Usability vs solid IT

I'm just writing a quick post this morning since I'm in a motel room with 4 kids off the Jersey Turnpike getting ready to finish my drive home to Massachusetts. However, I'm writing on a lovely unsecured wireless connection that the motel provides.

I'm just writing a quick post this morning since I'm in a motel room with 4 kids off the Jersey Turnpike getting ready to finish my drive home to Massachusetts. However, I'm writing on a lovely unsecured wireless connection that the motel provides. Last week I read George Ou's piece on securing a wireless LAN and he made a point particularly germane to Ed Tech:

Hotspots face the classic convenience and usability versus security tradeoff and 999 out of 1000 times the Hotspot will choose convenience and usability.

Sure, I had to get a password from the front desk, but it's preprinted on a card and happens to be the same as everyone else's. I have no doubt that anyone who wanted to could probably post me on the Wall of Sheep George mentioned. Obviously, I'm being careful about the sites I access, but it is wide open, no matter how conscientious I might be.

The point is that if something isn't easy to use, people won't use it. This is probably more true in educational technology than anywhere else since most teachers lag behind the average road warrior in terms of IT savvy. While there are a myriad of tech tools that can make teachers more efficient and better-connected, they have to be really, really easy. Whether it's a Linux rollout in which we just can't expect teachers to learn commands on a command line, or new printers that need to be pushed down to teacher computers, or wireless networks to which they need to connect seamlessly, ease of use must certainly prevail.

While I'd love to just educate all of the staff in my school and turn them into power users, those of us in Ed Tech have a greater obligation to make the tools easy. Everyone, especially our students, will benefit. Sometimes, the very best IT solution may need to be compromised for the best Educational IT solution. Talk back below and give us some suggestions on ways that you have made tech especially accessible for your users.