Student Spotlight: Camila Vallejo’s Commitment to reform Chilean Higher Education

“Who would ever think that so much went on in the soul of a young girl?”
— Anne Frank

Courtesy of K12.KN3.net

The first time one sees a picture of Camila Vallejo, it’s an easy mistake to think that she closely resembles Catherine Zeta-Jones, or perhaps she looks like a distant Chilean relation to newly-minted royal Kate Middleton.  The 24-year old, Universidad de Chile student looks poised, bright-eyed, conversational and mostly nonchalant despite a growing paparazzi following that began documenting Vallejo’s life ever since early 2011.  This spotlight attention which constantly exposes her leadership efforts to bring change to Chile’s higher education system, echoes a true-to-life reality that history’s most admired figures all learned intimately: for those who enjoy substantial privilege, there comes a great responsibility.

Last spring Chilean college students started organizing the demonstration in order to voice their discontent about the country’s universities shortcomings to policymakers, and quickly nominated Vallejo as the movement’s premier spokesperson. Aware that such a role required one to stifle their anxiety, maintain composure and act peacefully, she eagerly pledged a commitment to support the initiative. One year later, her involvement receives international media coverage whether she’s traveling to meet with other Latin America students or just grabbing a coffee while waiting to begin the next speaking engagement.  A interview feature for UK-based, The Guardian, reports that the events concerning Chile’s higher education carry big political implications, “Sebastian Piñera, Chile’s president, has just 22% public approval ratings, the lowest ever in Chilean history.” Apparently the girl from Ipanema needs to take the back seat, because the world’s attention recently shifted to studying a young reformer hailing from La Florida.

Courtesy of http://www.Lupa.Io

Comparatively, although the ‘@GurlFromIpanema‘ describes herself as a ‘world traveler/saleswoman,’ who loves art, cocktails, and salsa; @Camila_Vallejo’s credentials date back to 2008 when she began acting as a prominent counselor to ‘Fech’ – also known as the Federación de Estudiantes de la Universidad de Chile.  Shortly after this, she was voted the organization’s November 2010 President.  It’s a shining testament to her character as the 105 year-old student union nominated only one other female president. Although her bid to win another presidential term failed, her growing web presence will certainly prepare one to endure a political career long term. In addition to building an extensive YouTube archive, her Twitter account alone connects with 590,000+ followers.

Moreover, Vallejo’s online presence also expresses the empathy she feels toward similar movements taking place all over Latin America. This past summer when Mexican university students kicked off the ‘#YoSoy132′ movement to contest recent Presidential election results, Vallejo made a trip to the capital, ready and willing to lend assistance wherever possible. These collaborative moments reassure the lingering doubts she maintains about creating truly sustainable changes.  She frequently points out how “in Chile we are constantly hearing the message that our goals are impossible and that we are unrealistic, but the rest of the world, especially the youth, are sending us so much support. We are at a crucial moment in this struggle and international support is key.” Indeed, such efforts to band together as Latin America students proves an advantageous strategy as they try to overcome every new challenge involving higher education reformation.

So how will a University of Chile alum turned ‘media powerhouse’, with such an extensive, international reputation play her next move? A book deal seems more rewarding than a reality TV show, so that’s exactly what Vallejo set to accomplish right before the year’s end. In Janurary 2013, Vallejo’s new book entitled Podemos Cambiar el Mundo (We Can Change the World) will come out highlighting a collection of op-ed pieces she’s written, that outline the many problems plaguing Chile’s incredibly dysfunctional higher education system.  The book also discusses what Vallejo predicts will need to happen if South American countries want to adequately prepare future students to enter an increasingly, competitive, global financial market.  Not including the book pre-orders from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, etc. the title already pre-sold 3,000 copies when launched earlier this fall.

Fortunately, modern emerging media platforms like Facebook, Tumblr, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Blogs allow a person to track the spotlight highlighting innovative education student leaders like Camila Vallejo, and support their efforts despite one’s physical address. And in watching Vallejo’s influence gain recognition more and more every day, it’s encouraging to know that her digital footprint serves as a positive reminder… any great change starts with a single, small action.

Buena Suerta mi Amiga y Continuarse!

Amanda // @acmontgomery
E acrawfordmontgomery@gmail.com
LinkedIn.com/in/AmandaMontgomery

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Will TomoClases.com steer Chile’s Universities to a Tech Savy Future?

   “Serving others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth.” — Mohammed Ali

Courtesy of S3.AmazonAws.com

Trick Question (it’s Halloween season folks) — Name two people receiving more Chilean press than a Miner Survivor preparing to enter the Presidential Race?
Answer: Meet the dynamic entrepreneurial duo, Guimar ‘Vaca’ Sittic and his CTO sidekick Eric Denovitzer, the latest Chilean startup all stars hoping to lead their country’s – and in time all of Latin America’s – entire education industry to embracing the 21st century.

So when/where and how exactly did these head honchos brainstorm such a progressive concept (seemingly overnight) that in the last six months they’ve recently joined Argentina’s top idea incubator NXTPLabs.com and began site expansion to the Argentina, Brazil, and Colombian markets?  For starters, they’re both alumni to notable US Universities – the University of Chicago and Princeton respectively.  Then combine this top-tier higher education experience with a multi-lingual/international business sense and it results in producing two civic-minded leaders perfectly ready to embrace the challenging landscape, when it comes to designing an online learning community that will change all future generations.  Vaca Sittic’s previous stint, helping cofound/sell restaurant booking website CenaPlus which raised $3.2 million in funding by February 2011, also gives the team an advantageous, competitive edge.

To quote an old Texas adage, this is not the boys’ first rodeo.

Courtesy of TheNextWeb.com/LA

In describing the company’s site premise and overall purpose, TheNextWeb.com’s reporter Anna Heim highlights how TomoClases.com takes the “offline classes and workshops marketplace model,” that’s comparable to the already popular domains like Khan Academy or SkillShare – but will concentrate their ambition more to specifically improving Latin America education.  Understanding certain, culturally relevant elements also matters a great deal when analyzing how the site will provide sustainable content long term.

During his interview with Heim, Vaca Sittic points out how, “Countries such as Argentina and Brazil have a strong culture in terms of hiring tutors for children. Moreover, people are constantly learning something new ranging from a new sport or an eccentric hobby. Hence, Tomo Clases will have a big impact in this countries in 2012 – we shorten the gap between professors and students from any field, and also encourage everybody to become a professor by teaching what they know.”  

Completing such thorough, primary, in-depth due diligence understandably generates ample, invaluable rewards.  It’s exciting to watch where TomoClases.com will go next, especially considering that even since last April’s beta launch when they first introduced the site to only the Chile/Mexico markets, the community now shares 600+ online classes to a 1,250+ user database.

Courtesy of Blog.TomoClases.com

So just how far will this online mercado, that openly shares an interactive knowledge source to one of the world’s fast-growing regions go? Well if the developing team keeps up their current work, it’s likely that TomoClases.com will evolve far beyond the founders’ initial vision and aspirations. It’s interesting, that where so many online platforms fail to maintain a strong, online brand community presence, TomoClases.com’s Blog, Twitter, and Facebook channels all display enriching, supplemental content. It’s a smart strategy that will only help the founders as they plan to court students, professors, and select education leaders’ participation more aggressively.

Anyone who still stands with both their initial entrepreneurial project and body intact despite enduring numerous, relentlessly searing VC investor screenings certainly posses a natural ability to demonstrate creative, charismatic leadership. But it’s also arguable that certain things succeed because on only the most select occasion, Lady Luck will opt to shine favor toward endeavors she deems worthy.  TomoClases.com’s serendipitous, timely beginning hit the web not long after several reports announced that Latin America’s current informal education market, a sector where 18 million users already spend $5+ Billion USD annually- was growing by 16% every year. Indeed, this proves point to international journalist Henry Golden’s now legendary business philosophy, “The only thing that overcomes hard luck is hard work.”  As TomoClases.com continues to circulate their initiative worldwide, hopefully this winning streak will keep pace.

Courtesy of Facebook.com/TomoClases

It’s almost hard to believe that in just a few short week, students everywhere will rejoice to celebrate another semester’s end, yet the duo will not spend the remainder of 2012 enjoying a leisurely holiday season.  Far from it in fact, as they’ve expressed that their next major milestone will mean securing 10,000 classes and expanding the user-audience by at least ten-fold.  However while the weary TomoClases.com team soldiers on, a hard working holiday now will hopefully mean magnitudes of vacation time to themselves later, after they’ve managed to successfully create one of Latin America’s most lucrative, extraordinary businesses.

As Chile’s national motto so wisely expresses ‘By Right or By Might’ – it’s a tough, tedious road to creating a movement that will forever impact a region’s education industry.  Yet every new accomplishment brings TomoClases.com just a little bit closer to that truly admirable goal. Keep the course dear friends – the world’s already anticipating your next exciting announcement 🙂

Amanda // @acmontgomery
E acrawfordmontgomery@gmail.com
LinkedIn.com/in/AmandaMontgomery

Did your campus celebrate Connected Educators Month?

“There’s so much that we share, that it’s time we’re aware; it’s a small world after all.”  – Walt Disney

Courtesy of ConnectedEducators.org

It’s hard to imagine that when Labor Day ends and September rolls in, Fall 2012 classes will really begin to pick up speed.  Time’s flying but the fun’s just beginning dear readers. It’s dreadfully sad to bid summer bon voyage, but let’s  begin to celebrate Autumn and start the academic year with bright-eyed pep!  Speaking of celebration, were you aware that the fine folks running Twitter.com/edcocp officially deemed August 2012 Connected Educators Month?  What a smart idea!

Understandably, kicking off the school year calendar requires a mile-long check list, so it’s entirely possible that your local campus missed throwing a ‘Connected Educator’ fiesta, soirée, or sock hop.  Not to worry because classes, teachers, and education leaders everywhere should really support this idea all year long. Therefore in the spirit of prolonged partying, check out a few suggestions below that will help raise support and hopefully connect the entire education industry:

Courtesy of CMU.edu

#1 Get the thanksgiving ball rolling by taking a few minutes to write a thoughtful LinkedIn Recommendation for a professor, a superstar student, and/or outstanding colleague.

#2 Expand your weekly reading list to include a blog or trade resource that discusses international education initiatives.  Go the extra mile by sharing feedback to connect with author and spark interactive discussion.  Feeds worth a read > UniversityWorldNews.com and The21stCenturyTeacher.com.

#3 Look around SlideShare.net’s library – it’s great!  If there’s a smart user that offers wonderful information and recaps cool presentations, it’s easy to connect amongst different community platforms like LinkedIn, Facebook, etc.

#4 Start following a Twitter list or even better, create your own list and highlight certain faculty/students/campuses that you enjoy tweeting; all the folks on these lists post A+ stuff > WorldWideLearn.com’s Top Foreign Language Professors and @SMMmagazine’s Top Marketing Professors.

#5 Tune into a Video library or Podcast stream (which in most cases synchs to your iTunes library) and download exciting materials that enhance classroom lecture activities.  Award-winning sites like VideoLectures.net and BigThink.com allow free access to excellent, informative materials featuring internationally known institutions and leaders.

Courtesy of MattWilsonPrime.com

Of course, this post only scratches the surface when it comes to discussing how education uses emerging media platforms to develop a powerful resource network.  If there’s a website, online tool or other innovative technology that supports connecting academic communities everywhere, please feel free to share any and all creative suggestions.  As always looking forward to your feedback and conversing online: @acmontgomery, LinkedIn.com/in/AmandaMontgomery, or email me at acrawfordmontgomery@gmail.com.  Happy Labor Day US friends!

Does your University speak Global?

It’s rather extraordinary… for you see when one performs thoughtful, sound research, they gain a remarkable ability to make two questions grow where only one grew before.” Thorstein Veblen

Courtesy of BiggerThinking.com

In seeking to understand how university campuses located in both Latin America and European countries employ emerging media platforms to develop their branding initiatives and more importantly use these technologies to strengthen relationships between students, faculty/staff and the surrounding community, I woke up the other morning upon realizing that in truth, I’m actually quite curious about a broader, more encompassing question… Do these university campuses speak global?

And then I had to scratch my head because that question led the way to even more questions concerning this Fall’s thesis research:

What does it mean to speak global?

When a university campus located –in the US, Nicaragua, Argentina, Brazil, Spain, or elsewhere– employs emerging media platforms to develop their branding initiatives and uses these technologies to strengthen relationships between students, faculty/staff, & the surrounding community, they’re making an earnest attempt to speak global.  Every online channel (Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram, etc.) that they opt to use creates content and effort which expands the campus’s network (both internally and externally), increases worldwide connectivity on behalf of those enrolled/employed at the institution, and also helps to expand what relationships/resources assist the university’s larger institutional goals.

Why does having the ability to speak global matter?
After reading a recent report from NACEweb.org which cites that there are at least, 723,000 international college students in the United States, and that this reflects a 4.7% increase from last year; it’s only logical to argue that a campus possessing the ability to speak global (using both digital and traditional media) matters significantly.

Moreover, a 21st century student compares their selection of college campuses using a rigorous grading scale.  To feel confident that they’re going to obtain the best education possible they’ll consider beside geography, financial cost, and campus culture: If a campus will offer opportunities to connect, study and/or intern with partner universities abroad?  Are there career center resources readily available to assist with life post-graduation?  Do faculty demonstrate a commanding knowledge of course subject matter and their field so that in the long run they might turn to their former teachers when seeking mentoring?

When a university demonstrates that they not only meet but surpass such standards, they’re building a brand identity which conveys that the campus seriously aspires to speak globally and maintain an internationally influential role.

Out of all the universities in existence today, which campuses most powerfully demonstrate a capacity to speak globally?
Again, although this project’s research focuses on the emerging media presence concerning campuses based in Latin American and Europe; a 2009 article written by CollegeSurfing.com‘s editorial board shares extensive information regarding the selected ‘Web 2.0 College Olympics‘ winners and how each university employs various digital media platforms to enhance their campus’s online and offline branding initiatives.

In order to specifically review current emerging media efforts taking place within Latin American and European universities, studying the below list of international educators and the campuses that they represent will tremendously consolidate this research niche:
– Professor Julio Blanco — @JulioCBlanco (Pontificia Universidad Católica Argentina; Buenos Aires, Argentina)
– Professor Miguel Angel Trabado — @MATrabado  (ESERP School of Business; Barcelona/Madrid, Spain)
– Professor Sandra Turchi — @SandraTurchi (Escola Superior de Propaganda e Marketing; Sao Paulo/Rio De Janeiro, Brazil)
– Professor Martha Gabriel — @MarthaGabriel (HSM Educação; Sao Paulo, Brazil)
– Professor Andrés Silva Arancibia — @AndresSilvaA (Universidad Andrés Bello; Chile)
– Professor Roberto Arancibia — @RobertoA (Universidad Mayor, Universidad UNIACC, the Universidad del Pacífico; Peru/Chile)

Finally, if a university wishes to increase efforts toward learning how to speak globally (using digital and/or traditional media)… what are a few resources that will help their cause?
Countless (and largely free) resources exist around the web to help those institutions struggling to keep track of trends/news concerning social media and education.  A few favorites that’ve come highly recommended by colleagues include: Educause.edu, Chronicle.com, Classroom20.com, Edweek.org, WorldWideLearn.com.

Of course all of these questions merely hint at several concerns regarding international education and how it employs always-evolving digital media.  As a reader, please feel free to send in any and all comments, observations, or questions you might have relating to this field and topic.  Excelsior!

In Fall 2012 a Thesis is coming…

Above all things, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest stories are always hidden in the most unlikely places.” – Roald Dahl

Courtesy of Vogue.com

Let’s consider the above photograph for a moment; go ahead… give it a lingering, philosophical, studious gaze.  Although fully ready to set out on a voyage that requires at least one suitcase, one book and one traveling suit, it’s clearly evident that this young, bright-eyed bon vivant wants desperately to ask several questions about what’s to come her way  traveling.  Fair enough.

Coincidentally, certain similar feelings start to emerge when one begins planning their Master’s thesis.  Where how or what’s the most appropriate place to commence writing one’s graduate school magnum opus incessantly expends the mind.  However, the general conclusion that universally applies to all those enduring the process regardless of institution, instructor, or interest area- is that there simply isn’t  one, single right way to introduce a semester long academic endeavor.  That said, it’s probably best to go ahead and initiate the process.

Of course, it’s impossible to know where in the world the focus of our photo intends to visit; but on the other hand, I’m considerably thankful that my thesis will follow a clear, discernible journey.  This research project will analytically study university campuses, located in both Latin America and European countries, that employ emerging media platforms to not only develop their branding initiatives but more importantly use these technologies to strengthen relationships between students, faculty/staff, & the surrounding community.

Other questions that one must consider when broaching deeper into this subject include:
– Are these efforts increasing viral participation with the University brand online?
– Is the campus seeing a gradual increase concerning grants or funding/enrollment/teacher retention?
– When a University campus employs select emerging media platforms to increase brand identity and community participation, what advantages/disadvantages affect different areas in the educational environment?

This platform (www.LivinLaVidaNewMedia.Wordpress.com) will serve as a collective space that publishes all in-depth research findings (both quantitative and qualitative), in order to answer the above questions relating to how University systems, located in Latin America and European use emerging media platforms successfully or dysfunctionally and why.

Specific research methodologies that will assist this project include:
– Scholarly Article Evaluations
– Platform/Technology Investigation and Reviews
– Critical Response and Analysis
– Interviews and interactive discussion with various Campus Representatives
– Case Study Profiles

At any point should you have any questions regarding this project’s research please feel free to reach me at the following contact information: Amanda Montgomery,
MA Candidate / Dept of Emerging Media & Communications ;
University of Texas – Dallas
Email – acrawfordmontgomery@gmail.com
Twitter – @acmontgomery
LinkedIn.com/in/AmandaMontgomery

The anticipating young lady in the photograph poses a calm yet alluring demeanour; it’s my greatest hope that the collective research gathered for this project during Fall 2012 will capture a similar essence and more importantly raise awareness towards the symbiotic potential that exists between global higher education and digital media.

Why do Social Causes & Social Media go together so naturally like Candles on A Cake?

Happy 24th Birthday to Me!  Yes indeed, it’s true – today Wednesday December 8th, 2010 – the day after Pear Harbor was attacked and the day John Legend died… on a snowy night in Dallas, Texas, 1986 I was born at Presbyterian Hospital; 1st child to Mr. and Mrs. William S. Montgomery Jr.  Bald as a cue ball and weighing in at a total of 8.4 oz, I had big plans for my birthday then, as I do now.  This time around though the celebration is slightly less eventful, there isn’t any cake in the face or balloons put together which look like Giraffees.  None of that fanfare, I wanted to take it easy this year.

Instead of celebrating my birthday with hullaballoo, booze and friends I felt the need to give a shout out and honor 24 ‘Social Causes’ that make birthdays better for those less fortunate around the world.  Not everyone is as blessed as I am and with being so fortunate, it’s often forgotten amongst those I know, that those who are given great privilege also assume great responsibility.

As I work  in social media, it was critical from the beginning that I understood the correlation and significance open communication and spreading a message via emerging allow for non profits.  Half the things I am involved with personally strongly thrive around a Facebook Fan Page, a Twitter Feed or some other social profile so that they can gain awareness while at the same time reduce their costs as much as possible.  I’ve said many times over before – social media thrives today amongst culture because at the very beginning society used the freedom available within different channels to announce their select cause and rally support for it.  Today we see these efforts at an all time because people still have the ability to promote a philanthropic effort that needs attention and there’s plenty of press to go around.  A special thanks to those of you who choose to honor one of these causes as a birthday present to me.  I genuinely appreciate your support!

Bears of Hope
Toys for Tots
Salvation Army
Make-A-Wish Foundation
Heels w/ Wheels
Susan G. Komen Foundation
Shave Dallas
Mayo Clinic
The Women’s Museum: An Institute for the Future
Yele Foundation
Hope for Haiti Now
AIDS Relief International
North Texas Food Bank
Genesis Women’s Shelter
The Chiapas Project
Dallas Contemporary
Wire-A-Cake
United Way Foundation
– Ovarian Cancer Research Fund
Stand Up 2 Cancer
The SEED Foundation
The Water Project
StJude Children’s Research Hospital