So, we had this meeting and talked about soft and hard things…

I finished the first synchronous sesssion for my bit of the #change MOOC a little while ago. Self referentially, I was a victim of a hard technology of my own devising, a set of slides that formed the background to my talk that, as I talked through them, I realised were in quite the wrong order.

Did that stop me?

Not a bit of it!

Interestingly, however, I could have done so had I had my wits about me. I had found the option where Blackboard Collaborate did give me a menu of available slides to select in addition to the usual back/forward controls. By adding this hard technology to the existing hard technology the makers of the tool had softened it, allowing me to take a non-linear path had I chosen to do so.

But, of course, soft is hard.

The effort of managing the talk, following the chat and grappling with the tools gave me insufficient time to think through a more appropriate path so I took the hard, easy one. As Garrison and Baynton showed in 1987, increasing pacing also increases structure – it is much harder to change the structure in real time than over a longer period. This suggests that ‘hard and fast’ make a better pairing than one might at first think.

It will be interesting to continue the conversation on Friday at 10am MST – see for announcements about how to get to that.

I am a professional learner, employed as a Full Professor and Associate Dean, Learning & Assessment, at Athabasca University, where I research lots of things broadly in the area of learning and technology, and I teach mainly in the School of Computing & Information Systems. I am a proud Canadian, though I was born in the UK. I am married, with two grown-up children, and three growing-up grandchildren. We all live in beautiful Vancouver.

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