Sometimes you don’t need a visual

There was a really interesting campaign by Swiss Life who deal in Finance – e.g. Pensions etc.

They could have created the very traditional shot of an elderly couple and saving for the future.  But they chose not to.  They went with no visual and just copy to convey their message that things change, and life changes so why shouldn’t your plans.

A really great campaign that deserved sharing

Copy switch

Will Google+ bring down Facebook?

Unless you’ve been stuck in a cave over the last 48-72hrs you’ll know that Google has launched its Google+ project.  This is widely being seen as the real Facebook killer with its Circles and Huddles functionality.  If you’ve not seen or heard much about it, here is a short video explaining the project.

In ‘response’, Facebook has, only a few short hours ago, announced their joint partnership with Skype which has added video capabilities to its service.  Click here to see a video of it.

I’ve not actually tried either service but my first impressions are that Circles is a HUGE plus to the whole social interactions.  It is how people compartmentalise their friends and connections and now Google is offering that ability online.  I also think the Huddles functionality seems a lot better than Facebook’s.

Saying that though, I’m not actually sure that this will be the thing that sees the demise of Facebook.  With c. 600m there is bound to be some attrition but I think Facebook has more fundamental issues to take care of, namely:

  • Privacy – how secure is your data?  Why can’t you delete your account rather than de-activate it?
  • Boredom – people have been living with it for 4-5 yrs and the world has moved on, much like it did for MySpace
  • Displeasure – Facebook has done things slightly underhand, they’ve changed layouts, added new functionality which has changed the site from its original inception (selling rather than interacting)
The one thing it has going for it is that people are used to that ‘space’ for communicating, more so than they are for Google.  Also, more people have FB accounts than Gmail accounts, so they will need to create new profiles, learn new interfaces and ways of communicating.

I will be joining G+.  I would love to relinquish Facebook (with or without the advent of G+) but unfortunately the rest of my friends are Facebookers and use it to organise get togethers so, for my sins, I am still there.  But my activity is virtually zero.

I don’t think it will be the death of Facebook.  They will be impacted quite badly, but they will be around (and making lots of money) for years to come. However, they need to truly understand how people want to interact with others and their part in that process.

School’s out

So Dream School has finished.  The experience is over and the kids now have to go back to their old lives.  But how many have been changed?  How many have grabbed the opportunity presented to them?

From the show it appears quite a few have been inspired to do something with their lives, which is great for them and hopefully that will continue (though a ‘visit’ in 12 months’ time would be interesting).  But really what is the legacy of the programme?

From watching the series I got very little that I wouldn’t have done before:

  • teachers have the power to make lessons great or crap
  • teachers need to make sessions more interactive and relevant to today’s youth and not be handed down strict curriculums
  • disruptive kids ruin it for everyone
  • there is no sense of discipline or respect between students and from students to teachers
  • the kids are expecting to be spoon-fed everything

However the one lasting memory I will have is not a positive one. I feel the programme failed to teach these kids about responsibility & consequence – twice the teachers had the opportunity to make examples out of student who didn’t follow the rules and twice they went back on the rules they had set.  Lesson: do as you please and all will be forgiven. No consequences.

The overall problem with Dream School is that it is a bubble and didn’t tackle the issues of why they were disenchanted in the first place.  Whilst it was an extremely noble cause, we cannot build 4000 Dream School and hire ‘celebrities’ to teach at every single one.

I would’ve loved to have seen experiments as to how to make schools more effective at teaching and facilitating learning – much more along the lines of The Classroom Experiment which the BBC ran last year.  That showed how to teaching standards and traditional classroom dynamics have an effect on what kids get out of it.

Below is the final episode and also some of the Twitter chatter/buzz around the programme – good and bad.

I think the cause was great, but the execution was a bit superficial.

https://twitter.com/#!/jennitonic80/status/58279686123429888

https://twitter.com/#!/GemmaCasey/status/58287795684380672

Just show me how it works

So Jamie’s Dream School is into Week 5.  And what did we learn this week?  That theoretical classes are dull and that practical lessons actually get kids engaged.  That if you give them parameters and tasks they will seek to do them.  If you become too prescriptive they’ll switch off.

Now I’ve been fairly disparaging about students in previous weeks. Like Charlie Sheen, the reason I wrote those things is because I care.  I care about how education and educators will work when my children have to go through it and I see certain holes and need filling.

And the hole I picked up on this week is that the GNVQ, vocational and apprenticeship programmes have an image problem.  They are seen as inferior, but that is not the case.  The previous government was all about ensuring everyone went to university.  What happened was that a lot of people did, some did well some didn’t and the end result is that the value of a degree has (to an extent) decreased.  It also meant that the government spent a fair amount of money on people who only went because they were unsure of what they wanted to do.  And that’s not a bad thing, but it had consequences. I went to Uni with a view to do a degree around business and marketing but not knowing specifically what element.

Vocational programmes play a useful role in that they give kids practical work experience, skills, reduce unemployment figures and increase the longevity of certain more manual jobs – such as electricians, car mechanics, plumbers, etc.  Again, these play a really important role to society as a whole, but get miscast as a lower status profession and therefore numbers are going down.  Yet they pay well and scarcity will only lead prices up.

So we need to get kids to stop seeing a future after schools of college/uni or benefits.  There are options, valid options that will give them a sense of pride and worth.

Here is the latest episode for your perusal