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Sue Black

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

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

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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

Mary’s trains her first #techmums class

By #techmums, education, savvify, schools, tower hamlets, women in tech

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Team #techmums: Sue, Mary and Emma outside Bishop Challoner Girls School this morning

——–

Hi, I’m Mary,

Today was my first delivery of the #techmums course to 13 mums.

What a great morning! I have to say that I went in not really knowing what to expect. The mums arrived looking a bit apprehensive, and I am guessing they were feeling much the same way as me.

We needn’t have worried. As the tea and coffee was poured everyone started to relax. Sue gave an uplifting intro and we were off setting up Google accounts.

It was good to see how keen everyone was to get started. By the end of the session the atmosphere was buzzing. No matter what their level each mum had accomplished something and learnt something new. The smiles and shouts of “see you next week” as the mums were leaving was good to see.

Bring on the next module.

Baroness Martha Lane-Fox to be #techmums patron

By #techmums, education, savvify, women in tech

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Exciting news hot off the press today is that Baroness Martha Lane-Fox of Soho CBE is to be our #techmums patron. We have long been fans of Baroness Lane-Fox and her support for women and digital skills so are absolutely *delighted* to have her as our patron.

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Baroness Lane-Fox said of #techmums

“Digital skills are fundamental in every day life and so I am delighted to support this inspiring initiative – more women empowered to do more – what’s not to love?”

We look forward to doing some fantastic things together. Watch this space.

Could you be a #techmums trainer?

By #techmums, education, savvify

I just got this laptop at such a deal!

We had a great meeting this week with some fabulous experts who are working with us to put together a groundbreaking train the #techmums trainers program. #techmums is all about helping mums to get over their fears of technology, taking them by the hand and leading them gently to a place where they can see what opportunities there are in tech for them and for their families. It’s also about having a lot of fun during that process and meeting some like minded mums to have good chat to as well.

With that in mind, we were really keen to get some help from some experts in areas like change management, coaching and confidence building. The tech in #techmums is of course important, but in fact, building mums’ confidence and making sure that they are enjoying what they are doing is important too.

Thanks to the wonderful Gill Crowther at Nominet we have got to know some really great people in this space who are helping us to put together a cutting edge #techmums train the trainer program. Asher, Kurshed and Mandy from Relume plus Aly King-Smith from Clearworks coaching and our own Dr Sue Black came together this week to start work on putting the program together.

The result was a great meeting of minds and huge excitement around what they came up with together. We will be training our first set of six lucky trainers in February 2014. They are in for a very exciting couple of days training and then the opportunity to really change lots of mums and their families lives.

Are you up for the challenge? Do you have what it takes to be a #techmums trainer? We are looking for six enthusiastic and caring people with a passion for technology *and* a passion for training and developing mums, to be our pioneer trainers. Attitude is more important than technical expertise as full training will be given. Does that sound like you? Click here for more details:

Tech trainers wanted for pioneering social startup

Or get in touch if you have any questions:

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