Alexa.com

Found this little dilly, check out  Alexa.com – it’s a web site that analyzes web sites. Great functions like, global Top 500 sites, country Top 100, the movers and shakers… contacts by department, by level. I appreciate the function that lists the top rated sites and then a brief explanation to what they do or what they are. For example, I read about Flickr in the 522 blogs and now realize it’s almost like Photobucket which is what I use. Now there’s another one out there, ImageShack. Go figure…

Alexa also gives you a page view count or site count. Go to your favourite site and then click on the number at the end of the words, for example, Photobucket has a traffic rank of ” 27 or 29″ depending on top 500 or 100. Click on the number and some interesting stats appear re: that site.

I spent way too much time blasting around in there. One other thing, is general discussion the most appropriate spot for this message?

ddp

September 21, 2008   2 Comments

Working in a global context: some other analysis frameworks

This posting is also linked from my response to Deepika’s analysis of a development project in India in which she participated. Her cube analysis described the project, its aims, its activities and results.

It did not go well, and this I believe may be common in development projects where many contextual factors are in play simultaneously making it extremely difficult to manage the environment in which a project design is both engineered and implemented.

There are guidelines for this kind of work that are published by international development agencies and non-governmental organizations (NGOs). The approach is often one of extensive pre-planning to ensure that development funding is used in an optimal (and not necessarily “ideal”) manner. Below are two versions of a common framework called the logical framework approach (LFA). One is from Australia’s development agency. The other from Norway.

AusGuideline – Australia’s LFA guidelines

Logical Framework Approach: handbook for objectives oriented planning – Norway’s LFA guidelines

No matter how well planned a project is, it plays out in a context that is often beyond your control as a project manager or participant. What is is often more useful than “the actual plan” is a way of analyzing what is happening in real time in order to make mid-course corrections

One theoretical framework for this kind of project monitoring and improvement is provided by activity theory (AT). AT provides a way of understanding data within the project so that you can take steps to change things in mid-stream. In a sense, this is what may have happened with Recombo over its multi-year set of pitches and business model adjustments to achieve a new and more optimal model as a fit with its technology. The organic sense of something not working ran up against the business reality, and a change of course was needed.

The AT approach is often used by experience designers and human computer interaction (HCI) specialists as a way to understand how people react to technologies in various situations. It is very much a contextual approach to analysis that can apply in a broad variety of projects. A nice metalink to the University of Colordo’s AT resource page can be found below.

Activity Theory

You may also have some other ideas about working in a global context, based on your experience or previous reading or research findings.

What I’m trying to emphasize here is that you do often have a hunch when something is not working or will not work. What is essential is to understand that hunch within a framework of practice that allows you to vett future experiences and act upon them.

We’ve offered the Cube, LFA, and AT as potential frameworks for analysis. Are there others you know about or use?

September 21, 2008   4 Comments

DynEd International

DynEd International (http://www.dyned.com) is one of the more established providers of English Language teaching software. I heard of DynEd when I was in Japan as some folks I knew had used been using it. Having not explored it myself, I decided to focus my cube analysis on it. Established in 1987, it has a clearly established track record and while headquarted in California they have offices/representatives in a number of places around the world. English is one of the most taught subjects world-wide and their international focus reflects the size and diversity of the language learning market.

Face #1 – Market Analysis

DynEd has products aimed at all segments of the market including corporate (& government), K-12, university, and additionally broadcasts lessons on Voice of America (the lessons they broadcast are actually parts of two of their products which clearly helps build product awareness for them). The courses they offer are tailored for each of these market segments with some overlap.

Face #2 – Types of Offering

The current line-up of Dyned products are software courses that are downloaded (or in some markets CDs which was their original product) that include lessons, placement testing, student record management, and teachers guides.

Face #3 – Who is the Buyer

As they cater to a broad range of markets, this depends on the segment. In the case of schools, it is bought regionally or nationally (apparently the French Ministry of Education has endorsed one of their products), in universities it will be purchased by Departments/divisions for the learner, and in corporations/government it will typically be purchased centrally within the organization.

Face #4 – Global Markets

The English language is taught globally and as such and DynEd has representatives that will work with potential buyers around the world. That said, looking through their team, and various products, their key focus is on the pan-Asian market, Europe, and more recently Latin America. By all accounts they have significant market penetration across a range of markets in both the corporate and K-university segments. They tend to focus on Language learners in non-English speaking countries and as such have limited focus on markets such as Canada and the U.S. as evidenced by a lack of material focused on the needs of potential segments such as new immigrants.

Face #5 – Development of the market

DynEd is in a broad range of markets and as such there is some overlap, but for the most part, the Market supports export oriented learning technologies and substitution of imports.

Face #6 – Learning Technology Competing with Other Forms of Learning

DynEd’s products will not replace actual teachers in the classroom, but for the most part will supplement what instructors do.

~ Joe

September 21, 2008   10 Comments

Facebook!!

This particular e-phenomenon, while not an e-learning product in the typical sense, has such a vast and widespread usage that its potential as an e-learning tool and not just a social net-working tool cannot be ignored. 

Since its inception by a young Harvard student in February of 2004, it has grown pratically exponentially to have currently 25 – 30 million active users worldwide!

Using the cube as a guide to determine its place, if any, in the market, FB satisfied many of the desirable components of a promising e-learning product.

Originally FB was created as a way to share personal information and to build a social network for students at Harvard University.  As the website states:  Facebook is a social utility that connects people with friends and others who work, study and live around them”.  It extended at first to students from Harvard to other universities and in September 2006 extended beyond educational institutions to anyone age 13 and over worldwide. 

Slated as a social networking service with an educational focus, FB now allows personal applications and potentially users can build businesses, increase business contacts, solve business and/or social conflicts and can have many other business related uses. 

Access is free and (predominantly college-aged) users can join networks organized by city, workplace, school or region.  The money is in the advertising and advertisers that purchased banner ads targeted towards these young, educated adults are enjoying revenues in the millions. 

Globally, FB is available in several languages worldwide.  FB’s 500 employees in California are continually developing and expanding to continue to meet market needs.  However, FB is also blocked in several countries including Syria and Iran and also banned at some workplaces so as to not reduce levels of productivity.

FB generates revenue solely from advertising and the site has an projected valuation of $15 billion by 2015.  It competes with other similar social networking forums such as MySpace but apparently continues to be the leading social networking site especially in English speaking countries. 

Some negative aspects have been an issue – personal privacy may be compromised at times.  Some workplaces have been known to have hired students to research background info of prospective employees – several lawsuits are pending.

The power of this forum and similar others as an e-learning resource can’t be underestimated.  (I wish I had purchased stock….)

September 21, 2008   10 Comments