Friday, October 28, 2011

Interlude: Why I am Leaving Foursquare

There is one more part of the “WHY BYOT?” multi-blog to complete, but i wanted to take an interlude to make a post that has been on my mind for a few days. It’s probably going to be a lot longer than is worth it for the topic, but if you’ve read my blog before you are used to that.

Geo-Location Games Analysis

I was one of the first adopters of Foursquare. I mean early. Like, “I was one of the guys who created the first locations in Indianpolis” early. Like, “wow you mean the flyover states have guys who will do this stuff too?” early.

I remember telling my partner in crime, @40ishoracle, this could be big...twitter big.

I proudly held onto my mayorships and cried when they changed the point system and celebrated when i got a new badge and danced a jig (not a pretty sight) when i super-duper-mega-swarmed at the Rally to Restore Sanity in Washington, DC. I enjoyed being able to cash in on the occasional offer, but those were few and far between.

And i have enjoyed its growth and felt a little twinge of pain when i realized that my travel schedule would likely mean that i will never recapture the mayorship of Brebeuf Jesuit, relished in recpaturing St. Marys...and i straight-up own the comicbook shop.


much like an addict who has to constantly push something farther to get the same enjoyment, i found myself checking in by rote recently. I have captured every badge that there is to capture in my routine. I can only really fight for the top ranking when i am on vacation and have lots of new locs to add.While the tips and photos are occasionally useful or enjoyable, YELP gives me a lot more value-add in that regard...

And so this morning, i checked in with Latitude (GoogeMaps) instead of Foursquare. When I checked in, i noted (but was not surprised) that in addition to my Latitude friends (wow, THAT is a small number), I could also post public or to circles in Google Plus.

Interesting. I could post my location so to JUST my family so they would know that i stopped off at Starbucks (of course, they just ASSUME that is going to happen). That would be useful...


We have very busy lives. and while it seems odd on devices that are filled with angry birds and anti-zombie flora (#occupyrooftop!), if there is not a value add, we are doing ourselves a disservice to tie ourselves to games, media, social networks that do not help us out in some way.

This is not to say that geoloc is dead or dying. Its a fast growing part of the industry and probably the next key to advertising success is going to be local. It’s just that in the game-makers attempts to create something that will keep me hooked (and thus looking at ads or however the monetizing works), I need something more than habit to keep me playing.

When all the badges are won...
When all the mayorships are captured...
Then you won the game. Time to move on.

Now if only they offered badges on Latitude :)

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Why BYOT (Part II): A Focus on Access

Ok, so the school opens itself up to the possibility of letting any student bring in any device.

  • The training is setup so that students and educators are aware that certain things don’t work on certain devices (psst, looking at you iPad).
  • Teachers are given the freedom to tell students that it is the STUDENT’S responsibility to make sure the equipment is charged and ready.
  • The administrators understand that it is not possible for a teacher to be 100% aware of every online activity that every student is doing inside the classroom.
What is a technology department to do?
In order to answer this, lets first step back and think about what a technology department spends its time doing now. under traditional technology systems, a significant portion of IT expense (in terms of personnel, time, and expense) happens at that stage between user frustration: “This device won’t work” and network issue. Simple put, there is seldom an issue that cannot be isolated to a single device. Yes switches go down and servers stop responding, but most of the time, it is a single user and a single device. Worse, it is often a problem that gets fixed in the back room of a technology office after the student has moved to another class or the teacher is in her next lesson. Result: the frustrated user receives a fixed machine without the satisfaction of being heard or knowing how the problem was resolved. This increases user frustration with technology in general (i hate that it doesn't work) and with the IT Department (They never talk to anyone).
This use of resources is also a pull away from what the IT department will tell you is often the REAL problem: network maintenance and access. In a multimedia world with increased demands on bandwidth: youtube, streaming videos, podcasts (student produced and otherwise), cloud computing, the IT department has to spend more and more time focused on the issue of access: keeping filters up-to-date, evaluating usage levels, re-negotiating bandwidth costs, evaluating processor speeds on firewalls, etc.
The BYOT model (note: this benefit is relatively new as we have begun implementation this year) creates a new model of focus and interaction between Users, IT Personnel, and time allocation:

Benefit 1: User relations.
Under a lab model or even many 1:1 models, when a device stops responding, the user a) fills out a help ticket or b) drops it off at the school repair station (to pick up later or trade-in). When the device belongs to the user, there is (obviously) more ownership. The result, unintended, is that the device is brought down at a time when the user is available to stick around (it helps that Brebeuf Jesuit has a place for this). The technician and the user walk through the problem together. the issue, which is often user or software related, is resolved collaboratively and the adversarial relationship that can exist between tech-geeks and teach-geeks begins to dissolve. Ultimately, users become problem solvers and more comfortable with their own tech.

The Brebeuf Jesuit TRC is the default intake room for students and teachers to get help.
(note comfy chairs and coffeemaker)

Benefit 2: Time Allocation
Even under this high-touch user experience, less bench-time is spent with a pile of non-responsive netbooks that were sub-par and low quality to begin with (that shot was at you low-bid, 1:1 systems). Network administrators shift their concentration to long overdue maintenance and experimentation with websites, tools, bandwidth, etc. The focus is not on end user hardware but making tools that are discovered by teachers work across a variety of devices. This often leads to MORE collaboration as tools are evaluated on tablets and PCs and readers to find the healthy balance between the learning objective, student accessibility, and teacher assessment needs. Again, the IT department sits in on the conversation at a much earlier stage than “it won’t work” and the result is decreased user frustration and increased engagement and involvement (an interested tech is a hard-working, problem solving tech).

Why BYOT (Interlude): From the Students

But don't take our word for it. Two students in the library working off their own technology with access to Brebeuf Jesuit wireless and resources. Note: they identified their learning goal, selected the tool that would help them complete the task, and coordinated assessment with the teacher. #win

(filmed using an #android tablet, uploaded through #dropbox, edited on #PC posted via #Chromebook - livin' the dream)