It’s not a PICNIC

Problem In Chair, Not In Computer

Problem In Chair, Not In Computer

PICNIC  (Problem In Chair, Not In Computer) is a term used by computer techies to describe people who are having problems with their computer. The assumption behind the term is that the computer is right, and the user is wrong. Perhaps geeks feel that computers needs defending. I don’t. I think users need to be looked after better.


The automatic assumption that people struggling with a computer are stupid, untrained, illiterate etc is an arrogant conceit. The user experience (UX)  and the user interface (UI) is determined by the techies, geeks and coders responsible for putting the interface together. Blaming users for not understanding their design is misplaced.


I’d argue that we need to be looking at PICNIC the other way around. Computers should develop and evolve so that the needs of the person in the chair, the user are put first before the technology. A great user experience on a computer’s depends on the usability, accessibility and  pleasure between the user and their device. That’s user interface determines how long that positive experience remains.


As a teacher, and an ed techie, I’m interested in how teachers and students can make better use of their computers. But you’ll never here me use the term PICNIC. Don’t assume that technology is right and your teachers or students are at fault. This is mistake. Although I spend lots of my time coding behind a computer, and lots of my night churning over the problems I encountered while designing or coding, my interest really lies in understanding peoples learning interactions with ICT.


I’ve noticed that in educational circles, the learning is usually focused around the content, or the teacher, but vary rarely around learner him / herself and understanding their particular needs. Defining the particular problem that the learner faces is half of the battle won. Then you can move forward and collect relevant resources that address this need and design and develop an appropriate learning experience.


This process can be both messy and recursive, and certainly is no PICNIC. But if we really want our students to understand what they are learning, then we need to understand our students.