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 things that are simple rather than things that are easy.

I contend that we do this in the education world, when dealing with technology. We go through our days doing the simple things rather than the 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. Whether it’s a quiz, a document, a spreadsheet, a presentation, etc., teachers have to create this assignment.

Even if that means posting the assignment in a learning management system, the task is not as simple as passing out papers. 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, this task might be impossible.

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 up front. 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. In the midst of a global pandemic, their stress levels haven’t lowered. They’ve raised.

And expectations are higher than ever. So when teachers are faced with change after change after changed and dealing 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 own version of “easy” and help you spread the work to others.

What will you choose? Simple or easy?

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