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“Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler” –Einstein

I saw the quote below referenced from the AVC blog and thought it apropos for education technology.

The utter simplicity of the iOS home screen is Apple’s innovation. It’s the simplest, most obvious “system” ever designed. It is a false and foolish but widespread misconception that “innovation” goes only in the direction of additional complexity.

I’ve heard some criticisms that the new generation of teacher tools lack sophistication. Simplicity should not be mistaken for simplistic. Because teaching is so complex, education tools, in particular, have suffered from bloated feature sets, non-intuitive interfaces and an utter lack of simplicity. The district purchasing approach exacerbates the problem. The likelihood of districts selecting for the “everything bagel” of education tools only grows when decisions are made by unwieldy committees or RFPs. The problem is these bloated, expensive products designed to be everything to everybody don’t work for anybody – they lack sophistication. Mark Twain said it best, “I didn’t have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead.”

Simple tools are complex, but the complexity is hidden to the user or is behind the design. The teacher-driven edtech revolution has unleashed a demand for innovation that favors simplicity over girth. Educreations, Edmodo, ClassDojo, Goalbook (especially the new Goalbank) and NearPod are great examples. Educators, please add your favorites.

One Response to ““Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler” –Einstein”

  1. Jenny Rankin says:

    I love your comments about design – something not enough people are talking about within the context of ed-tech. http://www.overthecounterdata.com/otcd is 100% focused on this topic. Thanks for a great post.

  2. Vinit Sukhija says:

    I couldn’t agree more. Most, if not all, orgs that actually have simple, intuitive interfaces don’t just have them for the sake of having them; successful product delivery necessitates it!

  3. I agree with the need for simple tools but would add that simple tools are “simple” by nature of their alignment to a clear methodology.

    Districts go for the deluxe version of education tools because they are looking for an answer to improving student achievement.

    Tools will not have an impact until there is a methodology that works to identify and respond to student need. Districts will then buy tools that compliment their methodology rather than buying and hoping for results.

    Check out the Miller Guidance methodology.