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Bill Gillies - Editor

Aussie teens much the same as those in UK

Last week in the UK a report from stockbroker Morgan Stanley by 15-year-old schoolboy Matthew Robson caused a sensation. The report raised serious questions about the outlook for newspapers, free-to-air television and other traditional media. Inspired by Robson’s arguments, the Australian Business Spectator asked its 15-year-old intern Scott Guthrie whether teenagers down under had the same views.  The short answer:  Yes.  Here are some snippets that are sure to make shareholders in old media companies weep:


As Matthew Robson said last week, most teenagers nowadays do not listen actively to the radio. It has effectively become obsolete with the coming of the internet and the creation of sites such as and Myspace Music, which provide a practically on-demand music service with no uninteresting DJs chatting – and also no ads.


The amount of television viewed varies greatly from person to person in terms of what interests them,…

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4 Comments | Tags: Brand

Bill Gillies - Editor

Students say education today key to arresting climate change tomorrow

A group of more than 100 universities, professional associations, and student groups joined the Breakthrough Institute yesterday in submitting a letter urging the U.S. Senate to fully support the Obama administration’s national energy education initiative. The initiative, named “RE-ENERGYSE” (REgaining our ENERGY Science and Engineering Edge), would produce thousands of highly-skilled U.S. energy workers and develop new energy education programs at American universities and K-12 schools.

The Senate is poised to reject the proposal in its FY2010 Energy and Water Development Appropriations bill by cutting the RE-ENERGYSE program’s funding to $0 from the $115 million requested in President Obama’s FY2010 budget. Obama announced the initiative in a speech to the National Academy of Sciences in April, stating, “The nation that leads the world in 21st century clean energy will be the nation that leads in the 21st century global economy……

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1 Comment | Tags: World

Bill Gillies - Editor

Teens view brands differently around the world

The research on which Grown Up Digital is based showed that teen attitudes toward brands can differ from country to country. A recently released study of teenagers around the world confirms this. In the U.S. and U.K., brands are used to express individuality and for standing out from the crowd. For many other countries the opposite rings true: brands are used to showcase membership of a certain group.

This is one nugget offered by the  Global Habbo Youth Survey (GHYS) Brand Update 2009 conducted by Habbo, the largest virtual world for teenagers. The study, conducted in April 2009, quizzed 112,000 teens aged 11 to 19 from over 30 countries—including 4,500 teens from the U.S.

“The teenage years are developmentally very important when moving into adulthood,” said Emmi Kuusikko of Sulake, the company that owns Habbo.  “Status is important, being recognised for who you are and what you stand for….

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Bill Gillies - Editor

Morgan Stanley listens to youthful wisdom

I’m of mixed emotions when I read about the commotion prompted by Morgan Stanley’s release of a research note in the UK about young people’s media habits  that was written by Matthew Robson, a 15-year-old intern at the investment bank.

The report, which dismissed Twitter and described online advertising as pointless, proved to be “one of the clearest and most thought-provoking insights we have seen – so we published it,” said Edward Hill-Wood, executive director of Morgan Stanley’s European media team, in an article published in the Guardian.

“We’ve had dozens and dozens of fund managers, and several CEOs, e-mailing and calling all day.” He said the note had generated five or six times more responses than the team’s usual research.  In his report, Robson had little comfort for struggling print publishers, saying no teenager he knew regularly reads a newspaper since most “cannot be bothered to read pages and…

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3 Comments | Tags: World

Bill Gillies - Editor

Obama unveils American Graduation Initiative

Today, at Macomb Community College in Michigan, President Barack Obama outlined a plan to reform the nation’s community colleges, calling for an additional 5 million community college graduates by 2020 and new initiatives to teach Americans the skills they will need to compete with workers from other nations. He outlined initiatives to increase the effectiveness and impact of community colleges, raise graduation rates, modernize facilities, and create new online learning opportunities.

Following are excerpts from his remarks:

Time and again, when we have placed our bet for the future on education, we have prospered as a result – by tapping the incredible innovative and generative potential of a skilled American workforce. That is what happened when President Lincoln signed into law legislation creating the land grant colleges which not only transformed higher education, but also our economy. That is what took place when President Roosevelt signed the GI Bill which helped…

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3 Comments | Tags: Government, School/College

Bill Gillies - Editor

Profiting from the college selection process

There are a number of reasons why the actual spending by teens and young adults for online goods and services drastically understates the importance of the Internet in the total volume of young consumer purchases.  Many young consumers research products online but make the purchase at a regular store because they don’t have a credit card. Often the product they research simply isn’t sold by regular online merchants.

A good example of the latter is universities, which gather hundreds of millions of dollars in tuition every year.  Choosing a college is a daunting decision, and if advertisers could reach this young demographic and help them in their decision-making process, it could form the basis of a long and trusting relationship.

That’s the premise of, which was founded last year.  It is designed to help students in the college-selection process by providing videos and educational resources for colleges across the U.S….

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4 Comments | Tags: Brand, School/College

Bill Gillies - Editor

Youth respond favourably to public health campaign

It’s official – South African youth love to Scrutinize! An animated public health campaign called “Scrutinize HIV” has been chosen by children and young adults as one of the best media campaigns in the country.

All seven television commercials in the campaign can be viewed here.

The Scrutinize campaign aims to raise awareness of HIV among young people and encourage them to scrutinize and take responsibility for their own potentially risky behavior – and already, its catchphrases such as “Flip HIV to HI-Victory” are being incorporated into popular culture.

“In my 20 years of global advertising work, I’ve never heard of a social marketing campaign featuring in a people’s choice marketing/brand awards and certainly never in one polled amongst teens,” said Cal Bruns, director of the commercials. “That Scrutinize was featured in the same breath as Coke, Pepsi…

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3 Comments | Tags: Family, Government

Bill Gillies - Editor

Interview posted on the District Leader’s Podcast

Don was recently interviewed by Arthur Griffin, Jr. of the District Leader’s Podcast. The 16-minute audio interview can be downloaded or streamed here.  Don discusses the world of ‘digital natives’ and how the explosion of the Internet into mainstream society has necessarily and completely changed the process of k-12 education.

The District Leader’s Podcast and website is sponsored by McGraw-Hill Education’s Urban Advisory Resource comprising former education leaders and other experts with extensive experience in managing large school districts. The podcast co-hosts are educational experts who have been on the “front line” either as a former superintendent or as a school board member.

The podcast programs are comprehensive, covering:

Well worth visiting, with new content added regularly.

1 Comment | Tags: School/College

Bill Gillies - Editor

NetFlix rental model cuts the cost of textbooks

After paying hefty amounts for tuition and room and board, many university students feel their financial spirits are completely crushed when confronted by sky-high textbook prices.  While ebooks are often cited as a promising solution, a Silicon Valley company is successfully applying the NetFlix model of renting products by mail to help students slash their textbook costs.

Profiled in the New York Times, says that students can save 65-85 percent of the cost of buying a book by renting it instead. The company calculates that it has saved students more than $40 million since it began renting books in 2007.

As an added bonus for N-Gen eco-sensitive students, for every book that is rented, bought or sold, Chegg will plant a tree through a partnership with American Forests Global ReLeaf® Program. “More than 20 million trees a year are destroyed to make books. By planting…

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Bill Gillies - Editor

Ad campaign for jeans targets youth’s patriotism and optimism

Levi Strauss & Company has launched a new ad campaign for its flagship Levi’s brand, hoping to appeal to young adults with an ambitious call to arms: “Go forth.”

According to the New York Times, the campaign will include commercials on television, online and in movie theaters; print advertisements; outdoor and transit signs and posters; social media sites like Facebook; event marketing; and a contest on a section of the brand’s own Web site (

The campaign is replete with Americana imagery, in keeping with research indicating that teenagers and 20-somethings are patriotic and optimistic about the United States. Those elements include the poetry of Walt Whitman, flags, paeans to the pioneering spirit, declarations of independence, salutes to hard work and, in the star-spangled tradition of Madison Avenue, copious amounts of nubile flesh.

Doug Sweeny,…

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2 Comments | Tags: Brand

Bill Gillies - Editor

CoSN and nGenera announce partnership

This week at the National Educational Computing Conference, the Consortium for School Networking (or CoSN) and nGenera Corporation, led by Don Tapscott – chairman of its nGenera Insight thought leadership group and best-selling author – announced a partnership between their organizations, based on common interests in aligning the power of Web 2.0 with the enterprise needs of school districts and their communities. Through the partnership, CoSN and its members will participate in thought leadership webinars, join original research projects, and receive Web 2.0 and collaborative advisory services from nGenera. For its part, nGenera will participate in CoSN conferences, CTO Clinics, and Forums; join key CoSN leadership initiatives; and contribute to CoSN professional development resources such as its EdTechNext mini-reports series.

“We are thrilled to have Don Tapscott and nGenera join CoSN as a major sponsor through this partnership,” said Keith Krueger, CEO of CoSN. “Our mission is to empower K-12 school…

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Bill Gillies - Editor

Building relationships should be top corporate objective

Don was recently interviewed on, which is an online forum connecting people and ideas. In the short video above, Don discusses why traditional marketing strategies no longer work, and why relationship building with customers should be a company’s top goal. This is particularly true of N-Gen customers, who want to have a relationship with companies and help them co-innovate great products.

Here is some background about the website: “Through an ever-expanding platform of knowledge content, including in-depth interviews with the world’s leading experts, Big Think is a vital hub for important information to help you function, and succeed, in a rapidly changing world. In keeping with our belief that crucial information should be freely shared, discussed and debated, we have developed a full menu of tools to engage, disseminate, and subscribe to uniquely powerful content. Whether you use Twitter, Facebook,, Delicious, Google Reader, Vimeo, YouTube, a…

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Bill Gillies - Editor

Nothing odd about teachers being graded by students

An Agence France Press story reports that a German teacher who had sued to shut down a website where pupils rank their instructors according to competence and “coolness” lost her battle yesterday in the German Federal Supreme Court.

The teacher, Astrid Czubayko-Reiss, claimed that her privacy was being violated by the site, which loosely translates to  She had received a mediocre “D” rating from students.

“The right of students to exchange opinions and communicate freely outweighs the right of the teacher suing to determine information available about her,” the court ruled.

The website allows students to turn the tables on teachers by anonymously grading them in categories including “cool and funny”, “popular”, “motivated”, “relaxed” and “teaches well”.

The German Teachers’ Association criticised the ruling. “It is inexplicable that the [court] values the personal rights of teachers less than an anonymous assessment of teachers by students on the Internet,” Association president Josef…

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Bill Gillies - Editor

Technology as thin edge

Liberating Learning is a sure-to-be controversial book that argues that technology will be the key to bringing quality education to students across the U.S., largely by sidestepping restrictions that the authors say teachers unions have put in place to block reform.

In a review in today’s Wall Street Journal, James Glassman says the book by Terry M. Moe and John E. Chubb picks up on an issue raised by the two authors in their 1990 book, “Politics, Markets and America’s Schools.” In the first book, the authors argued that the poor showing of American schools compared to other industrialized countries was largely the result of special-interest groups – mainly teachers unions.

But Glassman writes that Messrs. Moe and Chubb believe that technology can be the magic bullet.

Teachers unions, of course, are appalled. They know that “the new computer-based approaches to learning…

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17 Comments | Tags: School/College

Bill Gillies - Editor

Microsoft’s remarkable Project Natal and Milo

At the recent E3 conference in Las Vegas, Microsoft unveiled technology it called Project Natal.  Watch the embedded video on this post for a demonstration.  Microsoft has eliminated the controller for interacting with video games.  Want to play a game of soccer?  Then stand up, start moving your feet, and score a goal.  It’s WII on steroids.  The system uses a video camera, microphone, and a scanner.  You can talk, walk, sing and the computer knows what you are doing.  You no longer need a game controller, or as Don Mattrick, the senior VP of Xbox, puts it, “We’re using the best controller ever invented: you.”

At the end of the video you’re given a link to another video which presents Milo. Be sure to watch it. He’s a young animated character that can interact with…

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