• 26 Sep
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    Tweet from @catmill "Do we need sponsorship at TeachMeets?"We’re extremely proud to have sponsored, supported and enjoyed TeachMeets, of all flavours, for over 2 years.

    But now the time has come to withdraw our TeachMeet sponsorship package, as graciously as we can.

    There’s a number of reasons for this, and it’s not a decision we make lightly or on impulse. But before we explain how we’ve reached this point it’s worth reflecting on how we got here.

    The first TM we sponsored was TeachMeet SLF September 2009, on request of Ollie Bray (who was a keen BrainPOP user himself). At the time there wasn’t a visual way of explaining the core concepts of TeachMeet. Ollie knew that a bespoke BrainPOP movie might be just the ticket to explaining TeachMeet to those teachers who were unfamiliar with it.

    We sat nervously in the audience at the TeachMeet at the BBC center in Glasgow and waited for our animation to play, burning with embarrassment and anticipation as to how it would go down. Luckily it was well recieved (even with a little ripple of applause!) and we could get on with enjoying the TeachMeet.

    This approach proved popular; REALLY popular. We had so many sponsorship requests that we formalised a TeachMeet sponsorship package which included a bespoke movie to help publicise the event, TM badges, a prize of a subscription for any raffle and free trial cards to help that happen – a pick and mix approach. This simple up front method really helped us and the TM organisers. In return we only asked for our logo on the wiki and a link back. If the event organiser did their own thing or requested more involvement on the night that was up to them.

    We’ve always been clear that our help was more about promotion of the event. The TM movie was often played to kick off proceedings, for TM newbies and to re-emphasise the aims of the gathering (but as TMs often attract as many old hands as new, it could be seen to have become rather over familiar). We’ve met and formed friendships with 100’s of TM attendees & organisers. We sometimes “lurked” but NEVER presented, and joined in only when invited. We tried to offer our support in the spirit of TeachMeets (as tricky as that may be to define, and probably means different things to different people) and we’d like to think we’ve been advocates of TeachMeets, rather than simply “sponsors”.

    So why are we withdrawing our sponsorship?

    • If it’s come to pass that sponsoring a TeachMeet could make us look worse than if we didn’t (partly due to our ubiquity & partly due to the increasingly vocal disavowal and confusion over corporate involvement), then it’s time to step away.
    • If trying to balance a sponsor’s involvement with the “ethos” of TeachMeets can actually lead to upseting people , then it’s time to step away.
    • If sponsorship has simply become a box ticking exercise, then it’s time to step away.

    We too find sales pitches in TMs to be distasteful and commercial needs “muscling in” disappointing. As Ian Addison, one of the organisers at BETT 2011, said to a presenter who was stretching to breaking point the boundaries of ‘classroom practice vs sales’ demo: “Yes, thank you, but we can all use Google to find resources“. The open source nature of the format has been key to its wild and explosive growth, which, by definition, will also bring growing pains.

    • Do you need a “sponsor” (or commercial involvement) to host a TeachMeet? No, of course you don’t.
    • Can you host a valuable and enjoyable TeachMeet with sponsorship? Of course you can (as has been proved time and again).
    • Is there such a thing as a “perfect Teachmeet”? No, no more than there is a perfect way to teach or learn.

    But, leaving aside the ethical debate (for truth be told it’s not our business how TMs should or shouldn’t work), the main reason for this choice is having seen 2 years of TeachMeet development we question is there a need for sponsorship at all? Look at Iain Hallahan’s new “TeachMeet 365” project for inspiration. His initiative has made this decision easier.

    Perhaps, ultimately, “sponsor” is the wrong word to use when dealing with commercial parties and creates certain connotations that aren’t acceptable or applicable to a TeachMeet. What you’re actually seeking are “benefactors”, “patrons” or possibly “collaborators”.

    TeachMeets are amazing in any form, size, complexity or ambition – go to one if you get the chance.

    There’s still 10’s of 1000’s of teachers who have never heard of TeachMeet, and we’ll continue to support and evangelise the TeachMeet model where we can.

    But to be clear – from this point forward, unless we can deliver real value e.g. the new wave of TeachMeets in Australia or TM Takeovers, we will no longer be offering sponsorship.

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  • 14 Jun
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    We’ve got our very own Cybermummy.

    Moby as a Mummy

    No, before you ask, it’s not a creature from Dr Who (although Cybermen must have CyberMummies, right?) or a 1000 year old robot wrapped in bandages.

    Cybermummy is a national conference dedicated to parent bloggers (“…the UK’s premier blogging conference devoted to parent bloggers and designed to plug you into the wider blogging world.”) and we’re helping one of them make the trip. That Mummy in question is “Scribbling Mum”, a wonderful, funny and erudite mummy blogger from Peebleshire.

    She is a Mum of two who blogs on “balancing life, love, friendships and two kids with my itch to write”.

    Blogging since 2009, she is a finalist in the MAD (Mum And Dads) blogging awards in two categories: Blogger of the Year and Blogger for Family Life. These are prestigious awards that celebrate some of the very best writing in the parenting community. At the very least, the ones that are deserving of a wider audience.

    Why did we do it?

    We saw a tweet last week from another popular mummy blogger, @liveotherwise, asking if anyone would sponsor Scribbling Mum to Cybermummy. Intrigued, we checked out her blog and extended the offer. We loved her writing and she seemed like a natural BrainPOP Mum. Mums & Dads tend to love BrainPOP. Our resources are fun, safe and can be used to extend learning into the home in a way that families can share and enjoy.

    Scribbling Mum didn’t have to pick BrainPOP as her sponsor (she had a number of companies interested) but she fell for Tim & Moby once she’d had a play on the site and watched a movie with her daughter:

    “Miss L at five and a half years old sat enthralled as we watched a short film on Bogies and she even learnt a new word: mucus.

    When I see a product or service badging themselves as ‘educational’ my instant reaction is to usually turn off. I like things to just be fun. But BrainPOP’s films hit the mark for me as it takes the traditional way of learning and delivers it through a shiny new medium that looks cool and is fun and accessible.

    A big part of me is dreading when Miss L comes home from school and needs my help with her maths homework. But now I needn’t worry as I’ll just call on Tim and Moby, my new BFF, when she asks me about the Theorem of Pythagoras.”

    We’re very pro-blogging, and firmly support improving digital literacy standards. We have topics on Blogging (free), Social networking, Digital etiquette, Information privacy and much more.

    These resources are designed to help kids understand this brave new world – a world that adults have grown up in, but not been born into. In the same way we supported school and class blogging with our successful “Digitalk” series and regularly invite teachers and parents to guest blog on POPtalk we now extend that support to parents who embrace blogging.

    Plus Mums are the best. Here’s to all the BrainPOPper Mums: Brenda, Marilyn, Tessa, Ilana, Mary, Christine, Sheila and June. We love you 🙂

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  • 12 May
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    **UPDATE – September 2011. We no longer offer sponsorship for TeachMeets, sorry. You can read why on our post “Moving on from TeachMeet sponsorship“. We will honour all sponsorship commitments made before 26th September 2011.**

    We get asked a lot to sponsor TeachMeet events, which we are very happy to do, where it’s appropriate and we’re able to constructively contribute.

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/davidgilmour/ / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

    There’s nothing official or organised regarding sponsorship or external support. TeachMeets are generally non-commercial and we respect that.

    But, still, we also recognise that it’s difficult to get people to an event and raise awareness.

    So if you are holding a TeachMeet, no matter how big or small, no matter where or when, and need a bit of help we want to offer a simple BrainPOP UK sponsorship package, if you want it. The following is ALL included in the sponsorship:

    Your very own version of our TeachMeet movie

    We will create you one of our special TeachMeet movies starring Tim & Moby to help advertise your event and describe TeachMeet to those who want to know what it’s all about.

    We’ve adapted the movie for the Scottish Learning Festival, Blackpool (twice as their first was so successful!), Perth, Yorkshire and Humber, Hampshire, Norwich, Clackmannanshire, Northamptonshire, East Lothian, Falkirk and…well, you get the idea. To make the movie we need to know:

    • The name(s) of the organiser(s)
    • The location and date/time of the TeachMeet
    • Any hashtag you have created e.g. #teachmeet
    • A link to your TeachMeet wiki page
    • An address to send the goodies to
    • Expected numbers (just have a sensible guess)

    We can usually get it ready in a few days and you can then embed it into your TeachMeet wiki page or in whatever digital space you are using to promote your event. Normally the movie is played at the beginning of the TeachMeet to set the scene and help anyone new to TeachMeet understand the concept. Remember to turn up the volume!


    We can also supply you some goodies to give out to attendees. How you use them is up to you – maybe as a reward for attending or an incentive to go in the first place. If you don’t want these freebies please let us know.

    • Badges: We now have a special TeachMeet badge that we will always supply as part of the sponsorship. This is only available to people who have attended a TeachMeet and should be worn with pride!
    • Poster: We can send you a batch of posters to give out as gifts. They make any classroom wall look good.
    • Mugs & Tshirts: As a special gift the organiser(s) will get a much coveted BrainPOP UK mug or VIB tshirt.

    A prize for a competition

    We know that you want as many teachers as possible to come along and experience this unique form of CPD. So we’re happy to offer your attendees the opportunity to win for their school 6 month’s free years access to BrainPOP UK.

    We will supply you free trial sign up cards that attendees must fill in to get entry into the competition. The organiser then picks one of those cards out of a hat and that school wins a free subscription. Hoorah! Everyone else at least gets a no obligation free trial to check out BrainPOP UK.

    So that’s our sponsorship package for TeachMeets. All you have to do is contact us. We can also put you in touch with other TeachMeet organisers who have run successful TeachMeets whose brains you can pick for advice and tips, though the community in general is very helpful.

    All we ask in return is that you add BrainPOP UK as a sponsor (logo and homepage link ) to your Teachmeet page/blog/communications etc where appropriate.

    Other places you might want to approach for support include Scholastic, Rising Stars , 2Simple and Vital CPD, who, amongst others, have all historically shown strong support  for TeachMeet events.

    *All freebies are subject to avaliablity and we reserve the right to amend the pack without notice. But we will try our best to provide a good selection!

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