Friday, 4 March 2016

Failure is always an option

"If we are truly invested in helping our learners become 21st century ready, we need to empower them more and then support them in their success and failures. In this way, they will learn to cope with both of those experiences in meaningful ways."
From an EdWeek blog by Starr Sackstein on March 3, 2016 4:55 AM

Failure is important. One of the advantages of delivering learning online is that - if a student gets it wrong - they can be told it's wrong and retake the question without having either to wait for teacher feedback, or turn to the back of the book to check their answers (and in the process being given the right answer).

Please note how I resist the urge to follow this tangent and discourse at length on the inconsistency of teachers who are happy to provide students with a textbook containing all the answers, and think students aren't trustworthy enough to log onto an online system to work.

Please also note how there is a whole other conversation to be had here about how many people lose the option to "get things wrong" in the workplace, and how much responsibility we have to prepare students for that.

I believe two core principles matter when failing is deliberately included in education:
  1. failing is good as long as it is correctly followed up
  2. we should always gear our online learning towards the concept of failure for learning
With online learning you don't have someone to correct you. Imagine a scenario where a student has a question on a screen "Name the two core principles I've chosen to follow today." The student has a text input box which they fill out and submit. On the next screen, regardless of their answer, they are given the two core principles.

So what if they were wrong? In a classroom, if a student provides an answer you discuss it, trying to get them to identify where they got that answer from and correct where they went wrong. In this example though, all you get is a flat contradiction which would be viewed with horror by most teachers.

So what are the options?

Short of Artificial Intelligence, there aren't many that I can think of.

So here's my failure. Do you have any ideas?