And that’s kind of why I do what I do. It’s a mix of the old educator in me, a fascination with the technology and the drive to see something really good come out of this. The book started as a throw-away line from my co-author, Andrew Hughes, over a bottle of wine. I was explaining to him the good, the bad and the ugly of the things I come across, and he said, "I think you’ve got a book". I laughed at him and we didn’t speak about it for a month. Then I rang him up and said, “Are you keen on doing the book?” and he said, “Yeah, I am”. It’s been a fascinating journey in bringing all of those stories together in a coherent framework. The process really strengthened me back into the education sector. I saw just how important it is that there’s a different voice outside sexting, nude selfies and cyber bullying. There’s now a voice that says to principals and school leaders and community, “You know what? You can come together in a very different way and it can be extremely positive.” The book is split into two sections – looking at the chaos and its impact, and the curation of that chaos. There’s a sad edge to the book’s release. Andrew was killed in a motorcycle accident in March 2016, on the day the first copies of the book arrived. We’re immensely proud of it. It’s something close to us both. I’ve kind of fallen a little bit in and out of love with it given what’s happened, but it is a great reference and I think it will make a huge difference. Whatever projects I’m working on, the thing that connects them all is bringing the human spirit together. I love watching people come together and celebrate online. I have a little saying, “A good online conversation builds a bridge to an even better face-to-face conversation” and I see that happen all the time.
culture and society at that point in time. There were probably a handful of people that really stood out for me and one was Linda Burney. I remember her speaking and I thought, “Oh wow!” She was a powerhouse. The course instilled in me the idea that there’s a big wide world out there and I didn’t really know much about it. I’m now a social media adviser / consultant. Essentially that involves helping organisations adopt social media in a positive way. My client base is about two thirds education and my focus is different from cyber bullying and cyber strategy. It’s more about what is the impact on organisations, how can they minimise their risk and put social to really good positive use. It’s a hugely powerful medium and in the education sector especially, schools and universities and non-profits already have a captive audience, so it’s a fantastic way to engage.
I kind of just fell into it. I was being a house husband for a little while after we returned from 14 years overseas and I had an idea. I thought there had to be some better way social media could be put to use, and a principal I knew helped me trial it. Then a big public school that was being hit really hard with reputational issues approached me. The principal and the leadership team took quite a gamble by allowing me to use them as my guinea pig. A whole lot of positive things came out of it. It changed teachers’ perceptions; it changed school leaders’ perceptions. We found that parents were ready, willing and able to engage really positively. Traditionally in schools, the leadership team gets a lot of the squeaky wheels and negativity. They don’t really have a space where people say, “Gee you’ve done some amazing things”. That’s been the story coming out of a lot of the tough schools I work in.
CHARLES STURT UNIVERSITY ALUMNI