Integrating New Scary Technology into our Classroom Practice

Right. Where to start. Today I gave a small presentation to a very small audience at work about “Mobile Marketing: Using AR in the Moment to Encourage Interactivity and Create Value: Free Range Eggs”.

I used the Pecha Kucha style for the presentation – 20 slides at 20 seconds each. It’s fast, concise, no interruptions and leaves room for lots of discussion after.

We looked at a session template for integrating AR thinking into the session, by getting the students to do all the background work into the supply chain for free range eggs that would be used to drive the CluckAR application (invented by the Australians). The AR app enables consumers to scan the QR code or the packaging on the egg carton, in store, and then provided the information about the source of the product. The consumer can tag the product (brand) onto the CluckAR map which identifies where the “good eggs” are.

free range eggs

I proposed that we design a session using the same principles; that we get the students to do all the work at finding all the information about the free range egg supplier; so everything needed to drive an AR free-range egg detector. The Pechu Kucha part went well, faster than I thought, but I can see how this is useful (and for the students, too). The session idea did not go so well – one of my colleagues made a good point about “where are you going with this?” and I thought I had clarified that at the start – apparently not.

A very small attendance – is that an issue? We do seem to have lost momentum in the department for seminars. Most people were not there, and some I thought would attend did not even bother to show.

Did I offer some new ideas? Yes, and it might help others think a bit about how they could integrate new technology into their sessions without having to teach Python coding. Buut – I notice a general malaise for thinking about anything new with teaching and learning, especially in the technology and digital space.

Sitting dinosaurs, I’m certain. Here’s the slide deck run as a Pecha Kucha.

Let’s Use Marketing Thinking Behind VR and AR in our teaching

CluckyCluckAR is here!

Free range egg-finding AR application – awesome! Not yet available for use in New Zealand.

Meet Annie and Rosie and Hettie. Fave foods: worms, cheese, sourdough bread, avocado skins, and beetles.

Fave activities: scratching in Kate’s garden, running after their rooster of the moment, lying around in the sun or having a dirt bath.

Fave roosters: Bruce (very handsome). Teaching Billy and his offsider Henry the young roosters manners around ladies.

Egg production: enthusiastic from September to April. Long holiday taken from May through August. These girls can lay 3 or 4 eggs a day if they’re in the mood.

In the Mood

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Back in the Jug

A friend of mine from Liverpool used to use the expression “we’re back in the jug” in that lovely Liverpudlian accent of hers, to signify being back at work. I was back in the jug yesterday helping my undergrads (who are nearing the end of their degrees) wrestle with creating a Powtoon. The idea was they would take one or two core concepts from a journal article and create a Powtoon to explain the ideas – as if they were trying to do this at work, to help their team members grasp some of the tricky marketing thinking.

Some “got it” right away, and others struggled mightily. They had struggles with the new software, Powtoon, and with quickly grabbing a couple of main ideas from the article to chase up. The Powtoon application is template driven, offering free trials so users can quickly create fun content to explain things with animations and text. We used Powtoon at the MindLab and I have had it in my plan for some time for my own class.

What surprised me most during our session was the amount of nervousness among the students about how to use Powtoon, and what would happen if they “didn’t get it right?” Students had trouble scanning the journal article quickly for core ideas – many missed the Table at the end of the article summarizing the main concepts.

What I learnt from yesterday? Our students need a lot more scaffolding than I realized. Many are not confident users in the tech space. Some of the marketing education literature reflects this finding. Our speaker, a marketing expert in all things digital and the AI space, introduced students to the “freaky shit” (his words) that’s happening with AI and data collection and how marketers are combining all this to provide experiences. Many students spoke about their fears of AI (artificial intelligence) and how jobs might disappear. A goal of mine for this semester is figure out ways to help the students gain confidence using a wide range of software applications for content creation; and continue our discussion about new marketing roles that are appearing on the horizon for twenty-first century marketers. Also, here is the Manifesto again at the link below to remind us that learning needs to change, as well as teaching. I think it’s fine for the students to struggle with new technology in class. Not everything is easy, and not everything is served up to them, either. That’s what we all learned yesterday.

Post-script: My sole-authored journal article was rejected last week. Awesome. ūüė¶

Manifesto for online learning

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Sabbatical ends.

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A winter sunrise taken from our front verandah. Lovely colour with the sun just starting to colour the sky. The photo signifies a beginning, kind of nice really, as the title for this Blog is all about endings.

I’m not too sure how to write about endings. The sabbatical has ended, six months of freedom from schedules, teaching, lesson preparation, and commuting, too. Six months of reading, thinking, and writing. It would be easy to have an identity crisis during a sabbatical. Is all the reading and writing worth the effort? Does anyone care about the research? Is this really what I want to do for a meaningful life? In the end, does what I write matter to the things that are supposed to matter? Writing about how children use social media is not helping fix child poverty in this country, nor is it helping to tame Facebook or any of the other big social media giants who want children as their audience.

Perhaps, though, all the writing and thinking opens up new ideas and helps people think more deeply (and slowly, too) about what is happening in the new media technology world.

One thing I do know: our two dogs are unhappy that the sabbatical has ended. We enjoyed our more spontaneous morning and afternoon walks. Our cat enjoyed more company in the house, and the opportunity to run across the computer keyboard in the mornings writing her own words. We two humans both enjoyed better dinners, slow food, instead of a quick stir-fry at the end of the day. I enjoyed slowing down and looking at beautiful art.

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My sister has a poster of this lovely, quite abstract painting of these three gorgeous women. Such vibrant colour. One day there will be time to learn to paint.

 

A Long Absence.

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Kia ora to the blogosphere, and to anyone who reads this. I owe you, and me, an apology for such a long absence from the blog. I see the last post was back in April – it is now June. I have no real reasons apart from “life got in the way” of blogging. There sure was plenty of life, including two funerals, sadly, one predicted and one completely unexpected.

But I’m back. The image here is of a sunrise in early May, from the top of our farm. We are now in the depths of our winter, with plenty of rain and sometimes a little frosty early in the mornings. Not so good for our new baby avocado trees.

So, what has happened in the world of an academic marketer over the past two months? Two papers created – one needs major revising before it can go, and the other is due for completion and submission at the end of this week. I found out that one of my grand ideas (ha ha) has been gazumped already by other researchers…how lowering. On the plus side, this could mean that we are all on the right track after all.

The paper I am writing and currently most interested in, deals with the changing world of marketing work, and how this is reflected in our academic work as we train new marketing graduates. I hope to submit this paper to the Journal of Marketing Education. I confess to finding the literature review a real struggle – the literature is “all over the place” in this area, with contrary findings about the value (or not) of providing experiential learning activities for our students. Some authors argue that such activities do not add to the learning because our current cohort of under-25-years old students come from an education system that delivers content in bite-sized chunks, with lots of opportunity to resubmit work to get a better outcome. The author dubbed this way of learning “formulaic” with many learners unwilling to work harder to create content. They would rather we served up content.

Of course, with experiential learning we are asking our students to actually do something, to be creators of content in class, not just consumers, and there is no opportunity for continual re-submission of work – one output (and an authentic one, at that) is expected by the end of the class session.

Other authors, for example, Kolb and Kolb (2005) in their work on experiential learning advocate strongly for this way of working with students. So…what to think? And what to do?¬†Treading the path between not knowing which approaches are best, for the student learners and us.¬† I haven’t figured it out yet.¬† Working on it.

 

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How do young children understand advertising? And how are they persuaded by advertising?

What a hot topic! Have been thinking about this topic for some weeks now, and reading academic articles to tease out how our youngsters actually learn about the persuasive  intent of advertising. As we would expect, the picture is incredibly complex Рjust like the image on the screen below.

tv-junk-food

At the basic level, children learn about advertising and about the intent of advertising (to persuade them to like something, buy something, think about something, talk about the “something”) from multiple sources and agents.

We already know that children need to build up what we call “persuasion knowledge” or “PK” in order to be able to fully understand advertising’s intentions. We also know that without PK, children cannot really activate their defenses against advertising, either. For a long time, there have been arguments about the actual age at which children can build their PK (persuasion knowledge). For example, many researchers believed that it was impossible for the youngest children, such as those around two or three years of age, to have much understanding at all of advertising, or even of the meaning of consumer brands. But, research over the past decade or so clearly shows us that even three year old children (and, some two year-olds) do have an understanding of the symbolic nature and meaning of brands, and how these brands act as social symbols.

If children have such an ability then, we might be able to say that our youngsters could show earlier abilities to build up their PK, because one of the first steps in “having” PK is called recognition: that is, the child’s ability to discern programming content from advertising content. But, to say this, means we are equating a consumer brand to actual advertising “content” and I am not yet convinced we can say that.

We might ask, how can such young children have these mental abilities? If we think through how children develop, we find that individual differences prevail, however, each child develops cognitive abilities as they grow and interact with their families, at preschool, with friends, and just as a result of general, ongoing socialization. Much of their cognitive development includes the development of what we call “Theory of Mind”, which refers to the ability of children to take a social perspective; that is, they have the capacity to think about the mental states of others as well as thinking about their own. So this capacity gives our kids the ability to think about the intentions, wants, needs and desires of other people – and to do this means that children can “theorize” about what others might do or want in the future.

We rely on several insightful researchers for this work, and I mention them here: Louis J. Moses and Dare A. Baldwin (2005), who undertook an extensive literature search to assess the study of children’s cognitive development, and wrote “What Can the Study of Cognitive Development Reveal About Children’s Ability to Appreciate and Cope with Advertising?”

And, we should be indebted to two academic researchers also from North America, for their wonderful work explaining exactly how children understand the symbolism behind consumer brands: Anna R. McAlister and T. Bettina Cornwell (2010) who researched and wrote: “Children’s Brand Symbolism Understanding: Links to Theory of Mind and Executive Functioning”.

So, to go back to the question at the top of this post: how do young children understand advertising, and how are they persuaded by advertising?

So far, what we can say is that children need lots of opportunities to build up their PK (persuasion knowledge) so that they can increase their advertising literacy. I mentioned a key step in this process is helping children learn to recognize actual program content (e.g. a funny cartoon or Sesame Street) from advertising content (e.g. an animated character jumping out of a box of Froot Loops to show what fun it is to eat the cereal…). We would say that this recognizing ability is the first step towards developing PK. There are a couple of other steps, too: children need the ability to analyze and to evaluate the persuasive messages.

Taking these abilities one at a time, then: let’s look at analyzing. Some early research in 2003 (Brian Young, University of Exeter), stated that in general, children understand the commercial function of advertising well before they have understanding of it’s persuasive function. So what does “analyzing” refer to? The ability to explain something about the message, to understand what the message is trying to communicate, to understand that the message is commercial, and what this means for them. “Evaluating” the message means that the children have an ability to determine if the message is truthful; is it relevant to them; what might be the consequences of doing what the message suggests, both personal and social.

These are sophisticated skills! We must help our children acquire these skills. We can do that by watching media with them, and by talking with them about what they see, and helping them understand how advertising looks different from their favorite programs, and what advertising is trying to achieve. Some researchers are concerned that with the proliferation of different ways that children can consume media, they are not getting the family discussions they need about what they are watching, because more and more “watching” for many children is happening without family involvement. Something to think about, for sure.

So, to finish for today, I am writing an academic article using these understandings, to show how children use social media for brand interactions, and what this might mean for their development as young people.

Dear Readers, thank you for persevering with reading this dense post. If nothing else, writing this has helped me clarify how to write the forthcoming very difficult academic piece.

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A perfect flower from our garden, photographed at 6.30 am April 17th.

 

 

 

 

 

Can we digitize education at university?

I have been thinking about this question for a long time now (since July 2017). I think some of the difficulties in answering this question might be related to what we mean by “digitize education”.

For example, do we mean making all the content that we want our students to learn “digital”? That is, available over digital channels, in digital formats, so our students can only engage with the course via a laptop or some other device? I think not. This is too simple. If education is, at it’s essence, a practice that is supposed to help people (of all ages), flourish in their lives, and is not solely a vehicle for job preparation (especially of young people), then this perspective opens up a whole realm of possibilities for us and our students to deploy digital technologies to our main goal: of helping ourselves flourish.

This perspective comes courtesy of a discussion I had with one of our Professors of Education, who pointed out that if education is primarily regarded as the means by which we prepare people for “jobs”, then what happens to those people once many of these jobs are automated? I believe that we are seeing some of these effects now in marketing. We are also seeing some of these effects in the law profession, as a prominent lawyer pointed out in this talk:

Digitizing the law profession

A very long article, but highly convincing evidence for how AI (artificial intelligence) and robots, algorithms and other automation software tools are changing the way lawyers work.

Given this kind of change to once “sacred” professional work, what can we expect for marketing jobs? Previous posts have already canvassed some of the big shifts in what marketers now do compared to what they once did at work, with most of the technology changes taking out routine monitoring, measurement, assessment, and scheduling work, especially around communications campaigns. However, planning work and predictive targeting (e.g. who to pitch the social media campaign at), and a whole swathe of research and intelligence gathering work is under threat, if not already gone to the marketerbots in many companies.

How does any of this relate to digitizing education at university? I very much like the idea of using education to help students flourish, and using digital tools as servants to this goal. Looking at ideas for “The Purpose of Education”, I find that Nelson Mandela’s idea is quite wonderful, shown here:

Nelson Mandela

This thinking is pointing us to a much higher purpose of education, towards fostering the personal development of our students. Here is a link to an interesting Infographic showing some other views, and right at the end, John Dewey’s philosophy of education:

ideas about the purpose of education

What I see in common is that both thinkers suggest to us that the purpose of education is quite deeply a personal experience for every student. To what extent are we providing those experiences in our “classrooms?”

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Post script: I took this photo two years ago on a very early bus ride into Auckland City, around 6.30 am on an autumn morning. We can see our (dormant?) volcano, Rangitoto, in the background. What a beautiful image.

I have been blogging now for ten months, since July 2017. Perhaps I can share this blog more with others…but is anyone there? My plans are to use this blog as the basis for a book. Perhaps I need to write about more interesting things!

“Waking up in 2050: I am a Marketer.” Extending the argument for a radical shift in marketing teaching towards Robot-Proofing Marketing Graduates.

My previous post wrote about concerns I have with technology’s destruction of marketing jobs, and how the case for a shift in how we marketing teaching academics craft discipline content for teaching, what we actually teach, and how we teach.

I have an idea for an inquiry project: can we sketch the shape of an entry-level marketing job in a “typical” consumer-to-consumer or business-to-business organisation?

This would be the first step in the inquiry, and necessitates a trawl through job descriptions (simple content analysis) for entry-level roles. From this inquiry, an aggregate of the skills, attributes, domain knowledge and mindset/soft skills could be mapped.

A historical comparison (via content analysis) could be undertaken at three points, using seek.co.nz data (if they’re willing) to share job descriptions from these time points:

2000; 2010; (big shifts in social platforms), and 2017.

What I’m after is a track of the changes in the aggregate job skills, domain knowledge, attributes and soft skills over the past 17 years. My hunch is that some of these changes have been profound; especially in the technical skills around technology (think social media, mobile apps or website creation and maintenance).

My other hunch is that we marketing teaching academics are well-behind what the typical entry-level role for a new marketing graduate is calling for – in sum, we are probably not teaching to the new (?) jobs.

The main research question/s at this stage for this project are:

RQ #1: what are the specific skills, domain knowledge, attributes, and soft skills required by marketing grads to successfully work as marketers, in 2018 through to 2050?

and RQ #2: how do we go about preparing our students for the shifts in the next 30 years?

Still thinking.

By the way, if anyone is reading this Post I recommend the following book:

Grit

I love this book. Have nearly finished it. I stumbled on this book by accident in the airport bookshop last week, on my way to a funeral – a bit sad, but a welcome diversion. This book and all the decades of research behind it explain so much about “grit” and “gritty” people. Take the grit test – you might be surprised about who you are (I was).

child in the scale of education

Waking up in 2050. I am a marketer.

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Who knows if our world will work like this? That is, people and AI working together to help each other accomplish things. What I do know however is that unless I focus myself and my students on gaining a twenty-first century mindset, I will be doing my students a disservice. New work areas are proposed for the next 30 or more years: consider a young student now, graduating from university with a degree in business, majoring in marketing. By the time that young graduate is in her early 50’s (still young!) she may be managing a team of customer bots. Her bots will be primarily responsible for service delivery, handling customer complaints, managing the supply chain, and ensuring the sustainability metrics are exceeded.¬† Our now middle-aged graduate (unless the average age has reached 120 years, therefore she is still under half-way), employs artificial intelligence assistants that make Siri look slow.

We might ask ourselves, as marketing educators, what is there left for our graduates to do at work in this scenario?

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I think the image says it well. Our young graduates will use their creativity. Their “right brains”. To solve intractable problems. To create experiences. To collaborate with others in creative endeavors. To create new ways of working, AND to create new jobs.

Sir Ken Robinson gives a definition of creativity as “applied imagination” in an article about how creativity matters in education (https://www.kqed.org/mindshift/40217/sir-ken-robinson-creativity-is-in-everything-especially-teaching); retrieved March 27th.

How has my practice changed? This is difficult to answer, given I have now been on a sabbatical since January 8th, 2018. I have not been teaching, I have instead been trying to produce original research. However, in the back of my mind there are thoughts and plans for helping my students unleash their creativity in our classes, for semester two.

I am choosing “21st century skills” as the theme for my marketing students, for semester two, 2018. This theme is mentioned as a core theme in the Hack Education Research (2016) created by the MindLab.

Since I am choosing 21st century skills as my change in practice, this means my work has only started. All my course materials, teaching plans, methodologies, class-room presence…and assessments will be recast to reflect the following question:

“to what extent does this session, lesson, lecture, reading, task, assessment, article, session plan…help students acquire the skills required of a 21st century marketer?”

This final post, completed at 4:47 pm on the due date for the whole assignment, represents the end of my journey through the MindLab DCL program. What to say? Have I changed? Can I sustain my “new practice?” Without falling into the black hole that so many do in tertiary, or giving up in the face of a system full of inertia?

At this stage, I do not know what the outcome will be. What I do know however is that I think about “teaching” at tertiary radically differently than when I started with MindLab. And perhaps that alone is enough.

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Thanks MindLab.