Be sure to Bookmark: www.ContinentContinent.cc

“We should not only use the brains we have, but add to it all that you can borrow.”
–Woodrow Wilson

Take a few minutes to visualize an elegant, 17th century Château salon where after a rigorous morning walk, and spending several hours revising your latest play, you’ve stopped to visit your dear Parisian friend Madame de Rambouillet whose graciously extended invitation to take tea. She’s also invited several philosopher/author friends: Voltaire, Émilie du Châtelet and Rousseau-it’s an intimate gathering this afternoon.  The chatter skips merrily between politics, the latest Sorbonne art exhibitions, and of course whose writing what next, or rather will so-so ever begin a new project that’s even more enlightening than their last one? The soirée concludes with a flurry of bon après-midis as everyone bids good day to one another.

When one visits the latest academic online salon – www.ContinentContinent.Cc – a rather unusual, antiquated feeling begins to make the reader feel as if they’ve instantly traveled back to a time when great enlightenment went sweeping through Western Europe faster than a bubonic plague. Fortunately however, this cultural epidemic produced more positive outcomes.

Strange things start to happen when one’s conducting thesis research because at some point along the research journey, I haphazardly bookmarked this fascinating site.  Upon first glance, it’s not toting headlines addressing South American higher education or anything relevant to Latin America whatsoever. But appearances often deceive and many times it pays to look beyond the landing page when searching for relevant articles.  Coincidentally, this academic journal published an outstanding exposè featuring University of São Paulo’s brilliant faculty Dr. Gilson Schwartz who discusses his latest Media Research project that’s engineered a ‘Creative Currency’ project to support young Brazilian filmmakers.

This site without question earns a well-deserved A…
Pros: Distinguished Editorial Board, Expansive/Admirable Content conversations, Engaging/Aesthetically creative site design/navigation, Global readership.
Cons: To say the least, if you intend to submit an article feature, the process will requires one to practice seriously saintly patience. Also, for a site with international credentials, their Twitter/Facebook channels tote low numbers.

Again, to reecho what the above chart explains using extreme detail, getting published by the .Continent Editorial board requires one to submit meticulous academic reporting that cuts into the many nuances surrounding art, technology, sociology, economics, etc. It’s also advisable to secure a divine intervention blessing whenever possible; that’s a caution but better safe than sorry right?

While the site www.ContinentContinent.Cc, comes across as an entertaining platform, written exclusively to bemuse an intellectually superior audience, there’s really a underlying whimsical and light-hearted tonality if one takes the time to move past the wry first impression. And although it’s certainly not kindred to a Conan O’Brien Tumblr, on occasion the .Continent crew knows how to cut loose and enjoy a much needed laugh.

I’m not sure that I’ll make it over to Tirana, Albania for the June 6-8, 2013 ‘Pedagogies of Disaster’ Conference, but I’d pay seriously big dollars to receive a legendary invitation to their Holiday Christmas party.  Hopefully they’ll post those details  to Twitter ASAP.  Tis’ the season tis’nt? 🙂

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

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Be Sure to Bookmark: youngdigitallab.net

  “Formal education will no doubt make you a decent living;
But it’s self education that makes you a fortune.”
–Jim Rohn

Courtesy of YoungDigitalLab.net

Try to name one person not smitten by Italy’s charms … go ahead … no rush.

To quote Shrek’s endearing pal Donkey, think about it …
“Have you ever met a person, you say, “Let’s go to Italy,” they say, “Hell no, I don’t like no Italy?” Italy is delicious!”

You had me at delizioso Donkey; you’re preaching to the Convert.

Ah Italia!  Of course the fashion, food, and fascinating art scene emit such intellectual stimulation that it manages to seduce the world’s most prominent academics using barely any effort.  It’s a long revered home-town stomping ground to the legendary Innovative Entourage members: Galileo, Michelangelo, Da Vinci, and one impressive Dodge dynasty. But when I came across the Padua-based (or Padova as the Italian language spells it) website … YoungDigitalLab.net … well only two words came to mind: Così Impressionante.  Translation: YDL features such amazing contentcentric media discussions, that it’s now Safari marked as an ‘official’ new friend.

Chris Andersen’s new book (Oh, need his credentials?  He’s Wired magazine’s current Editor-in-Chief; but it’s not yet public knowledge if he also prefers to go by the Godfather, I’ll make a fact check note.) Makers: The New Industrial Revolution, he speaks to three specific characteristics that ‘true Makers’ exhibit unlike the majority societal public.  Anderson acknowledges with confident authority how “[Real Makers instinctively] default to thinking in public…sharing…and collaborating with people they don’t know.”  YoungDigitalLab.net isn’t a spotlight textbook case study, but at the very least it deserves an Honorable Mention medal.

Most importantly, the YoungDigitalLab.net project demonstrates that when discerning, expressive minds come together to build an online community that fosters a celebratory spirit supporting collaborative learning – I think a fairy procures their wings.  Well, something magical happens because this renaissance continues to unfold both on and offline, in HD, 3D, BluRay, and flatD to the North, South, East and West -worldwide.  It’s truly admirable that YoungDigitalLab.net refuses to tolerate geographic borders; and the resulting content they publish justifies why they stick to this decision.

It’s never only about ‘the numbers’ (Connection, Fan, Follower, Tumbles, Pin counts, etc) when one analyzes what really makes a brand’s emerging media campaign successful.  That said, YDL’s numbers highlight a reputation that already includes a lengthly achievement list including: supporting 19 speakers under 30, across an eight-city Italian tour, adding to a blog archive that currently stores 289+ articles posted by 25 unique authors.  Data drives everything a communications practionier does; to live by data is to die by data.  Thankfully, ever since graphic designers began popping out data visualization charts, (R/GA’s Bob Greenberg deserves a huge thanks here), marketing professionals now look forward to reviewing significant data collections meditatively not anxiously – no Valium necessary.  To celebrate turning 2, check out the below visual summary YDL put together as a birthday gift to their site:

Courtesy of YoungDigitalLab.net

Obviously unwilling to go against any fellow social media channels, it’s impressive that YoungDigitalLab.net’s Editorial Team maintains such a genuinely engaging presence between three channels.  Take a moment to visit their LinkedIn, Twitter, and/or Facebook accounts.  Each platform reiterates the Young Digital Lab brand’s ability to deliver content elegantly and eloquently.

Hence the reason this site earns a well-deserved A –  
Pros: International subject matter addressing major industry concerns/trends, Check.  Responsive authors willing to converse with worldwide audience, Check.  Aesthetic -yet also- Navigable site design, Check.  ‘English On’ button, Check.
Cons:  Their currently following 0% of their Twitter audience, that’s just bad manners.  Still, there’s an argument to say nothing is ever truly perfect.

Courtesy of Facebook.com/YoungDigitalLab

Now let’s assume, ‘hypothetically’ of course – that you’ve saved up some airline miles; because for several unspoken reasons (no judgement), it’s vitally important that at least for this season, you’d prefer to avoid a 96 hour family holiday rotation.  Well if you enjoy lasagna, meeting new industry colleagues, and attending lectures that discuss sometimes unorthodox business philosophy then it’s highly recommended that you book a trip to Rome – pronto!

Our friends at YDL are hosting a little seasonal get -together and you’re invited!  So pack those bags, arrive a few days early to spend a little time sight seeing, and plan to enjoy November 8 / 9 learning about what’s changing media relations, journalism, advertising, and social networks just before Christmas hits.  It’s a unique event but not to fear if you can’t make it – YDL will post a live update stream online capturing the conference highlights.

If you’re an avid fan, new follower or just a friend to the folks running YoungDigitalLab.net – by all means please feel free to sing their praises, opera style or no, in the comment section below.  I look forward to your site reviews!

Ciao for now dearest friends and speak soon!  I hope everyone enjoys a trauma-free, treat-filled Halloween holiday.

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

Brazil’s 2013 Plan at Hand: Fixing the Education Gap ASAP

“In the long term, most plans are of little importance but that said,
thoughtful planning is always essential.”
— Winston Churchill

This past summer, when the last 2012 London Olympics athletes finally left England with their medals in tow, and after the last Confetti gun was fired at the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, the whole UK let out a collective, appreciative sigh. Understandably worn out, her majesty’s government wasted no time in passing on the ‘Party Host’ torch (pardon the pun) to Brazil.  Their Southern Atlantic neighbor will spend the next four years serving as the official ‘Celebration Nation’ not just to the 2016 Olympics but also to the 2014 World Cup community.

Never mind Brazil’s infamous reputation concerning the ability to throw one fun carnival; that’s not exactly helpful when it comes knocking out a housekeeping ‘To-Do’ list many miles long.  Every Culture,  Tourism, and Engineering office continues to spend day and night strategizing ways to accommodate a guest list exceeding millions.  And forget the tea candles, place cards, or pressed napkins.  For now, the country’s education leaders will spend next year’s majority trying to fix the education gap that’s holding back amongst other things Brazil’s booming growth spurt.

While in São Paulo for BBC World News, Katty Kay’s latest report on this topic explains how looming concerns over slower economic growth, inflation, etc., stand to nullify every progressive educational benchmark Brazil’s surpassed since the early/mid 90s.  Moreover, the leading international research firm PISA, recently profiled national education systems, ranking Brazil 53rd.  It’s a concerning placement, taking into account that Brazil’s economy -now the world’s #6 GDP- just bumped the UK to spot #7 not all that long ago.  To point, Kay notes that if Brazil wishes to sustain noticeable progress, “it will require more than muscle to lift a country into modernity; they will need human resources too.”  And while it’s not an exact science,  the process to improve a nation’s ability to educate their domestic population needs to begin with reviewing all teacher feedback.

It’s extremely risky when a government, underestimates a teacher’s role (no matter the grade level) and their ability to influence the educational community locally, nationally, and abroad.  Speaking candidly with Kay about the subject, Priscila Cruz, a prominent Education Campaigner, reiterates that Brazil’s 2+ million teachers posses a great voting power.  In serving as the Executive Director to the organization, Todos Pela Educação, Cruz operates an invaluable company, using the latest technology and media to distribute countless necessary resources, in order to help any Brazilian teacher receive better professional training.  As a result when it comes to electing senior officials who have the power to change government policies concerning education, more teachers will cast knowledge votes.  Any social, economic, or political change relies upon the individual citizen’s ability to maintain a versed political understanding- all party loyalties aside.

As Kay’s article for BBC points out, it’s true that “over the past 20 years Brazil has done an impressive job of getting more students into the education system.”  However that success translates to a different problem, as enrolling more students, now requires schools to expand their class availability.  Furthermore, if teachers fail to receive extensive training before they actually start teaching their classes – the negative impact gradually trickles down and directly impacts every Brazilian student.  Although sophomoric, many young students voice their genuine understanding that gaining even the most basic education, acts as a passport that will eventually grant access to creating a successful future.  Such enthusiastic, insistent student potential deserves far more than an educational environment that underserves the teachers and their instructional materials.

Failing to implement such serious changes will not only hurt Brazil’s academic reputation internationally; there’s also weighty financial implications to consider.  It stands to reason that if Brazil’s working demographic isn’t sufficiently educated, then it will force the present and future commercial development to hire a labor force – not locally from Brazil – but more expensive professionals, eager to relocate overseas.  A Brazilian workforce lacking transferable skills, also jeopardizes the ability to diversify the nation’s economic activity.  It’s exceptionally dangerous for any country to rely on a single trade exchange, i.e. only exporting natural resources or supplying commodities to China.  Hence, if Brazil wishes to evolve past the ’emerging leader’ role then they must prepare to keep pace with Asia/US/European competition.

Without question, luck, timing and a rare geographic/coincidental proximity between two such monumental events like the Olympics and World Cup all give Brazil premium opportunity to show off the nation’s historic legacy and other strengths.  But in order to make this global presentation a truly successful, resonating performance they must first figure out how to redesign the way both lower/higher education rouses the population.  Once this internal enlightening begins, it’s only a matter of time before Brazil’s talent pool will flood into the market place.  It will serve Brazil well to follow their national motto more closely than ever over the next decade.  It’s an unremitting philosophy… Order first, then Progress.

Verdade, meus amigos, muito verdadeiro. // True, my friends, very true.

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

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

Corazón Digital: A Chilean University’s Alumni Volunteer to make an Impact

“It’s not that successful people are givers; it’s that givers
turn into incredibly successful people.” — Patti Thor

Any curious researcher wanting to learn more about which top-notch Chilean universities lead the way to progressively educating this emerging nation’s future work force, will no doubt discover La Universidad de las Artes, Ciencias, y Comunicaciones – also known by its international acronym UNIACC.

The private university, since opening their doors in 1989, currently operates three campuses (including the institution’s Santiago headquarters), offering 18 bachelor’s and two master’s programs to a 3,000+ student congregation. Moreover, comparable to the premier arts/technology instructor networks one finds at Yale, Harvard, MIT, and Stanford; UNIACC boasts an internationally recognizable, faculty directory all their own. And while class choices run the gamut between digital communications, computer science, architecture, journalism, etc. – all UNIACC degree candidates enter their respective programs with an understanding that their work must exhibit passionate creativity and always harbor a unique force combining invention, innovation and change.

As a result, by encouraging such a standard amongst the entire student body, this produces a dynamic alumni community, who then go on to work with world’s top media publications, advertising agencies, marketing firms, or even for a brand’s global internal communications team. Collectively, these graduates recognize that charismatic professionals lead by example, continue their education beyond graduation and give charitably whenever possible. So perhaps it’s unsurprising that earlier this summer when a relatively small group of UNIACC alumni began campaigning to launch the initiative Corazón Digital – as a way to help mainly immigrant women learn necessary, basic computer program skills – university administrators practically leaped at the opportunity to offer the organizing committee resources and their enthusiastic support.

Although Corazón Digital maintains an admirable, on-going track record, launching any new project or philanthropic effort will unavoidably generate numerous challenges. In an interview with the university, Senior Director of Communications, Alfredo Santibanez shares that, “One of the first challenges for the project was that it was needed [a] digital volunteers form; that is, [a way to find] people who can teach information technology. We found that the digital volunteer training requires some knowledge and content must be systematized.” Indeed, coordinating, organizing and distributing materials takes patience, time and effort. On average, the program’s volunteers spend 32+ hours teaching course lectures that all explain how to use Word, Excel and PowerPoint successfully.

However, anything worth completing correctly typically adds up to a rewarding end. To date, 300+ participants now posse an advanced training background regarding these programs. More importantly, course instructors also see an intangible benefit by volunteering their time to help improve the local community. Since seeing this initiative’s impact around campus Santibanez observes how, “[Student volunteers] gain an awareness about realities that maybe [they] did not know; [every volunteer] can provide concrete tools for people to overcome their barriers, gaps and situations that may [previously excluded them] from better job performance.” An earnest testament proving once again how one never experiences success without giving selflessly first.

Courtesy of Twitter.com/IntelAprenderCL

If you’re interested in supporting the Corazón Digital initiative, there are several ways to follow up with UNIACC, in addition to the school’s main website.  They promote several social media channels including active Twitter, Facebook and YouTube accounts.  Specific questions about the program can be directed to either Magdalena Quintero, Intel® Aprender’s Lead Coordinator or UNIACC’s Senior Communications Director, Alfredo Santibanez.  Lastly, if you’re a UNIACC alum/current student that’s worked with Corazón Digital at any point, please feel free to share your thoughts/comments about volunteering below.  Here’s a cheer to this fantastic cause and the truly inspiring individuals that kickstart this project both on and offline. ¡Felicitaciones para su trabajando!

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!

Digital Education Collaborations & Campus Brands 2.0 | A Portfolio Assessment

As a 21st century student who consumes the ‘college campus’ brand primarily in a digital space through emerging media platforms such as —LinkedIn Groups, Facebook Fan Pages, blogs, YouTube videos, Skype Conversations and Twitter streams— it’s nostalgic to think back upon a day when tall glass cabinets held countless relics that illustrated a school’s history, progress, and pledge to future advancements. Today instead of looking at microfilm images in the basement of a school’s main library, a newcomer to campus can just as easily click through a Flickr album online and enjoy these scanned in photographs whenever they like. And in-depth research assessing the changing trends in educational collaboration, notes that constantly evolving technology and social networks are undoubtedly the key factors behind the shifts taking place among students, professors, and administration staff internationally.

In order to achieve a stronger, more profound understanding when it came to studying modern day educational collaborations, I needed to approach the analysis at hand several ways. Therefore by combining a holistic review that included a mirco-level scholastic case study, a real time interview between two international students, a video database inventory journal and a collage interpretation related to all of the above, I began to see clearer connections that brought a myriad of unique academic institution cultures separated by continents and oceans together across the vast and open Internet range. Each artistic development within this portfolio bridges typical spaces that can be found at any given University, but goes beyond the concrete elements and instead focuses on highlighting the community narratives which speak to certain qualitative insights that had been previously buried and remained unknown.

Yet despite this expansive review of colleges from around the world, lingering questions remained long after I had completed the finishing touches and revised the last sentence. Where were the campuses that even with the technological advances and media rich content readily available online for learning, were still struggling to help teach their campus populations and engage in an effective dialogue beyond the classroom, and why were they struggling? Reluctantly, these questions must wait for now.

Monologue tangents that impede inspiration, philosophical influence, and historical context aside, during any process proper credit should be awarded to those helpful people, places and things that proved the difference between a quality resource and an eminent resource. With this particular portfolio compilation, everything that sprang forth creatively can indeed be traced back to one awe-inspiring article. In February 2010, higher education resource website CollegeSurfing.com posted the selected winners that would be honored in the inaugural Web 2.0 College Olympics. In keeping with Olympic tradition gold, silver and bronze medals were awarded to the most innovative campuses that were using a gamut of social media platforms to engage the campus community. With such a convenient sample pool already processed and organized for me, I culled through the recipients and selected LaTrobe University, located in Victoria, Australia for the subject of my first portfolio piece.

Opting to use the case study formula and show how LaTrobe University used online communities and social media vehicles such as iTunes University to develop interesting educational collaborations fit perfectly together. Breaking down an outline in this manner juxtaposes the commerce/finance perspective and social initiatives (i.e. education) against one another and more importantly slates the more ‘humanitarian’ goals against the corporate goals. As campus brands slowly begin to resemble Fortune 500 models, it was important that I not only studied educational collaborations as an initiative that leads to a higher return on relationships amid a university, high school, or elementary campus between parents, teachers, students and staff but its also paramount to consider how educational collaborations lend way to a return on investment as well.

In one particular example, it was interesting to interpret how LaTrobe University placed such a high internal value on their various social media milestones and celebrated what long terms effects this would have on their university (i.e. increased enrollment, better relationships/tax brackets from government, more research grant development, etc). In addition to using certain social networks like Twitter and Facebook, LaTrobe’s iTunes University channel offers an extensive podcast library. In preparing to design the sound piece for this portfolio, I decided that the podcast medium would be the best. My thinking being, that if it worked for LaTrobe so well, perhaps I would be just as fortunate.

Using a combination of free software for download called Audio Hijack and Skype (both were free, very cost effective) I worked with two international students from Hong Kong and Sao Paolo respectively to capture their thoughts and insights about educational collaborations and how digital media affects the way they engage and consume their individual campus programs. In asking Sam about how he consumes a campus brand and what types of collaborations took place in his program, he responded that when certain, traditional standards and protocol between a student and professor, coach or admissions counselor certain formalities fall away as everyone starts using online channels like Twitter DMs, Facebook Fan Page wall posts, LinkedIn messaging, or something else to communicate important, pertinent information around campus.

On the other hand, Elisa shared that she used a university’s active (or lack thereof) social media presence as a way to a gauge and rank a school’s overall quality. In the above portfolio element, I was only able to listen and experience educational collaborations taking place at LaTrobe University from a peripheral vantage point. However, by discovering a way to produce a short podcast program, in the future I’ll be able to create more pieces like this interview with Elisa and Sam. Perhaps over the next six months, I can strive to create my own podcast series that represents a set of conversations about education, collaborations, and digital communities with a point of contact at each school recognized in the Web 2.0 College Olympics.

Let’s take a moment and review a couple of interesting, and even somewhat shocking facts about YouTube before we get ready to discuss the next installation within the portfolio. According to reports from industry sources like Mashable and YouTube’s homepage as of February 2011, “YouTube has 490 million unique users worldwide per month, who rack up an estimated 92 billion page views each month; On average there are more than 400 tweets per minute containing a YouTube link, and Facebook over 150 years worth of YouTube videos are watched every single day.” One must also consider that when it comes to Internet bandwidth, in a 24 hour period YouTube will use a percentage, the same percentage that in 2000 was sufficient to operate the entire Internet. So we’ve discussed the hard numbers and facts, but how does that relate to educational collaborations and analyzing how current students consume a campus brand. Well when YouTube is the #2 search engine platform behind Google, it’s clearly evident that online videos play a pivotal role when it comes to collaborating and debating within the academic context.

The revised collections of 12 videos that I selected all represent unique stories and illustrate a narrative about how two, three, or 44 people came together through networks, connections, and colleagues to help make the world’s learning environment better for students. Business leaders are lending a hand to help principals, superintendents, and deans back new programs and progressive additions to out dated curriculums; other volunteers continue to donate their time so that future generations will enter the work force with an adequate skill set that will help them personally and professionally. Students are also using the online sharing video sphere to showcase their campus’s diversity, student demographics, and extra curricular programs. Again, each video selected for this highlights an aspect of learning that incorporates some type of digital educational collaboration.

To bring everything full circle, the last component in this portfolio series is a custom designed image that features the word ‘Learn’ spelled out where each letter represents a certain theme to accompany the phrase, “Learn through Leadership, Excursions, Application, Risk, Now.” The Internet and Adobe Photoshop were the two primary materials used to make this piece. In working with collages in the past, I was challenged to translate an analog process and duplicate it using only digital tools such as screenshots, editing buttons with Photoshop and of course numerous creative common photos from digital archives like Flickr and Bing.

Not deterred nor intimated that I was going to need a mouse instead of scissors, glue and paper, I started the process by making canvas molds so that each letter ‘background’ piece would be consistent. I did not want each ‘letter’ piece to be the exact same font so I then selected a different style for each character. Cutting out pieces from pulled images online was actually much easier than I anticipated and through the course of designing the pieces I became obsessed with the lasso tool so that my shapes were not reduced to sharp edged rectangles and plain circles.

When any artist comments on their work, viewers sometimes feel like they’re learning about some special secret that took place backstage, or behind closed doors. Take a look at the black and white backdrops behind each letter. Each piece is a photo from different campuses represented in the Web 2.0 College Olympics article. Thankfully, these images put the final touch on this expression supporting my thoughts about digital educational collaborations and the new ways students are consuming campus brands.

Today’s instructors, study abroad coordinators, students and governing school officials stand at the beginning of a new and vastly different landscape than history’s ever seen before now. In order to solve global concerns like HIV/AIDs, Global Warming, and World Hunger future leaders must not only be proficient when it comes to technology but more importantly, they must know how to use certain online tools at their disposal which will make learning, collaborating and preparing for a future in the work force all the more easier and exciting. Accordingly, shifting patterns in student life, emerging online community platforms, and expanding networks that bring global virtual resources together despite geographic limitations will also affect campus brands around the world. In preparing students for their forthcoming professional aspirations, mentors, professors and colleagues must also prepare them to serve as world citizens; the two roles are not mutually exclusive. Digital educational collaborations must lay a strong, knowledgeable foundation.

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