You pick up a book; you open it and just read. Immersed in the story you easily get beyond noticing the book itself – the pages, the typeface or the binding. You might flick to the cover and compare what you see with the story that the author has brought into your mind.
However, just imagine that the next age is stuck to the one that follows. It jars because you have been removed from experiencing the story to experiencing the book and its failings. As you attempt to prize the pages apart you fume a bit about cheapskate publishers or shoddy workmanship but soon, you are back in the story and you move on. Unfortunately, a few pages further on it happened again and more pages are stuck together, and then later still it happens again. Soon, the failings of the book start to cloud your experience and your interest in the story starts to wane. Ultimately, you might throw the book away or move on to another book or move onto another activity altogether.
The vast majority of our experiences with books are not like this, and our reading is seldom disrupted in this way. Indeed, we take it for granted that this will be the case – which is why a ‘faulty’ book is so frustrating. Imagine for a minute the impact upon readers and reading if suddenly all books were made with pages stuck together – or covers that simply didn’t open – or pages from another story inserted in them. Yet, this is exactly what seems to happen with much ‘modern’ IT.
The average classroom PC takes a good wee while to boot-up, you then face a log-in to fully start and you can access the desktop. Another log-in might take you online whilst a further password allows you to read your email. All of this comes after the PC has started-up and run whatever antivirus software and incidental bloatware has been installed on it.
Then you can log-on to GLOW or wait, that’ll be after you have registered you class having had to log-on to E1 or whatever.
This is my experience and I am sure I am not alone.
Routinely I spend too much of my time waiting on flawed IT forcing me to think around it rather than involving it. The experience is jarring and as I consider myself to be more adept with IT than the average person, I can hardly imaging what it must feel like to those that are still uncomfortable.
This is of course, before we even get to the issue of software – though I think that people will see that too often the software simply makes the matter worse. Click – hang – slow response – crash.
Contrast this with my iPad.
I click on the home button and swipe-to-wake.
I then point at an icon on the screen and ‘boom!’ I am doing the think that I want to do and soon am immersed in it in the same way as a reader is immersed in the story. The hardware has blended away to become simply an unnoticed conduit to the experience brought about by the interaction with the app.
This is the future – mobile, app-based technology linked to the Cloud. The days of the desktop PC in people’s lives are numbered – indeed laptops are now outselling desktops left, right and centre – with the growth in iPad sales outstripping them all.
Unless and until schools can have IT ‘solutions’ that allow staff and pupils to immerse themselves in the task they are seeking to perform rather than immersing themselves in the frustration of hardware and software created without any thought of the end-user-experience – we will never see a genuine IT revolution.
That so many school/LAs still invest in low-quality bloated Wintel desktop PCs and frown at the mere thought of wifi is a sign that we will continue to fail to catch-up with where pupils are at. Far less ‘skate to where the puck will be’.