Wednesday, 1 June 2016

Let's be ISTE2016 Pirates!

Let's Be ISTE2016 Pirates
For the last 6 years I have been exploring alternative methods for EdTech companies to engage with educators. For the last 3 years I've been trying to curate big data sets that edchats and education conferences generate.

This post takes a brief look at the background to these two areas of interest, and details what has been proposed for ISTE2016 with a few edu pirates.

I also highlight how big a task achieving these goals will be... and the potential booty and impact to be had if the voyage of discovery was successful.

Between 2011-2013 I spent a good deal of time researching what some of the issues were with education/supplier relations and found that a key challenge wasn't so much the products... but the way that products were being rolled out.

Through painful experience I realised that companies who were rolling products out before "product market fit" had been achieved. In order for companies to "iterate their way to achieving product market fit" that close relationships with educators was a pre-requisite... not the easiest task in the world given how over worked educators are.

Here are some posts I've written on the topic of education/supplier relations:

April 2013: Startup Education
Aug 2013: Death of a Salesman...And New Edu Models
Dec 2013: #StartupEduChat Meets #EdTechBridge
June 2014: ISTE13 Reflections - Death of an EdTech Salesman
Through listening to educators at conferences and in EdChats I wondered if suppliers covering the costs of educators PD might be a "win-win" situation. 

This would enable educators to attend events that they might not otherwise be able to make (and, as Adam Grant highlights, could play a role in preventing burn out). This could also foster better relationships between educators and suppliers in comparison to some sales and marketing efforts. Here are some ramblings on this idea:

July 2014: EdChat Moderators ISTE or Bust
Mar 2015: I'm An EdChatMod...Get me out to ISTE2015
Mar 2015: Nikki D Robertson: Bringing Tech Stories to Life
Mar 2015: An Amazing Global Edu Race: Get Craig to ISTE
Mar 2015: A Pledge to GetNikki2ISTE
June 2015: Get2ISTE2015 - Any Last Minute Support from Suppliers
June 2015: Get2ISTE2016 - Ways to Get Support During 2015
July 2015: Patience with Curating ISTE Data  
March 2016 Get2ISTE Rides Again

As many of the ideas I come up with involved listening to educators I have been passionate about curating data from events like ISTE for the last 3 years.

June 2013: Mining Data... Nuggets of Gold and Pearls of Wisdom
July 2013: An ISTE Post... with some big data
June 2014: ISTE13 Reflections - Record, Rewind & Replay

Data curation for ISTE2015
During ISTE2015 I used a platform that went live in April 2015 which I was an early user of. While I like hanging out with inovative techies, as a consumer/user I am usually a "grumpy laggard" who is late to adopt new ideas... what made this one different? Check out "Declara - A Laggards Thoughts."

As the site was only up and running for a few weeks before ISTE2015 it was not possible to fully assess the capabilities but, as I highlight in the posts, BOY Was the potential there! 
I have also had a chance to consider the role that Declara could play with educator/supplier relations:
In addition to this I've also had the opportunity to collaborate with the team at Declara on the ASU GSV Summit and Informa's IoTWorld16 event. Between April 2015 andnow I've seen nothing to suggest that the potential with this platform is significant.

NB Please note the word "Potential" in order for the "Whole Product" to be delivered this will require collaboration, co-creation... and a little hustle from users.

First Council Meeting
Anyone who was involved with or followed the UK Digital Citizenship Summit will be aware that, as we "turned pirate" we used the pirates articles when planning and making collective decisions about the project.

Yesterday I caught up with a few old friends to discuss the potential of Declara at ISTE and discussed some ideas and assess if this was a voyage worth embarking on... what the objectives would be, as well as to discuss the code of conduct if we felt it was worth pursuing.

There are two main things that we felt would be worth exploring with this project:

1) Curate ISTE data in a way that makes sense and adds value to all stakeholders
2) Improve educator and supplier relations

There are a number of strands to this which we will assess and discuss with various groups before detailing much more, but please do get in touch if you have an interest in either area.

Some of the themes around the "code of conduct" that were discussed included:

Own Your Words
Not only is this because many of the volunteers may well include some #DigCitSummitUK pirates but also because of some of the unique features on Declara that I have not found on other platforms. Then there is the fact that we hope that educators and suppliers will come together to discuss collaborating and there may well be differences of opinion (This article describes the cultural differences very well: Tech Geeks Burden).

Develop Relationships
Whether sharing resources with a colleague at the same school who you collaborate with regularly or, bearing the comments of the Tech Geeks Burden in mind, or engaging with an individual/group with diametrically opposing views where a discussion is left with people "agreeing to disagree," we hope that they can leave the discussion with a better appreciation of other peoples' perspective. 

Add Value
Whether adding an article to a collection, a comment to a discussion board or getting involved with a small community of practice who decides to come together and self-organise around a particular issue to create the kind of momentum that the #DigCitSummitUK pirates did... we hope that people add value to any groups/discussions that they are part of. 

...And What About the Booty?
For those pirates who have their "eyes on the prize" what are the potential outcomes with all this? There are two ideas that I have read about that appear to be largely theoretical at the moment, but which I think could be realised here:
If this can be achieved I think the overall outcome for educators may be along the lines of Andy Hargreaves Blooming Teachers article where he suggests that

"Empowering teachers to embrace their creativity in the classroom is the route to creating educational systems fit for the modern era"

With regard to the supplier educator strand, we could potentially see educators field less sales calls and reduce suppliers overheads. Other things that could be achieved could be in line with the recommendations of ASU GSV Summit this year where speakers highlighted the need for more knowledge transfer and collaboration.

DigCitSummit Collaboration
I've seen what people with sales and EdTech experience collaborating with educators can do through my involvement with helping to organise the first international Digital Citizenship Summit... where I notice that the second US event will be held at Twitter HQ.

So it looks like the #DigcitSummit ship is well on it's way! As I like projects that are at th scrappy "will it or won't it make it" end of the spectrum, I'll be moving on from that initiative to focus on some other ideas.

If, after reading about this project, you want to get involved please get in touch. We look forward to hearing from you... and welcoming you aboard. 

In the mean time please find our map below as well as the real life pirate articles:

Let's be ISTE2016 Pirates
If you were a speaker or exhibitor at any of these events but are not on the map please complete this form to be added: Education Conference Map Form. Thanks so much to all the speakers and exhibitors who have helped crowd source this information so far.

Ships Articles
When I got involved with the UK Digital Citizenships Summit the initiative scales from 15 volunteers to over 100 within a couple of weeks.

As we had created something of a counter-culture based on Steve Jobs "Let's be Pirates" I dug out my copy of Life Among the Pirates and was surprised to find that the model that pirates used was extremely similar to the framework that I have been using as I make plans for my own startup, which is to:

"Identify your core values and align them with a noble cause"

We've already elected a Captain and have had a "First Council" over the course and will have a "Second Council" over the course of this week.

As this worked quite well with previous project I thought I'd wheel them out again for this project.... How cool that we are using real pirate articles in an attempt to be what Dave Logan identifies as a "stage 5 team"...which are groups of people who "get stuff done!"
The most significant difference between pirate and other ships was the manner in which the pirate company was organised, and the code by which the pirates operated. Unlike the Royal Navy, the Merchant Navy, or indeed any other institution in the 17th and 18th Centuries the pirate communities  were democracies. A hundred years before the French Revolution, the pirate companies were run on lines which liberty, equality and brotherhood were the rule rather than the exception. In a pirate ship, the captain was elected by votes of the majority of the crew and he could be deposed if the crew were not happy with his performance. The crew, and not the captain decided the destination of each voyage and whether to attack a particular ship or to raid a coastal village. At the start of voyage, or on election of a new captain, a set of written articles were drawn up which every member of the ships company was expected to sign. These articles regulated the distribution of plunder, the scale of compensation for injuries received in battle and set out the basic rules for shipboard life and the punishment for those who broke the rules. The articles differed from ship to ship but they followed similar lines.

First Council: Preperation
One of the earliest descriptions of the pirates code of conduct appears in Exquemelins Buccaneers of America, which was first published in 1678. Exquemelin tells how the pirates called a council on board ship before embarking on a voyage of plunder. At this preliminary gathering it was decided where to get hold of provisions for the voyage. When this was agreed, the pirates went out and raided some Spanish settlement and returned to the ship with a supply of pigs augmented by turtles and other supplies. A daily food allowance was then worked out for the voyage: Exquemelin notes that the allowance for the captain was no more than that of the humblest mariner.

Second Council: Setting Sail
A second council was then held to draw up the code of conduct for the forthcoming voyage. These articles, which everyone was bound to observe, were put into writing. Every pirate expedition, in common with most privateering expeditions, worked on the principle of "No prey, no pay." 

The first requirement of the articles to determine exactly how the plunder should be divided when the pirate had their prey. The captain received an agreed amount for the ship, plus a proportion of the share of the cargo, usually five or six shares. The salary of carpenter or shipwright who had mended and rigged the ship was agreed at 100 or 150 pieces if eight, and the salary of the surgeon was 200 or 250 pieces of eight. Sums were then set aside to recompense for injuries. 

Early Medical Insurance
It is interesting to observe how this early form of medical insurance determined the value of different parts of a pirate's body. The highest payment of 600 pieces of eight was awarded for the loss of a right arm; next came the loss of a left arm at 500; the right leg 500 but the left leg 400; the loss of an eye or a finger were rewarded with a payment of 100. Once these sums had been agreed, the remainder of the plunder was divided out. 

The master's mate received two shares, and the rest of the crew received one share each. Any boys in the crew received half a share. The buccaneers were insistent that no man should receive more than his fair due, and everyone had to make a solomn oath that he would not conceal and steal for himself anything in a captured ship. Anyone breaking this rule would be turned out by the company.

Change of Leadership
 The application of this code can be observed in the journal of Basil Ringrose. In July 1681 they captured the Spanish San Pedro off the coast of Chile. She was laden with wine, gunpowder and 37,000 pieces of eight in chest and bags. "We shared our plunder among ourselves" Ringrose noted "Our dividend amounted to the sum of 234 pieces of eight to each man.

For most of the voyage the buccaneers were led by captain Bartholwmew Sharp

"A man of undaunted courage and of an excellent conduct."

 He was a natural leader, and was skillful at the practical and theoretical aspects of navigation, bit in January 1681, following weeks of storms and hardships, the men became mutinous. By a majority decision they deposed Captain Sharp and elected John Watling, a tough seaman and a former privateer. Sharp was compelled to relinquish his command and the crew signed a new set of articles with Watling. Three weeks later Watling was killed during an attack on a coastal fort, and Sharp was persuaded to resume his command of the expedition.

Battle Plans
Johnston's General History of the Pirates describes the similar role of the pirate captains in the early years of the 18th Century. As with the earlier buccaneers, the captain had absolute power in battle and when 'fighting, chasing, or being chased' but in all other matters he was governed by the majority wishes of the crew. Although he was given the use of the great cabin he did not have it exclusively to himself, but must expect that other members of the company to come in and out, use his crockery and to share his food and drink.

 The captains authority was further limited by the powers which were given to the quartermaster. He too was elected by the crew, and is described as being 'a sort of civil magistrate on board a pirate ship' He was the crew's representative and 'trustee for the whole.' His job was to settle minor disputes, and he had the authority to punish with whipping or drubbing. He was expected to lead the attack when boarding a ship, and he usually took command of captured prizes.

The pirates had no use for the ranks of lieutenant or mid-shipman, but they did elect men to do the jobs carried out by warrant officers and petty officers on merchant ships and naval vessels. In addition to the quartermaster, most pirate ships had a boatswain, a gunner, a carpenter and a cook; there was usually also a first mate and a second mate.
Bartholomew Roberts Pirates Code 
Several examples of the articles are drawn up by the crews of different pirate captains have been preserved. Those adopted by the men led by Bartholomew Roberts are the most comprehensive, and are worth quoting in full because the provide a revealing slant on the pirate's way of life. These are taken from Captain Johnsons General History of the Pirates

I. Every man has a vote in affairs of moment; has equal title to the fresh provisions, or strong liquors, at any time seized, and may use them at pleasure, unless a scarcity makes necessary, for the good of all, to vote a retrenchment.

II. Every man to be called fairly in turn, by list, on board of prizes because, they were on these occasions allowed a shift of clothes: but if they defrauded the company to the value of a dollar in plate, jewels, or money, marooning was their punishment. If the robbery was only betwixt one another, they contented themselves with slitting the ears and nose of him that was guilty, and set him on shore, not in an uninhabited place, but somewhere, where he was sure to encounter hardships.

III. No person to game at cards or dice for money. 

IV. The lights and candles to be put out at eight o'clock at night: if any of the crew, after that hour still remained inclined for drinking, they were to do it on the open deck. 

V. To keep their peace, pistols, and cutlass clean and fit for service. 

VI. No boy or woman to be allowed amongst them. If any man were to be found seducing any of the latter sex, and carried her to sea, disguised, he was to suffer death. 

VII. To desert their ship or quarters in battle, was punished with death or marooning. 

VIII. No striking one another on board, but every man's quarrels to be ended on shore, at sword and pistol. 

IX. No man to talk of breaking up their way of living, till each had shared £1,000. If in order to this, any man should lose a limb, or become a cripple in their service, he was to have 800 dollars, out of the public stock, and for lesser hurts, proportionately. 

X. The captain and quartermaster to receive two shares of prize: the master, boatswain, and gunner, one share and a half, and other officers one and a quarter. 

XI. The musicians to have rest on the Sabbath Day, only by night, but the other six days and nights, not without special favour.

How will this ISTE voyage turn out? Will everyone sign up to whatever code that Captain Curran and Larsen agrees? Who knows... tune in next week to see what happens. With 4 weeks to go it is definitely going to be a case of sink or swim.

Here's Dave Logans' 90 day strategy framework
1) Do we have enough assets (time, money or people) to achieve our outcomes? 
If the answer is No: How do we build our assets?
2)  Do we have enough assets to achieve our outcomes?
If the answer is No: What assets do we have that we have not identified yet?
3) Will our actions and behaviours accomplish these outcomes?


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