Socialnomics – Why Social Media?

Today, I am attending a great Social Media Marketing Conference produced by Fred Pryor and hosted at the Hilton Garden Inn in Oxnard, CA.  For me,  it is a great refresher course about a very complex process and a reminder of how to use social media appropriately for greater marketing.  It is almost counter intuitive to one directional messages as the social two way aspect creates a more tailored and loyal audience.  This is also a great time to reflect upon my social marketing successes and failures, and to explore the concepts of Socialnomics and the social sales cycle.

One primary goal of social marketing is to find your audience and to create your audience through the social marketing tool.  You want to find/establish an audience that knows, likes, and trusts what you are saying so that when you advertise something your audience knows, likes, and trusts what you are advertising.  You need to be genuine, and you need to create atmosphere of learning, informing, and providing.  It is extremely beneficial also to let others shine.  You don’t have to create all the content.  You can be a collector of recommending content.

Second is to simply watch this video about why this is so import today.  Hey, you may even want to watch it twice.  This video provides some great definition in why this is so important.  It even provides purpose for encouraging your organization to use this process for increasing customers in my case enrollments in distance education.

Thirdly, examine the social sales cycle:  Awareness, Interest, Consideration, Intent, Evaluation, and Purchase.  The cycle gives control to the buyer, and the organization needs to be honest and transparent.  It needs to be personalized.  It needs to be consistent and it needs to communicate to the individual.

Quote: “Any business that you are getting because of price you can lose just as easily because lack of trust, like, or knowledge. How do you get the customer to stay and remain loyal?  In my case how do you retain the enrolled student?”

Fourthly,  Tools are simply that.  Whether you are using a blog, microblog, social message, photo sharing, multimedia sharing, review, or any other social site.  It is a tool.  How you use it is more important.  Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, WordPress, Periscope, Digg, Instagram . . . they are just tools.  You want to turn strangers into friends, friends into customers, customers into evangelists.   That is the return on investment.

Improving Technology Usage Among Faculty

The title simply states a goal for all administrators and school communities.  As technology improves so do the needs for teachers to teach with those technologies and to provide lessons that allow students to create with those technologies.  Because teachers have little time to be trained, timing is always an issue, and realistic goals should be assigned to allow for these changes.  Also in class sessions, while valuable for teachers, are only successful when “just in time” learning approaches are designed to support the teacher during the school year.

arcsAs we look at the ARCS model of adult learning theory, educational technologists need to keep in mind that most adult learners especially teachers know what they need to learn.  Therefore, making that learning relevant (the R in the model) is extremely important.  One on one sessions with faculty can help them design lessons that use the current technology or that can help the teacher create better learning scenarios with that technology. Teachers also find satisfaction (the S in the model) by getting immediate feedback in a personalized learning environment where they can ask a technology expert for specific skills or creative lesson planning that is unique to his classroom.

Confidence (the C in the model ) is extremely important for an educational technology program as teachers who do not feel confident will simply not use the the tool nor provide the projects for the student.  Educational technologists need to be present for the “just in time” support as teachers do not always know what the technology will bring about in the process of teaching or what students will need during the project.  Open labs with after school support and free period support are great ways to increase confidence among students which then leads to the teachers seeing value in assigning these types of projects again.

Attention (the A in the model) is the hook to get the student and/or teacher to try the technology in their projects.  Teachers know that technology grabs student attention, and they know that the technology can be a valuable tool for knowledge transference.  However, what are we doing to remind them of that?  Best practices must be researched and provided as additional resources for teachers in your school.  They can understand a great project (end result) easily, and they will use or modify the best elements of it in their own lessons.  New approaches and best practices are in constant need of sharing.  A community that shares ideas either within the school or through local conferences with other schools is growing from the reflection of others and the evaluation of how technologies can work in their individual classrooms.  Educational communities are better when they are reflecting the craft, sharing ideas, and improving lessons, and educational technology should simply be an extension of an this type of educational community.

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NECC 2009 Reflections

I recently returned from the NECC conference in Washinton D.C. , and I was pleasantly surprised at the array of choices for technology coordinators, teachers, and administrators. There were simply too many seminars to enjoy, learn from, and sample, and I am glad that I used the NECC planner as my guide. It kept me on track and focused as it is easy to get distracted with all the wonderful choices. As for my reflections, I am sure that there are many different perspectives from visiting ISTE members, but I decided to create a list of the top ten reasons that NECC was beneficial for me. There is no particular order.

  • The bag of goodies from the exhibit hall provided some motivational content for my students, the classroom bulletin board, and possible lessons for one of our history teachers back at home.
  • A recurring theme of how we use technology and not what technology we use was evident and a positive reminder for all educators.
  • This is a great place to get 2GB USB drives for free. If you did not get more than four, you really were not trying.
  • Alice is a very cool computer programming environment, and the teachers who presented it were very well prepared.
  • It was very appropriate to bring your own laptop this time. I found in the past there was not enough to do, but this time seemed highly accessible and relevant at least for me.
  • Toshiba and Acer laptops are worth everyone’s time. Even MAC user would like them.
  • If you have not heard how to use Google’s Sketchpad then you need to see the presentation notes from the BYOL session. This guy really knows how to teach.
  • You might run into Bernie Dodge who taught you a lot of really important teaching methods and strategies that make your life easier around technology.
  • Learning from what everyone else is doing really helps you with that next great task and challenge back at home. The colleagues and friends made by going to various sessions is priceless.

Well, I really am just reflecting upon a great three days in D.C.. The conference was great; there are some great books that I am ordering from ISTE’s books store; brick and mortar classrooms with blended technologies still rule; and I almost got a picture with the President of the United States. Oh yeah, I do have a picture of Sen. Joe Leiberman which was taken a week later when I went back to D.C. to see the Capitol Building.

Podcasting, Web Design, Video Creation

I just finished teaching a successful three week summer camp. Each week was a separate topic (see title), and the students seemed quite pleased with their end products in pod casting, web design, and video creation. Although one week was not enough time to get through a very complex project, they did learn the various stages of setting goals, designing, developing, publishing, and evaluating these projects. We used Moodle to host the course materials, and each course used an open source or freeware software to complete the project. (Audacity for Pod casting, Sea Monkey for Web Design, and Windows Movie Maker for Video Creation). What I learned was there there is demand for these types of classes and/or camps for middle school students, high school students, and even adults so I plan to re-tailor these courses appropriately for courses in the future. If you are interested in having these courses taught to your faculty or students, we can arrange a time as long as it does not interfere with my current teaching schedule at my 7-12 independent school. Please email me or respond with your requests to matt@absolutelylearning.com. I unfortunately cannot freely show you my proprietary materials, but I would be more than happy to discuss how you will absolutely learn with my methods. Have a great summer and school year.

Small Business Web Sites

I have continued to use open-source web applications as a primary platform to get my business needs up and running at Absolutely Learning; and therefore, I am using many open-source resources for my clients who are also small business owners. There are many reasons to use these applications, and I would like to promote why I have found them beneficial. First, the time to go from no web presence or little web presence to a dynamic and interactive web presence with a web store is quick (within a week to one month depending upon goals and objectives). Second, there are many choices to choose from to find the right product and template for any organization. Third, you can add, delete, and edit the modules and interfaces that you need as long as you are comfortable using a complex control panel. Fourth, with a little web application building experience using popular web languages, you can customize most of these open-source projects and web applications to meet the needs of a small business. And finally, these applications allow for the web presence and application to ebb and flow with timely information and interactions which means the web is working for you in accordance with your small business goals and objectives. You are not restricted to what a canned product is offering you, you can actually mold the application for your needs now. Well, I am always happy to discuss open-source solutions for any organization, and most recently I have been working on projects outside of education with small businesses in North County San Diego. Just remember that learning happens everywhere today, even when someone is visiting your site. In today’s world we are learning absolutely or not at all. So please visit my new business site at Absolutely Learning and give me some feedback. You will be surprised at what this small business can do for you, and perhaps I can help you realize your business goals and objectives for the web.

An Open Source Solution for Moodle

This summer I developed a prototype for Moodle that allows a teacher to run a more current and detailed report of a student’s most recently submitted work. Since we are only using the assignments’ activities at our school, the report will show all types of assignments, the names of the assignments, the class, the grade for that assignment, the overall grade for the assignments submitted, and the time of that submitted assignment. This allows our teachers, parents, staff, and students to communicate more clearly, honestly, and accurately about how a student is doing. As a charter school we are very dependent upon the success of our students for funding from the state.

The open-source design of Moodle which stores its data in a MYSQL database provided a nice platform for creating the report in PHP code. The tables are relatively arranged in Moodle and merit a little research before beginning so that the developer understands where the data is and how it relates to the keys versus the values. The developer will also have to define clear “for loops” so that the PHP code accesses all the data in the table and/or live arrays. Finally, Moodle stores its date submitted in a time stamp that needs a little translation for your user.

While we may not be using this prototype because of some poor communication from our current leadership, jealousies among the staff, and the organization’s obvious lack of staying the course on goals, I would be happy to let you see this project and tailor it to fit your needs. This is a “non-Moodle approved” report that will work on any Moodle 1.6 version and possible others although I have not tried it yet. Please take a look at the link below and send me your comments and feedback. You can get a clear understanding of the results generated if you search through the sample test students whose last names are “one”, “two”, “three”, “four”, etc. I am looking forward to your feedback. The data is also test data and no students are used.

A Grade Report for Moodle

OpenOffice.org

I was a beta tester for Microsoft Office 2007, and when the expiration date ran out, I decided to save some money and try the open source solution called OpenOffice.org. I have been pleasantly surprised with it thus far; and therefore, I am doing my part in promoting this software through this testimonial.

I have used the spreadsheet software and the word processing software, and I have found that it meets most of my needs as a teacher, web developer, and small business owner. It is not as sophisticated as Microsoft Office, but with a little computer knowledge and basic programming understanding, one can develop databases and spreadsheets. The word processing and presentational software are cake, but they also require a little thinking to develop more sophisticated documents and presentations. Finally, there are two programs, a math and a draw program, which I have not used yet.

As for compatibility, I can easily transfer files to and from OpenOffice.org and Microsoft products, and it works well with PDF files. Because I have been so impressed with this open source software running upon Windows XP, I have most recently downloaded the open source photo editing software called GIMP, and I’ll let you know more about that later.

OpenOffice.org provides the software for free, but they would like to get their users to contribute somehow to the entire project. I chose to write this testimonial to make other educators aware of how they can save money in their school districts. I have also decided to contribute my expertise with office type programs so that educators can feel free to ask me questions about how to use it. Finally, Please visit OpenOffice.org today, and try a free and wonderful tool that could save your company and/or school district a lot of money.