A random collection of moments

Some long time ago, measured by where it sits on the list of collected things, I wrote down the sentence, ‘a user guide is an admission of failure.’ I can see what I meant by this. Devices have become much easier to use, going back to the original iPod with its scroll wheel.

I had an interesting conversation with a colleague not so recently, about how students learning to code don’t understand file structures, because they never needed to. They don’t need to organize themselves; they can just search and they will find.

What implications does this observation about user guides have for education? I’m not sure, but education is full of user guides: textbooks, lecture notes, problem sheets, all can be thought of as user guides to particular areas of knowledge. But I don’t think this is the right visualization.

Rather, I think that the textbook or the lecture notes or the problem sheets are the devices rather than the user guides to those devices. So in this interpretation, the lack of a user guide translates to having a well structured textbook.

Bob the cat has developed the habit of walking across my keyboard and sitting on the papers on my desk when he wants a bit of attention. I of course indulge him, scratches under the chin.

It takes time and effort, and a lot of thought, to write a good textbook. I’ve written one, on Hyperbolic Geometry, and like potato chips, it’s hard to write just one 😉 And so part of what is on the list of things to think about is, what might be the next one.

~ by Jim Anderson on 30 April 2023.

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