Thursday, 24 November 2016

#CeduAD - Skype an Educator


This time last year I borrowed from Community Manager Appreciation Day and applied it to Connected Educators using the hashtag #CEduAD. The idea was to have this to coincide with with Black Friday in the hope that EdTech developers and startups might have another excuse to thank connected educators for all that they do... for all the invaluable feedback and advocacy work that they do for their favourite Tech tools.

I have no idea if this is something that will take off or if it's worth doing something for this year... But this post looks to build on this idea and encourages educators and developers to connect over the next few days.

Last year we were looking for support for the UK Digital Citizenship Summit... an event that was facilitated by Skype. Given the interest in the event from people overseas we tried to get companies to cover the costs of their advocates to attend the event in exchange for these educator putting some hustle in at BETT and at the Summit.

There was some success with this through Kyte Learning and Rosetta Stone... and am truly grateful to them for this support. I've seen a lot more of this kind of thing since last year, including ISTE including this as a method of getting to their annual conference.

It's never easy to say what impact this action or that had. Did Kyte Learning and Rosetta Stone's sponsorship with this have an impact with this? Who knows, but one thing is for sure.

NOT MUCH HAPPENS IF YOU CAN'T WIN THE SUPPORT OF THOSE VITAL FIRST FOLLOWERS

Whether supporting EdTechBridge, putting hustle into ideas like #Get2ISTE or questioning the need for sales calls, I've been trying to nudge the idea of closer collaboration between educators and developers for a while... the limited success of some of these ideas testify to how important getting others to buy into your ideas are.

Getting the support of those first followers sure ain't easy! But when you get them, and when the culture is right... WOW! Oh The Places you Go!!


Image result for oh the place you go kid you can move a mountain

MIE Experts... At Community!

Establishing an ambassador program is something that's kept me up at night for a while now. As always I look for the "bright spots" and, as usual, these bright spots are almost always in the world of major tech companies.

It was suggested that I take a look at the Microsoft Educator Community two months ago. I did... and so impressed with what I saw that I still am!

Whether you look at the way the MIE Network was established in 2009, the success of the community in Scotland or the 3 million miles that educators clocked up at last year's Skypeathon... it all started somewhere.

It started with those first followers and will, no doubt, have involved treating them as valued members of the team.

I hope to go into more details about what I've noticed with looking in the MIE network in future posts. For the moment I'd like to suggest something that I think will help educators and developers for #CEduAD in a number of ways.

Arrange a Skype Call with a Developer

When you call what might be interesting is that you don't talk about the "What" you do... but why you do it.

Both education and startups are tough and I bet most stakeholder in the sector have a pretty compelling "Why"

What might happen after you connect? I've no idea. When I connected with an educator we established an international event in two months on a zero budget and a few months later major tech companies were supporting the next event.

In addition to this, if you're anything like companies like Night Zookeeper, who have logged loads of miles according to their Microsoft Educator Community pages, it won't do you any harm.

Indeed, I'd go so far as to say you'd be future proofing your business... because cold calls are dead! Seriously.

It might even lead to opening up new markets for you. Few exhibitors appear to attend both UK and US based education events, so this could be a good way to reach educators in other regions.

Not convinced? Take a look at the Skypeathon map below to see how many educators across the world were making connections via Skype during last year's Skypeathon. (NB The map has links to the educators MEC page and other social media accounts).


Black Friday for Edu?
As it's Black Friday EdTech companies might look to offer any savings that were made from not having to travel to meet the people you connect with over the next few days. If the educators need approval before signing off on the service provide a voucher that can be redeemed at a later date.

Educators
Why not call that company that you've put off since connecting at ISTE... or maybe there's a free tool that you'd be lost without, why not put a call in to say thank you.

If you are considering joining the Skypeathon on Tuesday and Wednesday and are relatively new to Skype this could be great practice and to make sure that everything is set up and working OK.

Obviously all the better if developers and educators continue the conversation into the Skypeathon ...and beyond. Here's a map Education Conference Exhibitors with links to their Social Media accounts:


Need Another Reason to Connect on #CEduAD?
I've been following the practices of Microsoft and Google etc for a few years and two things they do differently to a lot of other tech companies include 

1) They test to ensure that they've achieved "Product Market Fit" before honing in on the services that are ready to scale

2) In order to do this you need to collaborate and co-create with your users

I'll leave you with some extracts about Skype in 2007... if you think that it's an accident that people didn't know quite what to do with Skype and how Microsoft have used it to build strong relationships with the educator community, I'd say your dead wrong!

I'd like to see more companies with products and relationships like this... why not start this tomorrow, or today even ;)

"The history of successful companies is often rewritten to make it look like they tried one thing and the idea worked from the start. Most companies tried multiple ideas and products before they hit the right one. They failed repeatedly until they succeeded. They conserved capital and stayed small until they found product-market fit. Apple, Microsoft, Google et al consistently come up with great new innovations, but they also cycle through new ideas until they latch onto the right one, then they become ultra-focused. These companies build products all the time, but ship selectively". Why Startups Fail

Extracts about Skype from Peter Sheahan's book "Flip"
In the current business climate a 5 year plan could be just as dysfunctional as a 50 year plan.

Meg Whitman of eBay could not have said it better when she observed "Forget about 5 year plans, we're working on 5 day plans here." It's not that Whitman doesn't look 5 years into the future. She didn't pay $2.6 billion for Skype without thinking long term. But she and her colleagues are not following a detailed master plan, they're working out the plan as they go.

After eBay bought Skype for $2.6 billion, the two-cents-a-minute charge to call a normal phone was waived in North America for several months in order to build usage.

Instant, excellent, free: what kind of business model is that? But if you wonder why Skype will ever make enough profit for eBay to justify paying $2.6 billion for it, you're missing something. Sooner or later the technology that Skype used to create it's service was bound to be exploited in a similar way by someone. Once that technology existed, the genie was out the bottle. Not only that, but as with Google'spurchase of YouTube and NewsCorp of MySpace, the value was in the network and the relationship the brands have built with their customer base.

Skypes Founders were willing to act first and strategize how to exploit the technology as they proceeded. The enthusiastic response of custoemrs all over the world made Skype the gold standard of internet calling and created several revenue streams.

No-one can be certain yet if this is going to pay off at a level that justifies a $2.6 billion purchase price...When eBay released its first quarter numbers for 2007, first quarter net revenues for the entire company rose 27% to a record $1.77 billion, and net income rose 52% to $377 million. First-quarter net revenues for Skype rose 123% to $79 million. Meg Whitman said of Skype "This is a very young business growing very fast"

The picture looked less rosy on 1st October 2007, when eBay announced a $900 million one time write down on the $2.6 billion purchase of Skype... Two weeks later MySpace and Skype formed an alliance that enables MySpace users to make phone calls and send instant messages via Skype.

There are inevitably stumbles in any new venture, but on balance it looks as though eBay has reason to feel good about Skypes long term prospects.

Culture! Culture! Culture!
There is a business model in just owning the relationship, and not actually selling anything. In the example of Skype... Might I be so bold as to suggest that what made Skype so valuable was in fact their relationships, not their business model, which could easily be duplicated. Although Skype did not yet have profits, it did have a large and growing base of loyal users and eBay was making significant progress in monetizing the value of that customer base within a year after buying the company.

Product review sites are another increasingly popular form of middlemen... becoming trusted partners in customer purchases... As people look for advice from people they feel they can trust, rather than people they think are simply trying to sell them something. People want to do business with and take advice from people they know, like and trust. Peter Sheahan, Flip (And also author of the fantastic "Talent Magnets - Attracting and Retaining Young Teachers through Courageous Leadership).



Monday, 14 November 2016

#Skypeathon, #MsftEduChat & The Three Nations Challenge


This time last year I was involved with organising the UK Digital Citizenship Summit. This was facilitated by having a Skype call with someone who had been a member of my PLN for a while.

This year I'm doing what I can to assist Skype Master Teacher Andrew Minshall (@A_Minshall) with the "Three Nations Skypeathon Challenge" to see who can rack up the most Skype miles between Scotland, England and Wales... and where there has been a little bit of friendly banter regarding who'll have the bragging rights on the 1st December ;).


The reason for getting involved with the UK Digital Citizenship Summit and the Skypeathon are the same... to do what I can to help educators to connect and share their experiences.

Not only has Skype allowed me to connect and collaborate with people and in ways that would have been really difficult (Have you seen the cost of international calls Vs Skype?!), but I also have an appreciation of the importance of being able collaborate effectively remotely... and this is definitely a skill that needs to be taught.

Gaming was dismissed as a waste of time when I was growing up, this is not a view that we take in our house. I hear my oldest son chatting with his friends on his XBox and appreciate how valuable a skill he is developing by communicating so naturally with people online.

My own personal experience is one thing, and might see one or two educators check it out... but nothing beats word of mouth and peer recommendations. Check out what the data has to say:

Microsoft Education Community Stats
I've been checking in on the various education ambassador programmes from time to time over the last few years and over the past few weeks I've been exploring the world of Microsoft Innovative Educators (MIEs) and the stats on the Microsoft Education Community (MEC) pages.


Each MIE profile includes a map with the number of Skype calls, miles traveled and countries visited. I found that 139 MIEs had racked up 26,066,155 miles after having 9,816 skype calls.

I'm sure that this number would not be quite as big if these educators didn't get value out of these calls for themselves and their students.

Scotland, England and Wales
While my focus in other countries has been with MIEs, I took a bit of a deeper dive into the MEC community in the UK and looked at the profiles of people who were either looking to have Mystery Skype Sessions and/or included their Skype username on their profile.

There appeared to be 22 UK based MIEs who had 424 Skype calls and traveled 577,622 miles.

Almost 100 other educators on the MEC forum have chalked up 2,400 Skype calls and 6,448,387 miles.


Making that First Call
I know from experience that sending that first Tweet, publishing that first blog post and making that first Skype call can be a nerve wracking experience (Esp that first job interview via Skype... That was horrendously nerve wracking!)

Based on the number of people who have requests for Mystery Skypes on their profile pages, but have no miles on the board... I don't think I'm alone.

I've created a Twitter list of Skype Master Teachers, who I'm sure would be happy to address any queries that people may have. We've also created this Skypeathon MEC Contacts spreadsheet which includes the same information as this map:

...And I would Skype 26 Million Miles for the Three Nations Challange and 26 Million More. Lol
Please Note: If you are wanting your miles to be credited with the Three Nations Skypeathon you need to be a member of the Microsoft Education Community. Please sign up before the event as the miles will not be counted or credited after the Skypeathon. 

#MsftEdChat
For people who would like to find out more #MsftEduChat will take place tomorrow (15th Nov) at 10am and 4pm PST (6pm & 12am GMT) and will be discussing the Skypeathon, why not join the chat?



PLN Request... Three Nations Challenge & Team Scotland
On the map above I have included Scottish educators who are part of the MEC community and includes a few who are still to rack up some miles.

It would be great if people in my PLN could drop them a note, Tweet out to them, send an email, dispatch a courier pigeon or send a message in a bottle to see if they'd like to connect via Skype... ideally on the 29th or 30th November for the Three Nations Challenge... but the most important thing is to connect, share and collaborate, so schedule a call for another time if that doesn't suit.

...You never know where that call might take you! Check what happened with one of my Skype calls


Monday, 7 November 2016

Microsoft, Ambassador Programs... And MIE

It's a year since I had a Skype call with Digital Citizenship Summit Co-Founder, Marialice Curran. The result of this call was that we decided to hold a UK based event within a few weeks.

This event demonstrates what innovative educators can achieve in a short period of time... and on a zero budget. Many of the people who were involved with this were amazed at what was achieved in a short period of time. This event took 2 months to organise... but, from my perspective, was 3 years in planning.

During this time I've collaborated with a number of people and groups on some really interesting projects. Some worked out straight away, others have taken a little longer to develop.

The latest project has been to explore Microsoft's Innovative Educator (MIE) network, where I notice that I have collaborated with a number of MIEs.

This post looks at my experiences with innovative educators in relation to this exploration of Microsoft Innovative Educators.

For the past 4 years I've not only looked to the practices of major tech companies for ideas about "Where the puck is going to land" with Edtech sales... this research has highlighted the extent to which I have been collaborating with educators that these tech companies have recognised as innovative educators.

Words simply cannot convey the gratitude that I have for the educators and education based professionals mentioned in this post!

(NB There are lots of other educators who have supported me, but this post focuses on MIEs)

As someone looking to make the transition from sales to community management, and with an active interest in alternative ways of ideas getting traction in education, I have kept an eye on the various ambassador programs over the last few years... and includes checking how many ambassadors of education products are in Scotland/UK.

The last time I checked there were only a handful of MIEs, Google Certified Teachers and Apple Distinguished Educators.

Today there are now hundreds educators in the UK on Microsoft's Community pages who are ambassadors of their products and services in one way or the other (Microsoft Innovative Educator Experts, Trainers and Skype Master Teachers) and thousands more across the world.

The rest of this post considers how big a role Microsoft has played in my career, is a huge THANK YOU to those innovators... as well as a recommendation to check out some of these ambassador programs.

Microsoft and Me - Getting Connected
First or all I would be lost without my Excel and Word applications... and I mean totally lost! I was once asked by a colleague if I dream in excel. Lol

At the end of 2010 I found myself along with some 20 colleagues redundant due to my then employer downsizing as a result of government cuts.

As part of my job search, as I had taken a project from an idea to working with 50% of FE Colleges (with 100% repeat business) within 3 years, I wondered if my experiences are good enough to secure an interview with one of the big 3 tech companies (Microsoft, Google and Apple).

I manage to get through to a Microsoft Edu exec and one of the pieces of advice I am given is

"You're not on social media? Get connected... it comes with the job today if you want to be in EdTech"

I had no digital footprint at all up until this point. Everything I did to engage with educators was via email and phone calls. Based on this advice I open a Linkedin and Twitter account and tentatively explore the joys of being connected.

I was very lucky that my first Tweet led to collaboration as I sent a Tweet of appreciation to Social Nation Author, Barry Libert... this led to us developing a "Twitter in FE Report."

Without Barry's time and patience I'm not sure that my other reports would have followed. The difference between the first draft that I sent him and the last with all his advice was significant.

Discovering Inbound Marketing
In early 2011 I have what can only be described as two "career changing" experiences.

1) Attending an Inbound Marketing workshop by MIT's Bill Aulet.
2) Working on two projects that became overnight successes:

               i) An idea was developed and co-created with prospective users.
              ii) A year long  pilot at three FE colleges

We got enquiries from 230 colleges within 3 weeks with the first project. With the second project, 5 Local Authorities committed £15,000 each almost overnight due to the positive results from the pilot.

My experiences prior to this was that we'd find the relevant person/department to have a phone conversation with, arrange an initial meeting and then have a follow up meeting. It might then be a few weeks/months before securing the order.

Think about that for a moment, if it takes two meetings and anywhere from 3-6 months to secure an order for a £1-3,000 product... how much of a "Must Have" tech tool can what you are selling be?

Securing £75,000 from 5 Local Authorities and having 230 request more information on an idea within 3 weeks after sending one email before all other activity thereafter being "Inbound" was a real eye opener. This confirmed to me that cold calling was dead but it also raised questions about how products were developed. 

It was at Aulet's workshop that I wondered if instead of focusing on any particular product, if it is the way that ideas are developed and rolled out that needed to change in Edtech.

As always I asked who's going things well? Where are the bright spots?

In the C4LPT Top Tools for Learning 2012 survey I noticed that some 40 out of the top tools were free tech tools that were developed by major tech companies. So spent some time researching this.

I didn't realise when I highlighted Microsoft's collaboration with PA's School of the Future or Reading UTC in a report that I wrote in 2012 that I was mentioning a network that would be part of a network of 1,000 schools and almost 5,000 Microsoft Innovative Educators a few years later.

#EdTechChat 
The advice from Community Management experts is "Listen! Listen! Listen!" to the community before doing anything (Must read posts regarding this are David Spinks "CMX Guide to Getting Started in Community Management" and Kelly Hungerford's "Community First").

I wasn't aware of "Community Management" as a career or of phrases like "Social Selling" when I joined EdTechChat at 1am local time each week for over a year. But what stood out to me immediately was that some 40 tech tools and services mentioned some 400 times in the first 5 weeks... without a sales rep in sight! I had a front row seat to the "Cold Calling is Dead" show.

Conversations with MIE Susan Bearden have been particularly useful and insightful... as well as her collaboration with Mad Learn was a shining beacon at ISTE two years later (See below).

EdTechBridge
In December 2012 there were some frustrations with one aspect of being a participant in the EdTechChat conversations... there was all this love for tech tools that "Got it right" (Mostly from companies who had a geographic advantage and/or EdTech incubator companies who were able to stay as small as possible for as long as possible while enjoying better access to educators for feedback and input).

I floated the idea of #StartupEduChat where suppliers could share ideas and resources. This was seen as over-utopian from some EdTech companies that I suggested the idea to.

When I saw that MIE Steve Isaacs had an SXSWEdu Session on the same topic, I spent a few months supporting the EdTechBridge Twitter chat.

#Get2ISTE
Another idea that was the result of "Listening and Learning" from EdTechChat was the idea of tech companies supporting educators to get to ISTE after hearing that one of the reasons educators were not able to attend was due to costs.

This is a project that I have tested a few times to see if the timing was right. I was delighted to see a Get2ISTE recipient on the big screen during the closing keynote in 2015 and the idea being included in ISTE "5 ways to get to ISTE" post.

There is one thing that is absolutely 100% VITAL to getting an idea to this stage, and it's those crucial first followers. MIE Brian Romero Smith was one of the first (If not the first) to open a #Get2ISTE account on PledgeCents.

While this project may look like it had questionable results, it has highlighted to me how slow it can be for ideas to get traction... they need time to develop and sometimes the timing just isn't right.

If there is one thing that I've learnt over the course of the last few years it's this: Learn about momentum. As entrepreneur Joe Kraus puts it

"Being early is the same as being wrong."

EdChatModerators

The concept of #Get2ISTE came about through EdTechChat and pulling together some information about EdChat Moderators and one of my first attempts at community building with an EdChat Modertor forum that I established and an EdChat Resource plan that I worked on with Nurph.

As well as Susan Bearden and Steve Isaacs who give up their time to moderate chats each week I notice that there are other MIEs who are moderators like Andre Sprang and Skype Master Teacher, Beverley Ladd.

Madlearning from Co-creating with Educators
Since those first 5 weeks of following EdTechChat I've been intrigued by which companies get more love from the education community on social media compared with others. Since 2013 I have tried to curate conference data to look for various trends including the level of EdTech company positive and negative comments.

Apart from the big tech companies it wasn't easy to find any outlier and exemplar companies, until 2014 and Susan Beardon's Tweachme App. An educator and EdTech company co-creating a tool and then the educator going to the event to discuss the product.

What's this got to do with anything? Go take a look at some of the Microsoft Edu staff's LinkedIn profiles and see how many of them have classroom experience. If there is one thing that educators value, its recommendations from their peers. I'm seeing more and more brand ambassador roles being filled by educators.

The ideas from my Job Interview: Where do you see yourself in a Year post felt a little bit "out there" when I wrote them but seems very relevant today... as does the idea that cold calling is dead in EdTech.

SXSWEdu Digital Diversity
In 2015 I was aware that Sarah Thomas and others submitted a Digital Diversity session called "Minority Women in Tech" for the SXSWEdu Conference, which included MIE Rafranz Davis... Now this is a big deal as it lead to a chance introduction which was has proved significant.

Declara CEO, Ramona Pierson, was being interviewed for International Women's Day and was discussing being a woman in Silicon Valley (And winning) as well as how difficult it was to find female coders.

I jumped up from my desk to get this formidable startup lady's name to pass onto the SXSWEdu team and invited her to connect on LinkedIn. She accepted the invite and suggested that I speak to her VP James Stanbridge to discuss some collaborative projects

Mr Microsoft
I check out James' profile on Linkedin and I have a worrying kind of de ja vu feeling of "Oh no!" James is a former Microsoft VP. Why the "Oh No?" Well, any time I've tried to engage with people who work/worked for "The Big 3" regarding my experiences and the chances of being hired, the results have been the same. If it was a Little Britain sketch it would be a case of "The computer says No"

But not this time, James sees value in some of my projects and we agree to keep in contact. James has been supportive of my work since that very first call and I am extremely grateful to him for that.

After doing a little consultancy work with James, he provided me with a recommendation that makes me smile every time I read it!

Chris van der Kuyl & Malcolm Wilson
During the Scottish Learning Festival last year. Chris van der Kuyl gave a keynote presentation which I 100% agreed with and thought "I know what's needed here" and spent the next few weeks listening and seeing what the data told me about Scottish Education.

The more I looked at the data, the more the data screamed that there is something special happening in Falkirk. This lead me to MIE Expert and trainer Malcolm Wilson.

...This in turn led to where this post began and An Amazing Skype call with a Connected Educator and hosting the UK Digital Citizenship Summit within a couple of months.

The one condition that I had with regard to assisting with this was that the event that took place in Scotland to support the DigiLearnScot agenda... as with so many new ideas things didn't quite go to plan (In more ways than one... The joys of startupland.) and we had to move the event to England so that international speakers and delegates could attend the BETT Show and the summit.

I have been extremely fortunate to be able to be able to call on Malcolm and one of the Digital Citizenship Summit Co-Founders for advice and have collaborated with them on the Pokemon Go report over the course of July and August.

Pokemon Go and Michelle Zimmerman
When exploring the MIE data I noticed that Michelle Zimmerman's name came up in a few articles and from early on in the programme. Given that the establishment of a "super user" program is one of the things that are keeping me up at night at the moment, I thought to myself

"I need to try to get an introduction to Michelle when I'm finished all the number crunching with this"

Marialice presented details of this Pokemon Go report a couple of weeks ago and, as luck would have it, Michelle was there and asked to be introduced to me... I cannot wait to find out about Michelle's involvement with the MIE program, as well as her other projects.

SLF2015 & 2016
Depending on how you look at some of the projects that I've explored through listening to educators and collaborating with them... there have been some failures as well as successes.

In many cases the "failed" projects are not failures, it's just that their time has not come yet and we've not been forcing the issue.

I've been trying to "Iterate my way to product market fit" for a while now before scaling. It felt like my original business plan was something that wouldn't work out, so I set it aside, but it seems more relevant than ever.

The ideas that I had this time last year after listening to the SLF15 presentations didn't work out because the ideas had no merit, they didn't work because the timing and, to some extent the execution (Which I take responsibility for) wasn't quite right.

Through exploring the MIE network I can see how the timing might be a little better to explore these same ideas.

Core Values and Brand Voice
This time last year #Cmgrhangout discussed the importance of "Brand Voice" and using core values as a way to establish this voice. I've been using this for the last year now and, all in all, it seems to be working out quite well. It's an exercise that was well worth while and that I would recommend.

Paying It Forward
  • The fact that Excel and Word are my "Must have tools"
  • The Microsoft Exec who took a moment to advise me to "Get Soicial," 
  • The authors who kindly gave me permission to reference their work in my EdTech report
  • The MIE and Twitter Chat moderator who helped me to see that cold calling was dead
  •  Those vital "First Followers" with ideas like EdTechBridge and Get2ISTE
  • The SXSWEdu DigiDiversity presenters who led me to "Mr Microsoft" AKA James Stanbridge
  • An amazing Skype call with a connected educator
  • The invaluable advice from people like Malcolm Wilson 
  • Recognising trends in a program that went from one school in 2012 to almost 1,000 with 5,000 MIEs
There is no way of knowing if one of these things didn't happen if it would have lead to the next.

There is also no way of repaying in kind what the MIEs above have done to help me. Whether it was a 30sec DM, a 3 min conversation or collaboration project over the course of a few months.

Words cannot convey the gratitude that I have for the people who have assisted me in my personal and professional development.

The fact that there are a number of MIEs who have played a role in this confirms one of two things to me:

1) Tech companies and innovative educators can (and are!) playing a significant role with ed reform
2) What other interesting projects and ideas are there to be had if I were to find out about and connect with other MIEs?

I gave my assurances to someone who did me an act of kindness a few years ago from someone I admire that I would "Pay it Forward" as and when I can.

This time last year the guys at Skype expressed an interest in supporting the UK Digital Citizenship Summit. People in my PLN may have noticed that I've been spending a bit of time sharing details of the Skypeathon and the three nations challenge. The reason for this? All of the reasons in this post.

I hope that it helps to get a classroom or two connected and leads to the kind of people that I have met and collaborated with since being online.

Friday, 4 November 2016

Exploring the Microsoft Innovative Educator Expert Network


In my last post I used Pokemon Go to argue how and why I felt that innovative educators and tech companies were achieving more than our policy makers.

In this post I explain how and why I am going to be spending a little time exploring the world of Microsoft Innovative Educators, and other ambassador programs in education.

Since 2012 I have wondered whether the focus should be more on the way that technology is developed and gains traction in education rather than on the actual product.

The impetus for this was surveys like C4LPT Top Tools for Learning. In the 2012 survey I noticed that the majority of tools were free tools that were developed by major tech companies.
  • Was this because they were free? 
  • Or because the major tech companies were doing things differently?
With the kind permission from the authors of a number of startup books I wrote a report on the topic about the importance of "Developing Relationships and Delivering Value". Every project that I've explored over the last few years has been in an attempt to do what I can to nudge these ideas forward.

In July I got a chance to review and update the ideas from this report by exploring how and why the overnight success of Pokemon Go was the result of 2 years of hustle (See the Tech Adoption Cycle section of the DigCitPLNs' Pokemon Go Back to School Advice report).

Last month I caught up with MIE Expert Malcolm Wilson, who highlighted that Microsoft was doing some interesting things in Scotland and recommended that I check it out.

So there's the first and most important reason for exploring something... I might have a bit of a rebellious streak, but if there is one thing that I'll listen to it's the recommendation of an educator (Especially one who knows how to explore tech tools like Malcolm does!).

The evidence is right there at the Scottish Learning Festival as the Education Secretary will be announcing the Digital Schools Awards later in the day. Another expensive government initiative that will get replaced by something else in a few years? No Sir! A collaborative effort between Intel, HP, Microsoft as well as the Scottish Government.

I decide to see if the data confirms what Malcolm tells me... and Boy does it! Here are some top line stats:

5,000 MIEs from across the globe
Just stop and think about that for a moment. In today's Brexit, "I'm gonna build a wall" Trumpism and all the conflict and tensions between this country or group and that... This tech company has a network of educators who are in the same space innovating and collaborating.

I'm not being snarky when I pose this question...But

How many policy makers would be able to achieve this in a few short years?

Recognizing Educators 
There are a number of ways that this appears to happen from the MIE points and badge system, flying educators from across the globe to connect and collaborate and even hiring people with classroom experience to be teacher ambassadors.

Personal experience
When looking at the data and lists of MIEs I was surprised at how many I had collaborated with in a meaningful was and/or who had greatly assisted with my personal and professional development

Scottish Education
I spent a few months focusing on Scottish Education and two of the connections that I made happened to also be MIEs.

As someone who has explored alternative roll out methods I have kept an eye on the various ambassador programs.

The last time I looked there were not all that many ambassadors of EdTech companies in Scotland... so was surprised to find that there are some 40 MIEs in Scotland today. Someone has put a bit of hustle in somewhere recently. This includes St Mungo's in Falkirk recently being recognised as a Microsoft Showcase School.

I'll be going into more detail in my blog about all things Microsoft and MIEs and for a number of reasons... Including helping educators who are part of my PLN, as well as to scratch my own itch.

Super User Programs
As a relatively new #Cmgr an area of extreme interest to me is the development of "Super User" programs. One that I have paid close attention to is the Salesforce MVPs as just about all of them include "Salesforce MVP" on their social media profiles.

A similar level of enthusiasm can be found with MIEs check it out: MIE Twitter List and Skype Master Teacher Twitter List.

There's on thing that's at the heart of all of this and it's the same as with Pokemon Go:

You have to start with a good product... and that involved close collaboration with your users and fans to ensure that the product/service is fit for purpose.

Skypeathon
This time last year Malcolm's blog helped facilitate a Skype call that had some interesting results.


Why not check out what the educators who are already part of this network know by joining the Skype-a-thon at the end of the month:


We'll be encouraging people who assisted with the Pokemon Go report to get involved with this... and hope that they will help Scottish Educators with the friendly competition that they are having in the 3 Nations Challenge.



Tuesday, 19 July 2016

Pokemon Go... Tech Vs Policy Maker Results


Over the last few years I have felt that education reform would come from tech companies collaborating with innovative educators and early adopters of technology before it would come from the political classes. This post considers these issues by looking at what Pokemon Go has achieved in comparison to some of our politicians projects and efforts.

Over the last few years I have looked at the way that ideas roll out in education and have argued that one of the biggest challenges is that "Product market Fit" has not been achieved and, in education, cite a main challenge with this being due to the lack of collaboration and co-creation between educators and tech companies.

To test this idea I have focused less on discussing any particular products or services, and more on looking for products, services and ideas that had a culture where I felt ideas had value and a culture that could see things scale. This has included supporting things like the Scottish Independence Referendum, Education Scotland's #DigiLearnScot agenda and Marialice Curran's Digital Citizenship Summit Brand and Declara.

All these projects had an impact in a relatively short period. At the time of my getting involved, I felt all had a promising culture. If and when the cultural conditions disappeared, I became less involved.

Tech Vs Politicians
The phenomenon of Pokemon Go has further demonstrated to me that it's innovative Tech companies that we should be looking towards... as opposed to the political classes. Need some evidence?

  • Tony Blair and New Labour: The "Every Child Matters" initiative had a "Be Healthy" Strand, I wonder if the tweet above is true in that Pokemon Go got people more active in 24 hours than ECM did between 2003-2010. 
  • David Cameron: Scrapped the Healthy Schools initiative as well as Every Child Matters and replaced it with his failed "Big Society," I wonder if he wished that Pokemon Go was around when he launched this initiative. 
My thoughts on "The Big Society" in 2012:
Culture in Edu... A House Divided Cannot Stand
  • The Scottish Independence Referendum and the "Yes Scotland" Campaign: Had a fantastic grass roots movement that I got involved with as I felt it was inspired, but the movement and opportunity was completely squandered (See P1 of this doc to see why I got involved with #IndyRef). 
I am not politically minded but when you work in education you find that you need to deal with the political classes, something I have all but given up on in the UK... especially after seeing how much of a hash they made with Gazelle, FELTAG and how demolarising the culture UK politicians have (and continue to) create in education.

I supported the #VoteYes campaign because the culture was the kind of diversity that Jane Jacobs celebrated... and which Pokemon Go looks set to replicate.

Pokemon Go... User Experience
It's worth highlighting that while I like hanging out with innovative techies, as a user I'm a laggard and need some convincing to try new ideas...we download Pokemon Go the day that it came out in the UK to see what all the fuss is about.

Knowing about all the opportunities that exist in gaming we don't discourage our kids from playing them (Take a look at the jobs on Niantec's Job webpage... wish I'd stuck in at gaming when I was a kid! Lol.). But at the same time I'm rubbish at these new fangled games (And I mean REALLY rubbish!) so don't play them too often... nevertheless I am keen to see what all the fuss is about.

With two teenagers and a 5 year old in the house, it can be difficult to find activities that they all like so it's FANTASTIC! that we all head out together... phone in hand.

We head to a local park, a park that's only a few moments away but that we have not been to for ages. We think that we've been gone for 30mins... it's 2 hours later when we get back.

The next day I take my 5 year old to his drama class, a trip that's made more enjoyable looking for Pokemon... landmarks that we go past every day not only take on a new level of interest, but we learn about statues that we've given a second glance or the history of a building.

When we return the two older boys decide to go out. By then it's 2pm UK time so 9am ET... the servers are down and remain down for the entire Pokemon hunt. There's a bit of a strop about the game not working.

Having worked at a few startups and with an interest in tech and how and why ideas that roll out quickly they, soon get a lecture about patience and a reminder that the game was free... along with asking them why they are getting annoyed about a company that makes something so good that everyone wants to use it... especially when it's the first day and that it didn't cost them anything!

We take a walk anyway and discuss "network effects," "Feedback loops," community management and jobs in the gaming industry and how they could get started... and other things that I discuss in this blog that the boys show absolutely zero interest in normally ;).

On the way home we walk past a girl with a Pokemon hat on and do something that we hardly do, strike up a conversation based on the game, she has not played the game yet as the servers were down.

At 9pm the game is back online and we take a midnight jaunt for a few hours, again we strike up a conversation with someone who's playing the game too.

Having spent most of the kids life in startup land, with the various stresses of this lifestyle, the significance of this first day cannot be underestimated. It was a fantastic day of engagement and conversation

Other days since then have been much of the same... lot's of walking chatting, exploring our surroundings in a new and engaged way and striking up conversations with random strangers.

"Which Team?" Asks a young lad as he walks past a Pokemon Gym. A question in Glasgow that you might want to avoid given the Celtic/Rangers rivalry and the trouble it causes... but not on this occasion.

"Team Instinct" we answer, "Boo" comes the reply, "Mystic!!"

A Few Good Men... And Radical, Extreme Collaboration
With a positive user experience and a global phenomenon within a matter of days... thoughts soon turn to "shop," and who created this? How did they do it? What were their aims? Niantic CEO, John Hanke details the three goals they had in mind

The Niantic team had three big goals in mind when building "Pokemon Go," .

Exercise: A lot of fitness apps come with a lot of "baggage" that end up making you feel like "a failed Olympic athlete" when you're just trying to get fit, Hanke says. "Pokemon Go" is designed to get you up and moving by promising you Pokemon as rewards, rather than placing pressure on you.

"To see the world with new eyes:" The game is intended to "give you a little nudge" towards cool and interesting things in your neighborhood by turning real-life landmarks and historical sites into Pokestops and Gyms where players power up and battle. By encouraging exploration, "Pokemon Go" can "make your life better in some small way," Hanke says.

Breaking the ice: All over the world, players are organizing "Pokemon Go" outings, cruising around their area and trawling for Pokemon. At higher levels, players need to team up with fellow players to conquer those Gyms. This is by design: Hanke describes "Pokemon Go" as an "icebreaker" that "gives people a reason to spend time together."

Each and every objective was met with this users experience. According to LinkedIn there are 11-50 employees at Niantic. Think about that for a moment... Look at what 50 people in a massively collaborative environment have achieved in the space of 2 weeks since the game went live in the US.

I wonder if any initiatives out there that policy makers can highlight that have achieved the same results between April 2014 and today? 

I think that the global phenomenon of Pokemon Go demonstrates very well how and why I feel innovative tech companies will solve a lot of issues before the squabbling political classes will. If anyone feels this is an unfair comment, feel free to check out the #Brexit shenanigans. 

Pokemon Go in Education
What about Pokemon Go in education? How will that be received? 

Not only can I tell you how the discussion will go... I can show you..Here's a collection of over 100 education based articles about Pokemon Go: Pokemon Go Edu

As you can see, some people and groups see this augmented reality game as an opportunity... others a risk and a threat. And here's the thing, both perspectives and every viewpoint in between is right and will have merit.

After all, while my experiences have been extremely positive, I'm sure if we were to ask the people who have crashed their cars, fallen off cliffs and stuck in caves will have a very different experience... and quite rightly, any risk assessment of an educator about a new idea that has these examples is going to see the health and safety staff break into a cold sweat.

But if we are not careful the naysayers could win the day, and opportunities be lost. It's much easier for "the experts" to write an authoritative post which is be dismissive of something just because it's new... or worse, for these "experts" and decision makers to have political allegiances, so make a decision based on ensuring that they do not appear to show up our "hard working and right honourable political classes" instead of exploring an idea that has merit?

Maybe this "What Wildlife Scientists can Learn from Pokemon Go" article which cites a 2002 study "Why Conservationists should Heed Pokemon" where a joke is made about designing a game called "Ecomon" to capture children's attention, as they were able to identify Pokemon better than common wildlife.

As I say, I've been highlighting that the issue with EdTech and the search for that all important (but equally elusive) "Product Market fit" is a challenge due to a lack of collaboration between educators and technology companies for quite some time... Something that I also highlighted to FELTAG in 2012... One of the people involved in this government initiative even wrote the Forward in an EdTech Report I wrote:

Whether an early adopter or laggard when it comes to new ideas regarding education technology... #Whatif a website that may well have an icon on your homepage today but was blocked initially was embraced from the outset?

#Whatif... Twitter and Facebook were not blocked when the sites were launched? How much further would the Digital Citizenship agenda be today? How many less trolls would be around if educators fully explored all the risks and benefits instead of making what was clearly a rash decision for any school who blocked social media but have a presence today.

Of course caution and due diligence is required, but to dismiss out of hand doesn't sound much like learning to me.

Monday, 20 June 2016

Extreme, Radical Collaboration... But Beware of the Poseurs

Have fun, while getting s**t done! 

Is how I would describe my professional goals at the moment, which is a surprisingly accurate and succinct statement for me... But I sure have taken the long way round to know what to look for in order to achieve this goal.

In this post i'm going to talk about my week and end it with an extract from Nolan Bushnell's book "Finding the Next Steve Jobs" any links that people want to make about my week in relation to this extract is entirely up to them. Anyone who is interested in some extreme radical collaboration, here's where you can find me and a group of like minded change agents:
I'm in London and have just heard the formidable start up lady Ramona Pierson present at The Indie Summit before catching up with Declara's COO, Debra Chrapaty, and Vice President, James Stanbridge... I've just met the senior team at a hot shot Silicon Valley startup! How cool!

I regularly tell my kids that they can do anything they set their mind to and to find their place in the world. Six years ago I vowed to never again to work on any projects where the culture, sales tactics or products were questionable, and set my sights on collaborating with people like Ramona, Debra and James, so this meeting was a big deal for me.

Over the last few years I've tried to discuss some of the ideas we discussed on Friday with various groups. I can't tell you how confusing it has been that these groups constantly talked about the need for collaboration but their version is one that I just can't get a handle on... which has all been rather confusing.

Startup Lady
While I've watched and shared Ramona's Ted Talk "An Unexpected Place of Healing" a number of times it was fantastic to hear her story live. Here are some of the things that particularly stood out for me:

Ramona opened her presentation by telling the audience there were three things that she hoped we'd take away from her talk:

1) Be a Risk Taker
2) Be an Innovator
3) Be a Life Long Learner

Ramona then detailed how troublesome she was as a student, one teacher telling her not to come back to class until she's ran for 3 hours... or her hilarious observation that she didn't know that she was good at maths because she was constantly kicked out of class.

"Innovators are great at coming up with ideas, but can suck at communicating them... You [#TheIndieSummit attendees] are putting forward the message for things that people don't understand yet" Ramona Pierson

Ramona then talked about the people who saved her life, the bystander who took an old innovation a pen and used it in an innovative way to help her breathe when she was hit by a drunk driver.

The Doctor who risked his medical licence and career by keeping her in a medically induced coma for longer than the recommended duration at the time.

Eventually the hospital gave up on her and she was put into an old folks home, something Ramona was grateful for as the thing that the OAPs had was wisdom... it was like having 100 grandparents.

Everything discussed here reminds me of Jane Jacobs' "The Life and Death of Great American Cities" and how all the chaos of the city creates order:

"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"

Something that Ramona said that really made me think was when she asked us to consider the talent in the room... what could we all learn from each other and/or how much could we help students and young people by sharing our knowledge and wisdom?

Ramona also discussed how difficult life was not having a voice, how it led to people making decisions for her, the clothes that she wore and the trips that she went on. She then applied this same issue to the business world by highlighting "If employees don't have a voice they become unhappy."

When relearning how to talk she spoke of the embarrassment of making childish noises, something that was helped by gamification with playing curse scrabble (I wonder if #Carpetthefuckingdiem ever came up?)

Ramona then talked about the dangers of becoming complacent as, when she got to a certain lifestyle, she stopped taking risks.

Ramona ended her talk by highlighting that her entire journey has helped her to be an innovator... and innovators come up with ideas but can't always communicate them.

I have been delighted to develop an independent voice in my blog, something that has perhaps been compromised as I now write in support of Declara so much... HOWEVER, if you take the time read the story that I wanted to tell so badly that it was the reason I started a blog, you will see why this isn't a problem for me... as Ramona and her team has hard wired into the company's DNA what I was advocating for in that early post "Culture in Education...A House Divided Against It'self Cannot Stand"

In my notebook I have highlighted in big bold letters Ramona's parting statement from her talk on Friday:

EXTREME RADICAL COLLABORATION

You can only wonder what this might look like at the moment but, as the sales process evolves and the shared economy develops I think that we'll see more of the extreme radical collaboration and less of the faux collaboration that I've both seen and experienced.

Collaboration... But Not Really
OK this is a tricky part of the post? If it's true and actually happened... does that mean that I'm being snarky? How much do you detail to ensure that you are not naming and shaming as opposed to making a point? I'm not sure... but here goes.

Gazelle: I reached out to the good and the great of this agenda to try to tell them how and why their initiative was all wrong. The result? The project cost £3.5million had 27 colleges subscribing at its peak and today has 5 colleges.

Not only did I write a Business Development Ideas for FE Report before this group was formed, I shared some of the findings with one of the founders six months before Gazelle was officially launched/established

FELTAG: I tried to offer my input with regard to how to test and scale the concept of having 10% of college course material online, which was based on 9 months of research and ideas that I continue to use and explore to good effect today.

Some people did reach out to me, but appeared to me to beat a time in the project when it suited them.

When I saw an opportunity to take action and make 100% certain that I was heard, this same individual was quick to get in touch to criticize my actions but also appeared to me to abdicate any responsibility when the grand plans didn't quite pan out a couple of years later.

Two years is a long time in politics...
2016: It's start small then scale
2014: It was all "Rocket Boosters on
"

Digital Skills: A few years ago it was all entrepreneurship with Gazelle and Peter Jones Academies along with 230 other young enterprise initiatives where there appeared to be little or no collaboration... but plenty of egos!

Over the last few weeks I've seen this same trend emerge as digital skills is the latest hot topic in the UK. When I reached out to people to get support for the UK Digital Citizenship Summit, something I got involved with because of the collaboration at the first event, these same people didn't lift a finger to help in any way.

A few weeks ago Reclaim the Internet was launched, last week #DigitalSkills was trending with a shiny new report (which possibly cost thousands and thousands of pounds).

Last Thursday I noticed that there was an event about #DigiLeaders...I won't deny that some of the conversation was quite interesting, but when I saw it was a government initiative I switched off completely.

Furthermore, when you see that the DigiLeader Scotland initiative was managed from Manchester, you've got to question the Scottish Governments commitment to Scotland's "Developing the Youth Workforce" and "Reducing the Attainment Gap"

When I was in London meeting with the team from Declara there was a digital skills event in Scotland with three people speaking, and where calls for collaboration and transparency were being discussed at the event and on the hashtag.

One of these people I have the utmost respect for, another ignored me when I was asked to assist with their work and was looking for support with something that I was working on that could develop the #DigiLearnScot agenda and ideas from Chris van de Kuyl's awesome keynote at last year's Scottish Education Festival.

A third speaker at this event offered to help with the UK Digital Citizenship Summit, but ended up giving me what I can only describe as my first experience of dealing with a troll... And yet was being praised here for their social media skills... go figure?

If anyone feels that detailing these experiences is being overly cynical or unconstructive in any way, I'd love to hear how the Scottish Government is going to reduce the attainment gap with a workforce of educators who are so demolarised that they are ready to take industrial action.

...Or how something that was once seen as a vocation is now a viable option for people facing redundancy because our "hard working" and "right honourable" MPs can't create the right culture to attract and retain educators.

What is mentioned above are realisms more than criticisms' per se. Seriously, I'm not being snarky here and don't feel that highlighting things that actually happened to me is entirely nonconstructive, especially as I detail these things in the hope of saving others a lot of time and trouble by recommending that they be aware of the takers and fakers... especially any sector that involved politicians.

Here's someone with a little more authority on the topic of poseurs who's only skill is to put together a good CV.

Beware of the Poseurs

With no direct correlation to any of the above, I'd like to end this post with an extract from Nolan Bushnell's "Finding the Next Steve Jobs" those who feel that they don't have a voice in their workplace and/or simply want to #CarpettheFuckingDiem... If that's you, you know where to find me and some AWESOME Silicon Valley startup friends (More on the kind of space I'd like this to be in my next post).


"This books' basic readership is people who want their company to be more creative. My fear is that some readers will use it differently: As a guide to being a phony. After all, I'm giving them a whole bunch of ideas on how to act like a creative.

One of the biggest lessons I've learned over the years is that the business world (and by extension, the world itself) is filled with poseurs. these people are quite clever at figuring out what you want them to say, and then saying it exactly the way you want to hear it.

I first learned about the onmipresence of phonies during the early years of Atari. The custom chip business was very difficult and time consuming. And because it could take at least a year to get a completed custom chip working, a whole cadre of people posing as chip designers would always find ways to leave the company or get fired before the chip ever worked. Steve Jobs once told me that there were many employees at Apple who never got a single chip working. I told him it was the same at Atari. These people were able to go from job to job to job, doing something that seemed creative but yielding zero output. I remember one guy whose nickname became "I Almost Have It." Every time we'd ask if his chip was ready, that's what he'd say.

You have to be wary of poseurs. So how do you recognise them?

For one thing, don't rely solely on credentials in hiring. In the chip world, for example, someone can have terrific credentials in chip design without any ability to get a chip engineered. Such poseurs know how to build up a terrific looking resume. you'll soon find out it's their major talent.

The poseur's fundamental skill is the bluff. For some reason they don't feel a need to go past that, which is why they are easily unmasked. At Atari, I once hired two people who came from Hewlett-Packard. At the time, HP was considered the best company in the field. If you'd landed one of it's executives, you felt pretty lucky. These guys were like butter: so smooth, so polished, so frictionless. It turned out that they didn't know how to do anything except shine at an interview, and, once on the job, take credit for what their underlings did.

All of us have been taken in by poseurs at one point or another. The trick is to learn from the experience rather than endlessly repeat it" Nolan Bushnell, Finding the Next Steve Jobs


Sunday, 5 June 2016

How I Met your Awesomeness: Plotagon... and Co-Opetition

This post details how I found out about a company called Plotagon and why within less than a week and after reading a single blog post about the startup why I think they will go far.

Spoiler alert and hint: Culture! Culture! Culture!

"Culture eats strategy for breakfast, technology for lunch, products for dinner and soon thereafter everything else too" Peter Drucker as quoted in this fantastic article Strategy Eats Strategy for Breakfast.

In "Why startups Fail" Dave Feinberg discusses how some VCs and startup gurus would argue that a great team with a bad product is better than a great product with a bad team.

Data Curation 
When mapping BETT exhibitors in January Plotagon was on the list but, just like Declara (Then Pierson Labs) was on a list of exhibitors at ISTE 2013, it was simply one of many company's that I curated and mapped.

Pleased to Tweet You!
Last month when seeing if anyone was interested in getting involved with the latest project the text on the spreadsheet with this Swedish startup came to life like the text that they bring to life with their animations

First Follower
Yesterday I received the first completed surveys asking people to contribute to the map by adding information to this Education Conference Speaker and Supplier Map Survey.

Plotagon Education was the "first follower," without whom there would be no momentum to an idea, I noted with interest that the person completing the survey was their head of community and I was reminded of Marc Smith's comments in the "Six Degrees of Separation" #Cmgrhangout session where he highlighted that #Cmgrs are a collaborative group that "Don't hate each other."  

Thank you SO MUCH for taking the time to complete this survey!

Good Idea? Or Lone Nut? It all depends on the first follower
Focus on the One
While I have learned so much for #Cmgrhangout and I was reminded of what I think is the single biggest lesson from following this amazing GHO, which is focus on the individual relationships, not the many, focus on establishing close 1:1 relationships as opposed to mass broadcasts where you are trying to engage with lots of people with the same message.

Culture! Culture! Culture!
Last night I checked out Klas Linkedin profile so I could connect with him there and saw all I needed to see for me to suggest that this company is worth checking out.

What did I see I hear you ask? Check out this "Two Years at a Startup" post and the video below and see if you can spot it.

Two years at Plotagon

Did you see it? To me this article and video screams passion, culture... and a good smattering of craziness (Invisible pole? What's that all about?)

Co-opetition
When I saw the animation I thought "Oh man! I think that this is the platform that made the hilarious "Music Teacher and the Parent" series of videos, which is particularly relevant as I had just written about parents avoiding taking educators time up in this way. 

The Music Teacher and the Parent
Does the fact that this video is by someone else who creates animations mean that it's any less relevant or funny? Does my appreciation for Plotagon getting involved mean that I shouldn't share this?

My core values include that we'll collaborate with anyone, even when it's uncomfortable and I have both collaborated with, and benefited from, helping a competitor (See How Helping a Competitor has been Beneficial).

Then there is that fact that our friends at Buncee and we hope that our buddies at Kyte Learning will be joining us soon... one does animations and the other creates PD videos, does this mean that competitors are collaborating in the same space? I have no idea! 

However, what I do know is that Google, Apple, Microsoft et al are all competitors, but they collaborate when it benefits their users:

"There are many examples here of companies trying to kill each other in one market but working together in another — to better serve customers. Microsoft Windows runs on Apple Macs because customers wanted it. When Apple Maps failed, Apple asked its users to download Google Maps. Finally, within firms, it is understood that to thrive in today’s market, solve the biggest problems and serve customers, you need to assemble the best minds from anywhere in the world.

“When you obsess about the customer, you end up defeating your competition as a byproduct,” said K.R. Sridhar, the founder of Bloom Energy, a fuel-cell company. “When you are just obsessed about the competition, you end up killing yourself” as a byproduct — “because you are not focused on the customer.”  Thomas Friedman, Collaborate Vs Collaborate.

Some commentators feel that collaboration and more effective knowledge transfer will be factors in the EdTech scene in the not too distant future, if that's the case our merry #ISTE16Pirate crew may be onto something. Whether #ISTE2016 supplier or educator, speaker or attendee, at ISTE or #NotAtISTE, please feel free to come and join the party.

Thank you so much to everyone who has joined already.
The #ISTE16Pirate Crew