LEFT BEHIND: The Painful Price of Not Keeping Up With Technology

My 75-year-old in-laws came to visit for Thanksgiving and by the end of the weekend, I was feeling, both guilty for not helping them immigrate into the foreign land of technology earlier, and inspired to learn even more about technology trends and new tech tools as I…. get older.

Technology Social Media Expert, Gina Schreck, Technology Trends

Seniors and Technology

My mother-in-law was complaining about the fact her bank was starting to charge her $8 a month for not using their online banking features.  Online banking was both scary for her to consider doing and sad for her to think of not being able to go in and visit Kim and Diane, her favorite tellers.  She doesn’t like talking to the tellers through the drive through window and would never consider trusting the ATM to deposit checks or withdraw money.  How would she be sure it posted to her account correctly?  Who would answer her questions she might have on her statement?

She said the other day the clerk at the department store where she regularly shops, asked her if she downloaded the coupon that was offered on their Facebook Page.  I can just imagine the blank stare my mother-in-law gave that 16-year-old, who probably could not fathom anyone NOT being on Facebook.  My father-in-law chimed in with his disdain for the word “apps.”  “I’m tired of hearing about this app and that app.  Everyone acts like we understand what that means!”

Imagine waking up one morning in a foreign country.  You do not speak the language and cannot read the signs posted around town.  You have currency that no one accepts and you own tools that don’t seem to work any longer.  This is the feeling many seniors have today.  They are digital immigrants.  They may have immigrated voluntarily or perhaps they were sent over kicking and screaming, but they are foreigners in a foreign land.  Although a Nielson study showed that those 65 years and older pick Facebook as one of their top internet destinations, I believe it is because they are trying desperately to access their family that left them in this foreign land so they can slap them!

With one boomer turning 65 every 8 seconds starting this January 2011, there are some things we can do to ensure we are not leaving anyone behind feeling isolated and lost.  As a business owner, I also want to make sure I am not throwing around lingo and techno-jargon that makes digital-immigrants more confused and isolated.

Here are 4 steps we can all take to help others and stay relevant ourselves so we are not LEFT BEHIND:

1. Commit to learning one new technology tool this month.  Whether it is sending text messages to your family or taking a class (even via YouTube) on a new video editing software or starting your own blog.

2. Commit to teaching someone one new technology tool this month.  Show your parents how to download a photo from an email or better yet how to sign onto FLICKR and browse your family albums.  Download a sudoku or crossword puzzle app on their phone or iPad (you might not want to call it an app!)

3. Browse through the TECHNOLOGY category in the iTunes library or on YouTube to find a podcast you enjoy that discusses technology trends, and subscribe to it.  Commit to listening to one podcast per week to stay up on the latest lingo and tech terms…like APP or CLOUD COMPUTING!  (Some of my favorites are from the TWIT Network-This Week In Technology- just search for TWIT in iTunes Podcasts)

4. Find and subscribe to one technology blog.  Go to Technorati and browse a category that interests you and then send that particular blog to your eReader or receive it as an email (if you wouldn’t get overwhelmed by one more email).  I like getting them sent to my Google Reader which ends up being a customized newspaper for me.  If you own an iPad, download the free and OH-SO-AMAZING app, FLIPBOARD and “flip” through the pages of your favorite blog posts and magazine sources each day.

Share some of your tips to stay relevant and keep that GREY MATTER  from getting too GRAY!

If you are working with seniors or want more resources, info, and products with senior-friendly features, check out this great site: ElderGadget

If your organization needs help bringing folks across that digital divide, give me a hollar, I am your Digital Immigration Officer! @GinaSchreck

36 1/2 Ideas for QR Codes and MicroSoft Tags in YOUR Business

QR Codes for business, QR Codes for learning, Social media for business, Gina Schreck, Technology Expert

QR Code

According to Wikipedia: A QR Code is a matrix barcode (or two-dimensional code), readable by QR scannersmobile phones with a camera, and smartphones. The code consists of black modules arranged in a square pattern on white background. The information encoded can be text, URL or other data.

Common in Japan, where it was created by Toyota subsidiary Denso-Wave in 1994, the QR code is one of the most popular types of two-dimensional barcodes. QR is the acronym for Quick Response, as the creator intended the code to allow its contents to be decoded at high speed.[1]

I like to think of QR Codes as Hyperlinks on our physical world!  They are no longer just black and white and Microsoft Tag has come along and added a few more features that make the little codes even more flexible.

QR codes, Gina Schreck, TechnologyI have been seeing more of the colorful Microsoft tags on the backs of cereal boxes and around town.  These require a separate scanner app from Microsoft (free download on any smart phone-look for Microsoft Tag Reader) and can be customized into pictures that are very cool.

Microsoft Tag can provide data on how often and where the tag was scanned.  You are also able to change the data source without having to change the tag.

Here are a few scanner apps that people have voted as their favorites for QR Codes (be sure and share yours in the comments):

Android Platform: BarCode Scanner (I use this and find it to be the fastest); QuickMark for Android (Both FREE); Google Goggles works for QR codes as well (FREE)

iPhone: Optiscan for iPhone (known as fastest for iPhone -$1.99);  NeoReader (Free); QR Reader (Free); Google Goggles work for scanning as well.

Blackberry: ScanLife Barcode Reader (Free); QR Code Scanner Pro (vibrates when code connects AND Free); NeoReader (Free)

QR Code, Gina Schreck,

QR Code Made From Lego (by LarryStraining)

Here are my favorite QR Code Generators:

ZXing: I like this one because you can embed content (memo), a URL, Contact info, and even a calendar event!

Kaywa: Like above you can choose to embed a URL, text content or contact information, but UNLIKE ZXing, you have to choose one.

TIPS: The more information you put into your QR code, the more complex it will be. The geometric pattern will be denser, and could be more difficult to accurately scan and interpret.  Shorten your URL using a tool like bit.ly to add some analytic features and see how many people are going to the site you sent them to.

36 1/2 Creative Uses for QR Codes or MS Tags:

QR codes for business, unique uses for QR codes, Gina Schreck, Technology expert, social learning, mobile

Sweet Code

1. QR Code on food products to take you to nutritional information.

2. QR Code on produce to tell you where the product was grown.

3. QR Code on items that need assembling taking you to a website with detailed instructions and a video!

4. QR Code inside a book taking you to a website where updates are available.

5. QR Code at zoo or museum to bring up videos or additional information on subject.

6. QR Code at conferences for handouts, exhibitor information and more.

7. QR Code on T-shirt taking prospective clients to your website, Twitter page or a video link for a fun surprise.

8. QR Code on business cards instead of cramming more info on there!

9. QR Code on health club door taking you to a site with great healthy recipes or trainer tips

10. QR Code on paper products with quick and easy recipes for families obviously on the go!

11. QR Code on sticker for laptops, phones, & other important gadgets that get left behind with your contact info.

12. QR Code on a rubber stamp for envelopes, stationary or even your forehead taking people to special promo pages on your site.

13. QR Code at the end of an article taking people to a bonus video.

14. QR Codes providing clues for a treasure hunt.

15. QR Codes around a school yard taking students to learning content (while they play!  SNEAKY)

16. QR Code on art piece taking you to artists portfolio.

17. QR Code at the end of a video on YouTube taking viewers to more fun content.

18. QR Code on wedding invitations or favors taking guests to online photos of the couple.

19. QR Code hidden in product or on raffle tickets – most go to fun content site and one goes to YOU’VE WON page!

20. QR Code on a bus stop bench with links going to car dealers website or eco-friendly sites.

21. QR Code on a grave site to take you to a page telling about the deceased.

22. QR Code on clothing tags taking you to designer websites or sites to provide styling tips.

23. QR Codes around an organization that take you to videos revealing the history or story of a company.

24. QR Code hidden in posters or marketing material that takes you to a special discount code.

25. QR Code on fingernail art taking you to a Facebook page or a nail salon website.

26. QR Code on dog tag taking you to a video sharing dog’s contact info or dog’s Facebook page :))

27. QR Codes on plant stakes to provide growing tips, plant origins, and coupons to fertilizers or gardening supplies.

28. QR Code on belt buckle taking you to your contact info or website.

29. QR Code on cupcakes or cake taking people to a special page with photos or videos featuring the guest of honor.

30. QR Code on car windows at dealer lot to allow shoppers to see video of car features when dealer is closed, or if they want to browse on their own.

31. QR Codes on menus taking people to a video of chef explaining the unique ingredients used.

32.  QR Codes on mailers that are sent out to take prospective customers to a video of you telling them why they should work with you.

33. QR Codes at the end of proposals that take people to a video of you addressing the potential client by name and giving the benefits of working with you.

34. QR Codes at the end of each book chapter with bonus audio or video content.

35. QR Code on business cards taking people to a white paper or free product to download.

36. QR Code on accountant’s business cards taking people to forms they need.

36 1/2. QR Code tattooed on your child…If lost, please return to… OK maybe not!

Now that I have your brain engaged here, what other ideas can you add?  What are creative places and uses you have seen?

Mobile Dependency

I left home to go pick up the Schrecklet from school the other day and after leaving our neighborhood, I realized I left my purse at home. Without any hesitation I kept driving…without my license…without my credit cards…without my lipstick!

Technology speaker, Gina Schreck, Social Media for business, mobile technology

Mobile Dependent…& LOVIN’ IT!

It is a one hour round trip and I knew I wasn’t planning on stopping at the store so no worries.  I would drive safely or ditch any police officer that tried to pull me over-HA.

After another minute went by I wondered if I would have turned around if it were my cell phone that I had left behind.  ABSOLUTELY I would have.  An hour without connectivity?  Egad! I am finding that more and more we are dependent on these mobile devices, from making reservations on the fly, looking up show times for movies or finding the definition of a word to win the debate on what LUCIFUGOUS means. (You’ll have to click to look it up yourself.)

Even a year ago I wasn’t as dependent on this mobile life-manager as I am today.  Now my calendar is here, my business email, I take lots of photos and store them here (temporarily before sending them to my computer, Facebook or someone else), get directions and navigational help to get to my appointment, and so much more.

Now the million dollar question for our business is, how can we capitalize on this mobile-dependent trend?  What are you doing now to reach your community with products, services, or content?  Can it be delivered to a mobile device? Does your website have a mobile format? If it is too text heavy with buttons that are too small to click on from a mobile device, customers may get frustrated.  Are you using all of the functions of your own phone to streamline your own life? If you are still carrying around iPods, cameras, CDs, etc you may need to learn to use your device more effectively (see my last post for more ideas).

I used to say, “people will not leave home without these THREE things- wallet, keys and phone.”  Now I have to say it is down to TWO!

How about you–are you more dependent on your mobile device than ever?

@GinaSchreck

Let us help you explore ways to capitalize on the mobile-dependent society we live in.

GRAB YOUR KIDS & SMALL PETS: Smart Phones Take Over the World

Last night as I drove home from the airport, I got to thinking how many gizmos and gadgets I had sitting in a pile (my new tech museum) in my office that were now rendered useless because of my phone!  Just eight short months ago, the new Google phone entered my life and at the time I had no idea it would reek so much havoc among my other gadgets.

Gina Schreck, gadgets, technology speaker, technology business, conference speaker

Gadget Graveyard

I used to bring my TomTom GPS wherever I went not only to talk me through directions to my destination, but to tell me what time I was expected to arrive (which became a sort of game to see how many minutes I could shave from the initial projection).  I had grown quite close to my GPS, even naming her Gloria Petunia Schreck.  But now, Gloria has been replaced, or RIGHTSIZED, by my phone’s navigational system.  My Nexus One (Nexie for short) pulls up the location, gives me turn-by-turn directions, with a slightly more robotic voice than the old Gloria, but it gets me there all the same.  It even allows me to play the “shave the minutes” game.

I have a fabulous 10 megapixel Nikon DX camera that I would somehow fit into my purse whenever we went on trips, or I would carry around in my car, because you just never know when you might see something picture-worthy.  Now, Nexie is snapping pics and videos that are almost as good with the built in 5 mega-pixel camera everywhere I go.  My big Nikon camera has not moved from my dresser top in months.

I have just about every iPod version Apple has put out: The original fat white one, a tiny green nano that clips on your shirt, a yellow bigger nano with a video screen, a metallic Shrek green wider bodied model and more. They sit in my office museum. Nexie has music downloaded onto it and with a sync application that brings songs from my iTunes library right in.

Videos no longer need a DVD player, we don’t need to carry a digital voice recorder, video games don’t have to be played on a dedicated device like DS players, no separate calculators, flashlights, pedometers, or travel alarm clocks are needed, and even webcams are not really needed with the new iPhone 4’s forward-facing camera.

Last night I was reading in USA Today’s travel section about Holiday Inn rolling out its Mobile Key, that allows guests to bypass stopping by the front desk when they check in.  After making your reservations, you are sent a code that tells you your room number and then opens your door.  Check out the video demonstration here:

Now as Tom Bodet would ask, “Will it leave the light on?”

With so many mobile apps being developed and our devices doing so much more more than make and receive phone calls, it’s no wonder we call them MOBILE DEVICES instead of just CELL PHONES.  What does all this mean? Is it like iRobot, where our phone will rise up and take over the world? Well if it will cook dinner for me, I may not mind.  But what it does mean is that the trend is not stopping any time soon.  Our devices will get smarter and do more, but how will you use this trend and the power it has to reach new audiences, in your business?  What services can you provide through these devices?

Gina Schreck, Technology speaker, social connecting, social media for business, mobile technology, trends

I’d like to make a hotel reservation please.

I know one thing for sure, those who learn how to develop the applications and programs that we continue to load, will be in greater demand than ever before.  Sign that kindergardener up for app development classes NOW!

Will we still carry these devices around in our purses and pockets or will we soon wear them? Let your imagination run for a moment and share your creative ideas on what else can be replaced by these SUPER SMART gadget killers.

@Gina Schreck

Let us help you use today’s technology to connect and engage YOUR community!

Virtual Events for Business: What are they and how are they different?

When you hear the words “Virtual Events” or “Immersive Environments,” what comes to mind?  Geordi from Star Trek? Perhaps a giant question mark since they sound so foreign?

Gina Schreck, Social Media for Business, Virtual events, technology speaker

I’m Attending a Virtual Event

Many of us participate in virtual events regularly via webinars and streaming video events, and if you want to get technical, even a conference call is a virtual event.  Now what comes to mind are probably visions of sleepy office scenes with participants multi-tasking while a speaker drones on and on in a monotone voice (no, I wasn’t on that call with you yesterday!).

Virtual events have become a necessity in business today, for meetings, learning and more. There are different virtual platforms for different uses and we tend to get stuck with one or two because it’s easier than learning how to use new technology.  I have used many webinar platforms such as GoToWebinar, WebEx, AdobeConnect and ReadyTalk.  While webinars do allow for participant chat, the platform is typically flat (few if any can run video clips without the possibility of hiccups) and we have all learned how to multitask during the webinar, only tuning in if we are called by name or asked to complete a poll or other activity.  I have found the platforms that allow for participants to use annotation tools and actually write or use draw tools on the slides can be more fun and engaging.  When I tell participants to “draw on the tech tool you use most” they go crazy, marking all over the slide.  It is fun to watch!  People will try to write with the freehand draw tool instead of chatting, which is GREAT because they are actually engaged.

I’ve also been involved using hybrid virtual event systems such as Unisfair, On24, and InXpo, where they combine video streaming with slides, audience chat, a few social engagement pieces, and some cool 3D conference entry points where you can see the different breakout sessions being offered.

Gina Schreck, virtual events, technology speaker, social media for business

Virtual Hybrids

These are extremely engaging for larger conference events where you have keynote speakers and breakout sessions.  Attendees can be both live and remote or you can host the event completely for remote attendees.  They allow participants to pop into the sessions they want to attend and skip the sessions that are not relevant to them.  These platforms are for one-to-many communication.  The speakers deliver the content and the attendees can interact via chat.

The most engaging, in my not-so-humble opinion, is the 3D immersive environments.  I say this for several reasons, one being the environments are so different from anything you have probably used, that your brain is trying to grasp what is going on.  You are hearing each person speak with 3D sound, which means the people on your right are heard on your right (if you are wearing a headset or have good computer speakers), and the person on your left is coming through in your left ear.  The person’s avatar who is standing further away sounds quieter than the avatars right next to you.  The avatars are gesturing when they speak and their little cartoon lips are even moving.   These avatars gather in conference rooms, open-air amphitheaters or possibly a build that resembles the inside of a computer as someone points out the changes that will take place in the new product roll out. Another reason 3D immersive is more engaging is the simple fact that there is so much going on visually.  Participants are not just looking at slides on a computer screen (although sadly many people load up boring slide decks in virtual environments just as often as they do at face-to-face events).  Participants are IN the environment.  They are moving their avatars around and taking in all the amazing visual surroundings.  All the other participants are avatars in the same shared environment and they are looking at the same documents, slides, or even white board.

Gina Schreck, Virtual Events, Social Media for Business, Technology speaker

Second Life for CREATIVE LEARNING

There are many different 3D immersive platforms and not every 3D environment is created equal.  I have found Second Life, Teleplace and VirtualU to be some of the best for business and learning events (many will have other opinions and by no means is this list comprehensive so please chime in with more that we should check out in the comments).  Without going into too much detail, here is why:

SECOND LIFE– Most people have at least heard of this platform, but many have only heard the strange social networking or personal gaming side of the platform. I love the flexibility of Second Life; the ability to change and create your environment to enhance your outcomes.  Avatars are more realistic looking and can be customized until your heart’s content.  This picture here shows an education conference that was built around a desert theme and the creativity was MIND-BLOWING!

Some of the downsides to Second Life are the intense graphic nature of the program (gaming computers are ideal, but most of today’s PCs have great graphics to run the program) and the fact that this “world” is most like our real world, in that anything that you can think of, you can probably find in Second Life somewhere.  I tell people that virtual environments are event and destination driven.  You log on and attend an event or go to a specific location and when you are finished you log off.  If you start wandering around and looking to see what else is in this environment, you will find some strange places and people, just like you would in our real world. (Trust me, I’ve been lost in New York before!)

TELEPLACE– This is a great platform for people new to the 3D immersive idea.  It is great for business meetings and is most like a webinar than any other that I have seen.  You do have simple business avatars (or you can choose a lego-man body with your photo in the square head-see photo of green lego-man here) and you enter the business office or conference center.

Gina Schreck, Virtual Events, Technology speaker, social media for business

TELEPLACE

The choices and customization of avatars is very limited and your environment is less flexible as well, which can be a good thing for some businesses, who are a little tech-skiddish.  With Teleplace, you download a small program (much like GoToMeeting) and within 10 minutes you are ready for your meeting to begin.  You can share video, websites, documents and slides, which makes it great for small group meetings and corporate training classes.

The downside to this tool is they are not set up for event pricing (one event this month, two next month and perhaps none the third month). They require annual licenses and it is a bit pricier than other platforms.

I believe we will continue to see greater adoption of virtual events as travel becomes tougher and budgets become tighter, but also as technology becomes more and more engaging to use.  Dive in, learn about these virtual options, but then attend one for yourself in each environment to see how you could use them.

We host regular webinars and meet weekly in our Second Life campus for business discussions, classes and professional networking.  You can join us for FREE on Thursday nights 6pm (PT)/9pm (ET) by clicking on this link to begin setting up your account-it will place you in our campus when you are finished with the set up. http://bit.ly/6aINpd

Gina Schreck, Virtual Worlds, Technology Speaker, Social Media Second Life, VirtualU

Gina Schreck

 

Gina Schreck

Let me know how we can help you and your organization use today’s technology to build your business or manage your brand.  Contact me on Twitter @GinaSchreck or email me Gina@socialknx.com

Session Notes & Links from ASTD (American Society for Training & Development)

Thank you to all the FABULOUS learners at ASTD’s international convention in Chicago.  Here is a recap of my session with links and a few of my slides and side rants (thrown in for your entertainment value!).

The title of my session was, “Using Today’s Technology for the Game of Learning!”

If our goal is to engage learners and make learning fun again, it may be time to look for ways to take learning OUT of the classroom and put it into the hands (and devices) of the learners.  Let’s get them involved in the process, from telling us what they need, to co-creating content for BIG FUN learning.  In order to involve our learners, we have to be willing to step off of our thrown …or podium and remember that WE are smarter than ME!

These are the folks “FORMERLY KNOWN AS YOUR AUDIENCE”

Repeat after me, “I will not stand in front and read BORING powerpoint slides to my audience as if they were mindless idiots!”  That mantra, repeated daily, will help you shift from standing up and dumping information to truly engaging the brains of the people in your audience.  There are technology tools that can help engage, teach and even thrill your teams as they are learning …even outside the classroom walls BEFORE and AFTER a learning event!

WHY should you worry about changing the way training is delivered in your organization?  Well part of it has to do with the fact that our learners have changed!  We have 1-yr olds trading stock on e*trade for goodness sake.  They are tech-savvy, impatient, have ADHD, and they have a lot to contribute!  Here are some statistics:

We need to use some of the tools that are already in the pockets, purses and backpacks of our learners (and I’m not talking about bandaids, chewing gum or tweezers here!).

One of my favorite tools is the fabulous FLIP camera. Get creative and get others in the driver’s seat creating content!  Involve customers, vendors, and of course employees!  Some of the ideas shared included giving sales teams cameras and having them create a 5 minute learning video to teach the other teams about a new product roll-out.  Have a few of your best customers create a short video showing a “Day in the life” of that customer to show your customer service teams what it is like in your customer’s world.  Have executive teams or senior members of the organization share 3 things they know now that they wish they would have known when they first started in the industry or at your company.  These learning videos can be loaded on your own website or on sites such as YouTube or Vimeo (both set to private).

Create podcasts within your organization (simple audio recordings saved as MP3 files).  Interview team members and capture their knowledge to share with others.  Download audio books and have them available on MP3 player for people to check out.  And for those of you concerned about the risks and hazards of having these tech tools available to employees, LET IT GO! Reading your training manuals can give people paper cuts and looking at boring Powerpoint can cause brain damage so this is much safer and less expensive than those worker’s comp claims.

 

We discussed ways to take geo-tagging apps used for marketing or games such as FourSquare or GoWalla and create learning treasure hunt games.  You could leave envelopes at different locations with blog posts or articles in them for learners to find using a geo-location list you give and their mobile devices.  By adding the element of competition you will turn learning into a fun and fast-paced race to learn!  This is very much like the popular geocaching game for treasure hunters, only the real treasure in your hunt is big nuggets of learning!

 

 

For another dimension of fun, you can use augmented reality tools such as LAYER to embed pieces of information or content from your learning programs into specific locations.  By tagging the content to the location, you can send participants out on a hunt for information using mobile devices.

 

 

 

With barcode scanner apps on many of today’s mobile devices, look for ways to add 2-dimentional bar codes on objects that will provide more information to learners.  You can place barcodes on walls within a building that bring the company’s story to life, or provide safety tips to learners.  This picture shows a barcode placed on a tombstone that brings up information on the deceased.  You can create your own content-loaded QR tag at http://QRtag.net – go ahead and try it–it’s FREE!  I think I will be making a t-shirt with a tag on it that takes people to my website :))  How can you use this?

With iPads, ipods, smart phones, Kindle readers, and more gadgets popping up daily, make a commitment to learn more about these new mobile learning tools, and do share your ideas here for the rest of us because WE are smarter than ME!

Be sure and check out the SocialKNX on Facebook where I always share tech tips for BIG learning and building BIG biz.  I encourage folks to post questions there or their own GREAT tech tips!

It was great meeting so many wonderful people this week at ASTD and I look forward to more BIG learning and BIG success stories!

@GinaSchreck
President & Digital Immigration Officer
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