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

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Be Sure to Bookmark: MondoTimes.com

“Always be a helpful source to someone; There’s no time like the present.” – J. E. Durst

Courtesy of MondoTimes.com

International classrooms, now more than ever rely on connectivity and networking to help supplement classroom materials, reading lists, and the overall student experience. Hotels often offer a ‘Concierge Service’ that’s available any time, day, night, 24 hours to anticipate their guests’ slightest need. The communications directory MondoTimes.com offers a similar idea.  It’s a terrific, FREE online resource that profiles 213+ countries and features 33,000+ media outlets.  Bottom line: it’s essentially a media specific, global Yellow Pages.

Similar to HelpAReporter.com or BulldogReporter.com, this site offers links to a country’s main media sources, publication information, and shows current circulation numbers.  Admittedly, the web design fails to appear aesthetically pleasing; it’s ad-a-palooza to the left and right sidebars. Moreover, even though MondoTimes offers free membership to the general site, the actual ‘Media List’ builder determines a fee then charges users to review specific contact details.

If you’re trying to keep costs down, just spend a few extra minutes creating a title list, then review the publication’s actual site to find the right reporter. WARNING: Reporters change contact information frequently so use LinkedIn to check things.

Courtesy of Facebook.com/MondoTimes

Other places to connect with this Boulder, Colorado company include their Facebook, Twitter, & LinkedIn pages; it’s overall Grade earns B+ / A-.
Pros: Helpful information, all in one place, strong Facebook presence, easy to navigate, clear categories and tags.
Cons: Messy layout, poor Twitter following, Freemium model beyond Title index.

Courtesy of MondoTimes.com

If you’ve worked with MondoTimes.com before or a similar tool that connects journalisitic / communications resources to the classroom, feel free to share your feedback thoughts below. I’m always keen to learn about new technology that helps develop international classrooms and education. Happy Friday friends, enjoy the weekend! — A.Montgomery ; @acmontgomery

Why Bother with an EMAC M.A.? I’ll Give You A Reason Why and then some


Where are the sewing kits and baking instructions?

When the 2010 Fall Semester began in August, I had lunch the first week of class with an old friend who was in town on business.  After catching up about summer travel, family, and football as the caring friend they are, she asked me how my grad school program was going…

It’s going really well.  I am so thankful I began working on an Emerging Media & Communications Masters.  UTD has a great program and my summer classes were awesome.

You’re getting a Master’s in Emerging Media & Communications at UTD? Are you taking Twitter 101 as a core requirement?” She laughed and took a bite of her Spinach salad.

Not exactly.  It’s a little more complicated than that.” I retorted, and then we changed subjects about whether Nordstrom Rack was having a sale or not.

When I looked at this week’s scheduled readings, dear old EMAC6300 was covering ‘Shifting Models in Knowledge and Learning Part Deaux’.  The above conversation from August immediately sparked inspiration.  As my classmates, are any of you wondering why in the world you’re pursuing what some ignorantly tote the Twitter 101 Degree?  I’ll confess that I’ve had to defend my program’s validity more than once, and I did it with gusto.  Those who jabbed fun at the Doctoral class I took this summer on Bob Dylan are also dense on other matters of life but I let their judgments go and I have no problem expressing why.  I want to hear your reasons as well so feel free to jump in whenever via ‘Leave a Comment’

Applying to this program at UTD was quite literally a blind leap of faith in the purest sense.  A fellow intern was in the Undergrad program and when I was lamenting about applying to graduate school she made mention that UTD had a similar program to what I was looking for, it was brand new and modestly priced.  I made an appointment to meet Julie Larsen that day.  I applied, got accepted, took a Doctoral level Summer School and wouldn’t change a single iota of these decision to save my life.  I love my job and am incredibly satisfied professionally but the moment you stop learning outside your work environment and growing as a professional and individual that’s when one falls behind and will forever struggle with playing catch up.  That reason alone is why I am proudly earning a Masters in Emerging Media & Communications.  Tweeting as part of class participation is cake icing.

Yes, we discuss Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare and other social networking sites as a cultural and technological force but guess what?  We also discuss Aristotle, Freud, Moileré, Mozart, Brazil’s President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and Steve Jobs.  My classmates and I have heated debates about everything from blogs, architecture, Sasha Baron Cohen, Marvin Gaye, Jay Z, Chris Brogan, The New York Times, Paste Magazine, Perez Hilon and as you can imagine that list goes on for quite a while.

We are in a fraternal order deemed with the task of banding together to better understand the never ending, evolving technology and how it relates back to communications.  We do Tweet in class because if we didn’t we wouldn’t be able to give feedback or collaborate as quickly as we do.  If that’s not enough to justify how my program is helping support how education, knowledge and learning are changing then I don’t know what is.  If you’re an undergraduate getting ready to graduate this Spring allow me to offer a bit of unsolicited advice: Graduate.  Take a year off and go work, consider what you want to specialize in professionally, apply to 2 or 3 graduate programs in February a year later, go to graduate school and never stop learning or continuing to grow.  The EMAC M.A. illustrates the entire reason why we should never stop extending our education.