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Monday, March 31, 2008

Life is Mostly an Open Book Test

There has been wonderful discussion with a few folks around my post: Life is an Open Book Test. The most recent was a comment by Bill Brantley who generally agreed, but added:
In Boy Scouts, I use to teach wilderness survival which required a lot of memorization. You couldn't count on having the Boy Scout Manual with you during a survival situation so I had the students memorize what plants were edible, different ways to purify water, and first aid techniques.

So, life can be an open book test or a closed book test depending on the situation.
So, he made me go back and change my slide to say Life is MOSTLY an Open Book Test.

Of course, that's really more in line with I'm really saying - it's all about anticipated information needs. The right answer depends on where and when you need the information and what your expectation is around what you have available. What's changed is that we more often have some kind of computer probably with web access which gives us access to a ton of information and people - that definitely changes the thinking about what you have to have in your head.


Anonymous said...


I thought about your first post when I read it last week. I know that "Life is an Open Book." where the ending has yet to be written. Life can also be a series of tests. I struggled with the concept of combining the two to create the "Life is an Open Book Test" that you suggested.

I have to agree with Bill, it is only an open book when you have instant access to a resource like the Internet. Take away the Internet and see what happens.

I use a PDA to keep track of appointments, recent email messages, and directions. But, when I am going somewhere special, I like to have a printout with information about where I am going, when to get there, and who to call for information. The other week, I was in a hurry and didn't have time to print a copy of the directions. I had used my PDA extensively during the week and had not recharged it lately. When I went to look up the information, the battery was dead. I had to go on my personal memory to get where I was going.

I love having instant access to information, and when I am working at my, I know that I have the available resources to find solutions. But away from my desk, I need to be more independent and have the solutions memorized. Even if I had mobile internet access, it only works when the battery is charged and in certain urban settings.

Unknown said...

Ah, we’ve got to remember the time before technology!

I agree life is mostly an open book test; however the open book part is only an advantage when we can manage our resources and ask meaningful questions. And, what about the people around us? They’re resources too. Technology is important, but so are other forms of “help” especially given technology has its limits.

I really enjoyed your original article. Being home schooled through jr. high and high school, I can appreciate how little advantage there is in having an open book test if you can’t manage the material inside a book or inside your head.

Tony Karrer said...

Funny, but what was "life before technology" - after all, a pencil and paper is technology. Even the stick that you scratch things on cave walls or possibly even language itself is technology.

The difference today is that it changes so much faster.

Unknown said...

I’m afraid my post came across as someone pining for the old days. This couldn’t be further from the truth. I love technology especially eLearning. Being in the tech industry, I get concerned that many around me focus on how technology makes life easier blind to the idea that it may do just the opposite--make life more complicated. I can hardly stand being too far away from my email for example, but, like I’m sure many of you, I work with a team of people all over the globe which is a direct result of technology. I like your original post because it got me thinking about ways we can harness the power of technology instead of it zooming over the top of us--or me. Many already said this, and I agree—an open book test isn’t always the easiest.

I’m new to blogging and posting comments to blogs. I’m here because I’m feeling starved for new ideas, conversations with other instructional designers, and just a chance to learn new concepts and ideas. My company isn't spending money on training at the moment and I need to keep growing. I’m enjoying reading your blog and learning so much about design and technology!! And you respond so fast! :)

Tony Karrer said...

Hey Seabiscuit, I'm enjoying the exchanges. It's a big reason I blog.

By the way, you might check out the Learning Circuits Big Question as a way to engage as well.

Of course, the best way to address your "feeling starved for new ideas, conversations with other instructional designers, and just a chance to learn new concepts and ideas."

Is to blog. I'm afraid since you go by the moniker - Seabiscuit - that I don't know if you already blog. If you don't then it really addresses several of your issues.