Another dot in the blogosphere?

Hearing about or hearing from

Posted on: October 15, 2019

I listened to Trevor Noah’s interview of Malala Yousafzai [Apple podcast] when she appeared on his talk show. I was taken by Malala’s observation that we often hear about refugees but not hear from them.

This nuanced distinction separated a dry news report from a compelling story. It focused less on numbers or statistics and more on human impact.

I often rail against policy makers making poorly-informed decisions, LMS being designed for administration or IT implementation instead of education, and tests measuring short-term gains over long-term impact. All have the about-from distinction.

Policy makers hear about some innovation, but they might not learn about its history or context. LMS providers tell administrators and IT folks about the latest features and cost-savings. Test companies tout the validity and reliability of their questions.

How many hear from their implementers, users, or learners? How many bother to listen? Take this latest Twitter thread, for example.

Bit by bit the stakeholders who are ignored take action. In this case, an LMS company has lost one more customer. It might have heard about the unhappiness from its users, but I doubt that it actually heard from them.

Hearing about is easy — the LMS company can collect the data it has collected about its users. It knows what features are used or not, and if they are used, to what extent.

But hearing from instructors and students is difficult. It means actually conducting interviews and focus groups. It means having lunch with informal but influential leaders. It means taking them seriously.

Hearing from these stakeholders also means learning from them and then making changes that make design and pedagogical sense, not just infrastructural and financial cents.

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