Monthly Archives: April 2010

10 Technologies You Cannot Ignore in Education #MoASBO

A session given by Ray Ernisse, the CIO of Francis Howell School District, covered technologies not to ignore.  A surprising number of the attendees seemed surprised by some of the content he began covering.  Keep in mind the majority of people attending are financial based positions, superintendents and more from school districts.  Not Information Technology staff.

  1. Virtualization – one of the biggest cost savers a school can do.  Only a handful had heard of it, one a couple had implemented or thought of it.  The lower TCO was a major focus on hardware cost savings, warranty, energy consumption and disaster recovery.  He gave examples of 20 servers virtualized into 3 saving $24k of maintenance alone.  One new desktop can provide 4 virtual ones for students.  Server install time cut down over 75%.
  2. Cloud Computing – an extension of your environment, some free.  All are easier to budget with less capital needed.  The benefit is on-demand, available anywhere with less internal sophistication.  Cost savings in his district for year one was $158,760.  Almost ~500m over 6 years.  This doesn’t take into account energy and backup savings.
  3. Collaboration and Communication – the social media aspect.  There was an alternate social media session given before this one that went in depth.  Using the networking promotes 21st Century skills.  Reduces travel costs and expands reach.
  4. Green Computing – more of a strategy than a technology.  Reduces obsolete devices and allows more technology for re-purpose.  Paper savings and more by using cloud , virtualization and collaboration.  Printing is a key place to start.  Store more electronically.  Set computers to power off at night.  Deploy LCD over CRT monitors.
  5. Personally Owned Devices – only two hands raised when asked if their district would allow people to bring their own in.  Doing this could reduce E-rate funding, while needing less technology refreshment dollars needed.  It opens anywhere anytime learning and more students hands-on with technology.
  6. eBooks – (this is my favorite)  This is huge in cost savings for schools.  This is more about getting students involved in reading the material.  Students reduce the backpack and the text is now searchable and linkable.  This fits new learning styles of kids.  But ow do you charge, manage and maintain the devices.  What is the lifespan?  Longer than the book?
  7. Mobile Computing (iPads, smartphones) – New handheld “clickers” allow instant feedback from students.  Some have Internet access and is more cost effective than laptops.  There is security concerns and policy needs.  More network coverage may be needed.  The network becomes the key here.  If the network is down the learning stops.
  8. DGBL: Digital  game based learning – basically edugaming in classes.  It is available online and promotes problem solving skills.  The student gets immediate feedback and multiple ways to learn with advanced complexity as you complete tasks.  Most of these are all licensed based, so possible increase in costs.
  9. Augmented Reality – very new but an interactive way to keep students engaged.  It opens trial and error learning and situational experience, but it too new and raw. There would be bandwidth demand increases and classroom design changes.
  10. Flexible Displays – paper thin displays.  Portable.  On demand visibility.  Outdoor learning.

The time showed the first 4 coming in this school year with the rest split in pairs across the next 5 years.  Basically all of these can be in place now, funds are the main issue.  You then enter implementation costs and time and training to the teachers.  The students would likely absorb it almost instantly.

Designing online communities – via #sofresh

Gia Lyons, of Jive software, ran through 5 good practices in designing and engaging an online community site at Social Fresh in St Louis.  (I am just getting back to posting these draft entries)

  • Identify top 3 community characteristics
  • Express characteristics through four elements
  • Identify elements’ activity flow
  • Structure to promote characteristics and activity flow
  • See the structure with interaction and content

Activity flow can be split between the type of person visiting the site.  From Savvy to Newbie, you have alternate flows that give everyone an excellent experience with the same end result.  Creating your profile on a site is a great example.  Savvy open straight to edit.  Newbie gets a walkthrough with the reasons for each step.

What I took away from this session was a new perspective in how people engage with my multiple sites and how each brings it’s own unique way to be handled.  There is definitely not a magic formula and rule of engagement that can be implemented once and have it work at all.

Cultivation of the user community involves seeding and much personal care for it to flourish and survive.  If you can not validate the content versus the reader engagement, you cannot find the common threads that bring it together.

I am revisiting each of my sites the past coutple weeks since Social Fresh and evaluating where I need to make changes to spur more growth.  Design changes have begun.  Feature addition and removals and a structured content posting routine.

I plan on revisiting this topic with an update in how it helped.

Earning trust and permission in social media #sofresh

Jason Falls did a mind invoking presentation on Let’s Talk: The Art of   Conversations and Marketing Through Them at SocialFresh.  A major focus of the presentation is the point of building trust with the community.  Social media monitoring that has you sending tweets and replies on your product without knowing the end recipient overrides trust.  It is hearing a public conversation and interjecting.

The end person does not know nor trust you, but might respond back after they check you out or you give valuable information.  If someone stops you in the street after hearing you talk about a topic and hands you a flyer, do you trust them?  Do you check it out?  How is that different than doing the same in social media?  Trust needs to be established for growth to occur.

Instant trust is normally done via introduction from someone else you trust or a knowing through a community, group. friend or family.  Trust is rarely given just because you see their website or phone number on tv. Learn to illustrate your expertise and not just your products and catalog.  Learn to overshare others content over your content.  It doubles credibility.

Learn that helping others is not always about just helping yourself.  It is about the building of trust that you care about their needs and are willing to truly read their question and find the answer.

When did Twitter become your live chat, phone and web support service? #sofresh

One of the comments I heard from numerous companies on panels and in the hallways is how they are using Twitter as a live customer service channel.  Word of mouth is a large driver in adoption of your product or services, and having a positive spin is important.  Bulletin boards have been around for years and blog postings soon followed.

Many of these enterprises never invested the time or staff to search the web and respond to postings that are static and will be there forever, as compared to these short time postings found in Twitter.

What I am seeing is that customers may now complain loudly in Twitter to their few hundred followers, get a tweet reply per chance from the vendor, and be directed to an email address or direct tweet conversation.

  • What happened to customers going to the website and clicking a link for live chat?
  • What happened to quick customer service on the phone lines?
  • Being able to talk to a live person in a short time by dialing the phone?
  • Is the live social media stream more important than the bigger customer base?

I disagree with all of that.  Social media is an additional solution to the customer service and web support.  I know reaching out to where the user may be is important.  Facebook is a large base, with the fan page growth and sharing.  Twitter has sharing, but relies on link tracking more than anything.  But who clicked the link?  Who was the primary sharing source?  Were the amount of followers they have the real reason your message got out?

Staff from all the panel members is dedicated to monitoring, answering, responding, watching and reporting.  AT&T mentioned they found about 11k actionable tweets from the ~100k (forgot exact number) out there.  None addressed why these people were not doing this same function on their website or phone lines.  Is there no community they have built for their customers to have accounts linked so easily solve problems, route issues and communicate quickly?

I don’t think the results they are finding just in a few social media sites, with dedicating teams or people, is the proper focus they made it sound.  I heard how they funnel things to R&D, customer support and even promotions.  Does this drive traffic page to their website? Do they capture data on who these Twitter users are in relation to their system?  Can they convert a username on Facebook or Twitter to an account to fix or up sell services?

Stop thinking of these social media services as a solution and more of an aggregated draw of traffic to your true core services and a new way to get them engaged.