Previous month:
April 2008
Next month:
June 2008

Comment Challenge Day 31: Your Top 5 Lessons

Comment_challenge_logo_5 We've finally done it! We've reached the end of the 31 Days of the Comment Challenge! It's been a long, crazy month with a lot of activity and (hopefully) a lot of learning. For your final task, I want you to reflect on what you've learned in the last 31 days. What did you personally gain from the Challenge? What did you gain professionally? Is this something you'd do again? If so, why? If not, why not? Share with us your Top 5 Comment Challenge Lessons and what you think you'll do differently now that you've been through the past 31 days.

Thank you to everyone who participated in the Challenge and for all your wonderful posts and comments. This has been a great month, during which I know I've met a lot of new people and learned some really valuable lessons. Thanks for all of your contributions!


Comment Challenge Day 30: How Can You Use What You've Learned About Commenting to Change Your Teaching?

Comment_challenge_logo_6 Now that we're winding down in the Comment Challenge, it's time for some reflection. For today's task, I want you to consider what you've learned about the give and take of commenting and how it might apply in a classroom. What lessons did you learn about what it means to "speak up" through comments that is applicable to working with students? What did you learn about how to deal with things like dissent, asking questions, communication, etc. through this process that might influence your teaching practices, either on or off-line? Remember to tag your post with "comment08."


Comment Challenge Day 29: Write a Commenting Guide for Students

Comment_challenge_logo_4 Most of the Challenge participants work in some kind of learning and education capacity, so today's task from  Silvia Tolisano is geared toward helping your students be better commenters. Silvia suggests writing an age-appropriate guide to commenting. What goes into it is up to you. How you communicate it is up to you. You may want to play around with audio or video. You might want to try using VoiceThread. You could also make writing the guide a collaborative process using a wiki or by having students reply in comments to a series of questions. If you decide to write the guide yourself, share it in a blog post. If you decide to use a more collaborative approach, describe how you'd do it in a blog post. Remember to tag your post with "comment08."


Comment Challenge Day 28: What's Your Blog Commenting Strategy?

Comment_challenge_logo_3 Yesterday we looked at how commenting can help us build our personal brand. Today, I want you to check out this article by Caroline Middlebrook on developing a blog commenting strategy. Do you think it's important to take a more strategic view of commenting and to have a plan for how you want to incorporate commenting into your overall online behavior? If so, what is your blog commenting strategy? Remember to tag your post with "comment08."


Check Out this Non-Traditional Resume!

A few months ago I wrote about a blog post from Seth Godin on the death of the resume. This morning I had an email from Jeff Widman one of the people who responded to Seth's call for interns, pointing me to this very non-traditional resume he submitted to apply for the job. Apparently with a few tweaks, he also sent his "resume" to a number of other people as well. While Jeff didn't get the internship, he did get a chance to work on another project with Seth as well as offers for several other opportunities.

This is another example of getting creative in building your personal brand. The presentation itself is clever and quick, although you'll note from his blog entry that it took Jeff 50 hours and a full notebook of ideas to put together. It also has "legs"--note that I'm embedding it here, adding to Jeff's "Google Juice," and giving him exposure to another audience. The fact that Jeff emailed me to point me to his presentation is pretty smart too. He found me through a trackback to Seth's original post and figured that if I was interested in the idea of non-traditional resumes, I'd be interested in looking at his.

Jeff is who we're competing against in the job market, folks. In some niches we might still be able to get away with the same old same old for awhile, but I don't think that will last for long. This is another piece of that online personal branding and digital identity we've been discussing that becomes increasingly critical in order for us to get noticed.


Comment Challenge Day 27: What Do You Communicate About Your Personal Brand Through Comments

Comment_challenge_logo_2Online personal branding is becoming a big deal. The more active we are on the web, the more we communicate about who we are and what we do. Many of us may have considered that our blogs are a way of communicating about our "brand," but what about the comments we leave?

Dauwd Miracle recounts an experience he had with comments as a form of personal branding. Take a look at his post and then write a post about what you think you may be communicating about your personal brand through your comments. For bonus points, think about some of the other commenters you've encountered during the Challenge and write about about what you think their personal brand is based on their commenting behaviors. Remember to tag your post with "comment08."


Comment Challenge Day 26: Exploring Other Ways to Comment

Comment_challenge_logo As many of us have discovered during the Challenge, written comments can sometimes be misconstrued or make it difficult for us to get our point across. Multimedia commenting, though, can address some of these issues. Today's task comes from Silvia Tolisano who asks us to think about other ways to comment on blogs. For example, Kate Foy and others have been playing around with video commenting using Seesmic. Here's a sample of how it looks. You could also use audio for comments, as this teacher did (although she recorded files and emailed them to her students). Although I haven't used it, Snapvine looks like it might be a decent option for doing this.

For today's task, explore how you might use multimedia for a richer commenting experience. Consider whether or not you think multimedia is a better option and how it might impact learning. You may even want to try out some multimedia commenting. Be sure to tag your blog post with "comment08."


Comment Challenge Day 24: Comment on a Blog Written in a Foreign Language

Comment_challenge_logo Today's activity was suggested by both Sue Waters and Silvia Tolisano. Their idea is that we comment on a blog post in another language. For some of us, this may mean dusting off our foreign language skills from high school or college. If you're like me, you'll need something a little more heavy duty to figure this out. Sue suggests trying Google's Translator, which should allow you to both read a blog post as well as translate your comment into the proper language.

To find an appropriate blog, try translation a keyword into the language you want to search for--for example, if you want to find a Spanish-language blog that discusses education, search for the keyword "educacion" in Technorati or Google Blog Search. Then copy and paste the post text into Google Translator, which should give you a reasonable idea of what the post says. You can then write your response and translate it into the other language. You might want to mention that you're using Google Translator for this purpose because your comment won't be perfectly translated. If you blog about the experience, be sure to use the "comment08" tag.


ROWE Re-Visited

Rowe Last May, I wrote a few posts on the Results Oriented Work Environment (ROWE) that Best Buy has been using throughout its organization--Is Your Nonprofit Ready to Stop Watching the Clock? and A Results Oriented Work Environment is NOT the Same as Flexible Scheduling. Now I see that Tim Ferris is publishing a series of interviews with the co-developers of the concept, Cali Ressler and Jody Thompson, who have written a new book, Why Work Sucks and How to Fix It (love the title!)

At the heart of ROWE is the idea that instead of focusing on how much time people spend working, we should be focusing on what they're accomplishing. In a ROWE environment, expectations about what needs to be done (and by when) are made clear to people who are then free to accomplish those goals however and where ever they see fit. So if the goal is to bring in three new customers by the end of the month and that can happen with a few hours of work at the local cafe, then you've done your thing. 

The numbers for this approach speak for themselves. Apparently since  since implementing ROWE, Best Buy has experienced a 41% increase in productivity and reduced turnover by 90%! They report other benefits as well:

On the personal side, ROWE has transformed people’s lives. We’ve heard stories about ROWE saving marriages, allowing people to be better parents (and opened the door for some to actually be parents), get in shape and give back to their community.

We’d like to see people talk about work in way that doesn’t pit employee versus management. If you focus on results instead of time, both sides win.

ROWE is really just common sense. Consider these absurdities, which Ressler and Thompson pose as conversation starters to begin discussing moving to ROWE:

Isn’t it funny that we rush to work everyday and then spend the first hour at our desk reading the paper and drinking coffee?

Isn’t it funny that if you’re done with your work for the day at four, you can’t just leave? Why do you have to stay that extra hour and pretend to be busy?

Why do we assume that time = productivity instead of talking about the kind of results the person is actually getting?

Why do we talk about people being “out of the office” when everyone is reachable by cell phone or e-mail?

I've thought a lot lately about the need for more organizations to move to a ROWE environment. Every day my husband leaves the house and drives 30 minutes to an office where he works on a computer and talks on the phone--two things that I do from my own home office without the commute. We're spending $200+ per month on gas and adding to the incredible pollution load in our area so that he can go to another location to do something he could easily do from home. Not to mention the loss of time for the commute and the time he spends talking to co-workers and going to useless meetings. And the ridiculous "make work" activities that go on, like having to do a certain number of phone calls per week, regardless of what those calls accomplish.

This isn't just his workplace, though--this is where and how a LOT of people work. What I find really interesting is that we finally have technology that makes it possible for us to do most work anytime, anywhere, yet we continue to stick with our same old paradigms of working in a particular location during certain hours. We also stick by our belief that time is the best measure of what we do, rather than results.

Maybe part of the issue is that organizations don't see the costs of sticking to the old ways. Business Week has an interesting article about The Waning Days of the Road Warrior. Apparently with the rising costs of air travel, organizations are slashing their travel budgets and using technology like video-conferencing and online collaboration instead. They've realized it makes no sense for someone to fly from Newark, NJ to Silicon Valley for an hour-long meeting, so they're ditching the trips. That's great--some change.

For me the next step would be for organizations to realize that it makes little sense for workers to commute every day to a building the organization must pay for to work at activities they could as easily do from home. If work is still getting done without cross-country "face time," it seems like it's not a every short leap to doing the same thing locally. They'd get increases in productivity and decreases in cost--two of the things most organizations want to see. Seems like a no-brainer, even if it is a little scary.

Which is probably the real reason we don't have more ROWE workplaces. It feels safer to measure effectiveness based on how busy people look. They may have just mastered the art of looking busy, but we seem to be wired to believe that harried people are more effective than people who got things done in a few hours  with minimal drama. It's easier to say "be in this location for this period of time where we can WATCH you." Much more difficult to say, "Hey--get these things done and we'll trust that you're an adult and can take care of it."

Sometimes it would be better if we took the hard way.