I was involved in a conversation on the community site of Book Creator Ambassador about ethics and Edtech last night. I promised to write about my views, and here's the post …
As early as 2017, the New York Times published an article highlighting the potential ethical issues surrounding brand ambassadors. In the article & # 39;Silicon Valley Courts brand teachers and raises questions of ethics", Comments the author Natasha Singer:
"The benefits for companies are significant. Many startups use their ambassadors as product testers and de facto customer service representatives who can answer questions from other teachers. "
However, this raises the question of ethics. As a singer Highlights:
"Public school teachers who accept perks, meals, or valuables to use a company's products in their classrooms may also violate the school district's ethics guidelines or state laws regulating government employees."
The same applies here in the UK.
Singer's article is excellent, well-researched and uses existing brand ambassadors and influencers in her article to discuss the issues involved. At that time, I wrote about it in this post: "Ambassadors, you are really spoiling us!"
It is also not the first time ethics has been discussed. As already mentioned in 2016 by David Didau in a series of postsshares the following about ties of interest and edtech ambassadors:
"When someone criticizes something that interests you, it's very hard to be dispassionate."
I am someone who is an Apple Distinguished Educator (ADE), Google Certified Innovator (GCI), and has other ambassador roles in other Edtech solutions such as Book Creator, Nearpod, Showbie, and more. Given this fact and my current work for myself, I understand more than most other problems that can arise in conflicts. How Didau recognizes the application for ADE:
"… let's imagine that I could have applied and was accepted, what then, how can I remain impartial in advocating the use of Apple products to motivate students in a new way? For example, I thought Samsung's or Microsoft's new kit was better than Apple's recommended products, would I be able to do so, how would Apple respond if I favored others' products? "
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has formally issued guidelines that require every ambassador or influencer to disclose his or her relationship with a company when posting posts on social media promoting a product or service. They offer some great advice hereand they also created one Very useful infographic to clarify the guidelines:
The detail and the length of this infographic clearly show what a minefield this can be for teachers.
Interestingly enough, the FTC guidelines are broadly in line with the guidelines of the UK's Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), whose slogan is "lawful, decent, honest and truthful":
"Of course, if you've paid a certain amount of money to create and / or publish certain content, that's considered" payment, "but this is not the only type of arrangement that counts, if you have some kind of business relationship with the brand For example, if you are paid as an ambassador, or if you receive products, gifts, services, travel, hotel stays, etc., for free, this is probably considered "payment (or other mutual agreement)." There is nothing wrong with that Being paid for content creation alone does not make it an ad within the meaning of the CAP code, and the brand must also have some control over the content.
We know that recommending someone you trust often increases the likelihood that you're making a purchase or testing a specific product, service, or tool. We will probably see it every day on Facebook with their recommendations. There, your friends will give you a word of mouth recommendation that, because of trust in that person, means that you are likely to take their advice.
The question is whether a brand ambassador or influencer (you can still be an influencer as a full-time teacher) will make a paid or unpaid statement as to whether there is an ethical problem. For example, should I leave a hashtag or comment on this tweet I made yesterday?
I love the immersive reader in the Microsoft Learning Tools – it works in so many applications now. Find out more here: https://t.co/cDtsJMQlUD #MicrosoftEDU #MIEExpert #edtech #Elernen #edutwitter pic.twitter.com/TbqrP24Nty
– ✨ Mark Anderson ✨ (@ICTEvangelist) November 14, 2019
Now the statement is completely correct. I love Immersive Reader. I think it provides the learners with resources they might not otherwise be able to access. It is free under the Microsoft Education offer. I was not paid for this statement. It's essentially a GIF of a slide that I sometimes share at events. Should I have made a statement in this tweet? I do not know the answer, but maybe I should have it ethically.
I recognize that I am an influencer in my position with some social media followers. As shown byInfluence estimator of webfluential"… you might want to look at it yourself.
Ambassadorial marketing is an extremely cost-effective way for edtechs to increase awareness of their products. Referrals or referrals from people you trust in either your district or on social media can greatly boost sales, downloads, usage, product awareness, and more, as clearly stated in Singer's article:
"The competition for these teacher-evangelists has become so fierce GoEnnounce, a one-year platform Where students can share their performance profiles, they have decided to provide a financial incentive – a 15 percent reduction in school revenues based on recommendations – for Ms. Delzer and a few other selected teachers to compete with the benefits of the competition.
So far, no teacher has asked for payment, said Melissa Davis, the CEO of GoEnnounce. However, teacher referrals accounted for 20 percent of GoEnnounce's first year sales. "
I think Edtechs need to get smarter about this sooner rather than later. It will only take a few test cases and prosecutions to disrupt the already bleak ethical waters that surround the edtechs and their marketing messages.
What can we do against it? On the other hand, I find a more accurate regulation, control and guidance so helpful.
Given the tremendous value educators bring to helping businesses, with:
- how they develop their products
- How teachers can use their products
- and improve the sales of their products …
… Perhaps all of this could be seen as a great opportunity for schools to recognize their role and to seek appropriate compensation for their support, which is more than just a "loot" of some pens or cups?
The work (and it really is work) done by educators throughout #edutwitter should be rewarded accordingly. The carrot from the cornerstones of the blueprints and the opportunities for mutual growth available to these ambassadors must be transparent, clear and understandable – as the ASA says; legal, decent, honest and honest.
As we all know, school budgets are scarcer than ever. Perhaps this is a way to make more investments in schools to support their various activities.
I think the point I want to raise here is that the activities are not necessarily wrong, especially when you look at schools as companies (which are not just learning centers), but the key point, as the ASA statement says. Make it "legal, decent, honest and truthful" and I think it's transparent.
If schools understand this better and understand the value that they and the teachers bring to raising product awareness, this can be a good thing. It is cloudy water though.
- Ambassador, you are really spoiling us (Mark Anderson ICTEvangelist, 12 September 2017)
- Silicon Valley Courts brand teachers and raises questions of ethics (New York Times, 2 September 2017)
- Responding to ethical concerns about EdTech (Sean Arnold, 2 September 2017)
- Some thoughts on the "Edupreuner" #EdChat (Nicholas Provenzano, 2 September 2017
- The dilemma of entrepreneurial teachers with brand names (Larry Cuban, September 5, 2017)
- The margin of error between sharing and shilling for an Edtech product (EdSurge, September 5, 2017)
- Educators as brand ambassadors of Ed-Tech Company raise ethical, political questions and report on the searchs (EdWeek Market Letter, January 17, 2017)
- Why do Edtech people react badly to skepticism? Part 1: Vested interest (David Didau, February 20, 2016)
- The FTC Endorsement Guides: What People Ask (Federal Trade Commission, September 2017)
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