Everyone loves getting an award – as evidenced by this year’s E-Learning Awards, presented in London in November. The audience for this, the second annual awards, had doubled to over 300 from last year’s 150 or so – and everyone had a good time. Everyone, that is, except for a gentleman of the Caledonian persuasion who, no doubt in a tired and emotional state at the Awards dinner, after discovering that his organisation’s entry had not won an award this year, volubly declared the judges and the judging criteria that they had used to be ‘b******s’.


No doubt, in the cold, sober light of day, he can console himself with the view of the American composer and musician, Charles Ives (1874 – 1954), an idealist whose work was exceptionally avant garde for its time. Ives once said: “Awards are merely badges of mediocrity.”


Ives knew that experience is built from solutions to old situations and problems – which are probably different to those of tomorrow. In this context, experience is the opposite of creativity, since awards are always judged, in committee, by consensus of what is known and what is in fashion. By definition, originality can’t be fashionable since it has not been around long enough to gain the approval of a committee.


Long may the E-Learning Awards flourish because establishing a set of awards to acknowledge and reward excellence and best practice marks a major step in the development of any industry. It demonstrates a degree of maturity. It acknowledges that the industry is established and is here to stay.


Despite that, there must still be room for the originality and daring of the ‘Charles Ives’ and ‘Caledonian gentlemen’ of this industry.


Comment: How true! Of course, I can say that in the sure and certain knowledge that I won’t ever win an award for anything.