ICT & Computing in Education

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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."



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

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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(c) Terry Freedman