Wednesday, 25 October 2017

Twitter in Scottish Schools - Some Observations & Suggestions

In my last post I included some of the data and resources that I had curated around Twitter in Scottish Schools. This post picks up on this data and includes some observations and suggestions that I hope proves useful to Scottish Schools... whether they are on Twitter, or not!

A long post? Too many links? Poorly structured or badly written? I work very hard on my communications but don't always get it right.

The intention of this post is knowledge transfer, to share what I've learnt from following the practices of Microsoft, Pokemon Go, US Educators the #Cmgr community... all in the hope that it assists people who are doing innovative work in Scottish Education.

I hope people can see past any poor communication (If any) and gets value from some of the information and resources shared below. I've learnt SOOO MUCH from every link that's included below. I hope including them in one place saves educators a little time, just like the ISTE DigCit PLN Pokemon Go report was designed to do.

I've no doubt that the links in this post will be an Acre of Diamonds for anyone who takes the time to explore them all.

I guess a good place to start to get people's attention might be to kick off with an article about how a Social Media campaign helped a school to find a new Head Teacher:
...Before resuming some discussions about the data I've been exploring and curating.

In the Community Management publication CMX, they have articles like their Guide to Getting Started on Community Management and How Do you Lead a Community? The 6 Common Characteristics of Servant Leadership in Communities the advice in these articles includes things like:

"Step 1: is to Listen, listen, and then listen some more. Get the lay of the land so that you know where you’re headed, like the picture in a Legos kit" and “listening without judgement is the first characteristic of a servant leader"

Listening Without Judgement
Listening is what I did in 2015, this is what I did when I explored Scottish Education via the Skypeathon in December 2016... and this is what I've done again over the last few weeks with curating this map and these lists.

Are there schools with 70+ accounts, who have a combined following of 30,000+ on Twitter? Are there local authorities where almost all the schools are on Twitter? There sure are!

Are there schools, departments and educators who have opened accounts in 2015 and appeared to have either deleted the account since then and/or not Tweeted anything for a while? Or are there Local Authorities with a relatively small percentage of schools signed up? Yep, there are!

Do I have an opinion about this one way or the other? Yes I do! And it's this...

I'd be surprised if many educators were given any kind of formal training on social media at Teacher Training College. I also understand the perspective of both the proponents and the detractors... the schools and educators who get a lot out of Twitter, as well as those who have tried micro-blogging but soon quit because they could not see what all the fuss is about.

So any educator who has wondered "Hmm I wonder what this Twitter thing is all about and what it could do to help me in my work" and gave it a go, regardless of the experience and results... good on you for exploring the technology!!

What I DON'T understand, however, is how policy makers and the current Government who (given the success they had with #IndyRef and #GE2015 campaigns on Twitter) know the value of Twitter and the impact it's had on their own job prospects.

But, according to the data, this group don't appear to have done as much as they perhaps could have in education. What data? I hear you ask...

When sourcing school accounts I curated Tweets where people were talking about schools who were not on Twitter.

This Scottish Schools Not on Twitter Storify includes politicians... I wonder how much they did to discuss the benefits of social media during these visits and photo opportunities. (That's not a snarky comment... It's an honest and genuinely curious question).

So educators... good on you for giving it a go. Policy makers/politicians... I don't understand your actions and doubt I ever will.

"This process could be used in many areas of Scottish society. The SNP benefited from the kind of process that major technology companies utilise, so they know it works. When I'll be impressed with the SNP, or any other party, is when they decide to use these principles in other areas, not just politics.

If any politician (from any party) wants to know how to continue to take advantage of this process in politics or, ideally, apply to other areas, especially in education, you know where to find me if you have any questions."  
#GE2015 Why SNP Domination was Inevitable & in #GE2017 & The SNP - How the Mighty Fall

Look for the Bright Spots
Anyway back to educators and this data. When looking at datasets like this, one of the main things I'm looking for is "who are the early adopters and innovators?"... and to assess what stage progress is at? What's the uptake in the community like?

In the case of Twitter in Scottish education in 2017 I was looking for users like Larbert High, St Mungo (Falkirk), Grangemouth High, Fettes College, Stirling High, Bo'ness Academy and Forfar Academy all of whom have a collective following of over 10,000* across all their school accounts.

All of the schools mentioned above have over 30 accounts, as do Graeme High, Gracemount, Wallacestone, Dunbar Grammar, Newbattle High, Lornshill Academy and Carron Primary School.

Equally Falkirk, Midlothian, Inverclyde and Stirling Council have the majority of their schools using this resource... but in other councils less than 25% are.

When half of the schools in Scotland are not using a free resource that's tried, tested and valued by many... surely some questions need to be asked? And a good place to ask those questions would be with those schools who are a little further forward in their exploration of those tools.

NB* As you will see in this post, I know that the number of followers is not the bee all and end all... It's what kind of shape you community is in. It's the shape that gives your community and Twitter experience value.

Stats: League Table Vs A Little Friendly Competition... and "Social Proof"
One of the things that I got a number of enquiries about was the table with the number of schools in each LA and the number of schools on Twitter at the end of the previous post.

Some questioned the number of schools in the LA (Schools with both Primary and Secondary Provision were included in both columns and Independent schools were listed in the LA figures as well as a separate Independent row for private schools... then there's the fact that the data was from 2 years ago), others felt that the stats were a little bit "League table-esque"

Please allow me to state the two main reasons for representing the data in the way that I did:

1) To put social proof to work

"No leader can hope to persuade, regularly and single handedly, all the members of the group. A forceful leader can reasonably expect, however, to persuade some sizable portion of group members. Then the raw information that a substantial number of group members has been convinced can, by itself, convince the rest. Thus the most influential leaders are those who know how to arrange group conditions to allow the principle of social proof to work maximally in their favour" Robert Cialdini

As I've stated in the last few posts, the impact of me phoning and emailing educators would be both annoying to the educator and ineffective compared with organising the data in a way that "Arranged group conditions to put social proof to work" and show how popular a resource is amongst colleagues and peers.

Google, Apple, Microsoft, Twitter, Minecraft, Pokemon Go don't makes these pointless calls but seem to do OK when it comes to engaging educators... What is it that they do differently?

Check Out the Bottom Tweet! "I'm a Salesman... Get me out of here!"
It was during this session the idea of #StartupEduChat came to me
They collaborate with early users and iterate their way to "Product Market Fit" before scaling...when they scale it's word of mouth recommendation that helps them gain traction.

The significance of joining #EdTechChat in the first 6 weeks of the chat and, in particular, this exchange with Susan Bearden, cannot be underestimated regarding the ideas in this post and my professional development.

Social Proof and highlighting the "Bright spots," the fact that four Local Authorities have most schools using something *Just Might* encourage others to take a closer look, if the data is set out in a compelling enough way.

In sales? Reskill! Cold calling is dead! Work in a call centre? Reskill! You'll probably be replaced by a bot.

2) A Little Friendly Competition
I did similar research to this in UK Further Education in 2011 and produced this Twitter in FE Report.

At the time an article about how Texas A&M and Louisiana State University's sports rivalry had spilled over into social media... with students getting competitive to see who could get the most followers (See Page 10 of the report).

More recently, and a more local example, is (Again) Microsoft and their "Three Nation's Challenge" during the Skypeathon, which seemed to have an impact as 2 educators went 36,000 virtual miles in 2015... but 15 educators went 150,000 miles in 2016.

So, while some of the stats may appear to look a little "League Table-ish" this is not the case. The rationale was to see if "social proof" and a little competition (Whether between LAs, schools within a LA or different departments within a school) might help to "Nudge the Needle" forward a little.

The points above have certainly been in mind when trying to apply the fantastic ideas from Jisc's
Tweeting... Stats, Followers and The Biggest Lesson I've Learnt from Being on Social Media
People are coming to me to ask questions like "what does a good school social media account look like then?" 

The answer to this is both I don't know... and it depends. 

I don't know because I'm not an educator, I've never worked in a school so would be hesitant about telling others how to do their job in an area I've never worked in. 

It depends? It depends... on the reason for being on social media. 

For example, if the account is to keep parents informed of the classes' activity... then a protected account with a class of 30 which has a following of 30-60 people who are all parents or guardians with hundreds (or event thousands) of Tweets about class activities... and the communication leads to greater parental involvement and engagement, then that is one massively successful account!!

If the account has been created for an educator to learn from other educators but (For whatever reason) would rather not Tweet much themselves, follows lots of Education accounts and thought leaders, but don't have many followers and/or Tweet infrequently but get a lot of PD and ideas that help in the classroom, then that's a successful account too.

Equally, if you think that having 5,000, 10,000 or 15,000 followers and you share one way broadcasts without really connecting with people is a successful account... You could not be more wrong! 

(Think the way most MPs use SM and you'll get the idea. Notable exceptions, in my experience, being Mike Russell and Linda Fabiani. Epic fails include every constituent MP/MSP since I've been on Twitter).

I had been on Twitter for a few years before watching one of THE MOST influential videos that changed the way I use social media and connect with people.

I know that Community Management isn't all that well known as a career in Scotland (Partly because there are few jobs to be had here!! *Sigh*), but experts in the field like Tim MacDonald (@Tamcdonald) and Richard Millington (@RichMillington) highlight that you can only have a close personal relationship with 15-60 people at any one time.

Companies like Yammer (This is the Community Playbook I refer to the most often for ideas), LinkedIn, Scoopit and LI Paper have grown using tactics like the one's in this #Cmgrhangout on "Scaling Personal Connections" a *Must Watch* video!

Image result for cmgrhangout scaling personal connections

Regardless of the sector you work in or the reasons for being on social media, there's a lot that people can learn from this video... I certainly did!

Another fantastic resource is Kelly Hungerford's Community First: Building Brand Loyalty and Word of Mouth post

Community Management (#Cmgr) in Education
Need more some education examples of these same ideas and principles?

A Community Management Resource that Educators will be familiar with is Michelle Cordy's 2016 ISTE key note. 

I learned a lot from a book about one of the first online communities called "The Well" by Kate Hefner (See also see The Epic Saga of the Well... Even if you don't have time to read all of it check out the sense of belonging that members like Tom Mandell felt here. I also see the online chat/offline connections here being played out in education with Twitter Chats -> Edcamps). This book was recommended by #Cmgrs.

Howard Rheingold (@hrheingold) was a member of this group and who mentored Michelle... Because "That's how it works"'ll need to watch this video to get that reference I'm afraid!! Go on click the link...

The shape matters...
In my Edchat Resource Plan I included Marc Smith's research about how political conversations on Twitter are polarised and don't talk to one another. 

During a Mrc's "6 Degrees of Seperation #Cmgrhnagout," after showing the political divisions he then looks at the shape of #Cmgr Community and said: 

"Oh wow! The #Cmgr community don't hate each other... it's a collaborative network"**. 

For more on the different shapes and connections of communities on Twitter:
To what extent are the divisive, angry and polarised crowds putting schools and educators off checking out micro-blogging? What? It's policy makers who say

"We need to do more about online abuse"

That are hampering progress in Education? How dare I make such a suggestion when they model #DigCit so well!

Well let's make sure that the "unconnected educators" know that! Sure, angry political discussions do exist on Twitter, and it's something that policy makers don't seem to discourage too much... Let's be honest and say "Sure! There will be tricky situations with student and parent engagement from time to time"

But let's also tell them about (and model) the valuable connections that can also be made on Twitter... And that more experiences people can help out with those experiences that are new for all of us.

...Build Diamond Networks
If anyone asks me about ambassador programs in education my advice is always 

"Go check out Microsoft's MIE Expert program" 

They are a very good example to explore, I have been since the first Showcase School "The School of the Future" It's mentioned in my EdTech report (Written in 2012)... This network is thriving right on Scottish educations' doorstep today! (See the Microsoft section at the end of this post).

**NB If anyone likes anything in this post, it simply WOULD NOT be here is if was not for the fact that the shape of the #Cmgr community is a real Diamond! And I'm talking the kind of Diamond that Franco Rodriguez steals from the Smithsonian in Spy Quest latest book "The Cursed Diamond"... They've certainly given me reason to Hope! 53 23 42 15 22 - 31 34 32 - 42 13 44 15 53 - 54 34 15 44 35 - 41 34 55 - 13 54 45 54 15 13 - 25 44 - 23 34 33 44 - 42 13 44 15 53 - 11 54 42 25 34 15 11.

Thank you to each and every member of the #Cmgr community who's helped me to reskill from sales to community management!

Mr Microsoft... Uncle Oracle... 
And for anyone who knows me and/or follows my blog... Words escape me when it comes to James Stanbridge (@Stanbridge):
  • He saw the value in my ideas when no one else did. James, what's happening now is what I was talking about in March 2015. Thank you for believing in me and my ideas!!
  • His intervention made the UK Digital Citizenship Summit possible!

    When DWP sanctioned me because they felt that what I was doing to get work in Community Management for a company that was billed as the "Google for Education" (See "Declara could very well become the 'Google of Learning")... Wasn't a proper job search

     "A blog post is not a job search" My 'Work Coach' Kathleen at Rutherglen Job Center would regularly tell me.... Stupid DWP with their Jobsworth Us Vs them mentality. Complete and utter idiots... That's not so much "IMHO" but more "in me and my family's rather painful experiences!"

    If these are the practices across Scotland then please do feel free to ask for my opinion of  DYW regarding the Digital/Sales/Marketing advice that's given.

    The thing that got me sanctioned also just happened to lead to me working with Declara... and was as per the recommendations in this CMX's article: Why you Should Hire Employees from your Community
  • James was instrumental in helping me secure work in Community management with this hot shot Silicon Valley startup. 

A Couple of 5 min Favours...

THANK YOU James! James is now with Oracle and I hope people in my PLN will do all they can to support him in his work. Please follow @Stanbridge @JAbel_Oracle and @Caz_Apsey... and ask them about their Bloodhound/Oracle STEM Education Ambassador initiative

When working at Declara the quote at the bottom of CEO, Ramona Pierson's, email was Alan Turing's 

“Sometimes it is the people no one can imagine anything of who do the things no one can imagine.”

Seeing that message in someone's emails, especially after reaching a goal that you'd set yourself 6 years earlier (2010:"Work at one of "Big Three - Google, Microsfot, Apple - Or a Hot Shot Silicon Valley startup up was on the "To Do list")...seeing that message on a regular basis has quite an affect I can tell you!

The Pokemon Go report that Declara and the ISTE DigCitPLN Collaborated on was to assist California with their #GoOpen program "Collaboration in Common." Almost 10% of my followers on Twitter are in sunny CA...CA Educators please do what you can to support my friends and former colleagues at Declara to build on your Diamond newtorks.

Here's my Community Management Resources Collection on Declara... all my fav #Cmgr articles in one place. (Yes there are more than the ones in this post. Lol)

Some Good Practice  
While I've not explored the content of almost 5,000 Scottish Edu Twitter accounts, there are a few things that schools, departments and educators might want to consider doing.

1) Create Twitter Lists
Twitter lists are a great way for students, staff and parents to see which members of staff and departments are on Twitter. School like St Matthews Academy, St Mungos and Wallacestone Primary all have staff Twitter lists.

As well as being able to find accounts easily with a Twitter list, another great thing is that, once it's set up, you can scroll through tweets from all the schools' accounts quickly, easily... and all in one place.

Wanna give it a try? If you go to you will be able to see all the Tweets for a particular year group/subject or local authority list to see what people in your subject/year group and/or region are tweeting about.

If you want to see what the Digital Leaders in Scottish Education are saying then you can check out what the schools who have registered for the Digital Schools Award on this list: Digital Schools Award List 

If you are looking for some people who have an interest in Digital Citizenship then here's a list of people who pitched in and helped out with the UK Digital Citizenship Summit 

I have over 500 accounts to add the curated resources as people have let me know which accounts are missing (which helps demonstrate the value of the Aggregate then Curate article above).

2) Account Profiles
Something else that has an impact when there are multiple accounts is when the photos include the school logo and brand.

There are a number of accounts I've explored that don't have any text in the bio/profile at all. With the ones that do, I've found it extremely useful when the School Name or (Even better) the School's Main Twitter username is included in the profile.

I hope that the school and departmental lists I've put together help to give people some ideas for creating and/or updating their profiles... I wonder if anyone can beat one of the faviourite ones I've seen to date. 

"Where everyone counts" Love it! Such impressive word play, and from a Maths department too... Who'd have thunked it. Lol ;)

Starting Out
I created a new account so that I had an account that was more focused on Scottish Education with regard to who I follow, so all the Twitter lists were relevant to Scottish education as well as the content of the Tweets. 

I also wanted to remind myself how tough it was to get the account started. After following over 4,000 accounts and sending 100 Tweets the account only has 20 followers.

If I didn't appreciate the value of micro-blogging, I just might be tempted to delete the account or just leave it dormant... Twitter sure can be tough when your starting out!!

In 2015 I put this Scottish Schools Adoption of Twitter document together. With around 7-800 schools on Twitter I can see why there were (and possibly still are) some dormant accounts, the "Network Effects" were not the same as they are now.

Dormant Account? ...Dust it Down & Try Again!
Are you one of the people who gave Twitter a try... opened an account, didn't see what all the fuss was about and just left it? Can I suggest that you dust the account down and give it another go?

Why listen to me? Wouldn't expect you to... here's what I suggest you do:

1) Click on this link: Scottish Schools on Twitter 2017
2) Find a School that has multiple accounts and click on the pin on the map (Or on the list)
3) Look at the "2015 Twitter Accounts" field at the bottom of the entry and/or check the 2015 Map
4) Look at how many more accounts these schools have today
5) Ask yourself... "Would my colleagues have opened this many more accounts in the last 2 years if they were not getting value from using this Twitter thingy?"
6) Follow them on Twitter and then Tweet out "I'd love to learn about how you use Twitter" ... Because that's how it works, right Michelle? Lol ;). Or you could go all "old school" and email/phone them.

If this is a step too far then another option might be to explore Yammer, which is a Microsoft application that is available on Glow, and is another way that students and classes can connect without the content being in public. As far as I am aware, has good uptake amongst Scottish educators.

Twitter Advocate... Helping the Newbies
Given that the "network effects" are now there, if people who were proponents and advocates of Twitter were to follow the "newbies" in any given geographic region and/or subject area those people would have a good number of followers with similar interests.

This would then make the "Feedback Loops" positive as the new teachers to twitter (#NT2T) would find like minded people quicker... and would soon be telling their colleagues of the benefits and then you've got some real momentum going on. 

The more people you know, the more value you get from it, the more frequent the visits and more time you spend on each visit  = real momentum!

Tech Does Not Roll Out in a Linear Fashion
Something that I've been exploring ever since I wrote my EdTech Report in 2012 is the way that technology gets adopted and to highlight ideas like Geoffrey Moore's Technology Adoption Cycle.

In 2015 I found 800 Schools with an account for the school, two years later this has almost doubled and 50% of Scottish Schools now have a presence. 

The Customer Profile for the groups in the image below are quite different, so the approach to engage each group needs to be different too.

Even in schools where there are a large number of advocates it's still not everyone who is Tweeting (But BOY is @LarbertHigh close! Just ask their S1 Digital Leadership team. 122 accounts now I think).

Having an understanding of these ideas and principles could speed up the way technology in general is adopted (Not just Twitter) at a macro and micro level.

Early Adopters
In my previous post I acknowledged some of the early adopters that I had connected with on my travels in Scottish Education (Bob Baldie, Ian Stuart, Malcolm Wilson to name a few) and I could very clearly see the role they played with encouraging their colleagues to check this particular platform out.

THAT is why I have acknowledged their time and efforts in the blog post, and why the stats have been represented in the way that they have been... It's not been to say "Oh look at them aren't they great!" (But, for the record, I do believe that they are!). 

From my own work and involvement with some projects, I know that the early adopters are the people who get the party started, but before long you can't even see them in the crowd because everyone is doing it... But it's those early users who got the party started ;)

Image result for geoffrey moore leaderships lessons from dancing guy

Technology isn't a silver bullet in education, it never was and never will be... HOWEVER, you sure as heck can use technology as a way of creating the culture that I believe is needed and would make a big difference with things like the Attainment Gap and Developing the Youth Workforce... and would empower educators in the way that the politicians say they want to... whether they mean what they say is another thing entirely ;)

Feeling Adventurous... Skypeathon?
If you do dust down your old Twitter account and find it to be a positive experience then why not connect with other classes on the 28-29th November when the Skypeathon is on?

I'd have loved to have heard from some of the experts on some of the organisation who run virtual field trips when I was at school... and I'd love for my kids to be on Skype with these experts too.

The Microsoft in the Room
Anyone who follows my ramblings will know that I see tech companies doing more for Ed reform than politicians (See Pokemon Go... Tech Vs Policy Maker Results.

...*Waves* to @GoutcherD and his "Ingress for Kids"AR  @SpyQuest game, I'm telling you... it's gonna be big!! And I guess Biz Stone was right too, I would LOVE to these two videos updated by being edited and mashed up together.

There's an elephant in the room regarding what policy makers are doing, and that elephant is the fact that, if you look at the data... It's Microsoft that's responsible for a lot of the things that are going on, not the politicians (MIE Experts, MEC, Yammer, Skypeathon, Digital Schools Award, Bloodhound/Race for the Line).

And what is it that Microsoft appears to have done to get to this stage? Just like my EdTech report highlights, where the aim was to explore what the major tech companies do differently, they do indeed appear to have "Developed Relationships and Delivered Value" in Scottish Education - at a macro level by work on Glow, Scottish Educators intranet, and at the grassroots level by empowering educators.

And what's of the criteria for being a Showcase School? That at least two educators are working towards MIE Expert status (Good luck with your application @TolleyA!) ... This provides a nice example at the school level in education the extract of Google Employee #59, Doug Edwards, in "I'm Feeling Lucky" (Which Doug kindly allowed me to include in my EdTech report (P36):

"Two smart guys working on complex technical problems, it turns out, can accomplish a hell of a lot"
Doug Edwards Google Employ #59

There will be some Microsoft Roadshows at a number of Scottish schools in November... why not sign up to go along and assess for yourself if there is anything in this idea: Microsoft Education Roadshows

It might be worth highlighting a couple of points here:

1) I have no affiliation with Microsoft in any way shape or form... But it was a Microsoft Exec who encouraged me to get onto Social Media in 2010 telling me that "It comes with the job today"
2) Wondering something along the lines of "Ah but Microsoft only do this to shift their products... it's just marketing and PR?"

Go have a conversation with an MIE Expert or two, or a Showcase School and ask them if that's what their experiences have been... or if, as my EdTech report highlights, it's been a partnership where ideas are co-created and collaborated on?

The Last Word re: Twitter in Edu
I'll leave the last word on this post with the best possible source I can think of... Here's @ElliePrimary1 and @katrinakennett post detailing

  7 Reasoon Why Teachers Should Tweet

What is an #Edcafe?

Because, as Michelle and ISTE PLN leads would tell you, that's how it works.

Here's a list of some of the links included in this post that I learnt from people in my network. Random articles in a post that's way too long and rambling... Or Learning from a Diamond Network? I'll let you Decide...
Other reports that I've collaborated on with other thought leaders and industry experts can be found at Tech Stories - Research

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