The "4 P's" of the marketing mix are famous for anyone who has ever taken an undergrad or grad marketing course. They are price, product, promotion, and place.
Since the 4 P meme has worked so well in marketing I thought I'd shamelessly hijack it for our discussion of how to best participate in conversations at the intersection of education and technology.
The first and most important prerequisite for participation in the larger edtech conversation is a passion for education technology. This passion may take the form of a larger goal to be part of the transformation of higher ed, with a focus on quality, costs, access (or all 3), and the belief that technology is an important lever to affect change. Perhaps you get excited by emerging technologies, are impatient with the status quo, and believe that technologies applied to higher ed can be as transformative to our industry as it has been for others. The key is that you really need to love this stuff. You need to be hungry to learn as much as you can, experiment as many times as possible.
Once you are passionate about edtech it is necessary to find a platform (or more likely platforms) to connect with other edtech geeks. For many of our tribe that place is now on Twitter, as micro-blogging seems to offer few barriers to entry and is compatible with our new mobile lifestyle. Of course I will argue that Inside Higher Ed (married to DISQUS) is a great platform for sharing and collaboration, as the free and open content and discussion tools are great for knowledge sharing and community building. Maybe you have your own blog. Or you are big into our professional societies, such as EDUCAUSE, NMC, Sloan-C, WICHE, NERCOMP, or ELI (who am I missing?) The key to think about an edtech platform is that this is a shared place. Forget "big tent" - think "big platform". A place where you can share your views and interact and react with other people in our community. A good platform has the advantage of allowing folks who would rather read and listen to be part of the community, in addition to those that are more likely to speak up.
Once you identify your passion, and find the platforms to connect with similarly passionate edtech folks, you then need to commit to playing a long-game. Being part of the larger edtech conversation is about participating in this community for years and years. Think marathon not sprint. Long-term participation means an effort to get to know the people in our community as individuals. It means finding opportunities for conversations and dialogue. These conversations can take place online or at conferences, in presentation rooms or hallways, blog comment areas or on Twitter. I highly recommend volunteering to serve on professional society committees and groups, as continuous and long-term service to our community is a terrific way to build relationships. Your participation in our edtech community should not be solely based on your current employer and your current position. It is important to contribute to the larger discussion, and to not always be viewed as pushing the agenda of the particular school or company that you happen to be working for. Edtech people actually change jobs quite a bit, it is good to build your own reputation independent of your current employer.
Even with passion, a platform, and a commitment to persistent engagement - it can take a long time to get to know our edtech community. I have been part of this world now for almost 15 years, and there are still many parts of our community that I have not accessed, many people that I'd love to get to know. It takes a long-time to build a career in edtech and to figure out where you can best contribute. Ours is a wonderful community. Curious, smart, supportive, and engaged. There is no need to hurry as you find your place in the larger edtech discussion.
What would you add to these edtech 4 P's?
Can you change or add to these P's?