Simple or Easy: Edtech Edition

I read Ev William’s brief thoughts on the question of simple or easy. In short, Ev states that we often decide to do simple things rather than easy things.

I contend that we do this in education when dealing with technology. We go through our days doing simple rather than easy things.

It’s simple to pass out papers to a class of students and collect them later. Teachers have done this for decades. But it’s easier to have students complete work in a digital format. Especially when dealing with large numbers of students.

But this task isn’t simple. Teachers have to create what they want the students to complete. Teachers have to create this assignment, whether it’s a quiz, a document, a spreadsheet, a presentation, etc.

Even if that means posting the assignment in a learning management system, the task is not as simple as passing out papers. This task might be impossible for teachers who have been in the classroom since before there were any computers in the classroom, and no one had a school email address.

But that doesn’t mean it’s not easy. It’s not simple.

Simple is comfortable. Simple gets the job done without question.

But easy? Easy might involved work upfront. Easy might involved setting something up or learning a new tool.

And that’s when the issues begin.

Teachers are, in case you didn’t know, stressed out. They always have been. Amid a global pandemic, their stress levels haven’t lowered. They’ve raised.

And expectations are higher than ever. So when teachers face change after change after change and deal with things they’ve never dealt with before (hello, temperature checks & social distancing), why would they not choose to go with simple?

This is the challenge for us in the educational technology world. We have to find ways to encourage easy over simple. We have to be there to support.

We have to understand what teachers are going through. We have to be patient. And we have to accept when some say “no.”

We have to make our own choice of simple or easy. It’s simple to create some videos or documents to support teachers and then walk away.

But it’s easy to support and empower a small group of teachers who will run with their version of “easy” and help you spread the work to others.

What will you choose? Simple or easy?

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