Sunday, 27 July 2014

EdChat Moderators: ISTE or Bust

In the run up to the ISTE conference I attended some EdChats where moderators and regulars were discussing plans for and organising Tweetups at the event. Something that troubled me was the fact that some moderators were not attending due to the cost of the event.

This is entirely unacceptable!

Why do I feel that this is unacceptable? This is unacceptable any way that you look at the issue moderators give up their time to deliver value, for example;

1) Moderators give up a lot of their free time to organisie their EdChat every week

2) The PD value that EdChats have through people sharing information and learning from each other, all of which is the result of the moderators commitment to create a community of like minded educators and other stakeholders.

3) The potential that an ISTE EdChat moderator Tweetup could have to discuss some top line objectives that everyone could work on to help EdChats achieve mainstream status as a PD forum

The Cost of EdChats
Any moderators who runs a weekly EdChat has to make sure that they are available on a regular basis. If we base the value of educators time on the Washington Posts article "How much teachers get paid state by state," then the commitment of 52 hours per year would come to between $1,071-2,038.

However the organisation of an EdChat is rarely a one hour commitment per week, it can easily feel like a part time job at times.

How much time do people like Tom Whitby (@TomWhitby), Shell Terrell (@ShellTerrell), Jerry Blumengarten (@Cybraryman1) and other pioneers of EdChats spend a week on their EdChat, supporting other EdChats, exploring and establishing new ways of connecting educators with Bam! Radio Network, exploring podcasts, hangouts?

I'm sure that most moderators will spend 2-3 hours a week on EdChats, adding to an already busy schedule, which will include other unpaid work-related activity. 2-3 hours of unpaid work to an EdChat moderator could come in at $3,213-6,114

Social Tipping
Through following some Bitcoin articles I found out about "Social Tipping" which is where people make a financial contribution to any posts that they enjoy, here's more about this topic from Jason Kottke when he decided to work on his site full time.

What's to stop moderators from setting up a paypal account so various stakeholders can "socially tip" EdChats? 

I can almost sense the outcry from some people at this suggestion, including from moderators themselves. The reason for this is partly because educators rarely enter the profession for financial gains and tend to be what Adam Grant identifies as "Selfless Givers" in his book Give and Take he defines argues that;

"Selfless givers feel uncomfortable receiving support... they are determined to be in the helper role, so they are reluctant to burden or inconvenience others. Selfless givers receive far less support which proves psychologically and physically costly"

The Value of EdChats
Grant goes on to highlight work by Christina Maslach, a burnout expert, who concludes that there is a consistent and strong body of evidence that a lack of social support is linked to burnout... three decades of research shows that receiving support from colleagues is a robust antidote to burn out"

"Having a support network of teachers is huge" notes Conrey Callahan (@conreylee) a teacher at Overbrook High School [who is featured in Give and Take] and was facing burnout. Overbrook didn't have a formal support network of teachers, so where did Conrey get her support network? She built one through the act of giving help.

If these examples from Grants' book don't give the first EdChat psychologist a field day, I don't know what will. I'm no psychologist but here's my take on the information above;

1) EdChat moderators are educators so are unlikely to ask for help

2) That the support network that EdChats establishes definitely does have value, maybe even to such an extent that they help keep educators in the profession!

3) Building support networks within their physical environments may have it's challenges, making online support the most viable option for some educators.   

The Contributing Factor
If you're still with me so far on this post and you see the value of moderators being rewarded for their time. However, both contributors and recipients may feel uncomfortable with the idea of financial incentives being added to the equation, the reasons for this may be for another area that educators can be susceptible to, which is based on social norms and market norms. Dan Ariley highlights the difference of Social Vs Market Norms 

The Cost of Social Norms

This is why my suggestion would be that any financial contribution would not be for personal gain, but a "payment in kind" which would be...(drum roll please)... A fund to get EdChat moderators to events like ISTE2015. If we factor in $1,000 for travel to the $1,440 this comes in at $2,440 per moderator.

Success with this could help drive the EdChat agenda forward, as an EdChat moderator Tweetup could be arranged and ideas for some top line strategic objectives for EdChats in 2015/16 could be discussed and agreed upon so, ultimately, any contributions would benefit the EdChat community both locally and in general.

Still with me? Right, here's the kicker... Paying to get over 400 moderators to ISTE2015.

ISTE 2015... or Bust!
I've recently circulated a "EdChat Resource Plan" to moderators I'm connected with where I suggest there are a number of benefits for Nurph to be a central platform for the 219+ EdChats.

If this were developed then this could also be a central platform for collecting contributions for an ISTE 2015 tip jar... But who would be doing the tipping? 

When I took a 6 week snapshot of the 150 EdChats that I found last year there were 26,000 educators who Tweeted using the hashtag.

I'm sure the number of regulars is a lot more than this, but if we take this as a baseline then 26,000 participants making a one-off annual contribution of $20 = $520,000

Then there's any forward thinking EdTech companies. It shouldn't take too much to convince EdTech companies to divert funds for one of their industry ads or a leaflet print run to support this initiative... After all what other marketing campaign would give EdTech companies the kind of exposure that getting 400 grateful influential educators to ISTE would provide? 100 companies contributing $5,000 = $500,000.

Finally there are the forward thinking school and district administrators who see that EdChats is a viable forum for PD, after all there are only 14 US states that don't appear to have a state EdChat (And they may have, it's just I'm not aware of it). What if some schools/districts contributed 1% of their PD budget to EdChats? This is a big variable so would be difficult to project some figures.

$520,000 from participants + $500,000 = 1,020,000/400 moderators = $2,550

I've no idea if this would work or not, there are a lot of moving parts involved with this... but if EdChat moderators and participants are up for exploring this... then so am I.

If your a moderator on regular at an EdChat I'd love to hear your thoughts on this. Please feel free to comment on this idea below.


  1. I'm in the "What could it hurt to try?" camp.

  2. I like Samantha ' s response. What could it hurt to try?