Learning from Failure

This week in my MSU class I was part of small group working on a giant problem – how to get students to see failure as a learning tool. This idea started the 2013 NMC Horizon Project Summit, which discussed many wicked problems in education. One of them was allowing failure to serve as a learning tool towards success. The quote that stuck out to me while reading about The Future of Education was “learning is all about risk, but learning institutions are anything but risk tolerant”.


My group (three other educators) brainstormed virtually on how to help students treat failure as a necessary and helpful learning tool in the classroom. Along the way we had to remind ourselves that failure is okay and part of the process. Our meetings didn’t record as planned, audio was more difficult than expected to place into the mashup, and some comments on Google Docs were missed. However, at the end of the experience I believe that my group and I came up with some wonderful suggestions and visuals to help students, of all ages, learn to learn from failure. Check out our Blendspace for more information.

Our ideas expanded on James Paul Gee’s idea of students trying again and again (and again …) while trying to beat a difficult video game, but don’t show the same grit in school. We came up with a rubric for teachers and students to use that leads students through a feedback loop and assesses their attempts without a grade on the material until the end, when they’ve had a lot of time and feedback. If you have any suggestions or stories about how you help students learn through failure please comment and let me know!



Chua, Celestine. (2013, November 11). Success and Failure [Feature Picture]. Retrieved from https://www.flickr.com/photos/celestinechua/10797838426/in/photolist-7jod9o-7vR5pH-5tCATs-qKut4-56xtz1-aRW4n-4DhmZz-aRv9fK-any4oT-hsaKb3-9jt4iL-fEFbbk-d4fbZh-9beqom-8Xdq3A-xpcC-7XiTN8-5uKBt2-dxJq6r-9jq8gk-ComFW-9mwWR3-4tCELz-6rtMaL-9jtcWA-9jtdAy-4tDKMe-9jq94Z-9qExkL-4LoHCL-8kSF6-2heHCF-e7UAuF-9cEokr-c91QF-5gJKh-9jq164-9jq2Yi-9jt7P9-9jq5Up-9jt8iW-9jpYC2-9jq3Lt-9jq4zk-cHscNU-96L1k4-aC5dMS-4q2g13-4q2b3W-4PbmV6

StormKatt. (2012, December 1). Failure [Picture]. Retrieved from https://www.flickr.com/photos/stormkatt/8235365437/in/photolist-yDZmp-9w3xa-9jktKi-fMJabv-aeZWUY-7RrjPg-44idF5-dxJpeg-dwWHw5-nVdB9X-fJFVeE-6bKGE9-7He5Fa-CXBv3-6S8jo9-aoWxVG-FDWDs-65guvE-7axGNN-9jqbQZ-4tCE16-igoPpc-9jtgc9-9Aoswy-fJpnNK-fJFUWS-fJpnTV-ogZXX-L7Dj6-7orBcT-5YLwJ8-yDZq6-9mQt6W-6DXx5d-4Edzge-9iMybX-9jqaUa-9mMkVB-nSEBw2-nSwCPW-8j1HQ7-nAaPWa-yDZrq-yDZoo-nAb1yb-nUrYMa-nSnxiT-2Tz4Z9-cBdvPJ-nSnxkB

The New Media Consortium. (2013). The future of education: The 2013 NMC Horizon Project Summit communiqué. Retrieved from http://www.nmc.org/pdf/2013-Horizon-Project-Summit-Communique.pdf

Williams, Gareth. (2010, October 30). The Wit and Wisdom of Winston – Oct 2010 – Westerham Pub Wall – Those Two Imposters [Picture]. Retieved from https://www.flickr.com/photos/gareth1953/5219326886/in/photolist-8Xdq3A-xpcC-7XiTN8-5uKBt2-dxJq6r-9jq8gk-ComFW-9mwWR3-4tCELz-6rtMaL-9jtcWA-9jtdAy-4tDKMe-9jq94Z-9qExkL-4LoHCL-8kSF6-2heHCF-e7UAuF-9cEokr-c91QF-5gJKh-9jq164-9jq2Yi-9jt7P9-9jq5Up-9jt8iW-9jpYC2-9jq3Lt-9jq4zk-cHscNU-96L1k4-aC5dMS-4q2g13-4q2b3W-4PbmV6-i7PxM6-zHYJ8-g5axJ-nS675K-e2fQKB-9vs5dY-9XGLRZ-nCWBUx-8dy4pa-o5dmFR-8LLZbB-4pq5vm-3g2ZyV-7wpiWw 

Try widening your social media diet today!

Adding Information To My Diet

This week Gee asked an interesting question of, “What if human minds are not meant to think for themselves by themselves, but, rather, to integrate with tools and other people’s minds to make a mind of minds?” in Anti-Education Era. (Gee, 2013, p.153) He talks about “affinity spaces” where any person with passion can contribute productively. (Gee, 2013, p. 173-177) I am not an expert yet in any of these spaces, but I’m working towards that. My PLC at work is a space (virtual and in-person) where I contribute ideas to the group to better our school procedures, policies, and lessons.

Conversations in Social Media

Thinking about my possible affinity spaces led to me thinking about my “information diet”, where I gather my news and ideas from others. Every morning when I’m waking up I go through a list of apps on my phone: Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, SnapChat, and Gmail. I read information from friends or sites usually with similar views than me. This is probably true of most people on the internet where we go to “ideologically driven sites where people echo each other’s views and values endlessly and mindlessly”. (Gee, 2013, p.163)

I was challenged this week to look for new sources of information that think differently than I do on educational issues. I decided to follow people on Twitter that I normally wouldn’t:

Scorebuster is a Twitter account focused on the SAT. I avoid reading about standard tests in hopes to forget their existence and remain in my “bubble” of fellow high-risk-test haters. They tweeted an article about how the SAT is redoing the test to match the common core standards and “let students from all backgrounds show what they really know, not just what they’ve memorized in prepping”. Had I stopped after the first paragraph, as I frequently do when my views are challenged, I would have gotten the wrong impression and assumed that “overhaul” was an exaggeration and the SAT would stay pretty much the same.

I also followed Urban Education to stretch my thinking.. I was shocked to see a link to how “3 black teenagers create app that lets citizens document police abuse”. This is not an article that I would normally come across unless a Facebook friend shared it. It’s not something that I, as a white middle class young female, deal with at my virtual school. To see students see a problem (Ferguson) and create a solution (Five-O) collaboratively was wonderful to read about. It opened my thinking and reminded me that if students feel personally connected to material in a classroom amazing things can occur.

I chose to follow a religious educational twitter account as well, Christian Education. I clicked on an article this week that related to my job as an online teacher. It wrote about how online classroom frequently have a more students per teacher ratio to save costs with pros and cons discussed. I challenged myself to read the article many times and process the ideas brought up. I agree that lower class sizes are always helpful, but I see many of my co-workers do amazing things with 100 students virtually attending their classes. Reading the article made me realize that I need to better my understanding of how others view online education, as well as share my personal experiences on the student and teacher end. If I can better understand the draw-backs to online education, I can hopefully purposefully work to correct them in my classroom, much like how Gee explains the many ways people are stupid in order to help educators understand enough to make them smarter.

Try widening your social media diet today!

Try widening your social media diet today!


* Birgerking. (2010, April 13). Social Media Prism – Germany V2.0 [Picture]. Retrieved from https://www.flickr.com/photos/birgerking/4731898939/in/photolist-br5x86-8onC9R-e5wZ3t-8d9dGt-9gXesF-6tXvwF-e1HpQq-d41HES-8az8WH-7ew6Zc-99Wjs1-e1yRKg-aFyhaH-btpW68-e4CDj3-e5CAgW-yv3t2-8KkoYZ-epHEE2-czBUG9-5XNfPs-dUmKE4-6mYWTq-aFy3bt-dZxNRq-9hNywz-6u2DBs-5XJ1Qc-9eVCSc-9MoWtb-9x7H6Z-8bspY4-6DtPYC-axnKy3-7rY7do-8NyVNa-7YNkh5-amC4jN-99BVQZ-4oUWXS-71ZNv4-6u2Dkq-8Bk697-6tXvgR-9FjwKu-6qPE85-7YNkeA-8Q7LSH-8Q7LZ4-8Q7LKc

*Borison, Rebecca. (2014, August 18). 3 Black Teenagers Create App That Lets Citizens Document Police Abuse. YAHOO! Tech. Retrieved from https://www.yahoo.com/tech/3-black-teenagers-create-app-that-lets-citizens-95101775629.html

* Gee, James Paul. (2013). The anti-education era: creating smarter students through digital learning. New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan.

* Gweneth Anne Bronynne Jones. (2013, March 19). Social_Media_Small_Plates13 [Picture]. Retrieved from https://www.flickr.com/photos/info_grrl/8573737018/in/photolist-br5x86-8onC9R-e5wZ3t-9gXesF-6tXvwF-e1HpQq-d41HES-8az8WH-7ew6Zc-99Wjs1-e1yRKg-aFyhaH-btpW68-e4CDj3-e5CAgW-yv3t2-8KkoYZ-epHEE2-czBUG9-8d9dGt-5XNfPs-dUmKE4-amC4jN-6mYWTq-aFy3bt-dZxNRq-9hNywz-6u2DBs-5XJ1Qc-9eVCSc-99BVQZ-9MoWtb-9x7H6Z-8bspY4-4oUWXS-6DtPYC-71ZNv4-axnKy3-6u2Dkq-7rY7do-8Bk697-8NyVNa-6tXvgR-9FjwKu-6qPE85-7YNkeA-7YNkh5-8Q7LSH-8Q7LZ4-8Q7LKc

* Lewis, Darcy. (2014, September 12). How the New SAT Is Trying to Redefine College Readiness. US News & World Report. Retrieved from http://www.usnews.com/education/best-colleges/articles/2014/09/12/how-the-new-sat-is-trying-to-redefine-college-readiness

* Lewis, Michael. (2014, March 6). Does the Student to Faculty Ratio Matter for Online Learning? eLearners.com. Retrieved from http://www.elearners.com/online-education-resources/higher-education-news/does-student-faculty-ratio-matter/

* Pine Tart. (2014, August 9). Five-O! Rate & Review your local law enforcement [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wH-Veei0jQM

Stupid SomeECard

Why People are Stupid

For my graduate class this week we were assigned to read most of the first half of James Paul Gee’s book The Anti-Education Era. If you are not familiar with his work or his ideas I suggest checking him out. He is an educational expert that is a huge promoter for learning through games. I suggest checking out the video below where he talks about how students can learn through gaming. He talks about how people learn things while playing games and then choose to extend their learning when they are passionate about the game. If students can (and do) learn this much from video games – why can’t we incorporate that into education?

In his book The Anti-Education Era, he discusses why people are stupid and the many limitations that prevent us, as humans, from being smart and capable of solving complex problems. I would argue that a lot of the “complex problems” that he speaks about in his book more closely resembles the definition of a “wicked problem” that I learned about last week since they are unsolvable and rely on an excess amount of variables. Some of these problems he discusses are the financial collapse of 2008, religion, universities, global warming, and education in general. If you would like to read more detail about this book and how I relate to the ideas in my teaching please read my short paper.


Edutopia. (2012, March 21). James Paul Gee on Learning with Video Games [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JnEN2Sm4IIQ

Gee, James Paul. (2013). The anti-education era: creating smarter students through digital learning. New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan.

TRF_Mr_Hyde. (2012, June 15). Stupid [Picture]. Retrieved from https://www.flickr.com/photos/scottchene/7340414978