140+: In the Moment


#ECEtechCHAT: ECE Technology and Field Trips 2/29

Posted in Uncategorized by Fran Simon on February 28, 2012

FieldTrip2Join #ECEtechCHAT on Leap Day (well, leap evening here  in the US anyway) 2/29 at 9 PM EST to explore the use of technology before, during and after field trips. Come ready to share tech tips, ideas, and strategies that help you or a teacher you know make the most of field trips with technology.

Transcript from #ECEtechCHAT 2/22/2012: Digial Photography in #EarlyEd

Posted in Uncategorized by Fran Simon on February 25, 2012

Young photographerOur chat last week was a robust exchange of ideas, tips, tricks, and tools for digital photography in ECE. The transcript is a treasure trove of great inspiration.

Join us on Twitter every week on Wednesday at 9 PM to explore topics related to technology use in ECE. Just follow #ECEtechCHAT.

#ECEtechChat 2/15/2012, 9 PM: Social Media and Building Your Professional Learning Network

Posted in Uncategorized by Fran Simon on February 13, 2012

This week, we will explore the role of social media in professional learning networks in early childhood. This week, @Mpowers3, Maggie Powers, will take the helm of the chat to delve  into the following questions:

1) How do you know who to add to your PLN?

2) How do you use social media to communicate with your personal/professional learning network (PLN)?

3) How can you make your PLN a supportive, informative, and strong community?

4) What are some ways your digital PLN can be a resource for your face-to-face interactions and work in early childhood?

QUESTION TO THE #ECETECHCHAT COMMUNITY: Do you think we should hold the chats every other week instead of every week? Pros? Cons?

 

ECEtechChat 2/8/2012: Technology for professional development and engagement

Posted in Uncategorized by Fran Simon on February 6, 2012

Connecting for engagement

ECEtechCHAT 2.8.2012 at 9 PM EST

TOPIC:

Share your thoughts about using technology for professional development and staff engagement in your school or program!

Questions:

1) Is your school, organization or program planning for and intentionally using technology for professional development?

2) What  combinations of tech tools, techniques, and methods work best to provide sound professional development for educators?

3) Can asynchronous elearning, webinars and other synchronous online learning provide a complete experience, or is more needed?

4) What role does social media play in intentional professional development? Is it organic, or do you plan for social media use as an element of PD?

Bring your ideas , links, and questions to the party!

#ECEtechCHAT
9 PM
Wednesdays

#ECEtechCHAT Weekly Topic for 2/1/2012: Parent Engagement and Involvement with #ECEtech

ImageHello #ECEtechChat Tweeks!

Our topic for 2/1 (at 9 pm)  is “How to use technology to engage and involve parents in ECE programs and organizations” It;s a big topic that go in a lot of directions.Here are some guiding questions to consider as you plan for the chat:

1) Parent engagement and involvement are very different.

What role does technology play in connecting with parents? What is the role of social media? What about other tools?

2) How do you use or envision technology being used to engage and involve parents?

3) What do you do to narrow the digital divide for parents/families?

4) Of  course: What are the best applications (that means Internet systems as well as apps),devices, and processes for engaging and involving parents?

Transcripts from last week’s chat about mobile devices

#ECEtechCHAT Weekly Topic for 1/25/2012: Mobile Devices in Early Childhood Settings

mobile devicesMobile Devices! Smartphones and tablets in ECE? Who, what, when, where and how?

1) Is your program using or can you envision using mobile devices in your program?

2) Have you found great apps or special devices?  Share them with us!

3) What are the challenges and opportunities of using mobile devices with young children and their teachers?

4) How to you manage access to mobile devices?

————————————–

Transcripts from last week’s chat

#ECEtechCHAT on 1/18/2012: Resistance to Technology Integration

#ECEtechCHAT Weekly Topic 1.18.2012- Overcoming Resistance

Resistance

The (temporary) home of the official Early Childhood Education Technology Chat on Twitter

Wednesdays at 9 PM EASTERN TIME!

Hey there #ECEtechCHAT tweeks. This week’s topic is overcoming resistance to integrating technology tools in early childhood settings.

The questions for this chat are:

A.      Have you experienced resistance from staff, administrators, or parents to technology integration in your program? If so, what obstacles did resistors present?

B.      Is there any way to avoid some resistance to change?

C.      How did you overcome resistance?

If you have links to share, come ready to tweet them at 9 pm, EST on 1.18.2012!

If you have never attended a Twitter chat, here’s a little information about how to participate in a cha

Want to see what a Twitter Chat is like? Check out the transcript from last week‘s chat.

Now, we VOTE! Only a few more days! #eddies11

Vote for Early Childhood Investigations Webinars for the #Eddies

The Edublog Awards are in FULL SWING! But there’s only a limited time to vote, and we need to make sure early childhood educators are well-represented. Last week I posted my list of nominations and Early Childhood Investigations’ nominations (they are slightly different) for the Edublog Awards. Now, the voting is open! From now until December 13, you can vote for a winner in every category one time a day.

We hope you will vote for our nominees and for Early Childhood Investigations (which was listed as Early Childhood Webinars) in the Best Open PD/Unconference/Webinar category.

Let’s represent! Help us ensure that early childhood educators are among the Eddie winners this year, and vote every day!

My Picks for The 2011 Edublog Awards #Eddies11

Edublog AwardsIf you know me, you know I love technology. I thrive on social media. And, most of all, I am passionate about the intersection of early childhood education and social media. Technology makes it easy for me to learn more about the field and connect with people I might never have otherwise known and learn from ECE leaders with a simple click or two.. I can also broadcast what I learn to thousands of others in our field with just a little bit of initiative and know how. And, there is so much to share! That’s why I’ve  nominated a few of the best resources for Edublog Awards this year.  Hopefully, you will do the same. Unfortunately, there are only a few more days in the competition, but it’s never too late! Voting ends December 2, 2011! HURRY!

Since 2005, Edublogs has been hosting blogs and providing custom blogging platforms to teachers, school districts and  students, and the folks that operate the platform have a yearly competition to recognize the best resources as nominated by users. The awards are presented the resources that receive the most votes. Early education is underrepresented, mostly because our field has taken a bit more time to embrace social media and the Internet as sources for professional development. I think we’ve arrived now, so it’s time for us to collectively nominate and vote for the resources we think are most valuable. We’re going to have to do a lot of voting, because we, collectively, are a fraction of the overall field of education.

I nominated many outstanding early childhood educators on the Early Childhood Investigations Blog, but because it’s so important to cast nominations often and because I left out some important people, I’m casting again, here on my personal blog.

Fran Simon’s Edublog Award choices:

* Best Individual Blog: Dr. Michele Borba’s Reality Check

* Best twitter hashtag : #earlyed

* Best individual Tweeter: Karen Nemeth @KarenNemethEDM

* Best group blog: Early Ed Watch by New America Foundation:
http://earlyed.newamerica.net/blogmain

* Best educational use of a social network: Early Childhood Education, Child Care, and CCR&R Professionals Forum, Hosted by Adrienne C. Barr

* Best teacher blog: The Grass Stain Guru, by Bethe Almeras

* Best educational use of audio / video / visual / podcast: Bam! Radio Network

* Lifetime achievement: Ellen Galinsky- Ellen blogs everywhere and has been for a long time. Check her out:
On Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ellen-galinsky

On Mind in The Making: http://mindinthemaking.org/

On MomsRising: http://www.momsrising.org/blog/author/Ellen-Galinsky/

On HBR Blog Network: http://blogs.hbr.org/cs/2011/05/learning_to_taking_on_challeng.html

On Families and Work Institute http://familiesandwork.org/blog/

And, so many other blogs… to many to mention! You go, Ellen!

Make your choices! It’s easy to nominate… Just follow the directions on the Edublog Awards page!

EdTech for the Younger Ones? Not Without Trained Teachers

Posted in Uncategorized by Fran Simon on November 24, 2011


As always, you have touched the heart of the matter in this piece. With the responsibl­e and intentiona­l use of technology­, educators have the ability to transform classrooms­, just as educators in in K-12 and higher education. But, there is a profound disparity that sets early education far behind other sectors of education: As a rule, the vast majority of early childhood programs do not have the profession­al developmen­t, support networks, infrastruc­ture, and equipment upon which other sectors of education are built. It’s not so simple to just specify what teachers need. Jumping into the technology mainstream is far more complex for early educators.

Aside from publicly funded Pre-K programs, early childhood educator qualificat­ions and training vary widely. Administra­tors and teachers often lack the technology know-how, resources, support networks, and experience of their counterpar­ts in other education sectors. With these issues as a backdrop during a period of rapid proliferat­ion of educationa­l technology developmen­t, it is important to acknowledg­e the lack of funding for educationa­l technology­. While I often see grant opportunit­ies for K-12 programs, I rarely see similar offers that include early childhood programs.

Knowing what we know about what teachers and administra­tors need to be intentiona­l about technology use doesn’t help if there is no money for infrastruc­ture and no state guidelines­/expectati­ons for early childhood programs. We need a call to action for public and private funding similar to those offered in the K-12 sector.
Fran Simon, M.Ed.
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

Have you heard? Death to PowerPoint! Aweee…Really?

The endThere’s a lot of buzz that PowerPoint should be abolished. In fact, in Switzerland, the trend has borne an entire political party, the Anti-PowerPoint Party (APPP).  The call to end the use of PowerPoint presentations is not a new phenomenon.  I can understand why people love to hate presentation software… it’s a convenient way to explain why presentations stink. It’s not about their slides or their presentation style!

Does the “death to PowerPoint” movement make you feel inadequate? Uncool? Uninformed, and out of date? Stop feeling like a hack and think logically. It’s not the software!

Repeat after me: PowerPoint and the other presentation software packages like SlideRocket, Keynote, and Prezi  are not really responsible for mind-numbing presentations.  It’s like saying a fork is responsible for a horrible meal.

Come on now,  folks… Let’s be rational. Could it be that presenters often use presentation software poorly? Of course. Often presenters don’t use best practice in adult learning theory . They don’t think about how they would like to be engaged if they were in the audience. And they don’t take the time to seek out any of the easy-to-find tips and tricks that can help them deliver powerful presentations. Oh no… they just slap up bullets and charts and proceed to read from them. BORING.

By the way, webinars would be pretty hard to do with flipcharts, and using webcams for talking heads gets old after a while. Virtual presentations require even more skill to engage participants, so it’s critical to learn more and do more when you present virtually.

Stop blaming the tools and buying the hogwash from people who are trying to sell you another method. Brush up on your technique and learn a little bit about best practice. Think about how to communicate authentically with the people who come to hear you share your expertise. Here are some great resources to help you avoid the pitfalls of heavy dependance on bad slides:

The Virtual Presenter Blog by Roger Courville

Make Better Presentations – The Anatomy of a Good Speech by Chris Brogan

Great Webinars by Cynthia Clay

Presentation Zen, the Blog

Presentation Zen, by Garr Reynolds

17 Examples of Great Presentation Design on Hubspot

Really Bad Powerpoint by Seth Godin

The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs: How to Be Insanely Great in Front of Any Audience, by Carmine Gallo

There are literally thousands of really great resources to help you use PowerPoint (or your favorite presentation software package) well. There’s no reason to feel badly because you use slides. But you should feel terrible if you use slides poorly. Don’t be lazy and blame the tools, get off the stick and learn something new to dazzle and engage your participants.

Is the NAEYC Draft Technology Statement really controversial?

Get your point across no matter whatIt’s interesting to see how people who are weary of change react when change becomes inevitable. Take, for example, the recent flap over the draft update to the NAEYC Technology Position Statement. Some very respected leaders in early childhood education, including Diane Levin, Meg Merrill, and Susan Linn, have taken exception to the draft, and have issued a “call to action” to the field to respond to the draft. While I also urge everyone to take (hopefully) one last chance to weigh in on the draft, I (with all due respect) take exception to some of the extreme assertions and misinformation they published about the draft.

Now, bear in mind that this Position Statement has been in the works for more than a year, and there was already one comment period. The authors incorporated the comments into the most recent draft.  In order to accommodate all the viewpoints, another comment period was offered to members. This (hopefully final) comment period ends May 31.

So is all of this much ado about nothing? I think it is. I believe the arguments set forth by many of the “anti-technology” contingent muddle the waters with inapplicable arguments and inaccurate insinuations. While the detractors of the draft statement sometimes make meaningful points to consider, they are obscured within exaggerations and out of context statements. Don’t get me wrong, I think a little refinement might be in order, but many of the statements completely off-target.

Point, Counterpoint: My perspective on the drama

I’ll address the points in the statement entitled “Do preschoolers need mandatory screen time?” on the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood website:

If we don’t act now, the pressure on early childcare programs to incorporate screen time into their core curriculum will intensify.  With preschoolers already spending an average of 32 hours per week with screens outside of classrooms, the last thing they need is mandatory screen time in school or daycare.

1) “Pressure” and “screen time”? Position papers do not pressure or direct association members to do anything. They state positions from a high level.  No obligations are stated, implied, or intended in this draft or any other position paper NAEYC has ever issued.

2) If children are already spending time in front of screens at home (which is clearly a class issue) shouldn’t we issue guidance to parents instead of ECE programs? Shouldn’t parents turn off the TV and shut down the computers to spend quality time with their children? Isn’t it more likely that professionals will make constructive use of interactive technology than parents who don’t know a lot about child development? Do we not trust the programs who are members of NAEYC to use technology judiciously?

3) The data, including the statement “32 hours” of “screen time” used out of context. Numbers are bandied about recklessly.  Is this data about children birth to 8? Is the data reflective of TV/Video use or interactive technology, or what? All screens are not made equal. It’s irresponsible to generalize data and use it when it does not apply. That is a tactic for extremists. Extremism is bad for early childhood education.

4) Remember, the concept of Developmentally Appropriate Practice was developed by NAEYC. Clearly NAEYC does not advocate sitting groups of children down for instruction on computers or for anything else.

Prescribes that screen technologies should be included in all early childhood settings, regardless of the age of the children served or type of program.  Even play-based and outdoor preschools will be expected to incorporate screens.

Provides no objective criteria or guidance to educators about whether or when to incorporate screens into their classrooms.

Does not address the growing problem of screen-based commercialism in preschools.

4) The draft does not prescribe anything. It does not “mandate” “screen time”.  It is clear that NAEYC does not and cannot “mandate” anything. It is a voluntary membership organization that  offers high level position statements. How can you make the leap from a position paper from a membership organization to “…expected to…” do anything?

5) In general, position statements are not standards. They simply outline an organization’s position from a very high level. They:

  •  do not include in-depth summaries of research, but do include citations upon which the statement was built.
  •  do not include a lot of direct guidance. They outline the position of the organization, which sets the stage for books, articles, policies, and procedures that will offer more guidance.
  • cannot encompass detailed discussions of every possible negative result, but should offer high level guidance about the possible consequences and problems, as this draft does. Commercialism in media are not a part of a statement intended to discuss the use of interactive technology in the classroom. The authors of this draft  were careful to carve out a specific path to discuss interactive technologies in the classroom to set the position statement apart from discussions about violent and otherwise harmful media and commercialism.

I’m issuing my own call to action: Let’s all agree that we are doing our best to help early childhood educators learn more about how to use interactive technology with intention and responsibility. Let’s take extremism out of the equation, use information in context, and think strategically about how to make progress. While I also urge everyone to send comments, I also urge you to use reason and offer ideas within the context of a position statement. If you need to write a book that builds upon or contradicts NAEYC’s position statement, have at it.

————————————————————————————-

Explore the real issues: How to evaluate interactive technology

Free webinar

Early Childhood Investigations Webinar SeriesWarren BickleitnerJoin Warren Buckleitner in a webinar that moves beyond this debate on June 1, 2011 at 2 PM EDT.   One of the many webinars in the Early Childhood Investigations Webinar Series.


ECE Tech: Beyond Debate-How To Evaluate Children’s Interactive Technology Tools and Media
————————————————————————————-

Foolhardy Friday: You can’t cross the aisle with people who won’t extend their hands

See no evil, hear no evil, but blather one incoherentlyMaybe I am just in a bad mood today. Have you ever noticed that you can’t shake hands with people who won’t give you their hands? You can reach out, but if the other person rebuffs your reach, your had is left helplessly and awkwardly flailing mid-air while you blush and stammer and the intended recipient tells you why your handshake is meaningless. OK. I’m being coy. Here’s what I really mean to say…

No matter what field you are in, and no matter how open-minded you are, you won’t be able to get some people to even listen to your ideas if they don’t want to consider another point of view. That’s the difference between ignorance and stupidity.  Stupidity is innocent. If you don’t know something, you just don’t know. But ignorance means you are smart enough to understand it, but you choose to close your mind to the possibilities. Not shaking hands is ignorant.

“Duh! I Shoulda Thought of That!” LinkedIn Version

Duh! I Shoulda Thought of That: LinkedInLast week I was fortunate to have the opportunity to drive through a whirlwind tour of my favorite social media system, LinkedIn, with enthusiastic members of the Maryland Chapter of PRSA. We were having so much fun, (or at least I was having so much fun) covering some of the “Power Tools” I use to light up LinkedIn, that we lost track of time, and never got back to the slides in the formal part of the presentation.  Here are just a few of the bonus tips I intended to cover. (Can be found in the presentation itself on my site.)

“Duh! I Shoulda Thought of That Tips”

1) You must have a keyword-rich, interesting and remarkable profile.

2) Use your vanity URL.

3) Ummm… This is SOCIAL media! That means you sorta need to be open to connecting with people. (Hello?)  make your profile PUBLIC and accessible! Check and update your settings!

4) Increase your connections. Make it a goal to add more each week.

5)  Join 50 Groups, set up notifications so they come to your email, and READ and comment on them.

6) Create your Company Profile, add your products and services, post jobs, and ask employees to use the official company name so they show up as employees.

7) LinkedIn allows you to add links on your profile to your website, blog, and other sites. Use them, and name the links appropriately.

8)  Update your status at least several times a week. If it makes it easier, link your Twitter account to LinkedIn or use Sharaholic, HootSuite,Sesmic Desktop, or Tweetdeck to post on LinkedIn and Twitter at the same time. Time saver!

9) Make friends with social media “Power Tools” like Sharaholic, HootSuite,Sesmic Desktop, or Tweetdeck (and others) to make power-posting possible.

10) You have a smartphone… Use it! Put the LinkedIn app on your iPhone, BB, or Android and use downtime (standing in lines is my fav) to post.

11) Get to know the Learning Center on LinkedIn and subscribe to the LinkedIn Blog.

12) Follow LinkedIn on Twitter.

13) The final “DUH!” Tip:  Publicize your personal and company LI presences on your site, on print materials, on other social media sites, and on your forehead, if all else fails!

Want more? There are two more slides of tips in the bonus material in the presentation:

That was fun! More next week?

Are early childhood educators biased against learning divergent approaches, ideas and techniques? I think so…

Figiting words- puppies on either side of a fenceMy headline is pretty bold, isn’t it? I’d say it’s full of “fighting words.”

I’m frustrated.

I think many of my colleagues are narrow-minded. (But not you of course!)  I only want them to open their minds to the possibility that the 21st century definition of developmentally appropriate practice is vastly different from the definition that we used in the 20th century.

It’s pretty simple: I just want my colleagues to listen to other ideas and really just consider something outside of their safe, comfortable boxes. I wish they would step out on the ledge to learn something new so they can either incorporate it into their practice, dismiss it, or protect against it.  After all, if they don’t know anything about it, how can they possibly determine that it is wrong?

And, I don’t just mean technology. I mean other methods of (heaven forbid) “instruction”.

Personally I think developmentally appropriate classrooms can be balanced with more than just play. Let me state for the record: I believe that play and child-initiated experiences should be the foundation of every early childhood classroom. I am an avid constructivist…who believes in balance and innovation. I know centuries old techniques can’t get children where they need to be in today’s world. Resistance can’t help. It can only hurt.
I believe that play and child-initiated experiences should be the foundation of every early childhood classroom. I am an avid constructivist...who believes in balance and innovation. I know centuries old techniques can't get children where they need to be in today's world
We’re failing.

Despite our chest-pounding and pontificating, by the time children get to college, they’ve fallen woefully behind children in other industrialized countries. Could it be that we’re doing something wrong in the early years? We all know the question and the answers are very complex due to policies and funding., (or lack thereof) cultural influences, and a myriad of other problems that plague education in the US. But, is it possible that early childhood educator’s defiance stands in the way of progress? Is it smart to pause and look at what we’re doing and what we’re not doing, and ask hard questions? I think so.

There’s a new discussion in the Early Childhood and CCR&R group on LinkedIn that’s been sparked by an interview with me, Warren Buckleitner and Cris Rowan on Bam! Radio Network about using technology in ECE programs. I’ll let you take a look at the discussion and listen to the podcast and make your own decisions about what you think, but I will tell you that Warren accurately pointed out that Cris bastardizes and misrepresents research findings. In my personal opinion, taking research and making broad baseless statements to scare parents and educators into buying books is never a good practice. I believe Cris plays on the fear of the unknown that plagues our field. I’d call that headline grabbing extremism.

But, I digress…. The age-old debate about using technology or not using technology is not really the point. It’s about blind resistance, and the perpetuation of a decades old mantra that early childhood educators have adopted. It’s about comfort zones that hamper innovation and progress. Could that be bad for children? I think so.

So what do you think?  I hope you share a passion for a 21st century vision of developmentally appropriate practice that weaves in new approaches and tools. I hope you don’t have a vision of technology use in ECE that falsely assumes children will do nothing but sitting passively at computers in classrooms that are devoid of paint, blocks, inspiring teachers, and all the other traditional accouterments of great classrooms. I hope you believe in balance and open-minded inquiry about what works in ECE, and understand that technology/innovation and play/child-initiated experiences are not mutually exclusive. It’s just not black and white….there are many shades of gray, and they are all lovely.

Post your thoughts here on my blog. Back me up if you share my vision, or blast me if you don’t.

The “M” Word: Marketing is Not a Dirty Word

January 2The M Word: Marketing Is Not A Dirty Word011 is the time to get over marketing-phobia!

Did you grow up with the notion that it’s not nice to toot your own horn?  Do you feel uncomfortable marketing your products, your organization, or, if you are a consultant, marketing yourself?  How has that played out in your professional life?

Some people think marketing is distasteful. In some industries and communities, marketing has become a whisper-worthy word. Leaders in many non-profit organizations and small businesses think their programs, products, and services are so good and so needed, they just simply sell themselves.

Get over it! Time to face facts: If you don’t tell people about what your organization, products and services are all about, they can’t use them. In fact, if you don’t market, you may not have employees, advocates, volunteers, funders, clients, or customers. Every time you have to tell people about yourself, your products,programs or services, you are marketing.

If you are one of those who just are not comfortable or interested in marketing, it’s OK. What’s most important is that you acknowledge that someone needs to take responsibility for promotion. This is the perfect time to take stock of what you can do to improve your outreach and start attracting people who need what you have to offer. Download our New Year 10 Point Marketing Assessment to evaluate how your organization is doing!

So, take the marketing assessment and leave a comment: tell us about your challenges! Or, tell us about your biggest marketing fears.  I’m sure we all have felt your pain, and some of us may even have a few good ideas that might help you find your way in 2011!

Only Facebook would/could ignore 4.5 million end-users

Don’t you just hate it when people use their blogs to rant? Sorry, but I have to moan about my favorite topic: Facebook arrogance.

In the SaaS world, users are the best source of information about how to make software better and more responsive. But in Facebookland, users are on the bottom of the priority list after ways to extort and exploit data and advertiser revenue.  Here’s another example….

Only Facebook would or could ignore a very simple functionality change that more than 4.5 million people clearly want.   It seems more than 4.5 million people want Facebook to allow them to change the name of their business/organization pages.  Users have used FB’s own “like” button to indicate that they want this change, yet FB’s response is just a flat-out “NO.”  FB doesn’t even offer a rationale. This is the arrogance and disregard for users that makes FB so abhorrent.

The worst part is that it is such a simple fix. Every other field is editable, but not the name field. It’s true that FB clearly informs users that they won’t be able to make that change once they set up their pages, but things change and technology should be flexible enough to meet the changing needs of users.  And, by the way, Facebook, why can’t people change that field?  It’s so typically random and arbitrary.

In Facebookland, data is king.  To hell with the end-users whose data they covet.

Hey, if you agree, let me know! And indicate your preference by “liking” “Can Facebook please make it possible to change our page name?”

7 Reality Tips: The Care and Feeding of Websites

“We just launched this website 16 months ago! What do you mean you have to do more development?” says the CFO/CEO/President/Business owner to the marketing geek.  I hear it all the time.  It’s a common misconception that investing a lot into a website means you will only have to add new content in the future. You may think once you develop the site you won’t ever have to think about the website again. Wrong. Read on!

It’s true that if the design of your pages is robust and flexible, and you have an awesome content management system, you will have to make fewer major revisions to your site. And, the more you money and time you invest in designing a flexible design up front, the fewer changes you will need to make over the lifespan of your site. However, the bottom line is that websites are a bit like homes…They need regular maintenance.  After all, your lifestyle changes, appliances and fixtures break, and advances in household products come out every day. Your home has to accommodate those inevitable changes. Your website also needs to adjust to reflect the changes in your business, rapid technology changes, and minor hiccups along the way. For example, the introduction of social plugins from Facebook have sent businesses back to their website developers to adjust their websites to accommodate feeds and like buttons. Adjusting pages to accommodate those changes required rethinking many websites.  Regardless of external technology changes, business goals and priorities often change, and your website has to reflect those changes.

The fact is the average lifespan of a website is only three to (and this is pushing it) five years. If your website is more than 3 years old, and you’ve done nothing to it over those three years, chances are you need to start thinking about a major overhaul.

7 key recommendations about website development and maintenance:

  1. Invest as much as you can into your website design on the front end so you can:
    • Build in a great content management system.
    • Automate as many related marketing processes as possible.
    • Build in a very flexible design that allows you to adjust along the way.
  2. Pick developers who you like, trust, and can work with over the course of the lifespan of your site. (Your developers will be your new BFFs, so you better respect them.)
  3. You will need to budget for website maintenance, enhancements, and tweaks every year over the lifespan of your site.
  4. You will need to revise or overhaul your site in 3-5 years.
  5. Think through your goals, target audience(s), and aesthetics.  Be prepared to tell your developers as much about your needs as possible.
  6. It takes a small village to build a boffo site:
    • Print designers and web designers are not interchangeable.
    • Developers are not the same as web designers.
    • These folks may know a bit about  SEO, but are not search engine optimization experts.
    • None of these aforementioned peeps are marketing experts.

    A good development firm will be able to bring these skills to the table, but if your budget is limited and you can’t work with a firm with all the expertise you need, make sure the people you hire consider these factors in your website. Be sure to assign one person from your company or organization the role of project manager of the site development and someone (perhaps the same person) as the content manager who regularly updates the site. If you have a small company, or you are a one person shop, that person might be you. Plan to either carve out a significant amount of time to oversee the development, and a bit of  time every week or two to maintain the site, unless you plan to outsource those activities.

7. Don’t forget that you will have to keep the content fresh and up to date, so if you don’t have a big team, you may have to either pay someone, or find time in your schedule. Websites that are not maintained are a poor reflection on your company.

Does Social Media Open Doors or Distract Early Childhood Educators?

I’ve always marveled at early educators’ ability to focus so intently on the children, families, and staff in their programs. To me, it’s a huge blessing. It’s also a curse.  We are so mission-focused that we often don’t have the time or inclination to step back, look at the bigger picture, and decide how our work fits in to the overall scheme of where we’re going. Don’t get me wrong, I know from firsthand experience that operating programs that offer high-quality early learning experiences takes 100% of our energy, focus and passion. By the end of the day, there’s often little energy left over for much else. But, is our laser focus on our programs a help or a hindrance? And, does engagement through social media distract us or help us do more?

Laser Focus: Help or Hindrance?

Think about a laser for a moment: It shines a very intense light on a small area.  Lasers do a great job shining through a swath, but leave other areas untouched. Are we so focused on our missions to make a difference for the children in our care that we fail to make important conceptual, political, and professional connections that can have more impact? I know when I operated programs, I often thought, “leave the political and networking stuff up to other people. I have my hands full, and I am doing important work.”  Once I left the  my programs for other related early education jobs, I saw that I missed incredible  opportunities that would have benefited the children in my program and the direction of the field in general.

Why is it taking so long for us to engage?

Why am I writing about this now? I’m lamenting the void of engagement and sources of timely, relevant information in early care and education. I’m frustrated by how long it is taking for program practitioners to look up from guiding our lasers to see that there is a country and a world in which we operate, and it’s full of opportunities and insight. I’m also surprised to see how slow our community leaders are to add blogs and other social media as strategies to engage their members, supporters, and advocates.

But, I know I am  preaching to the choir. Given that you are reading this post, you probably  read other blogs, and engage on social media sites. YOU are probably NOT one of the hundreds of thousands of early childhood practitioners who are don’t  purposely set aside time to learn more, network, advocate, or exchange ideas related to their work. (And, I ask you, what are you doing to encourage your colleagues to test social media?)

There is a dearth of social media interactivity and engagement in our field. Stop to think about the size of our field. It’s hard for me to fathom (and harder to find the real data) about how many early childhood educators there are in the US. (Statisticians, if you can wrap your head around this one, give me a shout!)  I do know that there are only a handful of  commonly read reliable and credible blogs and journals in our field to serve (conservatively) hundreds of thousands of educators.  And, having been actively searching for early educators on social networking sites and listservs for many years now, I can estimate that less than 1% of us are engaging online. Contrast those (admittedly rough) stats with those related to business, and you can see how technically and engagement-challenged we are as a field.

We need to connect to learn from and partner with others in our field. That is not a new concept. We all connect through community or committee meeting every once in a while. We take a workshop or go to a conference a couple of times a year. We already read Young Children, Child Care Information Exchange, or one of the few journals for early childhood education. Awesome!  Those IRL (techno-speak for “in real life”) experiences and activities are absolutely vital.  Adding social media to those activities widens the circle of influence by allowing you to connect with others exponentially. The folks at CommonCraft illustrate the point so well. If you haven’t seen this yet, take a look at Social Networking in Plain English. Do you see how using social networking before or after meetings and conferences can extend the benefits well beyond the walls? This is just one example of the power the Internet has to help us influence and educate one another.

So, is social media a distraction for early childhood educators or an accelerant?

I assert that we need more to do more. We need more blogs. We need more interconnectedness.  What do you think? There’s a lively conversation about just this issue going on in the Internet4ECE group on LinkedIn. Of course, you need to be a member of LinkedIn and a member of the group to read it. (Oh, am I secretly trying to illustrate engagement on the Internet? I would never be so sneaky.)

Resources:

I have a nice list of ECE blogs on slide 22 of my presentation from NAEYC’s Professional Development Institute: Supercharge Your ECE Program With Web 2.0. There’s a lot of additional information about social media in our field in that presentation, and you will find other resources on the Social Media for ECE on my website.

I’m dying to convince you. I’m dying for you to convince others, Check out some of my other presentations, resources, and the Social Media in ECE Directory I am compiling*, and share them if you find them helpful. Let me help you convince others that social media is a professional development, advocacy, and outreach accelerant, and an isolation-buster, bar none.

*If you would like to be included in the Social Media for ECE Directory, register! It only takes a couple of minutes!

UPDATE: Facebook Fail: Nonexistent Customer Service (via 140+: In the Moment)

New update to my post, Facebook Fail: Nonexistent Customer Service about being unable to resolve a payment issue that caused Facebook to disable my account.

I know will be accused of exaggerating, but I promise that I have tried to contact Facebook more than 30 times to arrange for payment to for a mistake I made! Really! I’ve used their online forms and the specified email addresses, only to be met with a 5 of my emails to every 1 canned responses from Facebook. The responses do not respond to or correspond with the text of my email, and if I am lucky enough to get a response, it arrives with a 3-5 day delay.

At this point, it is just too funny to be frustrating! It’s one big cycle that demonstrates complete disregard for customers.As a marketing geek with considerable experience in SaaS management, including customer service, I am intrigued by just how low the Customer Service at Facebook can go. When you compare the historically horrible customer service offered by Dell, Microsoft, Verizon, and Comcast, and they come out looking like customer service heroes next to Facebook, you know there is a problem.

I wonder if the playground posse at Facebook even has a Customer Relationship Management System (CRM). I appears that my cases are brand-new each time I write. Do the FB kids know about CRM? Or are they too busy thinking of the next great way to socialize our universe to worry about such mundane and 20th century concepts as customer service?

Facebook Fail: Nonexistent Customer Service Poor Facebook. The company has its hands full. With relentless Congressional pressure to stop abusing our trust and peddling our privacy, the “leadership” at Facebook probably doesn’t have time to think about providing customer service to paying customers. The Facebook kids are so busy planning to build a totally social universe where it is at the center, they can’t be bothered to provide even passable customer service to those of us who pay for … Read More

via 140+: In the Moment

Next Page »

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 32 other followers