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Monday, March 02, 2015

Too Many Bells and Whistles

I stopped buying fancy appliances. I found that those appliances broke down more often, had parts that were difficult to replace, and were more expensive and less useful. My hand held mixer that cost less than $20 is just what I need rather than the expensive $100+ mixer.

Too many bells and whistles often means too much trouble unless you're becoming an expert in an area, an expert who profits from all the specialized attributes of a high performance appliance, consultant, tech program, or other resource.

The same is true for most technology that young students use--the simpler and more targeted the technology, the better it is for classroom use.

For example, That Quiz is a simple, targeted technology venue that serves students well for independent practice. It's simple and to the point. Use of That Quiz can be more sophisticated if you need it to be, but mainly the simple, straightforward practice is its best resource.

Many LMS systems are too complex upfront. On the other hand, the use of a Google doc is simple, straightforward and serves young children well. It's best to scaffold or nest the resources in a platform.  The "front page" of the platform should include its main focus and benefit in a simple, beautiful form--a form that's easy to access, use, and share. Then the other, more sophisticated and detailed elements of the program can be scaffolded for use as students and educators gain expertise.

Michael Fullan leads learning depth with the 6 C's of Learning
When technology is simple, streamlined, and beautiful, it invites good use and leaves more time for the vigorous, collaborative conversation, creativity, and problem solving that truly empower learning and engage students.

What are your favorite platforms to use with students? How are those platforms simple and straightforward? In what ways are the venues scaffolded or nested to create learning paths that begin simply and later lead to greater levels of detail and sophistication?

As we continue to curate the multiple tools available today, we will ultimately choose the tools that are simple, straightforward, and beautiful--tools that support learning, but don't take away from learning's most important goals: creativity, critical thinking skills, communication, collaboration, character, and citizenship.