A common problem in the world of technology, not just among educators, is the overwhelming sense that there are too many tools. We are constantly bombarded with more options about how to create a presentation, how to edit your photos, how to format your text, how to share your creations, how to blah, blah, blah, blah….OMG I JUST WANTED TO MAKE MY LIFE SIMPLER!!!
When we talk to people about this, they often assume that somehow we are immune from these pressures or have figured out how to navigate them. Please, let me assure you that the only thing we have learned is that the overwhelming nature of it is perfectly normal. The overwhelming nature of the technology production cycle is, in highly technical terms that are sure to also be overwhelming, hype. Call it bluster if you must, but hype is as much a constant in the tech market as is GHz. It’s such a persistent issue that analyst house Gartner produces a yearly Hype Cycle, with a specified pattern that hype follows. Hopefully seeing it will help you feel less overwhelmed too (granted, you’ll feel overwhelmed seeing all this compressed data, but it’s the argument that should alleviate your general anxiety).
What I think that this graph makes clear (aside from the fact that machine-to-machine communication services are rapidly approaching the bottom of the trough of disillusionment), is that many of the technological trends over the past few years are proving themselves not as helpful as they initially promised to be. This isn’t to say that Gamification won’t survive the Trough of Disillusionment and rise again in the Slope of Enlightenment, it’s just to say that the current state of the technology to create compelling gamified course content is such that people are finding that it’s harder than expected to make it work. People are frustrated with the current tools to make it happen.
In the end, what it reminds me is that technology isn’t magic, and there won’t suddenly be rainbows and gum drops flowing from my content if I use the newest and best technology out there, because for the most part, that’s all just hype.
There’s another thing that I think is an important takeaway from this hype cycle. You’ll notice nowhere on this do you see anything about Quality Content, or Visual Design, Amazing Experience. This is because these things aren’t hype. They’re the fundamentals on which all quality learning experiences are built upon. The best ways to improve your content always relate to these things: clear writing, clear organization, uncluttered design, beautiful images. Ask any of your friendly CII staff members, and more often than not, we’ll stick to a few simple tools to create many things, as opposed to using tons of tools that only reach a niche audience. Personally, I use Apple’s Keynote for presentations (and some simple photo and shape editing); Sketch for icons and vector images; Hype for HTML & animations; Pages for word processing; and either Photoshop or Pixelmator for photo editing and compositing. I use a number of other programs for special projects, and learn far more programs on a regular basis, but these are the programs that are almost always open on my machine. With these tools, I try to get the simplest tools to build the most compelling content I can, but the focus is always on content. Hopefully, then I can understand that hype, where a necessary part of the technology market, is just a fun diversion from my usual practice of using tools that simplify my workflow. If you’re looking for help in finding simple tools to accomplish your task, feel free to get in touch with us. Perhaps we can help you see through the hype to find the best solution for your long-term use.