Monthly Archives: April 2014

Standard Life Investments – Trainee Programme 2014⤴

from

We are looking for enthusiastic, positive and hard working individuals to join our 2014 trainee programme. Work experience is not an essential, our focus is on finding those with the right attitude and values who are willing to learn.

Who are you?

You will be motivated, driven and have a ‘can do’ attitude. You might not have had any work experience but that’s OK, we are looking for people who are flexible, great at working as part of a team, willing to take on new challenges and passionate. You will have a minimum of 2 Highers (or equivalent) and have a real desire to learn quickly.

What the role involves

The programme will run for 12 months from Summer 2014 and is linked with the Investment 2020 scheme. You will be based at our headquarters in Edinburgh and add value by filling a role in one of our business functions. You will be expected to work 40 hours per week and in return you will gain a competitive salary and benefits package as well as huge amount of hands on experience and a thorough understanding of how an investment management company operates. Our 2013 trainees have been placed in a wide range of business areas including Operations, Finance and Global Client Group.

What we can offer

We will offer you lots of on the job training. Your line manager and colleagues will provide help, guidance and support to ensure you become fully trained in your role. You will gain a vast amount of knowledge through being given the opportunity to learn and understand the key deliverables of the team you are working in.

We place high value on training and development and there will be a wide variety of development opportunities available. These range from lunch and learn sessions where you will gain key skills development or gain knowledge about a specific area of the company to formal courses appropriate to your specific needs.

You will be enrolled in a comprehensive induction programme where you will be able to learn more about us, including our strategy, our vision and our key policies and processes. We will make sure you are prepared to join your team by providing bite size sessions on the key skills you’ll need to hit the ground running in your role.

You will be allocated a mentor who you will meet regularly to get advice and support on the challenges in your role and guidance for future development.

We value the individual strengths of our people. We believe that helping you to identify your strengths is vital to your success therefore we will give you the opportunity to complete a strengthsfinder questionnaire and then coach you on how you can utilise your strengths in the best way.

By joining as a trainee at Standard Life Investments you will have an instant network of contacts as you will go through induction with your fellow trainees. We’ll organise lunches and other sessions throughout your time to make sure you have an opportunity to get to know each other. You will also build a network of contacts throughout Standard Life Investments which will help you to learn more about the company and gain a broad knowledge of the investment management industry.

How to apply and contact details

Apply online at www.standardlifeinvestments.com/careers or go directly to the job advert https://standardlife.taleo.net/careersection/sli+external+carrer+site+eng/jobdetail.ftl?job=1400321

The closing date for applications is 2 May 2014.

If you have any queries contact investments_recruitment@standardlife.com

Sales Matters in EdTech: Re-Orientation Class⤴

from @ Edu Tech Stories


There is some convergence with a topic within the various communities that I am involved with at the moment as there is a lot of discussion around the issue of Professional Development (PD). 
  • #EdTechChat highlighted that this was the most active discussion they had since the chat was established 12 months ago.
  • EdSurge have just published a PD guide for educators 
  • #EdTechBridge is exploring some ideas to see what they can do to develop PD beyond this evenings' discussion via their Action Speaks Louder than Words campaign
  • FE is looking for ways to engage educators more with EdTech with FELTAG
  • I am always looking for ways to develop my own skills. At the moment this includes exploring the work of Community Managers... which involves producing good content 
What can Sales do for PD?
I want to help out with these PD initiatives, but I'm not an educator. I'm involved with EdTech, which is fine, EdSurge and EdTechBridge are aimed at EdTech as well as educators... and the #EdTechChat and #ukfechat communities seem keen to hear about my various ramblings. BUT... my experience and the roles I've had within the sector isn't exactly what you'd call a popular or welcome topic.

I'm always keen to point out the similarities that exist between all stakeholders and a, rather unfortunate, area where there is common ground is with attitudes about roles I've held in the past... It would appear that sales is universally loathed;
  • Educators are sick and tired of being misled and mis-sold by a group of people who, collectively, they can tend to view as unscrupulous and greedy.
  • CEO's and Managers are dependent on salespeople, but fear their power, which seems uncontrollable at times. The world of sales may overwhelm those who prefer the neater world of spreadsheets and financial plans. But need the sales in order to fill their spreadsheets!
  • Whether within education or their own organisation techies seem to view salespeople with suspicion... at best! At worse they just downright despise them. Perhaps hardly surprising given introvert Vs extrovert & meticulous Vs "winging it" personality types.

Never put an Introvert in a Sale Job?

There is a dichotomy here for me personally. I have experience in sales, but don't think that I fit the stereotype (at least I hope not!), I certainly don't agree with any of "typical sales people" that I've met. I'm an introvert with a passion for Education and Technology, so don't disagree with some of the observations above. While the findings from "Teachers Know Best" do not surprise me, they are extremely concerning. And sales people must have played a role, right? 

Sure, they might have. After all they are the people who sold the service. However, I have also had to deal with situations where all stakeholders have rounded on the sales team... even when this has been more than a little unwarranted. Sometimes they have been extremely unfair and entirely inaccurate! 

Maybe an unscrupulous CEO (who is responsible for hiring & training his/her staff) blames the sales team when there are problems with their product. Or perhaps the Educator feels the sales person sold a "rubbish" or "complicated" product, but the educator did not have the right kind of PD and/or did not commit the recommended amount of time exploring the product? 

The dislike for sales people seems to allow for a multiple of sins to be brushed over with a chorus of "It must have been the greedy, unethical sales person saying 'whatever he needed to' in order to close the deal and get commission" 

Learning from Experience
Like it or not, sales is the area I have experience in. I am also keen to contribute to both EdSurge and EdTechBridge PD projects. I used to try to disguise the fact that I was in sales, and I'm not alone. 

The next time you are at an education conference which is supported by exhibitors take a look at the delegate list, and have a look at how many job titles have the word "sales" in it Vs "Business Development Manager," "Education Specialist" or  "Partnerships Manager" etc.

Today not only am I less bothered about being involved with sales, I am reasonably pleased with my experience and skill set. The reason? Because today I use whatever ability I have to support good ideas. I've helped drum up interest for some EdChats, I've supported EdTech companies that I have no association at all with. I have supported things simply because they were "good ideas" and what they offered seemed to fulfill a need.

So I am going to discuss an issue that I have experience with, even if no one likes this area of experience. Something that I hope to achieve is to demonstrate the knock on effect the current mindset and attitudes have on EdTech development;

1) People don't like sales, so
2) It gets treated separately from the EdTech ecosystem (by both Edu & EdTech), therefore
3) We tend not to discuss it... except to apportion blame when no one wants to admit to buying/producing bad EdTech. So "blaming sales" is the toxic dumping ground to mask bad decisions.

I think this is a mistake. Even taking the worst possible case scenario and we accept that the 50% of EdTech that is ineffective is the result of unethical sales people... At the very least, surely we need to ask "What on earth is the HR and training department doing?" I hope to shine a light on this and (attempt to) demonstrate how and why this is. I intend to write a few posts on the topic of "Sales Matters" starting with Sales Matters 101:


Sales Re-Orientation Class
Most courses have orientation classes... not this one. This is re-orientation! You see, everyone has a view on sales. When Philip Delves Broughton told friends that he was working on a book on sales half of his friends said "salespeople? Ugh" the other half said "Selling... It makes the world go round"

So today's class I'm going to do my best to disorientate you by questioning your views, opinions and perceptions, and ask you to consider questions like;

  • Isn't education just a sales job... of sorts? 
  • Is education to blame for any unprofessional sales practices that exist?
  • Why does Education ignore some sales organisations? Esp when;
i) The programs are extremely popular with the corporate world
ii) Some of these organisations  are filling in the inadequacies of education
  • A mixed message from Education... Love entrepreneurs; dislike sales people?
Selling Education
The divisive nature of sales and education can perhaps be demonstrated if you were to make the following comment in a busy staff room/staff meeting;


"The job of educator is really just a sales job... After all we need to "sell" the value of our subject to a (sometimes skeptical/disinterested) group of people and then present the subject in a convincing and memorable way? Discuss"
If you get anything like the reaction that I've had, you'll get some people "saying yeah, I suppose your right" and others disagreeing vehemently. "I spent years studying to be a teacher, and you're comparing my job to someone with no training and [insert any other expletive you like here]?!" I make the same point about training myself... although from a slightly different perspective. 

I am not an educator, so I'll side step this debate and focus on my experiences as a parent. We continually reinforce the value of education to our kids, we encourage them to read and the house is full of books, I am rarely caught without having a book (or two) within arms reach. However, despite highlighting the benefits, leading by example and having some sales experience, it is still a huge struggle to "sell" reading... especially when my argument and pitch is up against XBox and Minecraft etc. 

Sales People? Yuck! "I blame the... Educators?"
A quick question for any teacher who reacted negatively to the thought of Education being a sales job, I presume part of this negative reaction was because of some poor experiences with sales people? In that case... follow up question;

Who do you blame for the sales persons' behaviour? Is it nurture Vs nature? Was it genetics? Do you blame the parents? Or was it the CEO of the company and/or the sales training industry? What about the role education played? Or, to be more accurate, the role education didn't play!  

How many university courses do you get on marketing, accounting, strategy, economics? Lots right? How many courses focus on sales? 

Not only are there few stand alone courses on the topic, but it is absent from even the most prestigious MBA programs. When Philip Delves Broughton, the author of "Life's a Pitch," did his MBA at Harvard he said that sales was totally absent from the curriculum. Are there any consequences with such an omission? If so, what impact does it have? 

It means that there is a void which is filled in the same way it has been since the 1900s "How to" books and biographies. 
Would you employ an accountant who's entire experience was "The Little Red Book of Accounting?" No? Of course you wouldn't! Yet the profession of sales can be entered into without even picking up a book on the subject. Positions are advertised as "No experience required" and that "Training will be provided" 

We know what educators think of not having qualified teachers in the classroom, we also know that educators have concerns about how much influence employers can have with the development of some courses... Yet sales is a profession that you can walk in off the street with no qualifications of experience and get trained using the company's in-house methods.

How on earth are you supposed to get a consistently professional experience with this kind of model?!

Elite Sales Experience
I have never had any formal sales training of any description. Any philosophy I have is "a bit of a hodgepodge" through a process of trial and error, self-discovery and through reading about people and organisations that I admire.

If a student came to a careers advisor and said "I want to be the best sales person in XYZ industry" what would the advisor suggest they study, and where? Would the advice be to go on a course that the corporate world is a big fan of, but which academics tend to ignore... despite (or perhaps because of) the fact that they have successfully addressed some of the inefficiencies within our education system. 

"Dale Carnegie is not a company taken seriously by academic students of business. But corporations and eminent business leaders seem to adore it." Life's a Pitch

I experienced this when I posted the Tweets that feature in this post. I got little or no interaction or engagement from educators... However, some extremely experienced and influential entrepreneurs & business leaders started following me.  



The Art of the Sale... Entrepreneurs Selling themselves in Education 
I am a huge fan of innovation in education and ethical and welcome engagement with educators. This approach has led to career in sales not doing too well at the moment (more on this in future "Sales Matters" posts). I'm considering getting in touch with some successful entrepreneurs to get some tips and advice.

I know that entrepreneurs are all the rage in education, with new programs springing up on a regular basis with various "celebrity entrepreneurs" support and endorsements. I find a number of things regarding this, how shall I put it... erm "curious" but, for the purposes of this post, will remain focused on the dichotomy here with sales and education.

There is something of a love affair for all things entrepreneur in education, but a disdain for what they do for a living. After all what is a successful entrepreneur, if not the consummate sales person? There may be much admiration for entrepreneurs even those "Lovable rouges" whose philosophy is "just get the sale done... never mind the customer" mentality when it features on The Apprentice and other shows. I think educators would be extremely intolerant of such behaviour if reps like this came calling in this way... Talk about a mixed message!

But if you can't beat 'em... I think I'll check the EdSurge archives to see if they have ever featured any Viglen products... if they have, I think I'll apply to Lord Sugar's company for some sales training and see if it helps me engage with educators any better... Oh hang on a minute... what's this? Lord Sugar offloads faded PC builder Viglen to XMA, Erm maybe not!

Based on this article, if successful business people like Lord Sugar can't make EdTech work, maybe I should just leave education too... but what to do?

Maybe I'll see if Guillermo "Memo" Ramirez has any jobs, because this Baltimore Building contractor knows all about exceptional sales practices! Perhaps Memo can build "The Institute of Sales" and I can apply for a job in the EdTech department. After all if teaching is a sales job... surely a tired old salesperson can try his hand a teaching. Surely it can't be any more demanding or confusing than this?  

   
   

Open Day ICT Modern Apprenticeships within the Scottish Government⤴

from

Open Day for Young People
To find out more about ICT Modern Apprenticeships within the Scottish Government
Hosted by the Scottish Government ICT Information Service and Information Systems (ISIS)
Friday 9 May 2014 (from 10am to 2pm)
Saughton House, Broomhouse Drive, Edinburgh, EH11 3XD

The ISIS department within Scottish Government are holding an Open Day for any young people interested in finding out more about an ICT Modern Apprenticeship with them. They will shortly be advertising for 2 data centre MA roles and 4 Helpdesk MA roles – details to come out shortly – eligibility for these Scottish Government posts will be the same as usual, i.e. for young people who are 16-24 years old, who are unemployed or contracted to work less than 16 hours per week. Young people currently at school/college or on an Employability Fund programme would be eligible.

In the meantime they are keen to be able to explain to interested candidates what they can offer and what they will gain to allow candidates to make an informed choice.

The Open Day aims to provide a real example of ICT in operation letting interested young people meet key ICT Professionals, see the work environment and learn more about the process before applying for these roles.

Scottish Government will provide lunch for all delegates attending.

Please encourage young people to email me if they are interested in attending this Open Day by Monday 5th May 2014. Only young people who are interested and committed to a career in ICT within the Scottish Government should express an interest. Numbers will be limited and Scottish Government will accept the first 25 names adding others to a reserve list and will host another event if required.

Open Day for Young People
To find out more about ICT Modern Apprenticeships within the Scottish Government
Hosted by the Scottish Government ICT Information Service and Information Systems (ISIS)
Friday 9 May 2014 (from 10am to 2pm)

Saughton House, Broomhouse Drive, Edinburgh, EH11 3XD

The ISIS department within Scottish Government are holding an Open Day for any young people interested in finding out more about an ICT Modern Apprenticeship with them. They will shortly be advertising for 2 data centre MA roles and 4 Helpdesk MA roles – details to come out shortly – eligibility for these Scottish Government posts will be the same as usual, i.e. for young people who are 16-24 years old, who are unemployed or contracted to work less than 16 hours per week. Young people currently at school/college or on an Employability Fund programme would be eligible.

In the meantime they are keen to be able to explain to interested candidates what they can offer and what they will gain to allow candidates to make an informed choice.

The Open Day aims to provide a real example of ICT in operation letting interested young people meet key ICT Professionals, see the work environment and learn more about the process before applying for these roles.

Scottish Government will provide lunch for all delegates attending.
Please encourage young people to email me if they are interested in attending this Open Day by Monday 5th May 2014. Only young people who are interested and committed to a career in ICT within the Scottish Government should express an interest. Numbers will be limited and Scottish Government will accept the first 25 names adding others to a reserve list and will host another event if required.

Qualification Support Team⤴

from @ SQA Computing blog

The Qualification Support Team (QST) for vocational Computing qualifications meets annually and the next meeting is coming up on 28 May.

The QST, as the name infers, is responsible for supporting qualifications. The members are drawn from colleges, schools and training providers. A key responsibility is to advise SQA about the materials needed to support new or existing awards. The meetings provide an opportunity for you to tell us what you need.

Another important job for the QST is to consider proposed changes to qualifications. During the year we receive many suggestions for changes (such as the addition of an optional unit to a qualification) and this body considers a number of such ideas. If the QST accepts a suggested change then my team impliment that change.

So, the QST is an important forum for many reasons. It gives practitioners a voice about the kinds of support you need and what qualifications look like. Contact Hilary if you want to know more about QSTs or want to volunteer to become a member.

Exam stress? What exam stress?⤴

from @ blethers

I have a feeling that Scottish school pupils are sitting their English SQA exams today. If not, it was yesterday - we retired teachers become quite hazy about these once crucial dates - and, incidentally, I'd be fascinated to see what the new English exam paper looked like, if anyone reading this can tell me. But the discussion on the radio took me further back, as I was suddenly overcome with the sensation of being 17 and in the middle of my own Highers.

I am one of the age group who sat the very first Scottish O-Grade. Because I attended a selective senior secondary school, in the double-language stream, we were told that we would merely take such O-Grades as were deemed necessary for us individually, "in the by-going" as they said. No exam leave as such - just the day of the exam itself. We all sat Arithmetic; I also took the exams in Physics, Chemistry and Maths (not my best subjects, so an insurance policy) as well as Geography (which I would then drop until S6).

So my memory of being 17 actually slipped back to one day in S4, when I was 16. I think it may have been yesterday's sun that did it; I sat O-Grade Arithmetic on a glorious sunny morning in Hillhead High School and then I took off. I met my mother at Queen Street station at lunchtime - she coming from the school where she taught mornings, I fresh from the sums - and we hopped on a train to Edinburgh. There we climbed Salisbury Crags, sat in the sun, and went for our tea before the train home. It was my first taste of freedom.

And it was this freedom that came back to me as I listened to people recounting their exam horrors, the stress they were under, the nerves and the late night studying and the lack of sleep. I honestly remember nothing of these. I recall the freedom of being alone in the empty house with hours of study before me - for we did have exam leave in S5 - and the chance to do what I wanted when I wanted. As the sun moved round to the back garden I would take my chemistry notebook outside to swot equations (I never really understood chemistry, so everything had to be learned by rote. I scraped a Higher). I grew tanned and relaxed, though there was always some turquoise ink staining the hand I'd used to cover what I was learning. I'd take afternoons off and walk the half-hour or so to school for orchestra practice, sauntering in as the bell went at 4pm, enjoying seeing friends and adored music teachers as we rehearsed for the Glasgow Music Festival (unaccountably, this was always at the end of May, so we were actually working our butts off at the same time as studying; I actually found the tension of the Festival much worse than that produced by exams).

By the time I reached my last exams (what were they in S5? French? Chemistry?) I had been off school for perhaps a fortnight and was bored with my holiday. Yes, I did last-minute revision, but it never felt more than a kind of obligation. Maybe we'd been so rigorously pushed in class that we knew most of the stuff already. The Hamlet stuff I'd mugged up so assiduously went out of the window when I saw the question (about Shakespeare's tragic heroines - I ask you!) and switched regretfully to comedy with Twelfth Night; the Latin was its usual slightly worrying breeze of being finished almost an hour early (I never liked going over what I'd written in an exam). I always assumed, I think, that I'd pass - even in the subjects I was destined to scrape through I never believed I'd actually fail - and I was eager to get on with orchestra and end-of-term nonsense and being out in the sun with my pals. (Hillhead in these days had open corridors ...)

So my memories clashed happily with the programme on the radio as I wandered in and out of the sunny garden and felt 17 again. As to whether I'd care to be 17 again ... that's another matter.

Ah. There's something I forgot to mention: I experimented with cigarettes, in exam leave. Daring, huh?

Tonight! Open Scotland on Radio Edutalk⤴

from @ Open World

I’m delighted to have been invited by John Johnson and David Noble to join them on Radio Edutalk tonight to talk about the Open Scotland initiative and open education more generally. I’ll be talking to John and David at  20.00 GMT tonight, so why not tune in and join us here: Radio Edutalk Live Stream.

You can also contribute to Radio Edutalk by:

  • Emailing comments or questions before, during or after a show to edutalkr@hotmail.co.uk
  • Sending a tweet to @EDUtalkr and/or use the hashtags#edutalk

copy-edutalk-header_1


OER14⤴

from @ Open World

I’m just back from OER14 in Newcastle and it was another fabulous conference. I know that many people sadly predicted the demise of the OER conference after the Jisc / HEA UKOER Programmes ended in 2012, but two years after the end of UKOER the conference really is going from strength to strength. The quality of the papers this year was excellent, and if I have one criticism of the event, it’s that there were so many great presentations that I only got to hear a fraction of the ones I was really interested in! The venue worked well, the conference organisers did a splendid job, there was a really positive feeling of community, it was great to see people from all over the world and, last but not least, it was a lot of fun!

During the conference dinner we were all given little packets of Lego and asked to build something that represented what open education means to us.  The results were as imaginative, eclectic (and occasionally rude) as you might imagine.  Here’s mine, it’s supposed to be Open Scotland and Creative Commons :}  Many thanks Darya Tarasowa for letting me borrow her skirt!

cc_openscot

Huge thanks to all those involved in organising OER14 and in particular to conference chairs Simon Thomson and Megan Quentin-Baxter.


Michael Russell blog – Higher Education Research⤴

from

michaelrussell_178x200As Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning, I’m proud of Scotland’s world-class research and university system. We consistently punch above our weight: five of our universities feature in the top 200 of the Times Higher Education World University Rankings – more than any other country per head of population, our research is cited more often than any other country in comparison to its GDP and Scotland accounted for over a quarter of new spin-out companies in the UK in 2012. 

However, there are still opportunities to make further progress and I believe this is only possible with independence. Independence will allow us to promote our higher education sector on a global stage as a small, agile country in full control of our own resources.

Today the Scottish Government has launched Higher Education Research in an Independent Scotland, a paper which reaffirms that a strong research base is at the heart of this Government’s ambitions for Scotland. With independence, we believe we can offer our universities more support to continue to thrive.   I am committed to maintaining the current level of investment to ensure our researchers remain internationally competitive.

We are also committed to remaining part of a common research area with the UK as this is in the interests of both Scotland and the rest of the UK. A representative from the research councils has also indicated that the current arrangements can continue largely unchanged following a vote for independence.

Knowledge and research are not constrained by borders. Good research is underpinned by collaboration both domestically and across the world.  In an independent Scotland we would maintain existing collaborations that work well while seeking to develop new ones by extending our global reach.

We understand that, in order to promote innovation, we must respect researchers’ autonomy. As such, Scotland’s higher education sector is one of the most autonomous in Europe and we support the Haldane Principle which recognises that researchers – not politicians – are best placed to decide what research projects are funded. This will continue to be a central principle in an independent Scotland.

I look forward to continuing to work closely with Scotland’s higher education institutions and researchers to further strengthen our universities and Scotland’s research base.

See the research paper herehttp://www.scotland.gov.uk/Publications/2014/04/6727