When I was in 11th grade, my Social Studies teacher, Mr. Lewis, took us on a field trip from Brooklyn to Lower Manhattan. That was the first time I ate “real” Chinese food and it was also my first time in a “real” bookstore, The Strand.
Back then, circa 1980, it was very common for people to go browsing in used bookstores, and I caught the bug real bad. Not only was it an affordable way for a kid to buy books, but there was also something exciting and addicting about the serendipity of the process, not the least of which was the intoxicating fragrance of those weathered and worn volumes. It was like a treasure hunt.
I never went in looking for any one book in particular, but I always walked out with half a dozen or more books on totally different subjects. In fact, if you were to look at my bookshelf today, over 80% of the books were purchased as “previously owned”. That’s one of the great things about books … even when they are used, they still retain 100% of their value!
One of the books I’ve picked up over the years is “John Dewey on Education”, which is a compendium of excerpts of his various writings. For those of you who are unfamiliar, John Dewey was perhaps the most influential educational reformer of the late 19th and early 20th century, best known for his writings on the role of experience in education. In fact, several excerpts in this book are from Dewey’s other book, “Experience and Education“.
In this book, Dewey proposes 2 important ideas. First, that real learning only comes by connecting ideas with experience. Second, that every learning experience influences future learning experiences. For example, consider a child that touches a hot stove. Through that experience, he first learns that stoves are hot and not to be touched. A valuable lesson, indeed. Second, this experience teaches him to be cautious about touching objects he has not touched before. In that sense, it actually dampens his enthusiasm and curiosity for future experimentation, which can be harmful to future learning experiences. Not so good. As can be easily reasoned, the best learning happens through experiences that teach and also encourage future learning.
Last week I came across a blog post by Jim Lipman entitled “So this is where Engineers get their Information“. It seems that Jim attended a seminar by eg3.com on how designers search on the internet. One portion of the blog post caught my attention:
In the “What do Designers Want” category, ‘hands-on’ items such as demos, software and evaluation kits rank very highly. On the flip side, vendor articles and webinars ranked moderately low and podcasts very low in response to a “What Information do you seek” question (the webinar response probably due to the same perception that I have that many are sales or marketing tools).
In other words, designers want to be educated through actual experience with the tools, not by listening to webinars or presentations or even podcasts. If you have spent any time around a teenager, you know that this tendency towards interactive experiences will only increase. No longer will designers be satisfied being passive receivers of information. Rather they will prefer, no, demand to be active participants.
Second, their experience accessing these forms of online learning will have an effect on their future learning habits. If they have to log in through several screens and enter personal information just to get access to a Webinar, fagetaboutit! They won’t come back. But if the process is simple and easy and the experience is smooth, they will come back.
That’s what we are trying to create at Xuropa. An environment where designers can learn by experience, by using your tools hands on and where they will come back again. We’re trying to make the process painless, just a simple password login and there they are using your tools in seconds. It’s not just another form of WebEx or VNC or any other screen sharing program as some have suggested, but a way for the designers to drive the tools themselves and learn first hand.
We’re just getting rolling and we’ve got a lot to learn by the experience as well. The process, although smooth, can still be improved. And we are working hard to get more valuable tools in place for designers to try out. If you are a designer reading this, go ahead and try out one of our labs and let us know what you liked and how we can improve. We really want to make this painless and rewarding for you. If you are in the EDA world, consider putting your tool in the hands of a customer and providing a learning experience whereby they fall in love with your tool.
It’s all about the Experience.
Posted under Xuropa, industry, marketing
This post was written by harrygries on September 2, 2009