Moving at the Speed of Creativity by Wesley Fryer

Is Baby Duck Syndrome Holding Back Digital Literacy Development at Your School?

Are teachers at your school hesitant to learn how to use new websites, computer platforms, or instructional strategies using new technologies? If so, they may be afflicted with “baby duck syndrome.” According to authors of

Baby Duck Syndrome is a term used to refer to the tendency of computer users to prefer the systems that they learn on, and to reject the unfamiliar. In addition to applying to operating systems, Baby Duck Syndrome applies to software programs, keyboard layouts, and other electronics. This concept has a firm basis in psychology, as many humans have a known preference for maintaining the status quo, rather than exploring new possibilities… This technical term is a reference to the work of Konrad Lorenz, a psychologist who actually studied geese, not ducks, although his work could be generalized to ducks. He learned that when baby birds hatch, they “imprint” on whatever moving thing they first see, whether or not that thing is a parent. Lorenz famously got several clutches of goslings to imprint on him, and there are some charming photographs of Lorenz teaching the young geese how to swim, eat, and perform other tasks.

We tend to “imprint” with the software tools we use first. Authors of the article suggest learning how to do something technological with multiple tools at one (a menu) can help reduce the tendency to have baby duck syndrome. Read more about Konrad Lorenz on Wikipedia.

H/T to my mom, who shared this via her Posterous blog. I think she learned about this from Kim Komando.

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

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One response to “Is Baby Duck Syndrome Holding Back Digital Literacy Development at Your School?”

  1. Eric Avatar

    My wife teaches lifeskills at a charter school and tells me all the time about this “baby duck” syndrome, although I had no idea there was a name to it. Some teachers are really excited about the new technology they’re installing at her school; unfortunately, most are apprehensive about learning the new tools/instructional media and wondering how they’re going to handle it with everything they’ve already got going!