Monday, 23 July 2018

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.

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