Low Tech

Lately I’ve had a few  conversations around low, or at least lower, tech options to online courses which is prompting me to explore what others may be doing in this regard.

For example, one conversation with @pattishank, @abigrace & @jrandersoniii involved the question of using a document instead of a course.


If its just a lower level, informational type situation allowing your audience to print out a document for reading when and where they prefer could be a better option couldn’t? I know I’d much prefer that over being chained to my PC having it read to me. (Which by the way is SLOWER than if I read it myself.)  If it’s purely informational maybe that’s all you need. If you need some form of confirmation, a well written assessment could easily be administered.  What do you think? Are you already doing something like this? What scenarios to think would fit with this approach well?

Another form of this ‘lower tech’ approach is delivering content via email.  There are a number of situations where small, bite-sized content is the way to go and unlike RSS (which seems to be a less than mainstream medium) everyone has email.  Some of the benefits of this approach include the fact that everyone has email, your audience doesn’t have to go anywhere or do anything – it just shows up in their inbox,  and they can easily save the information if they need it later. (When was the last time you ever went back into your LMS to reference anything? I know I never have. )

I’ve been using this approach for almost five years now, sending a short (and hopefully sweet) tip via email every Friday morning.  They are meant to be quick and easy to “get” within just a couple of minutes and the topics are usually driven by questions I get asking for help or useful shortcuts that I think can save people some.  For example,this morning’s tip is about cropping images in Microsoft Office.

Another great email option is to set up a series of emails that can be sent at the appropriate time intervals.  An example of this approach is the daily or weekly email courses on a variety of topics  from about.com.  Each “course” is sent via email and is designed around a specific topic. No grades, no tracking and no assessments but I’d say there is more and better learning than many of the courses I see.  One nice thing about this is that it delivers a pre-defined series of content no matter when someone subscribes…if there are 10 items everyone starts with email #1 regardless of when they subscribe.  Compare that to a higher-tech blog where you just pick up with whatever is current and don’t get to start at the beginning.

I’ve found a few things describing this approach as ‘decelerated learning‘ which I believe is a  “…reaction to the appalling and ill-considered drive towards force-feeding huge quantities of low quality content…

What do you think? Is lower-tech in your arsenal? Should it be? What other ‘low tech’ options should we be considering?

Published by Mike Taylor

Born with a life-long passion for learning, I have the great fortune to work at the intersection of learning, design, technology & collaboration.

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