#PLENK2010 Too many tools?

Why (not) want new tools? This forums sub-thread reveals a reluctance against ever more new tools to cope with. We are overwhelmed already. We cannot keep up with them, and we don’t need to. Just as we don’t need to digest all the information that is flooding us, because we can pick our choice.

Once we engage more thoroughly with our favorite tools, we will discover many flaws, partly in what functionality and usability they are missing, and partly in how poorly we leverage their functionality that is already available.

An example for the latter, wielding problems, is addressed in this subthread about italics. Bold and italics are a very old and basic affordance of digital reading and writing, and they replaced underline and spaced letters of the typewriter a long time ago. But we still don’t leverage their potential for skimming on a macro level versus slowing down on a micro level. Instead, nebulous ideas about gradual differences of emphasis, or even about mere typographic aesthetics, are still taught.

On the other side, it is amazing how patiently we put up with the flaws of our daily routine software. For example, the moodle forums. As soon as a thread gathered 10 or 15 posts, it is impossible to navigate. And no, this issue can not be overcome by using the dropdown options of nested/ threaded/ flat, although we are led to think that it is is only our own fault that we have wielding problems. Many possible improvements are waiting here for sponsors of the great opensource software (or for the grace of its developers).

Ideally, a visual interface should be available for such big threads. I once assembled an early thread of CCK08 into such a visual overview. For a text-only overview, it would be useful to swap subthreads if an older one gets longer than a newer one. Or at least color them by age. And make them easily addressable (have you tried to link to an individual subthread? You have to switch display modes again and again). And while I am at it: Why is Moodle’s blog feature so strange?

Often, the plethora of options and features obscures the fact that a little useful functionality is still missing.

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2 Responses to #PLENK2010 Too many tools?

  1. I agree with you about the Moodle threads. I don’t know why we use them, or Moodle at all, really. I have a perfectly good discussion list package in gRSShopper. Maybe we should try using that in a future course.

  2. x28 says:

    Thanks for the welcome response. I am looking forward to testing the new package!

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