Random Thoughts

Let your presence be known!

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Last week I listened to TWIT episode 121. This is not unusual as the TWIT podcast is my favorite podcast to listen to; great quality, good people, and relevant topics that somehow I always find a way to bring back to education.

Now the unusual part comes with my wife and I having a conversations on Saturday morning that paralleled what they were talking about on TWIT. It is also something I have been thinking about over the past couple of days. Now either my wife is secretly listening to TWIT (which would bring a tear to my eye) or there truly is some power in this network.
During the TWIT episode (right around the 60-minute mark), they talk about networks and how much a network can be worth. In the episode, they use Scoble as an example.

“He would probably bring you 20, 30, 40 thousand dollars worth of value just in the marketing of his social presence. Think of that, if you were a company you would get 20, 30, 40 percent discount on his presence.”

“Everybody who is in your social network is worth 50 cents to a dollar to your employer.”

Think about that for a minute. Is your social presence, your social network, worth something? Absolutely!

Now education is not in the money-making business, but we are in the knowledge business. That knowledge is worth something to our schools, our districts, and to the teachers we teach with and help.

I’ll use myself as an example:

Because of my social presence, how many of you know of Shanghai American School (SAS)?

How many of you think that Shanghai American School would be a good school to work at?

How many of you would consider working for SAS because of what you know about the school through my social presence?

Is that worth something to my school? Is it worth something to my school that a teacher asks for a letter to explain blogging to parents, and that I am able to Twitter the request and in less than 5 minutes have three links to help that teacher? Is it worth something to my school that as the recruiting process is upon us in international schools, that administrators can point recruits to my blog as an example of the types of things we are doing at SAS? Do schools understand the value of what they have when they have a Clarence Fisher and his social network working for them? Or a Miguel Guhlin, a Vicki Davis, a John Pederson, a David Jakes, or you?

With social networks comes knowledge power that most schools do not realize they have. Imagine the following interview question:

“Could you please share with me the extent of the learning network that you would bring with you to this job?”

An answer:

“Well, I bring 1500 readers from my blog, over 400 Twitter contacts, 30+ Facebook friends, 50+ Skype contacts, and a Ustream.TV station that at the last live event saw 40+ people attend. I bring with me one click access to a knowledge base far greater than any single hire can bring.”

This is the conversation my wife and I had: that when you are hired to work for a school, you are not the only one working for that school but you bring your social network to that school too, and that social network, that social presence is working for the school as well.

Think about the social presence of Will Richardson or David Warlick. Two guys whose social presence just on their blogs alone is worth something. I wonder what the going rate for their social presence would be.

Can you imagine interviewing Will Richardson for a job and asking him about his social presence, about what he brings with him to the job? You would get a lot more than you are paying for.

So let’s break it down this way:

You have two people applying for the same position. One has a social presence that reaches far into the educational community. You have another who does not have a social network.
Who do you hire?

Let’s say they have the same skills. Who do you hire?

Let’s say the one without a social presence is slightly more qualified. Who do you hire?

We tell students to be aware of their social presence. As adults, we too must understand the power of these networks. We need to understand that there is power here and that our social presence adds market value. How do we factor this into our hiring practices? 21st Century hiring practices should not only look at your experience but at the social network you bring with you to the job.

A fine example of this comes from Valleywag which posted in its rumormonger category a couple weeks ago about Kevin Rose, founder of Digg.com, selling the company and working for News Corp.

Word is News Corp.’s newly launched Fox Business Network, the CNBC rival, also wants to use Rose for coverage of CES, the large gadget trade show in January.

Let’s pretend for a moment that this rumor is true. What if News Corp was buying Digg.com not for its site, but for its creator and his social presence? Between Digg.com and the Diggnation Podcast, Kevin Rose’s social presence means instant viewership to an aging business model like Fox News. If you have a person with a vast social presence covering the largest gadget trade show for the Fox Network, you are guaranteed to get viewers, which in return equals revenue through ad sales. Is the business world starting to understand the power of social presence on the web? How far behind is education?

In the 21st Century do we need to reexamine the importance put on social presence verses that put on experience? Can an employee with a vast social presence, a person who knows where to find the information when they need it, be more valuable to a company then someone with years of experience?

Today I actually visited some blogs to see how people represent their social presence. I found that I have totally missed MyBlogLog (putting that on my blog now) and a couple new wordpress plugins that help to illustrate your social presence. Of the blog wandering I did today, I think Wes Fryer has the best blog layout for showing his web presence. That guy’s connected everywhere to everyone! Worth something to Wes? I’m sure. Worth something to the teachers and schools he works with? Absolutely!

I ask you to stop and think for a second how much your knowledge network is worth.

There is not only power in the knowledge, but there is also power of the presence. Get social, get connected, and let your presence be known!

[tags]social presence[/tags]

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I started blogging in 2005 and found it such a powerful way to reflect and share my thinking about technology, this generation, and how we prepare students for their future not our past.


  1. Jeff – You are so right. Little did you know but I had a conversation with a colleague here about watching one of your ustreams that went like this. “Jeff Utecht ustreamed a great presentation that he did for administrators.” “Who is he?” “A teacher at Shanghai American School, have you heard of it.” “No.” “Well, it must have some great things going on to have a technology leader like Jeff working there.”

    Were your ears burning? Well, I never thought about this before but you are so right. The connections I make in my PLC help me be a valuable resource at my school and I am teaching all I learn to others.

    Great insight!

  2. I’m wondering if you think that this perspective is contrary to some of the recent commentary on the Edublog Awards – that finalists *shouldn’t* make their presence known to their social network (or otherwise promote themselves). There seems to be a strong opinion that somehow, involving one’s social network gives those networkers an unfair advantage over those who don’t have/dont’ use their networks:


    I find this stance somewhat paradoxical. The awards are *for* social media (blogs). They even give out “badges” to promote the awards and finalists! Yet some people think it’s improper or unfair to contact one’s network in any way to allow them to make their own independent choice about supporting a particular blog?

    A social web award that discourages conversation via social media. Odd? Or do you think there are limits as to haw far one should go to let your presence be known? 🙂

    A little controversy to attract some interesting commentary… what’s your opinion? 🙂

  3. I think that there is a tremendous worth in our social networking. I’ve changed my ways of working over the last nine months. My students have reaped great benefits and so have I.

    I’ll have to write a post sometime soon reflecting more on this topic with a link back here. I want you to know that in my experience so few teachers know that these opportunities exist. We should all be promoting the message of this blog entry.

  4. Jeff,

    I LOVE this post. In fact, I think it’s worth talking about to administrators. When people ask why blog–well, among many many other things, it is great publicity for your school!

    When other people see real things going on at your campus, it helps draw new staff, as you mention, and it lets parents see what is going on “behind the doors” which is also great p.r. for the campus.

    So in addition to the personal reflection and learning, the networking and sharing, blogs CAN give a school a presence.

    And you are right that this is of true value to the school and district.

    I’m going to link to this tomorrow with thoughts of my own….Thanks!

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  6. Jeff thanks for this! While I have realized for some time the value and potential of web presence and a social network from a teacher in the classroom’s point of view, it had never occurred to me that my presence and network might be an asset for my employers also. Now I just have to make them aware of that fact! Think I’ll point them here.

  7. Interesting idea here. I think this is definitely something that should be discussed in our district.

    I recently sent a comment to my principal about two “celebrities” I feel my campus has (Carolyn being one of them) due to their connectivity to others in the great blogosphere and how the contribute to these online discussions.

    Great post!

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  10. We know administrators think in terms of what value-added expertise a potential hire can bring to a school and community. Whether it be someone who can teach multiple subjects, coach, provide leadership, etc., we now need to add your “network rich” attribute to the list. It is one thing to hire a person with information literacy skills but to hire someone who can reach out to subject matter experts and innovators through a few taps of the keyboard is much more powerful and helpful for a school. The attention they bring to the school is very important as you point out. The next step is to educate administrators about this. Maybe for those of us in Asia, it could be a topic for next year’s EARCOS administrators conference.

    Another benefit of these networked individuals is the wealth of information they provide for prospective teachers and parents to our schools. This is especially important in international schools where there is so much turnover in staff and for families being moved from one country another. We often hear tidbits of information about international schools experiencing “troubled times” or “they are innovative there” but rarely are there any concrete examples to help guide us. Reading blogs and/or published articles of connected staff members provides insight and data from which to form opinions as international educators recruit for new positions and for families deciding which school to enroll their children.

    And Jeff, nice Widget.

  11. Another prominent edublogger forwarded me an email. A school in Japan was looking for somebody equivalent to “Jeff Utecht” to come work at their school.

    “global microbrands”

  12. Awesome! Great! This is a tremendous post that captures a lot of what we have been talking about lately in the ‘sphere: the value of the network. But you’ve actually been able to put it into words. Now the devil’s advocate question (you had ot know it was coming…) do schools care? I mean, I believe they completely should, but how many administrators, parents, and teachers see the value of this ability? We are still largely valued for the ability we have in the classroom rather than what we can bring to our classrooms. Those things are seen as nice extras but not central to our jobs.

  13. I think Clarence nailed the speed bump issue, that of whether school leaders really see the value of this. I still think we’re at a stage where there are relatively few people who truly value the benefits of the network. Maybe that will change over time and with continued advocacy.

  14. Than Porter Reply

    This is a great post about education networks, both individual and community, and the important role that they can play for our teaching and learning. I am trying to get myself up to speed on networking but find it a challenge at times.

    As my district looks to get a Professional Learning Community program up and running I can only think about my small but growing network and realize that I have a PLC in place. It is much bigger than any my district could come up with, can be more specific and does not require any meetings to plan things. Just a few comments, posts, twits and my network is there.

    Clarence makes a good point of the lack of perceived value in this type of network by admin, staff, parents. I would like to use this post with my local staff as a “Think About it” activity.

    Great stuff here! Keeps me going.

  15. I really enjoyed this post. Of course I have been a regular reader of The Thinking Stick for close to two years now and I rarely see a post I don’t enjoy.
    I am a 5th grade teacher in Lexington, SC in the U.S. and this post struck something with me because I do see the value in having a presence and a network. The difficult thing for me though is developing that presence.
    I have a classroom wiki for our classroom community, my students have their blogs, and I have a personal blog for professional reflection and sharing. However, the question that comes to mind for me is how do you self-promote? How do you get more people involved or another way of saying it is how do you develop this network? What if you are somewhere it is difficult to find people who share the same interest or excitement for technology and education ( I believe the term for us is “geeks”)? I know that I am throwing out a lot of questions, but I think it is because this is something that I have been thinking about quite a bit lately and as chance would have it you did this post.

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  18. Jeff,

    You are bang on with the notion of “knowledge business” but knowledge being less about content/thing and more about process and connectedness….

    Good to know you are putting this issue out there for us all to consider. I never really considered it before but I do think in the future an interview question might be in the vein of, “So, how do you help others and connect with other teachers professionally?”.

    I’m also going to count up my numbers and ask for a raise! Let SAS teachers also know about us at EFL Classroom 2.0!

    Thanks again for sparking my “engine” upstairs.


  19. Ron you have to get involved. Join a Social Network, there are quite a few on Ning, use twitter, facebook, anywhere where you will find other “Geeky” educators. Once you start blogging or taking part in discussions in these larger networks, you will find your own network starts to grow.
    3 Ning networks which have been extremely helpful to me are Classroom20 EFLClassroom and Education.ning.com

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  21. I am not sure your social potential/capital would always be a benefit to the person hiring you in education. Many times we have had the conversation about hiring the “cheapest” candidate. With equal skills, we might choose the one that would cost us the least.

    Sad, I admit, but that’s the difference between the education and the business economy.

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