Managing the risk when using social networks

Banning and preventing social media is not the answer.

Schools need to manage the risk as it is not going to go away. Banning its use and limiting the opportunity is not the answer. Young people LOVE social networking using all forms of technology.

It is a digital revolution. By nature a revolution is about change and is all about moving from the old into the new. In any revolution one needs to plan for and manage the number of casualties that may occur along the way.

Young people can learn from teachers to help them learn safe and effective social and learning habits using technology.

Cyber-bulling is a reality and can have some unfortunate consequences. Bullying in general is more of a reality and schools/workplaces have to manage the risk the best way they can. Most situations that lead to bullying cannot be prevented or banned.

Education can go a long way to helping young people realise the dangers and helping them to learn preventative strategies while they are using Web 2.0 social networking technology in the schools.

Young people love being spooked and love horror stories so let’s help them learn to manage the risk of any harm happening to them along the way.

I agree with much of this article from the Australian newspaper The Age.

JEWEL TOPSFIELD     July 24, 2010

SCHOOLS are failing to keep up with the digital revolution or communicate using social media because they are spooked by cyber-bullying and Facebook horror stories.

A survey of 140 Victorian principals found schools were not only lagging behind the rest of the community in the use of social media but were also struggling to get direction from the government on how to deal with problems created by its inappropriate use.

Only 14 per cent of schools had an after-hours social media policy for staff and only 13 per cent had one for students.

”The world has changed and the constant bad Facebook press and its role in cyber bullying have meant that schools are being asked for leadership on the issue and in reality they spend their time trying to catch up to the evolving technology,” said Denis Masseni, a multimedia lecturer at Monash University and director of digital business Sponsor-ed.

His report, Why schools are spooked by social media, said while 43 per cent of Australian small businesses had attracted new customers through social media networks and they were used by more than 70 per cent of not-for-profits, schools had almost no presence in the space. Many of the surveyed schools could only see negatives in the use of Twitter, blogs and e-newsletters.

But Dr Masseni said changing the school newsletter to a blog style – where comments were invited – could open up two-way communications and allow schools to myth bust.

If a parent posted a comment such as: ”I’ve heard Mr Smith the year 7 maths teacher did nothing else but teach to the NAPLAN test for two weeks leading up to the test itself,” for example, the school would be able to respond. ”In a world where it is difficult to get the busy parent in the school yard, the only way of building community beyond the physical is online,” Dr Masseni said.

The report suggested maths teachers could tweet weekly trivia questions, health and well-being co-ordinators could tweet healthy eating tips and principals could use Twitter to build their accessibility and personality.

At Mount Erin College in Frankston a teacher regularly tweets updates such as: ”Good luck to the INDONESIAN students heading to the snow for the first time in their lives! Remember to rug up!”

The school also has a blog called The Daily Insider and is considering setting up a Facebook page, which would link to the blog and tweets. All comments on the blog are moderated before they are posted, and Mount Erin has a clear policy on the ethical use of social media.

Despite the opportunities provided by social media, Dr Masseni said schools needed to monitor social media and develop an after-hours-use policy. Several of the principals surveyed had been victims of Facebook hate groups, and were not aware that applications such as Google alerts and could alert them when a group had been established before it gained traction.

And Dr Masseni said while there was a reference in the Victorian Institute of Teaching Code of Conduct not to email, text, or chat online with students without a valid context, this was not enough given what can happen to reputations on the internet.

”The world has moved on and social media policy needs to be dealt with as a separate topic,” Dr Masseni said.


Uni dropouts – High School dropouts. Just find the passion.

Here is a great article about a couple of uni dropouts who found their passion with technology and developed some software that built a very successful Australian company called Atlassian.

July 15, 2010 – 6:45AM
"We want to grow to a billion dollars" ... Atlassian co-founders Scott Farquar and Mike Cannon-Brookes.“We want to grow to a billion dollars” … Atlassian co-founders Scott Farquhar and Mike Cannon-Brookes. Photo: Michel O’Sullivan

An Australian company which started in a Sydney garage on a $10,000 credit card debt has just raised $US60 million after selling a minority stake to a large US venture capital firm.

Atlassian, which sells software used by many of the world’s largest companies, is now worth hundreds of millions of dollars and its young founders, Scott Farquhar and Mike Cannon-Brookes, are bathing in riches.

The pair formed the company in 2002 when they were both 22, after meeting at the University of New South Wales while studying science/IT degrees.

The Atlassian team enjoy a break from the daily grind at their poker table.The Atlassian team enjoy a break from the daily grind at their poker table. Photo: Fiona Morris

Both dropped out of university to join the start-up world, a risk that has clearly paid off as the company now has 225 employees based in Sydney, San Francisco and Amsterdam.

Last year its revenue was $US58 million and in 2006 Ernst & Young awarded Farquhar and Cannon-Brookes the Entrepreneur of the Year prize.

The $60 million investment from Accel Partners is significant because the firm has a history of picking winners. It was an early investor in Facebook and mobile advertising company AdMob, which last year sold to Google for $US750 million.

Amazingly, Atlassian has never had to raise any money since its initial $10,000 investment from the founders, as it has been profitable from day one. The amount raised from Accel is almost unheard of for an Australian ICT company.

“We built the first version of our product while working in the garage before we even had our first office,” said Farquar in a phone interview.

“We want to grow it to a billion dollars and be the first Australian software company to do that.”

The team are well on their way to that goal, with 20,000 business customers in 134 countries. Farquar said he would soon attempt to take the company public and planned to hire another 100 engineers within the next two years.

Atlassian’s products are aimed at streamlining product development, with various pieces of software allowing businesses to manage tasks and workflow, track bugs and collaborate on projects. It also makes a range of tools specifically for software developers.

All of the world’s top 10 software companies – including Microsoft and Oracle – use its products, as do seven of the 10 largest global companies, including Shell and Toyota. Other customers include major universities such as Harvard, Stanford, Yale and MIT; telco giants including Nokia Verizon and AT&T; and major online retailers like Amazon and BestBuy.

“Our original goal as founders for the company was just to earn as much money as our friends were earning working for soul destroying consulting companies like IBM or PriceWaterhouseCoopers – they all got great jobs earning $50,000 a year,” said Farquhar.

“[Now] our goal is to be known as an Australian success story, as a company that everyone in Australia knows and can point to and say, wow, those guys have done a really good job and we’re really proud of them.”

But it wasn’t an easy road – for the first three years Farquhar and Cannon-Brookes pumped all earnings into the business and were surviving off their university scholarship money of about $300 a week. Now, they can afford to devote 1 per cent of employee time and revenue to philanthropic activities.

Atlassian has learned from Google that keeping staff happy with a fun culture and perks is critical to a successful business. Each Friday the Sydney team knocks off at 1pm for a poker tournament, and with Accel’s investment, each employee will get a share of the wealth through stock options.

Every year, the company stages an elaborate Christmas party for staff. Past efforts include an “amazing race”-type event around Sydney, a circus day (staff learned how to trapeze, juggle, unicycle, etc) and a Robin Hood event where the team learned archery and rock climbing.

“We just want to make a place that’s great to come to work because people just spend so much time at work, we just wanted to make an awesome environment,” said Farquhar.

Ian Birks, chief executive of the AIIA, Australia’s peak ICT industry association, said Atlassian was a great case study of how an aspiring ICT company based in Australia could achieve global success.

“Despite the less favourable business ecosystem that exists in Australia for entrepreneurial software R&D compared to other parts of the world, it is great to see outstanding role models like Atlassian continuing to thrive,” he said.