Aug 15

Advice to the Class of 2019: OWN your Education

It’s that time of year again. It’s back to school! So many of my friends are posting first day of school pictures of their young ones heading on to the bus or off to the classroom. I remember those days but now that my daughter is in college, my “first day of school” is much different.

It really begins with convocation. Here at Champlain College we have convocation on the Friday before classes start. Friday morning is move in day, get settled in a bit, say goodbye to your parents, convocation, and then various and sundry other epic adventures, capped off with academic orientation on Saturday morning. Want details on it all? By all means take a look at the Champlain College Orientation 2015 schedule!

Over the years, I’ve found that listening to the President’s speech and watching as students and families say goodbye has been both heartwarming and nostalgic. Up until last year it was the picture of things to come…and now I remember watching my daughter go through it as well. I enjoy convocation where we have the opportunity to see our incoming first years (this year is the Class of 2019), salute an outstanding citizen and hear words of wisdom from the Lyman Professor. Last year, my colleague and friend Dr. Nancy Kerr even brought props!  You can read her speech on our website.

Dr. Nancy Kerr and Dr. Mike Kelly (holding the typewriter)

This year, however, is going to be a whole new experience for me. You see I’ll now be the one standing up on that stage dropping words of wisdom on the incoming class of 2019. I have been awarded the honor of being the Lyman Professor for this year which comes with it a few nice perks and the privilege of giving a speech at convocation.

As I’m sure you can imagine this is both an honor and actually something that is quite overwhelming. I’ve spent the summer noodling on this and what I wanted to impart upon the incoming class and finally, this weekend as I sat on a rock by my pond, it started to gel.


And here it is. Already Friday. And I’m about to give that speech. According to my daughter it is pretty good…actually she said “That’s going to be amazing”. Here’s hoping so.

For those of you who are unable to attend the convocation in person, here’s what I ended up writing.

Wow. Look at all of you. The Class of 2019!

I just listened to the President’s speech over at Akin Lawn and watched as you headed off in your groups and left your family members. You’ve mostly moved into your dorms if you live on campus, and for those of you living off campus, you’ve probably gotten the lay of the land at this point. Most of you are now, officially, “on your own”. Perhaps for the first time.

How does it feel?

How many of you are excited? … thrilled? … nervous? …. anxious? ….hungry?

Last year at Convocation my colleague and friend Dr. Nancy Kerr encouraged students to take out their cellphones and take a selfie, or a picture of the crowd and document this moment. I’m going to continue that tradition and encourage you all to take a minute and go for it. Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook…just use the hashtag #champ2019. Go ahead. I’ll take my own and wait for you.

Oh and if you want to, go ahead and Meerkat or Periscope this speech, or live Tweet it. I can’t speak for my platform partners up here, but while I’m speaking go right ahead. I’ll trust that you aren’t going to just text random stuff to your friends. Naturally, texting what I have to say is ok, though.

So here we are. Getting ready to embark on a grand adventure together. Each of you filled with a variety of emotions — emotions that I feel too. I’ve watched this process of first years entering Champlain for almost 15 years and I’ve even watched my own daughter go through the process too. As a professor and a parent this time of transition is filled with all sorts of awesome. Really. There’s pride, wonder, nostalgia, worry, and even relief. As I thought about what I’d say today, and all the “advice” I wanted to drop, I realized that everything I had to say could be boiled down into one very distinct and specific message.

This education thing you’re doing? The next four years of your life? It’s yours. Let me say that again. It’s YOURS.  It belongs to you. This is no longer high school where you go through the motions because everyone tells you to. This is college. This is expensive. But no matter who is paying for it, or how you are making this work in your life, remember that this education belongs to you. So own it. If you love what you are doing, then stick to it. If you don’t then switch your major. Don’t let your families, your friends, even your professors have so much influence on you that you don’t pursue your education to its fullest. The next four years are so full of learning that you cannot be passive about it. Face each day with a sense of purpose because you never know what the day will bring and what you will learn from it. Yep. This is YOUR education.

I’ve had the privilege of getting to know many students during my time at Champlain. And I’ve watched all of them come in as first years and over the four years (sometimes five) that they have been here, I have watched every single one grow, change, and become young professionals who were ready to take on the world when they graduated. Trust me when I say to you that the person you are today, sitting here at Convocation, is NOT the person you will be in four years when you graduate from Champlain College.

The emotions you are feeling today are there because you know deep down inside that you are getting ready to embark on an adventure that will expand your mind, change your point of view, increase your knowledge, and make you a different person. I’m here to tell you that it is one of the most awesome experiences you can have. Look forward to it. Be excited and above all be open to all that is coming.

We live in times of great change. Every day we are reading news about challenges our country is facing. We are entering an election cycle and you all will have the opportunity to vote in your first presidential election. You are on a college campus where you can learn about other’s points of view. You can get involved and engage with clubs, the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, the Student Government Association, Sustain Champlain — heck you can learn how to raise bees and sell honey! You can practice civic action and get involved with our Center for Service and Civic Engagement. As a student here you can exercise your voice and if you are unhappy with something this college is doing, you can band together and change it. Here is where you begin to learn that you not only have a voice, but you can use that voice to have a positive impact on those around you.

Every single moment you are at Champlain College is a learning opportunity. A step towards your future you. Think about it. Every single moment. Even right now.

In and out of the classroom you can take steps to your future you. And here are some things that will get you there:

Help each other. Right now, turn to the people around you and smile. A smile is the first step to friendships. Go beyond your dorm and your major. Some of the most powerful and long lasting friendships I’ve seen students make have come from being open to accepting others into their lives.

Take advantage of every opportunity. Be curious and open minded. Take on internships and work-based experiences. Say yes to study abroad. Get involved. Start a club. Challenge your stereotypes. Push your boundaries. Each time you do, you’ll be rewarded.

Use your resources. You’ve by now heard all about our “human touch”. (You just heard it from Pres. Laackman when he talked about Mind, Heart and Body.) Well it’s not just marketing (and I know marketing). Professors and staff actually do care. You aren’t alone here. Really. When you have questions, when you are uncertain, when you don’t know what action to take, even if you don’t know what question to ask…reach out to one of us. We will help you.

Remember that College is HARD. Change is HARD. Learning is HARD. So be kind to yourself. Eat well, get enough sleep. When you are feeling stressed, you are not alone. Your peers are stressed too…whether it is class work, personal life stuff, missing your family and friends, feeling overwhelmed…know that you are not the only person feeling this way and remember what I said earlier about using your resources. Don’t hide. Talk it out. You WILL be ok! 

Do NOT be afraid to FAIL. College is where you learn. When you FAIL remember that it is just your First Attempt In Learning. Entrepreneurs talk time and time again about the amount of failure they had before they succeeded. Now is the time to fail so you can learn and be ready when you enter the professional world. Don’t let failure stop you. EVERYONE fails. You belong here. Take it in stride. Learn from it. Grow.

Finally, relax. Chill Out. Enjoy the experience. Remember that there really is nothing so bad that it cannot be worked out. 

And above all, resolve to






Because you are awesome and you are here at Champlain College where we know you will flourish as you embark on one of the most amazing journeys of your life.

Aug 13

Doing something NEWISH in NEWISH ways

In just a few short weeks, the new academic year begins. This is the time I use to prep my classes, think about new things to try, old things to keep or toss or change. It’s a time of excitement, organization, and process that I’ve come to both enjoy and dread at the same time.


Preparing a college course is fraught with uncertainty.  Essentially I’m thinking through what I believe students need to know in a field that changes daily. In a field where I don’t know what the jobs will be in two years. I’m also preparing material for students I haven’t met yet, trying to figure out the best way to deliver that content to a room of individuals who will have their own dynamic, learning styles, interests, passions, and abilities.

For example, in my Marketing Metrics and Analysis class (MKT355), all students have to have taken Digital Marketing. However, some of them might have taken it as they studied abroad, others might have taken it over a year ago from someone else. Can I assume that they retained that knowledge? That they have actually achieved the learning objectives so I can start day one in MKT355 with new material? Naturally I cannot. I have to bring everyone up to speed in each of my classes. Make sure we have a level start and build from there.

So here I sit, trying to figure out the best path. The best structure. It has to be cohesive enough to deliver on promised learning objectives within 15 weeks in a way that builds knowledge , structured enough to ensure I cover all the main points in the 15 weeks to get to those learning objectives, and flexible enough to accommodate student needs and the inevitable changes that will occur thanks to Google, Facebook, Twitter and the rest of the digital marketing universe.

As you can see, it’s no easy process — teachers all over the world go through it.

From the outside looking in, though, it can be very hard to understand that process. An employer or business person, for example, only knows that they need a specific skill set when they need it and they wonder why colleges aren’t teaching the skills they need right now.  It is easy to assume that if you’ve been to college, you know what is going on in a college classroom because you remember your experience. So it is even easier to call out professors and tell us to do our job differently or better or change what we do because you might remember a class that had a great deal of potential, but didn’t reach you, or you are thinking about a lecture-style delivery, or you never had an internship, or you just flat out picked the wrong college for yourself.

There is a  great deal of conversations going on about K-12 and Higher Education in the U.S. and what it means to educate a person for today’s world vs. yesterday’s world. Skill sets that we needed pre-digital and pre-connectedness we no longer need, while today’s workplace demands skills that, in some cases, weren’t even around four years ago!

So, when someone who I pay attention to in order ensure I stay relevant in my classroom challenges me (ok, really educators) to be innovative, I take notice.

And that is what happened back in January.  It was a simple question posed by @chrisbrogan via Twitter.  He tweeted, “Who is an INNOVATIVE educator you know (you KNOW, not you’ve heard of) on Twitter? 😉.  Perhaps you saw the exchange or participated in it? He got a lot of answers.  From me, he got a question.  My question back was, “What do you mean by INNOVATIVE?”. (One of my students at the time,  @nikkiTrex responded to him as well.)


Clearly, I’ve been thinking on this exchange for a long time. Actually this post has been one of those that has been a “work in progress” since that exchange.  One might use professorial words like “ruminating”  or “cogitating”.  As an educator I cannot tell you how many times I have heard people who are not educators talk about how important it is to have innovation in the classroom. But when you ask them what that is, or what it looks like, that’s when things get really difficult.

Innovation in the classroom = doing something newish in newish ways.

What do I do with that? What does it even mean?

As you can imagine, I’ve let this roll around in my head for some time. For that I have to thank Chris. But what I wish was that he took it further and told me more specifically what he means by this.

At Champlain, where I teach, and have had the privilege to teach for thirteen years, we see ourselves as innovative. Our motto is “Let Us Dare”. We have professionally focused majors, with an integrated liberal arts curriculum that forces students to confront their thinking about themselves, their community, our country, and the world through a myriad of different lenses. We have a non-credit bearing required program that gets students thinking about and experiencing service, what it means to have a career, and how to be financially-savvy. We have programs that are national leaders, and we change the curriculum in response to the needs of employers more than we change it based on accreditation. VP Chuck Maniscalco had a recent post about what we do that makes us special.

At the end of their four years with us, students get jobs. In the Marketing area our 2011 stats show that 95% of our marketing grads were employed within the marketing field less than 6 months after graduation. 100% of marketing students were employed in some capacity less than 6 months after graduation.

But…is that innovation? Or is that just what has to happen today to justify our existence?

So Chris, as I get my classes ready for this fall, I need more feedback from you. What do you mean by doing something newish in newish ways? For context, here’s what I will be doing in the classes I’ll be teaching this semester (please check out our catalog for the course descriptions):

  • BUS 110: Business and the Entrepreneurial Mindset (#ccbus110). It’s for first year students enrolled in the Stiller School of Business. We take them through the main areas of business as they work in teams to run a virtual coffee shop. Key assignments include visiting local coffee shops (we have a ton of them in #btv), creating a marketing brief, solving HR issues, managing inventory and operations. All the faculty teaching the course are also competing against one another to see who comes up on top at the end with their coffee shop.
  • MKT 350: Digital Marketing (#ccmkt350). This is a required course for all marketing majors as well as PR students (and has been since 2000 when it was “Internet-based Marketing”). It’s the entry into the Digital Marketing specialization. As a project-based class, students form teams, or work as individuals, to help a small business client of their choosing with their digital marketing. The students conduct a full environmental scan after they have interviewed their client and present their research results at midterm, and then they spend the rest of the semester building a recommendation paper for their clients. This paper covers all of the content they learn during the semester, from analytics and metrics to measure, SEO keyword strategy, SEM including creating, buying, and placing of ads, email marketing (they actually create a test email campaign for their client using a tool like Constant Contact), blogging and micro blogging, social media marketing, mobile marketing, gamification and whatever else needs to be covered based on what is on the horizon. So for this semester you better believe we will be talking about the possibilities of Google Glass.
  • MKT 355: Digital Marketing Metrics and Analysis (#ccmkt355). An elective course for marketing students and others who have successfully completed MKT350, this course is all about learning the current world of digital marketing metrics. Students will not just learn tools in this class, but actually learn about the process of goal setting, figuring out how and what to measure so they can know if they are reaching their goals, and most importantly how to know what data is helpful and not helpful in that process. They will take part in our local Web Analytics Wednesday events with local experts like Gahlord Dewald,  have speakers (thanks Danny Brown), work with Google Analytics, and have sprint projects with real clients to help those clients better manage their data and analyze it for business decisions.
  • CCC410: Marketing Capstone (#ccc410mkt). A required senior-level class for marketing students where they will develop their own Personal Digital Identity, have class speakers, explore career choices, think deep thoughts about ethics, and get themselves ready to be successful once they graduate. Here’s a few examples of students who have done this really well: Nichole Magoon ’11, Hans Bardenheuer ’12Brittany Leaning ’12, Samanthan Winchell ’13, Nikki Tetreault ’13 (there are others, but you can look at past posts tagged CCC410MKT or MKT 420 or Social Media Ninjas to see them).

Note that in the Marketing classes, students will participate in tweetchats including blogchat and u30pro, read blogs and follow key people on Twitter, and will not have traditional text books — they will have to read what I’m reading which I share through Twitter in our class hashtags and via my delicious account. There are not tests or quizzes either.

So Chris, what, in your opinion, as a social media expert, author, and entrepreneur, should I do in my marketing courses that I’m not already doing? Based on what I’ve written above and the course description, how can I do something newish in newish ways this semester?

I’m all ears.


May 13

Oh the places we will go! But we can’t do it without YOU!

happy lolcat

I love this time of year. And yes, in good part because it is summer. But also because we have wrapped up another academic year, a group of students has graduated and are making their way in this world, and we now spend time looking back, reflecting on what went well, and what we can do better looking forward.

As an institution of higher learning, Champlain College has been described as agile, nimble, forward thinking, and innovative. For a small, private college in one of the most rural states in the nation, we are the little college that could. We have literally come a long way, from humble beginnings in 1878 as “Burlington Collegiate Institute”  housed at one time above what is now Nectars, to our current home in the hill section of Burlington.  We’ve gone from offering Associate’s Degrees in fields such as Secretarial Science to Fashion Merchandising and Court Reporting to now having numerous Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees (both traditional and online)  in fields ranging from Marketing (my personal favorite of course) to Game Development, Early Childhood Education, Digital Forensics and Environmental Policy. We have campuses in Dublin and Montreal. We are ranked in Princeton Review’s 377 Best Colleges and in US News and World Report’s Best Comprehensive Colleges in the North. Read more about our awesome history and our even more awesome NOW on our “history” page over at our website.

But what has any of this to do with reflection and thinking about where we go from here?

Everything actually.

While I was on sabbatical Champlain College really started to grow up.  You see, while in our history we had been given gifts to support our physical growth (think buildings such as The Miller Information Commons and the S.D. Ireland Global Business and Technology Center) we haven’t really had the type of contributions to academics that more traditional four year colleges and universities have. Champlain College is a tuition-driven institution which means we don’t have large endowments, or specialized “faculty chairs”.  October 2012 changed all that. We received the biggest gift in our 135 year history: $10 million from the Robert Stiller Family Foundation.

Wow. Look at us. Getting all grown up.

This gift resulted in Champlain getting its first “named” school: The Robert P. Stiller School of Business (of which I am a proud faculty!). Over the next five years we will also be able to add additional faculty, and we’ll be adding an emphasis to our school on Positive Organizational Development (based on the Appreciative Inquiry framework).

Part of the gift also included a challenge: The 2K 4 2M Challenge. A matching gift that if we can raise funds from 2,000 alumni we’ll get an additional $2 million to put towards our “Vision, Innovation, Passion” campaign. Naturally the idea here is that to have a truly successful educational institution we need to engage and gain support from alumni like never before; that our alumni are critical to our success, just as we have been a major part of their success.

Donate to our 2k42m Campaign

We need 380 more alumni to donate any amount (even $1 counts!) to get us to 2,000 alumni.

Naturally there’s a catch. We have to get the 2,000 donations by June 30th. But I’m sure you are up for it.

So no matter WHEN you went to Champlain. Take a few minutes and reflect back on your experience with us. Think about what you learned, where it took you, the people you met, how your life, your perspective, your world changed while you were here. Then think forward. Where will you help us go now? Your gift will help us expand our campus and continue to make a difference in the lives of young people. It will help the new Stiller School of Business do more to fulfill our mission of “…changing the world through business” and it will help Champlain College continue to thrive and grow as a leader for education and an economic driver for Burlington and for Vermont.

It’s easy to make a gift. Just head on over to our online support form, fill it out,  input your credit card info and become part of history at Champlain by being the biggest group of alumni to ever donate to the college.

Still not sure?

How about you watch these videos and see just how far we’ve come. Now imagine what videos we’ll be able to post five years from now because of your gift!

You Make It Happen | Champlain College from Champlain College on Vimeo.

Champlain Rules from Champlain College on Vimeo.

You can also help by spreading the word and sharing this post, or the link to our “official 2K42M” page where people can read more about it and check out messages from alumni who have given as well as noted colleagues Jim Ellefeson, Cinse Bonino, and Nancy Kerr.

Now, between you and me, there is also a letter from the Accounting faculty. You see, we have a little competition going on (well, specifically Thane Butt and I have a little competition going on). She believes that more Accounting alumni will donate than Marketing alumni. Frankly, I just can’t imagine that, because, as we all know MARKETING IS AWESOME! So here’s a special call to all Champlain Alumni who graduated from our Marketing program. You know what to do.

Click HERE.

Let’s beat Accounting!



Nov 12

Your Experiences + My Knowledge = Awesome Guidebooks

On the Internet no one knows you are a cat

Being a parent in the digital age is just as difficult as being a child growing up in the digital age.  It’s true. None of this communication technology comes with a manual really. Every day there’s a new tool, a new innovation, a new way to communicate and reach others. And somehow as parents, we are supposed to know how to guide our children through it…

Then of course there are those who believe because our children were born in the digital age they somehow have an internal “knowing”  that automagically allows them to fully understand all the communication technologies, know how to fix them, and how to use them accurately, so THEY should be showing their parents how to use them.


There are a host of guidebooks out there on how to keep your children safe from the “internet” and the “evils of Facebook”. There are experts who tell parents what to do, what rules to set, and how to be “age appropriate”. There is software that helps a parent monitor their children online, block content, and send text alerts.

And yet…

Mistakes are made every day. People get fired every day. Children post inappropriate content every day. Sexting, bullying, addiction, oh my….

With all the advice and guidebooks and warnings out there you’d think we would have adjusted by now. You’d think we would have this digital content thing all figured out.  That Emily Post would have written the book.  That the schools would have it all integrated into their curriculum.

Well it’s not happening.  Digital literacy, it turns out, is not easy to teach and certainly not easy to learn.

Why? Let’s see….

  1. No one can agree on the definition of “Digital Literacy”. Does it mean software literacy (like knowing how to use Excel)? Does it mean knowing how to program? Does it mean security and privacy? What about content creation? Or mobile? Is it about policies? Rules? Regulations? Is it all of these?  (here’s some interesting comparison resources: Microsoft, Wikipedia, National Telecommunications and Information Administration of the US Government.)
  2. It changes. EVERY DAY — seriously. New hardware, software, infrastructure, tools….every single day there is some new thing to learn, to try, to apply.  Who can keep up? Did you ever read about Moore’s Law? Yes, it’s about chips and yet every innovation in computing processing speed means our capacity for digital technologies and innovation increases. Check out this great article from CNET to get some tech perspective and increase YOUR digital literacy.
  3. We are all figuring it out as we go.  Some K-12 schools teach it, some don’t. Some colleges teach it, some don’t. Some people like to learn it…most don’t. Experts are narrowly focused in specific areas and when ever someone writes something about it, refer to item number 2 above.
  4. We are all busy making assumptions. How many of you have heard the term “digital native” and the idea that the “millennial” generation “get’s” technology which of course means that anyone born before 1983 doesn’t understand technology. Naturally because I was born in 1967 I clearly do not understand technology and thankfully made a child in 1996 who helps me navigate my every day life because she was born into all of this (just in case you missed it, that was sarcasm).  Take a minute to read this Population Reference Bureau report from 2009 to get a full sense of generations and the concept of “cohorts”. Once you look at it you will begin to understand why making assumptions about someone’s age and their technology use/comfort level is … well … to put it politely just stupid.  But, we do it all the time. Employers are hiring “young people” who can manage their communication technology because “they just get it” while I watch many of my students self select into majors where there isn’t “technology”. I myself wrote my dissertation topic back in 2007 about this very thing, and in the time that has passed, little has changed when it comes to people and their behavior around technology. Age does not determine anything about it. Period.

As you can see, it’s a complex challenge and there is no simple answer.  However, my goal is to respond to this challenge. With your help.

I’m writing two guidebooks.  One for parents and one for tweens/teens. Using my experiences and knowledge as a Mom and as a professor of digital marketing, coupled with a long history as a communication professional with degrees in communication, public relations, internet strategy management, and organizational behavior, I plan to write guidebooks that will get at the heart of these challenges. Avoiding tool-specific “how-to’s” and focusing more on ways in which to cope with specific situations, I hope to create useful guides that will help families and individuals become comfortable with navigating these ever-changing waters.

The key to all of this are the experiences of individuals just like you. Parents who are on the front lines every day. Young professionals who have survived high school and have successfully launched their professional lives whether that included college or not. Your experiences and advice will help make the vision of these guidebooks a reality.

Today I kick off two surveys:

  1. For young professionals 18 – 26 years old who don’t have children: What advice would you give to tweens/teens to manage their “digital life”? What would you say to parents? http://bit.ly/eybook201218-24
  2. For parents of children any ages: What are you and your child(ren)s experiences with digital communication tools, social networks, online games, mobile communication technologies? http://bit.ly/eybook2012parent

Please take a few minutes to fill out the appropriate survey. Share them with your friends.  Pass them around.  I’ll be collecting responses through December 2, 2012 and will be using them to add depth and context to the two guidebooks I’ve been working on during my sabbatical.

Starting next week I’ll begin blogging my book outlines, interesting facts, experiences and stories as I pull together the content to create the manuscripts.

The manuscripts will be turned over to Champlain College students in the Publishing in the 21st Century class in the spring semester for them to edit, publish, and market.  (I’ll be blogging about that process as well).

So will you join with me and help me write some guidebooks that provide context, advice, and support for families and individuals as we all work together to figure out how to successfully navigate our digital world?  I hope you will — I am very much looking forward to reading about your experiences!

Thank you.

Sep 12

Thank you Mr. Cannon for inspiring my daughter…and for inspiring me

On Monday morning I received a text message from my daughter.

She asked me if I could take her to lunch that day.  I fired off a list of things I had to do as I was walking on the treadmill (don’t do this at home, it’s very dangerous to text and treadmill at the same time).  Honestly, what was she thinking, asking me something silly like that.

And then I got her response.

Mr. Cannon died.

Just like that. Everything stopped.

Mr. Cannon died.

George Cannon, South Burlington High School Teacher via the Burlington Free Press

Photo via the Burlington Free Press. George Cannon teaching Chemistry class.

And just like that everything changed.

Several days have now passed. I won’t bore you with the details of the process we’ve gone through here in my household except to say that it’s been a time of sadness, tears, avoidance, reflection, laughter, stories, and unease.

My heart goes out to Mr. Cannon’s family and close friends and to his students. Based on the memorial group in Facebook, it is clear that he touched so many lives in a positive way, it is almost unbelievable.

But I believe it.

I’ve seen what he has done for my daughter in just a few short weeks. She went into her chemistry class with a sense of uncertainty, and some curiosity…and came out after the first day ecstatic.  I began to hear stories of burp charts, juggling, chemistry experiments, and saw her come alive as she talked about her favorite class and what a great day she had.

As an educator myself reading the comments from students (even some of my students) who had him at South Burlington has been a learning opportunity. Taking a break from my teaching on sabbatical has allowed me to rest, refresh and begin to think about my teaching approach. I never thought that a man I never met would leave me with inspiration to dig even deeper to explore how I might do things differently. Change my approach. Rethink my process.

And yet, he has.

There is much to say about a man who can touch lives of people he hasn’t even met.

I’m grateful today for the internet. No. Really.  It is because of YouTube, and several video interviews that George Cannon participated in that I can be even further inspired and challenged in my work.

On Classroom Climate:

On Advice to Educators:

As the SB Community comes together to mourn and then celebrate the life of this amazing man (here’s a link to the obit) I’m left with a sense of loss of never having had the chance to know this man personally, and yet also a sense of optimism as I reflect on his advice that has been left for educators all over to consider:

The biggest impediment to optimal student learning is the limitation of their teacher.

Anything that comes out of a student’s mouth, in my mind, is the beginning of correctness.

So thank you Mr. Cannon.  Thank you for what you have done for my daughter. For your kind words last week when she turned on the showers, and they wouldn’t stop, and you thanked her for creating a wonderful and memorable learning opportunity for the class as you raced around sopping up the water that was leaking everywhere.

Thank you for inspiring me to be an even better teacher.

Sep 12

The honeymoon might be over, but the fun has just begun

My ThisisVT imageToday is my last day tweeting as @thisisvt.  What I can tell you is that it has been super fun and I count myself lucky to have been able to interact with so many people this week and repp a state that I have called home for 14 years.

My turn at the helm came at the seventh week.  You know how they say the honeymoon is over when you hit the seven year mark in your marriage?  (ok, I really don’t know who “they” are, but I remember my ex-mother-in-law clearly explaining to me that “they” say that year 7, and every 7 years after that is a big deal.  Maybe it’s an Italian thing…for the record I made it to 14 years.) Well our State’s little Twitter account has reached that point now as well.

In the first weeks of the the account the accolades poured in from Time, New York Times, and Mashable (and of course Forbes, thanks to Larry Olmsted, fellow @thisisvt tweeter) as well as some local reviews, to name a few:

The account began in July and here we are already in September.  But it was during my time (Sept. 3 – Sept. 9) when …. well the critics started to come out. On Sept. 1 the DMN News (Direct Marketing News) called the @thisisvt twitter campaign “lackluster”: http://www.dmnews.com/vermont-tourisms-lackluster-twitter-campaign/article/256303/ (Sept 1) and Jonathan Baskin raked the VT Tourism Dept. over the coals for being “lazy”  and called out those of us who are tweeting as “boring”:  http://baskinbrand.com/?p=926 (Sept 3).


Then the local folks jumped in — with lots of interesting suggestions on who else should be tweeting for the account. I guess we got all our #vtfeathers ruffled.  Locally responders are looking for more diversity in the pool of people tweeting, and yeah, they wanted it to be more risky.  So I’m also going to address that from my POV.

So far we’ve had seven individuals tweeting. We hail from Alburgh, Montpelier, Burlington, Rutland, South Burlington, and an undisclosed location (that’s Larry). We’ve had equal representation from men and women and a variety of professions from College Professor (that’s me!), to Adman (Ken), famous writer (Larry), a healer/tarot reader (Raven), a bookbinder (Elissa), a blogger and owner of a local family web guide (Dana), and a small business marketer/comedian (Ed).

We had some good local suggestions though — like @southunionskunk and @BTVSnowDragon and 20-somethings and 80-somethings. It was an interesting dialogue and I certainly had a good time talking about risk taking (hence the #vtrisky hashtag). We’ve got a great deal of awesome people here in VT so I’m sure that we’ll continue to see a wide variety. Just remember, if you want to take the helm, be sure to nominate yourself! 

FYI, the DM News folks just focused on number of Twitter followers as a metric of success. For those of you who follow my blog you know that number of Twitter followers is NOT a measurement of success.  As to Mr. Baskin — while his blog post has syndicated in many different areas, his chief complaint is that not only are we boring, and the tweets useless, but “the tweets aren’t about Vermont, they’re about the tweeters themselves.”. Ahem. Yep. That there, my friend is the point. The marketers “didn’t give up” — they are providing us all an opportunity to share what we love about Vermont. That is the point of this whole thing.

Yep. It’s about one person, each week. One Vermonter each week. We all bring our own point of view, personality, and interests. We bring part of our life into this and are giving people a glimpse of our lives. But only a glimpse. Essentially, no matter how awesome we are…we are still just people. Ordinary people. With ordinary lives. And that, well, really isn’t that exciting. Sorry to break it to you. From my own experience, I’m not going to “pick fights” nor am I going to toss F-bombs just to make it “interesting”. In my experience that isn’t really worth it. I focused on providing information to people about events, goings on, pictures, history, education, business…those things that I think are great about Vermont.  (I did get into a little dust-up over the merits of VT Maple Syrup vs. MI Maple Syrup though.) Ed, on the other hand called out Texas while he tweeted. Raven focused on some wonderful things going on Rutland.  In other words, we did exactly what the Vermont Department of Tourism is looking for. We were ourselves. We brought our own points of view. We had fun. And that is the point.  On some levels while this is all about marketing for our most awesome Green Mountain State, it is also about giving those of us who love this state the opportunity to show that love.  It feels good to do this and to represent.

I had fun.

So I hope as the weeks go on, people will focus more on each individual person and what they bring to the table to showcase what makes Vermont so frick’n awesome: Vermonters.

Oh, and Cider Donuts (which @stevegarfield ordered from Cold Hollow Cidermill, thanks to me — and that my friends is an ACTIONABLE METRIC!)

From this:


To the big win:


Cold Hollow Cider Mill Cider Donuts received by @stevegarfield

So good luck to all of those who come after me and remember, the fun has just begun!


Jul 11

How do you RE-IMAGINE education? Champlain gets CRAZY!

It’s no secret that many individuals have been calling into question the value of a college education. We have people giving students CASH MONIES to drop out of college and start a business (Thanks Peter Thiel for that awesome idea…sigh) and a recent study, “Academically Adrift: Limited Learning on College Campuses,” by sociologists Richard Arum of New York University and Josipa Roksa of the University of Virginia makes the point that students aren’t learning anything new during their college experience (I have my doubts on the validity of this report, but that’s for another blog post). Regardless of where you look, the reality is that at a time when the average individual in the U.S. is going to hold a multitude of jobs and even have multiple CAREERS in their lifetime, traditional education just can’t keep up.

As a professional educator and someone who has held multiple jobs and had several career switches in my lifetime (from administrative assistant, to Marketing and Communication Director, to College Professor) it is something that causes me much concern and self doubt.  A teacher’s job, regardless of the level is NOT really measurable.  Come on folks, you’d like to have quantitative measurements for learning, but REALLY? A test score of 100 does not guarantee that anyone will know what to do with that information. How do you really tell someone LEARNED something?  How do I know that I was effective in the classroom? How does a parent know that there is value in their child’s education ? How does an employer know that an education will guarantee that their new hire will be able to actually do the job? How does the student know that they really gained what they needed in college when so often their focus is on gaining independence, being social and growing up…at the same time we are trying to get them to understand business theory, principles and strategies that are supposed to prepare them for their future career?

See my job is not easy at all. Judging my success at my job only comes really when I hear from former students who have gone out into their professional careers and send me notes two or more years after graduation saying, “Thank you, your class really prepared me for my career”. Other than that, it’s very difficult to quantify.

So when you want to re-envision or re-imagine education to address the concerns of being able to keep college education valuable, relevant and engaging how do you even begin?

Well at Champlain we do something totally crazy.

We set aside two days and invite students, alumni, parents, guidance counselors, employers, government officials, faculty, staff and our Board of Trustees to come together AT THE SAME TIME…IN THE SAME ROOMS to actually have a dialogue about higher education. About how to make it relevant. About how to make it valuable. About how to make it engaging. Yep. We bring people together who are all vested in making sure that education WORKS.

I know. Crazy idea. No ivory towers. No us vs. them. It’s all about listening to experiences, creating a space to discuss, connect and engage, and then, coming up with a framework… a vision…for how we change the work we do here at Champlain to make a difference.

In the end it will mean more work for me and all the professors.  It will challenge us like we have never been challenged before as we build upon the framework that comes from the Summit. In the end, we will all benefit.

And now a word from P-Finn (President Finney):

Champlain College Summit: President Finney’s Invitation from Champlain College on Vimeo.


So what say you? Here’s my call to action to my friends, followers, colleagues, current students, former students, professional connections, politicians — won’t you join me and others at Champlain College on August 11 and 12 and be part of re-imagining education?

It’s FREE (did I mention that?) and just requires your time, your energy and your commitment to creating a new approach to education that will benefit all Vermonters and a whole new group of Vermonters yet to come.  RSVP by clicking HERE.

There will be food too.

So what are you waiting for? Sign up. Go click that link.

Can’t make it? Send your thoughts and ideas my way as comments to this post or to my Champlain email at eyoung at champlain dot edu.

Mar 11

Following My Joy: Course Development and Teaching FTW!

It’s been a year now since I took on the administrative responsibilities as an Assistant Dean. While I’m still teaching, I’ve had to cut my teaching load down considerably and focus on the hard work of curriculum development with a group of amazing faculty, managing course scheduling for each semester, attend myriad of meetings with Admissions, Marketing, and other areas of the college and a host of “other duties as assigned”.

We’ve had an amazing year within the Division of Business at Champlain College and are in the process of coming forward with curriculum that will launch in Fall 2011 for incoming students.  While we still have to get through the curriculum process (Division approves, then Curriculum Committee, then Faculty Senate, then the President and then the Board of Trustees) I can give you a bit of a preview:

  • NEW Integrated Business Curriculum: All students coming into our Division of Business will take a set of courses that will integrate the various business disciplines into one. Emphasis will be on team projects, working with businesses, and learning the context of business decision making.
  • NEW major in Management of Creative Media: Business emphasis with minor in a creative area such as Game Production, Digital Film, Publishing, Graphic Design or Broadcast and Streaming Media.
  • UPDATED Marketing Major providing specializations in Brand Promotion, Digital Marketing, Event Management and Public Relations
  • More coming from our Business and International Business Programs as well.

Imagine innovation within Higher Education, and notice how we have reinvigorated and updated our programs … in a years time.  That doesn’t happen in Higher Education much, but we are a different breed here at Champlain College and I’m proud of that.

So my head has been in the high-level thinking — assessment and learning outcomes and mapping program competencies.  I love this stuff, but what I REALLY love is the step that happens after the curriculum has been approved — the actual course development.  I haven’t developed a new course in a few years (my most recent being Technology as a Disruptive Force, which is now part of our MFA in Emergent Media) and I miss it. So, when Ann Demarle the Program Director for the MFA reached out to me to find out if I could develop AND teach a course this summer for the MFA it required about 30 seconds of thought. Yes, I’m wicked busy but I need to follow my Joy.  So I said yes.

This summer, beginning in May, I will be teaching a course entitled “Managing Online Communities”. I’ve completed the course proposal and it is working its way through the curriculum approval process.  In the mean time, I thought I’d share my development process.

Course Rationale (Why it is important and we need it): Online communities include branded content that exists on websites, forums, blogs, social networks such as Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube and Twitter, mobile platforms and geolocation networks. As online communities continue to evolve, marketers are being asked to not only build them but also create fresh and interesting content that spans text, video, audio, digital images, and online social games in multiple combinations. Many companies are utilizing social tools to provide customer service as well. Additionally once these communities are built, they must be monitored, measured and kept up-to-date. The complexity of managing these many online properties requires a skilled brand strategist who understands how to leverage these online communities in a way that is authentic but also is able to work with multiple individuals with specific skills in order to implement applications, and design brand-appropriate visuals and tools that captivate and engage the customer.  According to Jeremiah Owyang, Partner of Customer Strategy at Altimeter Group, the Community Manager must: 1.    Be a Community Advocate; 2.    Be a Brand Evangelist; 3.    Have Savvy Communication Skills and shape content; 4.    Gather community input for future products and services  These tenets of community management will be the basis for this course.

Course Description: Organizations must carefully manage their online communities. An online community manager must be a community advocate and brand evangelist, who has savvy communication skills, can create content on multiple platforms, gather community input and measure success. Students will learn how to manage multiple online communities for a brand. Current case studies along with a hands-on project with a business will be used. Students will be required to sign up for multiple online accounts on a variety of services.

Topical Outline (subject to change at a moments notice)

  • An exploration of Community: Historical (pre-digital), Sociological, Psychological
  • The impact of digital communication on community: digital to present, Sociological, Psychological
  • Marketing Communication and online communities: The birth of the Community Manager
  • What has brand strategy got to do with it? How brands create opportunity for community engagement.
  • The Community Manager’s Roadmap: Marketing planning in a digital age | Integrated Marketing Communication means silos no more | Building policies that support the community: privacy, security, support, copyright, intellectual property, rules of conduct, democratic or autocratic
  • The Community Manager’s Digital ToolBox: Analytics – Goal setting, budget setting, Measurement and Adjustment: Qualitative and Quantitative |  Content – Content Development and Management: writing, message development, repurposing, curation | Monitoring and Response – When is a crisis not a crisis, how an apology can go a long way and when it’s time to throw in the towel.
  • The Community Manager’s Lifestyle: 24/7 365 |   How to be there…when you aren’t there |   Staying on the cutting edge | Being an advocate both offline and online |   Fighting for your right to exist – what’s your value proposition?

Now that I’ve come up with what I think should be covered it’s time to find some readings that will support my course roadmap.  So here are the ones I’m reading through now to decide. I really can’t require them ALL (it’s a 6 week intensive course that will meet for three hours for two times per week) but I want too.  I really do (smile).




I anticipate using at least two – three of the books in their entirety and an excerpt or two from some of the others. I’ll supplement with work from blogs including Web Strategy by Jeremiah Owyang as well the weekly #cmgrchat on Twitter.

At the moment I’m looking to have the class develop a community management plan for a new or emerging community and will be looking for businesses, organizations, governments, non-profits to be our class client.  If you are interested in exploring being a client in this class, please let me know via email at eyoung at champlain dot edu.