What is a Minimalist EdTech?

A minor Manifesto

Minimalist EdTech is about how we choose to use technologies.

Minimalist EdTech is about how teachers and students control technology and knowledgeably manipulate its constraints.

Minimalist EdTech is about putting the practice and practicalities of teaching first, questioning and examining the processes of teaching in light of both new and old technologies.

Minimalist EdTech focuses on people, on teachers and learners, not stuff.

It is, in many cases, a luddite pedagogy and luddite sensibility or pedagogical refusal. It can be a practice of philosophic skepticism, mild contrarianism, or it can be a study in design, human-computer interaction, and classroom anthropology.

Minimalist EdTech is NOT simply giving up and withdrawing. It is not ignorance of technology. It is not retreating to the woods with my typewriters (...as tempting as that is some days).

Choosing not to use a tool, to use a different tool, to control and adapt a technology requires knowing. In many ways, a minimalist EdTech is born only from abundance, from the richness of options. That may seem like a luxury. If it is not a luxury that is widespread, then it is part of a minimalist EdTech to promote accessibility, equality, and access in technology as much as it is a requirement to question technologies so that we all have the luxury of choice.

Minimalist EdTech can also involve deep and sustained investment in technologies. Where technologies make things better, where technologies can be appreciated, adapted, and adopted, we should call that out. Where our practices can put tools to work, that too is Minimalist EdTech

In a broadly expansive view of technology, every tool used in a classroom is a form of tech, from the familiar screens and projectors, to the internet connection we take for granted, to old technologies like a whiteboard or document camera, to human technologies like voice and gestures.

For silicon technologies and software, the past half century has seen exponential integration in classrooms and in the work of education. To the extent that EdTech describes teaching spaces and shapes patterns of behavior, it is imperative to ask not only what those patterns are but also to take a stance on whether we consent or not to such systems of behavior. The burden of proof lies with the stuff and their value. Do these technologies provide a benefit? How does the benefit compare to the burden? And what are the costs, in time, in money, in labor, in environmental impact, in consequences both short and long term?