Help desk, innovation and education

This video shows what happens when an innovative technology is introduced. The people will pretend it behaves like a previous “comparable” technology, and all sorts of doubts arise; in the short movie, it causes paralysis, until an efficient and courteous help desk technician explains how the particular innovation is used to store and consult text. The technician explains then about user interface and navigation.

It may be (and this is the subject of my current research) that the Web is still in this state, in which people (and educators in particular) still perceive it like a simple change of customary technologies and not as the real big innovation it actually is. Thus, we create on-line courses that resemble books (but do not actually work as such, with all sorts of useless results.)

So we need to create tutorials and books to explain how to introduce and use “effectively” the Web (and this or that other tool) in education. And in so doing we will create friction with those who oppose such use. Still, we needn’t discuss how to use the pencil in education, or paper. Everybody knows paper and pencil are pillars of education. This is because pencil and paper (and blackboard and chalk) have long undergone that process and we stopped asking “how to use paper in education”: we just do, and by so doing we change the way we do it, and change both paper and education. As a development of an initial innovation, paper and pencil are technologies that long ago have disappeared from our direct conscience. They form part of our infrastructure: we notice them basically just when they break.

I believe this will happen to the Web (and to us), soon enough. But we are still at that level, and for the time being we need to cope with these tutorials on “how to use the pencil in education”. And sometimes we need to call the help desk.

About Antonio Vantaggiato

Professor, web2.0 enthusiast, and didactic chef.
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