My assignment this week is to describe a learning environment where the use of a specific instructional technology did not fit the learning outcome. I will preface the task by stating that if I have not mentioned this previously, I am especially resistant to learning from videos because of the “talking head” scenarios used throughout my primary and secondary education where technology involved playing videos on digital video players rolled into the classroom (Blackhust, 2002). Moreover, I am an autodidact and having to sit through similar material adds to a growing impatience. To this end, I am also technically inclined and have no fear of “breaking something.” I hope my narrative explains how the combinations made me very appreciative of the Internet and online videos.
My mother told me many times that the instances I deviated from common sense was never done in moderation but with a gigantic bang! Consequently, one of the many situations that I did not fear breaking technology or allowing technology to break me turned out to be very costly. In the situation I describe, the nature of the learning was technical and involved troubleshooting and repairing a lawnmower. To the best of my knowledge the learning experience was developed by scanning paper-based reference manuals and uploading them to the company website. Moreover, there was no required prerequisite causing me to pause before my attempt to repair.
The problem with the lawnmower was that it would run and then intermittently shut off before I was finished with the lawn. My response to the difficulty was to use Google to research the problem, which I eventually deduced was a dirty carburetor. I then went to the company website where I found the manual, reviewed it online, and made the determination that I could resolve the problem. The picture below should give you a hint as to the appropriateness of the technology online reference manual used to repair a lawnmower.
For sure, the reference manual did an excellent job of depicting the parts, but the detail was only as good as the image resolution and the author’s foresight. Nevertheless, I took the component apart and took a picture of each piece so that I could reassemble the part. After cleaning the carburetor, I attempted to reinstall the pieces although the manual did not render the steps to replace the parts and my images were not sufficient. Each subsequent attempt failed, and I found myself emulating a YouTube video of Crazy Lady vs. Lawn Mower.
In truth, I felt as if the video depicting the woman going crazy over her lawn mower would have given me much more insight and prerequisite knowledge than all my efforts in finding a reference. In hindsight, a video illustrating how to clean and uninstall a carburetor would have been the best instructional technology for the task along with some prerequisite knowledge of mechanics. Along these same lines, is the use of Facebook or another type of online community that affords consumers who have had similar problems the chance to help other consumers.
Header image credit: Nlmish Gogrl [CC-BY 2.0] via Flickr