Saturday, 17 October 2015

Imagine you’re the Founder of a Tech Startup... Implementing van der Kuyl's Keynote

The Scottish Learning Festival was on last month and Chris van der Kuyl, Chairman of 4J Studios, gave a fantastic keynote speech on the need for all stakeholders to increase the rate that new technology was being adopted in Scottish education.

I agreed with everything that Chris said (Well, with the exception of one thing, but I'll leave that for another post). 

I also happen to have been working on a lot of what Chris was advocating for over the last few years, with varying degrees of success... and a fair share of failures too.. The most important thing about these experiences in this context is that I know why some projects succeeded and why others didn't.

You see, with each project and initiative my approach was exactly the same. So why did one project work while others didn't? It depended if the educators were connected or not… and what the culture of those connections was like.

I had a fair idea of what was needed following Chris’ keynote. I've not been involved with Scottish education for years so there was a need to;

1) Listen to the sector
2) Assess what stage Scottish Education was at regarding the adoption of technology
3) See how connected Scottish educators are

Curating the data from Schools Twitter accounts allowed me to achieve all three goals in a relatively short period of time.

After looking at the data my assessment may not be a good one,  if it wasn't for one thing: Chris’ keynote.

Chris has provided the catalyst to create some momentum, but this won’t be here for long without a concerted effort.

In a moment I'm going to ask you to look at some data, and want you to imagine that you're the founder of a hot Technology product... and you’re wondering which sector to operate in.

The dataset I've used is when the 740 Scottish schools that I've sourced on Twitter opened their account. The aim is to demonstrates how appealing Scottish education is at the moment AND to show what it could be like... IF educators did one thing:

Got connected and collaborated
In the way that Chris advocates for in his SLF keynote.

You're the Founder of a Tech Startup...
Here's your market intelligence Scottish Schools Adoption of Twitter, now here's what Nancy Duarte describes as the "what is" Vs "what could be" scenarios that I can see when looking at this data.

What is...You  have a product that you feel educators could benefit from. The cost is £3,000. You decide to give Scotland a try.

Over the course of 9 years, there are 740 Schools out of 2,700 who subscribe to your product... of which 8% (67 schools) no longer use the service, so may be detractors who are dismissive of your service. This factor may impede growth.

These are detractors, not because there is anything wrong with your product... but because the sector did not realise how new ideas get adopted.

The revenue is £2,200,000 over this period. At a wage of £30,000 per annum that’s 8 members of staff (That's without considering any other overheads)… Hardly an appealing proposition that's going to set the heather on fire!

This rate of growth is likely to see one of a number of outcomes, all of which leads to a lack of focus in this sector. This may include;

1) Avoid Scotland and go for larger markets (After all our neighbour has over 20,000 schools and the US X5 that number, and they ARE connected and are generally easier to deal with).

2) Operate in Scotland but look at other markets at the same time.

So Scotland either misses out on an opportunity entirely, or the service is not quite as bespoke as it could have been because the organisations' focus and resources are split between different regions.

What could be...
Now imagine that Scotland got organized and was able to shrink this sales cycle so that this same revenue (£2,200,000) could be achieved in 2-3 years... and not over a 9 year period.

I appreciate that mentioning the revenue that a company makes may be off putting to some, but to do that is to miss the point.

If Scotland is easy to deal with, it will become the "go to" location for innovative startups when they are looking for a good place to roll their service out. I have also had discussions where founders have told me they could reduce their costs but up to 50% if educators were easier to reach.

The difference between the "What is" Vs "What could be?" In my opinion, it's as simple as getting plugged in to one another and spit balling ideas and discussing best practice. I know that various quangos and big important people with big important titles will puff out their chests and say that this already happens.

All I'll do with remarks like this is point to this -->  Scottish Schools Adoption of Twitter and say 9 years, a free tool, with a ton of education based case studies... and 30% adoption, that's your idea of being connected? Really?

If you're a Scottish educator please follow as many of the accounts on page 4-7 as this will help put the necessary "Network Effects" in place, and we can take things from there.

1 comment:

  1. While reading your post, I couldn't help but wonder if edcamps have been attempted for educators. While the connectedness is an obvious, this type of PD for educators could be the voice needed to think creatively and explore new innovative technologies.