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« New to Web 2.0? Here is a Book Review of a Great Book For You -- by Mike Nardine | Main | Thinking About My Thinking About What Makes A Good Conference »
Thursday
Apr012010

Let's Hear It For The Digital Pioneers

#gbl10 Here's a new game you can play next time you attend a conference: see how long it is before someone quotes Edison or Churchill on the meaning of success. Sooner or later someone is going to show a slide with

 "I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work."

(Edison)

or

"Success is the ability to go from failure to failure without losing your enthusiasm."

(Churchill)
Having visions?The Games-Based Learning Conference did not disappoint in this regard, with at least two of the speakers using these quotations to illustrate their talk.

But these quotes are not celebrating success, they are celebrating risk-taking. As a community we do not encourage risk-taking, because we do not celebrate it. We celebrate only success.

Want proof? Where are the ICT Risk-Taking Awards? Where is the Edublog Award for riskiest project undertaken? Exactly. We say we value risk-taking, but we don't live it. We should adopt the philosophy espoused in The Rocky Horror Show:

"Don't dream it; be it."

Last year, Leon Cych used the term 'Digital Pioneer' in the context of the usual sort of discussion involving digital natives and digital immigrants (another couple of expressions you might use in 'Conference Bingo'). There are those of us who are too old to be called digital natives, but are not exactly digital immigrants either. We're the people who hacked through the undergrowth of outmoded teaching methods to experiment with these new-fangled devices called 'desktop computers' and 'modems'. We were the digital pioneers of our generation.

There are digital pioneers in every generation. There are probably digital pioneers in every school. But they are acknowledged and recognised only when they have achieved success, however defined.

If we want to encourage progress, we have to find a way to encourage risk-taking. Not just in the purple haze of a conference setting, after which the keynoters ride off into the sunset to prepare for their next inspirational, feel-good, talk, but in the real world of exam grade, parental and Ofsted pressure.

When will a government agency step up to the plate and really encourage people to be digital pioneers?

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Reader Comments (6)

I asm glad that I am not the only one to play conference bingo - this is a seismic shift you talk of as this needs to be recognised not just by awards but by LAs, SIPs (and therefore NCSL), OFSTED etc. If this happened then we would be light years ahead of where we are now. Would risk taking also include HTs making teaching using ICT an expectation rather than a choice?
April 1, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBill Lord
According to Yoda, "Do, or do not. There is no try." I see the value in that quote; I know that the focus is on believing in yourself. Yet at face value, this quote supports a very different paradigm to one that encourages and values risk taking, an important (even necessary?) habit for those who chart new paths.
April 1, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDamianne President
@Bill I agree about being light years ahead if risk-taking were genuinely sanctioned, even encouraged, And yes, I absolutely believe that teaching using technology, where appropriate, should be seen as an expectation. I said at a recent conference at the Westminster Forum that the current QTS (Qualifying Teacher Standards for non-Brits) set a woefully low expectation of the digital skills new teachers should have.
@Damianne Love the quote! Thx for reminding us of it. It seems to me that all my best teaching moments were the ones where I took a risk of some kind. How do businesses succeed, I mean REALLY succeed? By risk-taking. Encouraging success and the spreading of 'best practice' sounds good, but I think it stifles creativity by discouraging risk-taking. Will write an article about this I think.
Terry, I was intrigued by your paragraph
'There are those of us who are too old to be called digital natives, but are not exactly digital immigrants either. We're the people who hacked through the undergrowth of outmoded teaching methods to experiment with these new-fangled devices called 'desktop computers' and 'modems'. We were the digital pioneers of our generation.'
It seems sad that we cannot put our machetes away just yet, outdated teaching methods still abound!
Oh and that picture, is that a conference delegate reading text from a presenter's PPT slides?
April 1, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDoug Woods
@Doug OMG my sides hurt: I laughed out loud at your comment about the slides! Why didn't I think of using that illustration for my gripe about that in my reflections article http://www.ictineducation.org/home-page/2010/3/31/reflections-on-games-based-learning-2010.html
And yes, I fear we cannot retire our machettes just yet...

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