Pez, the candy, is the mother of all great E-learning

You can´t force another person to learn. Well, you can, but things thought by brute force very seldom leads to anything good, at least not in the long run. It for instance rarely leads to innovative ideas. This post is about how to use that observation when choosing what digital technologies to use for e-learning.

People that are extremely motivated themselves rarely need an educator. Good for them: formal education not needed. They find their own way of learning, not the least via the web.

In the other spectrum of motivation, we find people that are seriously not interest in learning. How to convince them? Well, the thing is, we can’t. The only thing we can do is to try hard to help them to find motivation. Or, just let them be.

Left are the ones in the middle. The ones that are somewhat motivated, or maybe “maybe-motivated”.

What can we do for them?

I believe this short story can help us to find a decent answer on what to do…

Some years ago, I got seated beside a pretty unusual person at a dinner party. I asked him shorty about something when we got seated…but then, he directly told me about his hobby…

Pez-dispensers. Open the top and voila: candy comes out.

He was a collector of old Pez-dispensers.

Pez was/is a kind of candy you might remember. Launched in Austria already 1927. Today globally well-known. 70 million dispensers and 5 billion candies sold annually.

Gosh I said to myself. This is going to be a terrible dinner. I am neither that interested in candy, nor in collecting things. And I remember not even liking the taste of Pez when I was young. I am not interested in Pez.

But he was.

Then, without me even asking for it; he just started talking about Pez.

He mentioned that he had paid quite a lot for some of the old Pez-dispensers that he had – maybe he saw that I already was a bit suspicious on his interest. And when I heard the amount I just had to ask why. Then he told me there was lot of money in these Pez-dispensers and that he definitely was not alone on the globe collecting them.

Then he started talking about the Pez-collector-fairs he used to travel to. Pez-collectors all over the globe meeting each other, having fun, talking about Pez, and buying and selling among each other.

Year 2020: the big annual Pez-event was in Ohio.

That made me a bit curious. I had to ask why people, particularly he himself, being serious about these crazy things to collect. He then told me about Pez mirroring society, why we as humans cared for them, and such. Pez, in its glorious days, was a cheap thing nearly everyone could afford. The ones that was most popular among kids also pictured what was popular in society at that point in time.

Then he started talking about the way collecting things work. It seems to be related to something that one’s was very common among us, used by many, and normally did not cost that much, but then more or less had stopped to be used. Books, stamps, coins or match-boxes are well-known examples. He also told me about how come prizes for some of these Pez-dispensers seem to go up nowadays while other seem to go down. That made me a bit more curious.

3.6 million Euro at an auction for this handwritten book by J.K. Rowling – the author of Harry Potter. Only 7 copy’s exist. The most expensive modern manuscript ever.

The most expensive dispenser has been sold for 13 000 USD…if you ever wondered.

Then we started talking about the business of collecting as such. And how the fairs he traveled to worked in detail, for instance how bidding for a dispenser was handled and what kind of people that participated. That made me even more curious.

Then I asked him what Pez-dispensers in particular that he liked, and why he liked them. And then he told me more.

And more. And more. And more…

Hopefully; medical doctors are motivated to do their job properly.

In the end of that dinner, I have to admit, I just spontaneously asked him: “Next time you go to a Pez-fair somewhere on the globe, please contact me, because I really would be interested in attending”.

This man was not a teacher. He was a medical doctor. And I myself never signed up for a course on “Pez, and the art of collecting”. But this evening became extremely nice. I did really learn a lot.

He himself was just so heavily motivated, that I could not avoid becoming motivated myself. This man “convinced”, motivated me, even “tricked me” if you like, to learn something I really was not particularly interested in learning at al.

Motivation works like a virus…it spreads!

Everything starts with an educator being motivated. If that motivation is strong, others perhaps also might become motivated. If that motivation is low, nothing will help.

Use the digital tools that makes you motivated.

It all starts with you.

Imagine that you are an educator: Use the kind of digital technologies you yourself find of interest. Use the digital tools that makes you motivated.

Everything else is secondary.

If you happen to know an educator that at this moment feel a bit puzzled on which one, out of all the gazillion of new “E-learning tools” that exist, to head for: why not share this post?

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