My iPad makes me more creative. Or maybe i should say that it facilitates my creativity. Why? Because it captures my output in one place and because it makes it easy for me to repurpose that output into deeper, more reflective formats. In this way, it liberates me.
The ways that i develop ideas is to capture initial thoughts and then develop them over time: sometimes those initial thoughts are expressed on the blog, sometimes through Twitter or the research forum on LinkedIn, often they are captured in mind maps or sketch diagrams on the iPad. Many of these go no further, some are developed in isolation and a few come together in a fusion to generate something (vaguely) useful. The good ones tend to survive, the weaker ones fade out. Mobile technology has speed up this process and made it far easier for me to share it.
For example, i use Adobe Ideas to annotate photos: not my holiday snaps, but rather screen shots or wireframes from the design of e-learning projects. I share these back with developers, with clients, with colleagues, with my thoughts attached. It’s a rapidly iterating process and, when i work with designers, it speeds our productivity up enormously: it lets us avoid ambiguity!
For ideas, i use iThoughtsHD, mind mapping software that lets me capture ideas and structure them: it’s what i’ve used to create the structure of the books and what i use for everything from business planning to performance reviews.
So, personally, i find that mobile technology liberates my creativity: it does this because it’s always with me, and because it’s so easy to use. I only have to expend one percent of my thought on how to do it, ninety nine percent on creativity.
This seamless process is important: the more effort i expend on working out ‘how to do’ something, the less effort i spend on actually doing it, on actually adding value.
Yesterday i was trying to create an email template on my PC. I spent more time working out shortcuts to speed up my productivity than i did actually sending emails. It was far from a productive use of my time and a lot of the problem came down to the fact that the software was too powerful, too complex.
The joy of mobile for me is it’s simplicity. It does a few things well and those things are the things that liberate my creativity: capturing ideas in visual, auditory or textual formats and letting me repurpose and share that output. The problem with my PC is that it does none of those things. Simply saving a document requires me to choose from thirty formats.
Technology can be empowering when it works within our processes, when it facilitates us to do what we want to do: it’s a blocker when we have to learn how to use it.
So often, in the design of technology enabled learning, be it e-learning, social learning spaces or mobile learning, we see interfaces that are overly complex, that duplicate functionality of navigation, that do things that are clever, but which don’t align to how we learn or how we explore learning. We have to get the design right: start with what people want to do, start with how we think, start by looking at how to liberate our creativity and work from there.