Zooming – A progress report on the move online!

So far so good!

The students seem to like having a weekly class session. (See left)

Group sessions with the instructor seem to actually go better online than they do in class. I think we can concentrate better without the distraction of the other groups nearby.

We have a student that signs in by phone, so we do not see his face. But connectivity seems good. (A couple colleagues have had to go to heroic methods to get class information to students, such as mailing flash drives.)

I don’t yet have any complaints from students about downloading the lecture videos.

An unexpected benefit: Two of my students have told me that they enjoy attending class in bed…

But the workload!

I was in a better position than most of my colleagues for the move online. I teach social media and content marketing, so:

  • the course is very hands-on with a semester-long individual project,
  • my students have experience with filming themselves and sharing,
  • I try to “flip” the classroom, so I already had online quizzes and some recorded video lectures, and
  • I have used Skype or Zoom for guest lectures for 12 years.

But to move all lecture material online is very time-consuming. Even with a wonderful tool like Premier Rush an instructor can waste two hours editing a 20-minute lecture on which she or he already spent a couple hours reducing from 50 to 20 minutes.

Planning online activities to take the place of class discussion and informal activities seems to take even more time. (Even with a once-a-week 50-minute Zoom session, the class becomes a “hybrid class” with a majority of the activities asynchronous.) And of course, the new activities need to be graded…

A big concern – the Zoom Platform

Our university, like most other schools, picked Zoom as the synchronous platform to use for our sudden move online. Zoom is cheap and even more important is really easy to use.

Unfortunately, Zoom seems to be really easy to hack as well, with more backdoors than a funhouse. Apparently, lecture-bombing has caught on with haters and pervs. If that weren’t bad enough, the privacy agreement that most of us OK-ed when we signed up for Zoom allowed them to observe anything on our computer and sell it to anyone who will pay for it (allegedly including Facebook and some Chinese organizations). Zoom says that their privacy policies have since been changed to be more standard.

A clear summary of the Zoom issues was posted on a leading marketing blog site yesterday and featured on the American Marketing Association Daily: Zoom, Gloom, and Doom.

So now – on top of everything else – I am taking some time to try to reacquaint myself with Skype and Google Hangouts… and learn MS Teams. None of them seem as easy for classroom activities.

Have some sympathy for the professors…



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Using your Social Media Community to innovate

Was Mark Schaefer’s wonderful SocialSlam really eight years ago?

I still use my talk about using your social media community to crowdsource innovation in my social media marketing class.


Posted in Blogging, Co-creation or User collaboration, effectuation, financial services, Higher Education, HigherEd, innovation, Innovation education, ServiceInnovation, Social Media, Social Media Marketing, social media marketing, Teaching SMM, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Higher Education and the pandemic: Zoom to the Rescue?

Will Zoom keep higher education running during the Covid-19 outbreak?

Zoom seems to be the answer from every university, as they announce a physical shutdown for the semester due to the coronavirus pandemic.

I understand why.

I am a big fan of the video conferencing and classroom solution called Zoom. For several years I have used it for remote guest speakers, to hold class when at a conference, and even to record short videos for class. As MBA Director at my university, I have promoted the use of Zoom to unite in-class and remote students in synchronous discussion sessions to engage both groups.

Zoom is easy to learn and use:

  • A prof with a Zoom app can send out links to students who don’t need any installs,
  • Recording functionality is built-in and can be set to be automatic
  • As shown below you can include PowerPoints and the instructor
  • During discussion you can show the instructor and multiple students
  • Groups can break out for semi-private discussions

When I first heard about the possibility of moving online my thought was: I will move my discussions to Zoom.

And then I realized that virtually all of my colleagues were thinking the same thing.

Two Concerns about the Zoom Solution

As a NYT article points out, live streams or taped videos online are not necessarily best practices for online education.

My first concern was that three 50-minute discussions/lectures or 150 minutes per week on Zoom were a lot. We limit the weekly synchronous time in our MBA courses to 85 minutes. I decided to take some of my class activities and lecturing offline and effectively convert to a hybrid course with 20-60 minutes of weekly Zoom discussion. First concern addressed!

My bigger concern is UX or should I say SX – the student experience. According to the National Center for Educational Statistics, we have 20 million college students in the US. Universities are notorious for scheduling classes in a tight period of time, say 9-3 M-F. So assuming most professors choose to stream their discussions during their scheduled class time, it would be possible that during a time slot that is popular through all time zones, say 2 pm EDT on Wednesday, 10 million college students could be streaming.

Those of us in our mid-30s or older can probably remember when the Victoria’s Secret Fashion show “crashed the internet” when over 1.5 million people signed in for the streaming show at the same time. Certainly, in the past 20 years, Internet connectivity has improved dramatically. But bear in mind that the fashion show, like Netflix, was one-way streaming, the “angels” thankfully didn’t see or hear the viewers. It is an integral part of Zoom that everyone sees and hears everyone else; there is download- and upload-streaming for those potential 10 million college students.

And (as will be discussed in a future post) we also have a surge in remote workers who will be using bandwidth during those same hours. My son who has worked remotely full time for several years says that he has already noticed a downturn in connectivity, even though he has a premium business line and the college students haven’t kicked in yet.

The IT people I talked to about this issue said that any problem will likely be with the local Internet providers. Zoom is hosted by Amazon and should have the capacity; most colleges have upgraded their pipelines; but there is a risk of a poor experience from the local carriers offering retail service to our students. Students may not have purchased a quality connection; ISPs may not have planned for a surge.

What can we do?

One solution: A professor can consider offering courses asynchronously with exercises, readings, videos, and quizzes. Students can sign on when convenient and when the connections are better. This could be analogous to my undergraduate days when my now wife and I took punch cards to the computer center at 2 am so we didn’t have a wait. (No we didn’t ride a horse there!)

My plan:

  1. Offer the course in a hybrid manner with only 20-60 minutes of synchronous classwork and asynchronous content like the online quizzes, exercises, and videos.
  2. Monitor student experience – consider a shift to fully asynchronous if there are too many problems.

Let’s hope that our ISPs can deliver a good experience under this sudden demand, but we should be prepared in case they cannot.

Low bandwidth solutions should be considered. For example, a class discussion could be held as a Tweetchat on Twitter (simply converse by Tweets using a designated class #hashtag).

Again – I am a big fan of Zoom classes!

Resources and a Call to action!

My social media friend Matt Kushin has put together a nice summary of resources for instructors in his post, Teaching Online in the Age of COVID-19.

The Chronicle of Higher Education published and advice guide on How to be a better Online Teacher. They also sponsor a Facebook group. called “Higher ed and the coronavirus.”

Please share your favorite resources, concerns, and experiences – both during the planning and during the course offering.

I would love to hear from other professors and students dealing with the pandemic!




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Eat like Andy – epic or flop?

Thanks to Burger King, Andy Warhol got another 15 minutes of Fame!

Googletrend Andy

Google Trend for Andy Warhol

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2019 survey: the voice of my social media marketing students

I start the semester in my social media marketing classes with a survey of social media use and their perceived issues. My classes comprise juniors and seniors majoring in marketing, communications, design, and management. They are in          a narrow age range and had the interest to sign up for a social media marketing class, but otherwise seem a fairly diverse group of college students. This table sums up the usage of social media reported by the students:

Spring 2019 Social Media Marketing Usage Summary2019 sm use 2 (2)

Instagram and Snapchat have been tops for a while; Snapchat may have lost some momentum based on the past two surveys. Probably the most interesting finding – and one that has been consistent through six years of surveys is that these college students don’t value the number 1 social media site, Facebook, as much as you might expect. Four social media sites rate ahead of Facebook as ones that would be most missed. Facebook is tied for third with Twitter for sites checked daily.

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A Quick #Brandbowl Summary

My Superbowl summary…

Tom B. looked like a fearful rookie in the first half but morphed into the old pro in the fourth quarter. #DaBears could have beaten either of these teams.😎

As for the real action of the Superbowl, it is sort of sad that the best commercial by far was from the NFL itself. The key themes of brand ads seemed to be:

  • Beer is health food,
  • Robots are everywhere but don’t do anything,
  • Advertisers discovered that women watch the SB,
  • We all know “Andy” (wasn’t his 15 minutes in the 60s?), and
  • Addiction is really funny:

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Reinventing & reviving my 11-year-old #blog

On March 28, 2008, I posted my first blog post “My First Webinar” which is what you find at the bottom if you scroll through all the posts on this blog. So I can say I have been blogging for 11 years… sort of.

If you look at the archives on the right of my blog you will see that there were only a couple of posts10 year in 2018 and also not very many in 2017, so talking of my 11 years of blogging is like saying that the two pictures to the left represent my 10-year challenge – yes, but a bit of time is missing!


This post is effectively a relaunch of two blogs –   http://www.serviceinnovation.blog and http://www.SMM4Biz.com – that ran for nine years. Both of those blogs had some success and made multiple lists of best blogs in innovation and in social media marketing. In part, because two blogs were too many, I burned out on blogging. But I have the urge to get in pajamas again!

This blog will concern both innovation and social media marketing… with some higher education issues tossed in. I tell my students in my social media marketing class that such a choice is too broad – that with 300,000,000 blogs out there it is necessary to narrow the topic, but fortunately, I am not a student of mine!

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More advice from new #bloggers

A year ago I shared advice from my social media class, 4 weeks into blogging about how to succeed at blogging. I am back, this time with advice from new bloggers 6 weeks into their new passion!

I think that bloggers six weeks into the craft have an interesting perspective: they have tried a variety of approaches but blogging is still new to them.

Some of the suggestions mirror a year ago; others are new. Here is advice from the 32 students in SMM 388-01:

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A Coffee Conversation with a Social Marketer

A while back my daughter and I were having coffee with Caitlyn Scaggs, the founder of Blue Mobius Marketing. At the spur of the moment, I had Kiki record a snippet of the conversation on blogging and content marketing.

I think you can see why I like having her guest lecture my classes.

A Coffee Conversation about SMM Class with Ms. Caitlyn Scaggs
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Can #Wal-Mart compete with #Amazon?

Two large dominant competitors, such as Kroger vs. Wal-Mart in groceries, is not ideal competition, but I believe it is much better than a single monopoly like the old Ma Bell. Kroger/Wal-Mart, Microsoft/Apple, and Coke/Pepsi were certainly not perfect competition, but innovation continued in those two-way fights. For this reason, I have been hoping that Wal-Mart would get its act together to compete with Amazon online.

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