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Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Social Media sites get organized with SMASHUP

by Meagan Smith

Social networking has become increasingly important throughout the 21st century. Social media web pages, known as social sites, have been getting more and more attention universally for their ability to help users gain recognition for individual talents, build important relationships whether for their career or personal life, and help them gain valuable networking resources.

For universities, social media has quickly become the focus for marketing and recruiting purposes and can allow students following their university stream to keep up on recent events, news, and announcements happening around their university. Universities can use social sites like Facebook and YouTube as a free source for marketing themselves and increasing their brand recognition to potential students or employees. For instance, instead of having to go through the expensive process of purchasing and burning DVDs to get your school marketing campaigns out, you can simply upload your videos onto YouTube!

University twitter accounts allow students and employees to find people who are key influential members in their community and follow their tweets. If you or someone from your university is an active member in the community you can get your word out to students who are interested in what you have to say. A university blog can help university members find out what their students are thinking about recent happenings around campus which could be a crucial step in your decision making processes. These are just a few examples of the many types of social media sites that can be beneficial to universities. Needless to say, social media has become a vital tool that should be utilized by universities everywhere and ContentM makes it easy to do just that.

If you are a current user of multiple social media sites then you know first-hand how many separate links and web pages must be opened to view them all simultaneously. Not only does having that many browsers open slow down your system, but it can quickly become an end-users nightmare trying to figure out which web browser belongs to which social media site. AllofE’s ContentM system is built around web 2.0 functionality and makes it simple to store all of your social media needs on one convenient page using our RSS feed panels. ContentM has prebuilt social networking panels that allow you to simply paste your social site link or username in the allotted area, hit submit, and view your content in one clean, organized location. ContentM allows you to have your Facebook fan page, Twitter feed, Blogger feed, Flickr pictures, and much more all neatly organized on one convenient page which allows viewers to spend less time searching for your social sites and more time actually viewing them!

Having a social media initiative isn’t good enough unless it’s organized and easy to get to. Being a beginner with social media sites myself, I know how frustrating it can be when you want people to check out your social pages but can’t find the right link to it or having your web pages be so disorganized that you don’t know which browser houses which social site. Since I’ve started using ContentM for our social media needs I have just one link to share with everyone and they get our most recent blog postings and twitter feeds. It’s just that simple! Check out a couple of our example pages listed below if you’re interested in what ContentM can do for you.

Click Here to See Example Site #1

Click Here to See Example Site #2

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Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Beyond Client-Vendor Relationships - Creating ACTUAL Relationships and Why We Don't Regularly Attend Conferences

Evade and Avoid

It's terrible how many people absolutely avoid vendors like the plague. As if they are all making empty promises and stealing from unsuspecting victims.

But I can't say I don't understand it.

I don't blame the educators that rush by, avoiding eye contact, pretending to be on your phone, and quickening your pace just to get past a long mess of vendor squares, jetting past fake-ly-excited men and women in business suits, all with a plethora of gadgets spread in front of them, wanting to show you the next big thing that you can't live without.

Don't forget the giveaways - pens, candy, business cards, etc., are sure to help ensure that you remember our names and will inspire you to act on it.

We've all been through it. Even we "vendors" can't stand vendor fairs. Which is probably why we decided NOT to go to ISTE. And I would have loved to go. But we were too late to try to get in as a speaker, or to hold our own program - trust me, we will be planning far in advance for future conferences - so why would we want to get a 10 x 10 ft. box to speak to thousands of people for 30 seconds each? Sure, I guess our name gets out there, but there's more to it than that.

Exposure is great, but being tagged as a 'vendor' isn't exactly the best image to leave. We have a lot to share, and a vendor booth won't let us do that. The real reason I AM a champion of conferences like ISTE because is gives me a chance to meet those people I've established strong relationships with through Twitter [ or my PLN, even though I'm not an educator ], not to be stuck among all other 'vendors.'

Don't Call Me 'Vendor' and I won't call you 'Client'

Standing behind a vendor table, setting up vendor things, making vendor-like conversation is my worst nightmare. My goal in conferences is to really establish a few legitimate relationships with people, where we have an actual conversation and not the vendor 'word vomit' that pours out in the 2.5 seconds when I have 1 tenth of a person's attention as they rush on past my 'vendor' booth, hurrying past the next like there's a fire chasing after them. My stance is to make that relationship last past the 3 days of the conference, and to create something from it.

That's why we're not at every conference just to occupy a vendor booth. We want to become people. We want to become individuals. And sometimes, we can do that better from right here in Lawrence, KS.

With social media, it's easy to create conversations. To get to know other educators. To expand on the educators we communicate with. To share ideas, to collaborate, and to learn from our clients. That's another word we have a lot of trouble with - 'clients'. There's so much negative connotation with the words 'client-vendor-relationship.' A CVR is really when one is always trying to 'get' something out of the other. But the best relationships are when goals and desires are common; creating something

But our goal, above all, is to create true, trusting, long-lasting relationships. Our goal is to create and participate in conversations, as we've done with ContentM for Educators Webinars, or recent conversations about social media mashups for universities. We've created new product offerings because of the conversations I've had with educators, designed to meet the needs we've identified together.

We're willing to invest toward those educators willing to enhance education and to take a risk. Where a partnership is truly a collaboration. Where there is synergy.

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Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Curriculum Management

I have never been a writer nor am I one for journaling…I journal in my head but never slow down enough to write it down on paper. I do journal and track my training activities for the triathlons and road races that I compete in…that journaling consists of short phrases with many numbers.
So, I must feel this is important to take the time to write this down.

I have been a teacher for 7 years and a principal for 9 years…and now I talk with many school districts on a daily basis and find that many of them are in the same boat that I was in…we were not aware the web based systems to help educators.

Robert Marzano is an educational guru and he says that “…having a viable and accessible curriculum is of utmost importance to educators….” When I was a principal our “viable and accessible” district curriculum sat in binders on my credenza and on the district G:// drive.

It was out dated, it was not easy to search or find what we were looking for and quite frankly, it became an unusable tool. So the bottom line is the teachers did not have access to the curriculum or units as they prepared their lessons…think about that for a moment…that is like saying that doctors don’t have access to information on certain conditions and illnesses…that is just CRAZY! How can any professional do their job if they don’t “start with the end in mind” (Covey) or how can they break the task/goal up into achievable parts if they can’t see the big picture?

When I mention a curriculum management system, many districts can not envision what it could do for them and others can only see one segment of it and struggle with opening their minds to greater possibilities.
Here are the reasons that I needed a curriculum management system as a principal:

I needed a tool that allowed the teachers to collaborate, work with and update the curriculum (which is a living and ever changing document.) I needed them to update in meetings and have access to the new updates immediately.

I needed a tool for the teachers to write lesson plans that tied into units and were aligned to the state standards. I needed them to attach all their resources to the unit and/or lesson and share this with other teachers.

I needed a tool that would guide me as a principal as to what they should be teaching during the 2nd week of Oct, during the 1st week of December, during the 4th week of March or on any given day during the school year.

I needed a tool that would help answer accountability questions…we think we are teaching all the state standards, but are we? Which state standards are we missing? Which ones are we over teaching?

I needed a tool that would do all this and more. I needed a tool that would do this easily and was intuitive for the teachers. I needed a tool that would improve our efficiencies. I needed a tool that provided a huge ROI.

I needed a tool… that was all this and so much more...

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