Thursday, 26 July 2018

Politicans - Wish they Ate Their Own Dog Food

In Silicon Valley startups and at organisations where they do work that they are proud of the phrase

"We eat our own dog food" 

AKA we use the product/service that we create.

This post questions whether politicians "Eat Their Own Dog Food - or more accurately points out why they don't.

Pointless Politicians - A Bit of Empathy
I feel for politicians, I really do! Every word that they say on the TV, in the press or on social media gets scrutinized.

Mhari I'm-down-with-the-people-but-make-£75k-a-year-but-moan-about-the-Westminster-culture-and-the-fact-that-Nicola-doesn't-speak-to-me-either Black (The irony is not lost on me here! Lol)

Tweets out "Maths is shit" when she's at school and gets shared during The Last Leg etc.

I can easily demonstrate how I have empathy with politicians here...

In 2014 I wrote over 30 posts in support of #IndyRef, the SNP and #VoteYes... Today I'd prefer to distance myself from all those

"Rah! Rah! Rah! Isn't the SNP great"posts

Let's also have a little bit of empathy for the current MPs successors in 100 years time where - as has (Obviously quite rightly!) happened with slavery and the sufforagettes etc - future MPs may well be apologizing for things like the Iraq War, Bailing banks out, the "Credit Crunch," Nigel Farage and Brexit.

Having said that, I treat this pointless group the same way I do with others re: my core values.

I've "Shown my Friendship First" and will do the odd "5 min favour" even after my representative(s) have completely ignored me.

How the SNP Could get Back to Team56
(But IMHO they'll never make the transition)

Respect for Politicians
Sturgeon, May, Trump... regardless of the country or the colour of the shiny badge there's no real difference.

I think the only way I'd have any respect for any politician in the future would be if they spent a month (Or more) each year - minus the TV cameras or PR opportunities - in the same conditions in the most deprived areas of their constituency and/or most marginalised constituents.

But unless it was called "I'm a constituent get me out of here*" with Ant and Dec presenting and a hefty appearance fee, I doubt it would happen... which is a shame.

(*If this becomes a show, please sign me up... Especially if the prize in a one way trip to CA!)

I was there man! During the buzzy #VoteYes #IndyRef and I pitched in with the #NewPower storm that the SNP didn't know what to do with - and I offered some awesome and insightful suggestions too!

I got to know some of the people who were also tweeting out and hoping for change - I heard how marginalised some people were, but how valid (And inspired) their ideas were... MPs and MSPs might learn a thing or two if they listened to them and applied some #Cmgr practices.

They take their cushy second jobs under the guise of

"Real world experience to see how their policies affects business" 

Obviously, the 4-5 figure 'consultancy' fee has fuck all to do with all their

"I got into politics to make a difference" 


"I help constituents every day" 

Bull Shit rhetoric, right?

There are two jobs that I would HATE for my kids to get into: Politics & Banking.

The reason: They could go into these industries hard working and honest, but the toxic cultures would change them.

Can you imagine being *Mentioning No Names* and/or [Insert name of politician and banker here] and looking at yourself in the mirror... knowing how much you've screwed so many people's lives up between 1970-2018.

You can get some idea of how this must feel from Chris Sacca's "Be Helpful" commencement speech

Politicians & Education
We know that politicians don't "Eat their own dog food" in education, as they run state education, but send their own kids to private school.

What message does that send out regarding how confident they are about their #AttainmentGap and other grand plans?

Education Ministers
Since Tony Blair wanted to have a computer on every class desk in 1997 (See European Politicians New Mantra: Wiring Up Schools to the Internet) ...How many Education Secretaries have their been?

How many of their White Papers, strategies and grand plans have ACTUALLY done what they were supposed to... when they were supposed to?

Go take a look at what Microsoft, Google and Apple have done in tech and in education since 1997, then compare it with the political classes.

Here's Apple: Product History Time Line

2014: The Potential to Unslum Vs 2018: Adding to the Deprivation
As I highlighted I wrote some 30 posts in support of #IndyRef and #VoteYes.

However, I was by no means a fan of the politicians or the colour of the shiny badge... I was a fan of the #NewPower storm that they created which meant things that would not be possible in a month of Sundays today COULD have been possible then... IF The SNP had harnessed the storm (Difficult to do when you have not invested in digital citizenship or community builders!)

As I suggested at the time, if the SNP had said

"Let's get down to XYZ area for the day and clean the place up" 

Then even 1% of the 100,000 people that they boasted about having as members pitching in, would have made a huge impact. That's the potential that I saw in the #IndyRef #VoteYes movement!

My support of #IndyRef #VoteYes had WAY MORE to do with the
cultural conditions and my first blog post, rather than The SNP or Team56
Instead the majority of the most deprived areas in the UK are in Scotland... So which colour of shiny badge is gonna take the responsibility for that?

The 1970s Thatcher Tories?
The 1990s "Things can only get better" Blair/Brown Labour masters of Spin?
The 2000s President Sturgeons #AttainmentGap busting SNP?

Or will it be the usual

"It wasn't me Miss it was the other boy/girl who started it" 

Kids playground antics that has come to define the punch and judy show that is Westminster & Holyrood?

"Oh No it wasn't me! It was you"
"Oh Yes it was!"
"Oh No it wasn't!"

That is until someone shouts

"Order! Order! You Stupid Woman, I think I'll bully someone in the playground at play time"

The potential to Unslum neighbourhoods WAS there in 2014... today Entrepreneurial Scotland talks about being the most enterprising nation in the world with areas of such high deprivation... they have their work cut out! Is all I can say!

Dumb Ass DWP
So what's brought this post on today... It could have been written at any time in the last few years?

Why, I'm glad you asked!

1) First is that I feel that I'm exploring things that politicians should be exploring, like Digital Citizenship. Instead, this is how they react: Blame! Blame! Blame!

2015: What can we (MPs who are in charge of education policy) do about Trolls? At election time ;)
2018: FELTAG genius* Matt Hancock "Social Media companies need to do more"

*FELTAG had a goal of having all FE Course material online by 2017. Progress as of 2018? Didn't happen

When looking to reskill from sales to Community Management, as there are few/no roles in #GoDo Scotland, I have had to sign on to JSA/welfare from time to time.

An Ayn Rand fan who is extolling the virtues of the free market and her brand of objectionism when scrounging off the state?

Well Comrades! You may - or may not be - aware that Marx got to write about socialism while being bankrolled by his brother in law who was the founder of Phillips TVs. Go figure!

Well when the takers and secondhanders bail their buddies at the banks out with billions within 24 hours and their #TooBigToFail crap... only to change their mind a few years (And many lives wrecked) later with "Meh, shoulda let them fail" but...

The customers of these toxic brands in a country with these toxic politicians operate but the plebs are limited by what you can achieve because of a credit rating?

Surely there has to be a bit of a "check your premises" contradiction going on:

A Rand fan on benefits...
But the people who's job it is to make money, make no money for nine consecutive years but gets nationalised.

Definitely time to check your premises!!

2) In 2015 I made the comment about how useless Universal Jobmatch was. The reply at the time?

"Oh it's easy to be a critic, William" 

Came the reply from my 'Work Coach' Kathleen, one of the most horrible 'Jobs Worths' I've ever had the misfortune of 'supporting' me

Easy to be a critic? Erm, when a 'Recommended job' is female toilet attendant [*Must be female*] and I'm male... Yeah! Really digging deep to pick holes in that one.

When I mentioned that call centres were on the way out in 2015:

"No they are not!" Was the reply "We have tonnes of jobs at them"

Then there is the fact that I actually got sanctioned when my efforts to get work as a community manager, not only worked... But I got sanctioned for my efforts getting paid work with a Silicon Valley startup up, go figure!

2018 Universal Job match is no more... But the new site is no better

I wonder how many politicians would "Eat their own dog food" with the kind of jobs that they allow on this site.

Commission only, door to door selling, call centre jobs with rates of pay that if it was a MPs expense account for the year they would probably complain.

When I signed on today I mentioned my attempts to get work as a Community Manager, but how call centre jobs are on the way out... and highlight:

"Just look at how sophisticated the DWP AI is"

"Oh I know!" 

Was the reply today (From a fantastically supportive work coach) 

"I booked something today and didn't speak to anyone... it was all automated"

But who is it doing anything with this stuff?
Who is it that's reskilling these people?
Who is it that cares?

I wouldn't look to our politicians... I can see now why Alex Salmond is spending so much time in Russia... perhaps like me he can see the similarities between Ayn Rand's Russia as described in "We the Living" with the SNP's 2018 Scotland, perhaps he's taking notes on what he might expect next.

Disagree with that comment?

"Petrograd has seen 5 years of revolution (Change revolution to 'Indepencence obsession'). Four of those years had closed its every artery and every store (Take a walk up Sauchiehall street), when nationalisation smeared dust and cobwebs over the plate glass windows... The state's New Economic Policy (Wonder if it looked anything like the Growth Commission)... There were stores without signs and signs without stores. But between the windows and over bricks and boards of cracked plaster (BHS front has become storage for homeless people's stuff). On a corner, an old lady held timidly a tray of home made cakes, and feet hurried past without stopping: Someone yelled: Latest new, citizens! Someone else yelled: "Saccharine citizens!" and someone else yelled "Flints for cigarette lighters, cheap, citizens" (Try walking down Glasgow's main shopping are and try to hear yourself think with all the buskers, beggars, chuggars and shops blasting out music in desperation for attention)

It tells you something when even the pound shops are closing.In the event that any of the cybernats disagree with the similarities I see...

We already know that many of most successful Scot's leave the minute the get the chance, but when it's "FREEDOM" Alex Salmond escaping to Russia?

1297 "If this is your army why does it leave?"
2018 If Scotland's so fantastic why does everyone who can, leave the minute they are able?

These a huge difference between the "Hope Over Fear" of 2014 to it all turning out to be a little more C3PO "We're Doomed"
Might have told us it would be as Comrade Salmond...
No wonder President Sturgeon refused to meet the leader of the free world
It all makes sense now!
Here's a challenge for you read the opening pages of "We the Living" and then play the game that my 7 year old son and I played in rush hour Glasgow

"See how many people you can spot smiling or laughing"

You can see... and then see if you spot any similarities.

It's all a little different to the buzz in the air and the New Hope that #Team56 promised back in those heady #IndyRef #VoteYes & #GE2015 days.

Perhaps what happened in the 2015 UK General Election was similar to what's been suggested elsewhere since then?

Anyway, wouldn't it would be nice if our comrades in politics "Ate their own dog food," but never mind... It's not their fault, it never is! Even if it was they'd never take responsibility ;)

So don't blame the politicians... Blame me: I voted "Yes" and, as the saying goes

"A society gets the leaders it deserves"

#GoDo folks, The RBS sponsored Edge competition is open... Hopefully the government owned bank won't be closing your business - or branches - and sending memos to "Give you rope" if you're one of their customers in a few years time.

Living a Life of Purpose... For Kids

This post is in reply to Ayelet Baron's It's time for each of us to stop asking kids what they want to be or do when they grow up, and the conversation that we have with our kids that (I hope) gives them the permission to never stop looking for their place in the world.

But before I tell you that story... I need to tell you this one ;)

CMAD 2016 Vs 2018

When looking for a link to share re: how I wanted "Connected Educator Appreciation Day" to be "like #CMAD for educators" to a few people interested in exploring the idea and getting involved.

I re-watched this Community Manager Appreciation Day 2016 session (Connected Educators & NewPowerEducation fans: WELL worth watching this!!)
I DID watch this live at the time... as can be demonstrated in this: #CMAD Reflections of a Newbie (Session 16), but saw it in a WHOLE different light after reading New Power (@ThisIsNewPower), and given that I'm helping to organise an event that I hope will help get more educators connected.

I've also watched a number of Ayelet's #CreatingIS sessions too.

But after watching the session the "Shallow Engagement" of the odd Tweet and reply became a deeper connection.

Ayelet shared a post about teaching our young people about "A Life of Purpose" and I wanted to offer the ways that we try to convey and communicate this with our kids.

I've known about Ayelet's work for 4 years+...I watched the same #CMAD hangout that I did 4 years ago, but did so with a whole new level of understanding! Perhaps Napoleon Hill was right:

"When one is truly ready for a thing, it puts in its appearance"  Think and Grow Rich

Call Centres & Cold Calling is Dead... Who Knew?
Even the politicians that I DO have any time and respect for will tell me:

"William, your communication is too long and too frequent" 

But when all the call centre jobs go all at once (See Adapt or Die: How to Cope When the Bots Take your Job) I would not be surprised if the reply from the same politicians will be:

"Who knew? No one saw it coming" Just like Alex Salmond did at the GE2017 election... WRONG! And, like Gazelle and FELTAG, I told them AT THE TIME!!

To say "Erm, well I did!" At a time when all these jobs actually go will come across as a smug and "I told you so," definitely not something that the thousands of newly unemployed people will want to hear.

When your call centre job goes...Who you gonna call?
A politician? In my experience, don't bother
...Just check this thread
"When you think that a huge telecoms company like AT&T employs about 100,000 call centre agents to look after its 120 million customers, that's a lot of jobs that could disappear pretty quickly" Innovate or Die

Living a Life of Purpose... For Kids
My kids don't have the luxury of being able to say my communications is too long or frequent - Something that I'm sure they wish that they could do at times! 

But, on the other hand, even my 7 year old son 'gets' ideas that the political classes appear to struggle with: (See Skype Master Student for an awesome example of this).

Quick Pop Quiz... for readers: Money or Purpose?
I worked at one company for 10 years, going in at entry level but turned that into a wage that was in the top 7% of UK earners.

I've nothing much to show for this decade of my most important asset - my time - today in terms of what's left of the project, or relationships with the company's directors.

Since 2012 I have worked on projects that I've believed in, but not earned all that much money, the choices and risks of these decisions are coming home to roost at this present moment... But I feel what I am doing is important.

Got kids? Remember what you said when you were expecting the little bundle of joy?

"Don't care what flavour it is... Just want him/her to be healthy"

...And when they grow up? 

"Just want them to be happy"

Are probably typical responses. But there's a HUGE (Translation for Precedent Trump supporters: "Yuge") problem with this.

Happiness is a symptom of living well... so how can you give young people the scope, tools, permission and find the right story to tell to help them find the root cause of living a happy life? Here's how we put it across:

Find Your Place in the World
"I want you to imagine that when you wake up in the morning that you get up thinking"

"Yes! That's what I'm going to be doing today!"

"Whether this is a Monday to Friday 9am-5pm job, shift work like the emergency services, a 2-3 month gig like the military or film stars/crew, solitary or creative work like coding or writing, when your work is finished - which isn't work at all because you love what you do - it's fun! But when you are ready to go home, you think"

"Yes! That's who/what I'm going home to"

Whether that's a girlfriend/wife, boyfriend/husband, flatmate, cat, dog, goldfish, sea monkeys.

How miserable do you think you're life will be?

Obviously we hope that what they choose the 'Work' (Fun) will be a worthy cause and that they are able to earn enough so that them and their loved ones have everything that they need.

We then ask them to consider the alternative... Waking up each day and dreading where they will be spending their working day and then dreading coming home too.

Related image

We don't just tell our kids this... We show them! I love what I do!

I spend hours working on things that no one sees any value in but, after arranging the data, pulling the right people together and arranging the conditions... so that the same data and project that no one saw any value in a few weeks/months/years earlier no longer needs explained: It's obvious!

And as for the guy that helped get the started the party? Well you can't even see that guy anymore.

Image result for geoffrey moore leaderships lessons from dancing guy
In 12-24 months time there are some things that will "Just Happen" as a result of some hustle that only those who were involved at the moment will ever know how, where, why and how much effort went into getting it all started.

On the days that are not so good, you curse all the things that ended up being a dead end... projects that didn't quite pan out... the fake friends... the non payment etc.

But when you stop and reflect and/or when the people who do rally round with support and kind words...

You are reminded that you might not even be exploring a life of purpose if it wasn't for those who freely gave you their time and the benefit of their expertise and asked nothing in return, and your job is to weather the storm and to 'Pay it forward' as and when you can.

Here's all the Pirates and all those selfless and relentless 'Givers' out there... and especially to all the ones who have helped me on this roller coaster of a journey.

“To laugh often and much; to win the respect of the intelligent people and the affection of children; to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate beauty; to find the beauty in others; to leave the world a bit better whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition; to know that one life has breathed easier because you lived here. This is to have succeeded.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

Tuesday, 24 July 2018

So Near, Yet So Far...

Today was not such a good day, the reason?
At best...
It's a case of "Being too early is as bad as being wrong"
At worst?
It was the slow realization that for the last 8 years I've been on a fools errand... that this time has been pretty much a waste of time, I don't think that this needed to be the case (But at the same time am at a loss with some aspects of it all)... and there sure have been some highs and lows. 
The highs undoubtedly include James Stanbridge - from the beginning to the end - that first Skype call in 2015 through to the comment he posted on my blog in Nov 2017... and all the support in between!
On a Skype call as part of the team with a Hot Shot Silicon Valley company the following comment was made:
"We should all share our Bill Gates stories one day" Says one of the Vice Presidents

"But I don't have any" says I, in a depressed tone.

"YET!" James shoots back immediately "You don't have a Bill Gates story, yet. William"
There were opportunities and epic fails, but the end isn't what I wanted for myself ...or the example I hoped to set for my kids.
I include an email in this post that includes the cringe-worthy writing from 2010 (before I started blogging or writing reports I hasten to add) it is an email that I sent to a Microsoft Exec looking for a little bit of career advice.
In 2010 I set myself the goal of "Working with one of the big 3" - Microsoft, Google or Apple. As time progressed this narrowed with more of a focus on Microsoft. The reason for aiming for "The Big Three?" 
Because I gave a company 10 years of my life, to start with the product was great... but the culture wasn't, the product followed the culture and slide down into mediocrity followed by redundancies.

It's not a great feeling not having much to show for 10 years... or the thought that you took up loads of educators time and budget on a project that wasn't "Build to Last" because of the culture the Managing Director set.
The major tech companies sure do know how to develop and scale great products...Go ask educators 
"Which tech products would you recommend to your colleagues" 
And see if and how many products there are that 100% of the school/district staff would recommend.
I bet you struggle to get everyone at the school/district naming the same products and those that are mentioned the most will be Microsoft, Google, Apple... or other major tech company products.
Great products like this is something I wanted to be part of... so much so, that I undertook projects for little/no money that I felt had value instead of taking a wage to do work that I didn't believe in. (You can see the free and paid projects on my Resume Zeemap).
In late 2016 I thought progress was being made during the Skypeathon and in 2017, after reading some LinkedIn articles by former colleague, Michael Marvosh, I gave up trying.
My CV had sat on the Microsoft careers pages for years, and Michael's advice was

"If your resume is on file at the organisation you want to work at for years, how likely is it that you'd fit in?"
A fair point Michael! That said, when you see how the Co-Founders of companies like Twitter met and/or the jobs they had before Twitter... You struggle to shake the feeling that geography has played a role in the end result.  
I wonder if those who know me and is reading these ramblings from 2010 will join me in thinking that I've been consistent and stuck to these same goals/ideas, and maybe even feel that I came close with some of them. 
The call with James Stanbridge in 2015 was a game changer for me... I'm fortunate that my 17 year old son has already had a call like that with a few people now, so perhaps he'll have a few Bill's Gates stories to share if he does consider a career in tech.
I'll do my best to wrap up one more edu project... one that I hope will see the teachers at the three schools in Scotland that my kids go to making some Skype calls, in the hope that their students will have game changing calls like the ones that my son and myself have had... as well as some of the opportunities that these calls have provided on what's ended up being a rather interesting journey.  
13th Oct 2010
[Should have been] Some Cringe Worthy Writing & Career Advice
To: Senior Microsoft Exec (The reply I got back was the reason I got on Twitter)
I appreciate that you will be very busy but was wondering if you might be able to provide me with some advice.

I am currently looking at my next move with my career and a challenge that I have is not that I don’t know what I want to do next, but that what I am looking for is so specific that I think you may be one of the only people in the UK that can assist me!

Please allow me to explain, when considering my next move there are four things that are very important to me – personal development, making a contribution, quality of service and setting an example to my kids – all of which I consider before financial remuneration.
1)      Personal Development – As a person I am intrigued by identity, what shapes us and what drives us – why are Bill Gates & Steve Jobs et al so successful? Why do NEETS lack the drive to contribute? And without the 1-2 alleged chance encounters/reference points/random events would these entrepreneurs have been as successful as they became? And more importantly, can the reference points that inspire people in the right way be replicated to help every child in education to find what they are good at, especially with the use of IT?

     I did not particularly excel at school but have been lucky to have found people who were willing to help me grow and develop, to such an extent that I have out outperformed most of the privately educated Oxbridge graduates who I have worked with.

2)   Make a contribution – This applies to making a difference to the organisation I work for and it is important that the organisation itself makes a difference, in some way.
     One of my own reference points is that I got sacked from the first after school job that I had and I vowed that I would never experience that feeling again – and never have always endeavouring, and succeeding, to make myself a valued member of the teams I work with.

      In an education setting I feel that there are so many ways that IT can make the learning experience a much more enjoyable one, so much so that it has the ability to foster a lifelong love of learning in every (or at least most) children! 

      I may not have the ability to code some of these cutting edge software that programmers produce, but I can certainly demonstrate how great these products are to educators – how they can make their lives more productive & efficient while making the learning experience for children more fun.

3)   Quality of Service – It would be difficult to make any kind of contribution if a company’s service was not fit for service. I feel that this can usually be demonstrated by the relationship with the customer – if close then the level of repeat business and up-selling will be healthy and the customer will help the suppliers’ service to remain up to date.

4)   My Kids – As with most people I want to set an example for my children. Every night I ask my kids “what can you do?” and “what will they find” where the required responses are that the can do “Anything they can set their minds to” and that they will find” their place in the world“.
      As my kids get older I have no doubt that they will start to ask “Dad what have you done...What’s your place in the world?”    
I would dearly love to be able to say “I have helped to revolutionise the education system with the #1 software company in the world.”
As you can perhaps appreciate, when you apply the criteria above, you are only left with a handful of companies globally. Indeed it’s quite depressing when I asked my IT colleagues “Who is the best IT company in Scotland?” and you get a resounding “Don’t Know, no one really stands out!”

By now I imagine that you will either be thinking “This is a bit of a strange approach” and/or “I’m intrigued” (I certainly hope it’s more a case of the latter) – I always think it’s a curious thing that our business correspondence has become so professional that honesty and passion now stands out as “different.”
Assuming that you are indeed intrigued you may be thinking that being honest and knowing what you want is one thing, but having the necessary experience and credentials is another.

I have spend the last 4 years taking a desktop application from nothing more than an idea to managing a project which has seen our distribution network grow to include over 50% of the FE Colleges in England (198 colleges), with a 100% repeat business ratio.

I realise the risk that I am taking by sending such a long and detailed correspondence, and you may be thinking this is a stunt to do things differently just to get noticed, and indeed it can be difficult to get noticed – I can imagine that my CV would be disregarded instantly if it was received through the official Microsoft career channels. But I send this information knowing that all of the above is 100% accurate and is a true reflection of my experience, achievements and motivators.
I started my working life as a labourer on a building site and have taken full advantage of every opportunity that came my way and if there was any way that I could work with you I would not let you down, I would not squander such an opportunity.

I have included my CV for your perusal and if you did have the time to look at this, something that I would be very keen to know is what additional experience and/or qualifications would be needed before you would consider an application from me to become a part of your team?

I don’t know if you are in Glasgow or Scotland much but if so I would welcome the opportunity to meet up for a coffee. If not I would be happy to arrange to meet you at Reading or another location that would be more convenient for you.

I sincerely hope that you have enjoyed this introduction and very much hope that you might be able to find the time to provide me some feedback.
I look forward to hearing from you.
Yours Sincerely
William Jenkins

Monday, 23 July 2018

Edcamp UK - Getting Organised

"Scottish Educators need to collaborate more" closing keynote at the Scottish Learning Festival 2015, and
"The Scottish Government is always keen to engage with individuals who can help us to build policy... I hope you can find time to contribute to those Digital Learning Community discussions as I am sure you will have a valuable contribution to make" Letter from the Scottish Government in 2015

Has kept me busy over the last few years! On the 22nd September we are hoping to bring a range of people that we've collaborated with and are connected with through a UK Edcamp...but also connecting with people elsewhere via Skype.

This post includes some of the pre and post event ideas that have been discussed, and some suggestions for anyone with an interest in getting involved to "Find something to do and pitch in" if they wanted.

Overall AimOne of the aims of this event is to share stories about why those who are connected are using tools like Twitter and Skype and to engage and encourage other educators to get connected and make that all important first Classroom Skype call.

If you are and/or know  any one at the sectors below who would be interested in Skyping into some schools, please feel free to let us know or pass our details onto them.

If you are a school that would like to arrange to have any of these groups speak to your students... give us a shout. Equally if you are interest in helping to organise the event let us know, here's some of the teams that we're looking to organise:

Edcamp Organising Teams
Scottish/UK Event Team
Virtual #CEduAD Team
People to organise CEduAD panel discussions
Sponsorship Team

Pre Event Ideas

Microsoft Execs & Tech/EdTech staff
W/C 13th Aug: We've had a number of Microsoft executives and tech/EdTech staff express an interest in discussing their world of work and we thought this would be a fantastic way to kick of our pre event activities... as well as the start of the new academic year.

These calls could include discussions about the interview process, any career advice, projects that they are working on and 'A day in the life of'-type conversation.

Speaking from experience when my 17 year old son spoke to Skype's Ross Smith, students interested in a career in tech may well be bouncing off the walls with excitement after the call.

Business & Entrepreneurship
W/C 20th Aug: With all things #GoDo startup and Entrepreneurial Scotland being in vogue we thought some startup founders might be interested in getting involved and organisations like Entrepreneurial Scotland, Entrepreneurial Exchange, Saltire Foundation, Start Up grind etc calling in to discuss their work and life at a Startup.

We're sure that many of these groups will visit schools regularly but Skyping in could 

1) Help students develop in demand skills like communicating effectively online, and
2) Reduce the cost of travel and increase their reach if schools were comfortable with organising Skype calls

Careers and Management
W/C 27th Aug: Any organisation involved with progression and next steps - My World of Work, Skills Development Scotland, FE College & university community outreach or admissions departments interested in speaking to their target market via Skype as well as at career events.

MP/MSPs (Government, Politics & Civics)
After 2nd Sept Parliament returns on the 2nd September and any MP/MSPs who are looking to "Develop the Youth Workforce" or "Empower Educators" could do like a number of US politicians have done and discuss their work with young people.

Scottish Learning Festival
19th Sept The Scottish Learning Festival is on and one of the reasons we have chosen this date is so that anyone travelling from the Highlands and Islands could attend more easily than during any other time
Skype Edcamp
22nd Sept We will run a physical Edcamp where we hope to have Tim McDonald share his experiences of community building and have Connected Educators from around the world share their experiences.

The "So you want to organise an Edcamp" session at EdChange Global highlighted some of the challenges that can come from organising an Edcamp and we're delighted that some of these people are interested in getting involved: Skype Edcamp Padlet.

There is so much support that we are also looking at establishing a "Connected Educator Appreciation Day," which will be 12 or 24 one hour sessions on various topics for educators to share their stories so that people from all time zones can get involved.

Post Event Ideas
Edcafe where students & educator discuss their Skype experience
1st Oct After the event both students and educators could organise an Edcafe to share their experiences of the Edcamp and the benefits of being connected.

To make sure that the professional development is not left at the venue, we could look to encourage people to get involved with some of the Skype based activities that are available on MEC and the people and ways that classes can connect.

Connect with a #SkypeMT (Master Teacher)
W/C 8th Oct 

Connect with a Virtual Tour
W/C 15th Oct

Connect with an Author
W/C 22nd Oct

Mystery Skype
W/C 29th Oct

Pre Skypeathon video
A video of all the activities from mid August to the End of October could be produced in time for the Skypeathon.

6th Nov At the Skypeathon in November we can assess if any of these efforts and activities have had any impact in helping educators and classes to get connected.

ECGlobal 2018... Connecting the Dots

Since 2015 I have collaborated with people and groups using the same "Core Values"

Since 2015 I've been in contact with the EdChange Global team (@EdChangeGlobal), and made the odd introduction to people in my PLN... I had also offered to map out all the presenters and attendees of the Edchange Global 24 hour Professional Development virtual meetup.

I'm delighted that this year organisers Cassie Reader (@Reeder_Cassie)& Vlatka Butkovic (@Butkovicedu) took me up on the offer this year.

It has been ABSOLUTELY FANTASTIC getting to know the current organising team of this event over the last few weeks.

#ECGlobal & ISTE
A quick conversation on Twitter - what Michael Wu might term 'Shallow Engagement' - just before ISTE led to some more meaningful deeper engagement a few weeks later... This is the power of social media that those educators who are not yet "Connected" don't see.

Remember the closing keynote of 2015 - I think it was - Don't leave the oxygen of ISTE on the plane on the way home?

Remember the closing keynote of 2016 - Michelle Cordy (@CordyM)talking about her mentor Howard Rheingold? 

Well Cassie's tweet during ISTE (above) both meant a great deal to me AND helped me confirm what I felt was the future of social media through a comment Howard Rheingold (@hrheingold) made after spending 10 years as a 'Well Being' as detailed in Kate Hefner's book about Stewart Brand (@StewartBrand) and Larry Brilliant's (@larrybrilliant)early online community - which punched well above it's weight - "The Well"

#ECGlobal & Core Values
I jumped in and helped out this week in the way that I did, in exactly the same way I did when I connected some members of 2015 EdChange Global team with the Digital Citizenship Summit by:

1) Having Empathy - organising events is tough! Community building! I felt I could help, so pitched in

2) Honest Relationships - I let the #ECGlobal team know where I was at with the DigCitSummit movement today

3) Collaboration - One of my favourite articles is Collaborate Vs Collaborate

4) How can we help? - I hope that I have shown my "Friendship First" in the way Dave Kerpen suggests... and a few quick "5 min Favours" with the odd introduction etc as Adam Grant and Adam Rifkin recommends.

5) Quality - I hope that any aspect of the involvement has been of a high quality and has added value to this year's event.

#ECGlobal... Joining the Dots
I tend to be quite good at organising data and making introductions before events like these... but, as I am not an educator, don't think I have too much to contribute with the "on the day" event.

But I joined a few sessions... And BOY! Am I glad that I did!! And I hope my different perspective, experiences and observations in this post help and add value in some way.

I KNOW! That what I do has value, even if others don't! I also agree with keynote speaker - Entrepreneurial Scotland's (In my experience... that's a contradiction in terms!) Chris van der Kuyl - from the 2015 Scottish Learning Festival, an event that Education Scotland organises, that:

"Education Lacks Leadership" and that
"Scottish Educators need to collaborate more"

(Something I VEHEMENTLY disagree with was his suggestion that Scotland lacks talent: IMHO and experience, Scotland's talent lacks the opportunities... Something I bet I can provide better data on than any argument that Entrepreneurial Scotland might put forward!)

Something that I've continued to try to do is nudge the needle forward ever since the then Education Secretary's, Angela Constance's, invitation to reach out to people in my network in 2015. 

I was also warned by MIT's Bill Aulet how tough the problem that I set out to solve would be, something that #ECGlobal helped to prove via an Edmodo session. 

ECGlobal also helped me to see what's needed next... and why this movement could be the one that solves quite a few rather tough issues.

"We have to trust in the currents when living a life of purpose" Tim McDonald highlights. 

ECGlobal helped me to see where the dots are headed next... Here are a few other super helpful comments that have helped.

"In times of uncertainty we need networkers as much as we need leaders" 2013 World Economic Forum

"Community Architects will seek out different groups and build 'flow' between them" Rachel Happe (@rhappe) 2016 Community Manager Appreciation Day.

When the world is changing in the way that it is, at the pace that it is, and without any answers... or leadership from the places that you might expect, you have to try to "Connect the Dots," try to "Be Helpful" and work on what you do know:

1) We know that cold calling is dead... Even if people don't realise that yet

2) We know that the bots are coming and will see thousands of call centre staff lose their jobs

3) We know from an interview in the news earlier this week that the definition of "Living the dream" in Northern Ireland - where 'The Troubles' have flaired up again includes "Getting a job in a call centre" that's the extent of the economic opportunities.

4) We know that anyone who looks to our political leaders for education or economic solutions, for answers... or even just to give a damn, is deluded.

5) We know that tech companies know where it's at... Microsoft just posted record profits.

Now, I don't think that Rachel Happe knows how much a single comment both meant to me, or how busy her comment has kept me over the last 2 years... but A LOT! Is the answer to both.

#ECGlobal... #NewPowerEducation
Edchange Global this year reminded me of when I used to attend something like 10 Twitter chats a week and found myself sharing the same article over and over among different groups in different chats.

At ECGlobal this weekend, I found myself referencing or mentioning Henry Timms (@HenryTimms)and Jeremy Heimans (@jeremyheimans) book "New Power" over and over in each session

As a result of the number of references, it might be worth highlighting that I am not affiliated with the authors in any way... That said, I am EXTREMELY grateful to them for allowing me to name and label what I've been working on and will be doing all I can to help build the number of educators following and contributing to the conversations on #NewPowerEducation

The references to New Power during #ECGlobal was because I felt that the things that these connected educators were discussing - and the challenges they were facing with affecting the kind of change they believed was needed - could be greatly assisted by reading about the case studies in New Power. 

New Power in itself has helped to join the dots because I feel that "Buurtzorg for Edu" is where things are headed... and I feel that a UK Edcamp could provide a "New Power storm" that would make this happen sooner than it might otherwise.

So You Want to Organise an EdcampI enjoyed and got value out of all the sessions that I joined, including the very timely 

"So you want to organise an Edcamp" session that Irene Bal (@ireneamelia1) organised.

What was particularly useful was I felt the concerns I had around being one of the first edcamps in the UK were very real... and that having people attend virtually was as good an option as possible if/when we need an "Option B"

An event with 40+ forward thinking educators in the UK in September, if implemented well, will probably do more in 12 months time than any of the more expensive and time intensive things for those WHOSE JOB IT IS to address the Attainment Gap and Developing the Youth Workforce with their

"Oh we have a shiny plan that will be in place by 2030"

If anyone on the "We are educators who love politicians side of the fence" are reading this and don't like the rhetoric... One word: FELTAG.

Newsflash to the 'Business Manager' Bozo at the Education Minister's/Education Scotland Correspondence Unit
My kids and a lot of other people's will have left school by 2030!!!!

Active Listening, It's Not What You've Heard
I think that the biggest compliment you can give to any educator is probably 

"I want my kids to be in that teacher's lesson"

That's what I came away with thinking about Michael Messner's (@teachermike72) session.

"You have to tell a compelling story that keeps people on the edge of their seat... [And to do that] you populate that story with really memorable and appealing characters" John Lasseter

If Shane Snow was right about story telling being the number one business skill of the next 5 years, then it's not only my kids who need to listen to Michael talk about Listenwise (@listenwiselearn)... It's also educators everywhere!

The first part of the session I was wondering "Where is this guy going with this?" (In a good way... he was being a master story teller)

Then the content that he chose to make his point was extremely engaging (Possibly helped that I have a huge interest in human geography and feel that national identity is so much of an intentional, social construct).

The biggest compliment I can give about the story telling skills was it was something straight out of "Made to Stick." Michael asked something like "What role do you think sound made here?"

I was immediately reminded of the teacher who was struggling to engage his class with the US Civil War. 

So he went to the butchers to get a bone about the size of a human femur and got the noise of gun fire at a Civil war re-enactment.

At the start of the lesson he plays the gun fire and throws the bone on a desk with a saw 

"You've got 60 seconds to cut through your injured friend's leg or you are both dead"

He had the classes attention from that lesson on with all things US Civil War.

As well as a master lesson, Michael was also quick to provide the kind of disclosure that I feel is (And will be) more and more needed today:

1) He was not affiliated with or renumerated by Listenwise
2) He was a huge fan of Listenwise
3) He was friends with the CEO

Ethical but transparent... with an inspiring lesson in history, listening and story telling

Edmodo the Tool you Never Knew you Needed so Badly
Obviously I've known about Edmodo for a while. I joined this session for two reasons:

1) To see why educators are such fans of this "Facebook for education" platform, and

2) To look for the "Bright spots" -  To see what this darling of EdTech is doing - that other EdTech startups could learn from. Then a message comes up in the chat: 

"What about the fact that Edmodo has just been sold? What does this mean for student data?"

Wait? What! Edmodo has been sold? A quick google and Edsurge article later and...I find that the company lost £178 million on £1 million revenue. 

Thus proving a problem that I saw way back in 2013/4.

I had a conversation with one of the then 'darlings' of #EdTech startups (This doesn't last too long - remember how Pokemon Go was the future of education... for 6 weeks?! Lol). I asked this particular EdTech startup:

"What's your revenue model?"

The unbelievable (And rather smug!) reply: 

"Oh William, we're in the very fortunate position that we don't need to worry about this at the moment... we have more funding than we know what to do with" 

For anyone who's read Sam Walton's book about how Walmart beat Kmart etc, who had money thrown at them, would have seen how this was going to end.

EdTech incubators and Edu startups getting VC money thrown at them has had some advantages... for sure, but it's also brought with it two very real problems at both ends of the spectrum:

1) These incubators have brought with them unrealistic expectations for anyone not in the land of #EdTech honey with lots of VC money and shared services.

Sure Educators do LOADS of work for free (£7 billion a year in unpaid labour according to TES), but they do get paid. The expectation because of VC funding is that all Tech should be free and work perfectly straight out the gate! There are all kinds of problems and skewed relationships because of this.

2) Did anyone think that these VCs, who were in edu with the founders "Always free" rhetoric were in it because of their new found #GoDo Edge @RBS-type 'Give 'Em Rope' type philanthropy?

If it's 'free' then what's being sold is you.

...As the saying went about Facebook WELL before Cambridge Analytics and Trump

Back in 2011 I'm sure that ads, data or moving people from freemium to premium models was in the business plan somewhere, but not so much today and the VCs have stopped supporting these companies = fire sale. #EdTech is tough!

So the contrarian question is this... if someone like Edmodo can't make their business work, how is anyone without all the geographic advantages, access to funding and educators for feedback - then who is? 

The answer of course is very few: Because EdTech is tough. 

Connecting Culture to Cause Change: Learning without Borders with Skype
As a fan of Skype obviously I joined every session with the word Skype in it... and this was most definitely a "Join the Dots" session.

First of all we had Stormy Daniels (@MsDanielsStormy), who is a Skype Master Teacher, someone used to and familiar with technology, having some issues with the session platform: Zoom.

I was laughing my head off at this... not in a laughing at kind of way, but laughing with. Because the way she handled the tech glitch was funny and because I find that I can get SO MUCH more done and SO MUCH more quickly with the tools that I know and like.

So to hear a Skype Master Teacher have the kind of issues that I have with newer technology was a

"Glad it's not just me that this happens to" kinda moment.

I recently published a post on the idea of a Skype Master Student and some Scottish educators read the post, liked the idea and then asked me: What Schools are your kids at, maybe I know someone that can help? I told them the Local Authorities and the reply was 

"Oh those ones? Yeah... No they are tough... I know people who have tried to do things there for a while... Scotland's a tough place for these kinds of changes"

Well making a Skype call isn't so tough in the classrooms of some Scottish Local Authorities... They even have some Microsoft execs from the US to stop by to talk to their kids.

So having opportunities like this for some Scottish students but not others isn't very "Developing the Youth Workforce" or "#AttainmentGap-ish" if some opportunities exist in some districts, but not in others... Is it?

During this session the same message was conveyed...

"I try to bring in these changes in my school/district but it's tough going and a lonely struggle"

This is the case even in the most innovative and forward thinking schools and areas.

This session and these comments highlight that my ideas are correct... whether ISTE, Edcamps, Scotland, USA or Croatia the issue is the same.

The early adopters are all drinking from the fountain of connectedness... but the people who should be doing the outreach to the "Early Majority"

The so called 'leaders' and policy makers - even the ones that want to 'empower educators' or invite tech entrepreneurs from 'Entrepreneurial Scotland' to give a fine speech for Scottish educators to 'collaborate more' and even admit they were lucky because they had the forward thinking teachers they had in computer science. 

This group of political leaders neither appear to want nor are doing much about getting educators connected so our kids can benefit from online collaboration...and the opportunities that come with it.

"Connected Educator Appreciation Day" #CEduAD could help to get more people joining the sessions that I joined during #ECGlobal and learnt everything above from... In time for the next event that Cassie, Vlatka and the team organise.

A Word About... Laggards and Tools
I'm an extreme example but:

1) I'm working from an old refurbished laptop that was £120 in 2013... LinkedIn barely works on it anymore.

2) I'm a laggard - a "late adopter" to new technology, I like hanging out with the innovators but TOTALLY 'get' the concerns of those who are a little bit more apprehensive about new tech tools.

This was perhaps apparent in the sessions that I joined as I wasn't on video, preferring to be involved via text so I could "Think before I spoke" ...and there was the backspace/delete button so I could take things back before I said them ;). 

Getting comfortable with video is most definitely on the "To Do List"

There were sessions that I could not join because of digital access, if we're looking to get more of those who are "Unconnected" we need to make sure they have access to (and are comfortable with) the tools being used.

I totally agree with Jane Jacobs that "young people don't have as much difficulty with new ideas" and feel there's something in the idea of students helping educators getting connected before the next ECGlobal event.

Need evidence of this? My two oldest kids are introverts, they would not thank you for putting them in front of a Classroom Skype call...

My youngest son? I saw how much he took to his first (and only) classroom Skype call like a duck to water... and how much he thrived with it.

I need to follow his lead and get more comfortable with new tools... including video [Sigh].

For the sake of the kids whose world of work will be totally different in a few years time: Get Connected!

You never know... It might even benefit your own career.

I'm not an educator but I think that 67 educators blogged about their #ECGlobal experiences, here's Michael Sinclair's blog about it:

ECGlobal has been wound up

My favourite comment is the bit at the end:

No where else and at no other time have I ever experienced anything like this. I need to be part of this again, and I am dying to be a part of something like this in the UK.
Anyone else interested?
I also notice a few friendly Twitter handles in his movers and shakers section.

Thursday, 19 July 2018

Skype Master Student

This is a post about what happened when an EdTech Startup JAM's (Just About Managing) who's having a rough time had an AWESOME day out with his 7 year old son and discussed ideas that were inspired by the amazing Andrea Tolley (@TolleyA) who lives 3,900 miles away from us... but who just might have inspired a Skype Master Student!

On a Skype call with Tim McDonald (@tamcdonald) when trying to explain the rationale of establishing a #CMAD for education, I say something like:

"I want my kids to be able to make Skype calls at school, to connect with the kind of people that I've been able to connect with... But in order to do that a bit of encouragement and hustle is needed"

And that in a nut shell is what I'm working on in between seeing where the wind blows with the troubles that come from some failed EdTech startup ideas and, like many have a startup, proved to have been a bit of 'Optimism Bias.'

Nevertheless, one more project *Just Might* see the goal of having his kids being able to make a Skype call at their schools a reality.

On Tuesday the monthly Microsoft Twitter Edchat took place (#MsftEduChat). The topic was all about Student Voice, and how tools like Flipgrid and Minecraft gave students a voice... there were only a couple of Scottish educators involved in this conversation. So how do we change that?

Here's an idea... Take a leaf out of Jane Jacobs book:

"I put a great deal of faith in young people, they don't have as much trouble accepting new ideas"

Here's a very personal example regarding why this makes a lot of sense...

So we're having a few challenges at the moment because EdTech is tough, and so is startup land... EdTech startups in Scotland are non-existent, as are jobs in Community Management.

Throw in the odd company that decides not to pay you and you're a rung or two below the JAM line.

Zero money and lots of stress mean that it's important to try to help the kids make sense of what's going on and why.

I'm fortunate enough to have some people that my kids have come to know and respect, who do see the value in what I'm doing. On Sunday we took a walk to discuss growing up in Scotland.

"So some people don't see the value in what I've been doing" Says I to my 7 year old son.

"But others do... Remember what Agent Jones (@GoutcherD) told you about my work after your Spy Quest Mission (@SpyQuest)?" I ask him

"Yep. I sure do!" Says he, beaming.

"So who do you believe? Is one of these groups lying?" I ask

"Maybe it's somewhere in the middle" he suggests

We then talk about how Henry Ford would have been seen as a crack pot for thinking that cars would replace horses... and I ask how many horses he can see on the road today as we walk and talk.

Much to the delight of a 7 year old, I ask if he'd believe me if i was to say that the issue of the day was that there was too much horse poop on the road - was an environmental and health concern back in the day - as was the issue of horses if they fainted from exhaustion and caused traffic jams.

We talk about how some people would have continued to make saddles, living in denial that their industry was in decline, and I share the advice from Adapt or Die: How to Cope when the Bots take your job

"Don't carry on making saddles when the car is driving down the street towards you"

I ask how many lamp lighters he sees each night to light the streets, and how all those jobs would have been gone all at once, just like the call centre jobs will soon (Affecting 4% of the Scottish workforce).

I then ask him how he finds out about the latest "Must play game" whether it's through friends talking about it in the playground and "Coming soon messages on the XBox... or whether it's through TV adverts or people calling him to encourage him to buy and play it.

After a single conversation - and at 7 years old - he has a better understanding of the "New Power" (@ThisIsNewPower) ideas that are on the way than some of the politicians that I've tried to engage, who just seem to scratch their head and go "I don't get it"

We then chat about some random stuff and have fun at the park.

Now my youngest son already knows that @TolleyA's students get to play Minecraft and do other cool stuff... He's Skyped with her at home and she's been in the middle of a Minecraft lesson and some of her kids have said "Hi"

He also remembers VERY well the only Classroom Skype call that he's ever made - which was at a different school - a Spy Quest mission which Andrea was a big part of in terms of planning and preparation etc... I know this because he talks about the day all the time!

I ask if he's ever made a Skype call at his school, or if he plays any games or has access to the internet.

He plays a few games during ICT but it's mostly it's the teacher who does things on the internet.

"Do you play Minecraft at home much," A question I obviously know the answer to!

"Do you enjoy chatting with @TolleyA and Jayden on Skype at home?" I ask... Again I know the answer to this question, they have a great time.

"Would you like to talk to them at school? Maybe have them talk about Minecraft with you all? This is what you'd call 'The stupid obvious answer to dumb questions' portion of our conversation.

Then I ask the question...

How do you think you could encourage your teacher and Head Teacher to make that call?

That's what you'd call the near impossible and/or million dollar question and/or the very good question portion of our walk and talk.

"Oh! I don't know Dad!" Is the reply, with a puzzled 'I'm thinking hard here' look on his face

"Do you think you could try?" I ask... "After all kids make the best Sky Guys" 

"Do you think you could go on a mission to get your class to make a Skype call?"

"I Think I Can! I Think I Can! I Think I Can!" comes the reply.

I wonder if there's any Skype Master Teachers or Global Minecraft Mentors (Nudge, Nudge, Wink, Wink, Oink, Oink @TolleyA), who could help a young would be trainee Skype Master Student?

...And the serious bit at the end
Like the saddle makers, times are changing for everyone... including educators.

They are under resourced, overworked and - in many cases - under valued.

I doubt they ever got taught these tools in teacher training college and the risks if the experimentation may far outweigh any benefits.I was told, by a Microsoft exec, get onto social media, it comes with the job today if you want to be in EdTech... Who is it that's delivering this message to educators?

MsftEduChat this week is a fantastic example of both the number of advocates there are and how much they love these tools that help people connect.

I'm not an educator so won't pretend to know what's involved - but through Twitter and Skype not only have I been able to connect and collaborate with AMAZING people like @Stanbridge, @TolleyA, @GoutcherD and Skype's Ross Smith... But so have my 7 and 17 year old children.

If the tech goes wrong in any way and the culture isn't positive at the school the educator may lose face and may be a reason for the lack of experimentation... But if students were in charge of organising everything?

If it went wrong = "They're digital learners"
If they bossed it = The students confidence would grow and connecting would become second nature
(It probably already IS second nature as they'll probably connect with friends on their Xbox and PS4 at home)

There's uncertainty with what the world of work will look like and, if there's one thing that I've found encourages educators to take a look at new ideas its this: For the sake of the kids.

So why not take a serious look at these tools... What would be required to do this?

Simply reach out to others who do use them and hear their and their students stories.