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  "In Quotes"
"Grown Up Digital is a must read for baby boomers and virtually anyone else born before 1977. As Mr. Tapscott observes, 'The bottom line is this: if you understand the Net Generation, you will understand the future.' And as my son often reminds me, the future is now."

The New York Times, Book Review, Sunday, December 21, 2008
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Don Tapscott

In a Digital Future, Textbooks are History

Information technology in the private sector didn’t make a substantive difference until users realized IT’s real purpose was to do more than simply digitize existing processes.  IT enabled new processes and new business models. 

I was reminded of this when reading an interesting story in the New York Times entitled “In a Digital Future, Textbooks are History.”

A number of states are looking at e-books to help cut the cost of education, with California being the most well-known example.  The idea: give every student a laptop or Kindle-style reader and distribute the reading material digitally at a discount.  Conventional textbooks would be cheaper since the costs of paper and printing would be eliminated.  And the savings could be even greater if teachers collaborated to produce an open-source compendium of information they had created themselves,

But that is not the real prize of the exercise.  As the Times noted, “Textbooks have not gone the way of the scroll yet, but many educators say that it will not be long before they are replaced by digital versions – or supplanted altogether by lessons assembled from the wealth of free courseware, educational games, videos and projects on the Web.”

This is the key. “Kids are wired differently these days,” said Sheryl R. Abshire, chief technology officer for the Calcasieu Parish school system in Lake Charles, La. “They’re digitally nimble. They multitask, transpose and extrapolate. And they think of knowledge as infinite.

“We should be bracing ourselves for way more interactive, way more engaging videos, activities and games,” said Marina Leight of the Center for Digital Education, which promotes digital education through surveys, publications and meetings.

The article gives the example of the Empire High School in Vail, Ariz., students use computers provided by the school to get their lessons, do their homework and hear podcasts of their teachers’ science lectures.  In an Empire High School history class on elections, for example, students created their own political parties, campaign Web sites and videos.

“Students learn the same concepts, but in a different way,” said Matt Donaldson, Empire’s principal. “We’ve mapped out our state standards, and our teachers have identified whatever resources they feel best covers them, whether it’s a project they created themselves or an interesting site on the Internet. What they don’t do, generally, is take chapters from textbooks.”

11 Comments | Tags: School/College

Don Tapscott

Obama’s Organizing for America troops prepare for battle

As I’ve written many times before, President Barack Obama is making deft use of the web and the youth-powered social movement that got him elected to help advance his agenda.  I also said his biggest battle would be healthcare. With members of Congress back in their constituencies during August, the battleground for health care reform shifts from the backrooms in Washington to communities across America.  Earlier this week Obama sent an email to the membership of Organizing for America, the organization that grew out of the 13 million volunteers who had signed up with Obama’s campaign team during last year’s election.

“Throughout August, members of Congress are back home, where the hands they shake and the voices they hear will not belong to lobbyists, but to people like you,” Obama wrote.

“Home is where we’re strongest. We didn’t win last year’s election together at a committee hearing in D.C. We won it on the doorsteps and the phone lines, at the softball games and the town meetings, and in every part of this great country where people gather to talk about what matters most. And if you’re willing to step up once again, that’s exactly where we’re going to win this historic campaign for the guaranteed, affordable health insurance that every American deserves.”

Healthcare reform, writes Obama, is the issue “our movement was built for.”

There is no possible compromise on health care and the myth of Obama as a “post-partisan” president is exactly that – a myth.   The health care industry generates billions of dollars in profits and many people are seething that these profits might be curtailed.  This issue can never be negotiated in Washington back rooms as there are huge interests vested in the status quo – such as the big insurance companies, health maintenance organizations and pharmaceutical giants.  Like many social changes, for this one there will be winners and losers and an historic battle will determine the outcome.

As Obama noted in his message to supporters, “In politics, there’s a rule that says when you ask people to get involved, always tell them it’ll be easy. Well, let’s be honest here: Passing comprehensive health insurance reform will not be easy. Every President since Harry Truman has talked about it, and the most powerful and experienced lobbyists in Washington stand in the way.”  But this time Obama has what those presidents lacked:  the Internet and a powerful social movement that potentially can shift the relationship of forces in America away from the traditional entrenched interests towards the needs of the population.

One of the principles of the New Media Group in the Obama presidential campaign was that “online activity exists to support offline activity.”  The goal of the online media specialists was to motivate and energize volunteers to be active in their communities.  This principle is being carried into the battle around healthcare:

Obama’s email says:  “That’s why Organizing for America is putting together thousands of events this month where you can reach out to neighbors, show your support, and make certain your members of Congress know that you’re counting on them to act.” He says:  “These canvasses, town halls, and gatherings only make a difference if you turn up to knock on doors, share your views, and show your support.”

He asks his supporters:  Can you commit to join at least one event in your community this month?

The battle will be fierce.  Already, opponents to health care reform are starting to sabotage the first of thousands of these town-hall meetings.  Protesters are being bussed in to disrupt information sessions and help spread myths that Obama’s plans are socialist or fascist or both.  The protesters are fueled by the rhetoric on Fox News and use the same sleazy tactics as the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth used against Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry in 2004.

“So yes, fixing this crisis will not be easy,” concludes Obama  “Our opponents will attack us every day for daring to try. It will require time, and hard work, and there will be days when we don’t know if we have anything more to give. But there comes a moment when we all have to choose between doing what’s easy, and doing what’s right.  This is one of those times.”

13 Comments | Tags: Government

Bill Gillies - Editor

Young adults leaders in viewing online video

According to a new report from the always informative Pew Internet & American Life Project, the audience for online video sharing sites like YouTube and Google Video continues to grow swiftly across all demographic groups, far outpacing the adoption rates of many other internet activities. Biggest users: Young adults. Their use is near universal and much higher than older age groups; nine in ten (89%) internet users ages 18-29 now say they watch content on video sharing sites, and 36% do so on a typical day. (see chart) Fully 62% of adult internet users have watched a video on these sites, up from just 33% who reported this in December 2006.

The use of video sharing sites currently outranks many other headline-snatching internet pastimes among American adults. Watching online videos on sites like YouTube is more prevalent than the use of social networking sites (46% of adult internet users are active on such sites), podcast downloading (19% of internet users do this) and the use of status updating sites like Twitter (11% of internet users do this).

While much of the content on video sharing sites is user-generated, there is also a growing archive of professional content available through YouTube and newer network-sponsored video portals like Hulu. Efforts to lure viewers to these portals appear to be paying off, as more than a third of internet users (35%) now say they have viewed a television show or movie online. In comparison, just 16% of internet users said they had watched or downloaded movies or TV shows when asked a similar question in 2007.

As internet users become accustomed to regular on-demand video viewing online, many are choosing to watch from the comfort of their couch. Among those who watch TV shows or movies online, 23% say they have connected their computer to a television screen so they could view video from the internet on their TV.

Pew said the findings “illustrate the pervasiveness of online video and mark an important moment in the evolution of America’s television and movie viewing habits.”

6 Comments | Tags: World

Bill Gillies - Editor

Why students need a T-shaped set of skills

I posted yesterday about the release of IBM’s Smarter Planet University Jam report.  Because three-quarters of the Jam participants were students, and skills and education is something they can relate to, this topic proved to be the most active.  The highlights from the report are reprinted below. Readers of Grown Up Digital will recognize many of the arguments from the book as to why today’s education system is failing and why it must be more student-focused.

1. Success in the services-based global economy requires academia, government and industry to work together to create “T-shaped” people. T-shaped people are those who have deep knowledge in one discipline and broader knowledge in others. These people were identified as possessing the types of skills industry will most likely employ. But the methods used to develop those skills in academia today lack the needed interdisciplinary focus. Most universities continue to prepare students who are “deep” in a specific discipline, such as computer science or engineering, accounting or business, leaving graduates unprepared to succeed in a rapidly changing global marketplace increasingly based on services, human interactions and global virtual teams.

Project-based teams and scenarios were referenced as the preferred model for interdisciplinary education, ensuring a mix of business, technical and liberal arts knowledge for the development of richer, innovative solutions. Most of the world’s businesses are moving away from routine, top-down manufacturing-based models to support the global shift to services-based economies. T-shaped individuals will most likely thrive in a model that combines critical thinking, creativity and innovation with leadership, global awareness and technology literacy. Additionally, students expressed the need for universities to provide them with tools to evaluate early on, and on an ongoing basis, their potential for success in a select field of study.

2. Education is not keeping up with the pace of technology change: As jammer Nicola Meek, chief executive of Secondary Futures in New Zealand, stated, “The current sequential learning system where young adults progress from grade school up through university-level education is swiftly becoming an obsolete way of approaching the learning process and its purpose in today’s complex, rapidly-paced environment, especially when we consider that artificial intelligence is expected to exceed the intelligence of a single human brain by 2025 and of all human brains by 2050.” While many colleges and universities around the world are adapting well to the changing needs of industry, others are lagging behind due to insufficient resources, old belief systems and failure to innovate.

3. Collaboration between industry and education generates high value. Jammers worldwide acknowledged the usefulness of collaboration between the parties, including the ability for students to build relationships with potential employers, for students to acquire T-shaped skills through teaming and cross-disciplinary work, for academia to keep curricula content fresh and relevant, and that a great deal of innovation could occur through this collaborative effort.

The evolving role of the university and the services it should provide

Jammers were vocal about the need for an integrated solution to the disparate and sometimes questionable content of online learning resources, such as Wikipedia, and other sources of user generated content. And that this solution should be open source, available to all at no charge, and flexible, while maintaining integrity as a trusted learning source.

Jammers questioned the traditional role and model of university systems, as Internet-based applications begin to provide more course content and we shift to a system of global and service based economies. Suggestions included:

* Adopting learning methods that are student-led versus instructor-led, with professors playing a mentor role in the learning process.

* Adopting videoconferencing as a means to accomplish distance learning without sacrificing interaction.

* Broader use of virtual environments to enhance learning, interaction, networking and communication.

* Implementing team-based projects across geographical, disciplinary and institutional boundaries.

16 Comments | Tags: Government, School/College, Work, World

Bill Gillies - Editor

University jammers foresee an intelligent, interconnected planet

A new report released yesterday shows that eight of 10 students around the world want universities to revamp traditional learning environments while over 90 percent want to join or start a Green Advocacy group at their campus. 64 percent of students believe that the world has a chance to reverse carbon emissions by 2025, and 60 percent believe that education and efficient transportation offer the best hope for sustainability of our cities.

These are just a few of the findings of a remarkable crowdsourcing process held earlier this year by IBM called the Smarter Planet University Jam. Nearly 2,000 students, faculty, IBM business leaders, technologists, governmental officials, and industry partners from 40 countries around the globe took part in the Jam and demonstrated both enthusiasm and optimism about opportunities to work together.

A team of Jam hosts, facilitators, and subject matter experts analyzed the approximately 2,700 posts contributed by jammers to identify the key insights and ideas for innovation across five theme areas: smart skills and education, smart water management and green planet, smart grid, smarter healthcare, and smart cities. Their report in .pdf can be downloaded here.

Jammers foresaw the need to create a new model of university education around smarter campuses, which are interconnected, enriched and fed by on-the-ground knowledge being developed over social networks. Universities would incorporate broader use of virtual environments and videoconferencing to enhance learning, interaction, networking and communication. In a poll conducted during the Jam, 82 percent of those polled believed that “virtual worlds” are a great place to learn these future skills.

“The Smarter Planet University Jam was the first time that so many university-aged students came together in an online forum to brainstorm ideas to better our world,” said Jai Menon, an IBM vice president. “Students are confident that their future will be a smarter place – a world where they will drive cars that get 100 miles per gallon, learn in virtual classrooms connected with students across the globe, and where they can run their businesses on a secure, energy-efficient and interconnected grid.”

The Jam explored important topics such as:

* Innovations needed to protect the environment and conserve resources
* Interdisciplinary skill requirements for students (and schools) to compete in a smarter world
* How to create smarter healthcare by improving quality, safety and effectiveness – but at an affordable price
* How to create smarter cities by using information technology to build attractive, sustainable urban environments quicker and cheaper
* Innovations needed to transform today’s electricity grids into smart grids

A Jam is an Internet-based platform for conducting conversations through brainstorming- connecting diverse populations of individuals-to gain new perspectives on problems and challenges, and develop actionable ideas centered around business-critical or urgent societal issues.

3 Comments | Tags: Government, School/College, World

Bill Gillies - Editor

Reverse mentoring delivers solid value to both parties

Tavia Grant wrote a good piece in the Toronto-based Globe and Mail about the growing practice of reverse mentoring. “Traditional mentoring usually involves an older employee helping to guide a junior colleague. Now, an accelerating trend is flipping that relationship. Reverse mentoring is a radical shift in power dynamics, a response to how fast technology is changing, and what a younger generation of workers has to offer.”

With reverse mentoring, the older employees turn to younger, tech-savvy employees for insights about new tools such as Facebook and YouTube, since invariably the younger employee is more comfortable with the technologies.  The relationship also gives the older employee into the thoughts and values of today’s Net Generation.

In the article, Grant discusses the relationship between mentor Matthew Dobbin, 26, who is a consultant with Accenture Canada.  The mentee is managing partner Rodney Bergman, age 43.

Here’s how the younger Dobbin feels he benefits from the relationship:

Payoff No. 1: “As this relationship has evolved, it’s gone from strictly one way to a two-way [exchange of knowledge]. If I’m working on a paper or presentation, I can bounce ideas off him, ask if he knows of research. It helps solidify my ideas.”

Payoff No. 2: “I’ve also gained perspective on how the business operates that I don’t think young people typically get access to.”

Here’s mentee Bergman’s take:

Payoff No. 1: “As this relationship has evolved, it’s gone from strictly one way to a two-way [exchange of knowledge]. If I’m working on a paper or presentation, I can bounce ideas off him, ask if he knows of research. It helps solidify my ideas.”

Payoff No. 2: “I’ve also gained perspective on how the business operates that I don’t think young people typically get access to.”

Reverse mentoring is growing at Accenture.  Grant says it’s not a HR driven strategy, but has spread more by word-of-mouth.

4 Comments | Tags: Work

Don Tapscott

Creating an environment for student excellence

In a speech last week to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, President Barack Obama cited a Manhattan high school, Bard High School Early College, as one example of the type of innovation in education that should be encouraged across the country.

The Bard school was jointly created in June 2001 by the New York City Board of Education and Bard College. It is founded on the belief that many young people are ready and eager to do serious college work at age 16. It enables highly motivated students to move in four years from ninth grade through the first two years of college, earning the associate of arts (A.A.) degree as well as a high school diploma.

It is a public education institution, and no tuition is charged. The student body is diverse ethnically and economically.  There are about 500 students and the average student-to-teacher ration is 20:1.  Admission is based on the student’s academic record, teacher recommendations, writing and math assessments, and an interview.  Successful applicants typically have a minimum 86 percent grade average.  Evidence of ambition and intellectual curiosity is critical. Last year the school received roughly 4,000 applications for 135 available spaces.

In the Huffington Post today, Bard graduate Kesi Augustine, who is now a sophomore at Williams College, explained the benefits of the Bard approach.

The school introduced me to critical thinking and writing about my place in the world. Our teachers did not give us the recipe for performing well on state-wide tests and SATs, although we performed well in that respect, too. Rather, our small classes thrived on student energy in open seminar discussions and debates about course material. The challenge, as President Obama called for in his speech, never ended. No one could be successful in Bard by slumping in a seat…

A few [students] dropped out over the four years despite the supportive network of teachers and faculty available. However, those students did not cop out. BHSEC was emotionally demanding. Those students simply realized that their destiny was in their own hands, as Obama said, and that BHSEC’s accelerated method of learning, while it stimulates the mind, requires a sense of maturity some teenagers do not yet have while in high school…

I was more than prepared for success in “real” college, largely owed to what I learned at BHSEC. As a rising sophomore at Williams College, I frequently refer back to my seminar experience at Bard. During my freshman year at Williams, I was not perfect, yet I knew how to approach reading a novel a week, how to write a formal 10-page paper, and how to ask for help when I needed it. I had professors from high school I could ask for advice. I was confident in my ability to survive a difficult class. In contrast, few of my new college friends had this advantage. Students at Williams have often said, “In high school, I didn’t even have to think. Now, it’s all about thinking. I don’t know if I even trust myself to come up with something good.” I wonder how much better they would feel about their schoolwork–and their selves–if their high schools had encouraged independent thinking and critical analysis as Bard did.

Obviously not every student could succeed at Bard.  But the lesson of the school is universally applicable: All students should be given the opportunity to perform to the best of their ability. In the President’s words, “There is no stronger weapon against inequality and no better path to opportunity than an education that can unlock a child’s God-given potential.”

4 Comments | Tags: Government, School/College

Bill Gillies - Editor

Wedding entrance captures five of eight norms

If you haven’t seen the wedding entrance dance on YouTube by the couple from St Paul, Minnesota, then click on the link here and prepare yourself for a big treat. The five-minute video clip shows the pair dancing energetically towards the altar, preceded by their ushers, bridesmaids and groomsmen.  It’s all done to the tune of Chris Brown’s song Forever.  The video has gone viral. Posted less than two weeks ago, it has already been viewed more than 8.5 million times.

The bride, Jill Peterson, and groom, Kevin Heinz, are both 28, which puts them on the leading edge of the Net Generation.

The creative entrance captures five of the Net Generation’s eight norms.  The couple felt the Freedom to be creative and not constrained by tradition.  The entrance was Customized just the way they wanted it.  They Collaborated with others in the wedding party. It provided huge Entertainment for them and the guests.  And above all, it shows incredible Innovation.

The bride said only the couple’s parents were aware of the plans for the unconventional wedding march and that the dance was only rehearsed for “about an hour and a half” before the ceremony.

1 Comment | Tags: Family

Don Tapscott

Jon Stewart’s trustworthiness no surprise

In the wake of Walter Cronkite’s death, asked readers to vote for today’s most trusted newscaster.  The decisive winner, with 44 percent of the vote, was Jon Stewart, host of Comedy Central’s pull-no-punches “The Daily Show.” This was well ahead of the 29 per cent for NBC anchor Brian Williams, 19 per cent for ABC’s Charles Gibson and 7 per cent for CBS’s Katie Couric. (See map for state-by-state results.)

In my mind, the results are completely predictable.  Personally I trust Jon Stewart more than anyone else to probe issues of actual importance.  Most network news is sensationalist, and typically irrelevant blather, one step up from man bites dog.  There are real problems in the world today. Young people know this.  Increasingly they don’t accept the existing paradigms of what constitutes public discourse.

Jon Stewart’s popularity does not mean that today’s Net Generation is indifferent to the news.  After all, to get most of Jon Stewart’s jokes, you actually have to know what is happening in the world.

Today’s youth are media-savvy, and have a good grip on what I would call the theater of Washington.  A favorite Stewart technique was to note when a politician was blatantly contradicting what he or she said in the past.  He would show two or three video clips back-to-back, and often just leave the contradiction to speak for itself.  The news department of the big networks could do the same thing, but they choose not to.  That’s not how they play the game.  One can’t blame Stewart’s audience having greater faith that they’re getting the real goods.

3 Comments | Tags: World

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, what other entertainment sources they have access to. Also, as Robson pointed out, it depends a lot on what TV shows are currently in season. Many of the people I spoke to favour downloading TV shows or streaming them online rather than actually watching them live on the TV.


Only a handful of my friends read newspapers, and practically all of this number would disappear if they didn’t have their parents to buy them. Breakfast is the one and only place for teenagers to read the paper, and this is simply because it is much less awkward than having a computer on the table surfing news sites while you eat your cereal. Although some teenagers do read newspapers, they would not pay for them with their own money – it’s a novelty that is bought by their parents.

Internet and social media

The internet is one of the most used media sources in a teenager’s life and, as Robson said, Facebook is the most popular site, with most of the teenagers checking up at least once a day to see what their friends are doing. Other social networking sites such as Bebo, Hi5 and Friendster are virtually unheard of in Australia. Myspace is popular, but usually only from around the ages of 12-14, this is because it has a high level of customisation of profiles that Facebook doesn’t offer and also a music service. However, once teenagers grow out of this and just want a social networking site, Facebook proves to be a much better service. Twitter is hardly used at all by teenagers, and when it is, it is solely for the use of ‘stalking’ celebrities. The few friends of mine who have joined Twitter have quickly discovered, like Robson said, that no-one was reading their ‘tweets’ and they failed to see the point in it, due to the fact that Facebook already has a similar features (‘status update’) and a larger proportion of their friends use it, they deserted Twitter and returned to their original set-up.

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… [RE-ENERGYSE] will prepare a generation of Americans to meet this generational challenge.”

“Young people across America need Congress to act today and help prepare our generation to confront the nation’s energy challenges,” said Jessy Tolkan, Executive Director of the Energy Action Coalition, a coalition of 50 youth organizations.  The Coalition was founded in 2004 when young leaders across the country concluded that only by working together could they solve a problem as large as climate change while creating a more equitable future for all.

Energy Action’s flagship campaign, the Campus Climate Challenge, was launched in 2006 to spur a new wave of investment in renewable energy on college campuses from coast to coast.

During the last election, Energy Action Coalition Energy Action Coalition ran the Power Vote campaign to harness the power of the youth vote for clean and just energy and good green jobs.  Over 350,000 young people got involved in the movement as climate voters and new leaders.  The coalition raised climate change as one of the key issues in the election and generated 100 of media stories.

“Our generation knows that dirty energy isn’t the answer.  Building a clean energy economy will create millions of new jobs, reduce pollution, and protect our future,” said Josh Tulkin, Field Director of the Energy Action Coalition.   “We call on our leaders to listen to sound science and real facts when it comes to climate policy.”

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. Brands provide means to show which group you belong to and which you do not want to be associated with. For the youth, brands play an important part of helping to build their identity and self image among their friends.”

The company says the relationship that teenagers have with brands is complex; the survey indicates a number of contradictions typical to teenagers. The majority of teenagers (63%) will nearly always buy their favorite brand with just over a quarter disagreeing with this statement. However when asked if brands influence their purchasing decisions, while over a third (35%) said brands do, half agreed this wasn’t the case.

Shown are the top five brands for teenage females and males in the 30 countries surveyed.

No Comments | Tags: Brand

Don Tapscott

Best Buy crowdsources a job description

I like the electronics retailing juggernaut Best Buy, and have had a number of discussions with the company’s senior management on how it can tap the full potential of the Net Generation as employees and as customers.

Recently the company advertised for a Sr. Manager of Emerging Media Marketing. This person would be in charge of social media marketing.  And according to Best Buy, the successful candidate would have at least one year of active blogging experience, a graduate degree, and more than 250 followers on Twitter.

The job qualifications caused a bit of a stir in the blogosphere. Some questioned the need for a graduate degree (in what?), or the idea that people with less than 250 Twitter followers need not apply.

The reason I think Best Buy is so great is illustrated by what happened next. Best Buy’s CMO Barry Judge decided to capitalize on the online interest by asking the company’s customers and employees for help in creating the perfect job description.  He announced the contest in his blog:

We recently posted a job that got a lot of buzz because of its qualifications. …In following the conversation around this job posting we discovered that many people had other ideas for how this job description should look, and what the qualifications should be.  We realized that perhaps we hadn’t thought of everything.  Beyond that we thought perhaps we could find a way to enable a more pointed discussion about this relatively new job category of Emerging Media.

It seemed to us to be a natural progression to get the community involved in crafting the job description and qualifications. So that’s exactly what we’re going to do. We’d like you, (yes all of you), to help us write the job description for our Sr Manager of Emerging Media Marketing job.

We’d also like you all to help us pick the best description.

You can see the suggestions so far here. I’ll post the winning job requirements as soon as they are announced.

Of course, all thoughts and comments are welcome here as well.

9 Comments | Tags: Brand, Work

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 pages of text” rather than see summaries online or on television.

On the one hand, it is discouraging that fund managers could be so out of touch with the media habits of today’s youth. Memo to Morgan Stanley executives and clients:  I would be happy to arrange a bulk purchase of Grown Up Digital, which offers insights based on research with 12,000 teenagers and young adults in twelve countries.

On the other hand, it is good that companies such as Morgan Stanley are realizing that taking the time to speak with youth is time well spent. Today’s teenagers and young adults distinguish themselves not just in the area of media use.  They have different views from their elders on almost facets of their life, such as their expectations of universities or employers. Many companies would have had a smarter response to the arrival of social media programs such as Facebook, and actually talked to their employees about its use and potential benefits instead of simply banning the application.

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 educate a generation – and usher in an era of unprecedented prosperity…

That is why, at the start of my administration I set a goal for America: by 2020, this nation will once again have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world…Today, I am announcing the most significant down payment yet on reaching this goal in the next ten years. It’s called the American Graduation Initiative. It will reform and strengthen community colleges from coast to coast so that they get the resources students and schools need – and the results workers and businesses demand. Through this plan, we seek to help an additional five million Americans earn degrees and certificates in the next decade….

Not since the passage of the original GI Bill and the work of President Truman’s Commission on Higher Education – which helped double the number of community colleges and increase by seven fold enrollment in those colleges – have we taken such a historic step on behalf of community college in America. And let me be clear: we pay for this plan by ending the wasteful subsidies we currently provide to banks and private lenders for student loans, which will save tens of billions of dollars over the next ten years. Instead of lining the pockets of special interests, it’s time this money went toward the interest of higher education in America….

…[W]e also know that in the coming years, jobs requiring at least an associate degree are projected to grow twice as fast as jobs requiring no college experience. We will not fill those jobs – or keep those jobs on our shores – without the training offered by community colleges.

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