By on October 23rd, 2014 | Comment on this post

Social media presents unique opportunities and challenges alike for small businesses. It provides an unprecedented way to amplify word-of-mouth marketing efforts, a bread-and-butter tactic for local businesses. But it can also feel daunting to compete with the social-marketing budgets of larger competitors.

A new mobile application called Perch is designed specifically for small businesses to better understand their social media presence. It lets them track customer reviews from across social networks, including Facebook, Yelp and Google, not just for their own businesses but for competitors as well. The app is from Closely, a company started by former MapQuest co-founder Perry Evans.

Perry EvansEvans has been helping small businesses use digital tools to improve their local marketing for years. We asked him for insight on how smaller shops can use social media to their advantage in today’s competitive market:

Is social media marketing the big equalizer between big brands and small businesses?

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By on October 22nd, 2014 | Comment on this post

More than 3 in 4 contracting firms are finding it difficult to fill skilled trade positions, and more than 3 in 5 are finding project supers, estimators and engineers hard to find, according to a survey by the Associated General Contractors of America conducted in August and September. The Southeast sees the largest challenge, where 86% of contractors face labor challenges; the Northeast is better off, but far from complacent as 67% of contractors there try to deal with the problem.

To deal with the issue, nearly 60% of the firms surveyed have tried raising wages to attract new workers in both the craft and professional positions. Almost half are resorting to an increased use of subcontractors while more than one-third are turning to staffing agencies.

Many of the respondents say that training and education programs in their areas are sub par and more than one-third don’t see much cause for celebration in their area’s workforce pipeline.…

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By on October 22nd, 2014 | Comment on this post

APPrise Mobile’s platform for investor-relations communications is designed to help companies, whether large or small, create native applications that supply the target audience with a wealth of crucial information, said Jeff Corbin, APPrise’s founder and CEO.

“Public companies needed a communications solution to inform or ‘apprise’ their investors on their mobile phones and tablets,” Corbin said in an e-mail interview. “TheIRapp was created to solve this problem. It was developed to be a cost-effective, easy-to-implement solution that would provide public companies with their own branded app available on the Apple App Store and Google Play.”

More than 125 companies are using the company’s investor-relations app solution, while the number of investors who have downloaded one or more of APPrise customers’ apps has surpassed 75,000, he said.…

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By Brian Lack on October 22nd, 2014 | Comment on this post

This post is sponsored by Curriculum Associates

The Common Core State Standards have introduced a new level of rigor to math curriculum. No longer focused on rote tasks and memorization, today’s math curriculum requires students and teachers to think of numbers and mathematical functions in new terms. In this Q&A, Forsyth County School’s Mathematics Specialist Brian Lack discusses the challenges of this transition and how his district is supporting teachers in this endeavor.

The new common core and College and Career Readiness Standards are much more rigorous. How have you adjusted your curriculum and instructional models to accommodate the new standards? What challenges have you encountered and what are a few strategies you’ve used to overcome them?

The biggest hurdle we have faced has been helping teachers understand the depth and meaning of the standards accurately. Each elementary teacher is extremely constrained when it comes to time and because of this, they often rely on publishers’ interpretations of the standards.…

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By Michael Moody on October 22nd, 2014 | Comment on this post

This post is sponsored by Insight Education Group.

Students need great teachers. But given the heightened expectations and challenges presented by new standards and assessments, do teachers have the support they need to drive student achievement?

According to new poll data from Smartbrief and Insight Education Group, an educational consulting and product development firm, most of today’s teachers need more out of observations and professional learning than they currently get. But what is particularly noteworthy is teachers’ overwhelming interest in the use of classroom video technology to make it happen.

Teachers from across the country were asked about their current experiences with observation and evaluation, as well as how they see video benefiting practices. Here’s what they had to say:

  • Nearly 70% of respondents said they don’t feel they receive meaningful and actionable feedback on their instructional practices.
  • 91% of respondents are in favor of filming their instructional practices for observations and professional development.
  • (read more…)