14 July 2010

One Step at a Time

I was part of an impromptu conversation about how skills with technology tools/programs evolve. We thought the stages went something like this (using PowerPoint as an example):
  1. The Basics  The person learns to place text and graphics using the pre-installed templates. The product won't "wow" anyone, but it's adequate.
  2. The Explosion  The person starts using every available bell and whistle: different transitions, colors, etc. The product will send the audience looking for eye bleach.
  3. The Survival of the Fittest  The person hones their repertoire of "skills" into a consistent set of slides. The product will engage the audience.
As much as we wished that Step 2 could be cut out, we decided that it was important because it is the stage where you really start to play with something and test the limits. If you don't go wild, you don't know where the lines of good use are. I have seen this happen with students and with adults. I have experienced it myself. It's akin to how our brains grow and change over time---explosions of neural growth with pruning away of connections that aren't reinforced.

Are there other steps along the way? How do we encourage people to move to the next step?

1 comment:

Katie said...

I think that Step 2 is sometimes done privately. When I learned to ues PowerPoint in college, I started with the basics. I played around with all of the background and animation options, but I don't think I ever showed a hideous presentation in public (unless I'm showing my students what NOT to do). I agree that you need to explore to know what the options are, but I hope that most people have enough taste to differentiate between a good presentation and a distracting, ugly one.