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4 July 2008 / erikduval

Failing in comfort

I spent three days at the EdMedia conference this week and listened to many, many talks… As usual, most people report on success only. Only two folks reported on something that didn’t work out – one of them was my Smart Student Xavier. Seems like we still need to work on making people more comfortable about reporting on research that did not deliver what it aimed to. (Or are we all doing only non-risky, boring research?)

In fact, this should be familiar terrain for researchers in technology enhanced learning. As Pete Reilly writes:

Do our schools create environments likely to reduce the stress level of students so that they can be relaxed enough to try what they fear will not succeed? Teachers, do you make a conscious effort to create a safe and nurturing environment? Administrators, do you create a safe and nurturing environment for your staff aware that what you model in the handling of your staff will often be reflected in the way your staff relates to students?

What do YOU do to make your colleagues and students comfortable with trying risky things and failing? Have YOU published and reported on things you tried that didn’t work? Have you read such papers? Please DO let me know…



Leave a Comment
  1. Daniel Lemire / Jul 5 2008 4:50 am

    1) I do it all the time, in several of my papers.

    2) Most often, I tried several things, one of them (at least) worked, and others did not.

    3) Knowing what works is more valuable than what does not work. There may only be one best way of achieving some results, but thousands of wrong ways.

    4) You are right that people should spend more time reporting failure.

    5) Merely reporting a failure is not a strong contribution.

    6) Reporting that you tried 100 different ways and 99 of them failed, but 1 worked, that’s a contribution!

  2. Daniel Lemire / Jul 5 2008 4:51 am

    Oh. And Semantic Web failed.

  3. Xavier Ochoa / Jul 5 2008 6:50 pm

    The slides our presentation at ED-Media can be viewed and downloaded at:


  1. “How low can you go… [@dailyshoot #ds431] | The University Of Arizona

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