October 20, 2017

Learning is Emergent

I saw the following video on my colleague and good friend Tom King’s blog. It speaks so clearly to the fundamental strength of learning, especially in the absence of teachers. Watch, get inspired, do!

Student Guest Post: Comments from the Other Side of the Podium

When Dr. Ekin initially sent his Capstone sections an e-mail explaining that he was inspired by many sources on the subject of problems in education, I wasn’t quite sure I understood what he was getting at. It seemed as though something had gotten him excited and since everyone in my class seemed to be jumping on board, I grew curious about the challenge he was presenting to us.

My skepticism remained constant during our next class meeting as he explained more about the assignment. As the class period progressed, it seemed as though the class let out a small yet collective sigh of relief. Almost as if we said, “Okay, we can do this.” I believe that my and my classmate’s initial hesitation stems from exactly what Dr. Ekin is so worried about. The ancient system of education has required that we do very little. We are asked, as students, to show up. To be physically present, but not much more. We buy the books, read and highlight the chapters assigned according to the syllabus. We complete cases and assignments. We write papers and most importantly, we study for tests. Lastly, we take the tests and earn our grades. Students at Providence College are no doubt bright, but they are products of their previous years of education. We were so nervous about this assignment because we have never encountered anything like it before. We were more comfortable with the boring, vanilla syllabus filled with industry analyses, executive summaries and cases that asked nothing more of us than what was stated on the paper. Why are we so scared to complete an unprecedented task?

In my senior year of high school I took an advanced level English course. Our end of the year assignment was to create a twenty-minute documentary on a subject of our choice. We decided to complete a project on the problems with education since we experienced them firsthand. Over the next three days, with little sleep and a lot of junk food, we created something we were truly proud of. We focused on how much time students spend in school and how little of that time is stimulating for them. We took a deeper look at how the current system of education, since it is so outdated, still forces the student to memorize and repeat, rather than form original ideas. I can still say that creating that documentary with my peers was the best learning experience I have had. We bounced ideas off one another, discussed the meaning and implications of the problems and said things that hadn’t been said before. Our ideas unfolded as the hours went on and we created something greater than we thought was ever possible. The reactions from teachers, students and administrators was extremely encouraging.

Clearly, the ideas explored by my friends and I are still important. If anything, the influx of technology and online access to youth has created further gaps in education. A recent article I came across supports these claims. Since students are spending an increased amount of time online and with mobile devices, their interest in learning has decreased. It is of no surprise that textbooks and maps can no longer hold their attention. Students are becoming more and more like consumers, shopping around for the best deal and skimming for the most relevant, helpful information. Students today read a Wikipedia page on a subject they have never encountered before and feel confident that they have mastered the idea. But just getting “the jist” of a subject is not enough. We are forgetting that mastering a subject is far more valuable and rewarding.

These changes in education have been a long time coming. It seems as though those who are capable of making changes – politicians, law makers, educators and administrators are acting with extreme complicity. They see the problems as China and India’s students make ours look positively brain dead; however, they are slow to do anything about it. Students are graduating without the ability to access complex thoughts, use critical thinking skills and truly form an idea their own. These skills are not something we can “Google.” I feel as though if we are committed to this cause, the system of education, through time and hard work, will only benefit from the implementation of new methods.

This post is a welcome addition to this site. Allison shared the video clip she mentioned in her post with me and allowed me to share it here. There will be a better quality version coming soon, but I think the video really complements her post. Thank you Allision for your thoughtful post. Others are welcome to share their thoughts too.

For the benefit of thos who are not in the class, we are undertaking to organize an “event” at the end of the semester to “market” the idea of “learning-centered education, creativity, and thinking”. We do not yet know what that event will be, that is up to the entire class. But, “learning-centeredness” has already started.

Watch the video

— Cemal Ekin

On innovations and creativity

A couple of interesting articles to read. One focuses on the process of creativity in the brain and how to use it to advantage; the other deals with the execution of creative ideas.

How to Bring Innovations to Market

How Aha! Really Happens

Learning, Creativity, Thinking, Education

As I proposed a class-wide project that will engage all of us and then some, where we will explore what it means to learn, to be creative, to think, and the essence of education, I am posting the following to kick-start the conversation. My hope is that we will hammer out a collective event for the end of the semester that will focus on learning, creativity, thinking, education. That will also require using everything you have learned about marketing, discovering what else you need to learn, and finding ways of closing that gap.

Now, I am not providing these videos as a point where everything ends but rather where we start our journey to discover who we are. You will find many more thinkers who have devoted their lives to enhancing learning, education, creativity, thinking, and in general human capacity. Let us follow their lead and see where the journey takes us at the end of the semester.

As you can tell, I am a fan of Sir Ken Robinson, and for good reason. I hope you will watch the videos with care and attention they deserve, they are more about your future than my past. I also enjoyed reading the works of Edward De Bono who is a noted expert on thinking and teaching thinking. Here are a few more words and phrases that may lead you to other fertile grounds: “abductive reasoning”, “lateral thinking”, “divergent thinking”, “design thinking”.

Post comments if you like, take notes, open your mind, learn how to forget to learn more.

Truth in Advertising

PhotoXpress.com Ad

PhotoXpress.com Ad

Why do companies resort to questionable practices just to get a few customers? Marketing is not about getting customers at all cost; it is about offering the greatest satisfaction to them within the boundaries of societal norms, laws, and ethics. Otherwise, every marketer would be a con man, and some may think that it is already the case. As a professor of marketing, this is how I see the profession.

On the back cover of the last issue of Layers Magazine was an ad. The tagline caught my attention and I first applauded the company. They did the first thing right by getting my attention. It said “15,000 Photo Downloads Per Month for $9.99 /month“. That is a great offer, nay, a terrific one. Then it continued with “Rendezvous with 6.5 million images. Prices beyond words“. A nice photograph accompanied the words. I decided to check out their website and found an attractive Web site at photoXpress.com. You may want to check out their claim yourself. Realizing that I may send some people to their site despite my intention to the contrary, I am providing the Web address and the ad that I scanned for you to be the judge.

What I found on the site did not seem to have anything to do with their claim in the ad. If you paid $9.99 /month you would be entitled to 1 (one) download per day, amounting to 30 downloads per month, somewhat close to 15,000! The “Monthly 25” plan gave you 25/month for $37.50/month. And so on. Clearly there was a mismatch between the ad and the reality. I wanted to find out more and I wrote a message to them from their Talk to us form and asked where might I find the advertised subscription plan. In a day or two, I got the following answer:

Your ticket “Subscriptions / 15,000 photo downloads per month for $9.99/month” has been answered.

Hi, Thank you for your e-mail. Please feel free to visit our new Subscription Plans section http://www.photoxpress.com/Info/Upgrade Note that our minimum plan is for $9,99 and currently we have over 15,000 photos available on the site. Kind regards, PhotoXpress C.S. Department Follow us on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/PhotoXpressFree Join us on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/PhotoXpress

Or read your answer by logging into your PhotoXpress account and clicking here:
http://admin.photoxpress.com/Member/Support/Questions

Best regards,
The PhotoXpress.com Team

I did not find the answer to my question and I was a bit more confused especially by the explanation of 15,000 photos. They have more, much more than 15,000 photos, so the use of that figure sounds a bit, well, arbitrary to me. (Their facebook page reports “Nearly 10 million Photos and Illustrations”) One category I clicked on, Food & Drink, yielded 889,917 hits. Truth be told, I did not count them! But defending the claim “15,000 photo downloads” by simply saying they have more than 15,000 photos is on shaky ground, don’t you think? Why stop there, go ahead and say “150,000 downloads per month” as there are more than that many on the site?

Not having an account there, I had no way of logging in to read the response. If there was more to it I could not see it. So, I replied to their [email protected] address in the mail footer and reminded them that they had not answered my question and I was primarily interested in the truthfulness of their claim. I also asked that they kindly replied to my e-mail rather than posting an answer I had no way of reading. Needless to say, I have not yet heard from them and I am not holding my breath.

Will I ever buy anything from them? Most likely not! I don’t know about you, but if someone talks in a confusing manner, even before the first rendezvous I get a bit uneasy! I wanted to learn a little more about the membership and started reading their FAQ, nicely organized with a TOC at the top. I clicked on number 7 “Daily quota and Downloading” which jumped to the relevant entry #7 where I found “7. [Intentionally deleted] ” (as of January 8, 2011). Come again!

They have a decent quality collection, images appear to be of good quality, the variety seems to be there. Why on earth did they use the obviously misleading claim? Could it be an overzelous ad agency? Maybe an intern came up with the idea and nobody thought of critically reading the short copy. Whatever the reason, I hope someone pays attention to this problem and takes corrective, and proactive action. An explanation of this ad will be a good start. Truth in advertising is not just an empty idea. It is the law and it needs to be upheld by everyone, buyer and seller, if we expect to benefit from marketing communications.

Now, let me share this with my colleagues to use in the marketing ethics discussions …

Photo Shoot

Everyone has been working on their career site with their resume, awards, etc. Some needed better photographs, so we took some today. Here is the MOTI Gang 2010 Spring Semester.

Web Client Interview

The interview with your Web client is a crucial step and activity in the design and development process. Use your and your client’s time effectively to learn as much about their needs as possible. This may very well take several meetings, be patient, listen, probe, understand. Here is a little help to get you started. After viewing the presentation, download the PDF file and use it as a tool. If you wish to add more to it, go ahead; it is not written in stone. The PDF form can be filled on your computer for legibility when you create a final copy.

How to prepare to interview your Web design client

Web Client Interview Form

Carry your files anywhere, share them at will, no devices needed

It has become quite common for many to work with multiple computers, at home, at work, on the road; and to collaborate with others requiring frequent document sharing. The general approach to deal with this problem requires USB drives, emailing documents to multiple e-mail accounts, or having remote access to one or more computers. I have used all of the above and in some circumstances these solutions may have their place in anyone’s technology tool chest. If you work with multiple computers, or work collaboratively, read on.

In the last 5-6 years many file access solutions have emerged, all requiring some sort of uploads and downloads. I have tried several and given up on them due to their cumbersome nature. Recently, I tried one of the new services recommended by several magazine articles and Web sites: Dropbox.com. I am writing this post to recommend this service to my colleagues and students. It is totally automated and works like magic.

You may have received an invitation from me to join Dropbox. But even without an invitation, point your browser to Dropbox to see how simple this can be.

  1. Click on the big blue button that says “Download Dropbox”. It will initiate the download.
  2. When it is complete, double click on the downloaded file to start the installation
  3. Accept all the default settings it suggest, they can be changed later if you like
  4. When the window comes asking whether you have a Dropbox account or not, choose the one that says you do not have an account
  5. Enter your information
  6. You may skip the brief explanation that requires going through several windows by clicking the appropriate button
  7. You now have 2GB of storage totally free of charge on Dropbox

The installation creates a Dropbox folder on your desktop, which is the magic portal through which full synchronization happens. You can create new folders there, load them up with files, they will magically appear on your Dropbox account which you can access wherever there is a Web browser. Now, you can go to the Dropbox Web site, login and you will see the contents of your local Dropbox folder. But, wait! There’s more!

On your second (or third, or fourth,… ) computer, say your office computer, and your laptop, go through the steps 1-3 above. When you come to step 4, choose the option that you have a Dropbox account and enter your e-mail and password. Dropbox will install on that computer, create the same Dropbox folder on the desktop (or wherever you decided to put it) and to your total amazement will make the files you put in your Dropbox at home appear in your Dropbox on your office computer. You can repeat this on other computers you use with the same automatic synchronization feature, in all directions. DO NOT INSTALL DROPBOX ON PUBLIC COMPUTERS WITH YOUR LOGIN CREDENTIALS. That will give access to your files to anyone sitting at that computer. Instead, access your files using a Web browser on those public computers, in the lab, at a friends house, at a cafeteria, …

Now, are you satisfied? But, wait there’s more!

Say you are collaborating on a project, be it a group project in a class or collaboration on a paper with a colleague, or you simply want to show some photographs you have taken during the spring break with your family. (What? You do not want them to see those photos? Why? Oh, well, never mind.) Create a folder in your Dropbox for sharing with one or many people. Put some files there. Then share this folder on the Dropbox Web site. You will see the menu tab for this purpose which simply requires that you choose the folder to share and enter the e-mail addresses of the people who should see the contents of this folder. That simple. Your friends will receive your invitation to access the shared folder (you can have multiple shared folder for different group of individuals) and arrive at the Dropbox Web site. If they do not have a Dropbox account, they can create on on the spot, or use their login credentials to login to their Dropbox account and accept your invitation to view the folder contents you shared.

I suggest that you go in small steps and get comfortable with the software and the service. It works with remarkable ease and the storage space they give you free of charge is rather generous. You can almost use it for off site backup purposes.

Now, you can stop worrying that you left your USB drive at home. Your files are at your fingertips, wherever you are.

Note: I have found out after posting this message that anyone who registers at Dropbox from the links on this page will add more capacity to my account. Feel free to start your account and share your link with your group members so that you get more capacity if you need it.

Qualtrics Survey Software

A significant part of the term project, a marketing research conducted for your client, is the design and the administration of a properly designed questionnaire. The days of writing questions in a word processing software are long gone; several powerful tools have become available to fill their place.

Watch the following video about Qualtrics survey software, then follow the instructions in another post to get yourself an account at Qualtrics. Once your account is activated, you will find many more useful, helpful, informative tutorial video programs on different parts of the software. Although there will be a general introduction to using Qualtrics in class, you need to work with it, experience how it works, and become sufficiently comfortable with it before you need to use it for your projects. If you try to learn it when you need to use it, you will find that to be far less efficient and effective in carrying out your responsibilities.

CEO of Qualtrics speaks on the software

Edit Survey Tab

My Surveys Tab in Qualtrics

Are you looking for instructions on how to create your own account on Qualtrics? Here they are.

Qualtrics Account Creation

Providence College has a site license to Qualtrics software. To have access to it, you need to create an account on their site. Follow the instructions below and you will have your account in quick order and be using the learning tools they offer.

  1. Point your browser to the Providence College master account on the Qualtrics site:
    http://www.qualtrics.com/providence
  2. You will see a link to create your account (see below), click on that link and follow the instructions. It is important that you use your Providence College e-mail address to have an account with full access to all the features of Qualtrics
    Qualtrics Sign up screen
  3. Once you log in with your account, visit “Help and Tutorials” menu option at the top of the page. You will find many useful tutorials. I suggest that you start with “Create a Survey and My Surveys” group to get familiar with the software.
  4. Additionally, you will find other types of help, tutorials, helpful documents in the area they call “Qualtrics University”. Explore them all.
  5. Go ahead and create a sample survey with a few questions, try different question types, use available scales, etc.

Remember, you are learning something new which may feel awkward at first, like when you learned how to ride a bike. As you use the software you will learn its working paradigm and become more comfortable with its myriad of features. The idea is not to use them all, but to be able to choose what tools to use. A huge tool box is useless if you are trying to drive a nail to the wall and you cannot find the hammer; worse yet, you do not recognize the hammer!

Have fun (indeed many students find the survey creation part of this course to be fun; believe it, or not!)