Skype Call with Learning Partner Ed

I had a pleasant call with my learning partner this afternoon. We talked a little about our lives before this program, and about our progress so far. We also discussed the two blogs that we had posted in week two: about the characteristics of adult learners, and about trends in our respective industries. We had a quick chat about the characteristics of learners, but spent a much longer time on the trends in one another’s industry.

I will not repeat the trends in marketing, as there is already a big long post just below this one on the very topic!

And I was engrossed about Ed’s tales about welding. He tells a lively and engaged story about the industry that has occupied his life for a long time. Ed has worked as a welder before branching to teaching. I was surprised and intrigued by the amount of technical innovation that permeates the field. First of all, welding is a worldwide and vibrant industry. Advances in the technology occur on a global scale, and there are some very large companies that dominate the field. Secondly, there are new innovations to make welded constructs even stronger.

Ed told me about the increasing role that robotics is playing in welding. He spoke about an existing technology called submerged arc welding, and the uses of new approaches such as specialized gases for laser cutting, which greatly increase accuracy. Meanwhile, laser arc welding with its sustained ability of distortion control, may replace submerged arc welding in the future. New technologies lead to higher joint completion rates, and increase productivity, and strengthen steel and other metal structures.

With new technologies and innovative new approaches, and no foreseeable decrease in demand for this service, welding will continue to attract a well trained labour force. With Ed’s industry experience and instructional skills, new recruits will do well to sharpen their skills before entering this ever growing industry.

My Skype call with Ed. Image from Flickr Commons.
Image from page 121 of “Bell Telephone Magazine” (1922) Public Domain image. Did these two busy telephone operators ever imagine a world where callers could see and talk with another person, anywhere in the world, using a “laptop” computer or a “smartphone”?



Skype Call with Learning Partner Ed

Characteristics of Adult Learners

According to our course textbook (Merriam, 2014), the adult learner is self-directed, brings a reservoir of experience to the classroom, sees learning as a development task in their life, wants the learning to be applicable in the present rather than in a distant future, is problem-centered and needs to know the ‘why’.

A similar list appears in the article “8 Important Characteristics of Adult Learners”. Pappas (2013) states that adult learners are characterized by “maturity, self-confidence, autonomy, solid decision-making, and are generally more practical, multi-tasking, purposeful, self-directed, experienced, and less open-minded and receptive to change.”

The students that I teach are busy and highly-technical professionals who seek an undergraduate Management of Technology education so they can move into management ranks. They come to evening class after a long day at work. Many juggle families while going through our degree program. They are practical people, they want immediate feedback on assignments and class discussions, and they want the course materials to be relevant to their work, and to their field.

I have adapted my courses to include in-class discussions of real-life situations. I create a safe place during my classes, where ‘what is discussed in the classroom stays in the classroom’. During our management of technology courses we discuss technology decisions (good and bad), project management (successful and spectacularly disastrous), we discuss issues of organizational behaviour, traditional and online marketing, international sales and channel strategies. We analyze situations that we have experienced, and review how these issues were resolved. I find that discussing real problems engages students far more than reading about an unfamiliar company in a quickly outdated textbook.

I provide my students with articles to read from current journals, and ask them to analyze cases from recent events with impromptu group presentations in class. I prefer this approach rather than “let’s now turn to page 57 to review the structure of a matrix organization”. By involving my students in discussion and analysis of current events, I draw them to the present, I engage them in analysis and summary of key factors, and encourage them to learn not only from me, but also from one another. My students dislike instructional, PowerPoint-heavy lectures as much as I did when I was sitting in grad school. I like to mix up techniques in the classroom to engage my learners and ensure that students come away from my evening classes with new stories and new ideas that they can apply to their next real-world project.

Flipped Classroom
Flipped Learning Design Workshop (Vanguard Visions) CC Generic


Merriam, S., & Bierema, L. (2014). Adult Learning: Linking Theory and Practice. San Francisco: John Wiley & Sons

Pappas, C. (2013). “8 Important Characteristics of Adult Learners”. eLearning Industry. Retrieved from

Characteristics of Adult Learners

Social Media and Online Learning

In “Three Social Trends That Will Influence Education in 2014“, Morrison (2013) states that the “behaviour patterns of students, educators, employees and professionals are moving towards the use of social tools for learning, working and teaching. Collaborating seamlessly face-to-face and at a distance, bringing the human element to virtual interactions, and personalized learning will prevail in 2014; each facilitated by technology”.

My teaching career began nearly twenty years ago in a classroom as a guest lecturer in a well-known university, for an internet marketing diploma program. Since then my teaching experiences have continued to be classroom-based until a few years ago, when some of my course materials were moved to a digital delivery platform for distance learners who were unable to attend my classes. Sadly, although the online courses offer the same readings and materials as the courses offered in the classroom, interpersonal interaction is missing. Morrison (2013) notes that this has long been a criticism of online learning.

Lately, my department has been reviewing all digital delivery courses offered in our program. Faculty members have been tasked with updating some of our courses with instructor-led online classes, and I am part of this pilot. The format is interesting and promising: students access the course materials on the learning platform as before, but will communicate with me using video conference programs. This enables a more personal, almost face-to-face, interaction. Our conversations will be synchronous during those predetermined times – which will be scheduled as a quick lecture followed by structured discussions. The course materials will be augmented by threaded discussions online, assignments dropped into Dropbox and presentations on video will be uploaded to a private YouTube channel.

My students have already been using social media extensively in my more traditional classroom-based courses. Many of my students travel for work, at times with little notice. Teams collaborate on assignments using Google Hangouts, Zoom, Skype or Webex. Teams store documents in the cloud, using tools such as Google Drive or Dropbox.

Some time ago, a student team delivered a final presentation to class, with three students present and one student speaking over Skype. Another team delivered a case study with a video segment that a traveling student recorded before leaving on a business trip. These are practical uses of social media to enable collaboration and learning, no matter where the student is living – or traveling.

I am looking forward to teaching a new instructor-led class in global sales and channel marketing, beginning in April. It will be very exciting to meet my students over a virtual conference line, no matter where they are, and read in-depth discussions on marketing topics online. This will be an adjustment, for me and for my students, but we will welcome the added flexibility of asynchronous discussions and the comfort of a regular meeting time when I can see their smiling faces reflecting back at me on my large display screen.

Videoconferencing Setup
Videoconferencing Setup (Courtesy Teliris) CC BY-SA 3.0


Morrison, D. (2013). “Three Social Trends That Will Influence Education in 2014”. Online Learning Insights. Retrieved from



Trends in Marketing

There have been some significant changes in marketing in recent years. A search for “marketing trends” reveals over 350 million articles including this one (Knight, 2016): it is a very hot topic. But what is really going on in the art and business of marketing?

The share of digital/mobile in the overall media ad spending share is increasing year over year. The research firm eMarketer estimates that budgets for digital advertising will  surpass in 2017 the budgets spent on any other traditional marketing initiatives (TV, print, radio, outdoor, and directories). Marketing is also moving away from a product orientation to a social / mobile orientation.

Whereas marketing campaigns from even a decade ago were focused on loose metrics such as GRPs for TV audience measurement, or Arbitron numbers for radio, advertisers’ ability to track visitors’ movements across the web, and (with the growth in mobile device adoption) advertisers’ ability to use location data entail better tracking of responses to marketing messages and the ability to connect with the customer where they are.

Big data analytics enable the rapid processing of information from disparate sources. The resulting insights allow marketers to see trends quickly and act on opportunities before their competitors do. Data is collected from visitors’ movements across the web, across apps downloaded to browsers and mobile phones, and from customers location information on their mobile devices. Wearable devices, such as the Apple Watch, fitness trackers, step counters and other health monitoring devices, and various mobile apps that present tracked data together with users’ age and health information can also offer actionable information to marketers.

Companies like Facebook and Google not only enable companies to target customers based on their location, Likes and message content (updates, messages, sharing activity) but also extend that targeting across their advertising networks outside of these properties, a process called remarketing. A Google user may visit an ecommerce site, view products but not complete a purchase. If that ecommerce site has a remarketing agreement with Google, it will still be able to reach people who have visited the website or used its app (if available) and not purchased anything. These visitors will see ads for that company as they browse websites that are part of the Google Display Network, or when they search for terms related to the company’s products or services on Google. A similar service is also available on Facebook – which explains why, when friends discuss a product among themselves on Facebook, they will sometimes see ads appear for that product, sometime later, on their wall feed and elsewhere on the web.

Customers are defending themselves against intrusive advertising. On the regulatory front, legislation is in place against companies sending unwanted communications to web users. These laws prevent infringement on privacy and enforce respect of customer consent. In Europe, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is in place; in the US, Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing Act of 2003 (CAN-SPAM) has been active for over a decade; and in Canada, the Canada Anti Spam Legislation (CASL) was finally enacted a little over a year ago.

On the personal front, web users defend themselves against intrusive advertising by downloading and installing apps such as AdBlock and AdBlock Plus on their browsers, and using apps with similar features on their mobile devices. But advertisers have been intruding into that protective shield – some ad blockers now offer a ‘white list’ of ‘approved’ advertisers! These still can be blocked if the user knows what advanced settings to push. And ad networks continue with the cat and mouse game of defeating ad blockers on some pages, and accessing the viewer nevertheless.

And this is not the only challenge for advertisers: with the proliferation of mobile devices using two major operating systems and a myriad of screen sizes, these new platforms and new formats also challenge agencies’ designers.

In summary the overall trend in marketing is moving towards a personalized experience for targeted customers, rather than a mass-marketing spend. Big data analytics enable brands to better understand what customers may want now, and may want in the future. Mass media is still used to bring awareness to new brands and new products, but now marketers have tools to generate interest and the desire to purchase by using more sophisticated tools …when the customer provides consent.

Image by Kris Krug “ESRI Conference in San Diego” CC BY-SA 3.0


Knight C. (2016) The Future of Marketing in 2016: Hot trends and what to watch. Retrieved from  

Trends in Marketing

A Little Bit About Me

I am a project management and marketing consultant in Vancouver. I am also faculty in the Bachelors of Management of Technology program in the School of Transportation at BCIT. I have been teaching undergraduate courses in marketing, internet marketing, global sales, management of technology, disruptive technologies, and project management; and I also oversee the capstone projects in the program.

I am taking this program because I am passionate about teaching and about learning. I want to learn from my teachers and peers how to be a better teacher and become even more engaging in a classroom or online. I am excited about the topics that I teach, and want to structure my classes with different activities, so that I continue to engage and help my students learn.

I look forward to learning tools and techniques to effectively deliver topics online as well as in a classroom, but I am also keen to learn about learning, reflection and self management. I am very interested in how adults learn, how people are motivated to learn, and how different methods of learning will help our students manage in these times of volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity.

In my spare time I like to cross-country ski, go hiking, travel to distant places, write and take photographs. I’ve traveled to 30+ countries by plane, by train, by bus, by car, by boat; but my preferred way to see a country is by foot. Two summers ago I walked the Coast to Coast walk from the Irish Sea across England to the North Sea over mountains and valleys and beautiful moors. What a thrill that was !! I loved seeing the English countryside “at the speed of foot” over two weeks (and over 200 miles) and hope to continue this experience on other trails in other countries.

Trajection to Summer by Michael Pardo
Image by Michael Pardo, (0) Public Domain
A Little Bit About Me