Making Mistakes is Important to Learning

Passionate about Learning
Is learning a way of life for you? Do you wake up in the morning with a smile on your face because you are curious about what’s next in technology like new apps and games for your cell phone or computer games?  For me, learning is the reason I wake up in the morning. Each day presents me with opportunities to learn. So, what’s in store for us, today? I am sure you find yourself asking the same question as you start your day.  Yet, life is not always easy because we make mistakes and the consequences are not always pleasant.

Making Mistakes is Part of Life
As a teacher who works with people, I make lots of mistakes throughout the day. I never know what method is appropriate for each of my students. There are so many variables involved in learning, so how do I know what works for each of my students? I am sure I’m not the only one who is aware of his or her mistakes, but how many of us are happy when we make mistakes? Most of us feel very uncomforable when we discover that we erred. Yet for me, mistakes are a blessing because they help me learn how to improve and cater to my students’ individual needs.

According to Heidi Grant Halvorson, Ph.D. we should embrace mistakes and not shy away from them. In fact, we should invite mistakes. Daniel C.Dennett says we should devote time to learning how to make mistakes. George Bernard Shaw (1856 – 1950), said that “While one person hesitates because he feels inferior, the other is busy making mistakes and becoming superior” (quotation page)

Fear of Making Mistakes
Mistakes are key to achieving best practices in implementing technology for instruction and learning. Children have no problem trying things out over and over again until they get them right. Adults may find the process less appealing. Most  adults like to be in control of their surroundings and the tools that they use. They find making mistakes difficult and often embarrassing.  Teachers who are confronted with trying new technologies often have fears of making mistakes.  Teachers need to overcome the fear of making mistakes and learn to embrace their mistakes as learning opportunities.

Teachers, Please Make Mistakes

Teachers need to learn to welcome mistakes as they learn to implement technology into the classroom. Technology can be very intimidating for many teachers because technology requires new learning and new learning comes with trial and error. The integration of technology into the curriculum will not succeed unless teachers are allowed to make mistakes as they practice, explore, conceptualize, and collaborate with their peers and instructors.

Technology at School
My school setting has four computer rooms with Internet access of ten students for each computer. Most students also have Internet connections at home so that the virtual classroom software, which is password protected, can be used for online distance learning. Computer room scheduling is not the problem, teacher motivation is. None of the teachers are using the available technology on a regular basis. Why are teachers not integrating technology in their classrooms? It’s not enough to purchase the equipment, it is also important to have support.

Teachers Need Support
A technology coordinator must organize training and provide ongoing support in the computer room so that teachers gradually learn to feel confident in the computer room. Julian Lynch conducted a research as part of a doctoral study to find out “what issues arise for teachers, particularly non-computer specialist teachers, as they try to incorporate student use of Internet-based technologies into their teaching” (Lynch, 2000). Her results revealed that “human factors involved in the introduction of educational technology were often neglected, with an over-concentration on the provision of hardware and software” (Lynch, 2000). This also fits with my educational school setting where the equipment receives more attention than the teachers’ professional development.

Instructor Experiences with Technology
Apparently, few schools are doing a good job at implementing technology into the face-to-face classroom. Even though the statement was made almost fifteen years ago, it still applies. There are many obstacles facing successful implementation of technology into both the K-12 and higher education schools, today. Instructors at higher education who implement technology into their face-to-face classes by adding online learning, find themselves alienated from other teachers and the school because their universities do require them to use technology. So maybe, schools should let teachers and students bring their own technology devices.

Bring Your Own Device (BYOD)
Schools don’t need to worry about outdated computers at school. Students can bring their own mobile devices to school. Does that mean students can be distracted by them or can the devices be used for effective learning.

Technology is Embraced
Things seem to be a little different at a school in Korea. Watch the following Video and share your thoughts on the Smart School. Will the smart school be adopted by other schools around the world?


Dr. Nellie Deutsch is an education technology and curriculum consultant, faculty at Atlantic University in the MA transpersonal and leadership studies, teacher trainer, researcher, and writer. She organizes Moodle MOOCs and online conferences. She earned her doctorate in education and educational leadership with a specialization in curriculum and instruction from the University of Phoenix Her dissertation research (available on ProQuest & Amazon) focused on instructor experiences with integrating technology in blended learning contexts in higher education around the world. Nellie offers free teacher training courses on teaching with technology, action research and Moodle for teacher courses to new, veteran, and future teachers who wish to teach online, face-to-face or in blended learning formats. She also provides online courses to teachers and ICT people on how to be administrators of Moodle websites. She integrates Moodle and WizIQ live virtual classes in all her courses.

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