Sunday, May 20, 2007

Appearances and how much they (don't) count

I have just returned from a ladies' retreat. Of course, all sorts of things went on that were important to me, but not many of them have relevance to this blog. One incident that happened early in the weekend, however, serves as an analogy that does belong here.

One of the organisers of the weekend invited anyone who was interested to join her for a short run early on the Saturday morning. I decided to take her up on her offer. Now I haven't run for a long time, due to what appears to have become a permanent problem with my left knee, but I still have all the kit. So, when I appeared at the ridiculous hour of 7:30am on Saturday morning, I was dressed for the occasion. There were only going to be three of us on the run, and the other two were a little intimidated by my apparel. They were wearing an assortment of clothes from Tesco (read Fred Myers or Walmart). I on the other hand, was dressed from head to toe - including (ahem) foundation garments - in proper running gear. Running shorts, running top, running shoes with custom-made insoles. It all added up to a rather expensive and convincing looking ensemble.

But you know what?

I couldn't keep up with them. I am unfit for a start (see my goal meme post) and, to make matters worse, I developed asthma almost straight away (which I normally only do in around June/July) and my knee gave me a lot of gyp. Bless them, the other two kept stopping and waiting for me to catch up.

My point is that it's not about the kit. It's not about looking the part. It's not about impressing people with flashy custom features. It's about delivering the goods. I may have looked the part, my flashy exterior only served to raise expectations which made my below par performance even more noticeable.

When we develop learning resources, we need to bear this in mind. Don't get me wrong, I like aesthetics as much as (possibly more than) the next person - I like my resources to look good, to make a good first impression on the user. But let's face it, for all its good looks, if the resource runs slowly, wheezes and limps along, the user is not likely to want to use it again.

No comments: