The need for Social Collaboration in the classroom


Posted on: May 7, 2013 by Kay Hooghoudt

Back in January, I presented a keynote at the BETT Conference in London. Presenting to a full room of higher education decision makers, I explained my thoughts on the future of education and technology. During the question and answer session, one area which attracted special interest was our social collaboration offering and its value in the classroom. I personally believe this type of communication flow is the only way forward for educational establishments, and here is why.

Atos - the need for Social Collaboration in the classroomTo start with my kids - our kids - do not use email anymore. They use tools such as Facebook, where they ‘post’ messages which depending on privacy settings can be visible to anyone. The principle is that information is just in one place and you don’t have to send it endlessly to all kinds of people who may not even be interested, information is becoming even more available.

Now the same principle applies in our office in Atos. We use our own social collaboration tool– called “blueKiwi” – and we ‘post’ messages instead of emailing. More information on our BlueKiwi application can be found here, but fundamentally it’s much more than a fun networking application. It improves our collaboration across borders, it stimulates working in communities with a clear business purpose, and it allows us to share knowledge more effectively and find experts easily.

Of course it is a gradual process but email usage is decreasing. Whilst social collaboration and the benefits are being welcomed in our company network, externally in the education space some people find it hard to comprehend as it really evolves the traditional landscape into something new. ‘An educational establishment simply cannot function without email’ they claimed!

The difference between social collaboration platforms, such as blueKiwi compared to Facebook is that you can keep your information in a corporate environment and it is not in the public domain but within security boundaries set by your individual establishment– a very important issue once you start ‘posting’ confidential information that would otherwise be sent by email.

And interestingly this also applies in the classroom. I originally assumed kids want to integrate the use of social media with their class – and they do! – But they do not want school to be mixed up by their private life. In other words they do not want to talk about the newest video on YouTube or their weekend plans with their teachers. So the trick is to use Facebook-like apps in class but not let them use Facebook itself. There is a personal/school life balance that should be protected.

This brings me to last point of the integration of full school systems onto a social collaboration platform. You can imagine that having your entire educational establishment connected via a single platform can be seen as a digital working place as we used to know it. Once integrated with programs such as PowerPoint, Excel etc. the user then access all the programs they require from a single platform, with added capabilities to communicate easily across platforms and within their network.

And if the whole class is digitally accessible via their own phone/tablet/laptop, why the need to get up early out of bed and sit in a cold classroom instead staying in bed and following lectures? “From the bricks to the clicks” but we keep that for a next time.

If you missed my keynote at BETT show, please watch it here.

I will also be presenting an external webinar on social collaboration 14th May, if you would like to join please email me and I will send over an invitation.

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About Kay Hooghoudt

Global Director Digital Transformation & Cloud in Government
Kay is Global Director Digital Transformation & Cloud in Government at Atos. Kay advises governments, universities and public bodies all over the world on digital strategy and cloud adoption. He is a digital visionary, responsible for developing new themes and strategies in the public space. Having worked with public service leaders in Europe, Australia, the US, the Middle East and Asia, Kay addresses the fear in some parts of the public sector about cloud adoption. With his extensive international cross-market network, he has knowledge and stories to share about how leading public institutions have navigated the journey to cloud and the role of private, public and third-party cloud ecosystems. Kay advises on hybrid cloud orchestration, access to legacy systems, data classification, security, scalability, resilience, cost, data protection and data sovereignty. Kay’s career includes 15 years in Senior Management positions within the Government of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. Since 2012 he was Vice-President Government & (Higher) Education, Atos International. He joined Atos in 2007 as Executive Account Director for Government & (Higher) Education in the Netherlands. Kay has a Masters degree in International Law (LLM) and a BA in Cultural Anthropology & Non-Western Sociology from the University of Leiden.

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