By Trish Fontanilla, VP of Community & Customer Experience at Vsnap
Last week I had the opportunity to go to the #satechBos UnConference at Simmons College. As some people know, my past life was in higher education, first at Emerson College and then at Berklee College of Music. So I jump at opportunities to combine my love of video and the higher ed community whenever I get a chance.
If you’ve ever been to an unconference, you know that the energy is palpable. It’s great to see people jump in to suggest or lead sessions to help their edu peers be more successful at what they do. And while I didn’t get a chance to attend both days, I still had a few key takeaways from the event.
Stop dreaming big, start acting big.
Ed Cabellon of Bridgewater State University challenged the audience in his keynote: “What have you set into motion thanks to last year’s conference?” Most people admitted that not much had changed. But it’s not just this audience, this reaction is quite common. You go to a conference, get incredibly inspired, and head back to the office talking about how moved you are instead of putting together a set of action items that make the conference more applicable to your team. And not only do you have to take time to figure out how to apply it to your work, you need to figure out how to communicate that set of actions to your internal audiences. Ed’s suggestion is to lose the boring Powerpoint explanations and make the information more visual with the help of some resources like Nancy Duarte’s slide:ology and Garr Reynold’s Presentation Zen.
Stop asking for permission.
Another point that’s applicable to all organizations. Sometimes the instinct is to immediately pitch an app or program to the whole department. Instead, focus on small scale implementation before bringing it up the ladder. So if it’s a new Facebook app, don’t play around with your institution’s main feed, experiment with a specific program’s feed instead. And whatever you do, don’t go into a decision-maker’s meeting empty-handed. Make sure you’re measuring all your initiatives and how they relate to your students. Talk about data instead of only sentiments. I’d even suggest asking the app / program maker for help too. Most companies are more than happy to help you sell to your organization, and may even have a Convince Your Boss doc.
At the end of the day, for folks in education, if the student is at the center of the project, no one can fault you for trying something new.
Know the difference between non-literacy, literacy and fluency.
It’s important to realize what people bring to the table. Just because a colleague has never been on Twitter doesn’t mean she can’t be good at it with a little training. And just because a student has a Twitter account doesn’t mean he’s trained to manage a brand. Take time to train your team and help them understand the underpinnings of why you’re doing what you do, not just how to use a product. Another one of Ed’s suggestions is to measure how your trainings are going, so be sure to test their aptitude before and after the training.
I want to say thanks to Thomas Kelley for allowing us to partner with the SATechBos unconference, Eric Clark for the introduction, and to all the hard-working professionals in this community that showed up and shared all of their learnings!
For those of you interested in using Vsnap in education, we’ve actually got a case study coming out soon. If you’re interested, let me know and I’ll send it over when it comes out.
For other recaps of #satechBOS, check out:
Paul Gordon - #satechBOS Day 1 Twitter Recap
Paul Gordon - #satechBOS Day 2 Twitter Recap