Monday, February 12, 2007

Text-message course helping newcomers learn English

Once again, language classes seem to be one of the best uses for mLearning solutions. This also shows something I've been saying for a while, mLearning is HERE, NOW! It has simply defied being labeled as such.

Text-message course helping newcomers learn English

A pen and paper aren't necessary in an Edmonton classroom where students are learning English with a new tool — text messages on their cellphones.
Under a pilot project, the students at the Mennonite Centre for Newcomers are testing "m-learning," or mobile learning, where they download an English grammar lesson, then answer a series of multiple choice, or true or false questions.

Athabasca University, a long-distance post-secondary school, created the cellphone lessons for those wanting to learn English as a second language (ESL).
"You're controlling it, which is so nice," said Tracey Woodburn of Athabasca University. "A lot of people have been telling me, 'Oh, I can do this when I am watching my kid's soccer practice or when I am on the bus coming to school.'"

'You learn where you are' The students in the class are from all over the world, many from countries where they don't have home phones, only cellphones.
"Everybody has a phone. My husband and I worked in Japan for five years teaching ESL and we were the only people in the school, out of 600 people,
who didn't have cellphones," said Woodburn.

Student Fadieh Al-Kaloti said cellphone learning works well for her. "You learn where you are — in the bus or in the train or maybe in the plane," she said. If the pilot project works, Athabasca University hopes eventually people all over the world will be able dial up English lessons on their cellphone, whether it's the LRT in Edmonton or the bullet train in Japan.

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Book Review- The Brand You 50

This is from a review I wrote on several years ago. I felt it was a good time to revisit how we can personally brand ourselves.

The Brand You 50 : Or : Fifty Ways to Transform Yourself from an 'Employee' into a Brand That Shouts Distinction, Commitment, and Passion!

In the book The Brand You 50, Tom Peters creates a process in which we can empower ourselves to stand out, both personally, and professionally. With corporations extending their global reach, technology evolving faster than most people can keep up with, and the internet opening all sorts of doors of information, Tom helps us create a path to help us stand out from the crowd and be heard above the roar. As with all of Tom Peter’s books, the paths are given in an almost elementary order with humorous analogies and descriptions, sure to stick in one's head. I felt that providing a simple ‘book review’ would not do justice to the concepts that Tom is conveying so instead I will take this book, brick by brick, through the start of the transformation and self branding process. It is, of course, impractical to for me to cover every topic here, but I believe that this sample will leave you with sweet dreams of your future.

It Is Up To You

The first and most important item in transforming ourselves is to first declare independence from ‘the same old same old’. The first chapter has us create a Declaration of Personal Independence. We need to free ourselves from what we think are the constraints of our job. There are no such things as ‘white-collar’ jobs any more, and as long as we think in those limited terms, we will never be independent from they typical j.o.b.

The White-Collar Revolution Has Started

Just as during the 80s we saw a massive change in the ‘blue-collar’ job sector. Plants that used to take five hundred people to operate suddenly were automated to the point a handful of workers could run the plant. In the same way, traditional white-collar jobs are now changing. With advances in technology, accountants, IT professionals, managers, HR professionals, and customer service professionals are now finding that their jobs may not even exist with in the next few years. According to The Brand You 50, 90% or more of white-collar jobs will either be gone or changed in the next fifteen years. We all must motivate ourselves to surf the wave of change, or drown.

Brand Yourself

Just as it is vital for each company to find a way to make themselves stand out from the competition, it is also vital for us to create our own ‘branding.’ Part of our personal branding is to create a ‘branded skill set’. We must emphasize our marketable skill craft, make ourselves distinct and memorable, and enhance our networking skills so as to advertise ourselves through word of mouth contacts.

Start NOW

With all of the changes taking place, there is no time to wait to improve yourself and your situation. In this chapter, Tom assigns his readers with a starting point to their personal change. Before you go on in this book, it is important that you do the following steps:

  • Evaluate your personal brand equity.
  • Develop an advertisement for your personal brand.
  • Create an eight word mission statement.
  • Describe yourself in a bumper sticker statement.

Although you will expand on these steps through out the book, this will give you a starting point and a personal vision to work on.

Forget Jobs

As long as we look at what we do as simply a job, we will never realize the scope of our impact, nor reach the potential of our work. Change our mindset to think of our work in terms of projects for clients. I found myself recently using this with a group of customer service representatives for a major ISP. I asked each representative to look at each call as a unique project that they were working for a unique client (the customer.) The change that happened with many of these CSR’s, when they changed their work attitude, was tremendous. Not only did each of these CSR’s handle their customers in an efficient and friendly manner, but they all started looking for ways to improve their next ‘project’ by learning from prior ‘projects’. Changing how you view your work will have an impact on how you grow in your work.

Package Yourself

Every brand needs packaging. Think about how different companies brand themselves in their packaging and advertising. What image do they attempt to portray? How does the public receive that image? Think about your craft and skills you described when you branded yourself. How would you package that brand to sell it to the public?

Inc. Yourself

Refer to yourself as your own corporation. When you start looking at yourself as your own corporation, then your focus and priorities will change. How much differently will Your Name work than Your Name Inc.?

Determine What You Value

What is important to you? What are your values about life? Once you have a picture of what is truly valuable to you, work always for those values. Here Tom has us create a mission statement for ourselves that relates to our value statement. Our mission should reflect what is truly important to us.

Develop A Portfolio

We are far more than the little jobs we may do on a daily basis. Each of us must determine what skills we bring to the job. For me, just having an MBA did not say much about my skills in my work and I found that title was actually self-limiting. Each of us must determine the extent of our skills and what we can bring to the table. I have worked with many self-employed people who categorized their skills only by the label they give themselves. Many are amazed at how many skills they truly have by looking at all aspects of their careers. Most self employed people do their own books, taxes, scheduling, advertising, and marketing; with out ever giving themselves credit for it.

Know How Money Is Made

Most people have no concept of what money really is or how it works. For most people, money is something they receive for working and spend for products. It is important that when you go through the process of Branding Yourself you take the time to acquire a good economic understanding. One of the keys that most truly successful people have is they understand the true value of a dollar, and how it works in relation to society.

Market The “Brand You” To The World

This chapter does not entail running out and buying advertising on every TV station through out the world in order to get your ‘face’ recognized. Instead, this is a lesson in global marketing based on those who are successful at it. While each of us may not be an Oprah or Martha Stewart, each of us has the ultimate potential to have our ‘self branding’ reach through out the world. Study how those who successfully market themselves through out the world conduct their business.

Buy The Book

No, buying the book is not one of Tom Peter’s guideposts in The Brand You 50. Buying the book is my suggestion for anyone who wishes to create a ‘happily ever after’ for the rest of their lives. It would be virtually impossible for me to cover every single topic in this review, but if you want to truly maximize your crappy little tasks to gold and you wish to be your own Rolodex then I suggest you consider investing in yourself and buy a copy of The Brand You 50.