Thursday, 22 June 2017

Who Sells Edcamps... And Eventbrite in Education?


As an EdTech sales guy who realised that my calls and emails were becoming less and less welcome (And effective), for the last few years I've tried to identify "Where the puck is going to land" as the saying goes in the world of EdTech.

I've explored what major tech companies do differently and, through my EdTech Report, tried to detail the importance of finding "Product Market Fit" before scaling sales and marketing operations.

"Many start-ups ramp up sales before the product is ready" Why Startups Fail

"Sales & marketing departments must refocus away from selling products and toward creating relationships. Partnering with customers is a key component. The primary challenge here is not technical, but cultural" Geoffrey Moore Crossing the Chasm

This post (Which may be one of my last Edu-based posts... Because, well... EdTech is Tough!!!!!) picks up on these same themes by exploring Edcamps and Eventbrite.

Pointless Sales Calls
Making the transition from sales to Community Management has not been an easy one... Especially living in Scotland where there are few EdTech companies and even fewer #Cmgr opportunities.

It's frustrating enough reading books like Hatching Twitter and discovering that the founders became involved with this startup through living in the same apartment building and a chance encounters in a coffee shop. But when I say to some critical friends who know a thing or two about major tech companies:

"If I was in California I'd just camp outside the offices of a tech company for a week until they took me on"

The response?

"A week? ...William you'd be hired within a day!"

Instead I have the experience of going to job interviews and, knowing how busy educators are and how much they detest pointless cold calls... not to mention all the research I've done and previous projects where results were achieved without any calls being made, posing questions like:

"Do you REALLY think that you need to be making cold calls to get traction for products today?"

This is followed by an awkward silence and a rather short interview. Then again you're reading the thoughts of someone that thinks sales could be a short term role (See Where Do You See Yourself in a Year), they might feel out of place anywhere.

In 2012 I noticed that 40 companies were mentioned 400 times in the first 5 weeks of #EdTechChat... without a sales rep anywhere to be seen!

In 2013 I noticed that over 40 of C4LPT's top 100 tools for learning were either free or tools and/or were created by major tech companies (See Who sells free in Education).

So knowing the importance of

1) Developing relationships
2) Ensuring that companies achieve product market fit as they get traction without making any calls, and
3) Being aware of how annoying those calls are to educators

What do you do? Well, I look for the "bright spots" and pitch in where and when you can?

Who Sells Edcamps?
In April the organiser of Scotland's #Cmgr Meetup, Jamie Johnston, shared CMX's article with me about

How Edcamp Scaled Up 1,500 Community Events Connecting Educators All Over the World


As with my observations with #EdTechChat, C4LPT's survey and Pokemon Go I wondered

"So who is it that has been selling Edcamps to the hundreds of organisers who have taken time out their busy schedules to run these events?"

I wouldn't be surprised if the answer was none. It's probably been the case that an educator attended an Edcamp, found it to be great PD and wanted to get involved.

Educators iterating their way to "Product Market Fit" with an idea and scaling in a way that many a "Disruptive EdTech Startup" would be envious of comes as no surprise to me at all!

A comment in this article that stood out for me was:
"I was reading an interview on EdSurge from 2015, where you had said there was no master mailing list"

"Right, I know what to do" thinks I... I can put some of my curation skills to good use and see if I can help back fill some of this data.

The article estimates that there have been 1,500 events and I saw a Tweet where Dan Callahan had the number at 1,400 in March

I have found 2,150 Edcamps, 1,933 of which can be found on this Edcamp Map (Need some additional info before I can add the other 200+). This map includes organisers, links to websites, SM feeds, logos and registration pages.


Other Edcamp resources that I have curated includes:

·         An Edcamp Account Twitter List
·         An Edcamp Organisers Twitter list 
·         An Edcamp Logo Pinterest Board
·         An Eventbrite Edcamp Pinterest Board    An Edcamp Map with over 1,900 entries with links to websites and social media feeds 

I'm not sure if it's obvious or not, but this has taken quite some time to pull together. Is this more productive and/or does this develop relationships more than sourcing leads to make calls?

As someone with one foot out the door of EdTech, I don't think I'm best placed to give an objective response to that question.

What I can tell you is that I've found lots of educators who appreciate this approach... but few EdTech companies. Those that do are doing fine all by themselves... with a little help from Educators, without ever speaking to them.

Need evidence of this? I wonder how many Edcamp organisers who use Eventbrite have spoken to the company?

Who Sells Eventbrite to Edcamps?
So over 2,000 Edcamps. I pitched in and helped out "Just because I could" and because I felt that I could add value in some way.

When curating this information I found that not only were (at least) 1,073 Edcamps using Eventbrite... but if they had used a different registration page for a previous event, once they tried Eventbrite they stayed with that platform for future Edcamps.

I wonder how many Edcamps Eventbrite have sponsored to get that kind of traction/exposure?
I wonder how many sales calls they made to Edcamp organisers to get over 1,000 events signed up?

Like many companies that have a high level of uptake they are:

1) Not a dedicated Education company, and
2) Are free to use

As Edcamps are free and Education may be quite a small market for a company like Eventbrite, they may not even have noticed the way that Edcamps are assisting with their growth.

Social Proof
As CMX says in their recent How a Strong Community Creates a Better Customer Experience article about Urban Sitter,

"When it comes to trusting a babysitter, friend and family recommendations carry the most weight. Social proof at this scale is hugely influential" 

I am not an educator so to say that "This product or that is amazing" doesn't really matter one way or the other. Furthermore me taking up educators time to try to tell them the product is amazing seems like a waste of my time and the educators.

I feel that spending a few weeks to pull this together is far better use of my time... Even if few others agree with such an approach.

Take a quick scroll down this Edcamp Eventbrite Pinterest Board and see if you agree.

I Got Bills! Bills! Bills!
As I highlighted at the start of this post making the transition from sales to Community Management has not been an easy one.

This is complicated by the fact that EdTech is going through a transition with more educators leaving the classroom to work for suppliers and the fact that, well... EdTech is tough!!

Educators seem to appreciate the approach that I've taken but the skills don't seem to be quite there yet for the companies who are doing great work and see the value in Community. Others (who have perhaps not yet achieved "Product Market Fit") don't get how cold calls and spammy emails are not essential to their growth.

The best way to get work in Community Management is to pitch in as a volunteer... I've pitched in and volunteered for about as long as I can (And, in some cases, with rather questionable results!). So I may need to move on. More on that in the next few posts.

A Quick 5 Min Favour...
When I was exploring the idea of crowdfunding educators PD through #Get2ISTE, it was not until I was able to demonstrate the value that an Educator provided free of charge and suggesting that the work I put in be contributed to this idea (See I'm An #EdChatMod... Get Me Out to ISTE2015 for more info).

I wonder if a similar approach might nudge the needle forward a little here too? 

There are a couple of things that I would like to achieve before moving on. So if you see the value in any of the work I've spent time on since April I wonder if you might be in a position to do one of the following?

1) Sign up to EduMatch (Esp if you are a UK based educator)

Sarah Thomas (@sarahdateechursupported members of her PLN and the UK Digital Citizenship Summit by making the trip from the US to the UK

2) Check out Sumdogs regional and national competitions

Michael Sinclair (@FilltheGapLearnhas supported some of my initiatives (and Sumdog have supported some Edcamps), it would be great to help him with his work. (Btw the competitions are free to enter)

3) Help spread the word about Forfar Acadamy's Crowdfunder (@FATech_Edfor Drones. They have 8 days to hit their £1,510 target and only need £200 to achieve that.

4) Going to ISTE this year? Please check out Frog Education (Who are developing the Facebook of Education) and animation company Plotagon... Both of whom have supported projects like our ISTE resources curation project.

5) If you've organised an Edcamp in the past and would like to see this work completed, please feel free to fill out the details on this survey Edcamp Survey and I'll add the information to the map and other resources (Resources will be shared with the Edcamp Foundation when complete).

If it was not for Bob Baldie seeing past some (intentional) snarkiness in some of my previous posts, there are a number of things that simply would not have happened.    

On a personal note, I have a lot of insights from exploring this data and it would be good to finish it. If anyone has an interest in supporting this work so it can be completed, please let me know.

Goodbye Edu...
Some posts to follow that will go into how, where and why I have found #EdTech to be a little too tough and/or my ideas being a little too ambitious (Gotta love that "Optimism Bias." Lol).

Time to focus on the Attainment Gap a little closer to home and help 3 kids make sense of some of the questionable decisions I've taken when trying to make a difference.

Apologies if this post isn't a little more upbeat in places, but it is what it is!... And I'm not alone.

When looking at Edcamp sponsors from 2011,2012, 2013 suppliers that were getting a lot of love from educators are no more. So perhaps as well as asking "Who sells free in education", we should be exploring "Who is it that pays the price of free EdTech?"

The CMX article about Edcamps highlights that 

"It is, in fact, possible to change the world from your dining room table" 


I've done my best to listen to the sector and with the time, tools, resources and skills that I have with not much more than working from a battered old laptop from my dining room table... Edcamp people, you have my respect! Kudos to you ;)

Saturday, 10 June 2017

#GE2017 & The SNP - How the Mighty Fall



On Thursday night Alex Salmond declared that "No one saw it coming" when he spoke of the Conservative and Labour Party's revival as the Scottish National Party lost 21 seats in the UK General Election.

This post details the accuracy of my predictions with election results since September 2014 and how the things that facilitated my predictions come down to:

Network Effects + Feedback Loops (#IndyRef) - The 5 Stages of Decline (#GE2015) = #GE2017

I also argue that the #GE2017 results can be traced back to 21st and 22nd September (The weekend after the Scottish Independence Referendum)... Something that I tried to highlight to the SNP at the time.

Not Being Heard
I have tried to engage with people at the SNP in a meaningful way since September 2014.
  • I tried to get in touch straight after the Independence Referendum
    (SNP Check your inbox on 21st Sept 2014) 
  • I tried to let people know that I see signs of trouble at the height of their success 
  • I let them know that I spoilt my paper in 2016.
If you have insights that prove to be accurate but struggle to be heard... when and where should you speak up? Before disaster? During? After?

Well... I have spoken up before, during and after various train wrecks of initiatives that people in Education have been involved with. I have also tried to raise the alarm since September 2014 with The SNP with the content of this post.

Speak up before hand and you're being negative. Speak up at the time and you're dismissed out of hand, silenced or ignored. Speak out afterwards and it's either you coming across as being smug or rubbing salt in the wounds etc.

Regardless of when you speak out or the reaction the fact remains... opportunities for change are lost!

Susan Cain highlights this in her book that the introverts who tried to raise the alarm about the impending banking crisis were not heard. The risk taking extroverts saying that "We didn't hear the introverts"

I have little interest in politics and use the example below to demonstrate to Mr Salmond that I saw this all coming a mile off... and in the hope that my voice and ideas might be heard with future education ideas or, in the event that I leave education, to demonstrate my community management skills and insights.

On this Day #GE2015...
As the hangover from #GE2017 takes place and people are discussing Theresa May's future I am reminded of what I was doing on this day in 2015.

This also happens to provide a little balance that it's not just the SNP that I find elitist, arrogant and really don't care about anything but themselves

(Sorry, you can argue about lots but my experiences are mine to internalise, and that has been my experiences with the political classes... I can easily justify this statement, just ask me about them!)

The day after #GE2015 I started to work on a document where I share my experiences about what I felt was happening in politics since August 2014.

I wrote this document in a coffee shop where, based on the conversation the people next to me were having, they were rather senior people from the Labour Party. During a lull in the conversation I did something that I have only ever done once or twice before, I said "I'm working on a document that I think could help"

The only other 1-2 times I've done this is when I have been extremely confident that I could help.

Whether because he was an arrogant Old School Boy type or because every man and his dog had an opinion (And an interest) in politics in Scotland in 2014-2015, he said (in a rather dismissive kind of tone) "No you're all right mate" and preceded to look at me as if I were something that he'd scrapped off his shoe.

I continued writing with a  wry smile on my face because I felt my insights had more merit than many of the political pundits, "his loss I thought to myself... no skin off my nose either way!"

Two days after this encounter the big photo shoot took place with all the SNP MPs under the Forth Road Bridge and the post-Independence Referendum hashtag got a make over - from #The45Plus (Or whatever they decided to use by 2015) changing to #Team56.

It was then, two days after the record swings, unprecedented landslide victory that I said to myself

"The SNP is in the first stage of decline" 

I highlight this in a post at the time but also emailed a few critical friends to say

"The SNP are in trouble... you heard it here first!"

On Thursday 7th June 2017 Alex Salmond said that that

"No one saw it coming" 

I've made some rather accurate predictions since September 2014.

The comments and extracts below include a summary of the most relevant comments regarding what could have happened... starting with where it all went wrong September 2014.

...And I don't mean being 5% short of Independence... I mean in the 2 days that followed the result on Social Media.

How One Weekend in 2014 Affected the SNP in 2017
I am not political in any way, shape or form. I'd given up on the political classes a LONG time ago. But in September 2014 I started blogging in support of the SNP.

This had NOTHING to do with Independence, The SNP or Politics. It had EVERYTHING to do with the potential of the CULTURE that they had created. See Page 1 of this Ideas for 2016 & 2019 Candidates for more info (Written in May 2015 and circulated to MPs in all parties).

So, like many, I joined in what became for a 3 week period, a fun and vibrant community of people who bought into the "Yes" change can happen message (But would eventually became a rather disappointing "Yes! We've got 56 of our mates some cushy jobs!" Instead)

I don't know what the mechanics of this campaign were, or how much the campaign managers knew what they were doing... but I can guarantee that they didn't know how valuable what they had was, or how fragile it was if it wasn't looked after well!!!!

Since the 1970s there have been ardent advocates of Scottish Independence, stanch and in various sectors and who have been trying to further the cause.

Now obviously it took decades for this group to campaign to get the Scottish Parliament/Government and then secure the referendum.

However, even when these supporters secured the referendum the polls for Independence didn't go much beyond 34% until the last 2 months.

In the run up to the vote, for whatever reason, the "Yes" movement caught fire. Maybe that lecturer who was always a bit of a "Lone Nut" when it came to Independence had found enough early adopters. The same with the Biker who established "Bikers for Yes" and Women, Asians and the other "Yes" groups.

For 20 years SNP activists were marching to their own beat
 ...Until 3 weeks before #IndyRef, then you coudn't see them for the crowd
By early September the "network effects" were in place and there were so many rallies and of a significant enough size that people started to take notice. The people at these events seemed hopeful about the potential for change and were having fun... so I joined the conversation.


Image result for 2014 indy ref crowds

#VoteYes Sept 2014... First Signs of Trouble

Like many, I joined the fantastic humour at the national water cooler that was #IndyRef and #VoteYes. I went to a few rallies and wondered if Jane Jacobs ideas could be quickly and easily implemented in this culture of hope and enthusiasm for change.

The first sign of trouble was when people I was speaking to on Social Media advised that I go to some pro-SNP meetings... I lasted 10 minutes.

The atmosphere was VERY different to the public ones. Let's just say that I got an idea of what it must have been like to be at the Nuremberg rallies. (NB This was not an event organised by The SNP but was full of pro-IndyRef advocates)

This wasn't the kind of Jane Jacobs diversity of the public event, this was more like I'd imagine what a 1970s SNP AGM might have looked like ...all about politics, political point scoring and either #VotYes... or go away!

When I was leaving I got a smug "Bye then!" by someone in the crowd, and another "He must have been a #NoThanks spy." Erm, yeah! very good?! Goodbye indeed!

The night of the result the Vote No camp were rioting in Glasgow and what happened?

The Network Effects from #VoteYes didn't disappear after the vote... Nor did the humour (initially) the #VoteYes crew took to Twitter.

The Weekend in 2014 that Cost The SNP Votes in 2017
During this evening and for the weekend there was all kind of chatter and engagement with and between the Vote Yes and No Thanks camps. There were Tweets like

"I voted #NoThanks but I wish I was in the #VoteYes camp" 

The comments in reply?

It depended! It depended on who replied. It might have been

"Oh, that's OK we forgive you come and join the fun" 

Or it could be

"Fuck off you voted #NoThanks you Unionist bastard"
(Not my words the kind of comments by SNP/IndyRef supporters on Social Media)

I was there man! I saw what happened that weekend. Lol! Couldn't resist

I would have said that the majority of the people were the former as opposed to the latter. Many in the #VoteYes camp were asking on that first weekend:

"What can we do with this, the vote has ended but how can we keep this movement going?"

Again, just like the IRL public "Yes" rallies, text book Jane Jacobs stuff... fantastic and inspiring! The potential was so exciting!

In my opinion, only one group could have shaped the new culture... the 70 or so "Vote Yes" campaigns with a co-ordinated message of

"This is who the post #VoteYes crew is, this is what we're going to do... and this is how we're going to do it" 

(AKA Dave Logans "Identify your core values and align them with a noble cause")

EVERYONE and I mean EVERYONE of the political classes, just sat and watched and wondered what do we do now?  Except one.

One opportunist turned what could have been 45% of people being active community members into the angry 5%, both taking over and wrecking all the good work that the SNP/Yes Alliance did AND gifted the SNP/Yes Alliance with a headache that would have taken moments to address in Sept 2014... but one that is almost impossible to fix today. This damage was done in the space of 40 hours or so.

The cost of this 40 hour absentee period of the creators of it all? In my opinion, it's quite possibly cost them IndyRef2. Don't believe me? Just ask the 2017 MPs and MSPs in any party other than the SNP what they think of Indyref2?

Alternatively go ask Kezia Dugdale and Nicola Sturegeon what was said about the potential of IndyRef2 in Sept 2014. I believe this conversation is a point of contention today, but regardless of what was or wasn't said, I think Dugdale might have been more open to the idea of #Indyref2 in Sept/Oct 2014 Vs today.

The Weekend After Two Elections Before
The #45Plus was mentioned in the Scottish Parliament as a threat from people like Labour and, understandably so! The Network effects and Feedback Loops were very powerful indeed and had a devastating impact on other parties.

I argued on posts in 2014 and 2015 prior to the result that the GE2015 polls were probably not wrong and that there was little any other party could have done to prevent the GE2015 result.

However, while the pundits said that that

"It will take the Labour Party 10 years to recover"

From the 2015 Election in Scotland, I was screaming at the TV (And writing in this blog) "Oh no it wouldn't! It could be turned round as early as 2016 or 2019 (When the 2017 election was supposed to be).

Disagree with my assessment so far? Well political types will argue with their own shadow. Political candidates will dismiss their own leader (In the most brutal of terms too... that is of course until they start winning, like Corbyn did).

So disagree and argue all you like. It's not me that lost their job on Thursday. It's not me that ignored the Tweets, posts and emails that I sent.

I've predicted the results as they unfolded when MPs, media and political analysts and experts were saying "This can't be right, can it?"

...Here you go:

19th Sept 2014
As Scotland wakes up to the fact that the hopes of Independence have been dashed and the army of #VoteYes feel "a little down" and are licking their wounds... this Glasgow nutter wonders if victory might be snatched out of the jaws of defeat. Is the best yet to come? Yes Scotland

28th Sept 2014
"This post includes information as to why I would advise that, based on Technology sales and roll out principles, Labour and the Conservatives should just pack up and go now, and why a second referendum appears to be inevitable

[Other parties] task now is like Yahoo Vs Google, My Space Vs Facebook... ie you had your chance and you blew it. If you want to get Alex Salmond style popularity, stop off at Newcastle and declare the North East free from Westminster and you'll be the peoples' champion too" Achieving the Impossible

7th Oct 2014
There were a number of posts written to try to encourage and/or influence the culture of this impressive network. I would argue that the culture was set the first weekend after the #IndyRef result.

"On Sunday/Monday (21/22nd Sept) leadership of #The45Plus group was missing... A leadership that could only have been established by the 60+ "Yes Scotland" accounts, as this was the unifying thing that brought a diverse group together. Here's 2 things that I believe should have happened: integrating #VoteNo people and setting the culture with a new shared goal and identity"

The culture is now set, and hell mend anyone who disagrees with someone who voted Yes! We are the angry boycotters. We are the anarchists. We are the cybernats and it would appear that our mission to piss everyone off and to argue with anyone who disagrees with the hard line we decide to take.

Oh, and by the way, we're not very good with our maths... because 100% of 45% agreeing with each other is still only 45%, no matter how much more strongly we may or may not believe in independence, this is still a minority. 
#The45Plus... Where Did it all Go Wrong?

As someone involved with some digital citizenship initiatives, I think the political classes need to take a long hard look at themselves when they complain about Trolls and encouraging Tech companies to do more!

6th May 2015
So the SNP look to disrupt the political landscape in tomorrow's General Election. This post details how, if you look at events in the context of the adoption of technology, the result was not only inevitable, but that I predicted it eight months ago during the Scottish Independence Referendum (See the extract from 28 Sept 2014 above).Why SNP Domination was Inevitable 

7th May 2015
As I highlight above, I was more interested in the cultural conditions of the "Yes" campaign compared with SNP/Independence.

Furthermore my core values include the fact that we'll collaborate with anyone and everyone... so I sat down to write this document: Ideas for 2016 & 2019 Candidates

The intention was to reach out to people in Labour to say that no one needs to resign as it wasn't a policy or leadership issue.

I thought I'd have a few days to do this as the time for reflection and soul searching might last the weekend... but, BOY! Those guys don't hang about when there's blame to apportion!

The soul searching lasted all of about 12 hours before those long knives were out!

I'd encourage the political classes to stop and think for a moment about what might have been re: Labour's result if candidates did indeed campaign for 2017 in 2015 in the way that I suggested?

Would it be PM Corbyn today? I think it might have been! So the SNP might want to think themselves lucky or Labour kicking themselves... depending on the shiny badge that you have on lapels of your expensive suit that you get on expenses.


9th May 2015 (But post written on 9th Sept 2015)
When SNP MPs social media pictures were changed from images of candidates in their constituencies with their activists to the photo opp with Nicola Sturgeon and the #The45Plus (or whatever pro-Indyref hashtag was being used by then) was changed again to #Team56 (ie it's now all about us, not them).

It is hear that I wondered if I had spotted an all too easy to miss tell-tale sign of Jim Collins first of Five Stages of Decline.

Two days after the election we saw #The45Plus, a hashtag that represented the 1.6 million people who voted Yes in the referendum was replaced with #Team56... the 56 MPs who were headed down to Westminster to fight over where they sat and picking up their £75,000 + expenses.

There was also some changes with photos on MPs Twitter profiles, from candidates in their constituency with supporters... to member of #Team56 replacing them with pictures with their leader under the Forth Rail Bridge. How significant is this? Read Adam Grant's book "Give and Take" and you'll find it's quite telling.


When listening to all the commentators regarding the general Election result 4 months ago, who were saying "It will take 10 years for the Labour party to recover in Scotland" I was thinking "No it wouldn't!" It could be turned around by 2016... if they did things differently to the political classes usual methods, employing community management methods and "creating new patterns of engagement" Labouring on with #Team56? How to Rebuild Trust When It Is Broken



“When you are at the top of the world, the most powerful nation on Earth, the most successful company in your industry, the best player in your game, your very power and success might cover up the fact that you’re already on the path to decline. So, how would you know?” Jim Collins, How the Mighty fall

All the fighting over seats and clapping (And other behaviour that comes with hubris) suggested that stage 1 of decline had been reached.

While there is a good deal of snark in this post about the political classes, there is no criticism about this stage and NOTHING but empathy... maintaining the culture as you experience success is SO difficult to do... But is also vital!

Just imagine what could have been for Labour if there had been unity either since 2015 or the 2017 campaign? Blairites continuing to mess things up long after the "Things can only get better" bull shit?!

I shared these insights with MPs of all colours of shiny badges at the time. Some engaged. Others didn't

Local Elections 2016
Those who did we had a conversation.

I had discussed with Declara what they could to in the brave new world of 140 Character politics (Which, believe it or not, *Just Might* Have had an impact with the yet-to-be-coined "Fake News") AND keep those Network Effects and Feedback Loops in place.

I kept in touch with some of those who engaged as well as all candidates in my constituency with these random thoughts, observations and ideas.

In 2016 it was all the same colour of shit for me so here's what I did and here's what I told people what I did.
There was little by way of meaningful engagement for a proponent-turned-detractor... But grateful to those who did.

5th May 2017
The local elections and "The miraculous Tory revival" (But no real surprise to me), surprised many, as did my observation when others were saying "Get rid of Corbyn" (Again). 


This Tweet led to a quick check in on the pointless political classes (Problem with the rhetoric used in this post? Call, email, Tweet me to ask me about my experiences and see what you'd make of our hard working MPs/MSPs if you were me. #TheRhetoricIsJustified!)

11th May 2017
My views up until this point were along the lines of "I feel pretty bad for Corbyn, he seems like a good guy... but don't think that good guys do too well in the world of politics" Then I saw two things:

1) The inspired use of social media by Labour, and
2) Who one of the most vocal people were on those hashtags was


Will Black author of the fantastic "Psychopathic Cultures and Toxic Empires" which is a brilliant complement to one of my favourite books "Tribal Leadership" helped to explain what was happening with #IndyRef, #Brexit and how all people really wanted was change, but were consistently being let down so look for change in a different way and/or with a different party.

An expert in spotting psychopaths and toxic/psychopathic cultures supporting Corbyn left me wondering "What if... What if this time really was different?"

15th May 2017


As a result of the fun #FortheMany social media campaigns and because an author like Will was supporting Corbyn I wrote about how and why I felt Corbyn could win at the expense of the SNP:

My views about global domination by the SNP and their cult popularity status changed drastically 2 days after the General Election. Yep, while everyone had the champagne out at the height of their success I was disagreeing with the pundits that "It would take 10 years for other parties to rebuild in Scotland" 
Labouring on with Team56 how to Rebuild Trust.

Where did these insights come from? I spent a year watching an organisation that I had invested 10 years of my time with slowly but surely slide down Jim Collins "5 Stages of Decline" and recognised them with an organisation that I'd supported for a couple of years.

I have seen nothing to suggest that the SNP have not moved from 

Stage 1: Hubris, to 
Stage 2: The Undisciplined Pursuit for More (The announcement of #IndyRef2/#ScotRef in March), and Stage 3: Denial of Risk (The local election results on the 4th May 2017 and dismissing the result by other parties).

A party with such large numbers of supporters two years ago and only 65 people supporting Salmond's Crowdfunder... WOW austerity must REALLY be kicking in!


Today I am spending as as much time on pro-Labour hashtags as I did with #IndyRef/#VoteYes/SNP ones... for the same reason. In 2014 the VoteYes movement was fun and buzzing, today the Corbyn movement appears to have the better culture.

is supporting Corbyn a waste of time and a wasted vote? Well... It wasn't until 2-3 weeks before the Independence Referendum that things took off for the "Yes" camp (Go check the polls in July 2014 the Yes polls were at 34%... The same as Labour are today).

The "network effects" from the 2014 referendum that made the unprecedented GE2015 SNP result possible are starting to fade... what does this mean for Labour?


Well old Labour supporters have not gone away... as the network effects for the SNP fade they *Just Might* develop rather quickly for Labour. The May Local Elections show that I'm not the only disaffected SNP supporter and inaction will lead to more Tory rule.


If the feedback loops that once worked in the SNP's favour three weeks before an election through buzzing and fun conversations on their hashtags remain in Labour's favour could enough people return to their old voting preferences before Independence and Brexit as a result of these inspired social media campaigns by Corbyn within 3-4 weeks? Well there isn't just the IndyRef precedent there's also the US election.

Indeed, has Corbyn studied what worked for #IndyRef and Trump with their respective grassroots movements and rallies with large crowds?

If so will Corbyn be able to do enough between now and June? Will there be enough of the 2014 Network Effects for the SNP? Will Labours Feedback Loops be fun enough to bring old Labour voters back?

Time will tell but I can sure see why there's been a close in the polls and an increase in bets for Corbyn. 

#GE2017 From #VoteYes to No Thanks - A Lesson in Culture & Loyalty

NB It might be agrued that Stage 4 has been reached with the #IndyRef rallies on this weekend the day after Scotland Vs England.

I took an interest in everything that was happening here and, while there was the odd RT or #GE2017 reply, there was no huge engagement.

Sure I was sitting on the fence, but there were two other things: The Leaders Debate and my personal and professional experiences with the Political Classes

Leaders Debate 
As I highlight in the Ideas for 2016 & 2019 Candidates from 2015, I explored MPs Tweets and have a GE2015 Twitter list.

In my #GE2017 From #VoteYes to No Thanks - A Lesson in Culture & Loyalty post I detail all the things that I've done to support MPs... but had hardly any engagement with them.

I played a fun game during the leaders debates, I had the TV on, watched the "Pleb channel" on Twitter where people argued for this party or that and the "GE2015 MPs" channel where they spoke amongst themselves and/or spoke about themselves.

So hang on a minute? You want me to put you in a £75k a year job + expenses, don't come back to me on constituent issues and don't engage on SM

  WHEN I'M ACTUALLY ARGUING AND FIGHTING FOR YOU?!

#NoThanks

A Personal Note...
I have had on-going issues since 2010 and not a single MP has done much more than send me a "Thank you for your enquiry, there's nothing we can do" so I am under no illusion as to how much me, my family and our issues feature on MPs agenda, or other constituents for that matter

In my last post the SNP almost got my vote for GE2017 because of someone who had built a relationship through replying to the odd email I sent through from time to time. 

The day before the election, knowing that my MP or the party in power will have very little impact on me one way or the other... here's how it was decided:

From 2010-2015 I had Labour MPs who provided the same non-existent response to constituent enquiries as well as my SNP MP. 

So I thought, whoever comes back with the best Tweet will get the vote. With a difference of 265 I wonder if the SNP candidate wished they had either accepted my offer of helping our with her campaign in 2015 or replying to my Tweet on the 6th June. 

Equally, I wonder if the 2017 result was because after all the hope of the "Vote Yes" campaign and the "Network Effects" and "Feedback Loops" that it created to deliver the 2015 results have faded as I predicted they could/would and saw people return to old voting habits?


If the good and the great of the political classes have a better argument. Great. But that's what I've seen.

I have been involved with Digital Citizenship initiatives and wonder at all the 

"We need to do more about MPs and online abuse" 

But what have MPs (From any party) done to influence and/or curb what their own supporters have said?


How many members of the opposition have called #IndyRef2 a divisive campaign recently? 


The two potential post-IndyRef #VoteYes movements: The one that filled George Square with food for food banks and good humour... and the one that threatened to boycott those who held views the #VoteYes crew didn't agree with? 
SCOTLAND
How many MPs would be calling #IndyRef2 a divisive campaign if the more positive aspects of the early post #IndyRef #VoteYes momentum was give over to the people with good humour and who filled George Square with food for food banks... instead of the angry 5% political activists who put others off?

Alex Salmond, The SNP and politicians can say that they disagree with any of the assessments here and that there are other things at play, and they are welcome to do so... I make ABSOLUTELY NO CLAIM to be an expert in anything... especially the stupidity of the political classes and their reasons for what they do.

But please, please do NOT say that "no one saw it coming" when I saw it a mile off! And tried to let people know!

But then again, I know from experience that it's difficult to tell anyone anything when hubris exists as a result of success... just as I empathise about the situation (Why else would I take time out from what I'm doing to write this?)

I also appreciate how challenging it is to keep the culture that delivered the success as an idea scales.

Thank You SNP
There is a note of thanks to be had here. I knew about the 5 Stages of Decline by spending a year in an organisation who went through these stages.

I've known the importance of developing and protecting the culture that you create for some time, it's good to see the impact of not doing so and how quickly things can unravel on someone else's dime/project.

I am one random blogger. Out of work because there are no #Cmgr roles and few EdTech comapnies in Scotland. How many other one time supporters with an idea or insight or two have you overlooked?

Is this a good time to highlight these ideas? Two days after a serious defeat? I tried to highlight this before during and after the fact... you tell me, when was the right time? What did I need to do to be heard?

Sorry if the timing sucks, but as you found on Thursday, you suck too... but don't blame me, I voted "Yes"  I tried to tell you too.

I'm not sure if I'll be remaining in education, but the offer from my post in May 2015 remains:

"This process could be used in many areas of Scottish society. The SNP benefited from the kind of process that major technology companies utilise, so they know it works. When I'll be impressed with the SNP, or any other party, is when they decide to use these principles in other areas, not just politics.

If any politician (from any party) wants to know how to continue to take advantage of this process in politics or, ideally, apply to other areas, especially in education, you know where to find me if you have any questions." 
Why SNP Domination was Inevitable

Monday, 5 June 2017

How I Met Your Awesomeness - Sumdog

Image result for sumdog logo
In my last post I detailed how I had been aware of Flipgrid for quite some time and how hearing about their methods of engaging with educators in 2015 helped to model and demonstrate what I felt the future of EdTech might look like.

In this post I detail how I found out about Sumdog and why I feel they tick a lot of boxes. But first... How tough can it be to get everything right? Very!

Getting it Right is Tough!
I read an article earlier in the week by Paul Moss (@EDmerger), educator and Founder of Degrumbler. The article was called Was it Worth Becoming a Teacherpreneur, which is an honest reflection of the joys and tribulations of Startupland.

Here we have a hard working, dedicated educator who believes in an idea so much that he continues to work in the classroom, but then goes home at night to develop his idea.
But as we can see from the article, Paul's startup experiences are not without their frustrations...losing orders because suppliers let him down, issues with developers, struggling to engage with educators, funding and finding the right team. Spending all that time and only getting a small number of customers when starting out.

While I 100% feel for Paul (And empathise a GREAT deal!Been there, done that!). However, it's always good to have another educator join the startup ranks as they can share how challenging it is to get everything right to create a great product and deliver value with colleagues.

From 2005-2008 I worked on something that went from an idea that others hadn't managed to figure out to working with 50% of FE colleges and, while I managed the project, had a 100% repeat business ratio. A record I was extremely proud of.

I was so pleased with this project and truly believed in the potential. Today I don't even know if the project is still going.

It's not a great feeling knowing that there's little to show for all the time and money that people put into it... One I'd rather not repeat!

I've also spent the last year on a project where the results are not what the people involved thought they would be. Again, not the best feeling.

Startup Ambitions...Silicon Valley Style
In 2010 when that company I worked for downsized and closed the Glasgow Office, I set myself the goal of either:

1) Working at a Hot Shot Silicon Valley Startup
2) Working for one of the Big Three (Microsoft, Apple, Google)

In 2016 I did indeed work with a Hot Shot Silicon Valley Startup and got the attention of one of the "Big Three" too (Yay!)

My experiences? That just because it's a hot shot Silicon Valley startup complete with core values, more needs to be done to assess the company's culture... Or maybe the issue is that startups are a little too tough and unpredictable.

Appreciating that there's a big difference for companies who have "Crossed the Chasm" (Organisations who work with 30% or more of any given sector) I wondered if things would be a little easier to make a difference... easier to help create something that's "Built to Last" as Jim Collins might put it.

Sumdog... First Encounter
Just like Flipgrid, people at Sumdog may not have been too aware of my work until recently. But I've known about them for quite a while... And I've been developing my skills with companies like those squarely in mind!

In September 2015 Chris Van Der Kuyl gave his Keynote at the Scottish Learning Festival where he was calling for greater collaboration... I felt that I knew what was needed, and felt I could help.

I started curating how many Scottish Schools were on Twitter.


When exploring Scottish school websites I noticed that next to Twitter, Facebook and Youtube Icons... there were also some Sumdog icons on some school websites. This was of huge interest to me for two reasons:

1) If you're willing to include an icon on your homepage you must be a fan. I've seen this with Edmodo, Remond101 and a couple of others... and I sure do take note when I see them!

2) Look for the bright spots. Which companies have excelled at getting people to use their products? Twitter? Facebook? Youtube? LinkedIn? Ever seen icons of those companies on a school homepage before? A more effective method than a whole team of sales people? I think it could be.

Did I reach out to Sumdog after spotting this? Nope. I already knew that my skill set wasn't quite where it needed to be... I just kept plugging away.

Skypeathon
After working on a few projects with good results by December 2016 "Developing a Super User Program" was well and truly on my radar. Where would you start if you wanted to explore a super user program in Education? The same place as any other sector? Google? Apple? Microsoft?

At the Scottish Learning Festival 2016 it was suggested that I should check out what Microsoft is doing in Scottish Education... So I did.

This lead to me exploring the MIE Network and, when I saw that only a few Scottish Educators took part in the Skypeathon in 2015, I wondered if I might be able to encourage others to take a look.

One of the people that I was in contact with when pitching in with this was Michael Sinclair (@FilltheGapLearn) who is an Educator, MIE and works at Sumdog part time too.

When discussing the Skypeathon in a group forum when Michael mentioned his work with Sumdog there was nothing but positive responses from people like Amy Storer (@techamys)... Word of mouth recommendation, it's gonna be big ;)

Michael Sinclair... An Awesome Conversation!
After the Skypeathon I met up with Michael and we had a fantastic conversation! Things that really stood out stood out for me about his work at Sumdog included:

1) The way that Michael collaborated with the developers... an educator who sits down with the development team to detail his classroom experiences and curriculum expertise. Everything that I've been advocating for on my EdTech report Developing Relationships & Delivering Value and my StartupEduChat post!

2) That the CEO was always interested in hearing about people's ideas

3) They work with 30% of US schools and 50% of Scottish Schools

The first two points above scream at me culture! Get the culture like that right and you've got a chance at making the 3rd point a reality, to "Cross the Chasm" and to become a market leader.

A New Goal
So what do you do when you set yourself the goal of working at a Hot Shot Silicon Valley startup because you think those organisations get the culture right, but find it to be a little underwhelming?

You double down on the culture. After this conversation with Michael a new goal was set and Sumdog, along with Flipgrid were well and truly on my radar.

Did I contact either organisation? Nope... Skills weren't quite ready.

Image result for good things come to those who hustle while they wait

A notable Absence
Part of my search of looking for companies doing great work in education has involved curating education supplier exhibitors. For the last 2-3 years I've curated suppliers who exhibit at ISTE, BETT & ASU GSV.

Not only have I found it curious that suppliers who attend one event don't attend others, but that some suppliers who do really good work, don't attend some of these events (In 2015 only 1 company that featured in Forbes 30 Under 30 in Education were at BETT).

I didn't notice Sumdog or Flipgrid when curating exhibitors at these events, where I have found a few new innovative edu companies though is through exploring Edcamps.

Edcamp Sponsors
In April I read a CMX article about how Edcamps scaled and realised that there were some areas that I could help, so pitched in (Still working on this).

I noticed that both Sumdog and Flipgrid were Edcamp sponsors, so decided to put a bit of hustle in.

I reached out to both and started to look into what they do in more detail.

Now at this point you may be wondering, when are you going to talk about what Sumdog does?

Well... As Paul's post highlights having a great idea is one thing, implementing it (and talking about the technology for that matter) misses the point.

Culture Eats Strategy for Breakfast, Technology for Lunch and Everything Else for Dinner.

In addition to this, what difference does my assessment of Sumdog make? I've never taught in a classroom setting. But since you ask...

Assessing Technology...
When wondering whether to ask my contacts to get involved with an idea I ask one of two questions:

1) "Great Teaching and More of It" 

According to Mike Feinberg that's what technology in Education should do.

Does it free up educators time? Does it allow them to spend longer in the classroom? Does it facilitate learning outside of class time?

2) Hole in the Wall Project

Through projects like Sugta Mitra's hole in the wall project, we see how much students are able to learn on their own, so I wonder if any tech or tool that I'm looking at would assist with self learning.

Based on the information that I've curated over the weekend, Sumdog ticks both those boxes!

I'll leave it to educators to tell you more as I'm currently pulling together educators comments, feedback and articles across Twitter, Pinterest and Declara that will detail what educators have to say about Sumdog but [Spoiler Alert] based on what I've read when curating the info: It's worth a look.


Sunday, 28 May 2017

How I met your Awesomeness - Flipgrid

Image result for flipgrid
I've been pitching in and sharing some ideas with Flipgrid over the last week or so. This post details why I'm getting involved and how I met their awesomeness.

Last November I spent a little time doing what I could to encourage more educators to explore Skype and get involved with the Skypeathon. 

One of the reasons for this is because two people from Skype were part of the newly formed #Cmgr Scotland meetups, partly because my CV had been on Microsoft's servers for 7 years (but hadn't been noticed *Sigh*), partly to explore some ideas and develop my skills... But it was also partly to repay someone who's advice in 2010 helped me a great deal.

In 2010 after success with a number of projects, but no online presence to speak of, I wondered if I had done enough to secure an interview at Microsoft, Google or Apple. The advice from a Microsoft Exec? 

"If you want to be in EdTech today you need to be on social media, it comes with the job today"

I explored various channels as a result of this advice. Spending a little time seeing what I could do with the Skypeathon was a way of showing my appreciation for that advice. A similar thing happened because of Flipgrid in 2015. 

By 2015 I was well on my way to reskilling from sales to Community Management. The reason I felt this was necessary is because my sales calls were not having the same impact as they did previously, there was also plenty of evidence to suggest that educators would soon be replacing anything that sales people could do.

Since 2012 I had wondered "What does the future role of sales people look like when Educators word of mouth referals are so powerful"


My sales colleagues at the time would argue that there will always be a need and role for cold calling, a view I did not share! A conversation a couple of years later confirmed that I was right to be looking at reskilling. 

In 2015 I had a Skype call with Nikki Robertson (@NikkiDRobertson) who was a big fan of Nurph and used it regularly for #TLChat.


I had seen how much she had done to advocate for Nurph and the impact that it had. Nikki told me about some of the other tools that she loved and advocated for, one of which was Flipgrid.

I checked out Flipgrid and mentioned the company in this post, and felt that I was on the right track by thinking 

"I need to develop the kind of skills that would be useful for when Educators are advocating for tools they like... because my existing skills will soon have limited value"

Last month I read an article in CMX about How Edcamp Scaled Up 1,500 Community Events Connecting Edcuators All Over the World, when I saw that there was no master mailing list when they were starting out, I thought I might be able to pitch in and help out.

I've curated information about Edchats, Pokemon Go, ISTE2016 resources and the Skypeathon, I thought I could put those skills to good use here too.

I'm still working on this but one of the first things that I noticed was the number of Edcamps Flipgrid have supported (More on this in a future post)

Image result for edcamp and flipgrid

This led me to look into the company in a little more detail than I did in 2015. The first thing that I notice is they now have 100 Ambassadors and their reasons for establishing the program:

The Flipgrid Ambassador program was created to promote a closer relationship between the Flipgrid team and the members of our global community. Flipgrid Ambassadors ensure that the decisions we make as a company continue to reflect the voice of our amazing educators. Organized in the fall of 2016, the program now includes more than 100 classroom teachers, professors, teaching librarians, and instructional coordinators. via Shannon Miller

Collaboration and co-creation. That's what my research about what successful companies do differently to others revealed!

I noticed that quite a few member of my PLN are ambassadors, that major growth has happened in the last 2 years, there's A LOT of love for the company on Twitter... and they are collaborating with companies like Microsoft.

I saw that there was an offer for MIEs and thought I could help raise awareness of this with some of the MIEs I'm in contact with.

So I pulled a few resources together, sent a few emails and Twitter DMs and am pitching in and helping out.

Now, sure the fact that "How to establish a Super User Program/Ambassador Program" is one of the things that's keeping me up at night. Sure a bit more #Cmgr experience wouldn't go amiss

.... However, the main reason that I am stopping to help out is because the work the Flipgrid Team were doing in 2015 helped me to see that my ideas and decision to re-skill had merit (This may seem obvious today, but it was not at the time). So thank you Flipgrid and Flipgrid Ambassadors!


If you want to see what all the fuss is about with this tool check out #FlipgridFever on Twitter or reach out to some of the Flipgrid Ambassadors (Btw if you ask nicely they might have some codes that give you free access to some Flipgrid goodies).