I swear I haven’t changed a thing

So I maintain an internal site used by teachers and students all the time. So I also hear a lot of complaints. I can’t blame them, I certainly have my own complaints as well.

One of the fascinating things about the development process is that under-the-hood you do need to constantly iterate; you know, tweak the font size a bit, adjust the buttons, make the code run faster. That’s how the developers cut their teeth on stuff, that’s just what you have to do.

The downside to doing that in an educational context though is that the teachers are just too damned busy. There are a lot of things to blame for that, but let’s just accept that they are Just. Too. Damned. Busy. So if they use your site and something changed a bit, even if they are still successful, whenever they have difficulty with something they will surmise that it’s because a change happened.

Many educators who are marking work all the time don’t have the perspective to realize that cosmetic changes aren’t the same as functional changes. They just see change. I helped several colleagues who were trying to get some information out of the website but were stumped and swore up-and-down that I had changed things.

The reality was that they were confused about things from the beginning, and saw something they didn’t understand. All of this makes me think that I shouldn’t be changing things at all, or maybe wait until holidays or breaks, but if I did that I wouldn’t be able to build out the website to meet the community’s needs.


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  1. Cliff

     /  November 22, 2013

    I think it’s more the case that many have procedural knowledge of using the computer rather than any conceptual knowledge of information systems or computing in a more general sense.

    In a similar sense, when Excel updated to using the ribbon initially I couldn’t find where to save or open files. More worryingly was that my keyboard shortcuts didn’t work the same and so it slowed everything down. Everyone has their preference for a particular software version. Maybe some updates are not beneficial but an inability to adapt is more worrying.

    I suppose it’s synonymous to the difference between script-kiddies and people that think about limitations of systems (for good and bad).