Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Dron's balance between hard and soft technologies - seeking the Goldilocks moment

Jon Dron presented a very informative session in Week 11's #change11 MOOC.
Titled "Soft stuff, hard stuff and invisible elephants", Dron described the following:
  • the meaning of technology 
  • the inclusion of pedagogies as technologies
  • SOFT and HARD technologies
  • getting the right balance between them
  • how to move from soft to hard and vice versa
  • and the elephant in the room - "it ain't just what you do, it's the way that you do it. A bad technology, used well, can work brilliantly, while a good technology, used badly, can be useless".
He describes all this well in his post on the nature of technologies.
Dron defines technology as the "orchestration of phenomena for some use" (W. Brian Arthur) and classifies them as:
  • Soft tech - an active orchestration of phenomena by people
  • Hard tech - the orchestration is embeded into a device.

Dron spoke about refrigerating food being a hard technology (difficult to do without automation) and that soft technologies needs people - the technology does not have everything that it takes to make it happen.

He points out that all technologies are ASSEMBLIES of other technologies and tools, some soft, some hard.

Getting the right balance of this for a given time, context and learner is difficult and needs the "Goldilock moment":
  • Not too soft
  • Not too hard
  • Just right!
Aggregating is a way of making technologies softer and replacing with harder things making them harder. A mashup could be made harder or softer.
In discussions about the MOOC approach, Dron said that making the learner have control over the hardness or softness of the technology will allow the learner to have the right balance and find their Goldilocks moment.

Findings regarding the effect of technology on learning generally state NO SIGNIFICANT DIFFERENCE - Dron makes the point that it is not the technology but how it is used, what he calls the elephant in the room.

2 comments:

J Duncan Gould said...

Hi George, I'm trying to subscribe to your blog but I can't see the possibility. Do you know how to do it?
Cheers, Irene (Inside Irene's Head - wish I could get rid of that title, but blogs are not flexible enough for my taste, I can't do it)

(J Duncan Gould is my husband and he has a Blogger account, and no matter how hard I try to post a comment under my own name, it does not want to have anything to do with it......sorry about that)

George Hobson said...

I have been playing with Blogger's dynamic views which puts the viewer in control of the way they see it - BUT I am finding out that some functionality goes. In addition to the subscribe feature going, it does not display on an i-Pad, so will be playing with it to try to change these aspects. Will let you know if I can - in the meantime Google Reader is not a bad way to keep track of many blogs.
Yes, blogs are not so adaptable - definitely on the Hard Technology end of things....