Saturday, 5 May 2018

#ScotRef - How @TheSNP Could Get Back to #Team56

Image result for zombie loyalists
Today there was a Scottish Independence rally on (#IndyRef2/#ScotRef).

Four years ago I would not only have been in the thick of it all because the culture was super positive, but I wrote almost 30 posts in support of the movement, and even wrote these "MP/MSP Ideas for 2016/2019" "If Tech Stories Did Politics" reports.

"The #IndyRef conditions were special! The conditions were special… there was the potential to bring a nation together and could have seen huge changes like our inner cities being unslummed in the way that Jane Jacobs observed that Boston’s North End did and areas of Chicago were re-vamped"  P1 of my MP/MSP Ideas for 2016/2019.

In 2011 Ewan McIntosh wrote in How the SNP is using Social Media to win votes:

"Key to visible online successes has been the large degree of thought given to how online social media activity can be encouraged, listened to, engaged with and, vitally, converted into "offline" action: donate, volunteer, place both votes on 5 May for the SNP"

My first ever blog post A House Divided Against Itself Cannot Stand, is - As most first attempts are - a mess... but fortunately I have friends like Tim MacDonald who have encouraged me to keep telling the story I felt was worth telling and might have value to others.

Dream Make Over – The Big Clean Up

We’ve had the Big Sort, we’ve had the Big Society maybe we need someone to suggest that we need The Big Clean Up before we have any more plans. We also know that people will get behind this because they already helped clean up in the aftermath of the London Riots.

Also when we watch programs like DIY SOS and Dream Makeover an army of volunteers always come from nowhere when a neighbour has fallen on hard times, and needs some help...all that is needed is for someone like Ty Pennington to act as the catalyst, to lead and co-ordinate the construction.

Our kids and their education is certainly a house that needs and deserves to be put in order, so I would be surprised if there was not the largest army of volunteers standing by to pitch in - whether young enthusiastic new recruits, battle weary veterans, or unskilled but well-meaning militia keen to help make a difference. And you never know, if the “good for nothing NEET” & lost generation see people turning the slum back into a village, they may even join in the clean up. I don’t think it would be long before the "lone nut" would be recognised as a visionary leader. This section of my first post has been reprinted a few times in my blog  including in this post Yes Scotland - How can We Help and Labouring on with #Team56? How to Rebuild Trust When It Is Broken

I was not involved in the flag wavin event today... Because my view today is that most politicians are a bunch of donkeys.
Image result for no donkey shrek
Me at the Polling Stations these days
"Which Donkey am I going to vote for this time!"
However, despite getting a "Meh" reply to some constituency enquiries, I will be voting SNP in the future. This post details why, as well as some suggestions about how the party could get back to the same level as #Team56.

I have accurately predicted every election since 2015, here are two examples:
I predicted these result based on what I saw with the powerful combination of "Network Effects" and "Feedback Loops" that Silicon Valley tech companies use to good effect... which were created with the #IndyRef #VoteYes hashtag being so fun. Man! I must have spent 2 hours a day (At least) laughing at the banter.

In July 2016 I explored Pokemon Go in Education and two rather interesting things happened.

Two MSPs came back to me about the project... One when writing the report, The other was an email that I initially missed (Doh!) but picked up on in June 2017 when doing a follow up with Pokemon Go 12 months on

(I wanted to see why Pokemon Go went from "The future of Education" and hundreds of articles written in 6 weeks to - not very much written about it in Edu).

In 2014 I Voted "Yes" because of the culture. In 2015 - voted SNP again. 2016 - Spoilt ballot. 2017 Labour. 2018 onwards possibly SNP from here on in. The reason? Because of two quick "5 minute favours"

In addition to this... Here are 4 areas that the SNP could be focusing and resources that may be useful

1) "It's the Economy Stupid"
This has already been covered in a post that I wrote in October 2014... so that was quick! Lol
The other side of this is economic decline:
What Have Lobsters Got To Do With Innovaton is well worth a read too

2) Culture! Culture! Culture!
Bill Aulet does a lot in Scotland with startups and his Culture Eats Strategy for Breakfast is a *MUST READ* post, as is Dave Logan's Tribal Leadership Ted Talk and book

Image result for dave logan tribal leadership

"Identify your Core Values and Align them with a Noble cause"

Is what the "Stage 5" game changing companies do.I have a number of first hand experiences of what happens when culture is not worked hard on to develop and maintained.

I sat in an office for 12 months and watched a company that I cared a great deal about slowly slide down what Jim Collins terms at "The 5 Stages of Decline"

Stage 1: All the fighting over seats and clapping (And other behaviour that comes with hubris) suggested that stage 1 of decline had been reached.
Stage 2: The Undisciplined Pursuit for More (The announcement of #IndyRef2/#ScotRef in March), and
Stage 3: Denial of Risk (The local election results on the 4th May 2017 and dismissing the result by other parties). 

"A party with such large numbers of supporters two years ago and only 65 people supporting Salmond's Crowdfunder... WOW austerity must REALLY be kicking in!" Data that suggested trouble a few weeks before #GE2017.
I tried to let The SNP know that I spotted issues in 2014, 2015 and 2017 - including at the height of their success two days after the - #GE2015 #Team56 result. My voice and advice went largely ignored.

I could (And have been!) critical... but when you don't know about the importance of culture and see record swings and 56 people's easy to see how and why hubris can take hold. As Jim Collins highlights in his book, one executive asks:

""When you are at the top of the world, the most powerful nation on Earth, the most successful company in your industry, the best player in your game, your very power and success might cover up the fact that you're already on the path of decline." How the Mighty Fall

So this political organisation took a bit of a tumble and lost their way, as many organisations and startups do! A lot struggle/die of indigestion just as a lot die of starvation (Before Product Market Fit has been achieved, culture issues etc etc).

I could take to Twitter and rant (Again I have in the past), or I could try to be helpful and share my experiences.

The SNP are not so long established compared to other parties, so am sure they have not forgotten what it is to be an underdog. They also have a far better culture than the other parties. 

Sure they have people who make mistakes, like the other parties do and/or Westminster MPs expressing concern about not being heard by Holyrood (Makes me feel a little better... Glad it's not just "The People" or "The Public" that get ignored) but they seem more in step with the party goals, where Labour and the Conservative Party seem to span a wider spectrum with ideological ideas.

IMHO With a little advice from Community Managers and Organisational Culture gurus they could do well...and would be better than the shortcuts of buying data and dealing with "cowboys"

I like Jeremy Corbyn A LOT, the guy has integrity! BUT to get all the Blairites and Marxists all singing off the same hymn sheet... seems more of a challenge from a cultural perspective.

Did you know... That Marx was bankrolled by Lion Phillips. Fake news? Or hypocrisy of the comrades?
Or of the Corporation who has psychopathic tendencies (But with no soul to save or body to incarcerate?)

Image result for THE CORPORATION The Pathology of Commerce
What do Politicians and Corporations have in common?
Read Will Black'sPsychopathic Cultures and Toxic Empires
Or Did you know that the free market Rand (Who's work I am a fan of) was on welfare when she died.

Can you imagine how difficult that must have been given her ideology? But sometimes plans... Like David Cameron's speeches about "Aspirational Families" have become Theresa May's "JAMs"

Check your premises kids! Think for yourselves!... Critical thinking.

#WhoIsJohnGalt? What if Atlas Shrugged? Contradictions don't exist? Except after Great Depressions, busts, Credit Crunch's... or when people are nice IRL at work, with their mums and daughters... but Trolls about politics, gaming and especially with women online. 

3) Digital Citizenship
Who remembers the fun of #IndyRef #VoteYes? Who remembers when the culture turned?

Going from people leaving bags of shopping for food banks at George Square... To MPs boasting that a stack of Daily Records were left untouched at Westminster?

When the culture turned... So did most people, including some of my posts.

However, I was fortunate enough that some of the Community Managers I'm connected with had a quiet word a told me they were growing tired of my negativity... I really, really respect that persons opinion, so not my finest hour! (And Ouch!)

i) How easy a trap was this to fall into, when everyone is doing it... including (And in some cases, especially) the supposed "Leaders?"


Let's refer to the creator of Thiel's Law ("A start up messed up at its foundations cannot be fixed" ..because beginnings are special!) and his take on Dot-Com Mania

"Dot-com mania was intense but short - 18 months of insanity from Sept 1998-Mar 2000. It was a Silicon Valley gold rush: There was money everywhere, and no shortage of exuberant, often sketchy people to chase it. Every week, dozens of new startups competed to throw the most lavish launch party, landing parties were more rare.

(NB A bit like Edu launches - Every Child Matters, No Child Left Behind, Big Society, Gazelle, Feltag, Charter Schools/Academies, but few edu "We got every student into college/work" parties, that I can see) 

Paper millionaires would rack up thousand dollar dinner bills and try to pay with shares of their startup's stock. - sometimes it even worked. Legions of people decamped from their well paying jobs to found or join startups. One 40 something grad student that I knew was running six different companies in 1999. 

(Usually, it's considered insane to start a half dozen companies at once. But in the late 90s, people could believe that was a winning combination). 

Everybody should have known that the mania was unsustainable; the most successful companies seemed to embrace a sort of anti-business model where they lost money as they grew. But it's hard to blame people for dancing when the music was playing; irrational given that appending ".com" to your name could double your value overnight"

ii) How typical is this of online communities?
During one of the many Media and Culture Committee meetings with Social Media sites one comment was:

"I would be ashamed to make money the way you did" David Winnick.
  • But what do MPs do to curb their own supporters if/when they get snarky and abusive?
  • Why did the SNP not manage to keep the super buzzing 2014 #IndyRef momentum going?
  • Because they didn't understand how the network effects and feedback loops worked?
  • Because they, quite rightly, took the weekend off post #IndyRef result and did not expect the chatter to continue?
  • Because they were too slow to respond and others sucked all the fun out of it leaving the angry politicos?
  • How many MPs who felt this disgust stopped using these services?
Harassment is happening everywhere in gaming, comics and I'd love if the content of the video below is what was taught in schools (The kind of thing that Microsoft's Yammer - still love that #Cmgr playbook they've got! And the #EdTech50 Ecadets/GoBubble does too)

Image result for president rosenberg 2011 commencement speech

I've just re-read the Epic Saga of the Well and we see the same kindness that the IndyRef foodback left as well as the vicious attacks between members.

"When Isaac, a much-loved teenager, couldn't afford to attend the private school of his choice, people chipped in to help his mother come up with tuition. When Mike Godwin, an outspoken member who was not universally liked, lost his worldly possessions in a moving-van fire, friends and foes sent him books from their own libraries to replace his lost volumes. It began to dawn on people that this was the sort of thing that happened in a small town. The response to need in this community, at once inseparable and separated by worlds, became extraordinary. When one member developed a liver disorder in New Delhi and fell into a coma, a group was organized, within days, to line up the blood-filtering equipment needed to save her life, then to have her flown back to a hospital in the US. One Well Being described this as "love in action."

A little bit later this same space turned viscous at times.

"But online, he went on the attack. He began visiting the conferences she went to, and he sent her vicious email. "It was a constant bombardment, all of it bile," 

There was also the same issues with community Vs corporate in this space, just as Facebook is facing today.

I feel extremely fortunate to have read about The Well and The Life and Jane Jacobs' Life and Death of Great American Cities and love how the chaos of the city creates order like this:

"When Jimmy Rogan fell through a plate-glass window (he was separating some scuffling friends) and almost lost his arm, a stranger in an old T shirt emerged from a bar, swiftly applied an expert tourniquet, and, according to the hospital’s emergency staff, saved Jimmy’s life. Nobody remembered seeing the man before and no one has seen him since. The hospital was called in this way: a woman sitting on the steps next to the accident ran over to the bus stop, wordlessly snatched the dime from the hand of a stranger who was waiting with his fifteen-cent fare ready, and raced into the Ideal’s phone booth. The stranger raced after her to offer the nickel too. Nobody remembered seeing him before, and nobody has seen him since"The Greenwhich Village of EdTech

A more recent, and personal example of this, is of my friend and former colleague Ramona Pierson, who was hit by a drunk driver when out for a run.

"The car that ran over Pierson sliced open her throat and ripped her chest apart. Her left leg became entangled in the wheel well when the driver began furiously attempting to flee, and by the time the car finally spit her out, Pierson’s heart and lungs were fully exposed.

One passerby massaged her heart with his bare hands, while another ventilated her collapsed lung and opened her windpipe with a couple of Bic pens" From Near Death to Silicon Valley CEO

I will be forever grateful to Sarah Thomas, Shell Terrell and Cori Coburn Shiflet for introducing me to Ramona via their Minority Women in Tech #SXSWEdu presentation.

I hope to "Pay it forward" by supporting projects like Microsoft's #DigiGirlz YouthSpark program, Bloodhound/Oracle's STEM education projects... and anything that James Stanbridge is working on wherever and whenever possible.

The reason for me re-reading and re-exploring the Well Beings? Because Culture Community guru Scott Moore shared this article with me:
Why Good People Turn Bad Online and I can see some trends.

For starters compare The Well's:
"Forty years from now, The Well may be remembered only dimly, or not at all. But it will have left behind a lasting imprint on our culture, as we will be left with the lush promises it whispered into our ear."

...And with the Mosaic Science article
"Our human ability to communicate ideas across networks of people enabled us to build the modern world. The internet offers unparalleled promise of cooperation and communication between all of humanity. But instead of embracing a massive extension of our social circles online, we seem to be reverting to tribalism and conflict, and belief in the potential of the internet to bring humanity together in a glorious collaborating network now begins to seem naive"

Are there answers to be had? Check this out:
Christakis is looking not just at how popular an individual is, but also their position in the network and the shape of that network. In some networks, like a small isolated village, everyone is closely connected and you’re likely to know everyone at a party

“If you take carbon atoms and you assemble them one way, they become graphite, which is soft and dark. Take the same carbon atoms and assemble them a different way, and it becomes diamond, which is hard and clear. These properties of hardness and clearness aren’t properties of the carbon atoms – they’re properties of the collection of carbon atoms and depend on how you connect the carbon atoms to each other,” he says. “And it’s the same with human groups.” 

Christakis has designed software to explore this by creating temporary artificial societies online. “We drop people in and then we let them interact with each other and see how they play a public goods game, for example, to assess how kind they are to other people.”

Then he manipulates the network. “By engineering their interactions one way, I can make them really sweet to each other, work well together, and they are healthy and happy and they cooperate. 

I feel there are similarities to this and my #DigCit Vs Trolls I'm a Student Friendly Educator post and some of these ideas... And know a few people who could help out with this if the good and the great in Scottish Politics was interested in exploring.

"We’ve had thousands of years to hone our person-to-person interactions, but only 20 years of social media. “Offline, we have all these cues from facial expressions to body language to pitch… whereas online we discuss things only through text. I think we shouldn’t be surprised that we’re having so much difficulty in finding the right way to discuss and cooperate online.”

As our online behaviour develops, we may well introduce subtle signals, digital equivalents of facial cues, to help smooth online discussions. In the meantime, the advice for dealing with online abuse is to stay calm, it’s not your fault. Don’t retaliate but block and ignore bullies, or if you feel up to it, tell them to stop. Talk to family or friends about what’s happening and ask them to help you. Take screenshots and report online harassment to the social media service where it’s happening, and if it includes physical threats, report it to the police"

Or is it a case that any problems that have taken place online are merely a symptom of IRL issues? Address the gender pay gap and Technologies Man Problem and you'll fix the internet?

4) Create Zombie Loyalists
Because two MSPs engaged with me in an authentic way (ie the elected representative with an actual reply, not "Join the party" (2014 response when I tried to help), not a "Keep up the good work sonny" email, not a case worker... the actual MSP.

I don't think the engagement was hugely time consuming for them...just a couple of emails here and there. The workload for one of those MSPs must be seriously challenging because of portfolio they deal with... If anyone had a reason not to take the time to reply, they would have had a very good one!

Was I always a fan of these MSPs? One, yes... I've liked them since our first meeting.

The other? No! Sent emails criticizing them on two issues in the past, one of which the "Sorry not my problem" affected us a great deal.

But the more I spoke to people the more they said "No, you're wrong... got a lot of respect for their work"

In Hug Your Haters, Jay Baer says that converting detractors is worth it's weight in gold... check out Jay's "Hatrix,"

...So turning a #VoteYes advocate who became a detractor is possible... it's possible to turn "Haters" into #ZombieLoyalists... MSPs just need to take a chance and connect. Zombie Loyalists and Hug Your Haters both fantastic books!

Anyway, both MSPs have made a connection and the result is that I'll be voting SNP even when I don't always rate my local representatives too much, for good reason I think too...One enquiry went unaddressed for 2 years despite me following up a few times.

Next Stages
If it was me? Well I'm aware of Maslow's comment:

"Iall you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail" but, at the same time, as the Collaborate as If Scotland Depended on it post highlights

"The scientists most likely to solve a problem were the ones you’d least expect to be capable of solving it. “We actually found the odds of a solvers success increased in fields in which they had no formal expertise” even more interesting gem: a full 75% of successful solvers already knew the solution to the problem. The solutions to the problem in the study – many of which, recall, had stumped the best corporate scientists in the world after years of effort – didn’t require a breakthrough, or additional brainpower, or a more talented scientists attention; they just needed a diverse enough set of minds to have a go at them.

...And Jane Jacobs didn't go to university either, self taught! And a critical thinker (Snowden: "The answer to "fake news" is not censorship, but critical thinking")

With the UK EdTech scene thriving and a few Scottish people, organisations and companies, including Glow, who were included as part of the Jisc/EdTechUK #EdTechUK50, Digital Citizenship being an issue and call centres jobs soon to be in trouble due to the bots.

Perhaps having an EdTech and Education based social media incubator to help this fledgling sector?

There are no Community Management jobs in Scotland and only a handful of companies go to events like BETT and ISTE, could this be quickly and easily changed?

Could this be a Low Cost/High Impact 

Image result for Professor Coe's fantastic "High Cost/Low Impact Vs High Impact/Low Cost model;

Is Scotland's problem really that it lacks talent, as was suggested at a Scottish Learning Festival keynote a few years ago?

Few 4-5 Star companies on Glassdoor in Scotland and only one with HQ that was part of Glassdoors top 100 UK workplaces.

Hmm... not sure about that one! The data suggests otherwise.Perhaps I should make plans to move to Chicago?

Image result for marshall field building chicago
Think and Grow Rich?

Tuesday, 1 May 2018

EdcampUK - DYW & Tech Companies

This post is an update on the Edcamp UK idea we've been discussing and explores the merits of the creators of our faviourite tech tools who are interested in Skyping with computer science classes, and considers doing something in the run up to the event as well as on the day.

There have been almost 500 people come back to us offering input with this proposed Edcamp idea and over 50 people with sessions that they would be interested in delivering in person and/or via Skype.

If we were to add in the odd call from some Skype Master Teachers and executives from Skype, Xbox, Microsoft etc... This would then look something like this.

There are another 100 locations to add to this map but, if all these locations were to Skype into some Scottish Schools it would be over 1,200,000 Skype miles... But we'll leave totaling up Skype miles for Classroom Skype team when the Skypeathon is on.

What I'd rather focus on in this post is a potential "High Impact/Low Cost" idea that could assist with Developing the Youth Workforce and the Attainment Gap.

Image result for Professor Coe's fantastic "High Cost/Low Impact Vs High Impact/Low Cost model;

Through Xbox and Minecraft, companies like Microsoft are pretty cool to our kids and with 124,000 members of staff worldwide and 30,000 schools in the UK... it wouldn't take too long to get through as many computer science classes that wanted to hear about the developers world of work.

If anyone who follows my blog (And has a good memory) thinks that this has a familiar ring to it and it's another way to discuss California's "Circle the Schools" program, you'd be right... with one exception:

I have two personal examples of the impact this could have: Two Skype calls me and my family have had 

Through the Minority Women in Tech Digital Diversity #SXSW presentation in 2015 I was fortunate enough to have a call with James Stanbridge, who saw the value in what I was working on.

I don't think some of the projects I've developed since then would have happened without this initial 30 min call. I went on to work with James for a few months in my first paid #Cmgr role with a hot shot Silicon Valley startup called Declara.

This was a powerful experience and not least because I was in contact with Ramona Pierson who has an AMAZING story: An Unexpected Place of Healing. I cannot tell you how great it was to get emails from her, especially when the quote at the end was Turing's:

"Sometimes it is the people who no one imagines anything of who do the things that no one can imagine"

But it's also amazing the things that you miss when you get busy with the day to day work.

For example, I recently read Peter Theil's book "Zero to One" (I write about it in this "Startup Graduation" post). Can you imagine how stupid it is to say to yourself

"I'm going to work at one of the companies he invests in one day" 

And then see that it already happened, but you missed it?!

When James moved onto work with Oracle and told me about the companies involvement with Bloodhound Project, I jumped in immediately to put those very ideas we discussed in 2015 into action with Bloodhound, even though no one asked me to... I just acted the minute I saw the Tweet.

Scottish Learning Festival and the Power of Data

... and the Oracle/Bloodhound collaboration is well placed to help with the ideas in this post as well as the #DigCit and career issues I discuss in my #ScotRef post as women in tech and politics face many of the same issues ;)

I can't help but wonder how things might look if this call had taken place a couple of decades earlier.

Fortunately for my 17 year old son - and thanks to Ross Smith at the Skype for Good team - he won't have to wait as long... It's already happened! The call took place last December and he was positively buzzing after a few kind words from him. Thank you Ross!!

Regardless of family background most children are on various devices today, so Classroom Skype calls from tech developers would be "Cool" or "Down with the Kids" or "Sick" or whatever the phrase is today.

Most kids are on various devices but, in spite of the efforts of the Attainment Gap etc etc (And BECAUSE of the bankers and "Credit Crunch") there are way more children than should be who are in the lower socio-economic spectrum... and their life chances don't seem to be any brighter than Lewis Termins study of highly gifted children from poor families in the 1920s (See page 10: Culture in Education).

If there is one article that has resonated with me over the years it's Theodore Dalrymole's "Lost in the Ghetto"

"Dalrympole's Fathers' teachers had not only taught him his lessons but had devoted much of their spare time to taking their intelligent slum children, himself included, to museums and concerts, to demonstrate to them that the life of the slum was not the only life there was. In this way, my father was awakened to the very possibility of possibility. A child born in a slum today with the same high intelligence as my father would be vanishingly unlikely ever to find such mentors"

....even if the mentors are there in deprived areas in Scotland, how many would have a tech background?

Where are the Microsoft's, Google's, Apple's, Facebooks and Twitters of Scotland?

As I asked at Christmas our kids all consume these devices, how many Scots work on creating them?

NB I have found a useful antidote to the Lost in the Ghetto article being ideas from The Alchemist and As Man Think's "Cherish Your Dreams" chapter

Your circumstances may be uncongenial, but they shall not long remain so if you but perceive an Ideal and strive to reach it. You cannot travel within and stand still without. Here is a youth hard pressed by poverty and labour; confined long hours in an unhealthy workshop; unschooled, and lacking all the arts of refinement. But he dreams of better things; he thinks of intelligence, of refinement, of grace and beauty. He conceives of, mentally builds up, an ideal condition of life; the vision of a wider liberty and a larger scope takes possession of him; unrest urges him to action, and he utilizes all his spare time and means, small though they are, to the development of his latent powers and resources. 

Very soon so altered has his mind become that the workshop can no longer hold him. It has become so out of harmony with his mentality that it falls out of his life as a garment is cast aside, and, with the growth of opportunities James Allen, As Man Thinketh

So... what's needed to have educators connecting their students with these tech creators? As far as I can see two things:

1) Educators feeling the fear and doing it anyway... and taking that first Skype call so that, like Dalrympole's teachers you will be connecting with not just local museums but also national parks, authors and scientists across the globe to awaken our children to the very possibility of possibility

2) For tech companies to reach out to schools to see if they want to hear about the day in the life of Xbox and Minecraft coders etc etc

An article was published recently with the title of It takes a Community to Raise a STEM Girl... and is worth a look, it would appear that the tech staff are standing by waiting to hear from you ;).

If this whole Edcamp idea goes ahead we'll look to have some pre-event activities and would welcome any Tech execs to get in touch to see if they might encourage a few computer science classes to make that all important (And IMHO rather scary) first Classroom Skype... I'd hope that these calls have the same kind of impact on others that they have had on me and my son.

Thank you again to James Stanbridge and Ross Smith. I hope that the Minority Women in Tech #SXSW presenters will also be looking to get involved.

If anyone would like to either get involved or find out more about this Edcamp idea, please feel free to complete our
More details regarding dates and a venue will follow soon... still doing a little due diligence.

NB Are there other tech companies out there that could get involved? Sure there are! Is there a bit of Microsoft, Twitter and Oracle bias in this post? Most definitely! Am I affiliated with any of them? Nope... (But I am keeping people updated with the ideas and plans)... I mention and focus more on these companies because Twitter and Skype are the tools I've used to connect, and because some of the people at these organisations took the time to engage.

You get advocacy like this when product market fit has been achieved AND you take the time to develop and Scale Personal Relationships ;) #ZombieLoyalists

"Sales & marketing departments must refocus away from selling products and toward creating relationships. Partnering with customers is a key component. The primary challenge here is not technical, but cultural" Crossing the Chasm & #GoAwayPushyEdTechSalesPeople

Tuesday, 17 April 2018


Image result for edcamp logo
This post explores the possibility of hosting an Edcamp in the UK.

This is an idea that I think could:

1) Help nudge the needle forward a little regarding the content of Chris van der Kuyl's 2015 Scottish Learning Festival keynote

2) Empower educators as John Swinney suggested he wanted at the 2017 Scottish Learning Festival.

3) Develop a number of projects I've been involved with over the last few years that didn't quite achieve the desired objectives when I first explored them


In 2014 I achieved more in 4 weeks through working with US connected educators than I did trying to make the same ideas work in the UK Further Education Sector.

Since then I have developed ideas where the culture has looked good... but moved on when the culture has become a little less conductive to doing good work that has value. Sometimes I shelve ideas and return to them.

Exploring the idea of a UK Edcamp could develop ideas like #EdChatMod, #Get2ISTE, StartupEduChat and ideas I shared with Gazelle and FELTAG... as well as ideas I've explored in Scottish Education from time to time over the last 3 years.

Dec 2012Helped establish UKFEChat by attending each week and doing a lot of outreach via social media and email... and suggested that the first #UKFEChat meetup could be an Edcamp.

April 2014
I curated data on Twitter Edchats and produced an Edchat Resource Plan and created an EdChatMod Google+ Community page for Edchat moderators to share ideas and promote their chats.

Community cover photo

March 2015
I had my first conversation with James Stanbridge, the first Microsoft and hot shot Silicon Valley VP to "get" my ideas... and that has made all the difference! The ideas we discussed during this call are a lot closer to being realised (Slow progress I know!) and the comment James left on my SpyQuest Mission post is a real highlight of my time in education

Sept 2015
Listened to Chris van der Kuyl's Scottish Learning Festival keynote - twice - where he was advocating for Scottish Educators to collaborate more.

I agreed with everything he said and got to work. I mapped all Scottish Schools on Twitter, the data highlighted where the innovators were and led to me organising UK Digital Citizenship Summit

Aug 2016
Worked on a Pokemon Go in Education Report to try to draw out ideas from the Edtech report that I'd written to highlight the way that ideas should roll out if and when they have achieved "Product Market Fit"

Pokemon Go... an overnight success (After two years of serious hustle!)
DigCit PLN Logo

Sept 2016 
Was told about the progress that had been made with Scottish educators signing up to ambassador programs like MIE Experts etc so worked on some visual data in the run up to the Skypeathon.

Dec 2016
Shared visual data that I pulled together for the 2015 Skypeathon with some Scottish Educators and encouraged them to get involved with the 2016 event

April 2017 
Read a CMX article about Edcamps and a comment that caught my eye was the fact that there was no master mailing list when they started out, but estimated that 1,500 Edcamps had taken place... I sourced 1,900 and asked the question: Who Sells Edcamps?

When you look at the way that Edcamps have grown in the US, just like looking at the Scottish Schools who are on twitter and how the number of accounts they have has grown in the last 2 years, you've got to consider.

"There must be something to this form of professional development"

Nov & Dec 2017
In a professional capacity I have seen the value of Twitter and Skype.

As a parent, I saw the value of this when:

1) My youngest son visited Westquarter Primary School on a SpyQuest Mission and
2) When someone from the Skype for Good team at Microsoft took a moment to speak to my oldest son.

These events, as well as Michael Wu's presentation at the Scottish #Cmgr meetup, highlighted that the cultural conditions are good for a few ideas to develop and (hopefully) scale.

Edcamp UK 2015
When mapping the Edcamps I found that people had tried to organise one in 2015 but understand that

1) A lack of interest and
2) The organisers time

Were factors why this didn't happen. It was also disappointing when I realised there were 3 Edcamp organisers here during BETT 2016 for the  UK Digital Citizenship Summit (something I realised after the event?!)

Edcamp UK 2017
So with over 50% of Scottish Schools on Twitter, a growing number of MIE Experts, Microsoft roadshows and a post BETT "Capes and Kilts" visit by Microsoft developers

...I wondered if it might be worth exploring the idea of an Edcamp in a way that could bring a few earlier projects together a develop them too in a way that would help the connected educator agenda.

Plan for the Best... Prepare for the Worst
Over the last few weeks I've been exploring the idea of an Edcamp in the UK and among the concerns before doing too much with this have been:

1) Will there be enough interest for people to attend?

2) Will people new to the Edcamp format be interested in submitting and/or leading a topic for the session board?

3) Would an Edcamp be surplus to requirement given that Teachmeets, Pedagoo events, Microsoft roadshows as well as other local and national events that are on.

After discussing these points with people:

1) There are almost 400 people who have got back to me - from both sides of the pond - either offering advice and support for the event... including 3 potential venues to host the event

2) After speaking to a few Edcamp organisers I wondered if we could Skype in to another event... this way if the session board was a little light for the UK event (Which I don't think would happen... but just in case)

3) Edcamps have grown from 8 being held in the US in 2011 to over 2,000 around the world today.

                i) What could Teachmeets and other forms of PD learn from Edcamps and vice versa?
                ii) If organised in the run up to the Scottish Learning Festival then some post-event activities could lead into and complement the 2018 Skypeathon.

This idea is very much at the discussion stage and we are keeping people at Skype/Microsoft and Edcamp updated with our ideas, plans and progress.

Level of Interest So Far...
I reached out to Edcamp organisers, Edchat Moderators and MIE Experts that I am connected with and
within a couple of weeks got a massive response to this as almost 400 people have come back with advice, input and offers of support and includes 95 Edcamp organisers; 80 Edchat Moderators and 32 MIE Experts

Here's a visual example of the number of people who have offered input, advice and/or are looking to get involved with this in some way.

This idea is in the planning stages at the moment but we are looking at a date in Sept/Oct and are working on a plan that will have some pre and post event activities that would lead in to the Skypeathon in November.

If you are interested in finding out more and/or looking to get involved (Attending, helping organise or Skyping in on the day) please feel free to complete this survey:

More about this proposed event to follow in future posts. Thanks to everyone who have offered advice and support so far.