Study Something Open It Works

It’s been a while since I reflected on my education, but the conversation came up recently over lunch with friends.

I have a friend who is considering a career change (let’s call him Charlie). Charlie is an instructor, and an instructor in every sense of the word. He works in an environment where training or instruction takes place in a way one manner. It’s the classic “sage on the stage” approach, the “font of all knowledge” where the primary task is to transfer a package of knowledge to the audience. “I have this knowledge and I am an expert, and I will now transfer it to you”.

Excuse me while I stop smirking, due to understanding various other far more empowering methods.

Now Charlie is not necessarily an advocate of the instructor led approach, it just so happens that is the environment he works in, and in fact he would make a diamond educationalist in a more liberal, or open environment.

But what does “open” mean here?

Many years ago I used to “train” or “instruct” just like Charlie, that’s the system we grew up with, that’s what we thought “education” was suppose to equate to. When we go to a conference, that’s the experience many of us still expect, we expect to be talked to by an “expert”. Well guess what? That approach is so old school and educationally limiting it’s time we changed our values, or our beliefs on how education can be delivered, and general information.

I’m speaking as a convert mind, if you read my blog a bit you’ll know that I am primarily an educational technologist, ok so one who has had to learn online marketing, branding and SEO through running a successful online business, but at the heart my core is one of an educational technologist.

Sometimes we reach milestones in our lives, or crossroads where significant experiences change our direction forever, and one of those crossroads for me was completing my Masters of Open and Distance Education way back in 2000, abbreviated to MA ODE (Open).

I studied that programme with the IET over three years part time, and in an online mode. So back in 97 we were a buzzing virtual community located globally and sensing something big was coming, and of course it did. We studied concepts years ago concerning social networks and knowledge nodes, we read material which challenged the very notion of what education should be, we debated social interaction in cyberspace (as it was known then), we enthused about the transparency that technology can yield, and the changing dynamic of teacher and student, the power shifts in a learning relationship.

We did so much brain buzzing that it had a fundamental impact on me which changed my outlook forever, and more importantly enabled me to “give-up” the notion that I had to be an “expert” delivering knowledge. We invested brain energy and practise into words such as “constructivism”, and “heutogogy”, all beautiful words which place the learner at the centre of discovery and the teacher as a “guide on the side” a person who creates scaffolding for the learner, but never “spoon feeds”, never has a notion of having to transfer HER opinion, NO the learner must construct their own learning and assumptions.

It is with background that I enthused to Charlie, in the hope Charlie will also find great richness in “giving-up” the teacher power struggle. It is with this background I tell you that study is a good thing, providing you find an “open” approach.

Have you experienced the open approach, maybe you do it every day of your life but just never assumed it was open education?

Dont You Like Meeting People

I’ve been hearing a lot of talk recently that some people think it is hard to meet people they chat with online, in the real world, or to use the correct term Face To face (f2f).

I disagree with this, providing you are yourself online and offline and make no disernable distinction between the two, if you do this may not work.

Here are some ways you can in fact get off your arse and meet people.

  1. Join the Social Media Mafia, it has a presence in three places currently:
  1. Using a social network create an event, a local event close to you and invite a handful of your online friends, if they live an extra long way away make the effort and travel an hour or so on the train, it will be worth it.
  2. If you do not have friends in your social network who are local, search for them, actively seek out people in your geo area and make them friends.
  3. When creating your event give it a theme, give it something everyone can relate to, a commonality if you will.
  4. Document your event with blogs and pictures turn it into a “club”

Ok, so not everyone is a doer or a leader to organise such things, but if you are not that way inclined have a look around at some of the online tools, Upcoming is a great one for starters.

Break your comfort zone, everyone is a little shy, but by being that little bit bolder you will reap dividends and make lots of new friends, I know I have.

I used to be so shy.

What Does Chris Hambly Do

Some of you already know some of this but not all of it, and some of you do not know this but may have had some clues, I have been excited at times and have been dropping hints. It’s time to “spill the beans” and share exactly what’s going on.

I received an unsolicited approach in the last quarter of 07 for a possible partnership/merger between my established distance learning portal Audiocourses.com and the global face-to-face educational provider SAE Institute.

After various negotiations we have now struck a deal and I have signed on the dotted the line, so to speak.

SAE was established in 1976 and now operates over 50 institutions in 21 countries around the globe. SAE has an exceptionally strong brand name in the field of sound engineering and music production, and also more recently, film making, games, and other media related disciplines. If you are a musician or budding sound engineer/studio technologist etc, this is unquestionably “the” brand, SAE is in fact also the world’s largest media education provider, fact.

Audiocourses.com is a pioneering distance learning portal working at the cutting-edge of educational technology since 2000. The portal has graduated students from most corners of the English speaking world, it is a specialist e-learning internet school, with vast experience and proven results. Considerable credibility has been established and the site is dominant in most areas of its core business.

Putting these two cultures together then and you can imagine the possibilities, exciting times ahead with enormous potentials.

Personally I am very excited by this deal, it is the coming of age of my company, something I started on the kitchen table and have shed pints of sweat over, uncountable sleepless nights and all the rest of that stuff you need to get your baby going. I’m chuffed!

So what will I be doing?

Primarily I will continue managing Audiocourses.com and with that comes the integration of the SAE Graduate College. I will also be engaged in helping restructure the SAE network of websites and market the online presence of the SAE brand worldwide.

These are huge projects requiring heaps of project management along with various milestones and launches and exciting strategies. Naturally I hope to share some of this with you as I work through it.

All of this will be carried out by my new-media web marketing consultancy company Audana, which some of you may recall carried out work for Crayon and Coca-Cola as well as other great clients through 07. Audana will grow steadily and aggressively extend its client base through 08.

Watch out for the official press releases soon.

Can’t wait to get stuck in, wish me luck!

10 Things That Will Aid Your Web Business

These are my 140 characters or less web bizz tips for the week, that I first post on Twitter, then blogged here.

1. A prospect needs to sense credibility before making a buying decision, credibility is built up overtime, no short cut.

2. Build mechanisms to bring prospects back. Newsletters and free courses work well, so do forums and other interactive social elements.

3. Use persuasive copy which reinforces the user benefits, not how great you or product is. How will your product benefit a persons life?

4. Get a dedicated IP, forget shared hosting. Make sure your ISP gives you an IP address which is not appearing on blacklists or such.

5. Build own email lists, social media sites are good but you need your OWN, with your own privacy policy in place, own your data.

6. Check your site load speed, if it is less that ultra rapid you will be loosing surfers period.

7. Have more text than pretty pictures, search engines can’t understand pretty pictures, but they love text, like a hungry pac man.

8. Actively seek out in-bound links, make it part of your weekly routine, ensure the target keyword phrase is in the anchor text.

9. Don’t waste your time with time wasters, are you here to work or fuck about?

10. Publish content daily ensuring that the url, title and H1 are the keywords you are targeting.

Stay tuned for more tips, you can always subscribe to my feed with your email address, put it in the wee box on the right.

Funking It Up

I’m just in the mood to post a few pics that you might enjoy.



I think this was 2003 ish, covers band with gigs about 5 times a week, was a busy busy few years, but stupendous fun!

10 Steps To A Successful Web Business

Ronna turned me on to this idea of posting some tips about how to be successful without launching a marketing blog. I twittered these really quickly and it seems they were popular, which means I should blog that and share it with you too.

1. create an infinite responder series of tips.. as a means of capturing a prospects email address.

2. Visit on topic forums in your niche(s) and become an authority in that channel.

3. actively take part in helping people find job through networks like LinkedIn, especially in your field.

4. publish a few ebooks which a price of zero attached, and encourage them to be distributed.

5. email is still THE method for the masses and will be in future. Run a newsletter, targetting your prospects as tightly as possible

6. pay close attention to SEO, and sift through your site access logs, build content around what people are searching you for.

7. say NO a lot to link exchanges, out-bound links to bad neighborhoods will cripple you

8. invest in a dedicated server with 24/7 live support

9. have tiered products and prices, and up-sale all the way from the free ebooks to the crown jewels.. slow buy in.

10. don’t become a snob or fool yourself into thinking you are an expert, you are not. Influence doesn’t carry far.. google does

Eight Random Things About Me Part 1

This is a post which I picked on from from Thayer and as she tagged and made me accountable I had to oblige.

I like the idea of stating a few random things about, the indulging with you, and sharing, so here we go:

1. I’m not a fan of dogs. It might be selfish, it might not be, but I don’t “get” the whole dog-love thing. Why would anyone wish to be tied to taking a dog for a crap every day? What’s the return, what’s the benefit?

2. I love to run. I have run all my life sometimes miles and miles a week, though these days I tend to go about 3 times a week and about 5 miles at a time. I did start recording many of my runs recently and called it Running Man Radio, though I’m getting bored of that and I’m enjoying my own space again without you listening.

3. I use to play rugby semi-professionally. Yeah I know, rugby, real mans sport!

4. I do most of the cooking within my own family. This comes from having a VERY good cook in own my mother and sister (both amazing) and also having lived in Italy for a total of about 5 years, where eating is a religion, and eating slowly with friends.

5. I’ve been working on the web since about 95, and would consider myself very conversant at using tools to build a virtual community, that’s been my core business since 2000. Social media has been what I’ve done for that long.

6. I’ve played guitar in many bands ranging from punk to jazz and some candy pop in between, I also love my nylon string hand-built Spanish guitar.

7. Whilst I speak some practical Italian I excel at swearing in the lingo and I’m a dab hand at Italian gesticulation too.

8. I’m not very hairy and it is all dead straight.

And there you go.

As I’ve enjoyed that I will repeat the process, do enter your email address and subscribe to get my blog musings in your box as and when.

UPDATE: Here is where I tag people, chop chop now your turn, and leave a comment when you#ve done it!

SAMISMAIL
Eaon Pritchard
Jason Jarrett
Nicholas Butler
Julie Joyce
Julia Roy
Doug Haslam

Chinwag Measuring Social Media

Yesterday I attended the Chinwag.com event “measuring social media” chaired by Jim Sterne of Web Analytics Association with a panel comprising of:

Alex Burmaster – European Internet Analyst, Nielsen Online

Alex did a fair amount of pitching to begin with, and to be frank didn’t really give too much insight into what Social Media actually is. He enthused a great deal on how Nielsen has tools for measuring online conversations but lacked any real solutions for the crowd, he warmed up towards the end.

Robin Grant – Client Services Director, 1000heads

Robin started reasonably well and enthused on the power of Social Media although again didn’t really give any big insights to what it actually is and how you can use it. Little too much assuming I thought, although certainly a fan of Social Media.

Will McInnes – MD, Nixon McInnes

Will was the “gem” on the panel for me, he told it straight by stating “humans are slow and computers are dumb” (or was it the other way around?). Anyway he was basically stating that we cannot measure conversations, you cannot apply numbers to people’s emotions and cannot readily understand a conversation with a metric. I have to agree to some extent. Read more on his blog

Ankur Shah – Co-founder, Techlightenment

This guy was also enthusing well and was also “bigging up” the use of their Socialistics programme, based on collection of data for analysis.

I’ll state up front that I didn’t learn anything new from this event, ok sure it was great to network and meet new people, and some old friends, but in terms of the panel content I learnt nothing.

Why is this?

I think this is two-fold, firstly I am neck-deep in Social Media myself, much of that stems from running a virtual company for 8 years, I have had to build virtual communities and use social tools to engage with that community. Therefore I know first-hand what is needed, what talents and skills are appropriate and what works or doesn’t work. I’d say I was just as knowledgeable as anyone on the panel, certainly in terms of experience.

Secondly, the panel assumed that everyone in the audience knew what Social Media is, how it operates, what you need to do to get it to work for you. However, given that the majority of the audience were in fact PR agencies, I can tell you I am convinced that not a great deal of people do actually know what Social Media is, or more specifically how it can operate and work. I don’t mean that to sound arrogant, or expert-like, I’m just saying this is not new to mew.

One of most poignant questions of the evening was put by the Chair who asked “if you were given the job of Social Media Marketing Manager for Vauxhall, what’s the first thing you need to do?”. I immediately twittered this question and got the following answers:

@audio – Hi Chris, my first tool would be ears to listen. 🙂
Samantha_Grant at 18-02-2008 20:15

@audio demographics on target market and their media habits.
injenuity at 18-02-2008 20:07

@audio a thick skin?
GJD at 18-02-2008 20:02

@audio a super-high speed internet connection and great computer?
TamK at 18-02-2008 20:00

I like a lot of those tweets, and thank you for them because you proved my point. My answer to the question was simply “build a community and call them to action”.

It sounds simple when you look at it in print, but not one person mentioned that very important fact, in fact the very cornerstone of Social Media. Now regarding how to derive a metric from your community, I’m not sure about. Perhaps a call to action on a vote, an act, will in fact yield a metric. For example if 25% of my Social Media community act on a call to action, I do in fact have a metric, numbers, something for the CEO to consider. I know that’s not measuring engagement, connection, depth of experience, blah blah … but it is a number which CEOs “get”.

The dialogue went onto asking if we need an open source form of social media metrics, some kind of industry standard that we can all work towards, personally I’m not convinced of that either, but I could be persuaded.

I think to sum-up Social Media is currently a buzz-phrase, I’ve been socialising with my prospects for years, it’s not suddenly something new to me, though I understand it is for the traditional advertisers of this world. I also think that the strength of Social Media in terms of advertising will be the ability to extract highly detailed profiles of people in “the community”. Taking Facebook as an example, if the platform is sexy enough people will tell you “everything” about themselves.

Once we have highly detailed profiles of prospects we will be able to sell that data to be used to target individuals with specific information we know they will be pleased to hear about. This goes back to my argument around the Android Pocket Spy.

Of course the further we delve into asking our community to put forward detailed information about themselves the further down the privacy road we stumble.

Will you mind being profiled so deeply? Will you enjoy receiving targeted SMS notes about products in you geo area? It will come, believe me.

Labour Take Liberty Away From You

Some time ago I created an awareness group in Facebook, aimed at pointing out what a dick Gordon Brown is, together with the legacy left behind by another first-class spineless tit, Blair.

The aim is to raise awareness at a few things, firstly that Brown is an un-elected leader of the UK, UN-ELECTED!!! As well as this the group is a protest about being governed by Labour, and all of their pathetic liberty stealing policies.

What pisses me off more than anything is the way that UK has become a police state, more and more liberties are being taken away from us week by week. It’s a scary environment we are actually moving towards here and YOU should do something about it.

I’ve posted the video below which is part one of a series of videos that YOU must WATCH, and you must watch all of them. But more than that YOU should go out and tell people in the pubs, you should discuss this stuff with all your friends at work. Currently as a nation we are dumb, we need more expression of anger about all this…

Facebok protest Group

Twitter Without Images Google Feast

This is what Twitter looks like when their image server don’t work. Their images are stored on amazon big boys I believe, here: http://s3.amazonaws.com/twitter_production/profile_images/ (that won’t work by the way).

It’s interesting to note that this is one of the reasons why your Twitter profile ranks so well in Google, oh you never checked? You should.

What you see here is what Google would see, instead of images they would see the text profile names, just as you see here, typically used as an “alt tag” AND “title tag”.

There you go.

Some people I know have protected their updates due to their Twitter page out-ranking their blog or whatever domain they wish page.

You had that issue?