On the inelegance of the LMS and the tech world’s response.

My not-so-new though: much of the software we use in college is needlessly complex and inelegant.

We’ve seen this progression in text editing, with MS Word evolving from a more writerly program to a behemoth publishing giant that requires four clicks to do anything and at least 27 inches of screen real estate to be functional. Fed up with the rococo features of Word, writers increasingly turn to simpler apps, such as FocusWriter, WriteRoom, evan nvALT (which is a text editor), to just write.

Similarly, I’ve decided that the feature creep of my college’s LMS has moved beyond baroque to rococo, especially linking and collecting information. When I want to link in most WYSIWYG editors, I hit control + K and it links whatever text I’ve highlighted. In D2L, I need two additional steps to do the same thing. When I want to collect information from students, say on a midterm student evaluation, I need to use quizzes or self-assessments, and then run a report. Set up for both quizzes and self-assessments is straightforward, but not simple. And the reporting system is Byzantine (sorry Constantinople). In contrast, I can throw together an easy google forms response in half the time it takes in D2L, and the form will auto-generate a spreadsheet of the responses.

We’ve come through Web 1.0 (the renaissance)  and Web 2.0 (the baroque and rococo of software and user interface design). I’m hopeful for selfish reasons and for the sake of our students we’re coming to Web 3.0 design: essential function without adornment- Bahausian design mixed with the Prairie school, perhaps?

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