Work

How to use Google Classroom for professional development

Last month I wrote a post titled ‘3 Different Things You Can Do With Google Classroom‘. Soon after, I received several emails and Twitter messages from people who read that article on Edudemic, and are interested in ideas and ways Google Classroom can be used for Professional Development.We have been experimenting with different scenarios and settings for using Google Classroom for PD at my school, Plato Academy Clearwater, during the last month. We have generated several workflow examples and experimented with almost all of them. We’ve had some successes (and some failures!), but the ones that seem to be working the best for us are so great that we wanted to share them with you!

google classroom for professional development

Professional Learning Communities (PLC’s) & Google Classroom

The Team Lead in every grade can create a course, and invite/register the rest of the team. He/She can create as many courses as there are subjects he/she teaches/leads. If the school is departmentalized, the Team Lead can create one course per subject. For instance, a Math & Science Team Lead can create one course for math and one for science. A Language Arts Lead can create a Reading course a Writing course, and a Social Studies course.

The Team Lead can choose to either use the Announcements, or the Assignments, to initiate discussion on a subject. He/She can attach the agendas before every meeting, which can be edited by all the members at any time AND in real time, upload instructional and “how to” videos, and even share and co-create common assessments in real time, even if the team members are based at a different location.

Google Classroom for Professional Development

A teacher/trainer can create a course in Google Classroom, which is going to be the training session he/she offers, and invite teachers/participants to join the course. The trainer shares with the participants the PowerPoint slides of the training via the Announcements tab, and handouts of the training via the Assignments tab. Here, the trainer can use the option “Make a copy for each student” from the menu that appears at the right side of the attached document, so that the teachers/participants can have a clean copy of the attachment, which they can then use in their classroom with their own students. In addition, the trainer can post questions about the training, which the teachers/participants can answer individually or collaboratively in groups, or even collectively as a whole group. The collaboration can happen in real time, or at the trainees’ leisure, if the trainer chooses to set a due date and/or time for the question/assignment. At more rigorous trainings, ones that require the participant to produce evidence of the knowledge they gained during the training, the trainer can assign real assignments to the teachers/participants, which he/she can grade, using Doctopus and/or Gubric. Here is a video that explains how this is done.

Principal – Teacher Collaboration with Google Classroom

Principals and administrators can take advantage of the power of Google Classroom to guide and lead instruction, or to share with their faculty certain information of key importance. For instance, in my school, my principal decided to use Google Classroom to create a secure and private online place to share with her teachers important information on Florida Standard Assessment (FSA). She created a course named FSA, and she uses that course to curate and organize information the Florida DOE publishes on FSA. Every time she adds an item, the teachers/students in this course receive an email. If the item is of great importance, the principal then creates a short assessment for the teachers to complete. Since all teachers are in the course as “students”, they can communicate with each other, exchange ideas, and offer support, under the Announcements tab within Google Classroom. During Professional Development Days, teachers can collaborate in real time and conduct vertical planning sessions, build common assessments collaboratively, and support each other in multifaceted ways.

About The Author

Nikolaos Chatzopoulos currently teaches 4th grade Math and Science at Plato Academy, in Clearwater, Florida. He is a technology enthusiast, and enjoys discovering ways to incorporate technology in the classroom in meaningful ways, in order to provide opportunities for authentic learning experiences.

Nikolaos can be reached at chatzopoulosn@platoacademy.net and on Twitter @chatzopoulosn

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Education

How academics are using Twitter

If you’ve gone to graduate school, you’re probably familiar with the myriad of jokes about graduate students and academics. Most of them revolve around being broke, sleeping in your office/lab, fantasies of quitting your PhD program/job, and procrastination. Those in the humanities generally find themselves on the butt end of these jokes and memes more often than folks  in other academic disciplines, but if we’re being honest, no grad student or academic is immune.
Thankfully, this handy graphic below explains why academics are REALLY using Twitter. Good thing, otherwise we would’ve had to assume they were trying to find information relevant to their research or (apparently nonexistent) extracurricular interests. But as it would turn out, academics are using Twitter for many of the same reasons as the rest of us. Leading the pack on the reasons? To procrastinate, of course!(nb, % used below are approximations based on the graphic)

Academics, why are you really using Twitter?

  • T0 PROCRASTINATE, of course! (over 50%)
  • Because it gives me an outlet to make snide comments about other academics (35%)
  • Hopefully to interact with people I have an intellectual crush on (23%)
  • To gossip about other people in my field (40%)
  • To legitimize my web surfing (49%)
  • To avoid writing (20%)
  • How do you know I use Twitter?! My account is anonymous! (10%)
  • “Outreach” that does not actually involve coming into physical contact with other human beings (20%)
  • To read an article on Nature that said academics use Twitter for Serious Reasons (less than 10%)
  • To look for a job in case I get fired or denied tenure (17%)
  • It gives me something to do during boring seminars (42%)
  • It gives me something to do during boring meetings (40%)
  • It gives me something to do when I’m talking to boring students (24%)

academics twitter

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Education

Social media marketing: Does it bring revenues to your company?

If we’re in the mood to simplify, then AWOL Academy review tend to fall into two camps – those who see it as the answer to all marketing problems, and the opportunity to save plenty on traditional marketing and advertising, and those who see social media as trivial explanations of breakfast, interspersed with fierce trolling.
The answer, as you may have guessed, is somewhere in between, but it’s perfectly possible to have those two extremes represented in one organisation – a CEO who’s doubtful about the power of digital media, arguing with the innovation team who’ve just had a brilliant idea involving mashing up Snapchat with Alibaba to create the world’s biggest, most ephemeral, marketplace. When you want effective online marketing, visit joel house.com.au.
This infographic (‘diagram’ if you’re old-school) from OutMarket shows where the opportunities lie in social media, and some of the pitfalls. Where it goes wrong, it’s through lack of faith in the organisation and a (subsequent?) lack of joined-up thinking. Where it goes right is in the sheer scale of the audience and their digitally-led habits.
Still, email outperforms social media, in terms of conversion, by 40-1. Remember that.
Good-and-Bad-of-Social-Media-by-OutMarket

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Education

How to make a Twitter profile that entices people to follow you

Maybe you’re just starting to explore Twitter. Or maybe, you were an early adopter, gaining yourself a handle that many people would want for themselves, like @john. Maybe you haven’t even joined yet. Regardless, whether you’re a Twitter veteran or a newbie who is just getting the hang of it, it’s time to learn how to optimize your profile. Most people out there are concerned with curating a great group of people to follow. Others are digging in to different chats and groups relevant to their personal or professional interests.  Most Twitter users are just trying to figure out how to get the most out of it.
While curation is important, crafting a great profile isn’t something that you should overlook. Think of it as your Twitter ‘face’. When people see it, will they want to follow you? Will you look interesting? Noteworthy? Boring? Automated? A good profile can mean the difference between more followers, more engagement, and a more robust community of people to connect with.

Want more Twitter tips? Follow @DailyGenius on, where else, Twitter!

If you’re not sure where to start, or what might be wrong with your profile, fear not. We’ve put together a list of 9 things to take note of when you’re crafting your profile. They’ll be useful whether you’re starting from scratch or editing your existing profile.

How to optimize your Twitter profile

  • Profile Photo: It’s more important than you think. Twitter’s new profile photos are larger, so make sure to use one that won’t end up fuzzy! Using a real photo helps gain your users trust. Unless your schtick is moody, pick a photo where you’re looking positive and happy!
  • Your Bio: Right after your photo, people will check out your bio. Twitter has splashed out and given you 160 characters here, so use them well. The judgement of “to follow or not to follow” rests on the shoulders of these words. Show off your expertise, but more important, personality.
  • Your Name: Using your real name (as opposed to a company name or a fake name) helps your users to trust you, much like it does when you use a real photo.
  • Pinned Tweets: You can now ‘pin’ a tweet to the top of your feed, so that anyone coming to your profile page will see it first. Pin particularly great tweets, newsworthy items, or announcements you don’t want to get lost in the shuffle.
  • Your Link: Since Twitter offers you room to include a link, do it! If you don’t have a business or personal homepage, consider making an about.me page to help interested folks learn more about you and what you’re all about. Use a link shortening service if the link is quite long.
  • Size Matters: When it comes to length, at least. Twitter is all about short and sweet. Keep it clear and concise, even in your bio! If you’re including links in your bio, use shortened links.
  • Twitter Cards: Did you know you can use Twitter cards to attach media to your tweets that links to your content? When other users RT or link to your content, the media will be attached.
  • Customized Headers: Twitter now allows you to make a large, customizable header for your profile page. Use it to show off your interests, expertise, company, products, or you. If you work with a group, this is a great place to use a group or “action” photo.
  • Visuals: There are a lot of options to customize how your profile looks. Make sure it is visually appealing, easy to read, and not too busy. You want people to be able to see what you’re all about, and not have to look hard to find that.

Twitter Profile Tips

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Education

How 'Tynker' is bringing games to online learning

It’s back-to-school season and the headlines are focused on everything from the Common Core State Standards to picking the best backpack for your kids. But if you take a look in classrooms around the country or in many of those carefully-selected backpacks, you will discover the real news: Over 9 million kids are now “creators” and what they create is taking their academic learning to new heights.
This transformation is happening with Tynker, a new online curriculum that uses professional game studio quality content and tools to inspire kids to create projects that they enjoy, and learn computer programming along the way. With Tynker, they can use their coding skills to easily create games and quizzes, and animations that explain math concepts, or complex science topics, such as the phases of the moon and tides. In this way, they enhance their own learning while creating learning experiences for others. But most importantly, they are building critical thinking, problem-solving, math and language arts skills.
The real excitement is best heard in the voices of these young makers from a middle school in Austin:

“By learning problem-solving and critical thinking skills at an early age, today’s kids will be prepared to develop solutions that will change the world they live in, solve important problems or even address humanitarian issues,” said Tynker Co-founder and CEO Krishna Vedati. “When a sixth-grader is creating and having fun with Tynker, they are doing much more than simply making a game or animation. They are preparing to be the problem-solvers and innovators of tomorrow.”

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Education

Don’t panic! Using social media in a crisis

Organisations and companies find that crises come in all kinds of disguises – ‘physical’, where something has actually gone wrong, or reputational, where people have simply started to hate you…
Crises of both kinds tend to fly pretty quickly on social media. If something’s gone awry, the Twitterati will generally be pretty happy to let you know about it. And if you work for a company facing that kind of problem, there’s a natural tendency to look for comfort in familiar processes and issue press releases, while phoning journalists. That media-facing approach comes from a desire to give the impression of control – the fewer the variables in a situation, the easier it is to manage. And social media is difficult to control – so don’t even try.
In basic terms, you have a choice in a social media crisis of fight or flight – and many choose the latter. Yet, by entering the fray in troubled times, an organisation can:
– Amplify: Put the case better, and without the prism of professional media interpretation. This is vital – it might be to deliver messages to change people’s opinion over a reputational issue, or it might be to warn users or consumers about the dangers of a product catastrophe. Reach is vital.
– Listen and understand what people are saying about an issue and responding accordingly. This might be to change approach or attitudes in a reputational issue, or it might be to understand how a situation is unfolding in a product or service failing.
– Engage: use that monitoring to find the engagement possibilities and interact with users accordingly, to give advice in the effect of product issues or to put a different case, in times of reputational problems.
Using social media effectively in a crisis is, in many ways, no more than a heightened version of a ‘peacetime’ strategy, ie  an organisation has an overall social media strategy which ‘stretches’ to crisis management. What changes is the atmosphere in which they are enacted and the speed of delivery. The principles of social media in a crisis remains steady, but the delivery is heightened.
In short, there needs to be a certain number of principles and processes in place, before it all goes belly up. No point trying to do this afterwards:
Have the social media apparatus ready
The social media strategy should be in place, and working. It is impossible to produce the apparatus for effective social media delivery in a crisis from scratch. It is essential that platform strategy has been agreed – adopting platforms that suit messages and audiences and the internal processes to deliver them.
Have the guidelines agreed and communicated
Establish, enforce and communicate a social media policy for all – both those using official channels and their own personal accounts. In a crisis, verified facts are crucial and speculation from supposed people in-the-know will cause serious problems.
And have the organisational readiness too
The first tendency for companies is to view social media as a communications tool to be kept purely in the hands of communications experts. In fact, the mastery of social media can be easier to achieve than the mastery of company policy or of the quick-moving information of a crisis. Ownership of social channels by the knowledgeable figures is crucial.
Have the audiences, and the influencers, in place
It is important, obviously, to have spent time building the audience so that messaging (and information gathering) happens on as large a scale as possible. It is important to remember, when building that audience having social media as an echo chamber is of little use at any time. During a reputational crisis or product/service issue, it is important to speak to, and hear from, those who might ordinarily be viewed as problematic types. Following these individuals is not a sign of approval, it is a sign of interest. Bear in mind, too, the influencers – those who project messages out to large numbers of people: they can be of enormous use when delivering (and trying to hear) messages in difficult times.
Keep channels open and two-way
Companies across the world can react badly when they think a crisis is being ‘fanned’ by social media and so can be tempted to shut down. Yet information is like water and citizens will always find ways around social media bans, sometime aided by rival companies. To ignore those messages is to let them gain the upper hand – enter those conversations, since genuine communication (and transparency) is vital.
And know what it’s all for
Any form of crisis communication needs a focus and that focus depends on what the nature of the crisis is, but you should determine what engaging on social media should accomplish – improving information flow, improving the quality of information or creatings calls to action, and follow through on that need.
Social media engagement is, still, often not the default approach for many companies, organisations and governments, but by having robust processes and networks in place early and the social-by-default instincts ready, they can maintain their place in the conversations that otherwise go on around them. An engaged organisation will listen more, learn more and deliver more in any crisis, and emerge all the stronger.
 

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Education Work

These awesome people will spice up your Twitter feed

Whether you’re new to Twitter or simply not finding as many interesting things in your feed as you’d like to, finding new folks to follow is probably going to be the single thing that makes Twitter more fun, interesting, and useful for you. That said, curating takes time, effort, more time, and a bit of luck. Often, I’ll add someone new because they’ve said something interesting or relevant to me, only to find that they either never tweet, overtweet, or haven’t said many other things that I’ve cared to read. So how do you end up with a Twitter feed (mostly) full of interesting stories, links, photos, and videos? How can you minimize the lousy stuff? You follow the right people. And fear not, because the editors of Daily Genius are here to help!

We’ve put together a relatively short, but pretty well stacked list of great people to follow if you need to spice up your Twitter feed. What earned each of these people a spot on the list? A combination of things, but they all share a few common threads that we think are important. They share interesting stuff. Many of them are funny (some of them are really, really funny). They cover topics from politics, culture, international news, religion, tech, food, science, and more. They don’t just tweet to promote themselves, they tweet, retweet, and share to disseminate information that they like or find pertinent. They won’t blow up your feed by tweeting a hundred times an hour. They tweet often enough so that you remember they exist. Mostly, they feel quite real in the world of an overly automated, hyper-marketed, buzzword filled internet.

We hope you like the selections. Do you have any favorite twitter-ers that you think deserve to be included in the list? Share your personal picks with the Daily Genius community on the Daily Genius Facebook page or on Twitter by mentioning @DailyGenius. We’ll be updating this list with your recommendations periodically!

 Spice up your Twitter feed with these awesome people

George Takei

If you’re not following George Takei on Twitter, you’re really missing out. George shares a wide range of hilarity, often with his witty commentary and bad puns attached. His signature “OHH MYY” will start popping into your head when you see silly things on the internet after following him for a bit.

Kara Swisher

She’s that ballsy chick you wish you could be like, regardless of if you’re male or female. Part tech insider, part silly vine videos, commentary on life in SanFran, et al. Always interesting.

Elon Musk

Leading the pack on electric vehicles, space travel and is pretty much, well, everything else. Brainiac, businessman, and the closest thing to a real life Tony Stark that you’re going to find.

Rabbi Josh Yuter

Probably the most well-known Rabbi in the Twitterverse,  Rabbi Josh Yuter offers commentary on religion, politics, culture, and society, but he isn’t above making bad jokes every now and again.

Anil Dash

Shares excellent information in just about every arena you can imagine, with a healthy dose of ruminations. A standby favorite “must follow” person that I always recommend to everyone.

Anthony Bourdain

Big on food, travel, and sass. Hates vegetarians passionately. Not afraid to swear or self depricate.

LeVar Burton

The infamous Lt. Geordi LaForge from Star Trek The Next Generation is so much more than a sci-fi character. Offers educational, interesting info, and a bit of Reading Rainbow.

Harry McCracken

The tech editor for Fast Company gives great insight into new tech stuff with just the right amount of gentle snark.  

Bill Nye The Science Guy

If you don’t remember this guy from your childhood, its time to refresh your memory. Offers tidbits on science, and inspiration to change the world.

Christiane Amanpour

Find your dose of must-know international news from this trailblazing CNN host.

Patrick de Laive

Co-founder of The Next Web, offers tidbits on tech news, new stuff, and opinions.

Dr. Kevin Pho

Discusses health issues of all kinds. Offers thoughts on medical issues in the press.

Next Tech Blog

Sassy, fake headlines mocking click-bait, ridiculous marketing, and stupid journalism.

Ainissa Ramirez

Not only is she a female scientist, she wrote a book about the physics of football. Shares awesome STEM stuff and cool science tidbits.

Dalai Lama

Everyone needs a dose of calm, kindness, and acceptance. He doesn’t tweet often, but his 10 million-ish followers RT his stuff enough that you’ll see it regularly throughout his absences from Twitter.

Ana Marie Cox

Political blogger and founder of Wonkette, AMC shares tidbits on culture and politics ranging from Karl Rove to Jimmy Choo’s IPO*. (*Real tweets, not examples I made up! Really!)

Alexis Madrigal

Alexis shares little bit of everything, with a tech edge. He is the deputy editor of The Atlantic and is a tech contributor for NPR’s Fresh Air.

Brian Heater

Brian pokes and mocks all the things that probably annoy you too. Follow him for witty one-liners without agenda. He doesn’t usually include links to drive you to do something. Usually he’s just tweeting to help make you think and laugh. In that order.

Neil de Grasse Tyson

Neil has amassed a cult-like following for making science more approachable. He’s used pop culture and celebrities to help explain complex theories. From answering audience questions to helping millions understand the cosmos, Neil is a great source of inspiration that should be in your feed.

Formaggio Kitchen

If you love to eat, you should follow Formaggion Kitchen. It’s a staple of the Boston and New York City fine food scene. From their Cambridge, Massachusetts cheese cave to their incredibly friendly staff who runs an outdoor BBQ with high quality premium meat grilled to perfection, Formaggio Kitchen is worth visiting and at least following. Want to know the best cheese to pair with your wine or vice versa? Ask them on Twitter and they’ll get you in the know. Just a warning, they offer overnight shipping. Cheese day ahoy!

Anderson Cooper

You probably know his face, voice, and show on CNN. There’s more to Anderson Cooper than that, though. His Twitter account is a solid addition to any armchair news watcher looking for some boots-on-the-ground insight. He seems to have a solid grasp of how Twitter should really be used by news leaders. He’s not just broadcasting – he’s actually telling a story or two.

Mark Bittman

Rarely is there someone witty and opinionated enough to make you stop and click on a tweet about, say, apples. Mark Bittman writes for the New York Times and wrote the How To Cook Everything cookbook so he knows a thing or two about what works in publishing. A great addition for any food-loving Twitter user.

Fred Wilson

Wish you could find out what VCs actually want in a new company? Fred Wilson shares his insight as a VC with the Twitter masses on a daily basis so it’s a great account to follow if you’re starting up a company or hoping to learn some solid business tips.

Michael Pollan

Author of The Omnivore’s Dilemma, Michael Pollan shares a deep dish-sized look into the world of food and the food industry. He sprinkles in some fun tweets about other hot topics like marijuana, politics, and other things that’ll actually make you enjoy having him in your feed.

Stephen Fry

The actor / blogger / tech enthusiast / awesome guy has a robust Twitter account followed by millions. Be sure to follow him if you like seeing fun images, hearing about major happenings in British entertainment, and interesting angles of technology coverage.

The Bloggess

The Bloggess is one of those people who is just too entertaining to turn off. She’s like a TV show that you hope never ends. Expect tweets about off-the-wall topics like taxidermy as well as thought-provoking questions that prompt a robust discussion thanks to the equally robust audience. We just wanted to use the word ‘robust’ clearly.

Satya Patel

Satya shares insight on what it’s like to be a VC, involved with Google, Homebrew, and the San Francisco scene. He shares a lot of inspirational and innovative stories about startups and culture. A great way to stay on top of curious topics that have a dash of humor sprinkled on top.

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Work

Behind The Curtain: What’s It Like Selling Your Business?

First, Let’s Start At The Beginning

You know how you’re told for the entirety of your life that you should aspire to work hard, achieve, and be successful? That these goals are noble and that you’ll feel fulfilled when you accomplish them?

Well, it’s not completely accurate.

I have worked extremely hard since elementary school. A solid work ethic is something that was instilled in me at a very early age thanks to my parents and community. In the early years, I was tracked into an accelerated learning program, was voted president of my middle school class, went to Loomis Chaffee (a prep school in Connecticut), Trinity College, and then Harvard. All of these accomplishments are now just points on a resume but they each required a lot of hard work.

Do I feel fulfilled from doing exactly what I was told? Do I think that my life is better for busting my ass and getting a couple degree and making some solid professional connections? No. Am I glad I did it? Yes.

That’s just it. Getting ‘ahead’ is not going to actually make you feel fulfilled. If you’re anything like me, you’ll feel ‘satisfied’ and ‘accomplished’ but not internally fulfilled. This is because you will feel like a rat in a maze chasing the proverbial cheese that everyone else wants as well.

Key Takeaway:

Don’t spend your entire life trying to fulfill someone else’s life goals. Whether that means attending a school your parents want you to go to, working at a job that makes someone else fulfilled / rich, or simply doing anything that makes you unhappy … consider what your other options are. We all need to make money and a steady paycheck is a good thing. But … and this might blow your mind … did you know there are other ways to earn a steady paycheck out there? If you’re unhappy or feel unfulfilled with your current lot in life, change it. Don’t be subject to dogma and live by someone else’s decisions.

life happiness fulfillment

So, What Will Actually Make You Feel Fulfilled?

Great question. In an effort to figure out what would make me feel more fulfilled, I decided to start a blog about a passion of mine in 2010. It was all about education technology and called Edudemic.

For the first couple of years, it slowly gained traffic as the ‘edtech’ landscape was slowly evolving and becoming something people actually cared about. This really happened thanks to the Apple iPad which was truly the first major product that teachers actually wanted to use in the classroom.

Edudemic grew steadily in social, search, and all other kind of traffic to the point where it was actually the largest education technology site in the world. At this point, my wife Katie had become co-founder and was writing more than half the content for the site. Without her, Edudemic could not have turned into what it was and is.

Key Takeaway:

Find someone you trust with your entire business and partner with them. You never know if they’ll take over the business for some reason or another. If your spouse is up for it and you can both work on the same project together, you’re very lucky and should take full advantage. Keeping 100% of the revenue in your household is a big reason to strongly consider this.

Want to know one of the biggest things that keeps running through the back of my head while offering up some of my biggest tips to my fellow entrepreneurs? The famous Steve Jobs speech at Stanford. It’s short, succinct, and makes total sense after you’ve followed his advice. If you’re not familiar, watch the video here:

What Actually Makes You Feel Fulfilled?

So let’s talk about what might actually make you feel fulfilled. I’d recommend doing what I did and start by making a list of your top 10 passions in life. Whatever they are. Fishing, bowling, eating, jogging, TV, whatever. Write them all down on a sheet of paper and carry it around with you for a week. Look at it when you’re daydreaming and figure out which item draws your eye first.

Which is the biggest passion in your life? Once you answer that, it’s time to answer the big question: what’s the simplest way you could pursue this passion starting next week?

For example, would creating a blog about fishing be the easiest first step? Take it. Start with the activity that is the path of least resistance. I recommend this because it’ll help you sharpen your understanding of both your passion and how you might turn this passion into a full-time job, career, or retirement plan.

Key Takeaway:

Find out your top passion by writing them all down. Identify your biggest 1-3 passions and then find an activity that lets you pursue those passions. You don’t need to quit your job at this point. Join a club, attend a meetup, start a blog, whatever. This will help you figure out your next steps. You can’t figure out what all the steps in life are going to be. You can only understand your life’s choices by looking back. Never forward. So don’t waste your time making long-term plans. I live one year at a time and plan on living all over the world pursuing passions. Feel free to join me.

Shaking hands

How The Business Was Sold

As mentioned in the previous paragraph, you can’t plan out your future. Seriously. You can make plans for the next week, month, or year but there’s no guarantee all those plans will actually happen. Life gets in the way.

While Katie and I were busy growing Edudemic into a sustainable business, we were contacted via LinkedIn about a potential sale of the site. That same week, we were approached by an international organization that wanted to put in a significant amount of funding in order to own a percentage of what the site could become.

Both offers came out of the blue and were from seemingly random events. I had only recently added the site to my LinkedIn profile and the funding offer was completely random.

We had a big choice to make. At this point, the site was making enough money to support us but not quite enough to really quit both our jobs. We could take the buyout money, the funding money, or carry on without either. Since this was a new world for both Katie and me, we sought out advice from anyone and everyone.

Most of the advice ended up being ‘do what makes you happy’ which is a great sentiment but, well, re-read the first part of this story and you’ll see why this advice is not useful. We wanted to do what made us feel fulfilled, not just happy.

After hemming and hawing quite a bit, we decided to take the buyout offer because we wanted to secure our future and ensure that we would not have to worry about ‘what if’ in the future if the funding money ran out and we’re left with a smaller ownership stake of a company that didn’t benefit from being funded. As a technology-focused site, we had been covering failed edtech startups for years and were terrified of becoming one of them.

planningahead

So What’s It Like Selling Your Business?

So we agreed to a buyout and moved on. Now we’re building a much larger business with a co-founder who actually introduced us to the international organization that wanted to give us funding for an ownership stake. This partnership lets us build our very own international organization that is poised to be the one offering seed funding rather than hoping we are on the receiving end.

In other words, our professional life is comprised of chance meetings that happen to work out in our favor. I think there are a few reasons things have worked out for us. Here are my biggest tips to help you ensure that your life events end up in your favor:

Tip #1 – Be nice. No one wants to proactively seek you out with life-changing offers if you’re not nice. Treat everyone with respect, don’t speak ill of others, and always be the ‘friendly person’ in the room. This is the biggest reason we’re both able to maintain so many contacts after selling our business. People actually don’t mind being in the same room as us!

Tip #2 –  Be proactive. When we were deciding whether or not to sell, we sought out advice from many people. Those people then felt a sense of ownership over our decision and we’ve since worked with most of them on various projects.

Tip #3 – Don’t be afraid to say no. We were terrified of saying ‘no’ to the funding offer but eventually realized it just had to be done. The international organization didn’t hate us for it (even though that was a big concern because we just wanted to be nice as in tip #1). Now we’ve learned that it’s important to manage your most important asset: time. If you can say ‘no’ to something, you can manage your time a lot better.

Key Takeaway

Your life is a series of random events. Be nice and manage your time in order to take full advantage of these events. You never know where you’ll be one week, month, or year from now. Don’t worry. That’s how life works for everyone else, too!

Want To Sell Your Own Business Someday? Don’t Plan On It. Literally.

First off, selling your business should never be your end goal. It was a random occurence for us and was just a stopping point between our initial project and our next project. It’s let us build something even bigger (Daily Genius) and has enabled us to earn the respect of peers, develop fruitful relationships, and improve our professional standing around the world.

Long story short, you should only be considering or aiming to sell your business right now if someone is offering you the payout. If you’re just starting out and hoping that you get a Snapchat-esque payout, then it’s time to realize that you probably won’t be that lucky. That being said, you can still earn a life-changing payment from a buyout … but don’t make that be your end goal.

Your goal right now should be to build the best quality product that actually helps others. If you’re building a cat GIF-generating app in order to sell it to Facebook for a billion dollars, don’t hold your breath. Instead, effort to create something that YOU would want. Whether that’s a better local coffee shop, a new kind of app, or some other product / service, make it something you’d like. After all, you’re going to be toiling away at this business for at least a few years (if you’re lucky).

Key Takeaway

Stop trying to plan. Don’t plan on selling your product or service. Do your research on your market and see if that’s even an option. Honestly, not all products or services get bought up or go to an IPO. In fact, basically none of them do.

Plan on being successful and work on building a product or service you love. Simple as that. That’s the big secret I learned from building products and selling them.

surfing big wave

TL;DR Summary

Don’t live how others want you to. Don’t stay in a job you dislike for the steady paycheck. Find a new job. Manage your time better. Devote some thought to your future but don’t try to over-plan it. Enjoy the randomness of life rather than letting it knock you down each day. You’ll have ups and downs but if you roll with the waves, pretty soon you’ll find yourself surfing rather than sinking.

And there are plenty of big waves out there. Grab your surfboard and do something great.

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Education

What exactly is the Internet of Things?

Warning – this gets pretty geeky, pretty quickly.
The phrase ‘the internet of things’ has seeped into public consciousness. People use the phrase confidently, quietly hoping that no-one will ask them for a definition.
Thankfully, this, from  Harbor Research goes into some depth on the complexity of what seems to be about to envelop us. It’s not just about people communicating with machines and vice versa, it’s about a vast range of digital networks prompting, reacting to and anticipating the needs of each part of that wider machine and, more importantly, ourselves.
Anyone who tells you they understand what the internet of things is going to do is lying and probably thinking about a fridge that texts you when your milk goes off. The true scale of the way that networked communications can change our lives in mapped out in great, and sometime confusing, complexity below. And there will be some predictions which will be way wide of the mark, but, if you can stick with it, you’ll give a better answer to that daunting question than anyone else.
postscapes-harbor-iot-infographics

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Education

How to get better at Twitter

Twitter can be an incredibly robust community of movers, shakers, interesting story sharers, collaborators, clients, customers, mentors, potential business partners, and friends. It can also be an overwhelming stream of more information than you can possibly read and a sea of eyes that pass right over whatever you’re saying. Having a huge community of folks right in front of you and an invisible wall between you and them can be a really frustrating experience. After all, for a long time, Twitter’s tagline on their homepage (for non-registered users) was “join the conversation”. And we all know that conversations are much better when they aren’t with just yourself.
But fear not – there are many different ways you can go about harnessing the awesomeness that can come about from using Twitter strategically. You can have chats, create lists, curate the folks you follow, and more. The handy graphic below takes a look at the 5 1/2 best Twitter practices: In short, a few ways you can try to make the most out of the huge Twitter community without feeling overwhelmed.

How to get better at Twitter

Maintain Visibility
Tweet often and tweet in the afternoon. 4:00pm is the most RT’d time of the day, and the highest volume happens between 3 and 7pm. If the Twitter community can’t see that you’re saying things, how will they know they should listen to you? Don’t count on folks seeing one tweet in their feed when they likely follow hundreds (or more!) of other Twitterers.
Rally Support
Tweet at people, have conversations with people. Join in interesting and relevant conversations you see. Participate in a Twitter chat. Inserting your voice isn’t rude, it is how it gets heard.
Show Your Fans Some Love
Follow those who retweet you. Retweet them, too, if they share something you like. They may lead you to some interesting people and conversations you didn’t know about, and you’ll show that you’re an active, engaged member of Twitterland.
Share Unique Content
57% of all RTs include a link, so include links to interesting, unique content whenever possible.
Tweet What you See When and Where You See It
Twitter moves quickly, and things can get lost in the shuffle quite easily. When you see something, just Tweet it, or you’ll likely have a difficult time finding it again, especially if you can’t remember who said it or if it is from an account that tweets a lot.
Be Concise
There is a 140 character limit on Twitter. While there are exceptions, you should try to keep your tweets within that limit. Use a link shortening service (like Bitly) to give yourself more room to say what you need. Leave enough room for people to RT you without going over the character limit. The less work your followers have to do to RT you, the more likely they’ll be to do so.
twitter practices

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