Why is Educational Technology so Inelegant?

In this IHE blog post Joshua Kim asks a simple question: why isn’t educational technology more elegant? The answer, I suspect, has to do with the way the EdTech market works: most of the purchases are done by people who don’t actually use the software and most of the users don’t have a choice about what software to use. 

A common pathology in higher education is that decision-makers get to impose decisions on staff, faculty, and students with little accountability. The tracking of outputs and outcomes related to inputs is so lax that the costs of decisions are impossible to ascertain.  

I’ve proposed what I call the “iPhone test” as a thought experiment for those who want to do better: the next time you are buying software for faculty or working up a policy on course revisions or designing a form for students to fill out, imagine that people are free to ignore it or have to pay $100 to use it. Can you make it elegant enough vis-à-vis their daily work that they would?  Can you design it in such a manner that the main reaction is “this is cool”?