So I felt the need to compose a blog that reflected on an experience that we just had at our office and how it relates to how we approach our jobs supporting online/face-to-face/hybrid students and faculty. Our office recently relocated to a “new-to-us” location. We really love the location and appreciate the way it improved our “esprit de corps”. We did however notice one issue that had us perplexed.
You see, we couldn’t figure out how to lock our inner-office doors. There was a door knob, and a place to fit our keys to unlock our office doors, but we couldn’t lock the door using our keys. We tried it with our individual keys, with our office master-key and even tried it on different doors, but to no avail. We couldn’t figure it out. Finally we just decided that the locks must be broken. After all, why give us keys and a key hole, but no way to lock the doors that these key holes belong to. Confident in our assumptions, we put in a ticket with facilities and asked them to come fix our problem.
Well later that day a gentleman from facilities showed up and check out the doors. He took one look at our “broken door-locks” and asked, “Did you push the button?” The button? We couldn’t find any button and we told him so. Finally, he directed us to where the latch comes out of the door and told us to press in what we thought was part of the latch and low and behold, the doors locked! Who would think to look for a locking mechanism on the side of the door, rather than make it part of the knob?
What was intuitive for the facilities employee was NOT intuitive for us. Now, in the moment, we all laughed and rejoiced in our new found ability to lock our inner-office doors. A few hours later as I was sitting at my work desk, I realized that this situation related well to our jobs as instructional technology guides, helpers, trainers and designers. What do we think is intuitive? The learning activity, proctoring software or the LMS? We live and breathe this stuff day in and day out, while our students and faculty may be experiencing it for the first time.
We should be putting all of our documentation, course work, and interactions into this context. Are we we forgetting the mechanical instructions when we design learning activities and just putting in the academic? Do we design technology how-to documentation with an assumed level of experience? Would taking this into consideration change how we approach support calls from students or faculty? I think it would.