Dear Book Creator Ambassadors,
When we launched our ambassador program in August 2015, we were looking to build a community of learners. We’ve been acutely aware that since day one, Book Creator has been developed in response to feedback from the teaching community, and we couldn’t have done it without you.
We recognized from the beginning that your insights and passions would be critical in our ability to create a product that could meet the needs of students and teachers around the world. Whether you began working with us as beta testers for the iPad app, or joined more recently as we sought your input on the Chrome app, your feedback and support has always been appreciated and valued.
Recently, several articles have appeared in US publications about the existence of ambassador programs in education. These publications have questioned the role – and the motives – of EdTech companies in education. Though none of the articles have mentioned Book Creator, we have read them carefully and would like to share our thoughts with you.
- Silicon Valley Courts Brand-Name Teachers, Raising Ethics Issues [New York Times, 2 Sept 2017]
- Responding to Ethics Concerns About EdTech [Sean Arnold, 2 Sept 2017]
- Some Thoughts on the “Edupreuner” #EdChat [Nicholas Provenzano, 2 Sept 2017]
- The Dilemma of Entrepreneurial Teachers with Brand Names [Larry Cuban, 5 Sept 2017]
- My Response to Natasha Singer’s New York Times Article [John Bimmerle, 2 Sept 2017]
- The Fault Lines Between Sharing and Shilling for an Edtech Product [EdSurge, 5 Sept 207]
- When Tech Companies Enlist Teachers [New York Times, editorial, 10 Sept 2017]
A couple of years ago, Dan and I toyed for a while with the idea of launching an ambassador programme – we’d seen what companies like Evernote had done and of course Apple with their Distinguished Educators. We honestly weren’t sure if anyone would want to be an ambassador for us.
But, we were always thrilled when we saw teachers sharing Book Creator ideas and the books their students had made. And we were amazed to see teachers dedicating their own time and energy to speak about Book Creator at conferences and workshops. We had to find a way to recognise these teachers.
To kick things off, we contacted some of the teachers with whom we had already connected. Quite frankly, we were stunned at the response we got! It was humbling to know that so many of you wanted to be recognised as Book Creator Ambassadors. Two years later and we now have over 350 ambassadors from all over the world.
Many people who apply to us quite rightly point out that they are already “unofficial ambassadors” because they already love using Book Creator and are keen to evangelise the app when they get the chance. We see the ambassador programme as a way of recognising these people. What’s more, we want to work more closely with you to develop the app to suit your needs; and the needs of your classroom.
One of the principles we’ve always had with our ambassador programme is to make it as “light touch” as possible. We understand the time pressures teachers face, and we certainly don’t want to add to that. Yes, we have worked more closely with some of our ambassadors over time – we’ve given out one or two t-shirts and passed on the promo codes that Apple provides for teachers to access the app for free.
But we’ve always kept the requirements to be a Book Creator Ambassador to a minimum. No annual re-applying, no unnecessary demands on your time, no pressure. I believe everyone who has joined our ambassador programme is still here because they love using Book Creator and believe in our mission.
Since the beginning, we have sought to create and sustain relationships with educators such as yourselves so that we can best achieve this mission of helping students to engage in creativity, communication, collaboration, and reflection. Your suggestions have helped us to develop the ability to export projects as video for easy sharing (remember when that was a big deal just 3 years ago?!), design comic books, publish to a safe web platform, and now work with Book Creator on any device through the Chrome browser.
As our ambassadors, you have provided insights and examples, supported other teachers in their efforts to use our app, and shared your own learning with our growing community. Not only do we hope that you will continue to share in this capacity, but we also hope that you will continue to help us to spread the message that we deeply believe in empowering students as learners. We want you to know that our hope is to support you as much as you support us and to continue to grow as a community of learners.
In the coming months, we intend to provide even more support to teachers around the world through projects such as the ambassador-created publishing guide – to which some of you have already contributed – as well as our blog, webinars, and #BookCreator Twitter chats. Whilst we hope that you might be able to contribute to some of these efforts – even more importantly, we hope that you will continue to share our primary mission: to empower the next generation of content creators and improve their educational outcomes.
We wish you all the best and thank you for your continued support.
Dan Kemp & Dan Amos
Dan Kemp is Tools for School’s Marketing & Community Manager. He spends his time spreading the word about Book Creator and supporting people who use it.