Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Hanging in TheirSpace

The recent issue of the Chronicle of Higher Education cites the 2005 Teens and Technology report that shows teenagers and college students prefer more instantaneous forms of communication, reserving e-mail for communicating with us "old people."

Harcum College, outside of Philadelphia, built a MySpace page in an attempt to reach their students. The college is pleased with the success of the experiment.

George Siemens concludes "When we stop asking students to come to our space and use our tools, we start seeing progress."

So what about those of us whose students are the "old people"? Who have just started using a computer regularly? Who finally do not fear the mouse?

I think Mr. Siemens' point is well taken. We should stop asking students to come to our space and use our tools. But I can't spend all day in exam rooms with the doctors and there is only one of me. So now what?

I saw something promising during a demo for a new version of our billing system. Within the user interface, as the person worked, was a step-by-step reminder of how to perform a task - with links taking the user directly to whatever screen, function, or resource they need at that time. I'll believe this more when I get my hands on it - but it is a BRILLIANT idea and the most exciting thing I've seen in awhile.

This solution may solve my problem as a software trainer, but what about softer skills? Theory? Policy? Customer Service? What do we need to do to get into their space?

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