Sunday 24 January 2016

#DigCitSummitUK: Closing Remarks

The UK Digital Citizenship Summit took place yesterday, an event that started with researching the lie of the land with social media in Scottish Education and a Tweet to let Marrialice Curran know about Malcolm Wilson's awesome blog, which lead to a Skype call and 2 months of hustle by over 100 people crowdfunding the event.

Given my involvement I was asked if I'd like to speak right up until the end of the event and deliver the closing remarks. The thought of the idea was enough to raise the anxiety levels to an uncomforatbly high level.

The day before I had stopped by the BETT Show. Hundreds of educators and suppliers doing great work... how did this pan out for me? I almost left before I got to registration point.

But I braved it and I went in. What happened? I spoke to four people in total and was so relieved to leave the hustle and bustle as soon as I could.

Then onto sunny Bournemouth for #DigCitSummitUK an event that I have been looking forward to for two months... But which also sent the anxiety levels sky high.

I knew a lot of the people at the event whether online or offline. The organisers and hosts being a perfect example.

Dr John McAlaney is someone who I have met on many occasions when planning some work around social norms and Dr Marialice Curran who I have spoken to on a daily basis via Skype or DM for the last 2 months.

But large groups of any description have become an anxiety, even when it's a large group of old and new friends... regardless of whether it's personal or professional.

The fact that I used to stand up and present to groups in previous jobs and knowing that I can do this if necessary doesn't seem to help as it acts as a reminder of the extent to which schools and workplaces are designed for extroverts, as Susan Cain suggests.

Cain also goes on to suggest that introverts can be formidable sales people, but their methods can differ from their ROWDIER more out going extroverted counterparts.

One of my most memorable comments from the summit was a students comment from the #DigCitathon "Be the same person online as offline," but after thinking about how much safer it is to express my closing remarks in my blog, I wonder if this is possible.

I used to make a terrible first impression when meeting people due to my anxiety getting the better of me, I'd stumble the introduction if it was a big meeting and from there all I can think of is "This guy must think I'm an idiot" and I'd get more and more flustered.

First impressions count, right. So when you fluff it and are convinced that the person you are looking to engage thinks "Oh man! What an idiot!" there's only one way to go, right? Up.

So whether the follow up email or by the second or third meeting I'd maybe make an impact, and the "What an idiot!" tag would come down a notch or two.

Social media gives me a chance to make a better first impression. I'd hope that any friends in the audience would forgive me for any poor delivery of any talk that I gave... but not sure what any friends that I hadn't met yet might think, so I declined the kind offer to talk. So here's my closing remarks on an event that I've been pitching in with over the last 2 months.

#DigCitSummitUK Tech Stories Closing Remarks 
Own your Words and Social Media Comes with the Job Today
I find that a lot can be learned with looking at yester-year. For example, I've read about the industrialists at the turn of the century including books like "Uncommon Friends" by James Newton who details time he spent with Henry Ford, Thomas Edison, Harvey Firestone, Charles Lindberg and others.

There are a lot of answers to today's problems by looking to the past for answers.

For example, in one conversation this group was discussing the future and how current energy was not sustainable...and debated the future and included renewable energy (In the early 1900's?!) was the future, one arguing that solar power would be big, the other tidal power and Ford discussed the kind of materials that could replace metal.

If I were asked what I'd like out of my career it would be to be able to meet up with a group of friends in the way that Newton describes where they reminisce about any work that they did where they made a difference... laughing about the trials, tribulations, failures and dead ends, as well as quietly celebrating the successes.

The same lessons can be learned from the communities from yester-year. The mantra of one of the first online communities, The Well (A place where the term "Cyberspace" was christened") was "Own your words"

As with Google's sparse home page (Who had a design budget of $50), this mantra was bourne in part out of necessity, they told people to "Own their words" as the founders of The Well could not afford any litigation costs.

In addition to this "The Well" was an experiment as it was people who were returning to the world of work after the communes of the 1970's were being wound up and people were looking to return to the world of work.

The founders view and experiment was "Capitalism wants to put us in our little cubicle's and have us consume as much as possible... what happens if we dismember the tribe"

Not only do I think that "Own your words" is amongst the best advice that I could give people in the online or offline world... whether it's said with confidence because the introvert has the screen to help with any anxiety... or whether stuttered out in anxiety in an uncomfortable and dreaded F2F encounter.

I tell my boys that "Words are the most powerful thing in the world" and that "It's not what you say it's the way that you say it" and that "If you've nothing nice to say, don't say anything at all"

Own your words! I hope that I do own my words. I make mistakes with all of the above, I take ownership of these mistakes by apologizing quickly and sincerely.

We see on social media that people don't own their words, they hide behind what they believe to be anonymity, but their words get found and can have equally fantastic and catastrophic consequences for themselves and others.

It's perhaps useful to ask, why are people not owning their words online today?

I'll look to the reasons that I got plugged in for this answer. I was told in 2010 that if I wanted to work in EdTech that "Social Media comes with the job today," I plugged in because I was told that my professional career depended on it...And BOY! Did I have a tantrum about having to get plugged in too!

I wonder how long it will be before our policy makers and education admins are conveying the same message to young newly qualified educators

"You're applying for a job as XYZ teacher, but you're not on social media... don't you know that it comes with the job today?"

How many more of the negative consequences will we have before there is a realisation that educators need to be digital leaders? When will policy makers acknowledge that educators need to be digital learners... before they can be digital leaders? Complete with all the mistakes that come from learning when they explore this medium that's new to them.

What if the remit and mindset from policy makers was

"As long as you own your words... go ahead, let's see what happens when we dismember the tribe from the capitalist model, go represent the school in your free time... go join an EdChat, connect with students that you know are on twitter and help with their homework, chat to our students parents, help the school build an online presence"

I'm an optimist so I won't ask "What's the worst that can happen" (Although I would encourage people to write down what's the worst that can happen and discuss how to prevent that instead of simply saying "no")... I prefer to look at the best that could happen.

A Tweet just might lead to something becoming a pretty big deal in a couple of months time... Thank you to the army of volunteers who helped crowdsource this event and to you for investing your time with us today.

...Please keep an eye on your inbox as there will be some goodies on the way to thank you for coming today and for those who helped out.

In the mean time I'd like the take this opportunity to thank Marialice, I sincerely hope that when it's all done and dusted we'll be able to reminisce... to laugh off any the trials, tribulations and failures that we encountered, as well as quietly celebrating any successes as we are today.

NB Apologies for any typos etc, with this post at the moment... It's a case of "Publish and be damned" as I am late for brunch with some #DigCitSummitUK friends.
25 July 2017 Postscript
As the DigCitSummit Movement moves on to another location I thought it would be useful to include a selection of Tweets that were shared over the course of the collaboration:

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