Pipelines to the future – Connected Education | #ConnectAU15

This post reflects some of the key sessions from the Connected Education Summit, 22 April 2015, where I was presenting, and some emerging thoughts on the ideas we heard.

It was a day aimed far more at the intersection of business and education than at practitioners. We heard from (largely white, middleclass male…) futurists (‘where the world is going’), demographers (‘how do we know it’s going this way?) and pragmatists (‘this is what we need to do about it’) from international business (IBM, National Broadband Network, OECD, Mindlab).

The driving theme was that all the trends point to the urgent paradigm shift that we all know about by now that are driving (or should be driving) innovation in the education sector, issues such as rampant youth unemployment, aging populations, differently behaving generations and increasing inequity.

Worryingly, there was quite a bit of talk about creating “pipelines” between school and business in ways that would address the skills gaps and unemployment, and not quite as much discussion about the purpose of education or how it might be made engaging for young people while they are there.

The stories from Matt Richards (@sirmattrichards) were a welcome relief, as he shared examples of his makerspace projects St Columba, and the presentation from Prof. Barbara Ischinger (previously of the OECD) did point to the need for a broader, competency based view on education, suggesting that international benchmark tests such as PISA would be broadening their focus in the future towards assessing ‘global competency':

Here’s a taste of some of the other ideas / solutions that were presented:

Stanley Litow (Vice President of Corporate Citizenship & Corporate Affairs, IBM)

  • Exploring the possibility of using Watson to harness information and help teachers harness information on the fly and…
  • the establishment of a new model of education in the form of the public-private partnership P-Tech schools, which he described as “the fastest rollout of any development in education in the US”. Not necessarily a good thing, in my view. With phrases such as “Don’t let them out unless they are ready to succeed”, the demand to meld the worlds of academia and work and the promise that “when they graduate .. they will be ‘first in line’ for a job with IBM & a ticket to the middle class…” there were shivers down the spine of those looking for a more holistic view of education. So, nothing new really – just the same industrial model of ‘ship ’em in, ship ’em out’ education….

Leslie Loble, Sep Sec, NSW, Dept. Education

“We need a critical focus be on the pedagogy of the use of the technology and the govt. should explore how to provide the “pipelines” (there’s that word again) and enabling elements to help shift schools and learners.”

David Houle [], Futurist  |  futurewow.com

David HOule

We have moved from the ‘information age’ to the ‘shift age’, shaped by:

  • The flow to global – global stage of human evolution, and all aspects, such as education, are at a global stage
  • The flow to the individual – last 40 years has seen an explosion of choice. Power has shifted from producer to consumer.
  • Accelerating electronic connectedness of the planet

The transformation decade 2010-2020

The nature, shape, character and form are changing – or if not, why not? We are seeing the collapse of legacy thinking which will result in the opening up of space, space for C21st century thought.

Implications for education

We should understand:

  • The value of digital experience at all levels of the education system, including pre-school.
  • The importance of being aware of current neuroscience.
  • That Baby boomers are bridge generations; GenXrs are in power; millenials are continuing education; Digital Natives – students…there is a disconnect with education. Lowest satisfaction rates for our clients.
  • We live evermore in a spatial context, the ‘neurosphere’ [collected consciousness, online]. We now have both our physical reality and the screen reality. Education should reflect this – more spacial, less place-based…and yet culture and place are still important.
  • 2015-2030 Education: we will see the greatest transformation in shortest amount of time, ever more global and connected. As education takes change into its own hands, higher education breaks up…

Did I over-react?

This is a post about learning…but bear with me while I work off a ranty-preamble…

The six-year-old had a lesson on banking today from a well-known Southern Hemisphere bank. Let’s call it the Absolutely Solid Bank, for argument’s sake. She came home, all excited about a cash-gobbling monster stomping through stories with a salutary message: ‘Zoom to your needs, and wait for your wants.’ No argument from me thus far.

But then we argued…sorry, strongly discussed…the need for her to then wear a tattoo emblazoned with the brand of the bank that was a freebie at the end of the lesson. She loved the colour, the idea of the tattoo. And, apparently, everyone will have them on tomorrow…

What got to me most was the way the kids were being branded (albeit temporarily) by a corporate logo, sucked in by a shiny, ‘cool’ ploy (not to mention the looong list of crazy chemicals that are in these stick-on tats). So I resorted to bribery (money in her piggy bank in exchange for the tattoo. Fair, sensible, even ironic swap). If the bank wants to be altruistic, then the learning experience is fine. Otherwise, perhaps they shouldn’t be allowed to come and market themselves to primary children.

I love the message of saving, and I believe strongly in the value of financial literacy. But not at the expense of learning about the value of information literacy and the power of advertising. A hard lesson to learn when the person is teaching the first, but exploiting the second.

And when they come armed with shiny bribes.

[Image source: Naypong]

How to write a ‘social media’ strategy without calling it ‘social media': Part 1

Do you have a company strategy for using the telephone? Sending email?

Probably not.

And a strategy for ‘using social media’ is the same. It misses the bigger picture. That is, that social media is just one type of channel through which a modern company can choose to engage with its clients and networks. Call it ‘online engagement’, ‘PR with a purpose’ or ‘Coining it in with Comms’ – but it is vital to step back and think about the endgame of all that customer engagement.

This is how you might start:

1. Start with your company’s goals and vision statement. Don’t have them? Well, there’ll be somewhere on the server (and if they don’t exist then engaging with customers online is the least of your worries). Identify aspects of the vision and direction that relate to customer liaison and client relationships.

2. Who are your customers? No, really… who the heck are they? Not sure? Then you’ve got some homework to do. User surveys, focus groups, chats down the pub and with your colleagues. Where do they hang out? What do they read? Are they even online? If so, where and and how often? Find out everything you can about the people who pay your wages. Why not develop some personas while you’re at it.

3. Make connections between the vision statement, the company goals – and those all important customers. Identify all the ways in which the company aims to impact on their lives. Persuading them to buy shiny stuff? Working with them to teach them stuff? Whatever you do to make a buck, you need to know what customer liasion looks like, for your company, when it’s successful.

But, hang on. Isn’t this about working with them online? Where’s the ‘online’ bit?

There is no point planning an online strategy without knowing your company direction, your customers – and how you can work with them successfully. Once you’ve done that, then…

4. Identify the online and offline channels that can be used to touch your customers’ lives most successfully and in a way that suits them. No point having a Facebook book page for people who don’t use social media – but a great idea to use Twitter to reach techno-savvy clients.

5. By the time you’re at step 5, the devil is in the detail. You’ll need to plan timeframes (so you need to know what’s realistically possible). You need resources (but how long will it all take? and how much will it cost?). You need to choose ways to monitor, listen, evaluate and plan again (and is there software to do this for me)?

And we haven’t even got to the part that’ll make your CEO think all this is a good idea.

Watch this space for Part 2 of this post – where I’ll unpack No. 5, with some useful links that I’ve found really helpful.

So, what are you waiting for? Time to get started on steps 1-4.