The need for Social Collaboration in the classroom

The need for Social Collaboration in the classroom

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.

About Kay Hooghoudt

Kay is Global Director Digital Transformation & Cloud for Public sector at Atos. He joined Atos in 2007 in the Netherlands. He broadened his role in 2012 as Vice-President Strategy & Business Development Public Administration & (Higher) Education. Kay has a clear vision on the benefits of using technology in the Public sector, Digital Transformation for public bodies and Cloud-adoption in Governments as well as in (Higher) Education. He has worked with senior (Government) Executives in the public domain around the world on how to use technology to enable them to withstand challenges they face in the fast moving world and adopt speed, agility & flexibility. He believes that new technologies like Cloud & Digital Transformation can connect the New Generation, giving an answer to consumerisation, globalisation and cost pressure. Kay had previously a long track record in Government Services, with more than 15 years in senior management positions in the Dutch Government. In that role he has gained vast experience in developing national and international strategies and sharing best-practices as Project Leader in the European Union.