By Mark Barnes on August 28th, 2015 | Comment on this post

Teacher in classroom397x265This story appears in SmartBrief’s digital publication, SmartReport on ISTE 2015. To see more features, tips and our Tech Showcase, download it now.

In a recent lively chat about problems in education, a colleague suggested that teachers want quick fixes — the kind of solutions, she suggests, that do not exist. Upon careful consideration, I decided that my esteemed colleague couldn’t be more wrong.

In fact, I talk to teachers daily in the field and on social networks, and most of them say there are very few fixes at all, quick or otherwise. Almost every solution to any education problem is something that is sent to a committee, then to senior administrators, before being relegated to some five-year plan, etched in a 20-page mission statement that most will only skim.

The problem with five-year plans is that technology evolves at staggering speeds and our students change from week to week. Most five-year plans are obsolete long before the plan comes to fruition.…

(read more…)

By Dan Ward on August 28th, 2015 | Comment on this post

“I know the people on the phone can’t see this, but …”

By the third time our meeting facilitator offered the same apology, I began to suspect we were doing something stupid, or at least ineffective. But most likely stupid.

I’d been through this before, of course, on both ends of a telecom. We all have. Dialing in remotely to a meeting where wall charts and whiteboards are used but not broadcast can be an exquisitely frustrating experience. The people in the main room can see what’s going on. They can post sticky notes on the wall and move them around. But the remote “participants” — and I use that word loosely — can only listen and imagine. Except for when the audio is bad or the speaker turns away from the microphone, in which case they can do less than that.

There are plenty of tools and technologies designed to improve interactions among geographically dispersed teams, and some of them are quite good.…

(read more…)

By John Todd on August 28th, 2015 | Comment on this post

Site selection for restaurants is a delicate balance of art and science. Twenty-plus years ago, when I started my career as director of construction for one of the country’s largest restaurant franchisees, site selection primarily fell into the “art” category — we had a few basic criteria such as traffic counts, ABC classifications and general community demographics, but after that we relied on our instincts and experience. Today science has taken over, as smart brands increasingly rely on the incredible troves of data points — both big and small — that now exist on market conditions, customer preferences, demographics, even where a potential customer was five minutes before they arrived in the drive-thru.

The risk of “paralysis from analysis” is real, however, as our team looked to expand our South Florida-based Pollo Tropical brand into Texas, we identified target markets based on several factors: consumer acceptance studies of the brand offering, supply chain efficiency, operational span and the number of stores needed for media efficiency.…

(read more…)

By on August 28th, 2015 | Comment on this post

Veteran journalist and documentary filmmaker Soledad O’Brien tells how technology can help overcome barriers and close achievement gaps.

This story appears in SmartBrief’s digital publication, SmartReport on ISTE 2015. To see more features, tips and our Tech Showcase, download it now.

Seventeen-year-old Maria Castro had a dream: to attend Stanford University and study solar engineering. The sixth of seven children in a working-class immigrant family, Maria was a standout honors student at Carl Hayden Community High School in Phoenix. Maria was in her sophomore year when she discovered that her school did not offer calculus, a class she needed to be considered for admission to Stanford.

Determined, Maria set out to get the course she needed. She wrote up a proposal for the class, persuaded 31 of her peers to take it with her and pleaded with the administration to get a teacher and funding. It worked. The school added the two-semester course, and Maria and her classmates attended it every day after school.…

(read more…)

By Mark Hamstra on August 27th, 2015 | Comment on this post

This post is sponsored by PayPal.

Bank loans and venture capital continue to be popular funding sources, but they do not work for every entrepreneur. Some startups are turning to crowdfunding as an alternative to traditional loans and a means to get their businesses off the ground.

But simply creating a cool new product or service is not enough to attract contributors through online crowdfunding platforms like Indiegogo and Kickstarter. A successful crowdfunding campaign requires extensive, thoughtful planning and focused marketing to attract and engage supporters, combined with hours of intense, hands-on work.

Just ask Helmut Wyzisk III and Jeff Becker, co-founders of Earhoox, which sells soft, silicone attachments that hold earbuds firmly in place. The company started in 2012 and raised almost $10,000 in a month-long Indiegogo campaign.

“Looking at the landscape of crowdfunding now, and knowing what we now know, I think we could do 10 or 20 or 30 times what we did in that crowdfunding campaign,” Wyzisk said.…

(read more…)