Sarah Thomas is a Regional Technology Coordinator in Prince George’s County Public Schools. She is also a Google Certified Innovator and the founder of the EduMatch movement, a project that empowers educators to make global connections across common areas of interest. Sarah is a doctoral candidate in Education at George Mason University.
Originally posted on September 28, 2014 on Sarahdateechur.com.
On Friday night, I was bored. It was one of those rare days when I was home with nothing to do. Well, I had plenty to do, but I didn’t feel like doing it. That would have gone against everything that Friday night stood for.
Anyway, my mind started to wander as I was sitting on the couch, playing on my phone. All of a sudden, I had a #showergem moment. FYI, in case you’re wondering, here’s the definition of a #showergem.
In other words, a #showergem is when your brain is on pause, and all of a sudden, you have an awesome idea. Here are a few previous #showergems:
- With seven billion people in the world, we are each only a dot. But what a beautiful picture we make when we start to connect.
- Being a connected educator is like using augmented reality on our profession.
- Relationships are the most important things there are.
- Everyone has their own version of the truth. Why should you put anyone else’s above yours? Don’t worry so much about what other people think of you.
- Your mama’s so stupid, she stuck her head in the washer because it said, “Permanent Press.”
As I’m sure you can infer, the last one was from when I was in fifth grade.
Anyway, one common theme of my #showergems tends to deal with helping educators connect and collaborate. This is the focus of most of the things that I choose to do in my free time.
I was sitting on my couch, playing on Voxer, chatting with one of my #eduhomies (new hashtag that I’m totally Columbusing, btw), telling her how she and my cousin would hit it off. Not in a dating way, but they would have so much to talk about, since they geek out over the same things.
Ironically, I had been joking around with another #eduhomie about how we should team up and make a “Teachers Date Teachers” website. Well, the #eduhomie was joking. I was half-serious. Kidding! Maybe. Totally. Anyway.
So back to the story. I made a remark in my vox to my #eduhomie that I pride myself in being an educational matchmaker. Long story short, @edu_match was born.
In my research, I saw there was an #edmatch, but that was about fundraising. There were a few @edumatch accounts, but none of them appeared to be what I had in mind. So, I jumped in feet first, just adding the underscore to make it unique.
It was very silly, and I decided to keep it very Sarah. Those of you who know me know exactly what I mean. I was dead serious about fully exploring the potential, but I wasn’t going to do it if I wasn’t entertaining myself in the process.
Side note: even though I’m pretty Google-savvy, this was the first time I ever used Google Draw for anything. I was not shy about admitting how horrible the logo is, but honestly, I don’t know if I’ll change it. It sets a tone for how informal and fun this experiment is. In addition, people love to tell me how horrible the logo is, and this is great! Especially because it’s usually followed by, but the idea is awesome.
Personally, I’m more inclined to click on something that catches my attention, good or bad, and see exactly what it is. I could, possibly, have the same effect with an awesome logo, but this experiment is still in its infancy, and I didn’t want to drop a ton of money on something that I wasn’t sure would work.
Similarly, people tend to think it is a “Teachers Date Teachers” project. LOLOLOL. I welcome the confusion, because that gives me the opportunity to clarify it. In my experience, people are more engaged when they are trying to understand something, than if you try to cold-sell an idea. Confusing people can be good, so I really play up the, “it’s not a dating site” factor. The follow-up question is usually, “then, what is it?”
So glad you asked.
According to the website (s/o to the #eduhomie for the suggestion),
“we use the power of social media in order to help foster collaboration and connections among educators around the globe.
Each day, we have an #edtech Person of the Day, and tweet out several bits of information that they have supplied. You don’t need to do anything, and there is nothing to lose.”
“We” sounds better than “I.” But truly, it is “we.” I treat this with the EdCamp mentality. My job is to facilitate these connections, but it’s all driven by the people who sign up, and who participate.
Yesterday, we had our first #edtech Person of the Day. I asked him how it was going midway through the day. Much to my surprise, he said that he had a bunch of new followers. I was so happy to hear that, but it inspired me to change the sign-up form a little. I added a place for the Person of the Day to write a discussion question to ask the Twitterverse. Although follows are good, engagement is better!
As of this morning, we have 10 people signed up to be featured. Wow!!! This is great.
I’m learning as I go along…for example, today, I have scheduled the tweets to promote our second Person of the Day. This helps me tweet at odd hours of the night being in EST, but our friends on the Eastern Hemisphere are wide awake. Maybe there is a script or something so that I can automate it 100%. That would be awesome. Also, I’m trying to figure out what happens if/when this gets huge. It would kind of suck to sign up and have to wait for weeks or months before you are “on deck.” Maybe eventually we will have multiple People of the Day. Hmmmm.
Tl;dr version: If you have a crazy idea, jump in and do it.
If you have any suggestions, comments, or feedback, please share below. Thanks!