How much has teaching and learning really changed in the last 10,000 years? Sure, we have the internet with millions of pages but that’s just a big disorganized library. What about the real stuff of teaching and learning? I don’t think teaching and learning has changed at all, matter of fact I think we’ve lost touch with some very simply truths and technology needs to reflect that.
We’ve always learned in one of two ways: 1. top – down from our parents or an authority figure (a teacher or a boss) or 2. from the other kids in the playground (our colleagues and fellow students). We learn by looking, listening, writing, practicing, repeating, thinking and imitating.
Let’s look at the tools of teaching and learning. All that’s needed is something to “write” on or something that lets us “read” what is to be learned; by read and write I mean things that let us look, listen, write, practice, repeat, think and imitate and today that means text documents, video, audio and pictures.
But the tools we used in the past were really simple: sand, clay, a blackboard or just paper. But now the tools we use are computers or phones. So we don’t carry a slate around with us any longer and the tools (computers and phones) we do carry have gotten more and more complex. But a computer or a phone are just a modern version of the slate. What do you use to replace your finger or a piece of chalk? Today we use software to replace our fingers and chalk and this has led to breeding tools that are themselves more and more complex and difficult to use.
This simply shouldn’t be. If you’re developing software for teachers or for students make it simple. Put yourself in their shoes. Is this something you would want to use yourself? Forget about selling your product (I actually think people who buy education solution are sometimes dazzled by complex products and want to buy the most complex solutions so people keep making more and more complex solutions to sell to them; but that’s a topic for another blog). There are enough people, teachers and learners in the world, 7 billion at last count that what want and need is just the modern equivalent of the slate and a piece of chalk– something simple they can use.
We somehow think that technology will somehow change the way we actually learn or teach. We are humans and changing how we learn would mean changing our very DNA. What can be changed is the tools that make learning and teaching possible.
They need to be simple, intuitive and be so easy to use that everyone can use them – both teachers and students, managers and employees, leaders and soldiers.
OK, you might say I’m biased because I built the easiest to use mobile learning platform in the world – Kedzoh – but damn it, why does everything have to be so complex? Well, I got so mad that I went out and did something about it!