Monday, February 23, 2009

Reinventing the has-been

As a sort of continuation to this post.

There is a series on the BBC at the moment (which I can't bring myself to watch) in which pop idols of yesteryear are tracked down and given an extreme makeover to see whether they can still wow an audience.

The first outfit they tracked down was a duo I had never heard of (but then I wasn't in the UK in the '80s, when they were in their heyday). This pair had both inevitably aged. And why is this a bad thing?

In this teaser for the series, the male half of the duo just about broke my heart. Not because he was overweight or middle-aged (I see overweight and middle-aged every time I look in the mirror!) but because his face looked positively Mickey Rourke-esque. As if he had spent the past 20 years engaging in heavy drinking and then trying to improve things with a facelift that had exactly the opposite effect... and this was before the extreme makeover began! I confess I have no idea how successful or otherwise the makeover was.

So what has this got to do with learning?

Simply this. When a thing is past its prime and has had its day, repackaging, rebranding and relaunching it is not going to make it what it was in its prime. It just makes it ridiculous. The audience demands have changed.

Chalk and talk has had its day. Using a medium like Second Life to deliver a chalk and talk session is not a move forward. Let's not try to nip and tuck the old bird into something hip and modern. Let's not make her ridiculous. Let's just be gracious about this and let her fade gently into obscurity, dreaming of a bygone era and muttering to herself.

And instead, look for ways to use the newer media to deliver meaningful learning appropriate for today's audience.

And let's recognise that it, too, will have its day and then be supplanted by something else. That's just how it is.

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