Tuesday, 20 November 2018

Please Help!

As I highlight in my #CEduAD Post in September 'Startups are messy... EdTech is tough... and social media is an interesting place at the moment.

Biz Stone's book was a real inspiration to me and came at a time when I REALLY needed it! Professionally things were going well for Biz when he was hired by Google but, personally, he'd taken a few risks to get noticed by Ev Williams and Google who had just acquired Blogger, and was in debt.

He bet on his 'future self' who was going to find a way to pay for everything. When he worked at Google, he lived in a bare flat as he and his partner could not afford furniture... His colleagues rallied round.

Like all my other books it's in storage and, unfortunately, are at risk.

I have written this post in the hope of securing the amount needed to get our possessions out of storage in the next few weeks. Please feel free to contribute to this Go FundMe Page... any and all assistance gratefully received during this challenging time  

If high profile people like Alex Salmond can raise £100,000 in 24 hours and/or a Potato Salad Kickstarter can get $55,000... I hope that I might have built up enough goodwill with people in my PLN to be able to raise £700 needed within the next couple of weeks.

Over the last few years I have tried to see ‘where the puck is going to land’ in relation to EdTech sales.

When I mentioned in 2015 that cold calling was dead, MSPs told me that this was not the case as people loved the Scottish Accent. The MSP for Dumfermline highlighting that there were lots of opportunities with Sky at his constituency.

Fast forward to 2017 at a Scottish Community Manager meetup where people from Sky are presenting and if you were to ask

"Are you playing about with chatbots?" Don't be surprised to find that the answer is

"Yes, we have 8 chat bots running at the moment"

Fast forward again and Adapt or Die: How to Cope when Bots Take your Job highlights how 100,000 AT&T jobs could all go at once.

In Scotland there are some 4% of the Scottish workforce involved with contact centres, are many of those people and their families about to experience what we've gone through? I sure hope not! I would not wish our experience on anyone!!

In 2012 I saw that cold calling was on the way out and looked at what innovative companies like Microsoft, Google, Apple and Pokemon Go did to get traction in education.

They didn’t appear to be making the same sales calls as other education based companies… but did seem to put a lot of time and effort into establishing relationships with educators and putting ‘social proof’ to good use.

In 2014 I realised that the UK FE sector was not the best place to explore ideas that I’d been working on as I’d managed to get more done in 4 weeks with US educators when supporting the #SaveEdShelf campaign than I did in 12 months in FE.

(This was in spite of working with 50% of FE colleges and 100% repeat business over a 3 year period with some pre-austerity Every Child Matters and Healthy Colleges projects).

I’ve worked in a paid and unpaid capacity on projects that I have felt had value (and the right core values) since 2014.

A common topic of conversation is that the ideas that I get (usually as a result of ‘social listening’ and curating various data sets) from friends and people in my PLN is that the ideas are ahead of their time.
I’ve found the statement

“Being too early is as bad as being wrong”

To be very true! Except I’d have said that being too early is actually worse than being wrong!

 I’m currently working on a follow up to:

1)      The Developing Relationships & DeliveringValue Report that was written in collaboration with OCR (Which the TechnologyAdoption Cycle Section of the ISTE PLN Pokemon Go in Education report also touches on) 

2)      The Scottish Schools on Twitter Zeemaps that I curated in 2015 and updated in 2017

It is through research like this that has formed the basis for my involvement with the #DigCitSummit movement, anything I've done to get educators involved with the Skypeathon and Connected Educator Appreciation Day (#CEduAD).

I would like nothing more to finish this work and see it reach it’s full potential, which would be 100% in line with what I felt was possible in my very first blog post 

These ideas also happen to be in line with what Chris Van Der Kuyl advocated for in his #SLF15 keynote, as well as the way the Scottish Government say they want to empower educators.

However, like many find in the #EdTech space (Which most definitely does NOT need to be the case… In spite of austerity and all the school budget cuts), I’ve struggled a good deal. 

In the last 12 months have been on the wrong end of a losing battle that I don’t think would be out of place in an Ayn Rand novel.

In August, due in part to non-payment of work that I carried out – as well as a good helping of 'optimism bias' and a dash of naivety – the only home my boys have known was repossessed and we joined many of the other UK families who are experiencing some pretty hard times.

I’m not sure what my three boys will make of watching this struggle as it has unfolded before their eyes but, at the time of writing with my wife organising her mothers funeral and only a couple of weeks to raise the amount needed (£700) to save our possessions that are in storage, a little support would be extremely welcome.

A crowd funder worked for Alex Salmond within a short period of time… and I wondered if the same might be the case with this appeal.

As someone who has successfully helped others with their crowdfund efforts (#SaveEdShelf and #Get2ISTE) and have tried to create a Black-Friday-meets-giving-Tuesday as a way for supplier to thank educators for all the ways they give – whether with the £7 billion in unpaid overtime or the hundreds of dollars they spend on school supplies out of their own pocket – I never for a moment thought I’d be putting a campaign together for £700 to try to help secure belongings (Along with a whole bunch of other changes we've experienced).

As you can see from my HustleWhile You Wait post, I estimate that I’ve delivered value of £90,000 over the last few years to various organizations/movements.

I know that no one asked me to pitch in and assist with these and/or no mention of payment was made with many of these projects... I worked on them in an attempt to reskill from sales (Which educators highlighted in Twitter chats like #EdTechChat, #EdTechBridge and #UKFEChat were annoying) to community management, and because I felt my involvement with these projects would play a role in helping various people, groups and organizations to connect with purpose.

Obviously, I would welcome anyone to contribute to the GoFund Me campaign, but would be particularly interested to hear from anyone who has benefited from any of these projects in the past:

I would also be interested to hear from any EdTech suppliers who are looking to engage with UK Educators as I have some data that may be of interest to them. 

Ask me about this map, the data that each entry will include and how I feel this could help with lead generation as well as helping your product/service get traction using 'social proof' in the way that I have explored in the reports and projects mentioned above.

Sunday, 18 November 2018

Spy Quest Mission Part IV – Family Matters

Related image

This post includes a couple of special Spy Quest Missions that young Agent Isaac has been on with his Dad… and how they have been important to the entire family.

Last month Agent Jones had an event in sunny East Kilbride, Agent Isaac went along to say ‘hello’ and ended up speeding around Scotland in a Super Car with one of Agent Jones’ colleagues as Franco had been sighted in Stirling and Spy Quest Agents were on the case.

As usual Isaac was on cloud 9 after being involved with another mission with Agent Jones.

Immediately after this event we found ourselves on two solo missions.

Death in the Family
Agent Isaac’s granny has been battling with cancer since the start of the year. Last weekend she passed away.

When she was hospitalized a couple of weeks before she passed away we sat the boys down and said that she had lost the power of speech and was on a lot of drugs, we then asked them if they wanted to see her to say goodbye, or if they’d prefer to remember her as she was.

The consensus was that all 3 boys preferred to remember how as she was.

Then a parental executive decision was made and we changed this saying

“You know what, let’s just go see her… I’m sure you’ll still remember her as she was!” 

With Agent Isaac being a good deal younger than our other two teenage boys, I gave him a special Spy Quest Mission which included:

1)      To have his courage, be brave and not be in any way shocked or scared about how his Granny looked

2)      To give her lots of kisses and cuddles and to make her smile

We visited the hospital with the boys - Isaac with his new Agent T-shirt on - any time that Granny was awake and not in too much pain.

As usual, Isaac passed his mission with flying colours

(He also told his Granny that he was a real life spy guy, I’m sure Agent Jones won’t mind a young Agent blowing his cover on this particular occasion!)

On one of these visits an amazing friend of the family dropped by and sat the boys down on the floor next to Granny’s bed and told some stories about the outrageous adventures that they had together.

There was a great deal of life and laughter during a difficult time for the entire family… Thank you Agent Jones for creating books where the characters come to life so much that they give your young agents the courage to face difficult times and help make everyone around them smile… especially when it’s for one last time!

The School Trip
The day the boys returned from seeing their Gran we were running a little late and the normal mundane trip to school became a bit of a mission too.

We were running late and then Agent Isaac says

“It’s my school trip today” 

They were going to the cinema to see Peter Rabbit and the permission slips needed to be in when he was away seeing his Granny.

A quick call to the school and it’s OK for him to go, there’s still space… but we need to be at School in the next 15 mins as the bus will be leaving then.

We live 20 mins away from the school and had just missed the bus that might have got us there in time... And it will be a 15 minute wait for a taxi.

We grab some money and run out the door… there’s a conversation about fail to prepare and prepare to fail and then it’s a case of 
“OK how can we get there on time?”

We just start walking fast and come up with some plans regarding if things go well, but also manage expectations if things don’t work out… and discuss things that could have been done differently that meant we would not be rushing about like this (While acknowledging it's a stressful time for us all).

Inspired by Agent Jones' real life training (See the section below), I wonder about just flagging a car down, we walk and talk and plan… Then a taxi drives by and we flag it down.

We ask to get to the school as quickly as possible and the driver must have been a Spy Quest agent as he gave us a lesson in both economics and the ‘consequences of consequences.’

The driver told us about the times he has sped along to help customers out – one story being a lady who was running late and would get fired if she was late again – the driver got her there on time, but broke the speed limit in helping the lady save her job, but the driver got a £100 fine... for a £5 fare?!!

A great lesson in kindness being a valuable attribute… but self care is also very important.

We get to school and thank the driver… but then DISASTER!

The bus has left already, but we’re welcome to make our own way to the cinema to meet the class.

We have 30 minutes to get there. We head to the local taxi rank and see how much we have left.

How much to go to the Vue Cinema? I’ve got £10 could you do it for that?

Sure. Says the driver.

Again this driver must be a Spy Quest Agent as the fare comes closer to £15 and Isaac gets another lesson in kindness and maths... as we figure out we paid a third less than the fare should have been.

We make 5 minutes before the film starts and Isaac meets up with his friends and enjoys a school trip to the cinema… and has a journey to school that he won’t forget in a hurry and was a little different to the usual humdrum school run

(If you’ve read Dr Seuss' “And To Think I saw it on Mulberry Street", you’ll get the idea… the stress of running late turned into an exciting Spy Quest Mission and a lesson in ‘I Think I Can! I Think I Can!’)

Image result for and to think i saw it on mulberry street

Introverts & Spy Quest
On the eve of the very first Spy Quest Mission that Agent Isaac  accompanied Agent Jones I told him how nervous we both were... and that we might not be able to make it.

Agent Jones told me how great it was to see quiet P7s visiting the High School they were going to be attending and getting them to encourage their new teachers to do the Hokey Kokey, a form of torture for any introvert! 

But I saw what persevering with drama classes with Isaac's older brother did for him when he was younger (And an extremely shy little boy), so I could see the merit in this form of cruel torture ;).

It's conversations like these that help both bring the Spy Quest books and missions to life... and give me the courage to go outside my comfort zone and encourage Isaac to do likewise! When I say to him 

"I'm as nervous about this as you are" or

"I'd rather give it a miss too" 

Those comments are very real! 

Agent Jones also says that he wants kids to have the same butterflies in their stomach as real life grown up Agents do in the field… The events detailed in this post where I have accompanies Isaac have not just helped my son, they have helped me too.

Neither Isaac or myself wanted to go on that first mission last November... But we're delighted that we did!

Regarding the Mission to see if we could catch up with his classmates last week, it would have been easier to say 

“You’ve missed your trip… we’ll just get you to school”

Instead we were both able to say 

‘I Think I Can! I Think I Can!’ 

Image result for the little engine that could I think I can I think I can

In a week where the UN highlights the level of poverty in the UK today (But we have billions for RBS, NRAM, DUP and Brexit when it suits?!) it's worth highlighting my advice from my 2013 Lessons in Adversity post what I feel we should be teaching our kids in terms of resilience.

For kids like Isaac Agent Jones and his Spy Quest Missions are the closest thing that fit the bill that I have seen!

...But I've also found that Spy Quest is not just for kids!

Inspired by Real Life Missions
When I met Agent Jones at East Kilbride last month he told me of the training exercise where officers were told

“Our target has been seen in Aberdeen… You’ve got til 5pm to be back here, or you fail the exercise”

This was followed by questions from the officers about to embark on this training exercise “But we have no money” and/or “we have no transport” along with other concerns… But the Agents needed to find a way.

This was the inspiration behind the 'Shall we give it a miss' Vs 'Let's see if we can make it' school trip mission.

As a result of Spy Quest my 8 year old son is gaining in confidence, bravery and developing an ability to laugh off challenges with fortitude on each mission… something that his Dad is learning from too.

…Which is just as well because Isaac’s Dad has a real mission on his hands in the next 2 weeks. Here’s hoping that an Attitude of Gratitude and the Hustle While You Wait might pay off with all the projects I've pitched in with.

Please stay tuned for the next post and/or get in touch if anyone in my PLN would be interested in helping out with this challenge