, author of Don't Make Me Think . This is one of the web usability gurus who is so simple he makes great sense even for a hardhead like me. He suggests: "I think the best thing you could do is to set up a morning of on-site usability tests (which just means dragging three people in and paying them $50-$100 each to spend an hour using your site while you watch and learn)" If I don't do that when I have my web site up, you have my permission to kick my ass all the way down the steps of Cherry Hall. Lots of good advice here. Another pearl: "The real way to keep people on your site is to a) have things that they want, whether it's products, information, or useful tools, and b) make sure that it's easy for them to get to these things and use them." How to get from point A to point B? Test the thing when it's built. Then test it some more. Usability

An editorial in eLearning advocates gaming as part of learning. "When we say "games" to our educators, they don't seem to know what we're talking about. Why? Because they've never spent an entire weekend building a civilization, or solving physics problems while constructing a virtual rollercoaster. What we need are rich, deep simulations for engineering, biology, chemistry, biotechnology, and literature, built so that anyone can succeed based on competency instead of age, gender, race, or previous degree." Great idea! And I'll have some good black joe with that pie in the sky. 'Tis the translation, man. No one has done a decent translation. Am I going to allow someone who has played Railroad Tycoon for a couple years route my container to Tulsa? I might if I had faith in this new paradigm. I can't even imagine the paradigm. I guess that's the nature of the new new thing, you can't see it until the little kid jumps up and says, "Hey, the emperor's got no clothes!"

Still, I am heartened by this article. It means that no one has figured it out yet and there is hope for me to make that first billion yet. The author calls for large scale embeddable learning environments. Just like a Microserf to suggest fixing the system with a hammer. In an environment that calls for continual learning, everybody and everything is a teacher. Not a teacher in the usual sense of the word. An enabler might be a better word. Maybe DNA is a better information literacy model for what we want. I think the writer is onto something when he says that what we need is "development of new worlds where enchantment and meaningful learning occur". Somebody finally gets it. Magic. We need an environment in which we are under the spell of meaning. Hmmmmm. More thought needed here. Further, he says, "we have to consider creating similar environments that make technology ubiquitous and invisible, and at the same time enable human communication and interaction to accelerate the pace at which we learn together--not in isolation." So the next step must be taken with a committee? Or is this more like a tribe on a quest? The latter-- if enchantment is to rule.Enchanted Learning