Friday, September 9, 2011

It Just Works

Why do we use so much paper? Trying very hard not to use paper in our course has helped me answer this question. Paper has a lot of benefits. It is easy to use, it doesn't need charged, you don't have to reboot it, it doesn't require an internet connection and you can read it in bright sunlight. It is light, portable and cheap. Well at least it seams cheap on the surface. Knowing our department's printing budget, I can say that paper and printing can get pretty expensive. But probably the biggest reason is it just works. I've often heard Apple fans describing Apple products the same way, but even my iPad needs rebooted sometimes and once in awhile the battery is dead at an inopportune time. However, if you want to be innovative you must be willing to deal with less than perfect execution. Airplanes use some of the oldest engine technology available today, because the tolerance for failure is virtually zero. Since innovation often brings uncertainty, airplane manufactures stay with the tried and true. Many instructors treat classroom instruction in much the same way, but fortunately several are willing to take a risk. Of course I do have my paper parachute just in case.

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