Open Thinkering


A Tale of Two Guest Houses (or, what are you offering your students this academic year?)

I’ve been in Devon this past week. Driving back from Exeter to my inlaws’ house I passed the signs for two guest houses:

Guest house with hot tub and wi-fi

Guest house with 'central heating'!

It got me thinking about the differences in educational opportunities being offered at various schools not only in the same country, but around the world. No doubt, the reason why the guest house at the top in the pictures above is successful is because of the bells and whistles it offers. I should imagine they could get away with relatively poor customer service and offering a ’rounded’ experience as they offer the ‘wow’ factor.

The bottom guest house in the pictures above  is probably still in business due to the personality of the proprietors. The fact that they’re still advertising having central heating and a TV shows how behind the times they are, yet they must offer something the others don’t otherwise they would have gone out of business long ago.

Transferring the above into an educational context, it’s easy to see the parallels. The equivalent of the first guest house is the educator who jumps on every new bandwagon, wanting to test everything so they can say they’ve used the newest tools with their students. The equivalent of the second the educator that eschews completely such technologies and continues by force of personality.

I think our students deserve both: committed, personable teachers who are au fait with technology. I’m sick of the false dichotomy between the two.

I’ll be doing my best to promote educational technology in a way that enhances learning in my role as Director of E-Learning this academic year. What will you be doing? 🙂

4 thoughts on “A Tale of Two Guest Houses (or, what are you offering your students this academic year?)

  1. I think there has to be a happy medium. Personality but a blind refusal to recognise the changes around is worrying and blinkered but then I find grabbing the technology and then trying to find a use, rather than using the technology because it presents the best way to deliver that particular element of learning or develop skills equally troublesome.

    Here’s to the middle ground!

  2. I’ll be teaching the technology to meet the needs of my students. There’ll be no ‘Whistles and Bells’ just a sureness that repeating what’s been taught many times before is not necessarily educating anyone. I teach ICT and have just seen an article where a 9 year old boy, who’ll potentially be coming to my school in some academic year, won a national prize in a schools computer animation competition, using Alice software.

    There’ll be little use for a class full of such students, who could, in many parts of the UK, be facing the epitome of your latter hotel sign, something fairly worn, dated and woefully unattractive.

  3. NIce visual metaphor….I try to keep a healthy skepticism when it comes to new tools…as I don’t think all our “legacy practices” are without merit..and that the newest technology is the “silver bullet” that we’ve been looking for….it’s so easy to drop our knickers for each new piece of fruit that pours off the internet..but that’s not what we’re being paid to do.
    Thanks for the post!

  4. Doug – I love the two photos and I think you’ve hit the nail on the head. It’s been a while since I’ve been in touch since your excellent ‘guest appearance’ at our Innovation and Change Day and I’m now an AHT with an e-Learning portfolio and on my first day at my new school have been asked to present something of my vision which is similar to the one you espouse.

    It’s a school full of teachers who’ve been there 20+ years and certainly haven’t embraced any new technology but I don’t want to come in and dismiss all that they do so it is certainly posing problems for me as a I speak. I thank you for providing some stimulus to my planning as always.

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