ChatterHigh: The Host of Canada Career Month’s National Event

Chatter High

By Cathy Milton.

November 2017 is Canada Career Month, an annual initiative of the Canadian Council for Career Development. This year, the flagship event is Canada’s Most Informed School Competition, hosted online by ChatterHigh.

If you’re wondering who or what ChatterHigh is, read on!

ChatterHigh’s Beginnings

Since the 1950s, higher education and career organizations participate in annual “Career Day” events, setting up their tables in high school gymnasiums or conference centers and sending boxes of print materials to school counselling offices. In 2009, ChatterHigh’s founder, Lee Taal, set out to find a better way to engage the higher education and the career communities with the kindergarten-to-Grade-12 school community.

In 2012, Taal’s idea was piloted in Victoria, British Columbia, in cooperation with Camosun College, the University of Victoria, and area high schools. The pilot ran for three years and was capped off with Taal invited to deliver the keynote at the Spectrum Community School’s graduation ceremony. Spectrum had over 100 parents, 30 teachers, and 500 students participating in ChatterHigh’s daily quizzes, raising $3000 towards Dry Grad (an event to provide students with a safe, drug-and-alchohol-free environment in which to celebrate their graduation).

ChatterHigh incorporated and spread across BC and Alberta as a single person business. In 2015, Lee raised funds from “angel investors,” which along with revenue from participating institutions and provincial organizations allowed him to grow the team.  That same year, ChatterHigh went national with Canada’s first post-secondary and career exploration competition, and international the following spring, launching in Minnesota and California.

How Does ChatterHigh Work?

Lee Taal: “Our focus with ChatterHigh is on this intersection: the info eco-system that exists between K-12 and higher ed, and how to build accessibility to post-secondary, labour market, and career information for today’s teen. We believe students select careers and higher education programs based on what they know. If it’s not between their nose and their phone, it doesn’t exist.

“Our site is a pre-inquiry activity that complements post-inquiry tools such as Career Cruising or myBlueprint. Ideally, teachers can instill the ChatterHigh daily quiz into routine, perhaps as a ‘bell exercise’ so that significant exploration can occur over a period of time, in bite-sized chunks. Think of it like ‘flossing teeth’ – you need to remind them to do it every day for a week or two until the habit is created.”

ChatterHigh partners in higher education and career organizations use quiz questions that lead to their current web and social media assets to engage students with unique information and offerings related to their institution or organization. Says Lee, “We believe there is a better way for career and higher education organizations to engage students by rethinking how they use their limited budgets.” Engaging with ChatterHigh requires no paper, no printing, no shipping.

ChatterHigh teachers receive a curriculum-aligned resource with simple web-based features like the classroom dashboard to track, monitor, and assess student participation and progress – all provided for free. In addition, there are opportunities for teachers to network with each other in fun class-to-class ChatterHigh Challenges to determine who has the “Most Informed Class.” Schools compete for cash in regional and national “Most Informed School”  and “Most Informed Student” competitions.

ChatterHigh students receive a daily mobile, 10-minute/10-question edu-game quiz that allows them to research and explore thousands of higher education and career options. Students are provided with learning that is fun and where points, badges, and rankings are displayed on their personal dashboard.

ChatterHigh’s Growing Popularity and Success

In the 2015-16 school year, ChatterHigh created over 1.6 million engagements on partner websites. An innovative, fun, and useful resource for both information-holders and information-seekers, ChatterHigh is quickly becoming the primary communication channel for higher education and career organizations to engage the high school community.

Watch Lee’s TEDx talk about why career education matters.

ChatterHigh: “Our mission is to have every student talking about their future.”

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