Open Thinkering


On the important difference between hitchhiking and bandwagon-jumping.

Double Yellow Lines

Image CC-BY-NC-SA pitty.platsch @ Flickr

I’ll admit it. From 2004 up to about 2007 I was a bandwagon-jumper. I wanted to be the early adopter, the first to use pretty much anything to do with educational technology in the classroom. But that came at a cost. That cost – and it’s difficult for me to admit this to myself – was borne by my students who had a teacher who was too focused on the shiny shiny and not learning outcomes.

The trouble with bandwagon-jumping is that you’re not entirely sure where that bandwagon is headed; whether it fits in with where you want you and your students need to go; whether it’s potentially dangerous territory to head into. The bandwagon may be driven by sensible, rationale people in it for the long-haul, or you could be left stranded in the middle of nowhere by overnight cowboys. That’s not a safe place for teachers or students to be – even in a metaphorical sense.

Much better then to be a hitchhiker. The hitchhiker knows where they want to go. They don’t mind the odd detour or two so long as they get there. Whilst the destination is of ultimate importance, the journey is also important and life-enriching. So too educators who choose to be metaphorical hitchhikers. Sometimes we can ‘go it alone’ with our classes to blaze new trails to destinations, but often it’s better (and safer) to stick with others and figure things out together.

So if others use new technologies, websites and services before me, that’s fine. I’ll use them when it’s time for me to head that way, when my own or my classes investigations necessitate us exploring those areas.

Until then, I’ll leave the bandwagons to others. :-p

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11 thoughts on “On the important difference between hitchhiking and bandwagon-jumping.

  1. A while back I met a guy who commented tongue in cheek that I was an ‘education magpie’. Yes they do take the shiny and new but, they take for a reason. I tend to see the potential or lack of in things that are happening in the e-learning world but they thend to be based on a singular goal. I am not an idealist, I would use the term enlightened pragmatist. I like the vision but can see the pitfalls (however that does not mean we don’t try!) I was recently reading your e-learning strategy. As it is something I have to look at as part of a wider job description I found myself saying “I don’t have the time to look at building one from scratch, I can take that format and amend to my own beliefs and objectives.” Is it finished? not quite I need to put in some costings (pragmatist) but it is there. When it is near a ‘ready’ – in terms of display then I’ll post it out as well. Am I a hitchhiker or just like everyone else a traveller? Surely a hitchhiker piggy backs on the journey made by others where as a traveller, a journeyman follows his/her own destination.

    Oh and Doug – really like the idea of using google apps for schools – let me know how it is going on.


    1. Hi Neil, thanks for the comment. I’ll admit it’s not as simple and straightforward as my hitchhiker/bandwagon-jumper dichotomy would suggest.

      I’ll keep everyone posted on here as to how Google Apps Education Edition goes down at the Academy. We’ve rolled it out to all staff now and I’m doing training on it at various campuses over the next few weeks.

      The fun will start when we roll it out to students! (Sixth Form first…)

  2. Admit it Doug, you’re just jealous you’re not on Wave yet ;)

    But it’s a good point in general, like you I’m looking forward to introducing Google Apps to my school, I feel it’s had several years to bed in as a product. I am confident it is an effective learning & communication tool, and importantly, I’m happy it will be around for some time to come.

    1. Ha ha! This post isn’t actually about Google Wave, Dan. I’d still absolutely love an invite to that. It actually popped into my head after playing about with a new Prezi-like tool that had a difficult-to-use interface.

      Whereas in the past I would have persevered and perhaps got my students using it nonetheless, now I just wait for it to improve!

  3. Hiya Doug,
    I still like think that I’m just starting out – as this is my 3rd year in the classroom, I’m not sure how long I can still get away with that though.
    Your post will probably sound familiar to most people who have been exited by using technology in school. To combat some of the bandwagon dangers I have adopted a personal policy of trying just one thing each term. This applies not only to technology in the classroom but to co-operative learning strategies, aifl techniques and Scotland’s new Curriculum for Excelllence. The trick here is only trying one thing at a time to allow quality reflection and mastery. This term it’s wallwisher. Last term it was using VLE’s. Next term it will be using assessment for assessment as peer evaluation or something along those lines.

    For me the important part of hitchiking is remembering to get out of the car to take time to enjoy the places I’m passing through.

    Thanks for your post,

  4. Let’s all jump on the bandwagon and start using the term ‘hitch hiker’! I agree with what you’re saying – hanging out behind the curve – but have to take issue with the analogy – surely hitch hiking is way too random and vague an activity to relate to planning your use of ICT? Every time I’ve hitched it’s taken 4 times as long to get anywhere, my friends and I argue and it rains.

    Enjoy reading your bog, anyway :-]

  5. Hi Doug, I have just been sent the link to this post afte having talked at the languages show about suing twitter for CPD. I talked about not jumping on bandwagons, but rather get involved in car sharing – safe environment, honest discussion, different drivers but all heading for the same destination whilst trying to be efficient and saving fuel! Great minds think alike???

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