Sunday, May 23, 2010

Emerging Trends

This weekend and on through Wednesday, I will be attending the SIIA Ed Tech Industry Summit (#ETIS). As I look at the program, the central theme is "Going Mobile and Global." The focus will obviously be on mobile access and application of education content and resources with in the education space. (View program outline)

This leads me to the question as I'm sure many have asked and that is, "to what extent do mobile devices and social applications have in our classrooms?" And more importantly, what is a district's stance on allowing these devices with wifi or social media accessibility going to be in permitting schools with students and teachers? No question the ongoing debate is security and connectivity. We can argue that over and over.

I believe that the emerging trends are in the following areas...
  1. Open Source / Access to Content
  2. Cloud Computing
  3. Mobile & Network Devices
  4. eLearning / Virtual Ed
  5. Digital content vs. Textbooks
  6. Content as Learning Objects
  7. Third Party / Independent Learning Platforms
  8. Social Learning and secure or filtered Web 2.0
As I attend this ETIS, I would like to explore these topical trends and understand how organization, for profit and not, are addressing these issues within K12 education. As a content provider, the organization that I work for provides a tremendous amount of engaging content, but I think the viability and longevity is in open and transparent access not only to various platforms and learner management systems, but also to members of the community involved in supporting and educating a learner.

One hot topic session that I'm interested in learning more about is:

Online Learning and Learning Management Systems: A Crystal Ball to the Future

How will changes in LMSs, online content, social networking, and the mobile web affect the way schools operate and students learn? What do we need to know about current trends in the use of digital resources to run successful ed tech businesses?

Moderator: Kathy Clark, Chief Executive Officer, SMARTHINKING

That being said, I look forward to sharing and reporting what I learn at this conference.

To learn more, you can follow the event on Twitter at (#ETIS) or follow updates at

Friday, April 23, 2010

Top Trends in Social Media

As we look at the results from Read Write Web, I can't help but notice that the trend in usage by more than half the web users, parallels my own social web use. I have found Fb as a major community sharing tool not only for personal interactions with colleagues and past high school friends, but also for connecting with previous co-workers for gathering intelligence and information regarding work related topics.

I'm curious to know how users of Fb would rate their use of the top social web application? Work vs. Personal? If I had to rate myself it would probably be something like 20% work and 80% personal. I have been able to establish meetings and contacts with potential business partners via Fb simply by friending and messaging. I think this is very intriguing as this is something I definitely would not have done even two years ago.

However, as more and more usage and new announcements at F8 come about, I do see a trend in Fb being more of a LinkedIn communications like resource as well as a maintaining a personal resource for interacting.

Facebook Accounts for Half Social Traffic; StumbleUpon 2X Twitter

The top three social media sites a year ago were StumbleUpon, Facebook and MySpace, in that order.


Now, Facebook has taken a clear lead, with nearly half of driven traffic, with StumbleUpon in a surprising second place position, accounting for nearly a quarter of all traffic, and Twitter just behind that with one out of every 10 hits to websites from social media. Myspace, on the other hand, has virtually disappeared, dropping from 16% of hits to nearly 1% this month.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Ning says... Cha Ching $$$

I read this and immediately thought... What does this mean for all those who have created NING communities in education? I for one love Ning and all it's capabilities, but I've created so many niche Ning communities that I'm not willing to pay to sustain all of them. While I understand the business model and can appreciate the efforts necessary in this down economy, it really does create a wake up call to think about. We saw this earlier last year with edublogger and models that have opted to provide more ads, commercial links, etc. With all the free social media and web 2.0 tools that are out there, how many and who else will move to a premium service model as well...?

Ning’s Bubble Bursts: No More Free Networks, Cuts 40% Of Staff

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by Jason Kincaid on Apr 15, 2010

One month after long-time Ning CEO Gina Bianchini was replaced by COO Jason Rosenthal, the company is making some major changes: It has just announced that it is killing off its free product, forcing existing free networks to either make the change to premium accounts or migrate their networks elsewhere. Rosenthal has also just announced that the company has cut nearly 70 people — over 40% of its staff. Here’s the email Rosenthal just sent out to the company:


When I became CEO 30 days ago, I told you I would take a hard look at our business. This process has brought real clarity to what’s working, what’s not, and what we need to do now to make Ning a big success.

My main conclusion is that we need to double down on our premium services business. Our Premium Ning Networks like Friends or Enemies, Linkin Park, Shred or Die, Pickens Plan, and tens of thousands of others both drive 75% of our monthly US traffic, and those Network Creators need and will pay for many more services and features from us.

So, we are going to change our strategy to devote 100% of our resources to building the winning product to capture this big opportunity. We will phase out our free service. Existing free networks will have the opportunity to either convert to paying for premium services, or transition off of Ning. We will judge ourselves by our ability to enable and power Premium Ning Networks at huge scale. And all of our product development capability will be devoted to making paying Network Creators extremely happy.

As a consequence of this change, I have also made the very tough decision to reduce the size of our team from 167 people to 98 people. As hard as this is to do, I am confident that this is the right decision for our company, our business, and our customers. Marc and I will work diligently with everyone affected by this to help them find great opportunities at other companies.

I’ve never seen a more talented and devoted team, and it has been my privilege to get to know and work with each and every one of you over the last 18 months.

We’ll use today to say goodbye to our friends and teammates who will be leaving the company. Tomorrow, I will take you through, in detail, our plans for the next three months and our new focus.

Jason Rosenthal

Ning’s announcement also says that it will be giving network creators more details in the next two weeks.

While the email talks about Free versus Premium paid networks, Ning actually has a variety of different premium upgrades. Currently, Ning’s premium options include support (which has a $10/month and $100/month options for different service levels); Custom domains ($5 a month); Extra storage and bandwidth ($10 a month); Ad removal ($25 a month) and the ability to hide any trace that you’re running on Ning ($25 a month).

As a result of today’s news I suspect we’ll see quite a few active networks jump to whatever the cheapest premium option is; I don’t expect Ning to make it especially easy to port their data to a different service. There will also certainly be a backlash from Ning’s vocal community of Network Creators, many of whom have invested quite of bit of time building out their niche networks.

While the massive layoffs are obviously a big hit to the company, it isn’t all bad news for Ning: the service is still seeing its traffic grow according to comScore (see graph below). But traffic growth is no longer good enough for the company — it needs to start generating some serious revenue, and advertising clearly isn’t cutting it. Ning has raised around $120 million, getting valuations of a half-billion dollars in April 2008 and a reported $750 million last summer.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

My favorite iPad reaction thus far.

I like Drape's take on the iPad best because it reflects the most down to earth reaction to the new "big iTouch." Thanks for sharing...

My initial impressions of the iPad

Well, after three hours on the thing, here they are:

- This thing is designed for reading, reading, reading. The NY Times and USA Today app make the Kindle feel like kindy-garten.

- Typingnon thfis thing is a horrinle experience. Yesterday on Twitter I said that I thought that because of the iPad, we were seeing the beginning of the end of keyboarding instruction as we know it. I was wrong. Give me the liberty of my keyboard or give death.

- As bad as typing on this thing can be, working with NO MOUSE is equally delightful. Fast and furious, but with lots of...

- Fingerprints, fingerprints, fingerprints.

- Man, I hope I don't drop this thing!

- I look forward to messing with the Pages and Numbers apps, but think the whole "save your files by emailing them to yourself" idea seems weak (and yes, I'm wary of using iTunes to manage my file sharing). Crossing my fingers that the whole experience turns out better than I'm imagining it.

- The Netflix app: Better than Bit Torrent and legal-er, too.

- It's a big iPod. Really. But the big screen and improved apps are huge.

- The new Mail app is decent, Safari rocks, and the Calendar app seems to be worth it's weight in fingerprints.

- If you're really buying into the whole "there's 150,000 apps out there already in the App Store for your iPad" idea, then you'd better get used to this kind of view.

Yeah, you can enlarge the screen, but then it's pixelated. The good news, though, is that apps are being ported over in droves. I can't wait for Tweetie, reQall, Simplenote and Icy Escort. :-)

- All in all, I'm excited to get this into the kids' hands. Can't you hear it now?

"Teacher... When don we get to play with the big iPods?"

Until next time...

Sent from my iPhad


My new Ed blog spot.

I've decided to create a new blog spot for education and social web activity. You can still preview my "life and then some" blog spot @