Miriam Unruh has agreed to take over teaching Open Educational Resources. We met on Friday afternoon at a local watering hole so I could thank her properly. As we were discussing the course I used the word “Angel”, and our waitress, walking by, said “I hate Angel”. At first I thought it was a religious comment. “I hate Angels”. Odd. But no, it turns out she is a student in psychology (just accepted to do her PhD in North Dakota) who has had courses in the Angel Learning Management system, and HATES it. “Why?” I ask politely. She explains how it was down for 3 days before an important test or due date. Well that can happen to any system in theory. So I asked her, “If it would have been problem free, would you like it?” “No” is the emphatic answer. “Why?” She explained that it is too complicated, difficult to navigate, not simple . . . All True!
I know a few people who were on the committee that picked Angel. All well-meaning I’m sure. Why did they pick Angel? Partly I suspect because of all the things it “could” do. You could have a wiki, you could have a blog, you could have a local learning object repository. Someone should have asked, “do instructors use these tools?” “do students want these tools?” “why would someone use the wiki in Angel?”
This conversation (back to the bar on Friday) is juxtaposed against the conversations in the committee I am on reviewing the IT department at University of Manitoba. How can we ensure decisions about IT are made in the best interest of the stakeholders? Why is the answer to why things aren’t working well is we need more resources? If you had all the resources in the world would Angel still suck? Obviously the solution is to go to bar and talk to people!