The Value of Well Designed Edu-Spaces

I began working on reviewing and revamping a history module for the Searching The Internet course today, as well as providing some basic training on Audacity for a faculty member. It was humbling, because often I forget how much I know and how much I can help.

While I was gathering sites, notes and other ephemera for the history piece I asked myself why I was including this piece? Who cares about the history of the internet? Is it important? Maybe. I think it’s important, but that’s a real dictatorial thing to do. How is it important? Well, history dictates the future in ways we can’t always predict (although my RRSP (401k for you Americans) wishes that someone was more on the ball seeing the economic conditions before the Great Depression and this recession). Someone out there is going to want to know this stuff. It informs us better. Doesn’t it?

Also while I’m gathering content, I’m also mulling over a couple of other things. Design of LMS learning spaces – I’m not going to have the same look to my courses. I’m putting my hypotheses into action. My thinking is that we have so many well designed websites, we need better designed education spaces. Not to show off, or embarrass others, but to make a statement. We need better designed, better looking spaces. I’ve seen how cleverly designed websites can distort truths (or my truths). Education should be fighting back with our view. We need better looking materials. We have the means now – it’s easier and quicker to put together something that looks good. Why isn’t this policy at institutions?

Isn’t better design, and better eye-candy, a way to combat the Huxley-ian Brave New World/Postman Amusing Ourselves To Death scenario? Attract people to education, and in the process get them to ask tough questions? Isn’t that the case with Michael Wesch and his students work on “The Machine is Us/ing Us” (embedded below).  It’s nearing 10 million views in a year. That’s nothing to sneeze at. If it were a lesser product would it have less impact?

I suspect the answer is that no one really thinks about this. Or maybe they don’t think much of it. Much like the connections between ARPANET, the history of the Internet and it’s sharing of information that has influenced our daily lives. Is that enough of a hook?