Tuesday, 19 July 2016

Pokemon Go... Tech Vs Policy Maker Results

Over the last few years I have felt that education reform would come from tech companies collaborating with innovative educators and early adopters of technology before it would come from the political classes. This post considers these issues by looking at what Pokemon Go has achieved in comparison to some of our politicians projects and efforts.

Over the last few years I have looked at the way that ideas roll out in education and have argued that one of the biggest challenges is that "Product market Fit" has not been achieved and, in education, cite a main challenge with this being due to the lack of collaboration and co-creation between educators and tech companies.

To test this idea I have focused less on discussing any particular products or services, and more on looking for products, services and ideas that had a culture where I felt ideas had value and a culture that could see things scale. This has included supporting things like the Scottish Independence Referendum, Education Scotland's #DigiLearnScot agenda and Marialice Curran's Digital Citizenship Summit Brand and Declara.

All these projects had an impact in a relatively short period. At the time of my getting involved, I felt all had a promising culture. If and when the cultural conditions disappeared, I became less involved.

Tech Vs Politicians
The phenomenon of Pokemon Go has further demonstrated to me that it's innovative Tech companies that we should be looking towards... as opposed to the political classes. Need some evidence?

  • Tony Blair and New Labour: The "Every Child Matters" initiative had a "Be Healthy" Strand, I wonder if the tweet above is true in that Pokemon Go got people more active in 24 hours than ECM did between 2003-2010. 
  • David Cameron: Scrapped the Healthy Schools initiative as well as Every Child Matters and replaced it with his failed "Big Society," I wonder if he wished that Pokemon Go was around when he launched this initiative. 
My thoughts on "The Big Society" in 2012:
Culture in Edu... A House Divided Cannot Stand
  • The Scottish Independence Referendum and the "Yes Scotland" Campaign: Had a fantastic grass roots movement that I got involved with as I felt it was inspired, but the movement and opportunity was completely squandered (See P1 of this doc to see why I got involved with #IndyRef). 
I am not politically minded but when you work in education you find that you need to deal with the political classes, something I have all but given up on in the UK... especially after seeing how much of a hash they made with Gazelle, FELTAG and how demolarising the culture UK politicians have (and continue to) create in education.

I supported the #VoteYes campaign because the culture was the kind of diversity that Jane Jacobs celebrated... and which Pokemon Go looks set to replicate.

Pokemon Go... User Experience
It's worth highlighting that while I like hanging out with innovative techies, as a user I'm a laggard and need some convincing to try new ideas...we download Pokemon Go the day that it came out in the UK to see what all the fuss is about.

Knowing about all the opportunities that exist in gaming we don't discourage our kids from playing them (Take a look at the jobs on Niantec's Job webpage... wish I'd stuck in at gaming when I was a kid! Lol.). But at the same time I'm rubbish at these new fangled games (And I mean REALLY rubbish!) so don't play them too often... nevertheless I am keen to see what all the fuss is about.

With two teenagers and a 5 year old in the house, it can be difficult to find activities that they all like so it's FANTASTIC! that we all head out together... phone in hand.

We head to a local park, a park that's only a few moments away but that we have not been to for ages. We think that we've been gone for 30mins... it's 2 hours later when we get back.

The next day I take my 5 year old to his drama class, a trip that's made more enjoyable looking for Pokemon... landmarks that we go past every day not only take on a new level of interest, but we learn about statues that we've given a second glance or the history of a building.

When we return the two older boys decide to go out. By then it's 2pm UK time so 9am ET... the servers are down and remain down for the entire Pokemon hunt. There's a bit of a strop about the game not working.

Having worked at a few startups and with an interest in tech and how and why ideas that roll out quickly they, soon get a lecture about patience and a reminder that the game was free... along with asking them why they are getting annoyed about a company that makes something so good that everyone wants to use it... especially when it's the first day and that it didn't cost them anything!

We take a walk anyway and discuss "network effects," "Feedback loops," community management and jobs in the gaming industry and how they could get started... and other things that I discuss in this blog that the boys show absolutely zero interest in normally ;).

On the way home we walk past a girl with a Pokemon hat on and do something that we hardly do, strike up a conversation based on the game, she has not played the game yet as the servers were down.

At 9pm the game is back online and we take a midnight jaunt for a few hours, again we strike up a conversation with someone who's playing the game too.

Having spent most of the kids life in startup land, with the various stresses of this lifestyle, the significance of this first day cannot be underestimated. It was a fantastic day of engagement and conversation

Other days since then have been much of the same... lot's of walking chatting, exploring our surroundings in a new and engaged way and striking up conversations with random strangers.

"Which Team?" Asks a young lad as he walks past a Pokemon Gym. A question in Glasgow that you might want to avoid given the Celtic/Rangers rivalry and the trouble it causes... but not on this occasion.

"Team Instinct" we answer, "Boo" comes the reply, "Mystic!!"

A Few Good Men... And Radical, Extreme Collaboration
With a positive user experience and a global phenomenon within a matter of days... thoughts soon turn to "shop," and who created this? How did they do it? What were their aims? Niantic CEO, John Hanke details the three goals they had in mind

The Niantic team had three big goals in mind when building "Pokemon Go," .

Exercise: A lot of fitness apps come with a lot of "baggage" that end up making you feel like "a failed Olympic athlete" when you're just trying to get fit, Hanke says. "Pokemon Go" is designed to get you up and moving by promising you Pokemon as rewards, rather than placing pressure on you.

"To see the world with new eyes:" The game is intended to "give you a little nudge" towards cool and interesting things in your neighborhood by turning real-life landmarks and historical sites into Pokestops and Gyms where players power up and battle. By encouraging exploration, "Pokemon Go" can "make your life better in some small way," Hanke says.

Breaking the ice: All over the world, players are organizing "Pokemon Go" outings, cruising around their area and trawling for Pokemon. At higher levels, players need to team up with fellow players to conquer those Gyms. This is by design: Hanke describes "Pokemon Go" as an "icebreaker" that "gives people a reason to spend time together."

Each and every objective was met with this users experience. According to LinkedIn there are 11-50 employees at Niantic. Think about that for a moment... Look at what 50 people in a massively collaborative environment have achieved in the space of 2 weeks since the game went live in the US.

I wonder if any initiatives out there that policy makers can highlight that have achieved the same results between April 2014 and today? 

I think that the global phenomenon of Pokemon Go demonstrates very well how and why I feel innovative tech companies will solve a lot of issues before the squabbling political classes will. If anyone feels this is an unfair comment, feel free to check out the #Brexit shenanigans. 

Pokemon Go in Education
What about Pokemon Go in education? How will that be received? 

Not only can I tell you how the discussion will go... I can show you..Here's a collection of over 100 education based articles about Pokemon Go: Pokemon Go Edu

As you can see, some people and groups see this augmented reality game as an opportunity... others a risk and a threat. And here's the thing, both perspectives and every viewpoint in between is right and will have merit.

After all, while my experiences have been extremely positive, I'm sure if we were to ask the people who have crashed their cars, fallen off cliffs and stuck in caves will have a very different experience... and quite rightly, any risk assessment of an educator about a new idea that has these examples is going to see the health and safety staff break into a cold sweat.

But if we are not careful the naysayers could win the day, and opportunities be lost. It's much easier for "the experts" to write an authoritative post which is be dismissive of something just because it's new... or worse, for these "experts" and decision makers to have political allegiances, so make a decision based on ensuring that they do not appear to show up our "hard working and right honourable political classes" instead of exploring an idea that has merit?

Maybe this "What Wildlife Scientists can Learn from Pokemon Go" article which cites a 2002 study "Why Conservationists should Heed Pokemon" where a joke is made about designing a game called "Ecomon" to capture children's attention, as they were able to identify Pokemon better than common wildlife.

As I say, I've been highlighting that the issue with EdTech and the search for that all important (but equally elusive) "Product Market fit" is a challenge due to a lack of collaboration between educators and technology companies for quite some time... Something that I also highlighted to FELTAG in 2012... One of the people involved in this government initiative even wrote the Forward in an EdTech Report I wrote:

Whether an early adopter or laggard when it comes to new ideas regarding education technology... #Whatif a website that may well have an icon on your homepage today but was blocked initially was embraced from the outset?

#Whatif... Twitter and Facebook were not blocked when the sites were launched? How much further would the Digital Citizenship agenda be today? How many less trolls would be around if educators fully explored all the risks and benefits instead of making what was clearly a rash decision for any school who blocked social media but have a presence today.

Of course caution and due diligence is required, but to dismiss out of hand doesn't sound much like learning to me.

Monday, 20 June 2016

Extreme, Radical Collaboration... But Beware of the Poseurs

Have fun, while getting s**t done! 

Is how I would describe my professional goals at the moment, which is a surprisingly accurate and succinct statement for me... But I sure have taken the long way round to know what to look for in order to achieve this goal.

In this post i'm going to talk about my week and end it with an extract from Nolan Bushnell's book "Finding the Next Steve Jobs" any links that people want to make about my week in relation to this extract is entirely up to them. Anyone who is interested in some extreme radical collaboration, here's where you can find me and a group of like minded change agents:
I'm in London and have just heard the formidable start up lady Ramona Pierson present at The Indie Summit before catching up with Declara's COO, Debra Chrapaty, and Vice President, James Stanbridge... I've just met the senior team at a hot shot Silicon Valley startup! How cool!

I regularly tell my kids that they can do anything they set their mind to and to find their place in the world. Six years ago I vowed to never again to work on any projects where the culture, sales tactics or products were questionable, and set my sights on collaborating with people like Ramona, Debra and James, so this meeting was a big deal for me.

Over the last few years I've tried to discuss some of the ideas we discussed on Friday with various groups. I can't tell you how confusing it has been that these groups constantly talked about the need for collaboration but their version is one that I just can't get a handle on... which has all been rather confusing.

Startup Lady
While I've watched and shared Ramona's Ted Talk "An Unexpected Place of Healing" a number of times it was fantastic to hear her story live. Here are some of the things that particularly stood out for me:

Ramona opened her presentation by telling the audience there were three things that she hoped we'd take away from her talk:

1) Be a Risk Taker
2) Be an Innovator
3) Be a Life Long Learner

Ramona then detailed how troublesome she was as a student, one teacher telling her not to come back to class until she's ran for 3 hours... or her hilarious observation that she didn't know that she was good at maths because she was constantly kicked out of class.

"Innovators are great at coming up with ideas, but can suck at communicating them... You [#TheIndieSummit attendees] are putting forward the message for things that people don't understand yet" Ramona Pierson

Ramona then talked about the people who saved her life, the bystander who took an old innovation a pen and used it in an innovative way to help her breathe when she was hit by a drunk driver.

The Doctor who risked his medical licence and career by keeping her in a medically induced coma for longer than the recommended duration at the time.

Eventually the hospital gave up on her and she was put into an old folks home, something Ramona was grateful for as the thing that the OAPs had was wisdom... it was like having 100 grandparents.

Everything discussed here reminds me of Jane Jacobs' "The Life and Death of Great American Cities" and how all the chaos of the city creates order:

"When Jimmy Rogan fell through a plate-glass window (he was separating some scuffling friends) and almost lost his arm, a stranger in an old T shirt emerged from a bar, swiftly applied an expert tourniquet, and, according to the hospital’s emergency staff, saved Jimmy’s life. Nobody remembered seeing the man before and no one has seen him since. The hospital was called in this way: a woman sitting on the steps next to the accident ran over to the bus stop, wordlessly snatched the dime from the hand of a stranger who was waiting with his fifteen-cent fare ready, and raced into the Ideal’s phone booth. The stranger raced after her to offer the nickel too. Nobody remembered seeing him before, and nobody has seen him since"

Something that Ramona said that really made me think was when she asked us to consider the talent in the room... what could we all learn from each other and/or how much could we help students and young people by sharing our knowledge and wisdom?

Ramona also discussed how difficult life was not having a voice, how it led to people making decisions for her, the clothes that she wore and the trips that she went on. She then applied this same issue to the business world by highlighting "If employees don't have a voice they become unhappy."

When relearning how to talk she spoke of the embarrassment of making childish noises, something that was helped by gamification with playing curse scrabble (I wonder if #Carpetthefuckingdiem ever came up?)

Ramona then talked about the dangers of becoming complacent as, when she got to a certain lifestyle, she stopped taking risks.

Ramona ended her talk by highlighting that her entire journey has helped her to be an innovator... and innovators come up with ideas but can't always communicate them.

I have been delighted to develop an independent voice in my blog, something that has perhaps been compromised as I now write in support of Declara so much... HOWEVER, if you take the time read the story that I wanted to tell so badly that it was the reason I started a blog, you will see why this isn't a problem for me... as Ramona and her team has hard wired into the company's DNA what I was advocating for in that early post "Culture in Education...A House Divided Against It'self Cannot Stand"

In my notebook I have highlighted in big bold letters Ramona's parting statement from her talk on Friday:


You can only wonder what this might look like at the moment but, as the sales process evolves and the shared economy develops I think that we'll see more of the extreme radical collaboration and less of the faux collaboration that I've both seen and experienced.

Collaboration... But Not Really
OK this is a tricky part of the post? If it's true and actually happened... does that mean that I'm being snarky? How much do you detail to ensure that you are not naming and shaming as opposed to making a point? I'm not sure... but here goes.

Gazelle: I reached out to the good and the great of this agenda to try to tell them how and why their initiative was all wrong. The result? The project cost £3.5million had 27 colleges subscribing at its peak and today has 5 colleges.

Not only did I write a Business Development Ideas for FE Report before this group was formed, I shared some of the findings with one of the founders six months before Gazelle was officially launched/established

FELTAG: I tried to offer my input with regard to how to test and scale the concept of having 10% of college course material online, which was based on 9 months of research and ideas that I continue to use and explore to good effect today.

Some people did reach out to me, but appeared to me to beat a time in the project when it suited them.

When I saw an opportunity to take action and make 100% certain that I was heard, this same individual was quick to get in touch to criticize my actions but also appeared to me to abdicate any responsibility when the grand plans didn't quite pan out a couple of years later.

Two years is a long time in politics...
2016: It's start small then scale
2014: It was all "Rocket Boosters on

Digital Skills: A few years ago it was all entrepreneurship with Gazelle and Peter Jones Academies along with 230 other young enterprise initiatives where there appeared to be little or no collaboration... but plenty of egos!

Over the last few weeks I've seen this same trend emerge as digital skills is the latest hot topic in the UK. When I reached out to people to get support for the UK Digital Citizenship Summit, something I got involved with because of the collaboration at the first event, these same people didn't lift a finger to help in any way.

A few weeks ago Reclaim the Internet was launched, last week #DigitalSkills was trending with a shiny new report (which possibly cost thousands and thousands of pounds).

Last Thursday I noticed that there was an event about #DigiLeaders...I won't deny that some of the conversation was quite interesting, but when I saw it was a government initiative I switched off completely.

Furthermore, when you see that the DigiLeader Scotland initiative was managed from Manchester, you've got to question the Scottish Governments commitment to Scotland's "Developing the Youth Workforce" and "Reducing the Attainment Gap"

When I was in London meeting with the team from Declara there was a digital skills event in Scotland with three people speaking, and where calls for collaboration and transparency were being discussed at the event and on the hashtag.

One of these people I have the utmost respect for, another ignored me when I was asked to assist with their work and was looking for support with something that I was working on that could develop the #DigiLearnScot agenda and ideas from Chris van de Kuyl's awesome keynote at last year's Scottish Education Festival.

A third speaker at this event offered to help with the UK Digital Citizenship Summit, but ended up giving me what I can only describe as my first experience of dealing with a troll... And yet was being praised here for their social media skills... go figure?

If anyone feels that detailing these experiences is being overly cynical or unconstructive in any way, I'd love to hear how the Scottish Government is going to reduce the attainment gap with a workforce of educators who are so demolarised that they are ready to take industrial action.

...Or how something that was once seen as a vocation is now a viable option for people facing redundancy because our "hard working" and "right honourable" MPs can't create the right culture to attract and retain educators.

What is mentioned above are realisms more than criticisms' per se. Seriously, I'm not being snarky here and don't feel that highlighting things that actually happened to me is entirely nonconstructive, especially as I detail these things in the hope of saving others a lot of time and trouble by recommending that they be aware of the takers and fakers... especially any sector that involved politicians.

Here's someone with a little more authority on the topic of poseurs who's only skill is to put together a good CV.

Beware of the Poseurs

With no direct correlation to any of the above, I'd like to end this post with an extract from Nolan Bushnell's "Finding the Next Steve Jobs" those who feel that they don't have a voice in their workplace and/or simply want to #CarpettheFuckingDiem... If that's you, you know where to find me and some AWESOME Silicon Valley startup friends (More on the kind of space I'd like this to be in my next post).

"This books' basic readership is people who want their company to be more creative. My fear is that some readers will use it differently: As a guide to being a phony. After all, I'm giving them a whole bunch of ideas on how to act like a creative.

One of the biggest lessons I've learned over the years is that the business world (and by extension, the world itself) is filled with poseurs. these people are quite clever at figuring out what you want them to say, and then saying it exactly the way you want to hear it.

I first learned about the onmipresence of phonies during the early years of Atari. The custom chip business was very difficult and time consuming. And because it could take at least a year to get a completed custom chip working, a whole cadre of people posing as chip designers would always find ways to leave the company or get fired before the chip ever worked. Steve Jobs once told me that there were many employees at Apple who never got a single chip working. I told him it was the same at Atari. These people were able to go from job to job to job, doing something that seemed creative but yielding zero output. I remember one guy whose nickname became "I Almost Have It." Every time we'd ask if his chip was ready, that's what he'd say.

You have to be wary of poseurs. So how do you recognise them?

For one thing, don't rely solely on credentials in hiring. In the chip world, for example, someone can have terrific credentials in chip design without any ability to get a chip engineered. Such poseurs know how to build up a terrific looking resume. you'll soon find out it's their major talent.

The poseur's fundamental skill is the bluff. For some reason they don't feel a need to go past that, which is why they are easily unmasked. At Atari, I once hired two people who came from Hewlett-Packard. At the time, HP was considered the best company in the field. If you'd landed one of it's executives, you felt pretty lucky. These guys were like butter: so smooth, so polished, so frictionless. It turned out that they didn't know how to do anything except shine at an interview, and, once on the job, take credit for what their underlings did.

All of us have been taken in by poseurs at one point or another. The trick is to learn from the experience rather than endlessly repeat it" Nolan Bushnell, Finding the Next Steve Jobs

Sunday, 5 June 2016

How I Met your Awesomeness: Plotagon... and Co-Opetition

This post details how I found out about a company called Plotagon and why within less than a week and after reading a single blog post about the startup why I think they will go far.

Spoiler alert and hint: Culture! Culture! Culture!

"Culture eats strategy for breakfast, technology for lunch, products for dinner and soon thereafter everything else too" Peter Drucker as quoted in this fantastic article Strategy Eats Strategy for Breakfast.

In "Why startups Fail" Dave Feinberg discusses how some VCs and startup gurus would argue that a great team with a bad product is better than a great product with a bad team.

Data Curation 
When mapping BETT exhibitors in January Plotagon was on the list but, just like Declara (Then Pierson Labs) was on a list of exhibitors at ISTE 2013, it was simply one of many company's that I curated and mapped.

Pleased to Tweet You!
Last month when seeing if anyone was interested in getting involved with the latest project the text on the spreadsheet with this Swedish startup came to life like the text that they bring to life with their animations

First Follower
Yesterday I received the first completed surveys asking people to contribute to the map by adding information to this Education Conference Speaker and Supplier Map Survey.

Plotagon Education was the "first follower," without whom there would be no momentum to an idea, I noted with interest that the person completing the survey was their head of community and I was reminded of Marc Smith's comments in the "Six Degrees of Separation" #Cmgrhangout session where he highlighted that #Cmgrs are a collaborative group that "Don't hate each other."  

Thank you SO MUCH for taking the time to complete this survey!

Good Idea? Or Lone Nut? It all depends on the first follower
Focus on the One
While I have learned so much for #Cmgrhangout and I was reminded of what I think is the single biggest lesson from following this amazing GHO, which is focus on the individual relationships, not the many, focus on establishing close 1:1 relationships as opposed to mass broadcasts where you are trying to engage with lots of people with the same message.

Culture! Culture! Culture!
Last night I checked out Klas Linkedin profile so I could connect with him there and saw all I needed to see for me to suggest that this company is worth checking out.

What did I see I hear you ask? Check out this "Two Years at a Startup" post and the video below and see if you can spot it.

Two years at Plotagon

Did you see it? To me this article and video screams passion, culture... and a good smattering of craziness (Invisible pole? What's that all about?)

When I saw the animation I thought "Oh man! I think that this is the platform that made the hilarious "Music Teacher and the Parent" series of videos, which is particularly relevant as I had just written about parents avoiding taking educators time up in this way. 

The Music Teacher and the Parent
Does the fact that this video is by someone else who creates animations mean that it's any less relevant or funny? Does my appreciation for Plotagon getting involved mean that I shouldn't share this?

My core values include that we'll collaborate with anyone, even when it's uncomfortable and I have both collaborated with, and benefited from, helping a competitor (See How Helping a Competitor has been Beneficial).

Then there is that fact that our friends at Buncee and we hope that our buddies at Kyte Learning will be joining us soon... one does animations and the other creates PD videos, does this mean that competitors are collaborating in the same space? I have no idea! 

However, what I do know is that Google, Apple, Microsoft et al are all competitors, but they collaborate when it benefits their users:

"There are many examples here of companies trying to kill each other in one market but working together in another — to better serve customers. Microsoft Windows runs on Apple Macs because customers wanted it. When Apple Maps failed, Apple asked its users to download Google Maps. Finally, within firms, it is understood that to thrive in today’s market, solve the biggest problems and serve customers, you need to assemble the best minds from anywhere in the world.

“When you obsess about the customer, you end up defeating your competition as a byproduct,” said K.R. Sridhar, the founder of Bloom Energy, a fuel-cell company. “When you are just obsessed about the competition, you end up killing yourself” as a byproduct — “because you are not focused on the customer.”  Thomas Friedman, Collaborate Vs Collaborate.

Some commentators feel that collaboration and more effective knowledge transfer will be factors in the EdTech scene in the not too distant future, if that's the case our merry #ISTE16Pirate crew may be onto something. Whether #ISTE2016 supplier or educator, speaker or attendee, at ISTE or #NotAtISTE, please feel free to come and join the party.

Thank you so much to everyone who has joined already.
The #ISTE16Pirate Crew

Wednesday, 1 June 2016

Let's be ISTE2016 Pirates!

Let's Be ISTE2016 Pirates
For the last 6 years I have been exploring alternative methods for EdTech companies to engage with educators. For the last 3 years I've been trying to curate big data sets that edchats and education conferences generate.

This post takes a brief look at the background to these two areas of interest, and details what has been proposed for ISTE2016 with a few edu pirates.

I also highlight how big a task achieving these goals will be... and the potential booty and impact to be had if the voyage of discovery was successful.

Between 2011-2013 I spent a good deal of time researching what some of the issues were with education/supplier relations and found that a key challenge wasn't so much the products... but the way that products were being rolled out.

Through painful experience I realised that companies who were rolling products out before "product market fit" had been achieved. In order for companies to "iterate their way to achieving product market fit" that close relationships with educators was a pre-requisite... not the easiest task in the world given how over worked educators are.

Here are some posts I've written on the topic of education/supplier relations:

April 2013: Startup Education
Aug 2013: Death of a Salesman...And New Edu Models
Dec 2013: #StartupEduChat Meets #EdTechBridge
June 2014: ISTE13 Reflections - Death of an EdTech Salesman
Through listening to educators at conferences and in EdChats I wondered if suppliers covering the costs of educators PD might be a "win-win" situation. 

This would enable educators to attend events that they might not otherwise be able to make (and, as Adam Grant highlights, could play a role in preventing burn out). This could also foster better relationships between educators and suppliers in comparison to some sales and marketing efforts. Here are some ramblings on this idea:

July 2014: EdChat Moderators ISTE or Bust
Mar 2015: I'm An EdChatMod...Get me out to ISTE2015
Mar 2015: Nikki D Robertson: Bringing Tech Stories to Life
Mar 2015: An Amazing Global Edu Race: Get Craig to ISTE
Mar 2015: A Pledge to GetNikki2ISTE
June 2015: Get2ISTE2015 - Any Last Minute Support from Suppliers
June 2015: Get2ISTE2016 - Ways to Get Support During 2015
July 2015: Patience with Curating ISTE Data  
March 2016 Get2ISTE Rides Again

As many of the ideas I come up with involved listening to educators I have been passionate about curating data from events like ISTE for the last 3 years.

June 2013: Mining Data... Nuggets of Gold and Pearls of Wisdom
July 2013: An ISTE Post... with some big data
June 2014: ISTE13 Reflections - Record, Rewind & Replay

Data curation for ISTE2015
During ISTE2015 I used a platform that went live in April 2015 which I was an early user of. While I like hanging out with inovative techies, as a consumer/user I am usually a "grumpy laggard" who is late to adopt new ideas... what made this one different? Check out "Declara - A Laggards Thoughts."

As the site was only up and running for a few weeks before ISTE2015 it was not possible to fully assess the capabilities but, as I highlight in the posts, BOY Was the potential there! 
I have also had a chance to consider the role that Declara could play with educator/supplier relations:
In addition to this I've also had the opportunity to collaborate with the team at Declara on the ASU GSV Summit and Informa's IoTWorld16 event. Between April 2015 andnow I've seen nothing to suggest that the potential with this platform is significant.

NB Please note the word "Potential" in order for the "Whole Product" to be delivered this will require collaboration, co-creation... and a little hustle from users.

First Council Meeting
Anyone who was involved with or followed the UK Digital Citizenship Summit will be aware that, as we "turned pirate" we used the pirates articles when planning and making collective decisions about the project.

Yesterday I caught up with a few old friends to discuss the potential of Declara at ISTE and discussed some ideas and assess if this was a voyage worth embarking on... what the objectives would be, as well as to discuss the code of conduct if we felt it was worth pursuing.

There are two main things that we felt would be worth exploring with this project:

1) Curate ISTE data in a way that makes sense and adds value to all stakeholders
2) Improve educator and supplier relations

There are a number of strands to this which we will assess and discuss with various groups before detailing much more, but please do get in touch if you have an interest in either area.

Some of the themes around the "code of conduct" that were discussed included:

Own Your Words
Not only is this because many of the volunteers may well include some #DigCitSummitUK pirates but also because of some of the unique features on Declara that I have not found on other platforms. Then there is the fact that we hope that educators and suppliers will come together to discuss collaborating and there may well be differences of opinion (This article describes the cultural differences very well: Tech Geeks Burden).

Develop Relationships
Whether sharing resources with a colleague at the same school who you collaborate with regularly or, bearing the comments of the Tech Geeks Burden in mind, or engaging with an individual/group with diametrically opposing views where a discussion is left with people "agreeing to disagree," we hope that they can leave the discussion with a better appreciation of other peoples' perspective. 

Add Value
Whether adding an article to a collection, a comment to a discussion board or getting involved with a small community of practice who decides to come together and self-organise around a particular issue to create the kind of momentum that the #DigCitSummitUK pirates did... we hope that people add value to any groups/discussions that they are part of. 

...And What About the Booty?
For those pirates who have their "eyes on the prize" what are the potential outcomes with all this? There are two ideas that I have read about that appear to be largely theoretical at the moment, but which I think could be realised here:
If this can be achieved I think the overall outcome for educators may be along the lines of Andy Hargreaves Blooming Teachers article where he suggests that

"Empowering teachers to embrace their creativity in the classroom is the route to creating educational systems fit for the modern era"

With regard to the supplier educator strand, we could potentially see educators field less sales calls and reduce suppliers overheads. Other things that could be achieved could be in line with the recommendations of ASU GSV Summit this year where speakers highlighted the need for more knowledge transfer and collaboration.

DigCitSummit Collaboration
I've seen what people with sales and EdTech experience collaborating with educators can do through my involvement with helping to organise the first international Digital Citizenship Summit... where I notice that the second US event will be held at Twitter HQ.

So it looks like the #DigcitSummit ship is well on it's way! As I like projects that are at th scrappy "will it or won't it make it" end of the spectrum, I'll be moving on from that initiative to focus on some other ideas.

If, after reading about this project, you want to get involved please get in touch. We look forward to hearing from you... and welcoming you aboard. 

In the mean time please find our map below as well as the real life pirate articles:

Let's be ISTE2016 Pirates
If you were a speaker or exhibitor at any of these events but are not on the map please complete this form to be added: Education Conference Map Form. Thanks so much to all the speakers and exhibitors who have helped crowd source this information so far.

Ships Articles
When I got involved with the UK Digital Citizenships Summit the initiative scales from 15 volunteers to over 100 within a couple of weeks.

As we had created something of a counter-culture based on Steve Jobs "Let's be Pirates" I dug out my copy of Life Among the Pirates and was surprised to find that the model that pirates used was extremely similar to the framework that I have been using as I make plans for my own startup, which is to:

"Identify your core values and align them with a noble cause"

We've already elected a Captain (Marialice for ISTE presentation information and Derek for supplier collections) and have had a "First Council" over the course and will have a "Second Council" over the course of this week.

As this worked quite well with previous project I thought I'd wheel them out again for this project.... How cool that we are using real pirate articles in an attempt to be what Dave Logan identifies as a "stage 5 team"...which are groups of people who "get stuff done!"
The most significant difference between pirate and other ships was the manner in which the pirate company was organised, and the code by which the pirates operated. Unlike the Royal Navy, the Merchant Navy, or indeed any other institution in the 17th and 18th Centuries the pirate communities  were democracies. A hundred years before the French Revolution, the pirate companies were run on lines which liberty, equality and brotherhood were the rule rather than the exception. In a pirate ship, the captain was elected by votes of the majority of the crew and he could be deposed if the crew were not happy with his performance. The crew, and not the captain decided the destination of each voyage and whether to attack a particular ship or to raid a coastal village. At the start of voyage, or on election of a new captain, a set of written articles were drawn up which every member of the ships company was expected to sign. These articles regulated the distribution of plunder, the scale of compensation for injuries received in battle and set out the basic rules for shipboard life and the punishment for those who broke the rules. The articles differed from ship to ship but they followed similar lines.

First Council: Preperation
One of the earliest descriptions of the pirates code of conduct appears in Exquemelins Buccaneers of America, which was first published in 1678. Exquemelin tells how the pirates called a council on board ship before embarking on a voyage of plunder. At this preliminary gathering it was decided where to get hold of provisions for the voyage. When this was agreed, the pirates went out and raided some Spanish settlement and returned to the ship with a supply of pigs augmented by turtles and other supplies. A daily food allowance was then worked out for the voyage: Exquemelin notes that the allowance for the captain was no more than that of the humblest mariner.

Second Council: Setting Sail
A second council was then held to draw up the code of conduct for the forthcoming voyage. These articles, which everyone was bound to observe, were put into writing. Every pirate expedition, in common with most privateering expeditions, worked on the principle of "No prey, no pay." 

The first requirement of the articles to determine exactly how the plunder should be divided when the pirate had their prey. The captain received an agreed amount for the ship, plus a proportion of the share of the cargo, usually five or six shares. The salary of carpenter or shipwright who had mended and rigged the ship was agreed at 100 or 150 pieces if eight, and the salary of the surgeon was 200 or 250 pieces of eight. Sums were then set aside to recompense for injuries. 

Early Medical Insurance
It is interesting to observe how this early form of medical insurance determined the value of different parts of a pirate's body. The highest payment of 600 pieces of eight was awarded for the loss of a right arm; next came the loss of a left arm at 500; the right leg 500 but the left leg 400; the loss of an eye or a finger were rewarded with a payment of 100. Once these sums had been agreed, the remainder of the plunder was divided out. 

The master's mate received two shares, and the rest of the crew received one share each. Any boys in the crew received half a share. The buccaneers were insistent that no man should receive more than his fair due, and everyone had to make a solomn oath that he would not conceal and steal for himself anything in a captured ship. Anyone breaking this rule would be turned out by the company.

Change of Leadership
 The application of this code can be observed in the journal of Basil Ringrose. In July 1681 they captured the Spanish San Pedro off the coast of Chile. She was laden with wine, gunpowder and 37,000 pieces of eight in chest and bags. "We shared our plunder among ourselves" Ringrose noted "Our dividend amounted to the sum of 234 pieces of eight to each man.

For most of the voyage the buccaneers were led by captain Bartholwmew Sharp

"A man of undaunted courage and of an excellent conduct."

 He was a natural leader, and was skillful at the practical and theoretical aspects of navigation, bit in January 1681, following weeks of storms and hardships, the men became mutinous. By a majority decision they deposed Captain Sharp and elected John Watling, a tough seaman and a former privateer. Sharp was compelled to relinquish his command and the crew signed a new set of articles with Watling. Three weeks later Watling was killed during an attack on a coastal fort, and Sharp was persuaded to resume his command of the expedition.

Battle Plans
Johnston's General History of the Pirates describes the similar role of the pirate captains in the early years of the 18th Century. As with the earlier buccaneers, the captain had absolute power in battle and when 'fighting, chasing, or being chased' but in all other matters he was governed by the majority wishes of the crew. Although he was given the use of the great cabin he did not have it exclusively to himself, but must expect that other members of the company to come in and out, use his crockery and to share his food and drink.

 The captains authority was further limited by the powers which were given to the quartermaster. He too was elected by the crew, and is described as being 'a sort of civil magistrate on board a pirate ship' He was the crew's representative and 'trustee for the whole.' His job was to settle minor disputes, and he had the authority to punish with whipping or drubbing. He was expected to lead the attack when boarding a ship, and he usually took command of captured prizes.

The pirates had no use for the ranks of lieutenant or mid-shipman, but they did elect men to do the jobs carried out by warrant officers and petty officers on merchant ships and naval vessels. In addition to the quartermaster, most pirate ships had a boatswain, a gunner, a carpenter and a cook; there was usually also a first mate and a second mate.
Bartholomew Roberts Pirates Code 
Several examples of the articles are drawn up by the crews of different pirate captains have been preserved. Those adopted by the men led by Bartholomew Roberts are the most comprehensive, and are worth quoting in full because the provide a revealing slant on the pirate's way of life. These are taken from Captain Johnsons General History of the Pirates

I. Every man has a vote in affairs of moment; has equal title to the fresh provisions, or strong liquors, at any time seized, and may use them at pleasure, unless a scarcity makes necessary, for the good of all, to vote a retrenchment.

II. Every man to be called fairly in turn, by list, on board of prizes because, they were on these occasions allowed a shift of clothes: but if they defrauded the company to the value of a dollar in plate, jewels, or money, marooning was their punishment. If the robbery was only betwixt one another, they contented themselves with slitting the ears and nose of him that was guilty, and set him on shore, not in an uninhabited place, but somewhere, where he was sure to encounter hardships.

III. No person to game at cards or dice for money. 

IV. The lights and candles to be put out at eight o'clock at night: if any of the crew, after that hour still remained inclined for drinking, they were to do it on the open deck. 

V. To keep their peace, pistols, and cutlass clean and fit for service. 

VI. No boy or woman to be allowed amongst them. If any man were to be found seducing any of the latter sex, and carried her to sea, disguised, he was to suffer death. 

VII. To desert their ship or quarters in battle, was punished with death or marooning. 

VIII. No striking one another on board, but every man's quarrels to be ended on shore, at sword and pistol. 

IX. No man to talk of breaking up their way of living, till each had shared £1,000. If in order to this, any man should lose a limb, or become a cripple in their service, he was to have 800 dollars, out of the public stock, and for lesser hurts, proportionately. 

X. The captain and quartermaster to receive two shares of prize: the master, boatswain, and gunner, one share and a half, and other officers one and a quarter. 

XI. The musicians to have rest on the Sabbath Day, only by night, but the other six days and nights, not without special favour.

How will this ISTE voyage turn out? Will everyone sign up to whatever code that Captain Curran and Larsen agrees? Who knows... tune in next week to see what happens. With 4 weeks to go it is definitely going to be a case of sink or swim.

Here's Dave Logans' 90 day strategy framework
1) Do we have enough assets (time, money or people) to achieve our outcomes? 
If the answer is No: How do we build our assets?
2)  Do we have enough assets to achieve our outcomes?
If the answer is No: What assets do we have that we have not identified yet?
3) Will our actions and behaviours accomplish these outcomes?