A few weeks ago, I listened to several different people from around the country share some ideas about educational technology programs. The most frequent words used by presenters were "simple" and "easy." I suppose that there is some appeal in that; but, I kept wondering when someone was going to say "meaningful." I would have even settled for "effective."
I understand that there needs to be some room for both. When I buy a can opener, I want one that does the job, but isn't difficult to use. The most important part is that the can opens---I get the result I want from the tool I have in my hand. Someone who sells me a can opener based on how simple it is to use without showing that the tool is able to remove a lid from a can will get no future business from me.
It may be an unfair comparison between a can opener and software for collecting and managing data in schools. I still can't help but think that the bottom line is the same: the tool needs to do the job it was designed for. If it's easy to use, that is a definite bonus---but that aspect should not be the first words out of the mouths of presenters.
It also means that as buyers, we also need to be careful about the questions we ask and the values we communicate. I remember a sign that used to hang in a local store. It had a short list: Cheap, Fast, Good. Underneath that was the instruction for the customer to "Pick Two." I am wondering if our pursuit of Cheap and Fast (Easy), has led to our neglect of Good in education. It would seem well past time for us to insist on quality in our programs instead of taking the easy way out.