Throughout all our conversations and exchanges we heard over and over the sense that a risk averse fear of failure was both a result of past mistaken policies and a powerful barrier to progress.
Rightly or wrongly individuals and institutions seemed to be saying “it is safer to try nothing than to try and fail”. This is particularly acute where the responsibility for innovation sits solely on the shoulders of an individual rather than managed change being a strategic part of the development of a whole school, college or university. Perhaps this is a rather British failing, but the sense was of a single failure potentially blighting a reputation.
This is an area where we would seek to shout out loud and clear that faced with the certainty of uncertainty and the constancy of change, the greatest risk, the most reckless course, lies in trying nothing new. We would and should expect occasional failure. Properly observed, professionally managed, collegially shared, a little failure is a necessary step in progress. Which is not to say that constant and abject failure is tolerable or useful. But in, for example, quality assuring an institution, an element of risk and discovery – of research – would surely always be a pre-requisite of the highest quality of practice in an educational organisation?
Trying nothing new is reckless and dangerous. It puts our economy, our political stability, our wellbeing at risk and it is a sad way to extinguish joy in learning, both for students and for learning professionals. To make the necessary progress with digital technologies in learning “try something new” is a mantra to be embraced (joyfully!) by all, including all organisations and institutions, supported within a culture of organisational growth.