Engaging Employers - How St John Rigby College Launched Kloodle - Kloodle

Engaging Employers – How St John Rigby College Launched Kloodle

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Kloodle offers two ways for colleges to create accounts for their students. Firstly, students can register through a special college registration page. This is similar to any other social network. A student enters their email address, selects a user name and password, attaches themselves to a teacher group, and hey presto, they have a new Kloodle account.

Secondly, colleges are able to mass invite their students to join Kloodle. To do this, a college administrator uploads a CSV file to their main admin account. The CSV file contains a student’s full name and email address. Kloodle then sends invites to these students. The invites allows them to “claim” their account and log in.

Sign ups have taken place during lesson time, enrolment week and even given as a task to do at home. St John Rigby College in Wigan went about things a little different. Keen to impress upon their students the importance of employability (as outlined in the new OFSTED framework), SJR created an “Employability Day”. The day enabled students to create their Kloodle account and also glimpse potential end results by interacting with local employers.

The day began with an address from the principal, Peter McGhee. “You will remember this day for a long time to come”, he said  to a hall full of Lower Sixth students, all of whom were about to progress to Upper Sixth. “As you go forward into your careers, you will recall your time at SJR and how it helped propel you forward into your chosen careers”.

We then introduced Kloodle by way of examples. We told our favourite Calum Roberts story, which highlights students’ misunderstanding around employability and careers. Calum’s failure to recognise that an “Undergraduate of the Year” nomination classed as an achievement received a hearty laugh. The world has moved quickly since Calum was at college. The new breed seem acutely aware of the need to be employable. Our presentation was met with receptive ears.

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The students were tasked with creating the best Kloodle profile possible. They had just a few short hours. The winner would create a profile that demonstrated a strong understanding of employability, and would include evidence of that student’s employability skills. A difficult task, we thought we would be lucky if we received two good profiles to rub together.

Local employers and the mayoress would be the judges. This demonstrated to students the importance employers placed on employability skills. We know employers value interesting people with great back stories and a raft of interesting experiences. Kloodle would show employers just how interesting the students at SJR could be. It would also show students how interested employers are in their extra curricular activities, as well as their qualifications. The winner would receive an iPad.

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The students broke away into their respective tutor groups. The day consisted of a number of talks given by local employers. There was time built in for creating Kloodle profiles. Groups rotated between the computer facilities and lecture halls. Students created their Kloodle logins under the supervision of personal tutors. They were then left to flesh out their profiles. This flesh would need to dazzle the panel of judges. Time was short. Creativity needed to be turned up to 11. Could the students cope?

Their competitiveness shone through. We meandered through the different groups, interacting with the students. We offered assistance, where needed. We were met with the short shrift. Students wanted to concentrate. They had skills to evidence and an iPad to win.

What we saw was incredible. Students were digging around their Facebook for pictures of volunteering they did during Easter. Others were pointing smart phones at each other, filming recited poetry or anecdotes of enrichment activities. Yet more were concentrating on blogging. These students interested me, as I expected the written word to be low on a 17 year old’s agenda. Not so. The quality of writing was refreshing.

As the day progressed, our employers were getting itchy feet. They were eager to see what the students were producing. Our team had laptops in hand constantly, ready to  judge the incoming nominations (form tutors nominated their class’s two best profiles). We felt the employers hovering behind us, angling for a glimpse. We kept cloak and dagger in place. Our job was to narrow down the best profiles and present employers with a shortlist of 20.Patience was succumbing to excitement. They had to wait.

When the day commenced, we expected our task to be difficult. We envisioned the difficulty to be extracting good profiles from a sea of apathy. We were wrong. The difficulty lay in deciding between the fantastic video shot at arm’s length, discussing a student’s aspiration to study medicine, and the photo of SJR’s football team with the detailed account of how this demonstrated teamwork. We read a blog about a student’s desire to work in media, and how they planned on charting this course. As the profiles rolled in, our task became more complex. The students had dazzled us. We had decisions to make. The decisions changed with each profile receipt.

We managed to whittle down the list to 20. It was the employers’ turn to struggle. We watched with curiosity and a smile as the panel of employers poured over the entries. You could see surprise and joy as they discovered the insights the students were providing. They never see this detail in a cv. They saw personalities jumping out at them. They saw passionate students where they expected apathetic youngsters. They saw vessels bursting with skills. And this made their decision hard.

You couldn’t get a strip of graphene between the nominees. The quality was that good. We decided the winner to be a student who had written a couple of blogs in the space of a few hours. He had blogged about his career aspirations and what research he had done up until that point. The blogs were immaculate and well thought out. He didn’t expect to win. The runners up didn’t expect to be runners up either. They struck me as students who deemed themselves mediocre. Their profiles demonstrated they were anything but.

The day highlighted three things. Firstly, students can be extremely passionate about what they do. So passionate, it grabs your attention. Secondly, students are surprised to learn that the things they are passionate about are the exact same things employers will love them for. Realising that playing an instrument to a high degree of proficiency demonstrates resilience, motivation and self learning is an epiphany moment. Students just don’t know that they’re accruing employability skills all the time. Kloodle helps to highlight this, and champion it. Finally, employers LOVE to see students’ stories. The surprise and joy the employers expressed when they were going through each student profile was revealing. Employers want enthusiastic and motivated young people. The perception is that they don’t exist. SJR’s employability day quashed this perception with gusto.

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About Phillip Hayes

Co Founder and CEO of @kloodleUK, the social network for student employability and careers. Part time Matthew Hayden mimic. I am passionate about making a dent in education by embedding employers and employability.

Entries by Phillip Hayes

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