Jon Dron’s presentation to ChangeMOOC this week is very timely. I am working on a University funded project to develop training materials which will be used around the country to deliver school training on a given topic. The materials will be in hard copy, on DVD and online.
This is an ideal opportunity for me to consider the use of hard and soft technologies.
The project is basically working with hard technologies, although it is making some concessions to ‘softness’, in that it is writing the training materials in such a way that users can add their own materials and to a very limited extent remix and repurpose them.
The technologies will be hard in that they will be branded and have copyright limitations. Interestingly there were only two of us on the team who had ever heard of Creative Commons before the project began!
But the major constraining factor in getting an appropriate balance between hard and soft technologies is cost. So – we have been told that we cannot use powerpoint for our presentations because these cost more to produce than PDFs. PDFs ensure that the presentation won’t shift when viewed from different systems, but a PDF means that if animations are included, each will need it own page and each page costs! So I see this as an example of a hard technology where the pedagogy is being bent to match the technology, which is being determined by cost.
It is also very apparent in this project that those who hold the purse strings call the tune – a disheartening process to be involved in.
So in this case, constraints are not enabling creativity, but definitely stifling it – not because its not possible to creatively overcome the constraints, but because those in power – those who hold the purse strings, don’t want to overcome the constraints.
I can’t tell you how many times I have seen technologists and budget holders constrain creativity!