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schools

East Side Storys – teaching tech to mums in Stepney

By | #techmums, education, savvify, schools, tower hamlets | No Comments

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Guest post from #techmums trainer Jemima Gibbons

After three days pretty much non-stop rain it was a nice surprise to wake up yesterday morning with sunshine streaming through the window – and the early commute across London to Stepney Green suddenly didn’t seem so bad.

Yesterday morning was my first ever #techmums training course: I’d been teamed up with fellow #techmum Judith Scammell to run a one-off session on social media and online security at Stepney Green Maths & Computing College, East London.

I had many burning questions: What would the mums be like? How difficult would it be to get them talking? How would we run the session without full social media access? Would anyone actually turn up? What sort of place was Stepney Green Maths & Computing College? Did they really name it Ben Johnson Road after the disgraced Canadian athlete and…most importantly…can you buy a decent skinny latte that side of Hoxton?

Luckily, all my fears were laid to rest as soon as Judith and I met the friendly, smiling Ayesha (IT manager) and the fifteen mums who’d signed up for the session. The mums were keen, sharp and full of questions. Most of them had one or more teenage children and were familiar with new technology. One of the mums even told us about a new app, Telegram Messenger, which we’d never heard of (so thanks for the tip)!

As we’d expected, the mums’ main concerns were around online security – especially dodgy pop-ups, and children viewing material they shouldn’t be. This was just what Judith and I had imagined – and in fact we were a little worried about starting the session with an evangelical talk about the wonders of social media.

But the mums also talked about how they loved to share photos and reconnect with old friends on Facebook. And they seemed genuinely inspired and excited by the social media stories we told – from Lauren Luke becoming a hit on YouTube and setting up her own make-up empire, to Sue Black saving Bletchley Park through a humble Twitter campaign.

All in all, it was a great way to spend two hours. I’m off to check my Twitter – who knows, I may have a tweet from one of the Stepney Green mums! That was their homework – mine is to download the Telegram Messenger app (obv).

We won!! #techmums win Nominet Award 2014

By | #techmums, education, savvify, schools, tower hamlets, Uncategorized, women in tech | No Comments

Last night was incredible! #techmums won the Best “online skills and training” Award at the Nominet Internet Awards

It was so lovely to win our award and what made the evening even more awesome was that our fellow BGV alumni WriteLaTeX won an award too. Great hosting by superstar BBC Click presenter Kate Russell as always.

#techmums Sue, Mary and Jemima picked up the award at the London Film Museum in Covent Garden and loved dressing up as James Bond 🙂

Check our our pics! Congrats to all the fab winners and thanks very much Nominet for our award and a fabulous evening.

#techmums: licensed to skill!

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From Tower Hamlets to the House of Lords…

By | #techmums, education, schools, tower hamlets, women in tech | One Comment

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Today was a busy #techmums day, and a day of contradictions. Mary and I ran our week 5 #techmums class with Bishop Challoner school mums in Tower Hamlets in the morning. We were happy to see our fab mums, but sad because it was the last class for this wonderful group. I’m going to miss seeing them every week.

#techmums graduation

#techmums graduation

After graduation with certificates and “I’m a #techmum” tshirts Mary and I went off to talk to a primary school down the road about running #techmums there. They were keen 🙂

Then it was back into London and a walk from Waterloo to the House of Lords where I had a really great chat with our fab patron Baroness Martha Lane Fox about #techmums, women in tech and Bletchley Park.

Such a massive contrast from morning to afternoon. The morning spent with mums in Tower Hamlets where the average life expectancy for a woman is the lowest in the UK at just 54. The afternoon spent at the House of Lords in Westminster an area where I’m sure the life expectancy is much higher.

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Very different, but with a common thread, women, tech and empowerment.

Technology, and social media in particular is bringing about a revolution for women. The amount of empowerment that I see being talked about and happening around me is very life affirming. From Beyonce’s wonderful songs, to Everywoman and Stemette’s to EverydaySexism, #techmums, Big Swinging Ovaries and Ada’s list, women are being empowered all around us. I can feel the buzz, can you?

We still have a very long way to go, but we are on the way. Women are connecting together to help each other, the ripples are quite small at the moment, but they will grow bigger and bigger until, in the not too distant future we will see some massive changes occurring.

I’m so excited about how technology is changing our world, and this is just the beginning…..

The revolution will not be televised….but it will be brought to you by #techmums

By | #techmums, education, savvify, schools, tower hamlets, Uncategorized, women in tech | 4 Comments

Techmums T3

Guest blog post from Jemima Gibbons, Social Media Strategist.

I just got back from two amazing days at Google Campus – training to be a #Techmums trainer.

In case you haven’t heard or read about it yet, #Techmums is a new initiative from Dr Sue Black (the mum of 4, computer scientist and self-proclaimed “cheeky geek” whose become a bit of a household name after campaigning to save Bletchley Park a couple of years ago).

Sue wanted to do something to help change the image of computer science in the UK, and she decided to start with mums – because they’re key to children’s safe and savvy use of technology, but all too often know little about computing.

After running a successful pilot in Tower Hamlets last summer, Sue and her team raised enough funding to roll out the #Techmums programme to other schools in the South East.

To deliver the programme – which consists of five x two hour modules taught over five weeks – at schools around Greater London and beyond, Techmums has recruited a new team of trainers: this week’s training course was the first opportunity for us all to get together.

It was great to spend time with a group of women (and one man) all passionate about technology but bringing different skills to the table: our group included a university lecturer, librarian, IT teacher, web designer, social media consultant, digital marketer, analytics expert, soft skills trainer and even a fine artist.

There was very little ‘chalk and talk’ (or power up and point?) during the two days – instead, most of our time was spent going through the module content in small teams, then getting back together, sharing ideas and brainstorming ways to make the programme even better.

The five modules (covering everything from setting up an email address through social media to coding your own phone app) are essentially practical and designed to build confidence. Sue wants mums to feel empowered – to finish the course with a sense of  “Yes – I can do it!” as much as gain new technical skills.

The strong, unifying thread throughout our training was the importance of the #techmums ethos – it’s all about positivity and enablement. That means cutting back on jargon and encouraging even the smallest step forward.

I’m excited about getting out into schools and connecting with the people who sign up for #techmums. I’m really looking forward to hearing their stories and spreading the word about what a fabulous life-changer technology can be.

What’s the use of social media? – Guest blogpost

By | #techmums, education, savvify, schools, tower hamlets, women in tech | No Comments

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“What’s the use of social media?” That wasn’t a sarcastic question, that I pondered this morning, it was a real one. Sue (@Dr_Black) had sent a message from her sickbed asking if any of her friends would be able to run her social media class that morning, in East London, to local mums wanting to improve their tech skills.

Given that I live 20 minutes walk from the venue (Bishop Challoner Catholic School on Commercial Road), I thought about saying yes, as I sipped my coffee, but not before I asked myself “what’s the use of social media?” and “what’s the use of social media to this group of East End mums?” Clearly, there are numerous answers to the first question and I could only guess at how these women might answer the second. But what did strike me, a few minutes after saying: “yes, I’ll do it, Sue”, is that they are all already clued up on social networks. These women make all sorts of magic happen in their homes, at work and in their local community because, by enlarge, that’s what women all over the world do – they keep it all going.

With such short notice, I started the class with this in mind and gave the example of how my siblings and I had bought my mum a computer and got her on Facebook (she’s in her 80s). We all thought, ignorantly, that mum would struggle to grasp social media. How daft of us; mum had grown up in Liverpool in the 1930s, one of a large Irish family. She’d watched her mum make things work by negotiating, bartering, helping, charming, sharing and discovering all she needed through her daily chats across the back yard washing lines, or in the street, the church or at the corner shop. So had my mum when she brought up me and my four siblings and so were all of these women – on a daily basis. Mum grasped social media, it was innate and all of the women in front of me grasped it too.

We moved on to how they might use social media to gather more voices to join their causes, or help in their community. Most used Facebook a little and one had tried Twitter. Ann Marie (one of the mums) brought up the breast cancer awareness drive on Facebook and how women were taking make-up free ‘selfies’ to promote the cause. Suddenly the room buzzed with ideas of other causes and how using social media might help them bring issues and ideas to the fore.

While I talked with the women, we had Sue’s Twitter account projected on a wall at the front of the classroom. Everyone laughed at how Sue was “at home sick” yet still busy Tweeting away with everyone, including me and also Alison Moyet. I pointed out that I had no doubt that Sue would manage to tweet from her own coffin. Having all met Sue, they promptly agreed. [You all know me too well 😉 – Sue]

We all played a little, taking an Ellen DeGeneres Oscar selfie and Tweeting it. The power of this network was quickly revealed when the image was re-Tweeted eight or so times in under a minute, to an audience exceeding thousands.

The concept of social media was straightforward to everyone in the room, the only thing they really lacked was some of the language and a little of the working detail; what’s that sign (hashtag), how is it used, what are characters, what’s a direct message and so on.

The hour was too short and probably taught me much more than it taught the participants: more often than not, the barrier to entry is feeling that we don’t understand, when in actual fact we do, it’s just that the language is a little different.

Vic Roberts is a business consultant and @vertical_cat on Twitter