Changing interfaces

An important consideration that ICT (and other technology) trainers need to take into account is the development and proliferation of new interfaces. For our purposes, when we refer to "interfaces," we are referring to the more general use of the term in everyday languageā€”the parts of an ICT a user uses to communicate with the operating system of the ICT. Parts of the interface, under this definition, include the equipment such as the mouse and keyboard as well as the menus, icons, and windows the user navigates when using different computer programs. Interfaces are constantly being updated; they are streamlined to be more user-friendly, they are made more visually appealing, and new and exciting features are added so that the user can accomplish more. The constant updating of user interfaces can be a good thing, but it also poses a problem for ICT trainers, namely: are the classes and training materials applicable across old and new interfaces, or do these things need to be constantly amended every time the interface changes?

The good news is that for some parts of the interface, changes tend to be minimal and do not affect the training at all. This is the most apparent with external equipment such as a keyboard and mouse. Although different technology companies produce different styles of keyboards and mice (with different color schemes, different sizes, and so on), the general use of this equipment is consistent across all interfaces. All keyboards pretty much operate the same way, all traditional mice work similarly, all rollerball mice work like each other, and all touchpad mice work similarly. A well-designed technology class and a well-written training manual will be able to teach older CCRC residents to use this equipment in such a way that, if they are presented with a new set of equipment produced from a different technology company, they will still be able to use it with relative ease.

The external equipment can be an easy part of the interface to teach even with changes and updates, but the parts of the interface a user interacts with on a screen (e.g., menus, icons, and applications) can be a bit more difficult when there are changes. To illustrate this, we present a case study from one of our training classes.

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