Today was the first day of Blackboard World 2009. Terry and I got to see Seth Godin, a best-selling author, entrepreneur, and agent of change. His whole presentation was based upon his book on "Tribes: We Need you to Lead Us." It was an interesting concept on marketing. He said people like belonging to a group or having a sense of belonging. He said the best way to market a product is to be a leader in the product. It made me think of A`o Makua and the particpants/ambassadors that have taken the courses time and time again. They like that sense of belonging to this unique group and enjoy all things common to the group. http://sethgodin.typepad.com/ It was nice to see a new take on marketing products. The take home message was obviously be the catalyst for change in leading your institution into the 21st century.
One of the products that had many presentations during this conference was called "Soft Chalk" http://www.softchalk.com/. Soft Chalk is an authoring software that allows for easy authoring of content. Terry and I got to see a demo of the product and were pretty impressed with the ease of use. The sales person created a webpage in front of us during a period of about 10 minutes. The content was cut and pasted from MSword into their program (which had a similar look and feel of a word document). The great thing about this is that the interactive tools can be built within the program for assessments and linked to the LMS gradebook. As we think about support services it would be a great tool to share with CEI. It would empower them to create tools to teach their constituents. In addition as we talk about teacher tools, this product has won the CODie award for ease of use by teachers. To see a tour of the features go to soft chalk demo.
Another highlight of our day was with the product showcase in addition to the poster session. The product showcase allowed us to walk through the course with people that were interested in our work. One of the people who stopped by was interested in our approach with educating indigenous people. She works with Native Americans in Canada. It was a great way to introduce the cultural framework for how we approach designing of our A`o Makua courses. The poster session was also another opportunity to speak with people that were interested in our programs. We were congratulated by a lot of people including the reviewers. They made a point to come by and congratulate us for the hard work and accomplishments we have made. They were so impressed they even wanted to take the courses themselves. What was really impressive was what one reviewer said that every year "Kamehameha blows the competition out of the water, so we have no choice but to award you guys, because no one comes close." It was great for us to hear and also served as encouragement to keep producing courses of this caliber.