Advertising Leaves the Background

I’m reading this article this morning from the United Kingdom and it’s one of those articles that truly makes you sit up and notice because there are huge implications to education and society in general.  It’s not one of those things that you’d find out about in the traditional media because it isn’t positive for traditional media.

We’ve seen a lot of shifts in recent years:

  • move from AM Radio (does anyone remember the Big 8?) to FM Radio to Satellite Radio to Internet Radio;
  • move from 3 or 4 local channels of television to hundreds being made available through cable and satellite or streamed to your computer over the internet;
  • newspapers cutting back to weekend only publications to going out of business altogether.  The ones that stay in business are moving towards becoming an information portal rather than a print medium;
  • entire magazines going out of business or becoming e-magazines.

The interesting note is the move of all of this online.  Even online doesn’t mean the same things as it used to.  Those of us veterans remember beginning browsers and how they opened a whole new world for us.  However, the early versions of Internet Explorer, Mosaic, or Netscape pale in comparison to the potential built into contemporary versions of browsers.  Even the devices that we use to go online are far more sophisticated and diverse than something as mundane as simply a computer.


According to the article, for the first time ever, advertisers are spending more money on internet advertising than television advertising.

Isn’t that a “Whoa”?

On the surface, that’s sending a message about where we’re spending our news, information, and entertainment time.  Less time in front of the television; more time doing it online.  So, it would make sense that the trend for advertising dollars would head in this direction as well.

There was a time when Media Literacy meant a lesson analysing the commercials the day after the Super Bowl.  Now, more than ever, that focus needs to shift as well.

While advertising on television is interesting, it’s still largely a passive activity.  It’s also a time for a washroom break, snack break, let the dog out time, talk to the family, and more.  If you want, advertising can truly be a background activity.

Internet advertising is considerably different.

It can

  • appear when you least expect it;
  • appear before you get to the actual content;
  • actually impact computer performance depending upon what it is;
  • be more attractive than the content that you were originally looking at on a web page;
  • appear in a pop up message that demands your attention first;
  • track your internet activity before and after the advertisement;
  • appear as multiple advertisements on the same page as opposed to sequentially as on television;
  • combine multiple sensory attentions;
  • reach millions outside of your local viewing or listening area;
  • blend in with the actual content of the webpage so that you don’t immediately recognize content from advertising;
  • be an interactive experience that draws you into the advertisement.

Given all this, it only makes sense that advertisers are turning more and more to this form of advertising.  It’s a great field for marketing folks to turn to and web developers to hone their skills.  With proper design, it looks like a really attractive area to spend your advertising dollars.  Advertising pays the bills.  It’s not necessarily a bad thing.  Great advertising pulls you in, wanting more.  Carefully crafted advertising does that so well.  With the power of an internet browser, it reaches new levels.

Amidst all this, you have a potential audience that’s naive about how all of this works.  As advertising leaves the background of television and steps to the forefront of your computer screen, being a educated user is more important than ever.

Are you ready and prepared?  Are your students?

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links for 2009-09-29

Towards the Perfect Classroom

In our elementary schools, as a District, we have embraced the concept of laptops instead of desktops.  From a pedagogy point of view, there’s a lot of really good reasons for this approach.

When you had a lab of desktop computers, there are a number of challenges.  First, the tables that the computers sit on have often been an interesting collection of furniture that doesn’t fit anywhere else.  Even then, when a table is needed elsewhere, these are often prime pickings for a different placement.  Then, there’s the ergonomic reason — the same table and chair that would allow a 13 year old is made to accommodate a 5 year old.  Have you ever tried to type when your feet can’t touch the floor?  From a curriculum point of view, it makes sense to bring the technology to the point of instruction so that it can be used to complement other teaching strategies instead of the other way around.  There is no elementary computer curriculum, per se, so this avoids carving a “computer class” into the middle of the other required subjects.  Finally, there’s the economics of access.  When you build a computer lab for the biggest possible class, that’s great, but there are empty seats for classes that have less than standing room only numbers.

That’s not to say that mobile technology is perfect either.  With entire schools being wireless, it’s so nice to be able to take 1, 2, 10, or 30 laptop computers to any location so that they’re used when it’s appropriate in the curriculum.  The catch though, is that these things still require electricity in order to run!  In a perfect world, the computers are plugged in between use so that they’re fully charged for the next user.  As you can imagine, that doesn’t always happen.  With some planning and some innovative thinking, it can be made to happen.

But, wouldn’t it be nice to not to have to worry about that?

This morning, there’s some interesting news from Gizmodo. The new Dell Latitude Z series features wireless recharging of batteries.  The story was confirmed in this blog entry from Direct2Dell.  A quick search of the Dell online store indicates that there is some provision for the Z series but it doesn’t appear to be for sale just yet.  From the reading, it appears that this functionality will be on a very high end model.  That will prohibit its immediate adoption in the classroom where dollars remain a determining factor. 

However, this ground breaking announcement is intriguing.  Yes, early adoption will be in models that you pay a great deal of money for.  But, as the technology gets better, it typically gets to be more affordable.  In a Perfect Classroom, wouldn’t it be nice to be envision laptops that are charged without the step of plugging them into chargers? 

There’s got to be an engineer out there looking at this type of solution.  It seems to be a perfect match for education.

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links for 2009-09-28

Not Yet for Me

Since Google announced the development of the Chrome OS, I have had a search tab in Seesmic Desktop searching for Chrome.  I’ve seen lots of comments about the browser, chrome bumpers, and the occasional announcement about the Chrome OS.  I didn’t get really excited until this weekend when the comments indicated that a preview release was ready for download.

I recall a comment made by my first Superintendent.  “Do you always have to be the first to try new things?”  I also recall my response.  “Why yes, yes I do.”  I remember thinking that might be a career ending comment but his response was assuring – “Good, that’s the way we do things”.

So, when the announcement of the Chrome OS came about, I anxiously headed over to download it.  In education, we seem to have hit a critical mass of computer technology in the classroom.  With current purchases maxing out budgets, we’re never going to get more technology available for students unless something changes.  With the advent of Netbooks, we could be looking at a more affordable box.  With a Linux based operating system, we could be looking at an affordable solution that drops the price by up to $100 for the OS.  There are Windows XP based machines available but they also require access to a CD-ROM drive for software installation.  Linux, and its repositories, is a sweet looking part of a potential solution.  We also know that Windows 7 is lurking on the horizon.  It may well be a race between the Chrome OS and Windows 7 to see who commandeers the desktop for the next little while.  It may also be that Microsoft does something about pricing to make Windows 7 a viable alternative.

It’s still early in the development cycle.  So, how close is it?

With all of this in my mind, I head over to the Chrome OS download site. One of the nice things about Linux solutions is that you typically can run them from a Live CD to see it before you install it.    Alas, it’s still too early in development.  There is no Live CD yet.  There is an archive that will give you an installation CD.  That requires a disposable computer for installation and I’m not in a position to do that.  My disposable computer already has partitions for Windows XP and Ubuntu.

So, for all my enthusiasm, I’m still going to wait.  It’s just not ready for me to take a look at … yet.

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