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

February 25, 2013

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.