Mind the Gap
Have you ever given a presentation to half of an audience? I think I may just have done so…
I gave the closing keynote at a day on “good practices” in elearning in Gent, Belgium. (I like the reference to “good” rather than “best” practices: we’re far from having best practices in our field and, in any case, “le parfait est l’ennemi du bien” 🙂 )
In some of the earlier sessions, I had a bit the feeling of being warped back in time, with discussions on how to convert powerpoint to HTML, or how to make video available cross platform (youtube, anyone?).
In the “future session” by Maarten Cannaerts on personal learning environments (slides above), I had the feeling he was talking more of the somewhat recent past (Second Life, youtube, wikipedia), but probably should have paid more attention to the rather negative remarks (“who says anyone wants any of this?”) from the audience.
Should have – indeed: after my presentation (slides below), and halfway into the reception, I went through the evaluation sheets (oh boy, do we need to find better ways of getting feedback from audiences!) and was puzzled with the results. Seems like roughly half of the audience really liked the talk (thank you!) and half of them “didn’t get it” at all. Several entered “had no idea what this was all about” in their comments field…
I’m still not sure I understand what happened here: my hypothesis is that it may be related to the technology assimilation gap that my Great Friend Wayne Hodgins sometimes mentions. Here is how he explains it: this is the gap
“between the capability of software functionality and the ability of customers to use that functionality. If software functionality increases without an equivalent increase in customer education, the gap will continue to get wider. This gap can only get so wide before it becomes a real problem when at some point customers no longer see value in the software because they don’t understand it. If we don’t focus on educating our customers and future customer base, we will not succeed.”
I worry a bit that we are now moving so far ahead of what our audience can relate to that it becomes quite challenging to translate it to something that sounds relevant to them. While they’re still trying to figure out how google affects what they do and wonder whether they should look at youtube, I’m up there on stage telling them that “google is so passé” and that we need to move beyond search, etc. Let me be very clear: I am not saying that this is “their fault” and that “they should catch up” or anything like that. But I do need to find a way to talk about what we do in terms that make sense to and connect to their world.
Here is a version I’ll try next time maybe:
Would it not be great if you had access to all educational resources out there? That would actually change more than you may think – long tail. And it would create a new problem – paradox of choice. But we have a solution for that – the Snowflake Effect.
Well, that is the short version 😉 I’d be very interested in your suggestions to get the story across. If you were in the audience, then let me know how you experienced the talk.
O, and if you are the one who described my keynote on the evaluation sheet as “Bikkembergs on speed”: many thanks! I’m not sure if I feel flattered or insulted or what you actually meant, but you sure got me thinking!