In December 2019, I began to feel an itch. I work as an education consultant in one of the leading education consulting firms in the country, The Education Partnership (TEP) Centre. I lead the Consultancy unit of this firm which simply means we are the catch-all team of the firm. Our job description covers a bit of everything; education innovation, research, project management, monitoring and evaluation, training and capacity development, and even event planning.
The best way to describe this itch is that I felt we were not “digital” enough in the way we did our work. At this time, there were small news articles of a new virus popping up somewhere on the Asian continent floating around on Mark Zuckerberg’s internet. At the time, I said to myself, “I suppose this one is the next Avian flu…so maybe don’t eat chicken so much anymore”. LOL…I had not-a-clue! Trust me, the grammar is fit for purpose.
Come January 2020, I decided my team was going to start a podcast. This is how we would catch up with the rest of the world and join the digital revolution! We were going to convert the rich depth of our experience and expertise into podcast episodes…and it was going to be great! So, after much brainstorming, we named our podcast Education Unscripted.
A scant eight weeks later, our entire organisation shut down and transitioned to remote working. Talk about unscripted! We all know how that went – schools and businesses shut down, employees turned remote workers (and in some cases, homeschoolers) and organisations scrambled to adopt and/or scale technology to support this new mode of operations. We recorded our first few podcast episodes remotely and it was wild.
After braving the murky waters of remote collaboration, sketchy internet, unfamiliar and somewhat complicated software and COVID-19 safety protocols, we produced an eleven-episode season of the Education Unscripted podcast, with all these episodes being recorded remotely and only 2-3 people listened to each episode of our podcast. What? How? Where did we go wrong? Here we are in the middle of a global pandemic, just now realising that it is not enough to simply put great content out there, you have to figure out how to promote it i.e. get it to the relevant audiences – digitally. Safe to say we had so much to catch up with. You know what they say, true wisdom begins with understanding what you do not know.
So began my journey into the world of digital marketing – search engine optimisation (SEO), social media marketing, ad campaigns, content marketing, conversion rates, click-through rates and all the buzz words. The more I learned, the more I realised what had been missing in the incredibly valuable work that my team has been doing. The paradigm shift from merely doing great work to promoting said work and building a great community was beginning to happen. I finally found a name for the itch I had been feeling and have not looked back since. Since then, we have published more episodes of the Education Unscripted podcast with a total of about 1500 listens and even hosted the first fully virtual version of our annual education innovation summit, NEDIS and it was awesome!
We have also published tens of courses (both free and paid) domiciled on our learning management system, hosted quarterly webinars on topics of interest that appeal to education stakeholders who were dealing with the effects of a never-seen in our lifetime experience of a global pandemic and its effects on learning.
We have not yet arrived at the pinnacle, not nearly. There is so much more for us to learn and do still but we are now on the journey and we invite you to come along with us!
A blog by: Utibe Henshaw