What Google finds

A question comes up about the way version 2.1 of TrainerTorment corrupts the print queue when the QuizMaker and TutorConfig windows are open simultaneously. A Google search only finds pages for retailers of TrainerTorment and bloggers ranting against the product. The company only has a few pages announcing version 2.2 to be released next month. There's no wiki, blogs, PDF's, tutorials, chat or IM links to support the product. There's no listserv of users functioning like a community of practice to troubleshoot problems and formulate workarounds. Secondary content developers have passed up the opportunity to develop videos or other multimedia for new and experienced users of TrainerTorment.

In situations like this fantasy, free range chickens are facing starvation. There is no food supply to satisfy their appetite for tech notes and user support. The web regards the company as a weak node to be isolated, instead of a robust node to form many links to. The users are imbedded in a low performance network and suffering the consequences. Freedom has it's costs.

When leaving the barnyard of delivered content, independence is replaced by interdependence. It's very clear we are all in this together. The chain is only as good as the weakest link until new nodes and links can bypass it. Individuals are at the mercy of what emerges collectively. Users evacuate and migrate en masse as support systems come about. Free range learners do not develop competencies using the software. They learn to abandon the product in swarms.

As we consider new roles for educational products, instructional designs and eLearning use of Web 2.0 tools, we need to think of what Google finds when learners search for support and discover what to abandon.

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