Teaching Technology – Which Comes First Replacement or Enhancement?

In looking at the "best" ways to teach a new technology, I'm seeing a conflict between the need to start with familiar applications (replacement) and the need to show learners the value in adoption (enhancement).

In my model, replacement refers to applications that replace existing methods or technologies. For example, using an eBook to replace a paper-based textbook. In this case, the eBook doesn't necessarily provide any additional functionality, it just replaces the paper-based book. Enhancement refers to the applications that do more than their physical counterparts. For example, an enhanced textbook might include integrated video or audio clips to help enhance the learning experience. The enhancement provides more value than the thing that it is replacing.

To convince someone to adoption a new technology, they need to see it as both easy to use and useful. It needs to not only be useful, but rather, more useful than anything they currently have – otherwise, why would you bother changing your current practice? This emphasizes the need to demonstrated enhanced functionality early in the adoption process. However, literature also says that you need to show learners familiar tasks with the technology before you start to show them new things that might challenge their current beliefs. So, people should be taught familiar tasks first.

All this has me wondering, should the first lesson focus mostly on how to do familiar tasks with the technology? Or should it focus on how to do tasks that are enhanced by the technology?

What do you think?

2 Comments

  1. I think that it depends on the learner. Some learners will need more time in the “what’s the same” schema activation stage, and other learners will just need a nod to get them situated. I think this is a “not too hot, not too cold” type of question

    • Ah yes, but when you create a program for the organization as a whole, you need to make a decision – one needs to be given more weight or priority …

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