I was reading some articles from the #edchat Twitter feed tonight, and an article by Christopher Dawson on Adobe Premier talked about the importance of building classes around tasks rather than tools. He writes:
“I’d rather see a class on written communication or desktop publishing than a class on Microsoft Word, for example. A class on web design is, I think, more useful than one on Dreamweaver, even if Dreamweaver is the tool of choice for the class.”
Maybe most designers know this already, but apparently I never learned it. One of the things in my “to do” list is to build an online professional development module for the presentation tool Prezi. But designing learning materials to the task rather than the tool makes so much more sense conceptually. It’s not the tool that’s important, it’s the product of the tool that is key. Structuring content around the task also helps keep the learning focused on the “why” of the learning. In other words, a student isn’t learning some random way to change a font size as part of building skill with Word; he or she is learning how to improve the readability of documents by adjusting font sizes. The emphasis is more motivating.
So thank you, Christopher Dawson, and score yet another point for Twitter’s ability to teach us things we never knew. I’m renaming my Prezi module to something like “Designing Killer Presentations with Prezi” and focusing on building an effective presentation rather than learning discreet skills with the software.