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Phil Greaney

Yes - I agree wholeheartedly with your warning. The problem we find is that we're meant to be able to make mistakes, of which bad ideas are sometimes the result. How do we prevent that? One idea, to follow your example of net gen, I would say minimise intuition wherever possible, unless you plan to explore that hunch with research and evidence. Often our intuition is wrong (see Dave McRaney's 'You're Not So Smart') or what we're doing isn't intuition at all (Gladwell's 'Blink'). Intuition is the start, not the end, of a good idea.

I find this phenomenon of the freely distributed 'bad idea' most often found in conferences (but not all of them, of course). I don't want to be churlish but when I find someone say 'we need to tinker more' or ' we need to encourage flow in the classroom' (and the subsequent retweets: ideas like this are popular) I wonder how far this is a useful approach. Perhaps it's the format: perhaps conferences are best suited to 'big ideas' that cannot necessarily be explained in such a short time.

Similarly, if you an idea accompanied by 'The [X] is dead' or '20 Reasons Why Everything You Thought About [X] is Wrong' (where 'x' is the latest would-be meme) then it's linkbait at best, and probably a good idea to avoid it.


You've hit the nail on the head there Martin.

Can't help but think of free market fundamentalism as another good bad idea, with horrifying nightmares far worse and more persistent even than the human centipede...


I saw the Human Centipede trailer at this weird YouTube party led by Douglas Coupland, had nearly recovered, and now this post takes me back there...

But not only is the persistence of the horrific imagery in the film an apt metaphor for bad ideas and how they stick around... the title itself might serve as a useful shorthand. Like, "it seemed a bit premature to blow the entire 2012 tech budget on building a learning object repository, but someone said it was the next big thing, and then the human centipede effect kicked in, and next thing we knew..."


@Phil - yes, you're quite right, catchy bad ideas are the price we pay for thinking out loud, and that's fine. I guess we should be suspicious when people are making their careers out of perpetuating it, and so desperately need it to be true. In one sense this is just a good example of academic rigour - someone proposes an idea that has appeal, we go away and look at it and find the real picture. But the idea still sticks. I'm an external on a Masters course and the number of thesis which start with something like "Digital natives are different to the generation that have gone before them..." and quote Prensky as fact.
@Brian - you go to more exciting parties than I do. No pineapple and cheese on a stick and warm can of lager there. I could have extended the analogy to Human Centipede more, but started feeling queasy.

Joel Greenberg

Nice blog Martin. Your next visit to an Educause event could be interesting.


A stroll through the comments on the Net Gen Skeptic blog (http://www.netgenskeptic.com/) reveals how unpopular it was to challenge the digital natives discourse circa 2008/09. We called it the "snark syndrome" (say it 3x and it's true), which was first a term first used by Byrne (1993)-via Lewis Carroll-in her discussion of women in science, later used by other researchers in talking about education research, in this case peer reviewed, that snowballed into good bad ideas. So peer review isn't necessarily a filter to say the least.

@Joel Greenburg Educause certainly didn't want to accept our proposal in about 2008/2009 based on our own research (http://digitallearners.ca/) which would have been a contrasting voice to one of the keynotes they ran that year...so your comment might not be far off:-)

AIT-1 Tape

Any idea have some worth and if pick a wrong idea so you must have to pay the price of it.

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