Director of The Teaching and Learning with Technology Studio at Penn State. Experimenting with KNOWN here. Trying to know the unknowable. another gross salute to the fantastic possibilities of the Internet.

Brad Kozlek

Why I Am Using Known

2 min read

Why I am using known.

You may be noticing that I am posting this using a self-hosted version of known. I am very excited about the prospects for this piece of software. And since I am feeling like I am moving into an upswing in my public online activity, it is a perfect time to give this a whirl.

Here is why I like known:

It is social at its core.  Known's primary metaphor is a "person" as opposed to a "website."  It is easy to post stuff, you simply add content with a simple bar that appears on the top of your site if you are logged in. No dashboard, no pages and pages of settings with language related to a web site. It is much simpler, very much in the vein of tumblr or twitter.

Known makes it easy to create course hubs for individual student blogs. Setting something like this up with wordpress is a bit of a hack and takes some work to get going. In known, this functionality seems to be a first-class citizen.

Although it is not there now, I see the ability to follow other people from their own sites being built in to the platform as well. What’s great about this is that the network is not centralized like it would be with the giants in this space (twitter, tumblr, etc) as well as other open source implementations of social networks, which still are based on creating one central installation which everyone must use to be part of the network (think of buddypress or statusnet). If there is going to be a solution to people connecting online that is not ad-based, then a distributed model might be the only way such a thing might work.

This stuff is still in the very early stages, but the model and the attempt are both things I want to be part of exploring. This exploration is why I am self-hosting known and not using their managed service. I hope I can make it better by digging into the code a little bit and experimenting with some modifications. Or at the very least I can use some of my own modifications for my own site, even if they only make sense for me.

Brad Kozlek

User Experience Design And Learning Experiences

2 min read

Horace Dediu calls the IBM/Apple partnership the biggest tech news of 2014:

The recent apps release showed just how transformative this relationship could be. We were witnesses to apps which appeared to be designed for users[!] They were not designed for committees that prepare checklists of requirements.

I feel this is relevant to ed tech as many ed tech products (especially the LMS) were forged in the image of the enterprise information system. Even now, as LMS’s attempt to address issues of usability and mobility, their pedigree as enterprise information systems is proving difficult to overcome. It is refreshing to see IBM, the mother of the enterprise information system investing heavily in user experience.

I am devotee of user experience, so seeing a change in this regard is welcome news to me. There are a great many advantages to products that deliver well designed experiences. In most enterprise IT purchasing or design decisions, user experience is given short thrift. This is no different when higher ed institutions are making decisions on ed tech.

I do want to be clear that I don’t conflate a user experience design completely with designing experiences for learners. There are plenty of overlaps, yes, but I still think there is room for learners to design their own experience, and move away from being locked into templates. So while I think things need to be easy, and clear to use, I don’t think they need to limit the learner. This tension between ease of use and open-ended, flexible, non-templated experiences may be the central tension of learner experience design.