Big tech influencing schools (again), how to keep momentum going and more! Ep 24

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In this Episode:

This week Blake and Mike discuss a range of the latest Edtech trends and issues including:

  • How Jeff Bezos is opening child care centres in another attempt to influence education
  • The social dilemma and the paradox of free will
  • How to keep the momentum going after introducing new technology
  • Google has released the latest pixel and made changes to a number of apps and tools
  • Using Technology Better receives the Microsoft partner of the year award in New Zealand
  • How Microsoft have changed their culture and what we can learn

To see all the OutClassed episodes go to

[buzzsprout episode=’6180523′ player=’true’]

Podcast Episode Highlights:

2:10 What Mike is seeing lately about work life balance
5:00 The Social Dilemma and the paradox of free will
14:45 Another example of big business trying to take over education – Jeff Bezos opens early childhood centres
22:30 How do you keep momentum going after you introduce new technology
31:35 The role that IT team can play in embedding technology in authentic ways
36:35 Google releases the latest pixel
40:00 Google Due is still here…we ask the question why!
42:40 Using Technology Better was awarded the partner of the year in New Zealand in the category of scale and impact
44:00 How Microsoft have changed their culture and what we can learn from them

Resources and links mentioned:

The Social Dilemma

Sam Harris and the paradox of free will:

Bezos Builds a year-round pre-school (academy) where kids are the customer…

UTB was awarded the Microsoft partner of the year award in NZ:

Google TV is an app now with content and watch lists etc.: 


Mike Reading  00:02

Welcome back to the outclassed podcast. It’s great to be with you again this week and good to be back in the seat, I missed last week, I was out at an award ceremony. We’ll tell you a little bit more about that afterwards, but also just recovering from a bit of a cold. So hopefully my throat isn’t too scratchy for you. And we’ll get into some good discussions today. Blake how you doing?

Blake  00:37

Good. Just enjoying listening to your scratchy throat mike. Yeah, it’s good to see you’re on the mend. But you’re doing well. Good to have you back and excited just to have a bit of a debrief in a bit of a therapy session today.

Mike Reading  00:52

Yeah, now that sounds really good. Yeah, what’s my voice actually got laryngitis? It’s the first time I’ve had that. You know, one time where I wasn’t able to speak for a few days so.

Blake  01:01

speaker who can’t speak. Yeah, that’s a problem.

Mike Reading  01:04

Yeah, yeah. It’s probably bliss for the family. But um, yeah, that’s good. But we’re coming back out of that one. So. Yeah, that’s interesting. Definitely. school holidays helps when you can sort of take a bit of a break. I think that’s part of it, you know, typical teacher thing. You just push and push and push until the end of time, and then you finally get a break. And then your body breaks down. So that always happens.

Blake  01:26

He was getting sick in the holidays. I don’t understand that. Strange.

Mike Reading  01:31

Yeah, I think that system, I don’t know if it’s a mental thing or, or what it is, but it’s something that I’ve noticed, if I don’t let myself think that I’m going to have a bit of a downtime, then generally, you’ll sell three men. This time was just like exceptionally busy. So I was really looking forward to a bit of downtime this weekend. Yeah, hit me like a ton of bricks. So there you go.

Blake  01:52

well rested.

Mike Reading  01:54

Yeah. Yeah, it’s good. And, yeah, so it’s, um, yeah, changes in seasons are coming thing. We’re just looking outside at the moment. It’s just a beautiful day. In fact, I was talking to someone in Sydney this morning. I was Skyping. He’s a surfer. And he actually commented, today, like he can’t wait for people to go back to work this whole working from home thing, he’s ruined his Zen in the morning. He’s one of these guys. He’s got a bit of a lifestyle business and works his work around his play. And he’s saying he had 29 guys in the water this morning on a wave that during midweek would probably only be a couple of people. So it’s interesting, more and more people are working from home on that tops, and I went skiing with the kids yesterday. And normally the slides, I’ll take my computer up and do a little bit of work, and then come in and go for a ski and then come back and answer some emails or jump on a few calls or something, then maybe, maybe you might have one, maybe two other people generally up the slopes with a laptop out. But yesterday, I noticed there would easily would have been 50 people, and they’re all on business goals and walk around behind them and see what they’re doing. They’re on, on zoom and so on. And I’m wondering how much of this work from home and make you know, make life work for you when you’re actually allowed out? Not that you know what that’s like at the moment.

Blake  03:13

Now, I would feel sorry, for you being on the way for 26 other people, if I could get on a wave, that’s one of my five kilometer radius it’s a it’s a different perspective, when you’re thinking about Okay, working work in arrange your life and it’s something you talk a lot about. But I also wonder about the flip side of that is like where you don’t get to disconnect, where you sort of lose that ability to say, I’ve gone up the slopes, and I don’t have to think anymore, I can just be here, snowboarding or skiing or whatever I want to be doing. That kind of changes a little, that’s something I’ve enjoyed, you know, with the holidays here at the moment, it’s just that ability to be in my home without the sort of constant thought and messages and emails and sort of drip feeding almost prefer to you know, sit down and push through work for a whole day rather than drip feeding a few emails, you know, over three or four days. So, it for me, I think I definitely work better when it’s, you know, on time and off time.

Mike Reading  04:12

Hmm, that’s very true. We’re actually scheduled some time away next week. So it’s going to be one of those times where I just log out of teams and log out of Hangouts and all the other different pings and dings that go on. And just make sure I’m not available. Maybe just checking with the team an hour a day or something like that. But yeah, definitely that out of disconnect is something that’s it’s quite prevalent at the moment, I guess you say lots of different shows come out about connectedness and kids on screens. And, and that is that what’s that Netflix documentary that’s gone around at the moment, the social dilemma or something about the addictiveness. It’s actually

Blake  04:52

you know, what’s that last week? And yeah, it’s, I mean, it’s sort of mirrored A lot of you actually did it. stage to about 2200 kids at General Assembly when we introduced our phone ban, I think I think it was around that time just talking about a little bit of the why. So you know that they’re talking about what they’re going to do in terms of, you know, we’re going to have these new policies around phones, but I sort of took the tact of vote, what are we trying to address by that, and it’s really all it’s taking cues from, you know, what they’re talking about here, which is this idea that, you know, there are, there are people trying to persuade you to do things consistently using big data using the power of AI, and trying to sort of slowly step you in one direction or another, and isn’t necessarily the direction we choose. And, you know, my speech back then two and a half years ago, whenever it was, was about let’s take back that control, you know, and this idea that discipline equals freedom, like you need to understand what’s going on, so that you can impose your own will on the situation, to move past it. So I think, you know, the more understanding we have the better opportunity, we’ll have to improve the situation, I think it’s the people who aren’t at school now as the people who aren’t young and agile in their thinking, that are going to struggle the most, the ones who, you know, kind of fail to understand really what’s going on, and maybe don’t have the wherewithal to actually understand what, you know, kind of technologies are behind these apps like Facebook and Instagram, and how those apps are slowly moving us in particular directions, and how they can be manipulated with bad actors. I mean, this this is all happening just because of advertising and other things. But wait until, you know, US governments get the hook into hooks into it, or foreign governments get the hooks into moving elections and changing people’s mindsets and putting things in front of people that convince someone of one particular way or another, it sort of almost becomes philosophical, in a sense of like, do we have free will. And I’m a big fan of Sam Harris’s where he talks about, you know, fact, we don’t really have free will, because all of our views on things, every view that you have has been shaped by an experience. And you didn’t necessarily choose to have those experiences. So that to me is an interesting idea. And it’s sort of a great conversation with students, I think in the classroom is around, and even your teachers around the philosophy of this, like, what is it to have free will? What is it if we’re getting ideas pushed on us? That makes sense to us? Because the algorithm can tell how to convert us and how to persuade us? Do we actually have a thought of our own anymore? So super interesting stuff. I’m, I’m keen to see what the conversation that comes out of this is I mean, everyone’s saying, go watch it, go watch it, but like, okay, when all that dies down, what’s going to be the sort of takeaway and the action items that that schools want to take with this stuff? And I think, you know, if we look back, and I’ve said this to my principal is, are we going to look back and think, did we do enough with the kids that are in our care? And I think that is a real moral obligation for schools to think about is, are we doing enough to prepare them for the world? They’re going into this AI deep learning, deep learning world? And are we doing enough with, you know, awareness of social media and education around social media? You know, really deeply not like, you know, a lot of stuff in there now that digital citizenship and being nice to people, yes, we need all of that. But this is more about how you want to live your life, how you want to spend your time, who’s in control of your time, how you motivated? What kind of impact do you want to see on the world? And how do you affect that impact in a really ethical way. Because no one set out in these companies to be unethical. You know, that wasn’t the first intention. The first intention was to help people and to make some money. Unfortunately, the way in which you make money is by mining people’s information, and getting them to spend more time and stealing their time from other things like interacting with your family and your friends. If you can take 10 minutes of that, well, that’s a win for your app. So it’s not only stealing time from each other’s apps, but stealing time from their actual lives from the livelihoods and chance to connect. So it’s a super interesting place we’re in and I’m interested to see what happens.

Mike Reading  09:01

Yes, I haven’t watched it yet. So is this all the stuff that’s in this, like, for those of us who haven’t watched the social dilemma? What’s the

Blake  09:09

they talked a lot about that they talked about? How either they sort of roleplay how AI interacts with users. So they have this sort of pretend computer, if you like, that’s like three of the same person that’s talking to itself to sort of describe the thoughts of things that the algorithm would be doing. When you know, the kid hasn’t logged in for a day and they’re thinking okay, he hasn’t clicked on a thing. We need to send him something that’s going to get his attention, like, you know, girl that he likes, has locked a photo of his boom, it will send that off, we got him back now showing this ad now getting some sneakers ads now getting, you know, it’s really, when you put it in those terms. It really, you know, there’s no one person orchestrating that, but I think when you put it in the context of a person orchestrating it, it makes it seem far more vindictive. Stuff like that. The problem is it’s hard to articulate what we’re actually, you know, it’s not like, oh, here’s the exact issue and we just solve that issue. It’s a myriad of things that combine into a big, what they call an existential crisis that like they really believe that the fabric of society is at stake in terms of the way we do elections, in terms of our views on things in terms of divisiveness, people not being able to have common ground anymore. All of those kinds of social issues that we see, you know, in the 21st century.

Mike Reading  10:32

Yeah. And so, the people have made the documentary. I mean, sometimes you watch these documentaries, and I’ll sit there and I think, Okay, so what’s the agenda behind the agenda? Is it about just genuinely trying to educate people on the power of social media and what these companies are doing? Or is it a, is there a movement behind it some way? Like, did you get a sense of what the agenda may have been?

Blake  10:56

Well, social movement in terms of away from, I mean, a lot of these, these are the Silicon Valley’s exit votes, and they, you know, don’t let the kids touch any technology, and they feel guilty about their contributions in this area. And I think some of it is about guilt for these guys, but you know, I think like anything, it’s true people do generally try to do the right thing, when they notice that there’s, there’s something strange going on something weird going on, and they feel as though it’s super important, whether it is going to be as important as they’re saying, We are it’s an existential crisis, you know, world ending crisis. I’m not sure but I don’t see that there’s like much gain for them in terms of there might be some lobbying power. But the only lobbying there would be is regulation for social media, which I think is a positive thing. I mean, you think about it, like they mentioned this in the show that there’s regulation for what you can show during the cartoon section in the morning on TV, in terms of the types of ads, you know, types of commercials, how persuasive or what techniques they’re allowed to use. That’s for two hour slot on TV, that’s way less persuasive, then, you know, being spoon fed, slowly drip fed information to change your views on things or make you buy certain ways or get you addicted and hooked on something that you just keep coming back every day. Far less damaging, in my view, but it’s regulated yet social media has effectively zero regulation.

Mike Reading  12:24

Right. Now, okay. Interesting enough to find some time to get out there and have a look at it. It’s interesting, too, because that a lot of those companies, Facebook, Google, are all pushing their way into or tried to push their way into education as well. So there’s definitely something around young minds and, and influence and so on that I feel like I maybe they feel like they can do a better job. Because they’ve been through a particular education system didn’t serve them well. And so they want to change it. But I’m just thinking about, you know, Facebook have tried to do some stuff in education. Google have tried while ex Googlers have tried, without schools and scientists to try and change

Blake  13:03

their own schools. Yeah,

Mike Reading  13:04

yeah. And I even saw like you dropped an article in Jeff Bezos is starting off kindergartens now. So it’s like, it’s not just a social media platform, in a sense, like they’ve got their tentacles into society. beyond what you’re doing on your, on your mobile phone, and on your screen, I guess.

Blake  13:21

Yeah, I mean, there’s two parts, obviously, their technology, which, if you look at like that, basically, everyone’s following the Microsoft model where Microsoft regularly gave away, office and windows to schools for a long period of time when basically when I was at school, and that was like I schools looking at Macs, or they’re looking at Windows, or the Mac that pay full price for the Windows machine was their way in. So what that did is it just created this workforce of people that only knew Microsoft products. So it was extremely effective kind of campaign for them. And it’s pretty widely known as the model that everyone’s following. This is reason G Suite is free. When they say, Well, if something’s free, or who’s the product you are? Well, yes, you are. Your lifetime value is what’s of value to Google isn’t when you leave school, you buy an Android phone, when you leave school, you’ll use Google search and click on ads while you’re at school, and then you’ll also be data mined on the front end in the back end so the data mining your search behavior, but then also mining your purchasing behavior and all the follow up and everything else that happens. So you know, it’s pre sale and post sale for Google. So they’ve really got their, you know, hooks into the entire end of the online market. Hmm. So yeah, there’s definitely that side, but then there’s a side of sort of people trying to, quote unquote, you know, disrupt education with new concepts of what school should be and I know this Jeff Bezos one’s kind of interesting. I’m always interested in this. I think, you know, we shouldn’t reject new ideas, we should try them. The issue comes when with trauma with people’s lives and also Why and we spoke about that a number of episodes ago briefly with Neil cell when we’re in he sort of saw that as a, as a disaster that these kids that have been left with nowhere to go now and I sort of agree with that, that that is a problem is that we are sort of, you know, failing fast with children’s lives. But at the same time, I think it’s good that we are trying to press the status quo and the norms, because that is ultimately what brings about change in the mainstream. So it’s a different a different environment. They’re doing these sort of Montessori style schools, based offices, little kindergartens, that I think that goes up to ages of three and five at the moment, but I guess it has the plan to keep going up if it’s successful. And it’s a full day year round kind of deal. And tuition will be free for students. So I don’t know if that can continue. I don’t know how they’re gonna. Mine. You know, when something’s free, it’s a little bit of a red flag sometimes. But we’ll see.

Mike Reading  15:58

Yeah, I think they’re trying to serve the underprivileged, which is great and part of a Filipino centric stuff. But that’s, yeah, it’s interesting that I guess that whole setting that we know where to go, that was one of my thoughts to all these people that are coming in trying to work in early childhood, which is great. You teach them in a particular way. And then you say, right, go back to a traditional school, and try and learn that way. And so a lot of those discussions were having between primary schools, which can innovate and change curriculum a lot easier than a high school game. And so you got these primary schools are all feeding into high schools, the high schools are pretty siloed, and pretty traditional. The primary school has some ability to innovate. And then students get confused as to how to learn. So that’s an interesting thing. And we haven’t had a question coming on Twitter. And this kind of relates to that, in a sense, where Steven heska reviving, Hong Kong was asking about how do you keep the momentum going? And I mean, that even rise to this. You got Jeff Bezos, who’s starting kindergartens and early childhood centers. And then then what?

Blake  17:02

Yes, anything now but yeah, what happens in a year or two years? Yeah, yeah.

Mike Reading  17:07

Yeah. No, like I get it, it seems to be the same old same old push, like he’s saying here that the student is going to be the, the customer. And so the students, I guess, will, or the children will get to be able to push their agenda in terms of that Montessori model, I guess, but I guess, learn and explore. And

Blake  17:28

I guess my credit criticism of a lot of this is it sort of infers that the state system or the current mainstream system is broken. And we hear that a lot learner Hugh and I kind of is one place where we do agree is that I don’t think it’s broken. It’s like it’s producing really able bodied people, I think it underserved some people, I certainly would have been one of those, if I went to a very highly academic school, like the one I’m at now, I don’t think I would have done that. Well, in that environment, I’m more of a hands on person. And I think there is room for that in the curriculum. And but that’s not broken. Broken means you know, it doesn’t work the car doesn’t start doesn’t get you from point A to point B. And so whilst it’s not ideal, and we need to improve it, you know, we talked about student comes first we’ll find me a mainstream school that doesn’t try to live that mantra that isn’t trying to have student voice and agency within the, you know, the building of curriculum within the management and governance of the school. So, you know, most schools have a student representative on a school Council, most schools are, you know, no, that’s something big in Victoria at the moment. So, you know, whilst it seems like Oh, are putting that student as a customer, this new idea? I’m just not so sure it is a new idea. And you see that across, you know, we need to have global thinking and stuff. But actually, that is embedded. mainstream schools are doing that. So I think it’s easy to say, well, this, this is the dated approach the mainstream approach. And then we have the new school approach where we’re doing these innovative, wild, new things. But actually, if you if you take a deeper look, you’ll see you’ll find those innovations happening in different ways, but certainly happening in the mainstream kind of education system. And I think that’s why it’s hard to argue it is broken. Because it does, it does move and it does serve people differently. Like if you look at when I went to school versus what school looks like now, it is vehemently different. Hmm. I

Mike Reading  19:13

don’t think this is my biggest problem. I think in education, we’re so used to our red pen, it’s either right or it’s wrong. And you don’t get to entertain the Why does it have to be either or why kind of you both? And so you know, why can’t you have traditional aspects of education with alongside some innovative pedagogy and so what’s working over the line and way we can make improvements let’s look at that without having to say that the whole system’s broken or everything’s not working. To take your car analogy, the motors not working you don’t go and rip the tires off and pull the boot out and you know, rip all the electron you do all that you just focus on the engine and you solve the problem and you get it back on the right again. It’s interesting I was in a conversation or a call with Microsoft today talking about indigenous people and workers. And what Microsoft is doing globally around that, they got some great initiatives coming along in that space. But we’re talking specifically about New Zealand and we’ve Maori people in, in tech in the industry of tech. So there’s less than 2% of Mario are involved in technology sector of some sort, not just Microsoft, but just technology in general, I don’t know what the percentage would be in Australia with Aboriginals, but I assume it’d be roughly the same. And so if you if you trace that back, that’s obviously got something to do with schooling. But that’s not to say the whole system’s broken. But there’s definitely a place for us to be able to look at Maury education. Now we support these students through so they feel like they can succeed. And they do have a place when they get to that tech sector that, you know, it’s part of their worldview as well. So I think like Microsoft are looking at that and doing some great stuff around it. So there’s, there’s questions being asked, but it doesn’t, yeah, you’re right. You don’t need to overhaul the whole system. You just look at that pattern. Okay, so how could we do that better?

Blake  21:10

That’s what I think I think we’d be throwing the baby out with the bathwater a little bit. But having said that, you know, I think there are radical ideas that we still want to try. I think there are holistically new ways of approaching education that maybe doesn’t revolve around classes and strict curriculum and strict assessment of those things. So in that instance, you know, I can see the need for starting something new. But I’m a little worried when they sort of say, you know, it’s a, putting students first and as a Montessori star school, it’s like, well, you know, do we have to create this whole new thing? Or can we just invest in the Montessori system or invest in state system and make that better, or, you know, invest in buildings that are going to also, you know, some kind of capital investment that’s going to be more directed at the thing you’re trying to improve? So, you know, I’m always skeptical of philanthropy, which is, you know, always focused around how they can invest money in a place and, you know, make people’s quality of life better, but also make a profit. So there’s always that sort of negative side to it of, well, what are they, you know, what are they undermining in that process of trying to make a profit in terms of, you know, kind of shortchanging the subjects that the students who are going there, so that’s always a worry, but who knows how this will turn out? It’s, it’s an interesting, interesting place,

Mike Reading  22:29

huh? Let’s, um, let’s dig into Stephens question a little bit. I think it flows really nicely this income back to some other stuff that was in the news a little bit later on, but just seems like this fits really well. So I mean, on Twitter, Steven asks a question like, how do you keep momentum after introducing edtech? Fun? So we thought we’d just answer that question and give you some ideas around that. Like, did you want to go first? Or do you want me to kick off?

Blake  22:55

Sure. I mean, I’m sort of right in the hot seat for this because unlike a lot of people in it, I think the average lifespan of an IT professional is two years in an organization. I’m definitely the outlier who’s been in the same job for over 12 years. So you know, I’m, I’m one who has seen things through I’m one who started initiatives stopped initiatives fail that initiative succeeded at initiatives, but also done the hard work of when the funds over when the excitement’s over, what do we do now? And, you know, we’re just talking about off air, that perfect example, I think, is this idea of, you know, robots in the classroom, and we all get sparrows, and we put them in and everyone books them for the first few weeks. And we develop a booking system and a policy and a pack up system and some signage. And, you know, we do all this work, and it’s kind of fun, exciting and engaging, and our heads are in it, you know, we’re really in it. And then a month goes by and everyone uses it and loves it. And then the holidays come in, and everyone comes back, and it’s like, God, I’ve got all of those. What happened to those Pharaohs? That was fun while it lasted, you know, you might use it in some really small way. But you know, how we actually embedding this practice and keeping up the momentum? And this is a great question. I think Steven Hesketh on Twitter, because it’s something that kind of is our challenge, as you know, facilitators of technologies, once the technology is embedded, how do we keep it interesting? How do we drive it further? And I think it all comes back to looking at purpose. We spoke about this on our, you know, transformation framework is if you don’t have that strong purpose, why did you buy the sphere of robots? And how you’re going to keep the momentum up with people? Why is it important for them to keep using it, if no one has that shared, understanding that shared purpose in it, and there’s going to be challenging so I definitely recommend you go listen back to that purpose episode around anything you’re talking about might be introducing G Suite or office 365 or Sphero’s, or whatever it is, the purpose obviously is going to be the driver longer term in terms of that motivator. And the other thing is like sometimes people want to flog the dead horse One thing I’ve learned is, you know, there are winners and losers, there are things that are going to work and just take off and that sort of almost don’t need much support. They just really integrate and embed themselves quickly. And we saw that one of the best examples of that for us was Google Sites years ago, is we just had it on in our domain. And a few staff came to us and said, Oh, can we use sites? I said, Absolutely, you can go for it. Before I knew it, almost every staff member had a site or was trialing sites. And it was just a clear demand and need for that. And it was a right fit at the right time. So in that case, it was easy, you know, we really didn’t have to do much to keep the momentum up, you feel like it was seen as a necessary thing. But there are times where, you know, it’s hard. People want the faster horse, but you’re giving them the motorcar. And they don’t realize they need that yet. And so that’s the time where you’ve got to get in the trenches and keep that keep pushing, and sometimes hard to know, is it not working? Because it’s too complicated? And it’s just never gonna work? Or is it not working? Because there’s some initial, you know, we’d have to prime the pump a bit to actually get that momentum happening. And that’s a hard, hard line. And we struggle with that every day. And I think the biggest thing we do, we will probably talk about this a bit as well, Mike is start measuring. So what is it that we call success? Is it people using it? Is it people’s confidence with it? Is it the feedback we get offered? Is it the reliability of it? What is the thing that we sort of see as this has been really successful, and you can break that down into smaller stages as well. So they’re probably the way I would approach it in terms of looking at that momentum. And keeping it up is, you know, get your value proposition or your purpose there, get the shared understanding with your staff about whites, whites being embedded, what it’s for, particularly, if it’s not something that they’re driving, you know, if the staff are driving it, it’s obviously much easier. But yet, start with that value proposition. And then, you know, look at measuring it and how are you going to keep on tracking? If it’s not working? abandon it, you know, move to the next thing and revisit it later, or just kill it all together?

Mike Reading  27:01

Hmm. Yeah, I think, again, there’s obviously some context behind Stephens question. I know a little bit about his role in the school and what he does, but um, I get something that a lot of people work are working through, like, how do we, how do we embed this in and I think you’re right, that whole start with why concept where you’re trying to figure out what, like, what’s the purpose? Why are we trying to do this? Why are we trying to push this is the wise just to get some fun, then that’s gonna run out eventually. And if that was the definition of success, then you’ve achieved it, and you probably need to move on. So

Blake  27:37

that would be like trends trend, something that’s trendy versus something that’s actually the new normal, you know, a new direction?

Mike Reading  27:44

Yeah. I mean, I guess I’d largely advocate a lot for that. Because sometimes, like people who are interested in edtech, generally have a shiny object syndrome, you know, say, they jump from one thing to the next thing to the next thing. And the next thing, you know, you’ve got 47 apps that if you just found one app, you could probably do 95% of everything you needed to do with the one app, but then you add something and you add something, you add something and then the teachers are overwhelmed, and they check out. So I’m a real advocate for get the most out of the tools that you’ve got before you start looking for other tools that can do similar sort of things. And that comes back to that purpose thing, like what are we trying to achieve here? And is what’s the best way to do that? So looking at that educational outcome, and then saying, okay, so obviously, fun wants to be a part of it and introducing, and it’s new. But how do we drive that through all the way to the end, I think is super important. And I think a big part of that is the whole concept of value. So people do what they value. So if they’re valuing it, I’ll keep doing it, whether it’s fun or not. So for me, whenever we’re looking at how do we keep momentum going, it’s always trying to link that back to values. So that, you know, if I value saving time, there’s no point me showing you all these features that make something look good when I could be showing you features that are going to save me time. So once I’m doing something that I value, and then I’ll keep doing it, that momentum will be able to go and I think the other thing, you kind of touched on it a little bit was just that getting feedback, I think the faster you can get feedback, the moment mentum you’ll get. So if you’re in charge of managing all the spheres in the school, if you see them getting booked out, make sure you don’t have a chat to the teacher who’s booked them out and say, Okay, how did it go? What worked well, and what didn’t go work? Well, what are you going to do next? And you keep, just keep asking them questions like that. So you get them in

Blake  29:42

the bathroom, recommend that people you know, do that kind of qualitative stuff, all the quantitative stuff we wait, what’s your thoughts on that?

Mike Reading  29:52

In terms of data, I think like just a simple conversation is enough because quite often, I can teach you might pull out the spheres to teach A little bit of coding or something, but they’re not thinking about those authentic links back to curriculum necessary. So if you’re an E learning teacher, I’d be looking at what tools are being used and what are being used and then finding those authentic links. So you can be talking to the teacher about what how are you teaching math’s with zero? And how are we teaching science concepts? And how are we teaching art with it, and, and so on. And then you’ll start to see those fears just get used more and more and more in different contexts across the school. So if the, like, if the definition of success is usage and adoption, then those are the sorts of conversations that can push that. So yeah, I guess it depends in how you define success and what your momentum that you’re trying to trying to maintain. But I know a lot of teachers who are in that role kind of similar to Stephen, where your, your role is the edtech leadership kind of a role and supporting teachers to use technology effectively, meaningfully, I think a lot of it comes back to that meaningful integration. So let’s not do micro bits for the sake of it, because we saw a cool thing on Twitter, let’s actually think about curriculum, and then think about learning outcomes, and then tie that technology into it, and then be thinking, Okay, and what next? What else is there?

Blake  31:11

Huh, it’s sort of the tail wagging the dog, which you’ll hear a lot. But sometimes that can be a good thing is to interject something new. But I think you got to be careful if you can do it the way in, if you do it in an integrated way that is already available to you, but maybe not as shiny, often that will have better a bit of lasting result. But it’s interesting what you said, there’s a bit of an aside, but we just got me thinking about one of the issues and something I’ve been thinking a lot about lately and how we unpick this problem of you know, myself coming from the technical background. It’s sort of underscored an issue that exists in a lot of schools where the technical team aren’t necessarily tied to the value proposition. So they’re saying, well, this looks cool. staff member said we should get it. So then they go and get it, facilitate it and put it in, and then they complain, or it doesn’t get used, because they’re not actually involved in, you know, providing the value if you like. And I think that’s where what you’re saying is going and actually having a conversation with the teacher about these micro bits, but actually only using like 100th of what it can do. As a technical person, we might have that information, and we might be able to help the teacher reach more of the potential of the technology, as well. So I think there’s that part of it, too. But yeah, it’s something I’ve been thinking about a lot is how do we more incentivize him or motivate IT professionals to be on in the same direction and on board with the school’s vision and kind of set that nice feedback loop of like, when I put a technology and I feel the direct effect of it? I don’t know if I’m being clear here. Is this something that I’m that I’m trying to work through?

Mike Reading  32:53

Yeah, you want to make sure that what you’re doing is tied to the school vision so that you come to work every day going, what the work, I do matters that moves the needle, right?

Blake  33:02

Yeah. But for them to be like right in the middle of that rather than like, you’re just a guy facilitator. You’re the guy who you know, gets them ready and has them bookable. And it has them attached to the Wi Fi. Like that doesn’t work. This can only take you so far. ultimately have to have your IT team embedded in the in the culture of learning.

Mike Reading  33:21

Yeah, yeah, absolutely. I mean, we’ve talked about in the past, it’s not like the IT team should be there seen and not heard or hidden away in a back room somewhere behind a closet, no one even knows where the it room is, let alone who the IT person is to how do you get that out? I think it goes beyond the IT person. I mean, you’re obviously employed by a school full time, but a lot of schools don’t have that. But they’ve got IT professionals in their community, who would be able to provide that kind of expertise and support as well. And that comes a lot back to that when we were talking about the education transformation framework. And one of those elements was community and how do you how do you engage community? Well, when you start telling the story about the vision, here’s what we’re trying to achieve. Quite often we’ve seen IT professionals come out of the woodwork and run coding clubs and, and all sorts of things for free. So you start pulling in this network that goes beyond you so it’s not always on your shoulder to keep the momentum going. The parents are coming in and they’re helping out or interesting community people and you know, retired professionals and all sorts of people come out of the Woodworks to be able to help.

Blake  34:29

And it’s always ironic to say that it’s schools I always tell because you know, one of our big challenges is trying to link the learning to industry and give kids industry experiences like this. There’s almost always an IT team and infrastructure sitting at the school that could be leveraged for that. And you know, in our school, we we’ve started doing server room tours for the for the it kids and helping out with some coding stuff with them and you know, not just facilitating the technology, but actually showing them hey, this is what a small to medium enterprise looks like. This is all the pieces of the puzzle. Yeah. Which is great because it’s direct industry experience in a growth sector. So I think it’s really good. If you look at the sectors that are growing, I did some research on this recently for school and technology and tech technician work and all that sort of stuff is a growth area. And ironically, a lot of schools are saying, you know, we want to give kids experience in agriculture and farming and stuff. And that’s great. Because it’s a new, there’s new technology that can be used in those sectors. But if you look at the sector growth, it’s actually shrinking and projected to shrink by 10 to 15%, over the next 10 years. So I think you got to, you know, look at smart, but inside your schools, there’s tremendous opportunities to leverage your IT teams for that kind of link. linking to real world outcomes.

Mike Reading  35:43

Yeah, okay. That’s interesting. I didn’t realize that that was there. But um, yeah, definitely. I think that’s, that’s part of it. So. Yeah, I mean, that’s one of the things we look at a lot is just how do you do more with less heavy hit things going? How do you build long term? And look beyond the two year run? So great question. We interested if anybody else has got some advice, they get fossa, an answer on Twitter or Facebook or somewhere and use the hashtag outclass podcast, don’t just use the word outclass. We’ve seen a couple of people do that. And we don’t pick it up. Because outclassed as a, as a hashtag is used quite a bit in a range of different circumstances. So yeah, let us know. You can also just hit us up on a Contact Us page on using technology Send us your message. And we’ll love to answer your questions. I’ll keep the conversation going. Like I already had another article that you just dropped in there about the pixel.

Blake  36:39

Yeah, that’s actually my weakness way he’s new pixel devices are out, just like what they’re doing at the moment. And they kind of slotting themself into a certain market segment. Now with Google, for those who don’t know, the pixel is there, they’re sort of iPhone competitor. And it’s not sold that well, traditionally, they’ve tried to be a flagship phone that’s in Australia, you know, 17 1800 dollars sometimes and compete with the iPhone, in the sort of the market share that the iPhone has in the mind share that the iPhone has, I suppose, more than market share. And they’re not done very well. And I think what they’ve done now is just such a great move, and they’re pricing their phones a lot cheaper, I think they’re 400. us and 500 us for the for pixel four, and that sort of foray in the five. And so they’re just a simple phone. They’re not cutting edge, but they got everything you need. They got a fantastic camera, they’re taking all the right boxes. And I think that’s just a smart move from just bring the price down, take the expectation down a notch. And you’ll find there’s a much bigger market there to sell to. And so you know, I’m a big fan of the pixel, I use it every day. It’s been by far. Well, maybe not by far, but it’s definitely been the best phone that I’ve owned next to the iPhone four. So I had that thing for like two and a half years, which back then was a long time. So yeah, just really happy with the decisions they’re making. And also, they’ve launched this new Google TV. Chromecast. So it’s a it’s a Chromecast that has Google TV built in with a remote control. So you can actually have an interface, you can click around and open YouTube and play videos and Netflix and stuff. And it’s interesting, the direction they’ve gone here is they’ve actually made that, that experience an app on your phone as well. It’s the same experience. So I can now watch things inside the app or watch them on the TV. And I can add to a watch list if I’m out and then it’ll appear on my TV. And they’re kind of trying to bring that ecosystem more sort of fluid across devices. So you’re on your pc or on your phone, you’re on the TV screen. It’s almost reminds me of Microsoft’s you know, strategy of any screens a screen, you just turn up to a screen, it’s got everything you need. So I think that’s a step in the right direction is a school that uses Chromecast in every classroom. I’m interested to see what that what that means for us in the classroom as well.

Mike Reading  39:04

Okay, that’s interesting, because I sold I pull down the Play Store, Play Movies out from Google, and they’re just pushing everything back through YouTube now. So YouTube music and YouTube videos and things like that. So

Blake  39:18

yeah, and YouTube music is. Great. I’ve got rid of Spotify recently, in favor of YouTube music, and I just love it. The recommendation algorithm for me is so much stronger than Spotify is. I can just put my mix on every day I get and you mix it 99% of the time, knocks it out of the parks. Really happy obviously, that the AI stuff is you know, can be used for good and but it’s not out of the park for me. I’m really, really enjoying YouTube music. Yeah,

Mike Reading  39:48

I’m just looking at the article. We’ll link it out in the show notes. You’ve linked out to the verge. There’s a big tweeting there by Google push in Google Joe again, what the heck’s going on people

Blake  40:00

Yeah, Joe is hanging around, apparently, which is it’s that that’s the video calling experience. But there is there is murmurs of merging with meet Sergio become mate. I don’t know. I think they really want to keep meat as a enterprise thing where you can screen share and you can add ons in and you can take attendance and do all those kind of enterprise features and education features. Joy is just more of a I’ve got my phone, I just need to make a video call and it’s baked into the dialer. I think that’s how they’re doing. I don’t know, I can’t speak for Google. But that’s sort of what I see.

Mike Reading  40:33

Yeah. I’d like to speak to the people and say when the horse is dead this man. If you’re do I love it, let us know. But I’m yet to find one.

Blake  40:42

Yeah, I don’t know anyone who uses it. To be honest, I accidentally used it the other day, and the other person didn’t have it. So

Mike Reading  40:48

isn’t working? Right? Why? Why have two apps, they can do exactly the same thing? Like, just Yeah, well,

Blake  40:54

I can understand why. I don’t know that necessarily executing very well. But I think the why is that one of them has is heavy loaded with enterprise features. And you don’t want all that crap, when you just want to FaceTime someone, you know, like, you FaceTime had all that stuff in it on the phone. I’m not sure it would be as attractive to, you know, the grandmother wants to call their grandson. So yeah, I can see what they’re doing there. Because they’re trying to build in the dollar. Literally, when I’m on an Android phone call, I have a button that says video. And that opens so. So if they can manage to get that on, you know, 100 million phones, then that’s great. But until then, I don’t know if it’s going to take off.

Mike Reading  41:36

You still have to call me old school, my friend. I’ll put the app on my phone.

Blake  41:42

That’s it. But I think what they’re doing is that they’re rolling into Android. So it’ll be like it’s on the pixel phones by default. So I think they want to have that as their, you know, easy. Go to FaceTime competitor.

Mike Reading  41:53

Awesome. Are we good for about the seven people are using pixel?

Blake  41:58

We can good the pixel is getting cheaper. There’s bigger market there now. So we’ll see what happens.

Mike Reading  42:03

Yeah. And I used to have a pixel, I like to kind of get them in New Zealand, a smaller country for Google to carry out so yeah,

Blake  42:10

that’s a problem as well. There’s no, there’s no like channel partners for it. Really?

Mike Reading  42:14

Hmm. Yeah. And then, I mean, we could go through Australia or something, but then you don’t get warranty and service and

Blake  42:20

all that sort of stuff hard enough to get it replaced. You know, it like unless you’re using an Apple product, getting any technology replaced is hot enough, when it is in warranty in the country have bought it let alone great imports that it’s impossible, huh?

Mike Reading  42:35

Yeah. Oh, that’s interesting. Um, we’ll see where that ends up. Getting to? Well, don’t Wednesday I win for this week was we missed last week, because I alluded to at the beginning of the session, as a way last week, because we had an award ceremony to attend. So using technology better was awarded as the New Zealand Partner of the Year for Microsoft for scale and impact. So for our trading services that we’ve done, yeah, we’re pretty stoked with that. And really proud of the team and the amount of people they’ve served, especially during COVID has just like skyrocketed, as you can imagine. And numbers of people have needed training. And yeah, we’ve been really digging the hole. Microsoft is not the Microsoft as the 1990s. There’s some great features out there and teachers are really starting to, to really look at it. So it’s been it’s been a fun few months and a good run.

Blake  43:30

Yeah, the definitely changing with the times authentic. Anyone was a big fan of Steve Ballmer was right? And he did a lot good. In fact, if you look at all these decisions he made, I think, like, nine out of 10 of them ended up failing or causing harm to the company. Sachi has got a big job ahead of him. And I think he’s so far doing good job. Hmm.

Mike Reading  43:50

Yeah, definitely. Turn it around. We talk a lot about culture. It’s just something that we see all the time talking about Microsoft employees, and it’s the culture is just so radically different than how it was even just two or three years ago. And

Blake  44:04

what are they What are they doing?

Mike Reading  44:06

Well, just like you hear, and one of the things that I noticed a lot is there’s a massive I guess there’s a lot of freedom, but there’s a big push around professional development, and they value their people and which is something that I’ve really noticed. And then there’s a massive been a massive change around inclusion and accessibility. There’s a big push around that you say that come through all of their products. And then also just been seems like the culture has shifted a lot from I don’t know if it was just, I don’t know, maybe it’s just that the more we work with them, the more we seeing more of it. It seemed to be almost like a big conglomerate of a company, you know, many in their ivory towers you could never get close to it seems to be very flat. Now. You can almost access anyone you need to. And I think there’s a real position. Microsoft taking a real position around leaving thing, which you know, sometimes the bigger you get, the more successful you are, the less you listen to your customers. But it seems like they’re flip that on their head. So it’s been Yeah, it’s been interesting just to watch that that change coming underneath his leadership seems like people are enjoying their jobs, they feel like they’re on task on point. We probably made this in other podcasts, but they every meeting we have, it doesn’t matter which department in which country, they’re all saying exactly the same thing. Like everyone’s aligned to the vision to where things are going. Which is, which is really interesting. So we obviously talk with a lot of different companies. Sometimes the guy sitting next to the guy next to me doesn’t even know what you know what they’ll get three different answers from so yeah, pretty impressed with just from a business point of view. Like I know what it takes to just build culture in a small team to be able to do that. And a large team, pretty impressive

Blake  45:54

for an enterprise is very, very difficult. So if they’re managing to get everyone on the same on the same boss in the same direction, it’s impressive. But I know they’ve you know, they’ve done a lot in, yeah, in their sort of market research stuff, this sort of no longer looking at the short term, I know, we had a guy out from the US to look at our Chromebooks set up and ended up hot selling us. Which was fun. One of the execs from the US, rather than sort of like it was the short term we and he’s like, well, we could just convert this, you know, leading school and Victoria, you know, let’s just go for the sale, rather than looking at the long term or how to actually serve their needs better. What is it about Chrome that that worked for them that we can try and replicate, not just say, blanketly, that it works, even though we have Windows laptops in the school, and we use them? And we know, we know how they work? You know, we’re very happy with that decision still. But that does that apply that longer term game and start making some institutional change instead of just selling what you got, at the time? And that short, short term thinking? So you know, I definitely see that in the last, you know, 12 months, especially? Yeah, yeah, it’s been interesting, especially this year, just watching some of those larger partners, Google, Apple, Microsoft, how they’re engaged with the market, have come to support other teachers and schools. And so it’s been, it’s been really good to watch, actually, to be honest, you see, Google just rolling out, you know, meet features. And yeah, like they’ve got, you know, 49 participants in the room now as standard and they put, they’re just got attendance for Edu accounts, they’re rolling out as well. So just to see them, like sort of react to that and say, we’re putting all this stuff off. And we’re just gonna push these features that we know people are relying on, we’ve seen the numbers that they’re using. That’s somewhere where Google are really strong is looking at that, that quantitative data and making really good decisions based off.

Mike Reading  47:45

Yeah, yeah. Right across the board with just a massive adoption, who, which is interesting, because if you’re working in any of these companies, generally you’re given a goal of usage. And so everyone’s seen these monster spikes in usage, and then all the managers are like, right, 2021? How can you improve on that? So? Yeah, I think there’s a few product managers are probably praying that COVID continues on.

Blake  48:12

Yeah, that’s it. And but also, you know, while you’re there, you’ve got to you’ve got to keep people interested and keep the product, you know, worthy of your attention once COVID does, you know, return back to a pseudo normal. So that that’s the challenge for everyone, isn’t it? Is that what happens after? Do we just go back, and like I’ve said on here before, one of my concerns is I was shocked when the first lockdown finished quickly, everyone just went straight back to the traditional methods, aka, you know, I’m not saying it’s good or bad. I just thought that given that, that people had used these platforms, and were more happy to do things remotely now and collaborate on docs, you would just have seen that as kind of a muscle memory reaction, given we had, you know, 10 weeks, or whatever it was of using it, but the muscle memory was the photocopy and the worksheets, and the booklet and having meetings again, in small groups, and, you know, trying to social distance with larger meetings, and you know, it’s like, well, do we actually need to do that? You know, I mean, I know, from the from the leadership now, fantastic, we still doing remote staff meetings, and all that sort of stuff. And we’re also we’re talking about well, remote parent teacher interviews went so well and actually worked for the parents, you know, not losing all that time coming to the school and waiting between interviews and trying to book people the right time, just jumping on for five minutes. It’s done. As a parent, that to me, just seems so much

Mike Reading  49:36


Blake  49:38

So yeah, there are I think there are gonna be some good takeaways at an institutional level, but it’s sort of more at that basic teaching level where I’m worried it’ll just slip back into what what’s comfortable.

Mike Reading  49:49

Yeah. Probably brings us full circle. How do you keep that momentum going, Hey, then, once it’s all over, that first initial push, what do you do to keep that running, say Yeah, man, it’s been a great conversation like, anything else you want to chat about before we wrap up?

Blake  50:07

No, I don’t think so. There was a bit of a fail about the US debate. I don’t know if you’ve seen any of that. But my failed these debates. It really is just a sad, sad, scary time for the free world. But, you know, we don’t need to dwell on that. But I just thought I’d mention.

Mike Reading  50:28

Yeah. I haven’t had a chance to look at it yet. But I saw a couple news headlines flash past that seemed like it was an interesting time.

Blake  50:35

Yeah. Yeah. What do they call it? grumpy grandpa’s or something?

Mike Reading  50:40

Right. Classic. Excellent. All right. Well, thanks again. for listening. Guys. We’ve appreciated being in your earbuds and we look forward to catching up with you next week. This has been Episode What Blake we must be Episode 24. Yep, stop to a quarter century. So again, if you want to take, say and help us set the direction of this podcast, feel free to fire question at us or a suggestion or what you’d like us to dig into. You might even know someone who would be great to have on the interview and give us their expert opinion. So we’re open to those look forward to hear from you, but we’ll catch you next week. Thanks, Mike.

Blake  51:22

Thanks for listening. For more episodes and show notes visit

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