Become Financially Literate

Become Financially Literate

There are so many good people right now that are swimming in debt, losing their homes, or just feeling a ton of fear and uncertainty regarding their own financial situation as well as the financial security of their country and the world.

The old plan — study hard, get a good job, work hard, and save what you earn — does not work anymore.
The current education system does not prepare students to understand money or the financial system, and sadly many academics fail to even emphasize its importance or impact on almost everything we do.

Some brief and incomplete history (Part of this taken from Robert Kiyosaki’s recent book and some of the dates and info is taken from CNN):

* In 1913 the Federal Reserve was created, even though the Founding Fathers were very much against a national bank that controlled the money supply. It is not federal or American, it has no reserves, and it is not a bank. This is a bold statement, but Fedthere is a good argument that it basically creates a way for the rich to continue to print money, when needed, to stay in power.
* In 1971, without authorization from congress, President Nixon sealed the deal when he severed the relationship between the US Dollar and Gold. This led to the largest economic boon in the history of the world (and today, in 2009, that boom has busted). Basically, instead of raising taxes, the government can borrow money. And when the dollar is not tied to gold or anything of concrete value, it is simply valued based on the perception of the ability of the lender to repay the amount. The ability for the printing of money without tie to gold, and in order to cover the debts we owe, etc — is where the concerns regarding inflation become disconcerting.
* In August 2007, after one of the largets home mortgage providers in America declared bankruptcy, and problems with sub-prime loans became more evident, global credit started to freeze. To attempt to mitigate the problem, in the span of 3 working days the European Central Bank pumped almost 204 billion Euros into the system (to try and stimulate lending and liquidity).
* On October 9, 2007, the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed at a historic high of 14,164. Things looked good on the surface, so the US presidential campaign virtually glossed over the issue of the economy.
* On Sept 29, 2008, less than a year later, the Dow plunged the single largest amount in its history, dropping 777 points in one day. In the first week of October, 2008, the Dow dropped another 2,380 points.
* June 2009 – the US Government announced it had spent a $94.32 billion budget deficit in the month of June alone, totaling $1.086 trillion deficit in the first 9 months of 2009 alone.
* July 2009 – Being 18 months into the recession, the national US unemployment rate now is standing at 9.5% (with most analysts expect it to grow past 10%). In Michigan, unemployment has reached 15%, the largest unemploment rate in a state for over three decades.
* By September 2009, 650,000 Americans will have used up all of their unemployment benefits (which last a standard of 26 weeks) — with a total of 4.4 million people expected to eventually find this same fate. Other parts of the world are in a catch 22, frightened by how dependent they have become on such a flawed system and at the same time wanting the US economy to succeed because so much of their economy is based on US consumers, etc.

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Following the old rules of money (e.g. get a stable job, save, live off of retirement funds, etc) — especially when the entire financial system has changed so much – is simply not going to work. In the Agrarian Age, and even the Industrial Age, financial literacy was not as important, as working hard and saving were usually enough.
Today it is not enough.
Understanding rules of money regarding 1. taxes, 2. debt (good uses and bad uses), and 3. inflation, are key in avoiding a lot of the pain that comes when intelligent people feel helpless in the current financial situation.

Can politicians save us?
In September 2008, President Bush passed a bill for $700 billion in Bushbailout money, promising to fix a system that was broken. His father did a similar thing, requesting $66 billion to bailout the Savings and Loan Industry, which shortly went under, and the “rescue” package ended up costing tax payers more like $150 billion. Why would we think that bailout money was going to fix the system? Makes it hard to trust.

President Obama’s slogan is Change We Can Believe In, yet why does he have so many of the same economic advisers as the Clinton administration?Obama and Crew
Robert Rubin, Larry Summers, and Timothy Geithner all contributed to the repeal of the Glass-Steagal Act of 1933, which was put in place after the last great depression to protect us against the risky banking investments (e.g. the derivative investments) that brought the collapse. Why would they repeal it in the first place, and then why would we want them to lead the financial future of our country now?
Why would Obama employ the same men who contributed so much to the current problem? Because politicians are usually in place to maintain the system, not to change it. Perhaps he will be able to change it, but how with the current system and players in place is that possible? It seems unlikely.

In mid-December 2008, USA Today asked the banks what they were doing with the bailout money.
* JP Morgan Chase (received $25 billion) said “We have not disclosed that to the public. We are declining to.”
* Morgan Stanley (received $10 billion) said “We are going to decline to comment on your story.”
* The Bank of New York Mellon responded “We’re choosing not to disclose that.”

The truth is that it seems the “bailout” is really a bailout for the rich. It is a way whereby taxpayers can pay for the mistakes, and protect the system of supporting the wealthiest individuals and organizations.

Some of the proof lies in trying to find out what happened to the money ($148 billion) that was intended to stimulate lending? The Wall Street Journal reported that there was a decrease in lending by 10 of the top 13 bank recipients of the TARP program.

If any of this seems controversial and confusing to you, join the crowd. Assuming even a portion of it is true, then the question is what can we do?
One of the first steps is becoming more educated about money (and the system behind it). This will help you to be in control of it, instead of letting it control you.

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I know this is a ramble which is seemingly not aligned with my typical blog entries, but it is just so important to talk more about, especially when so many people are in such a vulnerable situation.

I could keep on spew out info, but the essence of what I am trying to say is that financial knowledge (including wise approaches to taxes, debt, and inflation) are so important. Knowledge is power.

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What’s your thoughts:

* Do you feel becoming financially literate is important? Why or why not?
* If so, where have been your best sources for educating yourself financially?

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?

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?

Custom Search Engines and Updated RSS Feeds

Custom Search Engines and Updated RSS Feeds

I followed the example of Rich Hoeg in using Google Co-Op to create a Search Engine that indexes current and archived business management and strategy podcasts from top academic business schools (MIT, Harvard, Stanford, Dartmouth, Wharton, and Insead – with campuses in France and Singapore). I also used RSS Include to embed custom RSS Feed readers for the most recent podcasts from a couple of the above mentioned schools.

If you are reading this post from an RSS Feed, you will have to link directly to my blog to see the search engine and automatic feeds.

  • Search Engine:

eBusiness Center Logo

  • Podcasts:

Stanford:

Harvard:

MIT:

Insead:

My first book! – “Understanding the Whole Student: Holistic Multicultural Education”

I’m excited that a book I am co-authoring with Cliff Mayes, Ramona Cutri, and Fidel Montero has been accepted for publication with Rowman and Littlefield Publishing Group –Understanding the Whole Student: Holistic Multicultural Education.

Forgive me for a little bit of indulging, but I was pleasantly surprised (to say the least) at these very complimentary reviews:

“This may be the most important book on teaching and learning to have emerged in years. The authors have masterfully crafted an in-depth analysis of holistic education, while humanizing the multicultural experience as a pedagogical imperative. The text is well organized, clearly written, and meticulously researched. Faculty and students in teacher preparation programs, in graduate education programs, and those parents, administrators, and teachers working with children in today’s classrooms will find this book timely, insightful, highly engaging, and critically essential. I applaud the authors for this most significant contribution to the field of education.” Thomas Nelson, Professor of Education, University of the Pacific, Editor, Teacher Education Quarterly

“In Holistic Multicultural Education, Mayes and his associates emphasize how we are all culturally embedded beings. Taking a holistic perspective of cultural embeddedness (asserting that multicultural education isn’t all about power relations), the book provocatively lays the groundwork for asking some questions that multicultural education may too often ignore: How does culture interact with the sensori-motor, psycho-social, cognitive, and ethico-spiritual dimensions of human nature? And what does it mean for education to be both holistic and multicultural? In a world where cultures are violently colliding, these are fundamental questions.” Robert Boostrom, Professor and Chair, Teacher Education, University of Southern Indiana, Editor, Journal of Curriculum Studies

Although those are great reviews and I am happy about the book – please don’t expect me to know much 🙂 I still have a lot more questions than answers! If you want someone with answers – contact Cliff 🙂

5 Questions Vital to Intercultural Commnication

5 Questions Vital to Intercultural Commnication

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In reviewing some materials, I came across these questions (from a CultureGram resource) that I thought were great.

Five Questions Vital to Intercultural Communication
1. What message, or experience, do you – or he/she/they – want to communicate or receive?
2. How important or relevant is the message or experience – to you and the “other” person(s)?
3. What conditions, customs, concerns, attitudes, and/or values (yours and theirs) hinder or help communication of the message or experience?
4. What specific interpersonal or media communication methods, or patterns, succeed most and succeed least? Why?
5. How do you and they determine message effectiveness and the possible need for further communication experience?

5 Questions Vital to Intercultural Commnication

One center of research to keep an eye on

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One of the top centers of research and activity regarding the interaction between culture and educational technology is Joensuu, Finland. The name of the program is the International Multidisciplinary PhD studies in Educational Technology (IMPDET). They have hosted some conferences (TEDC: Technology for Education in Developing Countries; & the International Conference on Educational Technology in Cultural Context) and a series of PhD summer schools that are have been very valuable places for international partnerships to form.

I attended and presented at the PhD summer school at the University of Malta in June 2005 (http://www.educ.um.edu.mt/etcc/), and subsequently attended and presented at the conferences in Taiwan in July 2005 and in Tanzania in July 2006.

Wiki on Culture and Ed Tech

Wiki on Culture and Ed Tech

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One of the results of the CATaC conference was that I volunteered to help Dr. Leah Macfadyen to refine a wiki she created with relevant literature regarding culture and communication in online environments.
Leah asked me to help, but as it turned out it was already pretty developed and she was ready for it to go live (See Link 2).
Anyway, it is a resource that you can access for some review of literature. I highly recommend you go there for resources regarding culture and communication in online environents.

Feel free to either email comments to me or her.