It’s only useful if you use it

Last weekend I installed Dropbox.  I won’t use it to store any sensitive files, because of the privacy concerns surrounding the system, but so far I have found it very useful for keeping my general academic files in sync between a few computers.

Then I ran into a PICNIC error.  Yesterday, during a Skype call with a colleague, I made some notes in a simple text file on my home computer.  I am now in the office and have just gone to open the file on my laptop.  Which would be fine if I had saved it in my Dropbox folder and not on the desktop.  Problem code ID-10-T diagnosed.

My first thought was the obvious one in the post title but it also made me think about the importance of users integrating a technology into their computing practices so that it becomes instinctive.

Dropbox is a simple technology to install and use and yet, because I have not used it much, I did not automatically think (or not think?) to save my notes in the right place so that I could access them this morning.

But what about more complex technologies (to install and/or use)?  What about technologies that demand a larger change in working practice than trivial demands of Dropbox to save files in the different folder?

I’m thinking of LD and in particular from the perspective of a teacher.  From a technological point of view would the learning curve seem steep with a tool like Recourse?  But does the bigger challenge come from trying to persuade a teacher to make what could potentially be major changes to the way they plan and deliver lessons in order to make LD an integral part of their teaching methods?  Is there a way to present LD so that it is easier for teachers to incorporate into their work?  So that it seems less of a “jump” in working practice?


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