I remember the excitement of my family purchasing their first computer, the Spectrum ZX81, as a family Christmas present in 1981 (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ZX81 – for those that can’t remember). The excitement at having such technology in our family home had not quite hit the dizzy heights of when we purchased our first black and white portable television two years before this momentous event. However, we had joined the ‘in’ crowd. The reality of owning this technology soon dawned on us, as we had to write the programme for games or for the machine to do anything other than type. If you got one digit wrong or a space misaligned, the programme failed and you would have to search through the lines to seek where the mistake was, or (like me) you gave up, went outside and played football.
Thank goodness there are technicians in this world who have a natural tendency to persist beyond my own level of technological patience, as I now use computers for the majority of my work. Releasing Potential was first run on a local server, located in the corner of my spare room (2001 RP HQ). Progressing through various different servers, we eventually made the decision to move all systems onto a cloud-based space. No more do we wait for the dial up to work, or find ourselves reliant on a VPN (I still have no idea what this means). The staff team communicate with each other through this system, our database is run from a central position and we now have the joy of online platforms to share our work.
This development for RP has been based on relationships and risk taking. It was a risk to ask a member of staff to move all our documentation onto a cloud-based system, which has enabled us to expand the organisation. It was a risk to employ an academic with a Doctorate to oversee an element of our work. This step has resulted in our RP Institute providing an online L2 course through to a registered L4 course in The Management of Challenging Behaviour. It was a risk in starting a relationship with Huis Technologies, to enable them to understand our practices. Doing this has allowed us to understand how Huis could create a database to track the progress of our students – an especially hard feat when many of our students are persistent school refusers. This technology was a risk, yet the system has improved the productivity of our staff and generates data to underpin our academic studies.
My reflection on technology is that it is all about risk and relationships. Like our work with young people, our relationships have to be based on Trust and Honesty. When this is the case, we can take risks, resulting in the expansion of what we can offer society. Through technology, we can reach more children who need our help, and help influence education for the better. However, we need to take that first scary step—in other words to risk failure—to make it happen.
Mike King, Founder & CEO (Releasing Potential)