By now you’ve probably heard of the new kid on the block for social media – Clubhouse.
What an innovative yet simple thing this is!
I have to say, I’m hooked, and I’ve only been connected for a day. That seems to be the general consensus for users by the way – apparently there are over 1million users on the platform now, many of them clocking literal hours per day interacting there.
How Does It Work?
So what is Clubhouse? It’s a social media app that works by audio only. There is no text or video functionality, beyond writing yourself a little bio. You can’t DM someone or write posts. And this makes it so unique and interesting.
At the moment (beginning of March 2021), it is only available on iOS (so you can access via iPhone or iPad), and you have to be invited by a current user to gain access. The rumour is that soon it will open up to Android, and also to the general public in terms of admission. My understanding is that the team is just a bit too small to scale up this fast this soon (it’s not quite a year old yet), but they’re working very hard to get there.
It works pretty simply – you follow some people, and find ‘rooms’ to join. Your app home screen acts as a sort of hallway – it shows you a calendar of events for rooms that are scheduled to start soonish, as well as rooms that are currently active. As you scroll down, you’ll see any active room that someone you follow is in. You can then click on that room to listen. Within this room, there will be moderators (usually the person/people who started the room), speakers, and general audience. The moderators have complete control over who can speak and when – if you want to speak, you ‘raise your hand’ to notify the moderators. They’ll then add you to the ‘stage’, and invite you to speak at an appropriate time. Everyone else is on mute, so you don’t need to worry about what’s going on in your physical room at the time – no one can hear you on the app unless you are a speaker with your mute turned off.
You can interact with the room if you wish, or you can remain completely a spectator – in this way you can listen to conversations on your commute just like a podcast!
There are also ‘clubs’, which act like a notification group, sending you a notification when a room linked to that club is live.
Clubs and rooms can be completely private or completely public, and some require an invite from the moderators.
Note that this isn’t really a casual social media platform – by that I mean that the conversations are quite professional, with the overarching theme being industry and life support, networking, collaboration, and general professionalism. The majority of people aren’t jumping on to chat about their breakfast. They’re jumping on to offer advice, ask questions, share industry knowledge, and make connections with new people. It’s very much a value-add platform – what value can you add to a conversation, or what can you learn from a conversation?
In terms of creating connections, it’s the most natural social media platform I’ve experienced. You are physically talking to people, so it’s much more personal and personable than text-based platforms like FB and Twitter. Many people describe it as like a conference waiting room or hallway. I’ve heard of people gaining investors, collaborating on new ideas for products and services, gaining clients for their own businesses, and even being given job offers through conversations in Clubhouse!
Why is it Valuable to Teachers?
There are already quite a few clubs with a teaching/educator focus you can join, and thousands of actual teachers you can follow. The potential for collaboration for teachers is through the roof.
Connecting and having actual conversations with other teachers all over the world through Clubhouse is incredible. But of course it’s not just teachers you can connect with. You will find every profession under the sun represented here, including teacher aides, administrators, principals, lab technicians, tutors, educational resource and technology companies… the list is truly as long as there are people on the platform.
Rooms are generally topic-themed, so you can keep an eye out for a teacher/education focused group that are discussing a topic you’re interested in. It could be assessment ideas, resources, pedagogy, leadership, job applications etc etc etc. And if you can’t see a room for what you’re after in that moment, you can create one!
But what if I don’t have time to commit? Because you don’t have to actively participate, it means you can tune into a room whenever it is open, wherever you are, and you can listen in. You can listen on your commute, while you’re planning lessons in the morning, when you’re having a break, or in the evenings while washing the dishes. There will always be a room open for you to join, and you might surprise yourself by wanting to participate when you hear the conversation that’s happening.
I did that on my very first interaction with Clubhouse. I followed a few people, then jumped into the first room that was on my list – I had exactly zero intention of speaking myself, but found that I did want to after about 5 minutes. The discussion was about how you are changing the world in your own little way, and the moderators were actively inviting anyone from the audience to raise their hand and have a say about themselves or someone else who had just spoken. It was so friendly, inviting, and open that I couldn’t help myself!
Because the app doesn’t have recording functionality, once the conversation is over, that’s it. You can’t listen to it again later. This is a good and bad thing – the conversations are much more organic and vulnerable, but if you happen to be busy, you’ll miss out. FOMO is real in this space. Of course for us teachers, confidentiality is still key. I would not jump into a room and start naming colleagues, students, parents, or even school names. You yourself are identifiable by your bio, so it could potentially be very easy for someone to track down your employer and report you because you named a student (I would hope that would never happen, but who knows). But it also creates opportunities to discuss things you might not be comfortable putting into a text-based keep-forever-on-the-internet platform. Because of the overarching helpful dynamic of the interactions on Clubhouse, no one is going to think any less of you if you come on to have a vent about your day and ask for advice on how to navigate a difficult situation. People are also extremely celebratory of successes here – as long as you’re not going down a spammy self-promotion path. Don’t start a monologue, keep your conversations flowing, and you’ll find real value on Clubhouse as a teacher or educator.
Are you active on Clubhouse? Drop your username in the comments below, along with your favourite rooms or clubs!
Image from Business Insider