It’s interesting to consider Malcolm Gladwell’s talk on the Norden bombsight in terms of the readings we’ve been doing in this course. There is a constant emphasis that current considerations of how to improve conditions in the classroom focus on the form of tools, methodologies and curriculum, while ignoring the great differences between teachers, students, classrooms, backgrounds and history. Like the Norden Bombsight, investment in technologies in and of themselves, without considering the placement of those technologies in a given context, will lead to failure to improve education. This is very much the rational behind User Experience Design, that no matter how considerate or experience a designer is, s/he will benefit from placing technology in the hands of the user and watching them interact with it. The greatest asset to a reformer or designer, then, is something more fundamental than education or experience: empathy. By being able to empathize with a student in a given situation, one can quickly see that the most marvelous of interactive learning games will not appeal to someone who cannot place themselves in the role of a person who wants to interact with something in school. If students are too hungry because their families cannot afford food, it is unlikely that even the most brilliantly planned lesson will impact them. Perhaps, then, rather than designing and letting that design trickle down, design should start from the bottom up: talking to teachers, students and administrators, and tailoring tools for given situations.

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