Tuesday, 15 December 2015

EdChat Moderators - Making Connections & Giving Back

This post makes an argument for how and why it might make sense for Twitter support the twelve EdChat Moderators who are looking to attend the UK Digital Citizenship Summit to present at the event.

Today at 2pm GMT/9am ET a Thunderclap will go out with the message

"I support #DigCitSummitUK on the 23rd Jan 2016 and think it would be fantastic if Twitter and Skype supported the event"

Whether we look at the story behind how this summit came about, the time and effort that EdChat moderators have put into developing their EdChats or from the perspective of what the twelve moderators looking to attend the event... Twitter supporting #DigCitSummitUK sure makes sense to me.

I wonder if others will agree.

EdChat Moderators - Passionate & Motivated
When you consider that educators clock up £7 billion of unpaid overtime AND THEN some also take to Twitter and moderate an EdChat (Or two... or three) on a weekly/monthly basis, it doesn't take a genius to figure that this is;

1) An extremely passionate group of people
2) Where, with the right culture, a lot of innovation and EdReform will come from

Over 400 EdChats that take place out of hours where educators self organise and discuss various edu issues of the day.

People have marveled at how much has been achieved in 4 weeks with the #DigCitSummitUK with EdChat Moderators Julie Szaj (#NT2T) and Craig Kemp (#Whatisschool) have achieved in the last few weeks with organising this event... with a little help from other moderators and people in their PLN.

It's amazing what a small group of passionate people can achieve!

EdChat Moderators - Selfless Givers
I hope the comment above details how selfless these educators are: they put in unpaid overtime, establish Twitter chats to assist their colleagues, will demo and advocate for technology companies without asking for anything in return (But, again, will give up their time to go to ambassador training and networking events).

Educators will also continue to do more with less as budget cuts have taken effect over the last few years and/or the issues affecting children's home lives enter and disrupt the classroom as the global recession has taken hold.

This selfless giving is commendable but, as Adam Grant highlights in Give and Take, it also runs the risk of burnout as educators end up giving too much.

To take on an EdChat and be available every week for the last 5 years is quite a commitment.

If we were to take the US salary guide and factor in an hour of preparation and an hour to host a chat each week this would come out at $15-30,000 if this leadership PD was part of the moderators day job.

Alternatively, if all 1,045 EdChat moderators attended their chat every week for a year this would come in at $3,120,000-6,240,000 based on the same salary scale.
How Much Teachers Get Paid State-by-State
Connecting the Unconnected
I don't need anyone to tell me how contentious it is to discuss the nature of educators selfless giving in monetary terms is, no-one seems to appreciate the discussion. So I'll turn my attention to the opportunity to connect the unconnected.

I may be biased, but I think that this project provides a powerful example of how a little bit of online chat can lead to massive real world collaboration.

I've come under a little bit if fire and faced criticism for making this summit US-centric, when the reality is that I reached out to everyone in my network to get their thoughts on (and get them involved with) #DigCitSummitUK, but it is US educators who got behind the event.

You need look no further than conferences like the recent Scottish Learning Festival or Association of Colleges annual conference and compare them with the chatter on social media with US events like ISTE to see the difference. 

Therefore, having connected educators who have given so much over the last few years to meet people in their PLN IRL and to advocate for the importance of being a connected educator at a time when a Tweet led to a summit being organised by three moderators and a bunch of volunteers within an insanely short period of time sure makes sense to me!

Skills/Education Gap
Everyone recognises the need for more business/education collaboration and whether we consider California's Circle the Schools, Scotland's Developing the Youth Workforce, UK Modern Apprenticeships, Canada's work on Learner Voice, Singapore and Australia's innovations this event has the kind of diversity that these initiative advocate for.

And if this group of passionate and highly motivated volunteers have organised all this virtually in four weeks, imagine what they'd do if they were in the same space for 3-4 days in January?! 

Sending out an SOS
However, to achieve this we need to ask for one of two things that selfless givers can be uncomfortable with.

1) Ask for help 
2) Ask for funding

According the Adam Grant's research, selfless givers will help anyone and everyone they can... but don't like asking for help themselves. Also, the suggestion that educators benefit financially for hosting their EdChat will be uncomfortable to the very people the idea is designed to help.

So getting this message right for all stakeholders is a near impossibility. So my conclusion is a cathartic one.
  • Any support that Twitter might provide will both be earned and will help with their growth plans...it looks to me like plain good business sense to me.
  • To suggest financial support for 12 moderators to come over to the UK could look like a big number in terms of financial support... but this figure pales in comparison to the time moderators put in if moderating their chats was part of their paid employment.
  •  The differences in the use of Twitter and social media by US educators compared with the UK is quite marked... conference data is a good example of this

I've done my best with this post and I've done my best with pitching in to pull this event together. To be 2-3 weeks behind schedule because of unforeseen delays out of a 5 week project truly is a remarkable achievement.

So we're now in a position were we need a little assistance... I hope someone gets and responds to this SOS.

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