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Posts Tagged ‘fail

Some say that FAIL is an acronym for First Attempt In Learning. So we should encourage all students to fail if they are to learn, right?

Not always. I distinguish between encouraging failure and helping those who fail.

Leveraging on failure should be about developing resilience and a mindset of strategic risk-taking. It is about nurturing these attributes when a learner fails, not about helping them fail.

I state the seemingly obvious — it is not about helping them fail — because I know of teachers here who still set extremely difficult test or examination questions as they do not want students to be over-confident. They are setting students up to stumble face first into humble pie.

There are times when failure should not be the option. Too much might demoralise. Too blind is just ridiculous. This last one is best illustrated in this tweet.

Why follow in the footsteps of others before you and repeat exactly the same mistake? This is unnecessary failure.

Sure, kids stumble all the time. But transfer this idea to learning something that is challenging or planning and implementing systemic change.

No effort is going to be perfect, and you want to learn from mistakes. But you would be foolish to go in monkey see, monkey do, monkey fall off the tree.

It is unethical to intentionally set students up to fail. It is ludicrous if you fail to see why you should NOT maintain this blind practice.

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It was not the fault of Plickers. It was a terrible 0g and SWN connection at a school venue.

Yesterday I planned on using Plickers at a master class to provide a shared experience for 60 teachers. At that point, I wanted them to apply what they had learnt about the SAMR framework for technology use and integration.

In my original plan, I would have just given a mini lecture on SAMR to highlight how one tool could be used at four different levels depending on the mindset, resourcefulness, and pedagogical leanings of the teacher.

What would follow was a Google Forms quiz on the session’s content taken by all participants individually. They would then take the same quiz using Plickers, this time in their assigned groups. The plan was to illustrate how the tool could reinforce old practice or enable new ones due to task design.

My plan and implementation allowed for the mini lecture, but I only had time for one quiz. I opted for the Plickers-based one. Unfortunately, I had to resort to the Google Forms quiz and describing the original plan.

Plickers fail.

The failure was down to two very poor wireless signals. My phone’s signal went from 4G to 3G to almost no bars at the venue, so I could not tether my phone to my laptop. This meant that I could not call up the ‘live’ Plickers page on my laptop’s browser (to show questions) nor use the Plickers app on my phone (to scan code answers).

I bought some time during an activity and managed to get on the school’s wifi — the infamous “segregated wireless network” (SWN) — with the help of a teacher. However, things hardly changed from my run-in with SWN two years ago.

Back then, web pages in my browser were stripped of formatting to look like the web of 1997 instead of 2017. This time around, I kept getting “insecure website” error messages when trying to access Padlet and Plickers. The new Google Sites seemed to work fine though.

Why was Sites secure but Padlet and Plickers insecure? Why were the latter two secure enough minutes ago when I tested them while having lunch offsite? My phone connection, home connection, and Wireless@SG treated Padlet and Plickers as secure. Does the SWN admin know something that every other entity does not?


During the initial activity, I asked teachers to suggest key factors for technology integration. That group highlighted “infrastructure” as one important factor. I can see why. There is no point telling them to integrate technology if their hands are going to be tied by wifi.

To be fair most other schools and educational institutions I visit provide excellent wifi. But even as I acknowledge these hotspots, I also need to point out the notspots.

With Bhutanese educators.

It is 2017 and sadly school wifi woes are still somehow a concern here. I had slow but reliable Internet access when I conducted a weeklong series of workshops in Bhutan in 2010. My experience at yesterday’s school venue was one of time travel. I went back to when I had my dialup modem and someone kept picking up the phone. Connectus interruptus.

I failed to get verified as @ashley on Twitter.

When I read that Twitter was opening up the Twitter verified account to anyone, I thought I would give it a go. Nothing ventured, nothing gained, right?

Apparently, something ventured also led to nothing gained.

I jumped through hoops and provided information in a form. It took a few days for me to receive this rejection email.

Twitter rejection email.

Twitter did not say why I could not get a blue check mark against my handle “at this time”. So, maybe much later?

I can guess why the verification was rejected though. I am not a celebrity Ashley or an otherwise famous one. My account is not of enough public interest.

It does not matter that I have had @ashley since January 2007 and that Twitter is the only social media platform I believe in and am active on.

It does not matter that I have ignored threats and monetary offers for my Twitter handle.

It does not matter that I promote edu-tweeting when I can.

A little over 2000 followers does not pass muster. It is a drop in a celebrity ocean. This is my fault since I block between 30-50 people every day for assorted Twitter sins. Imagine how many I would have it I did not stand my ground.


TNW offered an insightful article about how a social media manager might spend their time doing the work they do. In their bid to beautify the article, someone decided that a graphic was in order.

The graphic looks wonderful at first glance and provides information in bite-sized chunks. But if you take a second look, you might realize that the interconnected gears cannot actually move.

The graphic was meant to illustrate the richness of a social media manager’s work, something that few people understand as hard work. But the graphic also sends a subtle message that attempting to do one of the tasks grinds everything to a halt.

There is a parallel to how some teachers attempt to use technology.

If they focus on the superficial appearance of using technology (e.g., substituting traditional delivery with digital delivery), it might look good to them or non-critical adults observing them. But a careful and extended examination with the lens of learners and learning will reveal why that does not work.

Video source

Words fail: Me.

Words, fail me!

Words fail me.

However you read the title, there is a lot to be said about failure.

We hear enough about how to avoid it. We do not hear enough about embracing or celebrating it. We hear even less about how to actually get up when you fall.

I hope the words in the video inspire you to fail forward.


I have a credit card that combines at least four cards in one.

I used to have to carry that credit card, an ATM card, an EZ-link (bus and train) card, and a cash card (for parking and road tolls). Over time, the credit card company gave me the option of combining all four into one. This was great because it saved space in my wallet.

This was like having a multifunction smartphone (so ironically named because I rarely use it as a phone). Also like a phone, when one key feature stops working, the whole thing becomes a lemon.

I found that out recently when the EZ-link function of my card failed. Not only did I have to step back in time get a separate travel card, I had to use my smartphone to actually talk to people to find out what administrative hoops to jump through.

Reminder 1: What a first world problem to have.

Reminder 2: When one technology fails, there is another technology to back it up. Whether it is the new technology or the newer technology, it is still about connecting with people and making things better.

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