Friday, April 23, 2010

Celebrating Failure

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

After thirty-five years in education, I have learned to walk away briskly from failure.

Anyone who tries new things will make mistakes, and if you are my age, you realize that you are wasting precious time if you A) invest more of it in a losing cause B) brood over "ingenious" ideas that do not catch fire with others.

So, I am going to now officially categorize The Blog Squad as an official dud. Last May, I envisioned the Squad this way:

What I would like to establish is something like a "Blog Squad" which would offer
message board help to students who are having specific challenges with wikis, web sites, podcasts, blogs in our classes. Believe me, tons of little issues arise with projects using Web 2.0 apps, and they occur when class is not in session. Usually the problems are easy to solve and do not warrant tying up valuable tech department or class time. I envision that the "club" would initially recruit kids who are adept at Audacity, WikiSpaces, Google Sites, and/or Blogger and give them "genius" (apologies to Apple) status as problem solvers.

But I also promised . . . .

I am also not afraid to declare that I have failed. The plan will die a quick death if a critical mass of users is not achieved by mid-semester. . . .

Well, here is the declaration: I failed.

I tried to run the Squad through a Ning . Faculty and students signed up in droves. . . .But they did not return. I was pretty much the only active participant on the Ning. (No surprise on that score!). But I also realize two other factors. 1) Face-to- face meetings are probably necessary to fire up enthusiasm for a virtual project like this. 2) Students need or expect immediate help for their tech frustrations, and on-the-spot assistance is simply not feasible within a conventional school schedule.

Before bidding adieu to the Squad, let this be noted: when I sent out the call, fellow staff members actually came to my classroom to offer hands on technical help (Ann, Will, Cheryl -- you were awesome). And I have since learned that the best way for students to get on-the-spot help is to place them into groups during project launches and let them teach each other.

Thus, by no means was the Blog Squad a total loss. But instead of trying to pump life into this inert Ning, I'm going to walk away from it and try to apply the lessons learned to my new passion: The Knowledge Hub Project: Unlike Blog Squad, I am evangelizing M-Hub through face-to-face gatherings and identifying student leaders who will hopefully keep our momentum going through next year and beyond.

I'm giving this my best shot. But . . . . If next spring, we are dead in the water, I will abandon ship and venture off in a new direction in a different virtual vessel.


"lydney cannon festival" Flickr Creative Commons photo by the longhairedgit.


WillKnott said...

With your techno vision, there will always be a new direction

Ralph Heath said...

Nice blog site. I must respectfully disagree with your suggestion to walk away briskly from failure. You should run toward it like a fireman who runs toward a burning building. Failure is loaded with learning opportunities if you study it and improve the first and subsequent efforts. I wrote a book on the subject appropriately called Celebrating Failure. Educators in particular have enjoyed the book. Best of luck. Ralph Heath

Larry Baker said...

Willknott, I hope so!

Ralph, same titles, but your metaphor is far more intriguing than mine. You just sold an ebook so that I can learn more. Thanks for contributing.

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