I’ve often thought that technology must be easier to use in order to reach its real potential.
I love technology and am an enthusiastic early adopter….but for a lot of (most?) people, technologies like RSS, podcasting, wikis, and even wireless are too complex and require too much troubleshooting. When trying to get newbies up and running with things, I am often frustrated by the number of problems that can arise.
The power of easy-to-use technology has been highlighted for me by the Kindle. It really is a piece of technology that anyone can use. The wireless is as simple as flipping a switch (literally).
The interface is simple. The usability is high. Even the ergonomics of the device are comfortable and familiar. (It feels and works very much like a book.)
I’ve shown the Kindle to a couple people who aren’t early adopters (including one who doesn’t “like” technology), and the response has been very positive. People are blown away by the easy-to-read display, and they like the feel of the device. In showing it, I have not had to explain much; just turning it on and handing it over is enough. And, like other technologies, the content is a big driver. The newspapers are especially appealing. Reading newspapers online is convenient, “green,” and cost effective, but for most of us, the traditional computer screen is not a good replacement for paper.
Add to the ease of use an integrated dictionary and web access to Wikipedia and more, and you have a pretty powerful tool.
When I think about the potential of truly easy-to-use technology for schools, I am optimistic. If teachers didn’t have to deal with many instances of things that don’t really work, maybe integration would have more of a tangible impact on learning.