I’ll Have a Big Hack with Cheese, Please

L2-world-logos-7xThe theme of this year’s Learning 2.0 conference in Manila, Philippines was “Disrupt – Rethink – Change.” There were many workshops and extended sessions that directly pertained to the processes of disrupting, rethinking, and changing. The organizers even tried something different this year by having a “Disrupt Strand” where people worked in teams to create a disruption project they could take back to implement (hopefully) at their school. I attended a couple of extended sessions that were directly about disruption. The first was called “Create a Personalized Disruption Plan” and the second was called “Hack Your School.”

Of the two extended sessions that I attended, the one that gave the most viable process was the “Hack Your School” session with John Burns. Along with giving participants time to think about hacks they could do at their schools and how they could pitch the Hackathon idea to admin, he shared the Hackathon process that he facilitated at Shekou International School in Shenzhen, China. He has delineated the process they did from start to finish on this post.

Some key takeaways and essential details from the session were:

  • All members of the community need to be engaged in the process.
  • A design framework must be used to guide the process (Agile or the Waterfall model are recommended)
  • Core hacks should be identified before a hackathon event. You can see the hacks they did at SIS here.
  • Don’t provide judgment during the process as that may slow down an idea or approach.
  • Have resources the community can access during the process. Here are the resources provided for the SIS hack.

disruptstrand1Disruption, rethinking, and changing are definitely not an easy process at any school. There are often long standing institutional processes, community expectations, other priorities or initiatives, external examination programs, and established school cultural norms that create thick barriers to disruption and change. Coupled with the transient nature of international school communities, we start to understand why disruption, and change hard, like pushing a boulder up a hill. This “Hack Your School” process, however, is one that can definitely get the disruption and change ball rolling, as it is a fair and transparent way to build community around change. Furthermore, it creates vertical and horizontal collaboration and gives greater voice to those who might not be heard otherwise. If we want to make our schools more relevant for the needs of our 21st century learner, it’s time to hack.

This posts is cross-posted here.

#SchoolofTweet (Learning 2.0 Workshop Takeaways)

L2-world-logos-7xI recently had the great opportunity to attend the Learning 2.0 conference in Asia for the fourth time. Since attending the first one in Shanghai, China in 2007 where one of the first activities the conference organizers had attendees do was to sign up for and use Twitter, I’ve greatly benefited from Twitter being an integral part of my PLN. My personal learning has grown immeasurably because of it by bringing me resources and ideas I would have likely not seen and I have a network of experts and colleagues just a tweet away who can help when needed. I wrote about how my PLN has helped to shape me in the past here.

Jumping forward 8 years, I’ve come to see how important social media can be for the personal learning of individuals. For the last few years, I’ve realized how crucial it can be for the learning, branding, and communications needs of a learning institution. Learning doesn’t just happen between the walls of the school anymore

Image licensed from Shutterstock

Image licensed from Shutterstock

and a school’s footprint doesn’t only run through its immediate community. In both of these instances, learning and learning institutions are part of a global landscape, and this is because of technology. Recognizing this is easy, but getting social media like Twitter established into the whole culture of school can be very difficult. Though many schools now have Twitter accounts, not many schools have it embedded in its culture for the combined purposes of learning, branding, and communication. This is why I attended the #schooloftweet workshop at Learning 2.0. I wanted to see how a school got to where they are in its institutional use of social media.

The presenter of the workshop, Tosca Killoran from NIST in Bangkok, Thailand, has been instrumental in getting Twitter off the ground as a branding and communications tool for the school. I won’t summarize the NIST case study since Tosca has already done that on this website, but I’ll just summarize a few takeaways from the session.

Does branding and social media belong in schools? Yes. With so many international schools coming into existence, we can’t sell sameness. We have to show how our school is different in regards to learning from others. We have to make it clear what our mission and values are and what those look like in action. Stating these on a website isn’t enough anymore. We have to tell our story in real-time. How do we tell our story? Social media. This can help promote the essence of who we are and the perception of how people view us from the outside. At the same time, the more consistent we are in using social media for the purposes of branding, learning, and communication, the easier it is to convince people of who we are. Brands have real value, but in the context of international schools, Brands rise and fall with their employees. Establishing a dynamic and consistent use of social media into the culture of the school is critical so that the process and brand lives beyond any individual(s).

So, who does all of this? Tosca said that she took on the school Twitter account to start the process, but confessed that she was doing that for 3-4 hours every evening at home. She also said that was single, so she didn’t have family responsibilities. This isn’t the ideal approach to get started. Getting started is an issue each school will have to tackle since people are already so busy. Over time, once the process had been established more in the culture of the school, the time she had to put into it lessened since other people were sharing the process. To start spreading the use of Twitter, she suggested having some pre-written tweets for teachers with hashtags. She also said the main school account should follow top universities and other international schools since that will grow the school’s presence among these other important institutions. Lastly, she also recommended that school account have a personality. Though not an easy thing to accomplish in 140 characters, it is an essential part of the branding process.

For further detail that nicely supplements the workshop takeaways, discussing the difference between social media IN schools versus social media FOR schools, check out these blog posts here and here.

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This post is cross-posted here.


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