Tuesday, 25 February 2020

Six Degrees of Separation: #SkypeMS Book Challenge

As Scotland trended on social media when an MP arranged for Drag Queen 'Flow Job' to visit a school to read to primary school children... This post explores an idea where connected educators and school children could empower their class to have more appropriate role models visit their school.

Around this time last year I was reading Marc Smith's 1992 College Thesis 'Voices from the Well' and 'Analyzing Social Networks using NODEXL' where I found out about the documentary

Over the last two years I've been supporting efforts to make an unconference/Edcamp and a related 'Skype Master Student' idea work.

Over the last 5 years I've been involved with efforts to make Tweets, class teddies as well as people connect virtually and 'F2F/IRL'

The early online community 'The Well' and how this space punched above its weight has never been far from my mind, as well as how Stewart Brand changed the world, twice by connecting people from different groups or 'tribes' which I've also found can have interesting and productive results.

Related to this is the fact that I have a dream skype call I'd like my 9 year old's school to make with people like Stewart and Ben Novak... Inspirational people who truly have changed the world.

However, getting a controversial speaker with some questionable tweets to accompany Mahri Black to a school in Paisley appears easier than to have these game changing influencers skype into my sons school???

Some critical friends tell me that getting change in Scottish education takes 10 years... well my 9 year old will be 19 when this change comes, or correspondence from Education Scotland suggests that

'We hope our 2030 STEM 'vision' is reassures you that we are on top of things'

A 2030 'Vision'? Too little too late for a 9 year old in 2020 and his class mates, I'm afraid.

I've seen some amazing collaboration result from the 'Shallow Engagement' of that first Skype call developing into meaningful collaboration and 'Deep Engagement' a few months after making an introduction.

In 2017 my son skipped school to help his favourite author to recruit Westquarter Primary School's class teddy Ellie the Elephant.

Last year Andrea Tolley presented this project at the Microsoft Innovaive Educator Boom event at ISTE

I re-watched the Connected film last week and wondered if we could replicate the 40 packages that were sent to MIT and came up with the

The Connected - Six Degrees of Separation Book Challenge

We are going to be sending the 11 books below - among others - to people we know on a first name basis and will follow the model of the social experiment from the film and see if they can make it to the intended destination within six connections (or less).

Among the books we'll be sending include:

For Kids

Wonkey Donkey
The Alchemist
The Little Prince
Spy Quest Polybius
Spy Quest Cursed Diamond
Wagon Train Adventure

For Kids & Adults
The Well
Buzzing Communities
Virtual Communities
Analyzing Social Networks Using NodeXL
Give and Take
Things a Little Bird Told Me
New Power
Rough Diamond
Be More Pirate
World Gone Social

Adult PD
Atlas Shrugged
Inside Out The Microsoft Story
The Third Policeman

This is a project that started in October 2015 as, when I visited Larbert High School's PD Day, I left my copies of Katie Hafner's 'The Well' and Richard Millington's 'Buzzing Communities' with a member of the English Staff.

In January 2016 The Alchemist made it's way from Glasgow to Boston within on connection.

In November 2017 my son gave his copy of both Spy Quest books to a kind kid he met at The Reception of Westquarter Primary School.

In April 2019 he handed Wonkey Donkey into the team at Be Yonder, by June it had virtually made it's way to ISTE via Greeneville Middle School

Others are about to be sent.

The hope here is that 'Connected Educators' will get more connected and the book challenge will see them collaborate in the not too distant future... I wonder how big this will grow between now and World Book Day 2021

The rationale here regarding the classes that are 'unconnected,' like my 9 year old kids' school is that there are two common traits with most educators:

1) "For the sake of the kids" is a true statement
2) "A love of reading and life long learning" usually applies

In today's paper alone there is news of 11,000 jobs going along with the 150,000 retail jobs in 2018 to go with the 175,000 in 2019 as some 40,000 retail outlets closed their doors due to online shopping.

Community and movement building is and will continue to be an in-demand skill, but it's not being taught at any of my kids' schools... so we're teaching it - as best we are able to - at home.

A 9 year old student encouraging his school class to agree to getting their faviourite author to visit and them facilitating a dream skype call with others may be a bit of a stretch...

But he sure can arrange for a book with a letter where they 'Show their Friendship First' as Dave Kerpen puts it and/or a '5 minute favour' and sharing their faviourite book IS something they can achieve.

Maybe this will lead to the author of the book visiting their school and skyping with the class that they sent their books to?

Only time will tell... Hopefully we won't be waiting til any 2030 STEM Vision to see the results.

...And perhaps some MP/MSPs will be as enthusiastic as this as they are about giving Flow Jobs access to schools in their constituencies?

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