Usability

 

Is usability a science now? Certainly there is detailed analysis around usability in the design of apps, websites and technology in general. Does detailed analysis and data collection make it a science?  The fact the hue saturation can fatigue users is a fact we know now. If the colour on your sites or in your apps is too saturated then people will tire easily and maybe blame the app or website . Don Norman is the doyen of design and who people interact with it and he is worth listening to because he has spent his life in this area, researching about it and then sharing his ideas. He is widely acknowledged for expertise in the fields of design, usability engineering, and cognitive science. He looks at how people interact emotionally with design and how that plays an important role in what they can or can’t do with technology or will or won’t do. “It’s the real needs of people, what people think they need often isn’t right.”  We do need , at least, cognitive science to determine the best outcomes for people who use technology. We do need to understand how it can impact on others when we choose and select our designs for apps and websites. UserFocus UK  has an interesting discussion about whether usability is now a science or not. It comes to the conclusion :

“But I do think we can agree that as usability practitioners we should at least adopt a scientific way of thinking. By this, I mean we should approach our work with a self-critical and naturally sceptical mind set, and that our methods, whenever circumstances and budgets allow, should employ the scientific method of investigation.”

Usability at the least needs to be informed by science and if you are using technology to teach others then you need to understand the basic , underlying principles of UX and UI design and their emotional impact. That way you make informed choices about what to use and how you present your content.

Writing , writing and writing

writing Image 10 Best Writing apps

Devices offer a diverse array for writing practice in all its varied forms. You can painfully type your way on a mini touch screen and embarrass yourself publicly in quite a spectacular way like I do if you wish or you can nimbly glide across a touch screen and insert images and sound as quick as lightning. Writing doesn’t have to just stare back at you. You can make it move, talk, connect to a website, a clip. You can add animation and annotations. One of the great experiences I discovered on my iPad was iPad magazines. I still read paper ones from time to time but an iPad magazine might include video clips, text reading, QR codes to go elsewhere on the Net, interviews. The whole thing just jumps into life. It means there are also a variety of tool where students can practise the art of writing, planning writing, publishing, multifaceted writing and a number of literacy skills. When there is a smorgasbord of how you can write and develop your writing then the chances of your writing well and being creative are probably quite high. Some of the “cooler” apps are paid for. It is important to research them well to see if they meet your needs or the needs of your classroom. Any app I plan to use in class I research first and then test it out with a couple of students if I plan to use it. They value participating in reviews. TeachThought has 15 e-book writing apps which seem to be paid but which do come tested, so to speak, and so you can look at them to see the sorts of things the e-book writing apps can do. I can see my students using some of these and loving it. There are also 10 best writing apps recommended on NextWeb. Some of these are free and some of them practise and utilise hand writing skills. My favourite writing app is Notability but I also like Documents Free. Now that I have seen all these other apps I want to try them out because each app creates a different impact. Bottom line? Don’t go anywhere without Evernote! Cross platform, cross device , always there and pretty comprehensive.

Alexa AI on Raspberry Pi 3

Christopher Barnatt is the consummate professional when it comes to making instructional videos about the Raspberry Pi. Everything is presented carefully and in an organised fashion and the visual aspect of his videos has been honed to perfection. This video is clear, instructive and easy to follow. Christopher Barnatt is a professional futurist and is very comfortable in a changing world which relies on technology development. He wants us to be too and as a consequence he gives us ideas to work on which we can follow. Alexa AI 10, 000 skills available now. Tech Republic has a quick overview of what Alexa AI can do . The video shows you how to set up Alexa AI on a Raspberry Pi 3. I haven’t done it yet and even though I have the recommended wifi dongle for the Pi 2 I may not have sufficient processing power. I might try it and then work out whether I really need a Raspberry Pi 3. Nice little project for a rainy day.

Keep IT knowledge up to date

wizard installs softwareAs I have mentioned before on this blog, the internet shifts about every six months and you have to make some functional and cognitive adjustments to realign yourself with it. It’s not doing that to be difficult. IT is developing at a rapid rate and our skills and knowledge are growing at an exponential rate. Keeping up with the trends is as simple as staying connected with good sites which bring you the up to date news. You won’t want to know all of it and you won’t be able to take it all in. You will know what is happening, though, and you will find things which you immediately connect with. Better Cloud is a site I like to visit and I subscribe to their daily email. I do want to know how to keep Google secure and you might want to know how to explain IT developments and changes to non IT people. There is at least one thing every day which is of value to me…even if it’s just looking at the memes they put up from time to time. One of the acronyms you find frequently on the site is SaaS = software as service. We have the hardware. Big developments and improvements are being made in how software looks, functions and delivers. Much of that it to do with subscription services and hosting 3rd party software elsewhere but you pay to subscribe or sometimes there’s a free and then a premium version. It’s where the cloud services are gaining traction and becoming more important.

AI update

No single post could hope to cover all the new innovations with AI. It will , however , give you an orientation to what is being done and what already exists that you can readily identify with. We have voice synthesisers, text to voice synthesisers, we have robotics in car manufacture, mining, hospitals and Japan even has hotels where the check ins are managed by robots. Artificial talking heads are popping up over the Net and have their uses. Professor of AI Nello Cristianini of Bristol University is world renowned in the  field of artificial intelligence. The video explains the sorts of things we are already accustomed to but he has other videos on YouTube which look at the implications of this. Data mining and labelling is critical to optimally functioning AI and so we do have vast quantities of data being kept and sorted through. TechRepublic looks at the top 10 things IBM is doing in AI because machine learning is becoming increasingly important so we can manage the huge amounts of data we have. It has to be sorted , labelled and categorised so we can create the information architecture of tomorrow. If you are interested in AI you can keep up to date with developments with Science Daily. Wired also runs articles on AI developments.

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