When it comes to technology, I’m a failure1. It’s true. And I’m okay with that. In fact, I’m proud of it.
Many people assume that because I work with technology on a daily basis, that I know everything about everything. I don’t. Not even close2.
So if you ask me, “How do I use this new app?” the answer is probably going to be, “I have no idea, but let’s find out.” And I will give it a try, and probably fail, so I’ll try again and again, until I figure it out (or tell you that the app stinks and you should find another one – hey, not all failures are the user’s fault3).
Look, I get it. You’re a teacher, the master of your domain. You stand in front of your class each day, 100% certain that you know more about your subject than any of the students in front of you. But when it comes to technology, that confidence evaporates. You wonder what the kids will think if4 you try to use technology and it fails — or you do.
I will tell you this: I stand in front of my class each day, 100% certain that I know more about my subject than any of the students in front of me. And yet I fail on a daily basis in front of my students. I say, “I don’t know” an awful lot. They look to me for the answers, and I scratch my head.
I’m certain many of you, if not most of you, have heard me say that: I don’t know5.
I don’t say it because I enjoy looking ignorant. I don’t say it to annoy you6. I say it because I really, truly don’t know. But I am absolutely willing to try to figure it out.
For me, failure isn’t an option; it’s a requirement. I expect each student in my class to try things, and fail. I know that they have learned more from failure and the successive self-discovery and revelation that follows than from any lecture I’ve given or PowerPoint I’ve shown. I’m just there to guide them, to steer them in the right direction before they get too far off course and take a one-way trip to Frustrationville7.
So please, do me a favor: go forth and fail. Fail spectacularly, fail publically, fail in small ways, fail in private. Just fail. And then succeed.
Don’t forget to check out the accompanying infographic: http://goo.gl/wEZLt7 Join me next week, as I have a gift for everyone!
1 I saw you nodding your head.
2 You can stop nodding your head now.
3 99% isn’t “all”
5 How many times have I said it? I don’t know.
7 The traffic there is terrible.
So I got on my BlackBerry yesterday and checked my MySpace account, and… wait. Sorry, I forgot this is 2014.
BlackBerry and MySpace are still around, but they’re now mere footnotes1 in the brief history of tech fads.
There is no way of telling how long a certain web site or app will be around, no matter how popular it is.
BlackBerry absolutely dominated2 the business world and the smartphone market. MySpace was once valued at $12 billion3 (yes, that’s billion, with a “b”). For one reason or another, they refused or were unable to evolve quickly enough, and failed to maintain their market dominance. This is not an uncommon story. In fact, it’s more the rule than the exception.
Every day, new companies are formed, announcements are made, trumpets sound and the early adopters dip their feet in the water to see what the new service/app/site/gadget is all about. Maybe it catches on and gains a foothold that leads to a better sense of permanence. Much more likely, it doesn’t. And while these new companies and new products are being formed, an equal amount is quietly fading into obscurity and eventual abandonment.
This is technology. It comes from a culture that not only embraces change, but manufactures it, relies on it, and spurs it onward ever faster. If you fall in love with something, that’s great — but it might not be around tomorrow.
For every Amazon and Facebook, there’s a Pets.com and a MySpace.
So my advice to you is this: try new things, fall in love with them, but don’t marry them. Don’t be afraid to go all-in, but at the same time, you need to be prepared to bail out — or be forcefully ejected against your will — and move on to something else.
And who knows? Maybe the next thing you stumble across will be ever better — and stick around for the long haul.
Be sure to check out this week’s infographic, and check back next week to find out why I’m a failure.
1 Some footnotes are good, like these ones.
2 Nearly 47% of the market share. Now? About 5%. Conclusion: 5% of smartphone users are very stubborn.
3 You could probably buy MySpace for 50 cents and a candy bar now.
Technology in education is a fad. It’ll pass.
I hear that a lot. And it’s true that technology in education is a fad. Everyone wants to get a piece of the tech-ed pie, from Google to Microsoft to a million other companies and tech startups. Technology in education is the topic du jour1, and not just within the educational community.
So if technology is a fad, why embrace it? Why not just wait for it to go away? Because it’s not going to.2