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.

Aug 12

Advice to new college students and their parents: Have fun, learn new things, give and get stickers

I’m on sabbatical. This of course, is a very good thing for me as I’ve been working for 12+ years in higher ed with no break — teaching, running programs, building curriculum and being an Assistant Dean.  It’s a little secret that we faculty suffer from burn out. Well, maybe it isn’t that big of a secret really, but in my case, I knew I was running on fumes, but it wasn’t until the end of the spring semester when I realized, in a very hard and personal way,  just how bad it was. I had a group of individuals let me know, very clearly and quite bluntly just how they felt about the work that I do. They took their opportunity to let me know in no uncertain terms that maybe I should rethink my chosen profession. It hurt. I cried. I felt perhaps they were right. And then I had this summer. And now I have the fall.

To that group of students I want to say thank you.  While I wish you had come to me personally because I thought I had formed close relationships with you over four years, and I wish you had had the courage to tell me to my face you were unhappy, thought I was pushing you too hard, thought I wasn’t listening to you, I understand.  The upside is you’ve given me a great deal to think about. The downside is because you all chose to be anonymous and not come talk to me, I didn’t know you were unhappy until it was too late.

So in honor of  that class and the valuable lesson they have taught me, as we begin a new school year, I would like to take a few moments to provide you, first time college students, and your parents with some words of advice that you might not get any where else.

First to parents:

This is your child’s “first year”. They are first year students. They are away from home for the first time. Everything is once again a first. Please take some time to consider the following points:

  1. It’s time to let go. Your work is done. Really. Now it is time for your child to stand on their own two feet, make their mistakes, learn, grow and have experiences that will continue to shape them into the adults they are becoming.
  2. Sit tight and wait for the 5th week slump. Be ready for it. Arm yourself. Encourage your child to seek out help. To talk to their professors. To go to the counseling center. To use their resources. But unless we are talking an extreme circumstance, don’t bail them out. Trust me on this. They will be stronger for it.
  3. Please. Please. Please. If your child has a medical condition, a learning issue, or any type of issue that will effect how they act in the classroom, make sure they talk to their professors about it (see my advice to students below).
  4. Care packages with stickers are always a win.
  5. Unfriend your child on Facebook. Really. Now is the time to let them share with you what they want to share with you, but you don’t want to see everything. There are some thing that parents just shouldn’t know. Think about when you were their age, and what you didn’t share with your parents.
  6. Do get your child’s class schedule so you know when NOT to text them — for example during a class.  Professors really don’t like that.
  7. Don’t try to get your child an internship or a job and please don’t set up their schedule for them. They can do this…and they have resource on campus to help them.
  8. If your child gets a bad grade it is what they earned. I’m sure your child is awesome. But, don’t call the professor to argue about the grade your child received. As a matter of fact, don’t ever call the professor. Encourage your child to talk to the professor.  I provided some advice on this last January in a US News article.
  9. Be ready for reality. Maybe your child isn’t really ready for college. It’s ok. Don’t push them to be here if they aren’t ready. When they come home to visit after midterm and their grades are bad, don’t be angry, but be ready to have the conversation about what they really want. The first semester is overwhelming and homework often isn’t the priority.  Many can turn it around the next semester. For those who can’t it might be time to rethink the college plan.
  10. Celebrate the fact that your child is in college and away from home. Have fun with that. Focus on your other children, or on yourself. It’s a good time of life.

And now for you first year students:

Yep. Feel that energy? That excitement? You are FREE! So much to experience and so much responsibility all at once. Everything is new. New friends. New experiences. Oh…and yeah…there’s that academic thing. Those classes.

Your priorities are well…let’s be honest, not the same priorities that I, as a professor, set for the classroom.

So here’s my tips for you:

  1. Yep have fun. Experience everything you can…but please be safe. College is awesome, but just like high school, it is not the end all and be all of your life. Trust me on this. There is so much more awesome to come.  This is the start of it. Do it right, be safe, live to tell the tales of all the epic you had in college.
  2. Get to know your professors. We don’t have to be your friends (although that can happen), but it is better to come talk to us during office hours, or when we are in the cafeteria. Get to know us as individuals and not scary, judgey, stodgy, old people who find you annoying. Honestly we really don’t find you annoying. Most of us teach because we like to be in the classroom — and we like to teach you and watch you develop into kick ass adults.
  3. If you have a medical issue (say like you are on meds to help with ADHD for example) tell the professor. Get yourself to student services for the accommodation form. Seriously. Now is NOT the time to think you can go off your meds or change your support system now that you are out of high school. I cannot tell you how many students I’ve watched flame out because they thought that now they were out of high school, they could go off their meds. First year is TOUGH. Don’t make it harder.
  4. Don’t let your parents help you. Ask for their advice, certainly. Talk to them, of course. But, when you aren’t sure what to do for signing up for classes or in a class or how to cope, use your resources on campus to help you. Yes, it’s scary. Yes, it’s hard. But trust me on this one, you’ll find that your professors care and will help you. Your RA’s care and will help you. Asking your parents to help you do it will not help you in the long run.
  5. If you are not happy in a class — if you feel that you aren’t learning anything you have some choices.  You can whine and complain to your friends. You can whine and complain to your parents. Neither of which will get you much (although parents might call, which is expressly against #4 above). Or, you could meet with your professor. You could ask for help, explain that you are not understanding, or that you would like more interactivity, or that you need more clear direction. What’s the worst thing that could happen? The professor says no. Then you have some more choices, such as drop the class, or go talk to the Dean. In other words, now is the time to learn how to advocate for yourself. Complaining to no one in particular gets you nowhere — practice advocating for yourself in a positive way and you’ll be able to do it once you are in the workforce.
  6. If you are not happy in a class you can always express your opinion in the class evaluations. See my intro above to the downside of this method.  Upside is you express your point of view which can often impact the performance evaluation of a faculty person. The downside is it doesn’t help you get what you need (see #5 above).
  7. Ask your parents to send you care packages. That’s what they should do to help you. Stickers are awesome. Ask for stickers.
  8. Join stuff. Get involved. Clubs, events, outings. Do it all.
  9. Plan ahead. For study abroad. Whatever it takes. No matter how scary it is. Study abroad. Start planning now, in your first year. Talk to your professors about this. Get internships in the areas that are interesting to you. If your college doesn’t have an internship program, go out and do it anyway. Start thinking about this your first year. Take action in your sophomore year. Then do it again in your junior year and again in your senior year. It will make your classes so much more meaningful. Your professors can help with this too.
  10. Stay humble. You are learning a great deal. But this doesn’t mean you know everything. These days we are all life long learners. When you walk into a classroom, don’t judge your professor by their age or by their looks — you don’t like it when we judge you that way. Be open to learning always and remember you will NEVER know it all. As a professor I only know the stuff I know. There’s tons I don’t know, and I learn from my students every day.

So parents and students of the class of 2016 (for those of you on the four year plan) I wish you luck during this time of transition. It’s a wonderful time. It’s a scary time. Opportunity is in the air. Seize it each and every day, because before you know it, graduation will be here and you will be remembering your first year experience with nostalgia.

Aug 11

Good information, but it could be prettier…

And that’s how it started.

I posted the syllabus for MKT 490: Marketing Senior Level Internship on-line a few weeks ago with the following tweet:

Shortly after I sent it out, I got this response from George Somers, a Computer Prof in Cali:

Now, let’s be realistic. A syllabus, well, it’s not supposed to be pretty right? It’s full of policies and procedures and dire warnings and detail. And of course every student READS IT!

That was my thought bubble.

But then….

I remembered…


And George was right.


Revolutionary thought right? A pretty syllabus.

I won’t bore you with details but suffice to say, after a tweet exchange and coffee with the most AWESOME Lara Dickson (you know her as @deepdishcreates) the graphic syllabus was born!

I’ll leave it to you all (and my students) to tell me if we are on the right track here:

My most awesome “non-pretty” syllabus



My even more awesome “Graphic Syllabus”:  MKT490-F2011-infographic

Many thanks to George for creating the “Aha moment” and to Lara for making the idea a reality.

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.

Jul 11

I’m an Apprentice at Thoughtfaucet

Being a college professor means that summer is a time to relax. It evokes images of reading, taking vacations and thinking grand professorial thoughts (whatever those are).

In my case, however, summer is a time to retool. As someone who teaches Digital Marketing, keeping up to date is incredibly difficult.  In the digital marketing arena tools are changing and evolving and new tools are coming online every day making it nearly impossible to keep up. My job is to ensure that undergraduate and graduate students are up to date and ready for the work they will need to do as they become marketing and business professionals.  This is no small task if I’m not up to date and ready to teach them.

Enter ThoughtFaucet. We are incredibly lucky here in Burlington, VT to have a wide range of digital marketing and PR professionals who know their stuff. Like REALLY know their stuff.  @gahlord (Gahlord Dewald) is just one of these remarkable professionals and when he put out a call for an apprentice at his shop, I responded. What better way for me to stay up to date then work as an apprentice to a rock’n awesome professional?

So there you have it.

My summer gig: Thoughtfaucet Apprentice.

Wish me well and much learning!

Apr 11

2011 Social Media Ninjas

It seems not so long ago that I posted the list of new Grasshoppers who were on their way to being Social Media Ninjas in our Senior Marketing class at Champlain College. Students went “live” with their personal branding projects in February and here we are at the end of April and it’s time to reveal the Social Media Ninjas for Spring 2011.

First, let’s begin with the rubric which this year I tweaked a wee bit to include a Google search to find out just how the students stacked up according to the Googles. We had some interesting results and it’s no surprise that those who dominated their ego search for their name scored high on the rubric.

The rankings are simple:

  • Social Media Ninja = A
  • Specialist = B
  • Apprentice = C
  • Grasshopper = D/F

Getting there, however is not so easy and it really does take quite a lot of work.

This year I watched as the students learned a great deal about what it really takes to engage in social media. Even with passion there are days when it is very difficult. Creating engaging content, linking, responding, tracking…it takes time, dedication and a willingness to be present, always learning and continually curious. At the end of the day, regardless of the final ranking I believe that every one of the students in #ccc410mkt learned a great deal this year.

So here we go… our top results for Spring 2011!

Specialists: These are the students who really pushed hard. They might have changed things in mid-stream and ran into some barriers but in the end they all were able to gain their stride and really start creating content, make connections and start to make an impression on others outside of their F2F social circle.  I’ve made some specific notes after each one.

And now…for the Ninjas. The Social Media Ninjas. They rocked it from the start — well sometimes they crashed and burned (one had their site down for a month) but in the end they rallied, listened to the feedback, made connections, built communities and created content that is having an impact on a wide circle of people well beyond #btv and #campchamp!

And the Ninjas Are…



Tricia stood out because not only was she consistent, she has employed all the tools, made the connections and has helped her peers grow (Google searches for the different students often showed her blog with links to them in top results). She gets community. She gets how to leverage the tools and above all she has taken @garyvee’s advice and CRUSHEDIT!

@klei_ber@Klei_ber (aka @culturecycles)


Brian has been working with his passion, Culture Cycles prior to our class.  I have seen him really grow this blog and learn how to make the Twitter feeds and Facebook much more meaningful. He has built a great fan base for the blog and is now seeing what happens when he intentionally injects more of himself into the Culture Cycles brand. He overcame a huge tech failure and hasn’t lost any readers by keeping the site fresh, engaging and interesting.





In a very short time, Nate has begun to make a big impression with his blog — his focus on home brewing and most importantly helping to educate others about home brewing is helping him to gain recognition in a niche area. He’s taking @garyvee’s words to heart and helping others to learn and understand about something he is passionate about. As he has begun to find his voice, Nate has been expanding his content to not only provide how-tos but also connect the home brewing community together. It’s all about adding value and Nate has shown how it can be done.


@tech5@Tech5 (aka @tfquilty and @Alexqmfashion)



Alex has taken his passion and has woven it throughout his work here at Champlain. His goal is to go back home to Chicago and run the family business — a military surplus store — that has helped outfit costumes in movies. He loves military fashion and has taken this assignment to new heights by using it to fuel his business idea through different twitter accounts, a blog and his newly launched business website. He has linked them all and created a foundation for an online brand that will broaden out the scope of the traditional historian/antique military buff to the fashion world where as it turns out, many folks really like to wear the military garb!

And there you have it.

The 2011 Social Media Ninjas from Champlain College’s Senior Marketing Capstone class.

I hope you’ll follow the Ninjas and the Specialists and of course consider hiring them — if they can do all of this for themselves…imagine what they can do for you!

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.

Feb 11

Another year…more Ninjas!

Well, it’s that time of year again!

The students in the B.S. in Marketing here at Champlain College get to finish off their program with a CAPSTONE experience. This course is a five credit culmination of all of their work from their marketing program AND their core liberal arts learning.  It’s the place where they learn just how important critical thinking, communication, problem solving and being open to new experiences are to being a successful professional and member of society.

This year, we have a great group of students, who, as a part of their work in this class are pulling together their PERSONAL BRANDING PROJECT aka “The Social Media Ninja Project”. Last year I ran this project for the first time in our MKT420 class and you can read all about right here on this blog — just check out the tag on MKT420.

Students were asked to begin the semester by reading CRUSHIT! by @garyvee and then I asked them to hone in on their passion.  Something that they could sustain over a 10 – 12 week time frame that they could also Tweet about, write about, talk about and build a brand around.  The ultimate goal of course is to be able to show a potential employer that they truly “get” social media, content creation, and how to set goals and measure success.

And now, without further ado, I would like to introduce you to the Ninjas In Training. I hope you will follow them, provide them with feedback and input because come May, I’ll be awarding Social Media Ninja Status to a select few and will be asking all of you out there if you will HIRE THESE GRADS and based on the topics, you just might learn a thing or too as well!

So there you have it. The Senior Marketing Class of 2011 begins their social media training. Let’s see where they end up!