Minimalist EdTech


De-cluttered Pedagogy and Embodied Energy

Not minimalist

This BBC piece about the origins of the de-cluttered household caught my eye: It's a swift and effective overview of architectural minimalism and the cyclical waxing and waning of fashion for de-cluttered interiors. The pendulum has swung towards maximalism and eclecticism for a bit now and perhaps there are hints that is starting to swing back. I suspect the article presents too linear a summary, as there seem always holdouts that can linger on until suddenly becoming “in” again as the pendulum swings back. But this piece got me thinking about how much minimalism is cyclical in other areas outside its home base of architecture and design.


(Does this have anything to do with removing things? Not sure. Just thought it was a cute bunny.)

#minimalism #lessismore #edtech #edtechminimalism #minimalistedtech

This recent piece about the psychological reasons why it might be hard to think of solutions in terms of subtracting something rather than adding features hit home with me. (Of course it did: less is more and all that...) I am particularly fond of their “No-bell”:


I was intrigued by this recent post by Tim Denning where he connects minimalism and a quiet ego. I don't buy that connection, as it seems like an extrovert's misunderstanding of introversion. (I would recommend reading, as complement, Susan Cain's Quiet), but it did get me thinking about how and if “minimalism” translates to quiet. Further, it made me think about how much that metaphor of loudness translates to technology. Some technology seems to yell, other technologies just whisper urgently in your ear, and some others sit quietly until called upon.

A minimalist edtech is often a quieter edtech, both for teachers and for students. But thinking in these terms also might help articulate better how students respond to and interact with educational technologies. Just as some people are more sensitive to the external world than others, and just as some people turn outward or inward with their energies more than others, so too responses to edtech vary greatly depending on your need for or, conversely, tolerance of technological noise.


As it is nearly midterm season, a student asked the other day whether we were going to have a midterm. This tends to be a question from a corner of the Zoom that is a bit... er, clueless. It was in my pitch for the course at the beginning of the term: no midterms, no final. I get applause for that. They do the wave. They profess affection and my immortal glory. (The trade-off is they have to do a fair amount of writing and speaking.)

So, maybe a question that makes me wonder whether anything I've said is being heard out there, but good to reaffirm the plan anyway. No midterm.

I went on to say that I didn't have any high stakes assessments because I didn't think they could be done well remotely. Or, rather, there were more effective uses of our time. And, I added, I also didn't think it was ethical to ask students to install spyware on their computer simply to monitor whether they are taking a test without cheating.