Recent newsletters explored examples of good-enough innovations that proved to be game-changers. At their introduction, few, if any, were regarded as either "best in class" or "state-of-the-art." It is important to acknowledge how perfectly adequate good-enough really is because within the context of well-regarded institutions of learning there are occasions when nothing short of state-of-the-art appears to be acceptable. In learning technologies, the pursuit of this ideal can lead to unanticipated costs.
High-profile institutions are, after all, in the business of attracting the best and brightest minds by offering top-notch learning, work and research environments designed to bring out their best work. When resources are plentiful, it is commonplace to hear a best-of-the-best mantra reverberating through the walls of every planning session; often with insufficient thought to operating costs associated with "cutting edge" amenities.
In order to find a way to accept that now is an ideal time to re-imagine classroom tech, let us first consider how we arrived at where we are, and all we've accomplished…
Large, progressive institutions such as the University of North Carolina are renowned for blazing trails in learning technologies. For more than two decades, UNC pioneered technology-enabled learning space.
Continue reading An Open Proposal for Innovation, Part One: The Carolina Case
In September's Wired magazine, senior editor Robert Capps (rcapps [at] wired [dot] com) observes that the MP3 audio format prevails despite the advent of digital audio algorithms that offer greater sonic resolution with comparably small file sizes. Capps speculates that the incremental gain in fidelity, as delivered by newer digital formats, offers insufficient advantage to prize the lossy, old format from the clutches of mobile audio listeners. In short, MP3 may be mediocre (Bob used a harsher word that, coincidentally rhymes with his last name) but for the majority of listeners-to-go, it is mighty good enough.
In MP3s, Capps finds the perfect metaphor to shed light on an often-overlooked phenomenon at the intersection of Good-Better-Best Street and Better-Faster-Cheaper Boulevard. There is mounting evidence to predict that, when presented with an array of sparkly tech-choices, portable music listeners tend to favor, as Bob puts it, "flexibility over high fidelity, convenience over features, quick and dirty over slow and polished." In short, "having it here and now is more important than having it perfect."
A note to our Type-A readers: In future articles, AV-1 explores how this phenomenon relates to classrooms, but for now, feel free to share your comments and observations (below or on the AV-1 List).
Among the numerous examples offered, these three stand out as most relevant for our purposes: Flip Ultra, Skype, and Netbooks.
Continue reading What’s So Great About ‘Good Enough’ Tech?
Manhattan, Kansas. From 20,000 feet, it appears as a clot of suburbia surrounded by a pea-soup green patchwork of farms and foothills. Our captain announces that we are now half-way to our Las Vegas destination. Here, half-way between Mayberry and Sodom and Gomorrah, lies this sleepy, middle-American town — an oasis amidst the Midwest flatiron landscape and a place I once called home.
Continue reading Pre-InfoComm Jitters