What is possible?

I’m attending an event (the Ultimate Business Mastery Summit) which has really stretched my mind and made me think bigger. So much more engaging than the all too frequent boring academic presentations tied to dim lights and PowerPoint – which I’m sure I have been guilty of giving in the past too. 🙂

I have met with so many people here who are doing incredible things to make this world a better place, and have helped me see specific resources and resourcefulness in and around me which is so much greater than I was aware of before.

I guess as humans we usually only wake up ready to do things we think are possible. I now am seeing more clearly that so much more is possible than I ever previously imagined. Not because it wasn’t there before – simply because I did not see it or know how to utilize it.

Here is a message I recorded for the awesome ICT4D Class (sorry the end got cut off – ran out of battery):

For those in the ICT4D class, please leave a comment in reply to this blog entry indicating a time you might be free over the next couple weeks to meet with me online for a half hour so I can get to know you a little better.
[After that time, these times on Tuesdays and Thursdays will also likely be the hours I choose as my “Office Hours” – when I will be responding to your emails, taking care of class business, or when you can get a hold of me to discuss anything that is on your mind.]

After selecting the time (Helsinki time) that works best for you, please make sure no one else has already requested it in a comment below. (If none of these times work for you, please suggest two alternative times and I will pick the one which works best.)

Tuesday, April 7th
19:00 Vasilis
19:30 Tanya
20:00 Jani
20:30 Juha
21:00 Hamid
21:30 Monika

Thursday, April 9th
19:00 Thato
19:30 Ashes Timsina
20:00 Xavier
20:30 Robert
21:00 Thai Bui

Tuesday, April 14th
16:00 Aiguokhian Efosa
19:00 Marko
19:30 Rajarshi Sahai
20:00 Shahram
20:30
21:00 Vera
21:30 Yuliya
22:00 Myriam

Thursday, April 16th
19:00 Sören
19:30 Len
20:00 Marcus
20:30 Johan
21:00 Rasika

Building a Research Agenda – and Funding It

Building a Research Agenda – and Funding It

I recently was chosen as one of a few young scholars to participate in an Early Career Symposium, funded by an NSF grant (thanks to the vision of Dr. Chandra Orrill, University of Georgia), moneythat gave me some great insights into designing a meaningful research agenda as well as strategies for securing grants to fund it. I imagine a lot of it will apply to the ICT4D Consortium, as well as my interest in intercultural collaboration and innovation.

There was too much good content to capture it all here – but I was impressed simply by the mentors, their candid insights and suggestions, their ideas for ensuring your research and work makes a meaningful difference, and also by how doable it is to secure large grants for quality research. I am in the process of interviewing key people from several large grant awarding organizations and feel like I am getting a much better idea for how to increase the likelihood of a proposal being funded.

Following this symposium I also attended a membership meeting for the International Division of AECT and again was impressed by the quality of people there, and by how doable it is to receive awards like the Fullbright fellowship. After the symposium I was also able to meet with the CIO of the NSF and enjoyed discussing some of what the future of education and technology in education might hold. He invited me to visit with him more next time I am in Washington D.C., and I guess that provides me another reason for a visit there.

Quite often there is money or awards that are left on the table and unused simply because no one has submitted a quality application (or in some cases no one has submitted an application at all).
Even when there are a lot of applications submitted, there is always room to fund the best ones – so why not make one of them yours?

What happens in Vegas…

What happens in Vegas…

…gets posted to the Internet!

I just finished participating in an interesting seminar in Las Vegas and a shorter seminar in Toronto.Hug Clinic 2 One of the most memorable events was in Las Vegas when we were separated into groups to do something that seemed unlikely to accomplish. I was put into a group that was given the assignment to put on a “Hug Clinic” where in a period of only a few hours we needed to raise $1000 to be donated to a charity Hug Clinic 1of our choice – and not using any money from our own team. At the same time, each of us had a personal challenge – to do something or act in a role that would help us overcome a personal fear.

So we wrote on our t-shirts, made some signs, and went out on the streets to start hugging people and asking for donations.
With only 1 and a half hours left, we still only had just over one hundred dollars.

This motivated us to engage a couple of new strategies. I Hug Clinic 3was totally surprised that when our time limit had ended and we had collected $1049 for the Las Vegas children’s hospital!!!

One of our new strategies was to try and get my friend Neil on stage in front of a crowd somehow. Hug Clinic 4After talking to the M.C. of a big outdoor stage show he gave recognition to us and our cause – and then we were able to go around the audience (with a beautiful girl helping us) giving hugs and collecting over $500 in about an hour!
I hugged one woman, told them about our cause to raise money for the Las Vegas children’s hospital, and her husband gave me $10. Out of gratitude I gave her another hug. Then her husband paid me $20 more dollars to stop hugging his wife. 🙂

There were a ton of other funny, meaningful, and life-changing memories from the event (gathering a crowd pretending like we won on the slot machines, trying to get a ‘Siamese twin discount’ with my brother, McDonald’s moment of uniting the whole restaurant in a few moments, karaoke dancing, “power hugs”, people guessing my brother, friend, and I were Mormon because we seemed pure and were having “way too much fun for guys who have not been drinking”, etc.) Hug Clinic 6 – but here are just a few of my favorite quotes from the seminar itself:

“If things are difficult to do, sometimes it takes a little while to accomplish them. If things are ‘impossible’ to do, it just takes a little longer.”

“Never trust an ‘enlightened being’ that does not dance… You are invited to the party of loving life – so start showing it.”

“Something that often stops people from moving forward is fear (e.g. fear of rejection).”
“Fear does not necessarily mean STOP. It just means PAY ATTENTION.”

Hug Clinic 5“The world is going to be the way the world is going to be. The question is – how are YOU going to be in the world.”

“Ask the powerful questions.”

“Don’t worry about what you can’t do. Decide what you can do. As you take the step you can take, the next one will emerge.”

Thinking Bigger – like Gerald Rogers

Thinking Bigger – like Gerald Rogers

One of my friends, Kyle Matthews, recently pointed me in the direction of one of Seth Godin’s blog entries where he talked about Thinking Bigger.

I have just been in Florida for the last 4 days, where I saw how powerful this principle is. Real Estate Investor Summit 2008My brother, Gerald Rogers, had an idea about two months ago to put together a multi-speaker event, which he invited me to, but I had no idea what to expect. Well, in that short period of time he lined up some of the most powerful speakers (people like Tony Robbins‘ son Jairek, the business guru an NY times best selling author Chet Holmes, Than Merrill and other TV personalities, former sports stars and incredibly successful entrepreneurs), over a thousand people signed up to come, and for the hundreds of people who actually attended – it is quite possible everyone left with their lives dramatically changed for the better (including me)!


Gerald Rogers with Than Merrill


Testimonial Video (after just the first day)

Gerald had really never done anything like this before! But perhaps being driven by a passion to make other people’s lives better invites the universe to conspired with you — as it did with helping Gerald succeed in creating a world-class event! In addition to the speakers, I was impressed so much by the quality of the other friends I met there too. It seemed impossible to walk out of the experience we just had without being inspired and recognizing how this might indeed be one of the best times ever in the history of the world – and being motivated to take advantage of opportunities which are present and to really make a difference.

When I think about my brother, there are few people in my life that can make Gerald Rogersme laugh as hard or feel as loved as he does. Now there are few people who have done as much to inspire me to believe more in myself and think bigger. And it makes me so happy to see how Gerald is now thinking bigger in a way that allows hundreds (and no doubt thousands) more to benefit from the gifts and talents that God gave him.

Important Questions:

  • What if I told you that in two months from now you could help do something that would forever improve the lives of hundreds of people (both those you know and love as well as those you have never met)? Would you believe me that you could – and then have the courage to make it happen?
  • How much more could you do to make this world a better place, if only you had the courage to think bigger, focus, and follow through?
  • What are the strengths and talents that God has given you, so that you can make this world a better place?
  • What is it that is holding you back from doing that — and what could help you to eliminate the fear or mediocrity in your life so that you could increase your belief in yourself and your ability to think bigger?
Technology for Innovation and Education in Developing Countries (TEDC 2008)

Technology for Innovation and Education in Developing Countries (TEDC 2008)

At first it was way more work than TEDC attendees at Gandhi monument by the source of the NileI expected to organize a conference and workshop like TEDC – but in the end, it was a lot of fun to see it all come together and to have so much participation from local Ugandans and from the people from all around the world who attended.

Soon we will have uploaded the audio and hopefully at least some video from the keynote addresses and Appfrica session.
Tim Unwin keynote TEDC Megha Agrawal keynote Appfrica TEDC Warner Woodworth keynote TEDC Jon Gosier Appfrica

Here is a video slideshow I created which captures some of our experience from the 3 day conference.

(If it doesn’t play, you can go directly to this link: http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-7294789452996405975&hl=en)

Also, in the comment section to this blog entry Herment Mrema wanted to start a discussion regarding the way forward with what we gained from this conference. Whether you attended or not, feel free to add your thoughts…

If you attended:
What were the highlights of this year’s conference for you?
What was your main “take-aways”?
What would you like to see happen differently for next year?
Between now and then, how do you think we could be involved in supporting and learning from each other?

If you didn’t attend:
Why not, and how can we get you there next year?
In the time between now and then, would you like to be involved in this effort at all? If so, how?

The Questions We Ask: Reviewing 10 years of research on Cultural Attitudes Towards Technology and Communication for CATaC 2008

I wonder if anything has more impact on our future than the questions we ask?

First, if we take it on more of a micro-level, imagine going into any random meeting. You will see things differently and have a different experience if you are asking “How can I get out of this meeting as quickly as possible?” vs. “What meaningful things can I learn and/or contribute during this time?” vs “How can I make sure I don’t embarrass myself in this meeting like I did last time?”
The questions we ask reveal some about the assumptions we take into the situation, and also have an impact on the consequent experience we have.

As another simple example, when meeting a person imagine asking: “What does he/she think of me?” vs. “What is his/her life like?” vs. “How can I make this person’s life a little better?” vs “Why am I even talking to this person?”
Depending on which question(s) you are asking (consciously or subconsciously) you will most likely have a different perspective, experience, and outcome.

As I was conducting a review the last 10 years of research on papers presented at the bi-annual CATaC conference (Cultural Attitudes towards Technology and Communication), I was again impressed by the questions we ask in a research context. They are all laden with assumptions (usually unstated) and have an impact on how the research is conducted – including what end up being the findings and recommended future research.

For this paper we looked at:
• Who is asking the questions? (where are they from, what discipline do they represent, who do they work with)
• What questions are they asking?
• How do they go about finding answers to their questions? (what literature do they cite, what methods do they use, what population do they sample, etc.)
• What answers do they find?
• What suggestions do they have for future research?

Additionally, I kept asking myself, what assumptions might they be making in the questions they address?

Even working with great colleagues like Javier and Brooke, it was a ton of work (reading at least some sections of all 199 papers) – but perhaps one of the best things I have done professionally or personally. I now have a better idea for what has already been done in this field, what gaps there are, and what lines of inquiry have been more fruitful than others. On another level, I am more conscious of the assumptions behind the questions I ask and the potential impact they might have. I wonder, out of all the possible options, are these really the most valuable questions?

Your thoughts/reactions?
• In your personal and/or professional life, have you ever had an experience where you noticed that when you changed the questions you were asking it altered the way you saw the situation?
• Do you ever stop to examine the assumptions you are making which led to the questions you are asking?
• Of all the questions you could ask, why did you pick the ones you are asking? Do you think they are the most important or valuable ones you could be asking or is it for some other reason?

As a side line of thought:
• Do you think we ask ourselves enough questions? Why as we age do we seem to lose some of the curiosity of children and ask less questions?
• If not all questions are created equal, how can I lead myself to asking better and better questions?

Tools and Techniques for Online Cross-Cultural Knowledge Communication

Tools and Techniques for Online Cross-Cultural Knowledge Communication

DenmarkJust returning from Denmark (land of some of my ancestors), where I presented a paper at the Aarhus School of Business – “Knowledge 360” conference.

Perhaps the best thing about presenting my paper “Tools and Techniques for Online Cross-Cultural Knowledge Communication” – was that people in the audience knew about research and resources regarding Aarhus School of Businesscross-cultural innovation that I was not yet aware of. And it is always good to make connections with people who are doing interesting things which promise some potential of future collaboration.

One of the strangest things is that one of the most prolific faculty at the business school there, Connie Kampf, used to be the friendly girl serving me and my friends Orange Julius when we were teenagers at the Eden Prairie Center shopping mall in Minnesota years and years ago! (It is easy to remember because it was located near the arcade where we could get free tokens for getting good grades on our school report cards.)

In the last couple years, since we have both receivedAarhus our doctorates, I randomly met her in Malta, again in Estonia, now in Denmark and will see her later next month in the south of France!

Just goes to show what a crazy, small world this is – and that you never really know the potential or future of any ordinary person you meet on the street!

*So don’t give up on me just yet, I might one day do something worthwhile. 🙂 (No promises – but I’m just saying it is a possibility.)

What do Mormons believe?

What do Mormons believe?

Someone asked me recently “what do Mormons believe?” My previous blog entry, About Being a Mormon Christian: Facts about Mormons, briefly summarize some of the basic beliefs Mormon’s have (e.g. Facts, Faith, Family, Fruits). Click here to read that entry.

For this entry I wanted to briefly summarize a few things I have learned recently about the consequences of these beliefs – how the beliefs of Mormons translate into different actions.

I have always known that, for the most part, Mormon beliefs seem to produce pretty happy, normal people… VeNiciaJonny FudgeOur Trip to ChinaJeremy, Joey, ClintDad

Last weekend, however, I thought about things in a new way as I attended the semi-annual general conference of the Mormon church (which is really called The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints – “Mormon” is just a nick-name). It is an interesting event where the leaders of the Mormon Church give messages they feel are most pressing topics to address for the 6 months until the next conference. This conference was especially memorable as there was a new president and new first presidency called and sustained (one of whom is a retired Luftansa pilot from Germany). Over 100,000 people attended at the 5 different sessions at the conference center in Salt Lake City, and the meetings are also broadcast via satellite all over the world in almost 80 languages.

In one of the addresses at conference, Bishop David H. Burton was speaking about the story of the good Samaritan in the Bible and asked, in todays world – who is my neighbor? He then shared some statistics about the humanitarian efforts of the Church that I think even most members of the Mormon church didn’t know.

In 2007, the Church responded with support and supplies to those affected by:

  • major earthquakes in 5 countries,
  • massive fires in 6 countries,
  • hunger and famine in 18 countries,
  • and flooding and severe storms in 34 countries.

For example, when the firestorms in southern California destroyed 1,500 homes and forced over a million people to evacuate, the Mormon Church responded quickly by providing cleaning kits, blankets, hygiene kits, and food. Over 5,000 Mormon volunteers along with missionaries cleaned, cooked, comforted, and cared for those affected.

Additionally The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has sponsored:

For example, over 54,000 Church members volunteered to help, working with the World Health Organization, to eliminate measles (a killer of almost a million children each year). A Church member in Nigeria wrote: “I called our labor the ‘rescue of the innocent.’ We went house-to-house and village hall to village hall. A woman told us she had lost three children to measles. She told her story with such grace and passion that there was not a dry eye in the house, mine included.” Our volunteer observed, “The things you do for yourself are gone when you are gone, but the things that you do for others remain as your legacy.” And especially the legacy of your faith in something greater than you.

As another example, the Church is still in their fourth-year of helping those devastated by a tsunami in Indonesia and southern Asia. Funding was provided to help build 902 homes, with 3 community centers, 24 village water systems, 15 schools, and 3 medical centers. In Ethiopia, the Church drilled wells and constructed storage tanks for helping give access to clean water. Communities organized a water committee and dug the trenches needed to pipe the water from the storage tanks to each village. In some cases this was a distance of over 3 miles (5 km).

In total The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and its members responded to 170 major events—nearly one every two days for the entire year. Bishop Burton said, “It was a busy year with many opportunities to serve.”

Another story I found interesting was shared by Elder Henry Eyring. He was in the office of President Hinckley, then president of the Church, when President Hinckley was asked to take a phone call. He said there was a brief phone conversation and then they returned to their conversation. But President Hinckley took a moment to explain. He said that the call was from the president of the United States, who was flying over Utah in Air Force One on his way to Washington. The president of the United States had called to thank President Hinckley for what Church members had done in the aftermath of a hurricane. The president of the United States had said that it was a miracle that the Mormon Church was able to get so many people, so quickly, working together so well. He praised the Mormon church by saying that they knew how to do things.

The way in which the Church is prepared to help people in need is impressive to most people but, more important than any praise from a leader or dignitary, it is most important to those who are in need and to those who are blessed to be able to be the ones helping.

And one thing that I think impressed me the most was that all of it is done with no strings attached. There is not even any proselyting attached to any humanitarian effort, and often the Church will provide the resources – but work through a local organization to make sure that impact is put before worrying about who gets credit. There is a big emphasis on making sure service and aid is given at the right times of need, but also given with the right motivation (not for any praise, but simply out of love).

Something equally interesting to me was attending a conferenceNobel Peace Prize Laureate Muhammad Yunus (left) with Warner Woodworth. The Bangladesh-based pioneer of micro-credit finance calls young Latter-day Saint volunteers the 'Mormon Peace Corps' the day following conference hosted by the LDS International Society. I quickly became aware that it was not just the central Church organization doing things to make this world a better place, but many ordinary members take upon themselves to start NGOs or join humanitarian efforts which really have made a difference for millions and millions of people around the world. For example, this picture is of Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Muhammad Yunus (left) with Warner Woodworth. The Bangladesh-based pioneer of micro-credit finance calls young Latter-day Saint volunteers the ‘Mormon Peace Corps’. I would share more examples of ordinary members who have made a big difference, but fear this blog entry is getting too long already. Perhaps I will add a few of them as a comment later.

So why? Why does the Church and so many of its members do all of this?

One reason might be because of how Joseph Smith articulated what itJoseph Smith means to be a Christian. He taught that “love is one of the chief characteristics of Diety, and ought to be manifested by those who aspire to be the sons of God. A man filled with the love of God, is not content with blessing his family alone, but ranges through the whole world, anxious to bless the whole human race” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 174).

On another occasion Joseph Smith said something else I liked, “I love that man better who swears a stream as long as my arm, yet deals justice to his neighbors and mercifully deals his substance to the poor, than the smooth-faced hypocrite. I do not want you to think that I’m very righteous… There was one good man, and his name was Jesus” (Documentary History of the Church, 5:401). [For more Joseph Smith quotes, click here.]

So what do Mormons believe? In short, they believe in trying their best to be more like Jesus – to be better Christians. I think everyone sees their own imperfections, but if people are really trying to live like Jesus taught (which is no easy task), then that desire provides limitless opportunities for imperfect people to see how they are needed in helping to make the world a better place.

A nice surprise – feedback on “Experiencing an International Virtual Team”

Hope you don’t mind if I share some good news with you. I was very pleasantly surprised by it!

I recently got the reviews back from a paper submission we had made to an academic conference. The paper is a synthesis of some of my work in Finland (titled “Experiencing an International Virtual Team”) and the program planner for the International Division said that ours was: “perhaps the best proposal submitted to our division. Thanks for the submission. Virtual international collaboration is not only a must technological reach but a global responsibility.”

I thought that was a great compliment, and it was fun to share with the great Ph.D. students who worked with me on it. Three out of the five reviewers gave it 100%!

One reviewer said: “STRENGTHS of the Proposal: 1. Good references to appropriate literature. 2. A wonderful paper! 3. Very well-written. 4. A strong contribution to the research and theory on international communication; this will be a trend in research for the present and future!”

OK – enough of that for now. With the negative feedback that often comes from different papers or projects, it is especially nice to hear and share good news, celebrating the moment of its arrival.

How to get a message to spread: and why most marketers do not understand how the Internet has changed our lives

How to get a message to spread: and why most marketers do not understand how the Internet has changed our lives

Seth GodinSince I heard Seth Godin (a “guru” in online marketing) speak yesterday morning, I have not been able to stop thinking about some of his key messages. I’ll explain why I keep thinking about them at the end of this entry. I’m also very interested in your comments – what do you think are the best ways to get a message to spread?

The Old Way to Spread a Message: The old model of marketing was to try and interrupt as many people as you can with impersonal messages (through TV advertisements, magazine ads, billboards, etc) – and if you spent $1 getting your word out by interrupting people and made $1.10 in return, then you could spend it interrupting more people. Most CEOs and marketing people think that this same approach applies on the Internet and with online communication. Although this same (and frequently annoying) approach might still meet some degree of success online (in buying sponsored key-words, sending emails, putting up banner-ads) – ultimately the old model will fail in this new medium when head-to-head with what actually works.

The reality is that there are so many channels of information sources now that people can often ignore a company, even when it is spending billions of dollars in trying to interrupt you. Unless it is directly relevant or at least mildly entertaining, then they do not have time and they do not care. You can keep polishing your message, but it is simply a little pin in a wicked-huge haystack!

The main point:

Create something worth talking about. If you do not have that step, the next step will not mean much at all. (You can not buy attention, not effectively, not widespread.)

Ideas that spread, win.

In the middle (the majority) people strive to be average (only we live in a world where everything is usually good enough and we don’t have much time so we usually just pick what is either cheaper or closer), but on the edges people wait in line.

Definition of remarkable = worth making a remark about. If people remark about it, then the idea spreads.

Be remarkable (if you do not do this, do not go to step 2) – tell a story to your “sneezers” (the early adopters and innovators) – they spread the word (do what used to be your job) – get permission (the privilege of delivering anticipated, personal, and relevant messages – the kind that if they don’t come then people complain about not getting them).

There are two ways to get married: 1. Go to a singles bar, and the first girl you meet ask her right away to marry you. If she says no, then go to the next girl and ask her. If she says no, then go to the next one until you can find one who says yes (i.e. impersonal widespread invitations). 2. Find a girl, date her and get to know her, when you see there is a match then ask her to marry you (i.e. building a meaningful, welcome relationship). Most of marketing takes the first approach. The better thing to do is to create products, services, messages that people actually care about, and want to talk about and have more of. And of course, web analytics is one tool (of many) that can help people determine who is on the site, what do they care about, and how to customize the experience more on a one-to-one basis.

To read more of the details of Seth’s talk, you can read Kirk’s or Rob’s blogs (as they describe more of his talk) – or look at Seth’s new book: Meatball Sundae

Personal Application: I started to think about an idea that my sister and I have been working on for a couple months now. Originally we were just thinking about it in terms of a really cool children’s book (which I think could be a bit hit). After Seth’s talk, I started to think of other ways to use the technology available to customize, enhance, and easily spread it in a way that would make it something worth talking about. Does anyone who has programming skills want to find out more and see if you want to help me develop the idea?

Questions: Do you agree with Seth that the Internet has changed our lives in the ways mentioned? What do you think are the best ways to get a message to spread?

Lance Armstrong – and the call to “active citizenship”

Lance Armstrong – and the call to “active citizenship”

Lance ArmstrongI heard Lance Armstrong, the famous cyclist and cancer survivor, speak last night at the Omniture 2008 Summit. Through sharing his story of surviving cancer, his multiple Tour de France wins, and his hugely successful LiveStrong movement (already sold nearly 70 million of those yellow bands) – his main point was to encourage everyone in the audience to do more to bridge the gap in society between what we know and where we actually are.

Funniest part: when he described the doctor who was trying to explain how simple his cancer surgery would be. The doctor enlisted the metaphor of Halloween – and had Lance envision taking a pumpkin, cutting the top off, carving out everything that was inside, and then just putting the top back on. Lance had testicular cancer! So it is understandable when he said he has never seen Halloween quite the same since then, and prefers if his kids ask his wife to help with the pumpkin carving.

Main Summary: He invoked the notion of active citizenship – or all of us being more involved in our community. He said that we know we need to because we are falling short, in schools, hospitals, homes, – we need to somehow shrink the gap between what we know and where we are at. “That is the gap between what we know how to do vs what we actually do – and everything in the middle is a moral and ethical failure in America.”

Speaking of the 70 million who have boughtLance Armstrong the yellow LiveStrong wristbands, he said it is nice to have an army of people who believe in change and want to do something about it. He emphasized that it was not just with cancer, but with so many things. He encouraged everyone to find the issue that they were most concerned about and then do something (even if not with money, then with time).

“We need your time, your energy, and most importantly your passion.”

Personal Reflection and Question: I think one of my key “issues” is intercultural (and interfaith) communication, collaboration, and innovation. It fascinates me and I think there is so much good that can be done through it for everyone involved. I think, however, that is part of my larger issue/passion – which is finding anything that helps people to see and reach more of their potential.

Question Mark

 

What is one of your issues?
For whoever reads this, pause for a moment and post something, anything. I am really interested to know what it is that you care about?
Please post something, the first thing that comes to your mind – I am really very curious.

 

 

How Web Analytics Changes Business…the 2008 Omniture Summit

How Web Analytics Changes Business…the 2008 Omniture Summit

The use of web analytics is not just changing online business, but all of business. That is one of the key messages that Josh James, CEO of one of the fastest growing and most innovative companies, Omniture, shared this morning at the opening session of the 2008 Omniture Summit.

Six years ago there was 6 clients (or rather potential clients) Omniture Logoin attendance at the “Omniture Summit” this year there will be nearly 2,000 in Salt Lake (3,000 worldwide), from over 750 companies (more than 1,000 globaly – Sydney, Paris, Copenhagen, London, Munich, Tokyo) and those in one room representing more than 30% of the online marketing spend in the world. For example, this morning alone I have already talked to people from CNN, the NFL, Gateway, Microsoft, Convergys, HP, and on and on.

The reason web analytics is doing so much to change business (online and off-line) is simple. Because of the way in which everything can be tracked online – making ideas more measurable than ever before – this helps instill a data-driven mindset into an organization. Instead of “shooting from the hip” and arguing simply based on opinion, you can channel all that creativity into testing situations and consequently have data-driven results and recommendations for any decision you make.

The Omniture Summit will continue over the next couple days, and students in my ISys 590R Web Analytics class will be blogging about what they learn from:Lance Armstrong

  • the keynote speakers (including people like Peter Kim – Forrester Research, Seth Godin – Marketing Guru, and Lance Armstrong – famous Athlete and speaker),
  • consulting best practice presentations (in industry verticals like eCommerce, Media, High Tech, Financial Services, etc..),
  • new tools and improvements on existing tools (e.g SiteCatalyst v.14, Discover, SearchCenter, Behavioral Targeting, tracking Video, Flash, Ajax, etc.),
  • and success case studies (e.g. Ford, MTV, National Geographic, Blockbuster, Dex Media, BackCountry.com, etc…).

I feel lucky to be teaching one of the only web analytics classes offered at any business school in any university (yet one more reason why BYU is great). To read more about the incredibly valuable things my very cool students are learning and blogging about, see our online class space: http://ebiz2.byu.edu/analytics/

Kitee PhD Day Seminar – Saunas, S’mores, and Snowmen

Kitee PhD Day Seminar – Saunas, S’mores, and Snowmen

Kitee Logo

We had a great PhD day seminar, with about 13 participants from FinlandKitee snow men party, Estonia, Australia, UK, USA, and Spain. We want to thank Ulla Kakkonen and Eeva Turtiainen for allowing us to use the facilities at The Evangelic Folk High School of Kitee, and Ulla even teaching us about “toivon, valvon, and kiitan”.

Snow Men building at Kitee

In addition to building two excellent snow men (more pictures available at Antony Harfield’s blog), enjoying some s’mores with everyone, and having a relaxing time in the sauna, pool, and steam room — we also had some great presentations and stimulating discussions about a variety of topics.

Below are some of the presentations. Each description is now a hyper link to the corresponding mp3 of the discussion.

My questions for you again:

  1. Do you listen to these at all?
  2. Are they helpful – or how could they be more helpful?
  3. Should we continue to provide recordings like this?
Recordings for EdTech Ph.D. Seminar on 30.10.2007 @ EdTech Lab

Recordings for EdTech Ph.D. Seminar on 30.10.2007 @ EdTech Lab

EdTech Logo

Thanks for all who participated in an interesting seminar! Don’t forget the next seminar at Kitee on 21.11.2007 (see http://clint.wisdomoftheworld.com/?p=77)

We still need some work on figuring out the best ways to handle video and audio in this environment (especially for people who wish to join us from developing countries), but at least this represents a start at trying to include people at a distance in these PhD seminars.
I’m sure one day we will look back and think about how primitive these tools are, but for now it is the best we have.

  • Report by Erkki’s trip to South Africa & Discussion with Marjo from San Diego (unfortunately, although we could hear her great, the mic didn’t record Marjo very well as we tried to capture her voice from Skype into Adobe Connect): (Duration – 00:31:36) http://connectpro64128288.emea.acrobat.com/p92688056/
  • Discussion led by Clint about research by the Gallup organization regarding what is it that people have in common who are excellent at what they do (in business, education, sports, entertainment, etc.). We discussed the one thing they found these people had in common. (Duration – 00:24:50) – For part of this time (starting at about 00:17:00) we broke into groups and I do not think anyone will want to watch that part. http://connectpro64128288.emea.acrobat.com/p38892677/
  • Presentation by Andres about his research in Tanzania (his audio was not very consistent for us, but you can actually hear the first parts of it better once his slide show starts in the recording than we did in real life). Once you are viewing it, you can also see in the “file share” pod a document called presentation.pdf – click on it and save it to your computer, or you can also find it as an attachment on my blog entry about this PhD day. He has requested that we please review the presentation document and email him any feedback you have for his research! (Duration – 00:17:34) http://connectpro64128288.emea.acrobat.com/p80216809/

I have some questions for you now:

  1. Did you watch any of these?
  2. Were they helpful?
  3. Should we continue to do this?
  4. Any other suggestions/ideas to make it better?
EDEN in Sweden

EDEN in Sweden

EDEN logo

I present today at the European Distance and E-learning Network’s (EDEN) 6th Open Classroom Conference. The theme of the conference is “Real Learning in Virtual Worlds”. I have already learned some valuable things and will blog them throughout the conference, but here is one of my initial reactions.

I have sat through a few of the normal boring sessions, occasionally hearing the typical sweeping rhetorical fallacies such as “Video conference is more effective than face-to-face methods”; “Books are worthless and should be done away”; “ICT improves the effectiveness of learning”; and so on.

I suppose that since the jobs and livelihood of these people is tied to ICT in education that I should not be surprised to hear marketing jargon and messages like this instead of scientifically critical and contextualized statements – but I get weary of hearing them (including when they have come from me in the past).

As one example, the “no significant difference phenomenon” seems so well established with regard to media comparison studies that we really don’t need any more media comparison studies or statements. Rather, much more interesting and productive are discussions and experiments with novelties in pedagogy, educational ideologies and approaches (enabled through various media). Especially when they are contextualized to specific situations, assessed in the best way we know how, and published in an open and replicatable way.

  • What specific problems exist in previous teaching/learning situations?
  • How do the new approaches solve those problems?
  • What do we give up in exchange for these “solutions”?
  • Etc…

It would be unfair to say that every presentation has been uninteresting or stereotypical, and I have met quite a few people doing very interesting things, but I just wanted to vent my pet peeve. I’ll email more later about things I have learned and enjoyed.

___

 

On the positive (and somewhat random) side – (1) the sun was out all day yesterday, and (2) when I came to a cross-walk on a busy street in Stockholm I was pretty surprised when all the cars from both directions stopped so that I could cross. 🙂

 

Two EdTech Ph.D. Seminars: (1) On 30.10.2007 @ EdTech Lab and (2) On 21.11.2007 @ Kitee Folk High School

Two EdTech Ph.D. Seminars: (1) On 30.10.2007 @ EdTech Lab and (2) On 21.11.2007 @ Kitee Folk High School

To begin with, click here to subscribe to the EdTech Google calender that Ilkka has kindly created:

 

______________________________________________

University of Joensuu EdTech Ph.D. Seminar Program for 21.11.2007

Kitee logo

**The tentative schedule will look something like this.

10:00am – We will car pool from the Science Park at to the Kitee Folk High School

12:00 – We will have a short lunch Eating

1:00-3:00pm – Presentations (I am not yet sure if we will be able to broadcast this one to all EdTech students or not.)meeting room

So far we have:

1. Michael de Raadt (visiting from University of Southern Queensland, Australia) – will present and raise some questions about Peer Assessment:

  • Is peer assessment a valid form of assessment?
  • Can peer assessment save instructors time?
  • Should students be rewarded for participating in peer assessment?
  • Can students give accurate subjective reviews of a peer's work?

He will also discuss the approach to distance education (and education in general) from an Australian perspective less formally, if people are interested.

2. Antti Rainio (from the Kittee Folk High School) – will present about TEDIT ? (Towards Equality and Democracy Through IT-education):

  • TEDIT is a planned project for years 2008-2011 in Lusaka, Zambia. Project is about giving skills to 24 Zambian people to teach computers and to understand democracy and good administration as well as project coordination. Aim is that these people can spread this knowledge and offer basic computer skills education to 200 orphans during the project. In larger scale the project is about enhancing democracy and equality in the Zambian society.

3. Eeva Turtiainen (one of our students and also working at Kitee Folk High School) will present about her “not-so-ready” research plan 🙂

  • Title “Educational games in mathematics”.

4. Clint Rogers (visiting researcher at Joensuus Yliopisto) – will present about his evaluation of and recommendations for the IMPDET program.

  • Evaluation of the IMPDET program

3:00-5:00pm – We will have small group discussions and brainstorming sessions.

5:00-8:00pm – We will continue discussions over a nice dinner and time in the sauna, steam room, and pool Sauna picture (Unfortunately for sure we will not be able to broadcast this part). pool pictureClint will also be bringing materials for everyone to learn how to make a type of Smores. Yum!

8:00pm – Some will travel back to Joensuu

For those of us who are staying the night, we will watch a movie that one critic said “This film will impact the course of your life forever.” After we will discuss the learning/teaching approaches in it and potential implications for educational technology
As people continue to submit ideas for presentation at this seminar, I will post them here accordingly.

________________________________________________________

University of Joensuu EdTech Ph.D. Seminar Program for 30.10.2007

University of Joensuu logoEd Tech Logo

**Thanks for a great seminar – recording URLs can be found at: http://www.clintrogersonline.com/blog/?p=81

This was at 10:00am (GMT +3) in the EdTech Lab – but as we will be including any of our students or faculty around the world who want to participate, you can go to the World Clock Meeting Planner to see what time it will be for you where you live.

If you are at a distance, you must simply click on this URL to join the meeting: http://connectpro64128288.emea.acrobat.com/edtechseminaroct30/

Here was the initial program.

(9:45-10:00) People at a distance should click on the link, and we will work out any bugs before the meeting begins.
10:00-10:10 Welcome and Introductions by Erkki Erkki – (and distribution of Halloween Candy by Clint)
10:10-10:30 Presentation by Marjo (from California): about her research and experiences in San Diego
10:30-10:45 Presentation by Temtim Temtim(from Ethiopia): Introduction of himself to the research group

10:45-11:00 Short break

11:00-11:30 Demonstration (and discussion) by Illka and Javier Javier pictureof North-South Gateway (e.g. progress on Tug-of-War)

11:30-11:45 Informal discussion on some spontaneous topic of interest

11:45 – Presentation by Andrés: “What to do in Tanzania during November” (see: Copy of Andrés Presentation – please review in advance)

Amazing what you can do with an iPod or free open source learning software and resources

I just participated in the e-Learning DevCon 2007 conference over the last three days, and here were some of the topics and practical skills that I learned more about:

  • How to create effective simulations for learning
  • What Web 2.0 things do and do not work for corporate “knowledge management” purposes
  • How to use video iPods for interactive learning (very interesting – never seen before how interactive an iPod can be)
  • “Google gadgets” for learning
  • How to create video blogs (vlogs) using a software called Vlog It! (which I hope to do soon!)
  • How to create custom search engines with Google or EBSCO
  • Effective ways to utilize and promote “drivetime podcasts”
  • More about effective interactive design
  • Overview of all the open source learning software and resources
  • Using cookies to track learning data in Flash
  • The power of video ethnographies in e-learning
  • Must read book lists
  • And a bunch more…

To be honest, the conference started a little slow for me, but by the end I was very glad that I went.

David Wiley on a False Dichotomy in Online Education (Scalability vs. Expensive Human Interaction) and on Localization

Laws, Howell & Lindsay (2003) contributed a thoughtful article called: Scalability in Distance Education: Can We Have Our Cake and Eat it Too? In this article they provide justification for the view that in online education there are trade-offs. For example, if you want to focus learning on the higher-level thinking skills (e.g. creating and evaluation) then you are going to need a greater degree of interaction with faculty, and it will be less scalable and less affordable.

In contrast, David Wiley spoke last week to a group of faculty, students and administration at BYU about “Openess, Localization and the Future of Learning Objects.” I can’t capture the whole presentation here, but he did make a distinction between what currently happens in “education” vs. what happens in “everyday” life for most students.

Education

Everyday

Analog

Digital

Tethered

Mobile

Isolated

Connected

Generic

Personalized

Consuming

Creating

Closed

Open

Even with most of the ways in which classrooms are becoming blended and online, they simply have made the transition from analog to digital – and tethered to mobile. They remain quite isolating (sometimes more than a normal class even), generic, consuming (as in simply taking in information and spitting it back out for assignments and tests), and closed (you can not see much about what the course covers before you take it, and after you are done with the course you can not go back to review the information you covered).

My synthesis of the valuable info from Laws, Howell & Lindsay (2003) in comparison to that of Wiley is that the dichotomy between scalability and interaction seems to exist simply when we have the old paradigm of education (where the knowledge comes mainly in a one-way flow from the teacher). In a new paradigm, where everyone is a teacher/learner, and knowledge exists in communities and connections – scalability is possible simultaneously with creativity and interactions.

The example that Wiley gave was the phenomenon of family history. Huge online communities of all different skill levels participate in learning about their own genealogy. There are premium services that allow formal “courses” for a fee, but most of the time you can learn what you need to from others who might be one or twenty steps ahead of you. It is very digital, mobile, connected, personalized, creating and open.

These types of communities seem to better represent the way that people learn and work in the connected, “flat” world. Outlet for creativity and connections (e.g. YouTube) allow people to pour energy into creating, sharing, and adapting. The keys to developing tools and platforms that people actually adopt and use – from Wiley’s perspective – are the following: Free, Simple and Easy. He argued that DRM (digital rights management) is an arms race and futile – and that we should rely on other incentives than strictly market incentives. (e.g. Red Hat, Ancestry.com, and Universities themselves – all just add value around the commodity of content.)

I also found his following comments about adaptability (localization) particularly interesting, as they are tied to some of my key interests:

“Adaptability is even more critical an issue in the developing world than it is here” (although it is a big issue here too)

“Learning Objects [that are not adaptable] are a Trojan horse for Western imperialization.”

“Just as important as OERs (Open Educational Resources) is thinking about tools and local capacity for adapting OERs to the local context. And mechanisms for locally produced or adapted OERs to be shared back [so the original creators can learn from the adaptations]”

“Having a degree in Instructiona Design is not equivalent with cultural omniscience. (We quite often do now know what examples are meaningful to their lives, what language, what stories, etc.) – recognizing this will create some humility in us hopefully.”

“Principles in classroom are not necessarily the same principles that work online.”

The upcoming conference looks promising – Open Learning 2007: Localizing and Learning

 

 

Technology to Replace Teachers?

Technology to Replace Teachers?

 Light Bulb

I joined my excellent co-authors in presenting a paper about “A Web 2.0 Global Community Learning Platform” the final plenary session of the ID+SCORM conference this last week. But that is not what I want to talk about.

During one of the sessions, I heard something that I keep thinking about. The presenter talked about how efforts to use technology in education sometimes makes teachers feel threatened, especially when rhetoric regarding the replacement of teachers by technology exists. I thought this presenter made a good point. He said that technology would never replace teachers, but it is more likely that teachers who use technology effectively will replace teachers who do not. Just some food for thought.

Reflections on Forrest Camp II

Reflections on Forrest Camp II

Globe
I was just reading Ilkka’s blog about his Forrest Camp experience and it made me think about it again in a different way. There was some structure, but there was also a lot of open time.

What I loved is that people took advantage of the open time in ways that I thought captured the ideal philosophy behind that kind of conference. Random meetings emerged from ideas and conversations (e.g. Ahmed and Ilkka making an impromptu presentation about their research question and requesting feedback on methodology, Piet’s late night impromptu presentation and discussion about more existential issues – context using his home town as an example, late night discussions at the sauna and in the dining hall, etc).

What happened at the Forrest Camp – spontaneous meetings and free-flow structure allowed ideas to come in a way that is less possible with too many formal, structured meetings. Of course some of that is always good to get new synergistic ideas or basic training, but as graduate students and professors it is nice to simply have more time to discuss, dream, and enjoy each others company in a beautiful area.