I’m in the final furlong of writing a research publication at the moment, at that stage when it’s hard to see the wood for the trees. 50 pages in a google doc, comments from 5 or 6 colleagues to integrate, points to check, conclusions to firm up. It’s all pretty complicated and I was finding it hard to make sense of the whole thing earlier today.
This was partly because the document is very long and was quite hard to see. Then I remembered many of my colleagues back at Plymouth used to use their monitors rotated around in portrait. I checked and the stand for the monitor in my office rotated too. A quick bit of searching on how to get my Mac to display in portrait and I was away. You can see my setup above.
A whole page on the screen at the same time. Scrolling vastly reduced. Web pages I needed to scan quickly all there in front of me. It was a revelation. If you are working on writing or editing documents I would highly recommend it.
Then I got thinking… everyone in my office was working on writing or editing documents. Most people in offices work on writing and editing documents. Why do we have widescreen monitors?
We have widescreen monitors because movies are in widescreen. A few years ago all monitors started to go widescreen as computers increasingly became entertainment devices. As they are also generic technologies almost everyone in offices is now using widescreen monitors designed for movies to work on documents.
What other generic technologies do we also use in this way? What do we accept the defaults of even though they aren’t best suited to our purposes?
Here’s one, somewhat the reverse of problem that prompted this though: vertical video.
Every day we use technology optimised for one purpose for a different one. Sometimes it’s fine. Sometimes a few minutes adjusting the setup can make a big difference, as I found with my vertical monitor.
That’s a relatively simple example, but what about the much more complex issue of what using generic technology for learning does..?