Written by Kylie Bice – GAW Coordinator 2020
The theme for Gifted Awareness Week 2020 was Wellbeing – A No Limits Approach, and this was announced in July 2019 by Melinda Gindy at the 23rd Biennial World Gifted Conference in Nashville, USA. This year, we had a new committee and organisational structure. Kylie Bice was Coordinator and organised sub-committee meetings and was the contact person for all events, Jodi Brown kept the website and GAW Facebook page up-to-date, Susan Nikakis coordinated the Blog Tour, and Melinda Gindy coordinated media and political promotion of the GAW message. This new structure and team seemed to work very well to spread the load of organising the week. AAEGT members and affiliates were contacted by email well in advance to encourage them to be involved in GAW 2020.
This year we had 21 events registered across all states and territories except one, organised by 17 different schools, associations and organisations. Everyone who registered an event received an email outlining the structure, purpose and theme of GAW, encouraging them to access our social media, and with a link to event resources. This process went smoothly until the week itself, when unfortunately the COVID-19 situation began to escalate in Australia, and a number of events later in the week had to be cancelled to due hygiene and crowd restrictions being announced day by day. Many organisations went ahead with an online or other version of their event, and some hope to run their event on a future date if possible.
We had four blog posts submitted and shared on social media during the week, and these are still accessible on the GAW website http://gaw.aaegt.net.au/blog-tour/blog-post-page/ . Susan received, edited (where necessary) and approved these before forwarding them to Jodi for publication. These were all thoughtful and offered different perspectives on the theme of Wellbeing.
The GAW Facebook page had multiple, scheduled posts before GAW to encourage people to submit blog posts and register events. In the weeks prior to GAW, the Facebook page included articles and advertised registered events. At the beginning of GAW, the AAEGT published a media release, and during GAW, the blog posts were published, along with any follow-up from event organisers, and the AAEGT Award for Eminence in Gifted Education was announced by Melinda Gindy. The GAW FB page currently has 13 page likes, 983 followers, a peak reach of 1107 on March 19, and the greatest number of shares for a post (Media Release) was seven.
This year we created an additional hidden resources page and the link to this was given to everyone who registered an event. Additional resources were created for event organisers, including The GAW logo, PowerPoint template with GAW logo, flyer template to advertise their event. There were several email replies from event organisers with positive feedback about the event resources. The events schedule and blog posts were published on the website as these were submitted, and during GAW an announcement was posted on the website reminding people to check with event organisers to check if events were still going ahead due to the COVID-19 escalation. It seemed to work well to have one point of contact for event organisers as they were able to quickly communicate with questions or if their event was cancelled.
It is difficult to quantify the impact of GAW, although this year we had more registered events, and fewer blog post submissions. It is encouraging to see the increased engagement across Australia, however there is certainly room for further improvement in order to have a greater impact. COVID-19 had a huge and unexpected impact this year, as the situation was rapidly evolving during this week, and there were many unknowns and new government and health announcements daily. This resulted in some events being cancelled, and likely decreased our social media presence as social media was increasingly flooded with virus announcements and speculation as the week progressed. This is also likely to have had an impact on the media take-up of the GAW media release.
Regardless of COVID-19 or other major event, we still have a long way to go to ensure our social media presence is strong in order to promote GAW, both on the GAW and AAEGT Facebook pages. The aim of social media is engagement, and this can be measured by likes, followers and shares, and we need to aim to increase these in order to justify the time put into preparing and scheduling posts.
While GAW is just one of the foci of the AAEGT, the impact of GAW could likely be increased with a consistent focus across GAW and AAEGT messaging. Unfortunately, the AAEGT Facebook page had limited posts about GAW 2020, and there were other deadlines and pressures on GAW committee members immediately prior to and during the week, including calls for journal articles, and finalising the newsletter. Any increase in the impact of GAW is likely to only be achieved when the AAEGT and GAW projects are prioritised for a specific period of time, and it is likely that the date will need to be looked at to achieve this.