Monday, 28 September 2015

#SLF15: The Pace of Change & Online Collaboration

This post is the first in reply to, and in support of, Chis van der Kuyl's closing keynote Raising the Digital Generation in Scotland at the Scottish Learning Festival. 

In this post I consider the possibilities of online collaboration as well as some potential dangers to educators, which just might include their job security, if they do not increase the pace of change.

I joined #CmgrHangout live for the first time in quite a while as the topic was on 
How to Scale Trust and Relationships. I know that educators have lost trust with policy makers, so wanted to check the session out.

I was welcomed to the session with the above message from 
David de Wald, who is an extremely experienced Community Manager that I've learnt so much from! 

His comment made my day! When I first met the Cmgr community via Community Manager Appreciation Day, I knew very little about managing online communities.

I include Davids comment in this post, not because it praises any of my work. I mention it because I want to highlight that everything I learned, and which led to the work David is commenting on, is from what I learned online from Community Managers over the last 2 years.

Not only that, but just about everything I've learned from these fantastic people can be found in these collections.
And it isn't just a kind word on social media from experienced Community Managers who I respect either. I had a phone interview with one of the largest Education PLCs for the role of Digital Community Manager last week.

I don't know if my application will progress beyond a 30 minute phone interview but, given who the company was and my lack of formal qualifications in this field, if I was an educator... I might be a little worried. There has not been an educator or physical building in sight. 

Although, it's just as well I found these people online. Inbound marketers will tell you that traditional sales is dying (If you were an educator at the Scottish Learning Festival think about how many stands you visited).

Through listening to and collaborating with educators on line I could see that my sales skills were on the way out a few years ago. If I wanted to go to my local college to re-train I'd have been disappointed... There's nothing on Community Management there.

Chris spoke of the value gaming has to the Scottish economy. A gaming community called Twitch started out just like Stampy Cat did, as a hobby but went on to be bought by Amazon for £1 billion... How did they achieve this? 

As well as finding it easier to re-train online Vs finding a local college course, I have found my more recent experience with Hootsuite and Intercom to be convenient, user friendly and personal: over all a great learning experience!

In fact, you might be forgiven for being more optimistic about online learning achieving product-market fit than with UK educators changing in the way that Chris recommends in his talk. 

Check out the Hootsuite Social Media course experience yourself here: Podium 

I've found that asking uncomfortable questions and stating facts can be construed as being controversial. With no intention of being controversial it might be worth asking;  

  • How long has FELTAG been working on getting FE courses online? Would tools like Podium, Intercom and Declara help achieve this group's aims quicker, cheaper and easier than current progress?
  • I noticed that a Scottish awarding body have some Social Media material. With 2,600 schools and 48,000 teachers... but only 545 Twitter accounts posting on the SLF15 hashtag (Of which around 24 appear to be Schools and 71 educators who have a collective following of 50,000 people), are there some issues that need to be addressed?

Whether it's selling educators on the value of Social Media, the way training is delivered, addressing educators fears with students being abusive or disciplinary action from their school or the course material... it looks like more needs to be done with this. 

If Twitter has been around for 9 years, is free and has many examples of success... but can't be adopted, what chance have newer, less tried and tested and/or more expensive initiatives got?

Something I find curious is that 578 MPs who were elected in May are on Twitter and, collectively, had 6,900,000 followers when I did some research at the end of April. 

It kind of makes you wonder how much commitment politicians have with education and digital literacy. They develop their own digital skills for their precious elections, but do not appear to do as much for educators or students? But then it's "Woe is me" if our popularity hunger politicians get any abuse.
Then there's the fact that I've been discussing the same things that Chris describes for the last 5 years in UK Further Education and eventually found that I was in a "bad market," (Which as I highlighted in last weeks' Spark Social Learning post, it appears that this remains the case) 
I've had even less engagement with Scottish educators or policy makers than I did with FE. However, I continue to do what I can where I can.

Over the last 18 months I've got enough community experience for major education companies to be interested in my skills, I've got some good results with projects in the US... And I'm happy to help if, where and when I can. I wonder if any Scottish Educators or policy makers will get in touch?

As much as I love education and educators the frustrations and challenges are very real. Although it is important to note that I DO NOT see any lack of innovation as being down to our educators, but the culture that policy makers create. Respect and trust must be there for a culture of innovation. 

When I stopped focusing on FE 12 months ago, this policy maker/educator relationship was not a good one! In his keynote Chris said that technology will never replace a good teacher, and he's right. But what does a bad culture do to a great teacher? 

Unfortunately, I can tell you the answer to that... it kills innovation and sees the educator leave the profession. The number of innovative educators I wrote to and the number of messages I received to say the emails were undeliverable just before I left FE was astounding.. When I asked what was going on with the educators who left their post but was connected with on LinkedIn... The answer was "I got sick of the culture"

Regardless of the issues with policy makers and educators, there are people in the world of business who were probably at the same stage that Chris van der Kuyl was in their region, they were concerned about the lack of talent, the skills/edu gap and tried to suggest some changes... but found the pace of change frustrating.

So they're now doing education on their own whether it's physical schools (Kipp, Alt School, Adidas University or online with Starbucks & MOOCs. If you take a moment to explore these links you'll see that these startups and companies are getting good results.

If educators won't change others will fill the void... More posts in reply to Chris' fantastic SLF15 keynote to follow. 

For the moment my offer of assistance is there.

Now I'm off to speak to Elena and get more work done with my Hootsuite Social Media course advisor. 

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