Posts tagged ‘Don Norman’

Ten Reasons Why Podcasts Are Inferior to Text

Ten reasons podcasts don’t work for education are:

  1. It is faster to read than to listen to text.
  2. It is difficult to skim a podcast (fast-forward can sometimes be used) while most people skim text and carefully read the parts that interest them.
  3. It is easier and quicker to reread text than to replay part of a podcast.
  4. Interesting passages of text can be highlighted or, if online, copied into notes.
  5. Text can be illustrated.
  6. Most people, when driving, working out, etc., do not have the concentration to stay focused on an educational podcast.
  7. When a podcast is of high quality and slickly produced, it seems like entertainment, especially when it starts with music.
  8. When a podcast is of poor quality, the background noise or pauses and speech fillers are annoying to listen to.
  9. It is easier to get into a flow state when reading text because you are less likely to be multitasking.
  10. Deeper learning, as Don Norman says, “takes time and thought”, and it is harder to have deep thoughts when listening passively or when multitasking.

I developed this list after talking to some of Jared Spool’s students, who sent me an e-learning scenario centered on the use of podcasting. While writing this, I listened to a podcast that Jared made, just to make sure that my list was accurate. Part way through, my son called and I dropped off his cleats and then stopped at the track and ran because it is a sunny day and I had been sitting too long. When I got back, the podcast was still playing. Voice can convey nuances that text does not, and Jared is an entertaining speaker, but I prefer text and am unlikely to ever make podcasts for my students.

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March 26, 2008 at 12:17 am 12 comments

Eliot Spitzer Would Be Better Off If He Practiced What He Preached

Eliot Spitzer, the governor of New York, is embroiled in a scandal and announced that he “failed to live up to the standard I expected of myself”. His alleged actions are more notable because of his anti-corruption stance. (I also heard that governor was his stepping stone to the White House, which may never happen now.)

Not ever wanting to be accused of not practicing what I preach, I went to my list of Ten Things You Can Do in Ten Minutes To Be a More Successful e-learning Professional and did #8, to contact an e-learning expert. Actually, it was my own spin on #8, but creativity and designing for our target audience are part of our profession!

Here’s what I did: I emailed Don Norman, who is an expert at many things, including e-learning, and is one of the people I most admire. I will add a caveat here that I know him and have asked him for advice before so I felt hopeful that he would respond. Don gave me brief feedback on the issue I asked him about, promising more since he was preparing for a trip, and detailed feedback on my blog, in particular, on my recent post on The Disconnect Between Patients and Doctors. As a result of this, I am writing a new post since I agree with his points.

Hence I have practiced what I preach and am better off for it since the insights I received will make me more successful. I bet Governor Spitzer wishes he had listened to his own advice.

March 11, 2008 at 11:29 pm 1 comment

Don Norman on Smart Machines

In a New York Times article last month, Don Norman, one of my heroes, said that intelligent devices should work without human intervention and should behave predictably. He gave the examples of a clothes dryer that stops when the clothes are dry and a tea kettle that whistles when the water boils. “But we are moving toward intelligent machines that still require human supervision and correction, and that is where the danger lies — machines that fight with us over how to do things.”

“Badly designed so-called intelligent technology makes us feel out of control, helpless. No wonder we hate it.” Don went on to say, “Our frustrations with machines are not going to be solved with better machines.”

I just struggled with a not very smart but quite powerful machine, a furnace. The conclusion was a happy one but it required the assistance of a specialist. In the interval between the detection and fixing of the problem, I certainly felt helpless, as Don said.

I wonder if the more intelligence a device has, the more helpless a person feels when the device is not behaving predictably – or as desired, which isn’t necessarily the same thing. And I wonder if the dislike one has also grows with intelligence since expectations increase.

January 16, 2008 at 1:19 am 2 comments


Lisa Gualtieri, PhD, ScM

Lisa GualtieriLisa Gualtieri is Assistant Professor at Tufts University School of Medicine in the Department of Public Health and Community Medicine. She is Director of the Certificate Program in Digital Health Communication. Lisa teaches Designing Health Campaigns using Social Media, Social Media and Health, Mobile Health Design, and Digital Strategies for Health Communication. Contact Lisa: lisa.gualtieri@tufts.edu

@lisagualtieri


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