SEP and virtual invisibility

The late Douglas Adams (1997), author of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, uncovered an important principle relevant to educational technology–The Someone Else’s Problem (SEP) field. The SEP is a fictional technology that can make something “virtually invisible” because we think it is somebody else’s problem. It is not that the object in question really vanishes. It does not. It may in fact even catch you by surprise out of the corner of your eye. The idea of the SEP is that once we consider something as being outside of the arena of our concerns, that something, for all practical purposes, ceases to exist. The SEP may be a fictional construct, but something similar happens sometimes when educators meet technology. Consider for instance the following quote taken from a faculty member:

 I don't know a lot about the technical stuff of the computer. I
 don't feel like I want to know that, or need to know that.... I
 don't need to know how to compress stuff and, you know, other people
 can do that. That's not what I wanna do. I don't know how the
 telephone works either. Nor do I care (Dr. Shaker, interview, May 2,
 2001). (2)

Source: With a little help from your students: a new model for faculty development and online course design. (MATTHEW J. KOEHLER (1), PUNYASHLOKE MISHRA, KATHRYN HERSHEY, AND LISA PERUSKI)


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