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April 1, 2016

The Design of Everyday Things: Think about your classroom culture

by Peter Skillen

What affordances do technologies provide for deep learning in students?

One of my favourite books ever – got a revision in 2013!

design of everyday thingsThe Design of Everyday Things by Don Norman is a must-read, in my humble opinion, for every educator. It’s really a book about the intersection between design and human interaction/behaviour.

I will quote the simple example I have repeated for years as a teaser for you to think about your classroom and how it is designed. Also, think about working with your students to understand design as they are making their artifacts in these revised constructionist classroom cultures of design thinking.

This book will also help you to think seriously about the affordances that newer technologies provide for deep learning within, and among, students. The book is not focused on that topic—but might be a provocation for you to think about it!

“If I were placed in the cockpit of a modern jet airliner, my inability to perform well would neither surprise nor bother me. But why should I have trouble with doors and light switches, water faucets and stoves? ‘Doors?’ I can hear the reader saying. ‘You have trouble opening doors?’ Yes. I push doors that are meant to be pulled, pull doors that are meant to be pushed, and walk into doors that neither pull or push, but slide. Moreover, I see others having the same troubles—unnecessary troubles.”

door-handles pull sliding door handleHe continues to explain that the “design of the door should indicate how to work it without any need for signs, certainly without any need for trial and error.” In other words, a flat panel on the door tells you to push whereas a rounded bar tells you to pull. An indented handle invites sliding the door. But this is often not the case!

So, read the book just for your own interest!

But, more importantly, think about what you provide to students and how it invites their actions.

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