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.

How is a kitchen remodel like distance education?

I have to admit that when I came up with this topic that I was thinking it was an interesting title but that it should not take too long to make the connection.  I then said to myself this needs to be about my most recent kitchen remodel and that the readers need to understand that I just remodeled a kitchen at a rental property that was at a distance (some 140 miles away to be exact).  Now, of course, everyone would get it.

Not Quite!

Then I thought explain to them how you remodeled the kitchen without stepping one foot on the property until last Saturday to review the completed work.  Yes, right now they would understand.  Well, OK, I need to explain a little more.

So, during the most recent kitchen remodel, I knew I had one big problem.  Time and Distance.  The costs are real so I started using the Internet for resources.  First stop was Angie’s list where I found a great kitchen remodeling company with good reviews.  I contacted them and asked them to give me a quote.  I compared the quote to other companies, and I decided it was reasonable based upon comparisons over the internet.

Next I had to coordinate and settle upon a contract with the vendor.  The details were discussed, a contract was sent via text, signing occurred, and a four to five week wait was needed while the factory took the measurements and created the counter tops.

Also during that initial contract time I needed to visit Home Depot (one mile away) to pick out the Formica brand counter top number and style as well as sink, faucet and drawer options.  All information was communicated via text images and writings via a smart phone.

Obviously payment plans were easy over the phone and I set up a before, during, and after completed installments.  It was even nice to use the Bank of America 3% back on all purchases credit card.

I then reached out to my tenant to coordinate a convenient time for final measuring and future installation.  The installers waited for the counter tops to be built at the counter top factory then on two quick days (that were clearly communicated to all) it was installed.  During the installation process, I received timely photo updates from my tenant and communicated constantly with both the company and tenant via cell phone and email.

Then just this last Saturday I visited to see a wonderful kitchen remodel that has improved the value of this distant property.

Oh yes, so how is this like distance education?

To me, this series of events is similar to design of a distance education project.  I knew my subject matter ( a kitchen in a house that I have lived in previously for many years ).  I researched a company on a service that provided checks and balances, coordinated a clear project design document, and established a payment plan of checks and balances.  I communicated via email, text messaging, and phone calls with the project manager and the tenant at various phases during the project.  I was involved with the project, but I let experts do their job and gave ownership to key constituents.  I was at a distance so I never met or communicated with the installer but there were checks and balances in place to make sure it was done well (payments, project company, tenant).  Finally, I checked in, and  I followed through on the project.  And Yes, I recorded on iPad video the final project for documentation.

The kitchen is great, and so are distance education projects.  Project based learning really is the way to go to prepare students for a complex world that could easily give them a project that needs to be completed remotely.  Checking in with your students at various stages is extremely key in distance education as it promotes regular and effective contact, insures that students are following the rubric, helps you teach at a distance, and models what distance education is about for your students.   Always create checks and balances in your projects while leaving room for student creativity, engagement, research, and problem solving.

Thanks for listening to my crazy comparisons and as always I appreciate your positive feedback.  I am glad this did not end up the The Goldbergs kitchen remodel!

LGTV 32LD550

This past week my LG TV just froze at the startup screen.  After doing a little research with LG, youtube, and other frustrated customers, I found that the motherboard/circuit board needed repair.  There were various repair shops that wanted my business, but the cost of fixing, the fear of being taken advantage of, and the doubt of extended life were high in my mind.  Consequently, I tried a few things on my own.

The first which seemed logical was to open up the TV and investigate the circuitry.  Now if you have never worked with hardware before then I would not recommend opening up a TV, but because I had some basic experience building a computer and teaching students how to build computers I figured I could at least open it up and look at it.  To my surprise and delight I found that the TV circuit board was in great shape with no signs of burnout.  Consequently, I decided to disconnect all the wires, push a little button that looked like a reset button, and then reconnect the TV.  Upon turning it on again, I realized that did not work.  Sad, angry, and confused, I pushed on.

I kept searching on the web for an answer.  Finally I found what I was looking for at zedic.com ( http://zedic.com/lg-42dl550-fix-repair/ ).  Zedic recommended that baking a board would resolder bad connections.  I thought it was crazy until I read all the responses and researched how other computer hardware gurus had done the same thing with their older motherboards.  It began to make sense as the connections could have cracked or had air pockets.  So as a last resort I reopened the TV, carefully removed the circuit board, wrapped it in tin foil (as not to destroy our oven), baked it following the directions at Zedic, let it cool, inserted it, and then to my surprise everything worked.  I mean it really worked.  I danced, created a rap song, and was able to use my tv again.

Now I don’t know how long it will last, but at least I did not pay an absurd fee to get it repaired and I am extending the value of my original TV which should last longer than four years.  So why am I writing about this on this website called Absolutely Learning?  Well this is exactly the type of learning that needs to happen in our schools.  We need to create problem solving opportunities.  While I am not a fan of LG TV right now for its product, I do think there is something that can be learned in this.  No this is not a good business model, but yes this is a good learning scenario for life.  Absolutely Learning lives on once again.

Winter Break Challenge – Zoombla 2.0

About a year ago I created my first app for the iPhone and as I am reviewing my notes I realize that I missed some of the updates that I promised.  I am also getting messages from Apple that I should think about upgrading my app to work on newer iOS platforms such as iOS8.  I am writing you to make you aware of my Winter Break Challenge as I float into the holiday season, and I wanted to make you aware of it to keep my plans honest, transparent, and accountable.  Consequently, I will update Zoombla to Zoombla 2.0 for the die hard fans.  It will be free to you, and I hope we gain a new audience so you can continue playing your math game with family, friends, and maybe one day new acquaintances.  Thanks for all of your support of my apps this year.  2014 has been an amazing year.  I will publish again when it is done.  At the moment it looks like it will be a SpriteKit App as I am really enjoying the added user interface of the SpriteKit platform.

Designing Apps for Education

When I went into the field of educational technology full time, I knew I wanted to create, design, develop, troubleshoot, and release great learning modules for students and modern learners.  This past year I have had the great opportunity to hone my skills in iOS development for the iPad and the Iphone, and with the success of FIND CALCULATE COLOR, I see more apps on the horizon.  ( There is a free version that can be sampled should you want to try it out. )

Creating an App from design to production is a very rewarding experience, and with each new creation I am learning more about the design and development process and how the iOS apps can be harnessed for speed and the ultimate intuitive user experience.  Apple truly has a platform that allows a small business to thrive in a very competitive world or is it?

My apps are truly educationally focused first.  I don’t add Zombie’s for flair, and I try to meet a clear learning objective without trying to teach the entire curriculum.  I think there is much room for great educational apps that can be placed on the iPad growth within our educational systems.  I want to thank you for supporting Absolutely Learning this year.  It has made a world of difference to me and my personal attempt to put a positive stamp on this digital world.

An Instructional Design Specialist

Find Calculate Color, a math memory game for your iPad

Find Calculate ColorFIND CALCULATE COLOR is a math memory game that is designed to run on the iPad. In a grid of 48 tiles a user finds a number, calculates an equation, or chooses a color that will eliminate as many tiles on the board as possible. FIND CALCULATE COLOR is what it is. It is a math memory game.

There are four levels to explore and all levels produce random FINDS, CALCULATES, and COLORS. There is a easy level which can be demoed in the free version of Find Calculate Color. The Easy, Medium, Hard, and Equations levels are available in the purchased version, and by their names those levels are a bit more challenging. There are various versions of basic math and color choices, and the game generates random finds, equations, and color nodes. The game is very intuitive and simply requires the user to select by double tapping an answer or menu item. To play FIND CALCULATE COLOR a user needs to know his/her math facts and to have a good memory.

FIND CALCULATE COLOR is designed by Absolutely Learning and implements Objective C, Cocoa Touch and Sprite Kit animations to make the user interface more interactive and enjoyable. It is optimized for the iPad (iOS 7.1 versions and above).

FIND CALCULATE COLOR meets many math standards and learning strategies, but these Common Core State Standards are definitely implemented for grades 1 – 5.

CCSS.Math.Content.1.OA.C.6
Add and subtract within 20, demonstrating fluency for addition and subtraction within 10.

CCSS.Math.Content.2.OA.B.2
Fluently add and subtract within 20 using mental strategies.
CCSS.Math.Content.3.OA.B.5
Apply properties of operations as strategies to multiply and divide.

CCSS.Math.Content.3.OA.C.7
Fluently multiply and divide within 100.

CCSS.Math.Content.4.OA.A.1
Use the four operations with whole numbers to solve problems.

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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