Saturday, December 17, 2011

Why I'm OK With The Edublog Awards: An Open Response

This began as a comment on Vicki Davis' blog. After finalizing the comment, it seemed more appropriate to bring the response over here. 


Vicki begins:
"Been pondering on rewards and awards. The inevitable onslaught of upset people after the EDublog 2011 award finals has begun.  But some have asked why we should even have awards in education. Shouldn't teaching be reward enough?" ...Please read the entire post here.


Thank you for this post, Vicki. As you know I was very much engaged in that conversation on Twitter with Joe and most of his quotes on that blogpost came from me. I was upset during the conversation, but as I look back at the timeline of that exchange, I'm still very proud of the way I attempted to articulate my point of view. I think it was a respectful exchange and I agree that diversity of opinion is often lacking in our online circles. I understand what Joe means about losing followers. It is true that any time you get controversial, you risk insulting people. The only people I've unfollowed because of such conversations are those who resort to bullying, demeaning others and actual unethical behavior. (You, and many reading this probably know who I'm talking about.) Additionally, I'm aware that I lose followers all the time for many reasons. Probably because I tend to be a Smart Alec on Twitter and inevitably offend someone. I am who I am, and most people who follow me know that I can have a bizarre sense of humor, at times.


Anyway, I'm glad you posted this because it's been on my mind and I just hadn't felt the energy to write my own post about this and you've said it all beautifully. 

My bottom line with the whole thing is this: Let's celebrate the things others are excited about; even if we're not. If I stop and pick up a dollar off the street; don't tell me all the things that I couldn't possibly buy for a dollar. If someone invites me to a party, don't tell me it's because they felt they HAD to include me. If a friend shows you their latest stylish purse, don't tell them you are aware that it is a fake. (However, if your friend had spinach in her teeth; you'd BETTER tell him/her!)

I don't see the harm in these awards at all. I was nominated for Lifetime Achievement and didn't even place. Big deal. It was a true honor to be nominated. Does that mean that someone who wasn't on the list isn't amazing? Come on....

The Gloves Are Off
My team at work had their Wiki (iPad in Education) nominated for Best Educational Wiki. THAT got me VERY excited and I attempted to promote it actively. Very few people are even aware of that wiki. I personally did not build it, nor do I do the research and grunt work to maintain it. Before the nomination, I had not promoted it on social media and neither has anyone else. Popularity contest? Maybe, but not in this case. People who are implementing iPad programs in their schools are finding the Wiki very helpful. It's not just a list of favorite Apps. It includes solutions to really big problems that we all face such as how to buy Apps for tons of iPads at once. Dealing with teachers/administrators using the Mail app, yet sharing their device. Other things Apple didn't think about initially. There's even an implementation planning guide for schools thinking about buying iPads. (Too many buy devices first, then decide what to do with them.)

The iPad program in my district has been very controversial, and any "badge" or award or other recognition will do a lot to help this program move forward in a positive way; ultimately helping thousands of children. The big decision makers like external recognition. We all do. 

So, when we go around saying this is all BS, we should stop to think about just HOW important some of these award programs might be to the individuals, groups or organizations and how they DO help. 

Thanks for allowing me to ramble. I just may have to write my post now, after all.

...and so I did.

9 comments:

Vicky Loras said...

Hi Lee,

Thanks so much for this post, which reflects exactly how I feel. It makes me think very often about how various educators raise the question of awards or not, and so on. I kind of understand their point of view, but may I offer mine: they do not like the Edublog awards for various reasons. I see it as a pat on the back, a well done for all the things educators have been doing all year. A small recognition that gives you strength to keep going. What, maybe perhaps we should stop all forms of praise then? If you write a great post, can I not tell you this? Is this not a way of me telling you well done Lee, keep up the super work? Some people mgiht turn around and say, yeah, I say so because I was a finalist this year. No, that is exactly how I felt last year too, when I was not even nominated and the same discussion was going on.

As Shelly Terrell put it, are those people not happ when their favourite athlete, singer what have you wins an award? And they tweet it? Why would a teacher not deserve it then?

When someone nominates a teacher, they did so because they love their work, wiki, posts, whatever. And that is beautiful.

I hope I do not sound dramatic here, but yes, teachers wherever they are, go through a lot daily. And in my view, they deserve every recognition they can get, be it an award, hug, pat on the back, nice comment, phone call. I am happy you wrote this post - because I am ok with praise, in any form that comes. Teachers deserve it.

Thanks for this Lee, and all the best to you.

KInd regards,
Vicky

Tim said...

Lee, as always, you have done a great job with this post. I have not followed the discussions on Twitter regarding the Edublog awards, but I did vote a couple of times for those blogs from which I felt I gleaned the most over time. Having said that, it was a tough call in every single category because there were just so many to like.

For me, it isn't so much about getting an award (although I think the awards are fantastic). It is about finding new people to follow and learn from. Many people nominated were people I had not encountered yet. Once I visited their blog and read their posts, I subscribed to several new people.

So...keep blogging. Keep sharing your ideas and thoughts and opinions. And above all, ask questions. Ask lots of questions!

Joe Bower said...

Lee, I read your post and am I glad you wrote it.

My argument is not that we can't recognize excellence. My point is that we shouldn't be limiting recognition by only distributing it in artificially scarce portions that are framed around a competition.

Unless I'm wrong, I don't think your post touches on this concept.

Chris Wejr (mrwejr) said...

Lee and Vicky...

I think the key point that people are missing...

Very few people would say that people who work hard should not be recognized.... But are do we really lack that much creativity to think that the best way to recognize hard work is through a badge and an award???

I was nominated this year. I was not nominated last year. What has changed? That is easy... Number of followers.

If you do not spend a lot of time networking with others who have lots of followers your posts don't get tweeted and your posts don't get read... And therefore you don't get nominated.

S why don't we stop this awards silliness and figure out a way that we can honor educators for being creative, hard-working, innovative, etc. I did not nominate and I did not vote... What I did and will continue to do is read, comment, challenge, and tweet to spread the message. When someone does this on my posts, I feel honored, supported and often challenged (which helps me to grow).

Just as a I feel about awards in schools... We need to change the way we honor and recognize people in society and stop falling back on the simplicity that are awards.

Lee Kolbert said...

@Chris,
The wiki that I mentioned in my post got no social media attention prior to the nomination. Anyone can nominate, so why don't we take it upon ourselves to seek out those people who are not popular, yet have much to contribute, and nominate them? It's not just the voting that we can contribute to. We can help elevate those who want to have a bigger voice but aren't there yet.

I don't say the BEST way to recognize hard work is through a badge or award, what I say is, "Don't rain on the parade of those who are happy about having won an award that recognizes their hard work." That's all.

Thanks for your comment.

Chris Wejr (mrwejr) said...

Again... Have no issue with recognizing or nominating... But why a silly contest?

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Dean Shareski said...

Late to the game but while roaming through some old blog posts I found pretty much my thought on the subject.
http://ideasandthoughts.org/2010/07/05/whats-your-3rd-favourite-colour/
It's not so much an anti-awards post as a return to the underpinnings of the social web.

Anonymous said...

I'm very new to the blogging world (about 30 minutes new), so my opinion might be 'rawer'. After skimming a few of the various blogs debating this issue, I really wonder whether it was a 'slow blog week'. In the whole scheme of what is worth worrying about in this world, the issue of artificial blogging competitions and their superficial acknowledgement of blogging excellence rates v.e.r.y.l.o.w for me. If you like to compete, then compete. If you don't like to compete, then don't compete. If you'd like blogging excellence to be acknowledged in a completely different way, then go right ahead and do that. I'm okay with whatever works for each individual. IMO, this is a non-issue.