Reading Discussion Questions
Reading Discussion Questions
Questions for: The Psychology of Everyday Things
by Donald Norman
- Chapter 1 - The Psychology of Everyday Things
Chapter 2 - The Psychology of Everyday Actions
- What was the original Title of Donald Norman's Book? Why did he change it? What does the title "The Psychology of Everyday Things" mean?
- Provide examples of poorly designed thing in everyday use that Norman describes and poorly designed things that Norman doesn't mention.
- What is the impact of poorly designed things on the average consumer?
Chapter 3 - Knowledge in the Head and Knowledge in the World
- What are the components of Norman's psychology of attribution? How can knowledge of this theory be used to guide instructional design? Use specific examples to support your answer.
- Describe a user interface that has caused you to make errors. Will others likely make the same errors? Why?
- Describe a current model(s) of education or schools that may serve as a barrier to effective instructional design.
Chapter 4 - Knowing What to Do
- What natural contraints operate to help users to use the web environment?
- How can you use natural mapping to ease the memory load for your users in a web environment?
- How do you feel about Norman's description of a memory burden? He tells us on page 75 about burner controls on stoves. Do we really need every stove to look the same. If knobs in the front of the stove in a vertical row make it more spatially clued for everyone, should all stoves have knobs in the same place, in the same order en perpetuite? What I am asking is for you to consider how uniform you want your world of doors, appliances, cars etc... Is it really such a burden to remember which light switch turns on the lamp and which one the foyer bulb? Don't we as consumers and users sometimes choose design aesthetics over function or simplicity in use?
Chapter 5 - To Err is Human:
- How do the four types of design constraints (physical, semantic, cultural and logical) affect instructional design? Is one more important than the others? Which one and why?
- Visibility and feedback are important cues telling us how things work. When we design a computerized instructional package, how can we make these principles work for us?
- Besides the four constraints (physical, semantic, cultural and logical constraints), there are other relevant principles for knowing what to do. Compare visibility and feedback, which one is more effective? In terms of visibility, do you prefer visual or sound? Why?
Chapter 6 - The Design Challenge
- What is the relevance for educators of Norman's distinction between slips and mistakes? Which are we better at detecting? Which do we assess more often?
- What social pressures in the school can lead to mistakes?
- What is an example of forcing function in an instructional design?
Chapter 7 - User Centered Design
- Norman talks about designing for special people, and how designing to include 99% of the population still excludes 2.5 million people. How does this responsibility to be as inclusive as possible translate to the development of educational material in terms of the physical capabilities and learning styles of students?
- One of Norman's pet peeves is "creeping featurism". Describe an example of a product that is rendered unusable by most novice users because of its plethora of features, and a design alternative that would correct the problem.
- The Design of Everyday Things was originally published ten years ago, and since then computer technology has made great strides towards applying the principles Norman describes as visibility, constraints, affordances, natural mappings, and feedback. His goal for computer applications is to make the computer invisible and allow only the task to be visible. In what contexts in schools today has Norman's goal of "computer invisiblity/task visibility" been achieved? Name some examples where this goal has not yet been achieved. Can you think of any examples where ease-of-use is be perceived differently when the primary users of the system are teachers rather than students?
- Norman says, "When all else fails, Standardize." As educators, should we allow for all else to fail in the design of instruction? When and why?
- Norman says, "The advent of hypertext is apt to make writing much more difficult, not easier." What are your thoughts on hypertext 10 years after Norman's statement.
- The Internet continually grows larger by the second. I just used a search engine to search for my homepage and it came back with over 10,000 "hits". I wasn't listed in the top 50 (I gave up at 50!). How can instruction be designed to utilize the Internet?
Questions for: In The Plex: How Google Thinks, Works, and Shapes Our Lives by Steven Levy
- Chapter 1 - The World According to Google:
Chapter 2 - Googlenomics: Cracking the Code on Internet Profits
- Describe PageRank, why was it developed where did the name came from? Why it is important?
- From the start of Google in the late 90´s, Page and Brin started to work together in shaping their business idea, the group wished to keep a fresh spirit in the company. What is the Google culture, how was the culture created and promoted?
- What did Krhisna Brahat bring to the Google adventure?
Chapter 3 - Don't Be Evil: How Google Built its Culture
- Google was very selective about including ads on their search pages because they wanted their website to be as user friendly as possible. As a Google user, do you feel like Google has been successful in accomplishing this goal?
- The atmosphere of Google's working environment may be in some ways similar to the atmosphere at Pixar as depicted in the Finding Nemo video. Does this atmosphere / culture aids in the success of the employees and the end products? Should schools try to replicate this type of atmosphere for their faculty and students? If not, what type of atmosphere is likely to create the greatest success in schools?
- To keep their funding the Google founders had to choose someone as CEO and designate themselves with specific roles or titles for themselves. How important do you think defined roles are in Google or for that matter in educational institutions? Why?
Chapter 4 - Google's Cloud: Building Data Centers the Hold Everything Ever Written
- WThe author described Larry Page and Sergey Brin, the founders of Google, as “Montessori kids” who challenged authority and he argues that their Montessori background influenced Google’s culture. What is the Montessori style of education and how can it influence success in schools and other settings?
- Google admires liberty and acts with minimum authority. This free spirit led the company to design creative products. Among all Google’s services or products, which is the most innovative design? Which is most influential for education.
- There are 10 principles that make a design “Googley.” http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2008/04/what-makes-design-googley.html. Are any of these “Googley” principles similar to Donald Norman’s design principles?
Chapter 5 - Outside the Box: The Google Phone Company and The Google TV Company
- When Gmail was released the founders of Google were surprised that Gmail received negative feedback due to Google's use of AdSense to display advertisements related to email content. Many people felt that scanning emails was a violation of their privacy. Despite initial criticism, Gmail has been a huge success for Google. Do you use Gmail? If so how do you feel about Google's use of AdSense in personal email accounts?
- Google eventually decided to build its own data centers as a way to increase reliability and efficiency, but also to increase their storage and processing capacity. The founders envision a future where everything can be done in the cloud. Do you believe that their idea is attainable or practical? If so, how close do you think we are to achieving their vision?
- When developing their own web browser “Chrome” there was some discussion about whether the development of Chrome was a betrayal of the understanding they had with Mozilla’s Firefox. Was this development gainst Google’s "do no evil” policy. Do you think Google lived up to its company policy in its dealings with Mozilla? Why or Why not?
Chapter 6 - GuGe: Googles Moral Dilema in China
- A veteran of Apple built the Android company which Google bought in 2005. Since then, new moble devices from Google have been released. Have you or your friends used a Google's Android phone? If so, please state the advantages / disadvantages of the Android compared to your current phone.
- Google launched Google Voice in 2009. Describe google voice and how it works. What is Youtube and why is it much popular than Google Voice.
- Describe Google's "brain drain" what causes it and how it is being addressed.
Chapter 7 - Google.gov Is What's Good for Google Good for the Government
- Google promised to go as far as 5000 years with China as opposed to a country with 5000 years of history. However, Google retreated around the fifth year. Google was expecting China to be less restrictive with time, but Google seems to eventually claim that China is doing the opposite. Was China really being more restrictive? or was it just that China didn't allow a quick and robust success that Google is used to?
- Google executives in China worked hard to maintain common grounds between Google Corporation and Chinese Government that was too mutually exclusive. Part of that lead Google to compromise some of it values. Google claimed that doing so is better for Chinese customers than not offering them the service at all. Did Google make a good ethical judgment in this regard? Or Google should've strongly defended its values and a more ethical decision would've been insisting to have no restrictions as a condition to offer Google search in China?
- There are many circumstances as to the reasons that led to Google's shutdown in China. It seemed to be a fierce and on going battle since the beginning, and all the way to the end. Challenges included maintaining Googles values of openness in a highly controlled country, gaining a sufficient marketshare and become the leader, and becoming a target of sophisticated cyber attacks and actually significantly breached by one of them. Under these circumstances, and if you were the president of google, would you also choose to shutdown google? or what else would you do?
- Google gave engineers the freedom to dream. Also, it gave engineers the power to do whatever they want to do. Do you think that helps the government in general? why and why not?
- Do you agree that the government and Google have been found themselves targets by companies?
- Google is using only public information that is no longer true. How is that effect in both government and Google?