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"ACM SIGCHI WWW Human Factors (Open Discussion)" <[log in to unmask]>
Kathy E Gill <[log in to unmask]>
Thu, 11 Sep 2003 09:18:37 +1000
Anne Miller <[log in to unmask]>
Anne Miller <[log in to unmask]>
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Hi Kathy,

again thanks for your response. I've enjoyed the questions you've raised.

K.G:I understand that the development takes
time/$/resources ... I guess what I don't understand is why the
interface can be so dadgum _bad_ -- it's like they ignored the
"learnings" that should have come from examining "what went before",
so to speak. :-/

A.M:One of the great unsolved mysteries, I'm afraid. A close relative to
that related set of mysteries associated with the euphemistically called
Resource Planning Applications  (Eg SAP, People soft etc)- the problem that
mass market work tools have of regressing to some mean or is that mediocrity
(apologies for sarcasm).

K.G.:How do we collaborate so that instructors/professors (around a
state/country/world) aren't constantly reinventing the wheel?

A.M:No differently to the design of any other domain specific work tool in
my view. The solution lies in identifying the invariances in the work and
these are likely to be associated not with processes but with goals/
objectives /purposes. The risk  as amply illustrated in the two applications
under consideration here is that developers seem to think that 'the wheel
not to be reinvented' is process, which is exactly where we need flexibility
so that we have the scope for adaptivity - as far as processes go there are
limits on commonality at local levels. I wish these guys would quit trying
to force us to do things the way they think we should. As above, commonality
i think lies in the goals we need to achieve. So Ok developers, give us the
functionality we need to achieve common goals BUT let us do it our own way
as meets our own needs for our own context. Products like MS Office are of
this type. Here you have a bunch of functionality with no rules about how
you put it together.

K.G:switch to the "competition" ... or is there a third alternative?

A.M:The switch is the implied threat... but actually there is always a third
way. We are a university with a big IT department and lots of eager students
(yes the trade off is that sometimes its like herding cats - but then so are
many software development projects).

K.G.:The interaction with students...

A.M:hmmm We are finding that we discover opportunities with each group  that
helps us to evolve how we deliver content. Sometimes we end up delivering it
ways we hadnt thought of. For example I'm facilitating the first of three
research courses. this one focusses on a literature review. I owe Amy
Pritchett at Georgia Tech for this idea, which was to have students choose a
paper from their area of interest, write a critique and then post both the
paper and the critique to the discussion board for further critique. I then
grade the students critique and having got students permission post my
critique of the students critique with the grade to the discussion board.
Currently students are using this to explore the nuances of experimental
design. The first paper was a between subjects design the second was a
within subjects design. What I really need now to support this is to be able
to directly link this discussion to previous topics in another course in HF
research techniques.(Amy when are you going to commericalise your data base/
knowledge menagement system? - we need it)


Anne Miller
Human Factors Online
Key Centre for Human Factors
University of Queensland

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