Tony Hirst at the Open University has put together a nice custom search engine called “How do I…?“. It restricts it’s search to sites that offer “howto” videos, and the few tests I ran on it (how do I upload to flickr and how do I change screen resolution etc ) were pretty successful – ie. a decent answer on the first page. The format encourages a natural language search – you only need to think about what you want to do and then complete the question, How do I…?
Just tried it with How do I… make falafel and it was fine for that as well.
It sparks my curiosity because I’m convinced that we will need a different “model” to support web2.0 and mobile learning – we can’t possibly do it by sending people out to visit users or equipment that are having problems. User’s will certainly need to be more self supporting, but we will also need to show more intelligence in how we provide assistance – knowledgebases and community support (users helping each other) are essential if we’re to consider supporting 10’s of thousands of people using scores of different services (many of which we will have no control over). This is talking about the future obviously, but it will come.
These thoughts dovetailed neatly with a post in moblearn, the informal blog behind the people working for Tribal CTAD. I’m sceptical about the value of authoring tools for mobile learning in F.E (primary maybe), as ubiquitous learning – self documentation – micro-content/reinforcement exercises via twitter et al. seem to be the things that are working: but these are the people linked to the biggest initiative in mobile learning in the sector and this is what they have to say about “support” (their emphasis):
“And what about support? From our experience, we have NEVER had decent technical support from ANY of the phone companies who have supplied the devices.”