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8 January 2008 / erikduval

Long Nose

I am not the only one who is at times a bit impatient with the slow rate of progress in the field of Technology Enhanced Learning – in my darker moments, I must confess I doubt that we’re even making progress.

long nose

Maybe we shouldn’t be so hard on ourselves though, because we may be in the “Long Nose of innovation“:

Microsoft principal scientist and author Bill Buxton offers his “Long Nose of Innovation” theory that most innovation underlying the latest “wow” moment is low-amplitude and proceeds over a long interval, long before the “new” idea has become general knowledge. “The low-frequency component of the Long Nose may well outweigh the later high-frequency and (more likely) high-visibility section in terms of dollars, time, energy, and imagination,” he writes. Buxton cites the 30-year-long gestation period of the computer mouse, from first demonstration to mainstream penetration, as a typical example of his theory’s validity. He points to a 2003 study presented to the National Research Council’s Computer Science and Telecommunications Board by Microsoft’s Butler Lampson focusing on the progress of key IT and telecom technologies. The report concluded that the average gestation period was two decades, and three decades was not out of the ordinary, leading to Buxton’s contention that any technology that will have substantial impact over the next decade has already been in existence for at least 10 years. The author maintains that the refinement of existing ideas is the core of the innovation process, and argues that “our collective glorification of and fascination with so-called invention–coupled with a lack of focus on the processes of prospecting, mining, refining, and adding value to ideas–says to me that the message is simply not having an effect on how we approach things in our academies, governments, or businesses.” Buxton believes innovation might take a more balanced strategy where the amount of investment and prestige awarded to those who refine and augment innovations is at least equal to that awarded to the initial inventors.

Makes me wonder what “technology that will have substantial impact over the next decade” in Technology Enhanced Learning “has already been in existence for at least 10 years”? Learning Objects? Metadata? What do you think?


One Comment

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  1. Wytze Koopal / Jan 9 2008 6:02 pm

    Hasn’t SCORM been around for almost ten years now?
    And maybe the software that smartly ‘converts’ office (MS Word ofcourse) documents into SCORM packages are the big hits nowadays. Something like Wimba Create or Thesis Lite (google search on “word convert scorm”).

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