Sensitive Skin Tips and How to Get Beautiful Hair?

Beauty means different things to different people and while this is the case, there are two aspects that play a major role in influencing whether one feels beautiful or not. These include the skin and the hair. There are people who have sensitive skin and for this reason, there are certain sensitive skin tips that should be adhered to attain flawless skin. These include the following.

• Make sure that it is always hydrated. When it becomes dehydrated, it is susceptible to infections, clinical irritation and sun damage. There are certain products designed to meet the needs of this specific type and for this reason, it is recommended to invest in the same.

• The type of nutrition observed also plays a major role. As a result, your diets should feature high amounts of vegetables and fruits that have high water content. Additionally, they should also have high vitamins.

• Throughout the day. Make sure that you stay well hydrated by drinking lots of water.

• When cleansing, stay away from zealous routines. This is because it takes the lipid layer away and this makes you prone to effects of harsh environmental factors. Also, if you use moisturizers, make sure that they have high hydrating properties.

• Skin care tips demand that before applying moisturizers, you should dampen the skin in order to reduce cases of drying.

• Beware of products that have fragrances or perfumes since they are known to trigger allergic reactions.

In order to compliment your beautiful skin, your hair should be well maintained as well. Consequently, you have to learn how to get beautiful hair by following through with the following natural remedies which don’t cause any side effects.

• If you have frizzy hair, bring it under control with coconut oil. Use this minimally in order to ensure that you it does not appear greasy. In order to minimize frizz, it is also advisable not to shampoo it frequently since this tends to strip oil from it.

• In order to get rid of shampoo build up, use baking soda. Use three tablespoon and mix it in a bowl. Apply it and let it settle for least five minutes before proceeding to rinse it.

• If it has a dull look, you can add life to it by using lemon juice. Use 1 tablespoon and mix it in 16oz water and apply it after the final rinse. Do not rinse it out but dry it using a towel. If it is dry, less lemon juice should be used and if it is oily, the amount used should be more.

• To cap it all, the most important tip on how to get beautiful hair is drinking lots of water and maintaining a healthy diet of vegetables and raw fruits.

A Brief History of Special Education

Perhaps the largest and most pervasive issue in special education, as well as my own journey in education, is special education’s relationship to general education. History has shown that this has never been an easy clear cut relationship between the two. There has been a lot of giving and taking or maybe I should say pulling and pushing when it comes to educational policy, and the educational practices and services of education and special education by the human educators who deliver those services on both sides of the isle, like me.

Over the last 20+ years I have been on both sides of education. I have seen and felt what it was like to be a regular main stream educator dealing with special education policy, special education students and their specialized teachers. I have also been on the special education side trying to get regular education teachers to work more effectively with my special education students through modifying their instruction and materials and having a little more patience and empathy.

Furthermore, I have been a mainstream regular education teacher who taught regular education inclusion classes trying to figure out how to best work with some new special education teacher in my class and his or her special education students as well. And, in contrast, I have been a special education inclusion teacher intruding on the territory of some regular education teachers with my special education students and the modifications I thought these teachers should implement. I can tell you first-hand that none of this give and take between special education and regular education has been easy. Nor do I see this pushing and pulling becoming easy anytime soon.

So, what is special education? And what makes it so special and yet so complex and controversial sometimes? Well, special education, as its name suggests, is a specialized branch of education. It claims its lineage to such people as Jean-Marc-Gaspard Itard (1775-1838), the physician who “tamed” the “wild boy of Aveyron,” and Anne Sullivan Macy (1866-1936), the teacher who “worked miracles” with Helen Keller.

Special educators teach students who have physical, cognitive, language, learning, sensory, and/or emotional abilities that deviate from those of the general population. Special educators provide instruction specifically tailored to meet individualized needs. These teachers basically make education more available and accessible to students who otherwise would have limited access to education due to whatever disability they are struggling with.

It’s not just the teachers though who play a role in the history of special education in this country. Physicians and clergy, including Itard- mentioned above, Edouard O. Seguin (1812-1880), Samuel Gridley Howe (1801-1876), and Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet (1787-1851), wanted to ameliorate the neglectful, often abusive treatment of individuals with disabilities. Sadly, education in this country was, more often than not, very neglectful and abusive when dealing with students that are different somehow.

There is even a rich literature in our nation that describes the treatment provided to individuals with disabilities in the 1800s and early 1900s. Sadly, in these stories, as well as in the real world, the segment of our population with disabilities were often confined in jails and almshouses without decent food, clothing, personal hygiene, and exercise.

For an example of this different treatment in our literature one needs to look no further than Tiny Tim in Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol (1843). In addition, many times people with disabilities were often portrayed as villains, such as in the book Captain Hook in J.M. Barrie’s “Peter Pan” in 1911.

The prevailing view of the authors of this time period was that one should submit to misfortunes, both as a form of obedience to God’s will, and because these seeming misfortunes are ultimately intended for one’s own good. Progress for our people with disabilities was hard to come by at this time with this way of thinking permeating our society, literature and thinking.

So, what was society to do about these people of misfortune? Well, during much of the nineteenth century, and early in the twentieth, professionals believed individuals with disabilities were best treated in residential facilities in rural environments. An out of sight out of mind kind of thing, if you will…

However, by the end of the nineteenth century the size of these institutions had increased so dramatically that the goal of rehabilitation for people with disabilities just wasn’t working. Institutions became instruments for permanent segregation.

I have some experience with these segregation policies of education. Some of it is good and some of it is not so good. You see, I have been a self-contained teacher on and off throughout the years in multiple environments in self-contained classrooms in public high schools, middle schools and elementary schools. I have also taught in multiple special education behavioral self-contained schools that totally separated these troubled students with disabilities in managing their behavior from their mainstream peers by putting them in completely different buildings that were sometimes even in different towns from their homes, friends and peers.

Over the years many special education professionals became critics of these institutions mentioned above that separated and segregated our children with disabilities from their peers. Irvine Howe was one of the first to advocate taking our youth out of these huge institutions and to place out residents into families. Unfortunately this practice became a logistical and pragmatic problem and it took a long time before it could become a viable alternative to institutionalization for our students with disabilities.

Now on the positive side, you might be interested in knowing however that in 1817 the first special education school in the United States, the American Asylum for the Education and Instruction of the Deaf and Dumb (now called the American School for the Deaf), was established in Hartford, Connecticut, by Gallaudet. That school is still there today and is one of the top schools in the country for students with auditory disabilities. A true success story!

However, as you can already imagine, the lasting success of the American School for the Deaf was the exception and not the rule during this time period. And to add to this, in the late nineteenth century, social Darwinism replaced environmentalism as the primary causal explanation for those individuals with disabilities who deviated from those of the general population.

Sadly, Darwinism opened the door to the eugenics movement of the early twentieth century. This then led to even further segregation and even sterilization of individuals with disabilities such as mental retardation. Sounds like something Hitler was doing in Germany also being done right here in our own country, to our own people, by our own people. Kind of scary and inhumane, wouldn’t you agree?

Today, this kind of treatment is obviously unacceptable. And in the early part of the 20th Century it was also unacceptable to some of the adults, especially the parents of these disabled children. Thus, concerned and angry parents formed advocacy groups to help bring the educational needs of children with disabilities into the public eye. The public had to see firsthand how wrong this this eugenics and sterilization movement was for our students that were different if it was ever going to be stopped.

Slowly, grassroots organizations made progress that even led to some states creating laws to protect their citizens with disabilities. For example, in 1930, in Peoria, Illinois, the first white cane ordinance gave individuals with blindness the right-of-way when crossing the street. This was a start, and other states did eventually follow suit. In time, this local grassroots’ movement and states’ movement led to enough pressure on our elected officials for something to be done on the national level for our people with disabilities.

In 1961, President John F. Kennedy created the President’s Panel on Mental Retardation. And in 1965, Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, which provided funding for primary education, and is seen by advocacy groups as expanding access to public education for children with disabilities.

When one thinks about Kennedy’s and Johnson’s record on civil rights, then it probably isn’t such a surprise finding out that these two presidents also spearheaded this national movement for our people with disabilities.

This federal movement led to section 504 of the 1973 Rehabilitation Act. This guarantees civil rights for the disabled in the context of federally funded institutions or any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance. All these years later as an educator, I personally deal with 504 cases every single day.

In 1975 Congress enacted Public Law 94-142, the Education for All Handicapped Children Act (EHA), which establishes a right to public education for all children regardless of disability. This was another good thing because prior to federal legislation, parents had to mostly educate their children at home or pay for expensive private education.

The movement kept growing. In the 1982 the case of the Board of Education of the Hendrick Hudson Central School District v. Rowley, the U.S. Supreme Court clarified the level of services to be afforded students with special needs. The Court ruled that special education services need only provide some “educational benefit” to students. Public schools were not required to maximize the educational progress of students with disabilities.

Today, this ruling may not seem like a victory, and as a matter of fact, this same question is once again circulating through our courts today in 2017. However, given the time period it was made in, it was a victory because it said special education students could not pass through our school system without learning anything. They had to learn something. If one knows and understands how the laws work in this country, then one knows the laws always progress through tiny little increments that add up to progress over time. This ruling was a victory for special education students because it added one more rung onto the crusade.

In the 1980s the Regular Education Initiative (REI) came into being. This was an attempt to return responsibility for the education of students with disabilities to neighborhood schools and regular classroom teachers. I am very familiar with Regular Education Initiative because I spent four years as an REI teacher in the late 1990s and early 2000s. At this time I was certified as both a special education teacher and a regular education teacher and was working in both capacities in a duel role as an REI teacher; because that’s what was required of the position.

The 1990s saw a big boost for our special education students. 1990 birthed the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). This was, and is, the cornerstone of the concept of a free and appropriate public education (FAPE) for all of our students. To ensure FAPE, the law mandated that each student receiving special education services must also receive an Individualized Education Program (IEP).

The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 reached beyond just the public schools. And Title 3 of IDEA prohibited disability-based discrimination in any place of public accommodation. Full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, or accommodations in public places were expected. And of course public accommodations also included most places of education.

Also, in the 1990s the full inclusion movement gained a lot of momentum. This called for educating all students with disabilities in the regular classroom. I am also very familiar with this aspect of education as well, as I have also been an inclusion teacher from time to time over my career as an educator on both sides of the isle as a regular education teacher and a special education teacher.

Now on to President Bush and his educational reform with his No Child Left Behind law that replaced President Johnson’s Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). The NCLB Act of 2001 stated that special education should continue to focus on producing results and along with this came a sharp increase in accountability for educators.

Now, this NCLB Act was good and bad. Of course we all want to see results for all of our students, and it’s just common sense that accountability helps this sort of thing happen. Where this kind of went crazy was that the NCLB demanded a host of new things, but did not provide the funds or support to achieve these new objectives.

Furthermore, teachers began feeling squeezed and threatened more and more by the new movement of big business and corporate education moving in and taking over education. People with no educational background now found themselves influencing education policy and gaining access to a lot of the educational funds.

This accountability craze stemmed by excessive standardized testing ran rapid and of course ran downstream from a host of well-connected elite Trump-like figures saying to their lower echelon educational counterparts, “You’re fired!” This environment of trying to stay off of the radar in order to keep one’s job, and beating our kids over the head with testing strategies, wasn’t good for our educators. It wasn’t good for our students. And it certainly wasn’t good for our more vulnerable special education students.

Some good did come from this era though. For example, the updated Individuals with Disabilities with Education Act of 2004 (IDEA) happened. This further required schools to provide individualized or special education for children with qualifying disabilities. Under the IDEA, states who accept public funds for education must provide special education to qualifying children with disabilities. Like I said earlier, the law is a long slow process of tiny little steps adding up to progress made over time.

Finally, in 2015 President Obama’s Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) replaced President Bush’s NCLB, which had replaced President Johnson’s ESEA. Under Obama’s new ESSA schools were now allowed to back off on some of the testing. Hopefully, the standardized testing craze has been put in check. However, only time will tell. ESSA also returned to more local control. You know, the kind of control our forefathers intended.

You see the U.S. Constitution grants no authority over education to the federal government. Education is not mentioned in the Constitution of the United States, and for good reason. The Founders wanted most aspects of life managed by those who were closest to them, either by state or local government or by families, businesses, and other elements of civil society. Basically, they saw no role for the federal government in education.

You see, the Founders feared the concentration of power. They believed that the best way to protect individual freedom and civil society was to limit and divide power. However, this works both ways, because the states often find themselves asking the feds for more educational money. And the feds will only give the states additional money if the states do what the feds want… Hmm… Checks and balances, as well as compromise can be a really tricky thing, huh?

So on goes the battle in education and all the back and forth pushing and pulling between the federal government and the states and local government, as well as special education and regular education. And to add to this struggle, recently Judge Moukawsher, a state judge from Connecticut, in a lawsuit filed against the state by the Connecticut Coalition for Justice in Education Funding, rocked the educational boat some more when in his ruling he included a message to lawmakers to reassess what level of services students with significant disabilities are entitled to.

His ruling and statements appear to say that he thinks we’re spending too much money on our special education students. And that for some of them, it just isn’t worth it because their disabilities are too severe. You can imagine how controversial this was and how much it angered some people.

The 2016 United States Presidential election resulted in something that few people saw coming. Real Estate mogul and reality star Donald Trump won the presidency and then appointed anti-public educator Betsy Devos to head up this country’s Department of Education. Her charge, given to her by Trump, is to drastically slash the Department of Education, and to push forward private charter schools over what they call a failing public educational system.

How this is going to affect our students, and especially our more vulnerable special education students, nobody knows for sure at this time. But, I can also tell you that there aren’t many people out there that feel comfortable with it right now. Only time will tell where this is all going to go and how it will affect our special education students…

So, as I said earlier, perhaps the largest, most pervasive issue in special education is its relationship to general education. Both my own travels and our nation’s journey through the vast realm of education over all of these years has been an interesting one and a tricky one plagued with controversy to say the least.

I can still remember when I first became a special education teacher back in the mid-1990s. A friend’s father, who was a school principal at the time, told me to get out of special education because it wasn’t going to last. Well, I’ve been in and out of special education for more than two decades now, and sometimes I don’t know if I’m a regular education teacher or a special education teacher, or both. And sometimes I think our country’s educational system might be feeling the same internal struggle that I am. But, regardless, all these years later, special education is still here.

In closing, although Itard failed to normalize Victor, the wild boy of Averyon, he did produce dramatic changes in Victor’s behavior through education. Today, modern special education practices can be traced to Itard. His work marks the beginning of widespread attempts to instruct students with disabilities. Fast forwarding to 2017, for what happens next in the future of education and special education in our country… Well, I guess that depends on all of us…

Open Source Software in Higher Education

The higher education sector is quite unlike other industries. It has its own processes and a different set of demands. Most commercial proprietary application vendors develop their applications focused on a wider domain spread across industries. This, academics complain, creates a distinct disconnect between software vendors and the end-users in academia.

To overcome these shortcomings, the education industry started looking to “open source” as an alternate model. Around a decade back, institutions started debating total cost of ownership in adopting an open source based community approach vis-à-vis proprietary applications, viability of open source based business models, sustainability and security issues.

The success of community developed open source software is quite well established. Linux and Apache are ample proof of its success. A similar trend, though not that widespread in its reach, can be traced to the development of community projects in education like the Moodle and Sakai.

Through the course of its formative years, the open source community based approach in education has developed several alternative models. Some of these models and schools of thought have thrived and been implemented successfully across a significant spectrum of the industry. Progress and success in open source projects like the Sakai, Moodle, Kuali, uPortal, Shibboleth, and many more are being closely watched by the industry.

Community Source Model

One school of thought believes that open source sharing is more a philosophical approach than a viable alternative. The adoption of open source in higher education seems to suggest otherwise. FLOSS (Free/Libre and Open Source Software) communities are thriving well in learning environments too.

The FLOSS model has been extensively used in initiatives like the MIT OpenCourseWare and Open Source Biology. Project Gutenberg, the Wikipedia, The Open Dictionary project are prime examples of how open source has been successfully adapted to education initiatives.

In a community source project, multiple institutions come together to partner in the project. All partners contribute financially as well as in employing human resources for the effort. In the early stages, the partnering institutions provide all design and development efforts and only in subsequent stages is the project opened to the broader community. This way, the initial support is secured and the institutions have a substantial influence in deciding how the application is modeled and designed.

The initial focus of community source projects is on collaboration between institutions. The focus in the crucial first stages is therefore to form a common economic outlook and an appropriate administrative framework rather than forming a community around a shared code. Most community based open source projects slowly migrate to open source in the later stages.

The Sakai project, for example, started as a joint effort between four institutions (Michigan, Indiana, MIT and Stanford). The initial agenda was to set up a framework of common goals that would produce appropriate software based on an agreed list of objectives. The scope for participation was later increased by forming the Sakai Educational Partners Program (SEPP), whereby other institutions can join and participate in the community for a small fee.

The Current Landscape

An education enterprise like any organization has its own needs ranging from resource planning to budgeting. Additionally, they have typical requirements like the need to integrate with financial aid programs of the government, multiple payroll cycles, and student information systems (SIS) that handle admissions, grades, transcripts, student records as well as billing. All these call for robust ERP systems. Until recently, colleges and universities mostly rely on either custom-developed systems that are more than 15 years old, or have transitioned to commercial products from vendors like Oracle, SAP, PeopleSoft or vendors like SunGard that are geared towards the higher education market.

Kuali Financials was borne due to the lack of open source solutions Enterprise applications in the higher education sector are comprised of a mix of some proprietary application vendors and some key open source community initiatives. PeopleSoft, Oracle, SunGard and Datatel are some key vendors that offer tightly integrated ERP packages for the education sector.

Recent consolidation in the industry, like the acquisition of PeopleSoft by Oracle and of WebCT, Angel, etc by Blackboard, has caused considerable unease in the education fraternity. The concern stems from the fear that the trend of consolidation would lead to the monopoly of a few key vendors. The plans of these vendors to offer tightly integrated systems heightens the fear that this will provide an unfair leverage to these vendors as it would extend the community’s dependence on them.

One area of concern about proprietary applications is a seeming disconnect between the industry and software application developers. Institutions also have strong reservations about the currently available administrative software and course management systems. The feeling is that applications provided by vendors such as SAP and PeopleSoft are adapted from other industries and does not work well for educational enterprises. Moreover, the proprietary nature of the applications implies that the source code is not available and customization efforts involve substantial costs.

In the context of such a wide breadth of requirements, open source can prove to be a viable alternative. In fact, these constraints provided the impetus for open source initiatives in higher education. Some of the success has helped provide a strong foundation to building an alternative support model for the education industry.

In the Sakai project, the participating institutions decided to integrate and synchronize their educational software into a pre-integrated collection of open source tools termed Collaborative Learning Environment (CLE). Sakai has active implementations running at multiple institutes including the University of Michigan and Indiana University.

In parallel, Sakai also established a set of activity based communities that have spawned an active cooperation between the industry and application vendors. The Sakai Educational Partners Program allows educational institutions to participate in the program for a small fee. Besides, there are the Sakai Commercial Affiliates, who offer fee-based services for installation, integration and support..

Kuali, on the other hand, mainly addresses aspects of educational administration. The Kuali Financial System (KFS) is the most prominent application. It handles administrative and operational tasks like general accounting, purchasing, salary and benefits, budgeting, asset management and grants. The system is designed around modules that enable it to be tweaked to work with existing commercial applications. For example, at Indiana University, Kuali applications work together with PeopleSoft’s HR and student system. The Kuali Foundation is a non-profit consortium of multiple universities and some hardware and software companies. The Kuali Commercial Affiliate program operates on similar lines like its Sakai counterpart. The community has been growing and now includes the University of California, Cornell, Michigan State University, San Joaquin Delta College (Calif.), and The University of Arizona.

Significantly, according to the 2008 Campus Computing Survey, around 13.8 percent of the survey participants have already identified an Open Source LMS – either Moodle or Sakai – as the campus standard LMS.

Besides these, several other projects offer SIS functionality. For example, openSIS manages student demographics, scheduling, attendance, grades, transcripts, and health records, and its parent company makes add-on modules to support additional features like disciplinary tracking, billing, food service, and bulk email/SMS messaging for emergency contact.

Other Key intiaitives are

JaSig community developing uPortal, and CAS (Central Authentication Services) two components serving as input to Kuali Rice.

Internet2 – A consortium led by universities working in partnership with industry and government to develop and deploy advanced network applications and technologies including products such as Shibboleth and Grouper

Open Source Curricula

As with any “open source” activity, open source curricula by its very definition is one that can be freely used, distributed and modified. A model like this would seemingly be antithetic to the concept of higher education as it strikes at the credibility of the education environment. Campus education is designed to operate as a structured learning methodology. The concept of community collaboration involving academics and students on the same platform brings a lot of unpredictability into the scenario

However, FLOSS communities (Free/Libre and Open Source Software) in education have proved to be quite successful. A key principle of this learning approach is its root in adapting it to the context of ones’ experience. With its stress on learners and their preferences, this learning approach focuses more on learning by collaboration, communication and sharing.

Significant initiatives include the Connexions Project at Rice University, the OpenCourseWare project at MIT and the social learning medium of Wikipedia.

The FLOSS approach in higher education has been operating in combination with traditional teacher centered approaches. The objectives of the FLOSS approach are not to replace traditional methods but to achieve synergies in combination and offer the learner an enhanced learning environment.

The ‘FLOSS-like education transfer report’ published in September 2008, as part of the FLOSSCOM project, notes that FLOSS communities can create effective learning environments. The study has also come up with three different approaches that could be combined effectively with traditional teaching approaches.

Economic Models of Open Source

One aspect that clearly marks the adoption of open source as a winner is the fact that in this scenario, the developers are most often also the users of the software. This removes the perceived disconnect between the developer community and the end-users unlike in the case of proprietary applications. However, this is less evident in the case of administrative applications like payroll or HR. In such cases, adoption of open source has to be a directed process.

Initiatives like the Kuali project have proved that open source can also build up sustainable models that provide adequate support mechanisms. In such models, there is active collaboration between the community that comprises not only developers and end-users, but also an extended support group comprising commercial vendors. These support groups are available to offer timely support to mission critical applications. The community approach also ensures that the code is not closed and that an active community of interest ensures that enhancements keep happening as necessitated.

Projects like uPortal have been developed with minimal resources but are deployed across hundreds of institutions. The community approach has proved sustainable as in the case of the Sakai project. In terms of funding, the Sakai project garnered an investment of $6.8 million over two years.

The viability of the open source, community based model stems not from the monetary or cost aspects but principally the adaptability that it offers. The debate over cost of ownership between commercially available proprietary software and open source applications is yet to be proved empirically. However, the fact that the code is open means it can be easily adapted to suit new requirements and does not involve significant investments in terms of customization or enhancements. This does make significant economic sense in the longer term.

The case for open source in higher education is nicely documented in a study by the Alliance for Higher Education Competitiveness. In a 2005 study report titled, ‘Will Open Source Software Become an Important Institutional Strategy in Higher Education?’ Rob Abel notes how open source is a “great fit for higher education”. The study, based on an analysis of open source projects in education, opines that the community-based approach is an interesting model that also helps reduce the inherent risks in adopting an open source approach.

As for the cost model, the study notes that while open source has helped generate cost savings in the range of 20 to 30 percent for the commercial sector, the same may not be entirely true in education. The community-based approach, the writer notes, with its associated participation fees, may prove only marginally beneficial in terms of costs. Institutions that have their own infrastructure and resources may however, benefit from substantially reduced costs from their open source initiatives.

The Future

Open source has proved to be adaptable and a reliable platform for collaboration and learning. In their quest for ideal application software to handle administrative, operational and education platforms, most CIOs are looking at interoperability, reliability and scalability of applications. Applications like the Sakai and Kuali have proved beyond doubt that open source applications offer great configurability.

Development communities and the support of commercial vendors, as in the case of Kuali and Sakai, fuel a greater rate of innovation. Moreover, the advantage that is offered by collaboration also provides an impetus to continued improvement of the system. Support systems and enhancements for future requirements are ensured.

On the question of how to approach or adopt open source as a model, the answer would depend on the needs, the infrastructure and the means available to an institution. The community development model has shown that costs can be broadly distributed amongst participants. Experience shows that universities and colleges can collaborate to produce open source software that caters to their needs in a way that is superior to some commercial products. The collaborative model enables educational institutions to pool their financial and technical resources. Moreover, a larger community ensures that the applications are tested in a variety of testing environments, thus aiding in building robust solutions.

In term of core academics, learning systems will evolve to accommodate formative assessments and evaluation outside the classroom. Many higher education institutions have taken the lead of MIT and are offering online course materials that are accessible by anyone, free of cost. It has been adopted at Yale, Notre Dame, Tufts and Stanford School of Engineering, to name a few. The United Nations has launched an initiative that would leverage social media technologies and ideas to offer higher education opportunities to people who would otherwise not be able to afford the costs.

Commercially, open source projects have taken their first steps in the marketplace. The model is evolving aided by some significant commercial vendor backing. For the community-based open source approach to prosper, substantial financial backing is an absolute necessity to prevent it from faltering and to avoid the pitfalls that arise form source code being easily modifiable and rebranded by a different vendor. From the commercial perspective, projects like Sakai and the Kuali Foundation are likely to thrive as they have substantial stakeholders from both the academic and the corporate world.

What could derail further adoption? There are several potential risk areas:

  • Lack of understanding of entry points for adoption
  • Lack of support to adopt the applications
  • Minimal staff to support the applications
  • Lack of training / documentation to train staff
  • A “runaway” project that consumes much press and develops a negative bias toward the project

Many of these risks may be mitigated though co-operative initiatives between the foundations developing the open source solutions and commercial affiliates looking to support the solutions – and develop complementation solutions. Some examples:

  • Further publicity through conventional, non-education related channels such as Google and industry-based sites such as edu1world
  • Furrther innovation and cooperation – whether through ‘summer of code’ collaborations; or community collaborations that will transform the current listservs to more accessible forums
  • Commercial affiliates offering training and webinars
  • Commercial affiliates offering ease of use entry points, such as pre-installed servers or virtual images that can be downloaded and used out of the box

In conclusion, open source initiatives in higher education have a long way to go before they enter the commercial mainstream in a significant fashion. However, with industry and academic collaboration, it has a great potential to change the higher education landscape in the longer term.

Past, Present and Future Evolution of Technology

These days, tablets, computers and Smartphones run our lives, but in a short time, the market has exploded with technology more than most people can imagine and to the point that they cannot imagine being without it. To understand the evolution of this technology from the dark ages to today, you should began with understanding how it evolved. Technology was born out of a purpose. An example would be in the creation of search engines, which are used to sift through all the massive quantity of online data.

As upgrades are made to technology, it combines with the present technology and creates a better technology that it was before. As this continues to happen, technology evolves to the point that it is an essential thing to have. Present technology continues to evolve into being even greater and more powerful. As fast as technology has evolved, many people have to struggle to keep up. Below is a short overview showing you how fast technology and the internet have evolved in recent years.

The Past: Back in the 1990s, the internet was something new that most, but not all, businesses and households had. If you were living at that time, chances are high that you remember the sound of the extremely slow dial up signal that would connect you to the internet. Technology began to take off when more people discovered value in the internet, especially when access eliminated the need for a phone line. With the advancement of webpages, most people had either a Tripod or Geocities webpage.

It was during this time, blogging started on the consumer level making sharing information much easier. Rather than using a floppy disc or CD-ROM, people started using either email or a USB drive to store and share large files. As more new technologies began to pop-up, they would combine to form a faster, stronger and better technology. With every new technology and internet development, people’s lives, were changed, as well as the way they work and operate.

The Present: Since those early days of dial up, there are very few places you cannot find the internet. Rare are the days now that Wi-Fi internet cannot be found at the library, coffee shop or place of business. Even if you cannot find a Wi-Fi signal close enough, many people still can access the internet with their cell phone or Smartphone. Because of the anytime/anywhere internet access, most businesses have created for their customers, web applications, or apps, that will answer most common needs. Consumers can use these apps to do everything from keeping track of food portions to sending large amounts of information with just the click of a button. One difference that is most noticeable with today’s internet is its ability to be personable in a very impersonal setting, while improving the way people engage with each other online.

Even though the internet is superficial, it is a form of communication that has helped to keep people closer when they may have lost contact otherwise. You can even have face to face conversations via video/web conferencing, which bridges the geographic barriers. Businesses can also communicate with customers on a more human level and without the need for long distance travel, they can communicate face to face with people even on the other side of the world. Due to all the new technologies people use to access the internet, each other and information, the future looks promising for more technological developments.

The Future: With every present technology that is bound together, they are developed into other technologies that are even greater for the future use of both businesses and consumers alike. Future technology will undoubtedly be able to accomplish more, be even faster and will make work easier. Tablets, Smartphones and other smart devices will keep on evolving to work better together.

These devices will be able to automatically share information and limit the need for human involvement. Rather than store everything on a single device or online, most companies and people will put their companies on the cloud. Not only will this give a huge potential to change how companies do business, it will also change the traditional way an office looks as well as the way people and businesses interact.

Real Estate Marketing

Learning about real estate marketing is probably one of the most important activities an agent can do with his or her time. Although some would argue prospecting is more important, I would challenge that. Because you can spend a lot of time prospecting the WRONG way. Real estate marketing know how will enable you to become very efficient in your prospecting. To be successful, you must pick a niche market and speak to that niche’s needs, wants and desires.

Smart real estate marketing starts with education. You must learn the pros and cons of each type of marketing. You have online real estate marketing and then you have off line real estate marketing. Both should play an important role in your over all real estate marketing plan.

Off line real estate marketing uses advertising mediums like classified ads, homes magazines, signs, etc. Online real estate marketing focuses on generating business via the internet.

Depending on the community in which you are looking to market your services, one can be better then the other. For example, if you live in a smaller community that is very rural, your real estate marketing plan should focus on off line marketing mediums because there probably won’t be enough internet traffic (people performing searches online for your communities main keyword) to justify an internet marketing campaign. However, if you live in a popular city where there are a lot of internet searches for homes in that area, the internet is definitely the way to go. Generating leads off the internet is the MOST efficient way to market. Everything is trackable and you can control costs – you know how effective your campaigns are and you can keep track of your real estate marketing metrics.

If you do live in a smaller community, one smart thing you can do is take off line traffic and drive it online. For example, advertise your lead capture website on your signs and print ads. Say something like, “Get the most up to date MLS listings for free at []”. This works very well as it will allow you to offer information to prospects in a baby step.They will go online before they will pick up the phone and call.

To find out the amount of searches that are being done for your community, go to  WordTracker has stats on how many times a certain search phrase was entered for any given keyword. If it looks like your area is getting a lot of searches, set up a lead capture web site, drive traffic to it via pay per click, and make that your main real estate marketing campaign.

We live in a community where we use both off line and online real estate marketing. To see how we incorporate the two and generate a steady flow of leads to our Inbox, check out our free real estate marketing guide, the “Smart Agent’s Lead Generation Confidential”.

The bottom line is do your due diligence and learn all you can about real estate marketing especially internet real estate marketing. It is the smartest thing you can spend your time on. Without the proper education, you can get real busy yet generate no business.

For more information about online real estate marketing and a free real estate marketing guide, visit:

Tips For Beautiful Hair

Your hair speaks volumes about the person that you are. It’s arguably one of the most important parts of personal appearance, and in this article, we’ll relay some tips on how to keep your hair looking healthy and vibrant.

– Few realize exactly how important a proper diet is to the health of their hair. For one, it is important to ensure that your body is getting all the iron that it needs. Iron is a mineral that helps hair to grow, and you may experience hair loss if you’re not getting enough Another important nutrient when it comes to healthy hair is Vitamin C. Vitamin C is important when it comes to helping the body to absorb the iron that you consume, so these two compounds work in tandem to keep your hair in good health.

– Another area of precaution that needs to be considered is the amount of damage that you do to your hair through coloring and dying it. Using hydrogen peroxide to ‘bleach’ the hair can have drastic results when it comes to the health of the hair. Hair that is too heavily stripped by peroxide may feel brittle and may even break when mussed with. If you are planning on dying your hair, be sure that you want to color your hair in that way for a long period of time – repeated coloring is what can cause the most damage.

– Dandruff can be a very embarrassing problem. In order to keep your scalp as dandruff-free as possible, you’re going to want to shampoo your hair daily, unless your scalp is extremely dry. There are special medicated shampoos available which can reduce the amount of dandruff that you experience.

– Split ends are another headache when it comes to hair care. Surprisingly enough, one of the best solutions for solving a problem with split ends is to cut the split part of the hair off! To do it at home, you’re going to want to grab a small amount of hair and slowly twist it. The split ends of the hair should stick out, and you’ll be able to trim them to your liking.

Now that you know a lot more about maintaining healthy and beautiful hair, you’ll be able to impress others with your lustrous locks.

7 Reasons Why You’ll Fail As A Real Estate Marketer In 2015

In the world as a real estate marketer, it is an ever evolving and changing place. One thing that will remain constant with you however, is your fate as a real estate marketer. And if you continue to go down the same path as you have been adopting in 2014 and before, then you are doomed to failure.

As Jim Rohn said

“In order for things to change; you’ve got to change.”

Here’s how I know you will fail in 2015.

1. You Depend On Google For Traffic

Google has been updating his algorithms since it’s Panda update in 2010. It therefore makes search engines one of the least reliable ways to get traffic.

Blogs that have been written with heavy keyword articles were hit bad in the latest update in 2014. Once considered to be great SEO, this turned to ^#@* for many bloggers last year.

But in spite of this you will continue to hunt down traffic on search engines as your one and only source. The SEO experts will continue to flog their wares to the naïve and you’ll tumble back in, parting with your hard earned cash. Real estate agents work too hard for their commission; but alas most won’t heed this advice.

2. You Have No Connection With Your Readers

In this new era of marketing, building a community of loyal readers and subscribers is paramount. It is this audience that you build trust and they in return consider you to be an expert.

Online real estate marketing has evolved. You can no longer put up little, weak baseless articles full of affiliate links and think you are going to make money. You need to build relationships and establish yourself as an authority in real estate.

This requires work (ooops sorry I swore). You need to be consistent and publish good quality, value articles regularly. It takes times but it’s the only way to make online sales in 2015.

Sound too hard. Well continue posting affiliate links on Facebook etc and see how that plan works out in 2015, Sunshine.

3. Your Continue To Ignore Your Mailing List

You do have a mailing list; right? Good.

So in 2014 you posted a few articles to your real estate site or blog. You seemed to get OK traffic but very few signups to your newsletter or free giveaway. Assuming these offerings didn’t 100% stink, what is your problem.

You have not made an effort in helping your readers become subscribers by putting your opt-in box in easy to find prominent positions on your blog.

The money is in the list. Do everything you can to attract more subscribers.

4. You’re In It For A Quick Buck

There are 2 types of real estate agents. Those who treat the industry as a business and those who think they can jump in, make a quick buck and leave. It’s the same for online real estate marketers.

Unfortunately you are in the second group.

You don’t have a long term plan. Your blog is just a few pages and a splattering of articles.

There is no plan and your readers can smell it. And they won’t trust you.

5. You Don’t Think Like A Real Estate Marketer

Marketers connect with their audience by listening to their problems and offering valuable solutions.

Your marketing strategy needs to be based on solving problems and building trust.

But for you it’s all about making money and not resolving your customer’s issues. Fail!

6. You Think This Online Income Thing Doesn’t Require Hard Work

The old myth of posting a few links and waiting for the cash to flow in has never really occurred and if it did to some degree; it’s now way gone.

To many big marketers put an end to that myth by working excessively hard on their craft.

But you don’t believe it. You still think the old myth applies. It won’t work and your bank balance will prove it come December 2015.

7. You Don’t Believe In Branding

You think your franchise name is your brand. Alas not true. You are not RE/Max, Ray White, Prudential or any name you work under.

Branding is about you. It takes effort. It takes time. You have to be seen as the expert in your field and for people to trust you.

But since you don’t believe it you operate an inferior blog. Your posts are sparse. They offer little value. Your Twitter and Facebook accounts are al over the shop showing a mixture of happy snaps of you drunk at the races or you bore people to death with your constant bombardment of listings. You fail to have a LinkedIn profile and YouTube is only good for watching goofy pranksters.

Challenges in Introducing Value Education at Higher Education in India

Value Education is the much debated and discussed subject in the plethora of education in India. Of course it is true that the main purpose of any education will go with Value orientation. More concentration on Value education has been given at the primary and secondary level of school education than in higher education in India. Values could be effectively imparted to the young minds rather than to the matured ones. It may be the important reason for this prime importance given at the school level. There are so many modules designed with the help of agencies like NCERT and others for effectively imparting the value education to the school students. In this context, many innovative educational practices are being identified by the experts. Good number of experiments and studies are being conducted in the recent days on the effectiveness of teaching value education at school level. Some schools have very innovative and radical course designs to impart the values.

Effective teaching practices in imparting value education ranges from story telling, exhibitions, skits, one act play and group discussions to various other formats. New methods have been evolved by educationists to create an effective learning sphere. The usage of electronic gadgets also gains importance in the teaching-learning practices of value education. But at the higher education level, due to various reasons, the importance given to value education is not as much as it is given at the school level. The curriculum and the teaching methods also could be subjected to scrutiny. It is true that colleges are meant for a kind of specialization in some field of education. But in the Indian social context, the youth require direction and counseling at this stage. They have been exposed to various challenges at this stage which demands the intervention of educationists for his/her betterment. His/her character building also strengthens at this juncture. Students’ perception on various life factors and events are getting shaped at this stage. On the whole they evolve their own philosophy of life. Their sensitivity and knowledge are getting direction at this stage. Hence, an effective value orientation becomes inevitable to the students of colleges. Keeping this requirement in mind, States like Tamilnadu introduced a compulsory paper/course on value education to undergraduate students of all colleges in the State under the choice based credit system. Though this kind of effort is made with the good intention of imparting values to the youth, many limitations in bringing out the expected outcome could be identified.

The problem mainly begins with the definition of values. Defining the term ‘value’ poses a challenge to all scholars. The term value is loaded with varieties of meaning. Each meaning reflects its own philosophical position. Generally the term value is spontaneously associated with religious values. It is believed by many Indians that values are nothing but the religious and spiritual guiding principles of life. Hence, it is supposed that the path is already been laid for the life journey. But in the context of modernity and modernism there rises a fundamental question of whether value education is required at all in a modern state. There are those who argue that modern life is based on science and technology, and both are value neutral. They view that the values are bugbear held out by people living in the past, glued to outdated religious principles that have no relevance to the 21st century. At this point, there is also another group of modernist who propagate the necessity of value education at learning centres in order to safe guard the democratic state and its values. The values they wish to cultivate are modern secular values such as honesty, respect to other, equality, collectivity, democracy, respecting the human rights, sharing equal space in the public sphere and so on. These values are considered as the products of enlightenment period. Hence, four positions could be arrived at on the basis of the above understanding. The are:
1. There are religious values which are very much essential for every one and must be included in the curriculum.
2. The religious values should not find place in the educational system. They may operate at the private sphere.
3. There are non-religious secular values and they must find space in the education.
4. There is no need for teaching value education in the academics because they cannot be cultivated through formal learning and such value cultivation will make the individual biased.

In consequence to these positions, following questions arouse.
1. Whether value education should find place in the educational system?
2. If it is required, then what sort of values should be given preference in the curriculum?
3. What is the importance to be given to the religious values which are primarily developed on the basis of scriptures?
4. Can modern values alone are sufficient enough or is there any possibility of blending the values of modernity with religious values?
5. If religious values are to be given importance in the curriculum, which religion will find prime place? If there are contradictory propagation on a single virtue by two religions, then how are they to be handled?
6. Similarly religions differ on the practices also. Right from eating patterns, dress mode, marriage systems, war tactics, killing, punishments to various other aspects, religions differ on their outlook. In this situation, what sort of perceptions need to be taught?

Besides these questions, another billion dollar question would be raised on the methodology of effectively imparting those values. Then again as it is mentioned earlier, the school education can very well include this education easily because the system itself is advantageous for it to accommodate. But at the college level, the system finds it very difficult to work out. So this study could analyse the theoretical problems relating to the identification of values to be included in the curriculum at the one side and the problem of effective designing of the curriculum and imparting those values on the other side.


The necessity for imparting values to the students of all levels has been felt by everyone. The world today is facing unprecedented socio-political and economic challenges. Problems of life are becoming increasingly intense and complex. Traditional values are decentered. ‘An environment of strife pervades all countries and broken homes have become common. An insatiable hunger for money and power, leads most of people to tension and absence of peace of mind and all kinds of physical and mental ailments have become common place” 1. In the present day context of frequent and often violent social upheavals, we have to look at the problem of restlessness of the youth, their frustration born out of futility of their search for meaning of life and the purpose for which they are living, often leading to evil and wickedness. This calls for a new approach to, and a new vision of education. It is obviously felt that the present educational system promotes rat race and keep the student community in a sense of insecurity. Educational institutions have become the pressure cookers building pressures in the minds of youth. Also a loft sided educational pattern which insists on instrumental and technical rationality for the successful life in terms of gaining money and power has invaded the educational system of India. The person who is deemed to be unfit for this survival race becomes disqualified and ineligible to live in this market economy based life. The spate of industrialization and economic growth in developed nations has brought about a perceptible change in this scenario. And developing countries including India are feeling the ripple effects of this development. Values earlier considered essential by all societies have been eroded and have given way to unethical practices around the globe. Where honesty and integrity were loved and appreciated, greed, corruption and red tapism have come in, bringing in their wake, unethical responses which have pervaded all walks of life and are thwarting efforts of a few enlightened individuals to promote value based society.2 Hence, implementation of well structured education is the only solution available with all states. With growing divisive forces, narrow parochialism, separatist tendencies on the one hand and considerable fall in moral, social, ethical and national values both in personal and public life on the other, the need for promoting effective programmes of value orientation in education has assumed great urgency. Development of human values through education is now routinely seen as a task of national importance. Value education though supposes to be the part and parcel of the regular education, due to the market influences, it could not be so. Hence, it has become an inevitable need to include an exclusive curriculum for value education at all levels.

Now the next question would be about the nature of value education. What sort of values should be given preference in the curriculum is the prime problem in the introduction of value education. This problem surfaces because we can find varieties of values prescribed on the basis of various scriptures and theories. Sometimes they are contradictory to each other. This issue has been thoroughly discussed earlier. But the solution to the problem of the nature of value education is primarily dependent on the social conditions that prevail in the state. There need not be an imported value educational pattern to be prescribed in India. The burning social issues would demand the required value education. Though India is considered to be the land of divinity and wisdom, the modern value system throws challenges to the ancient value pattern. Right from the Gurkula pattern to the varna ashrama values, all values are under scrutiny by modern rationality. Hence, the relevance of the golden values prescribed by the then society is questionable in the present situation. On the other hand, the so called modern values which have been listed earlier also subjected to criticism by philosophers like post modernists. They question the very nature of the rationality of the enlightenment period. Because critics of modernity strongly declare that the modern rationality is the reason for the deterioration of human concern in the world and they paved the way for inhuman killing and escalation of values. The reason of the modernism is considered as the root of power politics which leads to inhuman behaviour of the power system, according to them. Hence the modern values like democracy, civil rights, environmental ethics, professional ethics, discipline and all such values are found useless in bringing harmony in the society. The values like discipline, tolerance, peace bears the negative connotation in this context. Hence, what sort of modern values are to be included in the curriculum is a challenge thrown towards the educationists. At one side the fanatic and fundamentalist features of religious values and on the other side the modern values based on the market economy and other factors are to be excluded and a well balanced curriculum with genuine worthy values suitable to the society has to be identified and included in the educational system. In this context, it becomes obvious that there cannot be any universal pattern of values to be prescribed in the system. When a suitable blend of religious and modern values is to be done, the designing of such course demands an unbiased, scrupulous, intelligent approach on the part of the academician who designs such course. Thus the spiritual values of sensitizing the youth for happy world and rational values for a just world are very much required. Religious values can be taken but not with the label of any particular religion, democratic values are to be included but not with its dogmatic inhuman approach. Thus there need a perfect blend of both. This is the real challenge thrown to the Indian academicians.

After the identification of these values, they need to be inculcated not to be informed to the students. Mostly listing the values is done very easily, but imparting them effectively requires genuine spirit and innovative educational practices. In the Vedic period, the gurukula system prevailed in which the student has to thoroughly undergo a pattern life with the guru shishya hierarchy. Whatever the guru declares are the values of life. But in the modern context, which is supposed to be the democratic sphere, a sense of equality and freedom has to prevail the learning situation. Also the values identified cannot be preached on the basis of the religious faiths. So the teacher has to find effective working module to internalize the values in the minds of the youth. The teachers’ understanding about the values prescribed and his/her commitment in imparting them also play a crucial role here. How to sensitize the teacher before carrying the values to the students is also a challenge to the educationists. The value education class room, if it is dealt with full seriousness and sincerity would be very interesting and challenging sphere for students and teachers. At times they need to sail at the same level with the students. The hierarchy may get disappeared. Value education demands a total responsibility from the teachers. They become more accountable. On the other side, a teacher who is committed to a set of values would always like to preach and impose them on the young minds. That extreme should also to be avoided with a balance of mind. Value education cannot be done by just delivering lectures and screening films. It requires a strong interaction between the students and the society. A lot could be experimented at this sphere. For which the supreme value ‘integrity’ is expected from the educator.

It is observed that many modules of teaching values have been designed and tested. Some are seemed to be very effective. In Tamilnadu, especially in aided colleges, with all good intention the government has introduced the value education as a compulsory scheme at the undergraduate level. But each university has its own syllabus for the same. The scrutiny of those syllabi also reveals a lot of variations in conceiving the value education. In some universities, some religion based institutions are given the responsibility of designing and even carrying out the course. Similarly the teachers who have not been exposed to any such type of training in value education are given the responsibility of teaching values. The introduction of value education for all under graduate courses is done at the cost of a core paper of that course. The teachers who have been handling their hardcore subject papers had to meet the shortage of workload due to this programme and to solve this problem, they have been entrusted with the job of teaching value education paper. This is done with the aim of avoiding the workload problem of existing teachers. The most valuable and sensitive part of education has been made like a mechanical dogmatic part. At this juncture, the fate of value education at the college level could be imagined. How to solve this issue is again a challenge to the educationists of Tamilnadu. The same fate could be observed in many other states of India. Hence, two important problems surfaces here, one at the syllabus level and the other at the teaching level. As it is discussed earlier the syllabus could be designed by way of paying attention to all aspects but imparting the same requires not only innovative teaching methods, but also innovative training method of the educators. It is as good as training the driver to drive the car; the teacher needs to be trained in imparting the values. The technical education employs teachers with sound knowledge in the subject, similarly it is essential to have teachers with sound mind and creative teaching skill to teach value education. Value education is definitely not to be dealt with compartmentalization but it should be taken as a part of the whole educational system. As Nietzsche puts it, the society requires masters to create and impart values, not the slaves who accept all the values imposed on them without any critical understanding.

Your Real Estate Marketing Plan

A real estate marketing plan needs to take all facets of the realty business into account. This means marketing to real estate sellers as well as buyers. The real estate strategy also needs to utilize both online and offline methods of advertising.

Realtor advertising needs to show a good return on your advertising investment. It should be tracked to see if you are gaining positive results for each dollar spent. By researching your advertising methods and tracking the results, you can find the best methods that work in your local real estate market.

The main thrust of your marketing endeavors should be to gain leads, follow them up quickly, and turn your prospects into clients by meeting with them face-to-face. All along this marketing process, you should be aiming to gain the trust and loyalty of the real estate lead. Thus turning them into your client and making them a loyal, lifetime customer.

Your realtor marketing plan should be an offensive game plan. Direct response marketing is best for this type of endeavor. Direct response marketing is meant to illicit a yes or no response from your potential lead. It then gives them a means to contact you if the answer is yes, giving you the opportunity to supply them with the information they desire and capture the lead’s contact information for further follow-up.

Both online and offline techniques can be used to accomplish this objective. An integration of online and offline rounds out your marketing offensive. In this modern day, both are equally important and give the lead their choice of means to contact you.

Key to the success of your marketing strategy is “baiting” the potential client with pertinent information that they are seeking. Online you can capture your leads by supplying them with information on buying or selling their house, finding the value of their property, or giving them a report on what to do to prepare their property for sale. This is supplied in downloadable form after they give you their contact information.

Offline, the same information can be supplied or information on a house they have seen in an ad or after driving by and obtaining a phone number from you house sign. Through a realtor hotline number they can access the desired information after calling and giving a special phone extension number that is specific to their request. You phone hotline should have the ability to capture the lead’s phone number and name so that you can do an immediate follow-up call to sell the lead on your abilities and tell them what you can do for their real estate quest.

Prompt follow-up is one of the most important keys to your real estate success. Most people don’t expect prompt, personal service and this sets the mood for developing a relationship with the lead. Developing a personal relationship with your prospects brings confidence in your abilities to help them and a lifetime commitment to you as their realtor.

You should develop scripts that bring confidence to you as a real estate agent. These should be aimed at the prospect’s desires and needs and how you can help them obtain their desires, whether selling or buying housing. Communication is key and should always answer that big Homer Simpson question that he asks in every episode that the lead is also asking: “What’s in it for Me?”

Your advertising should not be the traditional “here I am” and “I’m such a great real estate agent” ads that so many realtors use. If the ads are of this type, you prospects will be asking the two other Homer Simpson questions: “So What?” and “Who Cares?” before they turn to another realtor that can focus on their needs.

Everything in your real estate marketing plan should be centered around the prospect. You must build confidence that you can aid them with their wants and desires. You have to show them that you can do this quickly and with the least amount of hassle on their part. The process has to be simple and easy for them to accomplish.

Show the lead that you are the real estate agent to allow them their dream by being the go-between that can same them time and money while getting the job done. Keep communications open at all steps along the real estate process, from meeting the client to closing the deal, and inform them of the progress towards their goal continuously.

The biggest complaint clients have with realtors is that they get the client to sign an agreement and then are not heard of until a deal is in the making. You want to keep in touch no matter what the progress is and inform your client that progress IS being made and this is what YOU ARE DOING FOR THEM.

A well thought out real estate marketing plan should take into account this and much more. It takes effort on your part but this effort will pay dividends. The real estate agent should continually brainstorm new means of advancing their business and bring these into their strategy if they prove themselves to work.

Building Technology Strategy for Small Businesses

With the advent of internet revolution, technology is no more a supporting function, rather it has become a driver for business growth in any sector and of any size. Small businesses in non-technology sectors, find it a daunting task to articulate a Technology Strategy, rather, most of them don’t even have it. Not only are these companies cash strapped, they have minimal or no internal capabilities and limited access to expert guidance on technology. Not having an effective Technology Strategy can drain a company’s resources, push them behind the competition or they may even cease to exist. This article provides basic advice for small business owners on where to get started. Below are some factors to take into account while creating an effective Technology Strategy.

Legal and Government Compliance

Planning for technology that keeps the business in legal and government compliance comes before anything else. Last thing a business wants is getting distracting from core trade and going bankrupt contesting litigations. For example, a restaurant business should have technology planned for Sales Tax, PCI Compliance, and Employee Time sheets etc.

Core Business and Customer Experience

Technology that facilitates core business and customer experience comes next. These are what directly generate revenue and these are the services what customers pay for. This is the area, a business must appropriately plan for and allocate funds for. For example, for a restaurant business to be successful, it must have good technology in place to take customers’ orders, execution in the kitchen and service. If the customers do not get what they ordered or get too late, then it is going to affect the restaurant’s business. While providing free WiFi internet may help in improving customer experience.

Marketing and Digital Reputation

For a business to attract customers, not only it must announce its existence to the customers but continuously make buzz to stay ahead of the competition. Effective marketing is a very critical factor in any business’ success. In today’s internet savvy world, most of the customers research about any service or product on internet before they buy it. That makes having and maintaining good digital reputation on the internet very important for any business. This is what a business must plan for next and allocate appropriate funds. For example, a restaurant business might want to have a website informing customers about restaurant and the menu. For marketing and digital reputation it should create and actively maintain presence on social platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Yelp etc. Using internet marketing over traditional marketing channels can be more effective as they enable reaching larger audiences at substantially lower cost.

Operational Efficiency and Effectiveness

Next thing to consider is planning for technology related to improving operational efficiency and effectiveness. Technology investments in operational efficiency can help reduce costs, cut-down waste and substantially improve the bottom line. Wherever the savings realized through improved efficiency exceed cost of technology, it is worth an investment. For example, for a restaurant business having technology for inventory and material planning can substantially reduce inventory carrying cost and food spoilage, thereby directly adding to the profitability.

Insource, Outsource, or the Cloud

Once you have figured out what you want, it’s time to plan for how to acquire these capabilities. Most non-technology small business have minimal or no internal capability and hiring staff for non-core business may burn holes in the pockets. So, unless the business has existing employees that have technology skills, insourcing may not be a good strategy. Most of the best technology, both platforms and software are generally available on cloud today and must be considered as first preference. From small business’ perspective, Cloud is not only cost-effective but also allows business to stay focused on its core strengths. Only if something is not available on cloud, outsourcing may be considered.

Data Strategy and Security

After having planned for what is need and how to acquire, it is also important to research and plan for data storage, retention and security strategy. It is important to have data storage in compliance with government laws for physical location, retention period, encryption standards, usage and other factors. Agreements with cloud service providers must be reviewed before making decision to buy their services. Cloud platforms usually come with best of breed security infrastructure. Having in-house data can add to security and safety costs.

Finally, review regularly

Finally, always plan for regular review of the Technology Strategy to keep it aligned with business goals and other aspects discussed above. Remember that laws, technology, customer expectations, competitors and market are always changing and so must your strategy to stay in alignment.

Amit Ginotra is an experienced Information Technology professional with expertise in Technology Strategy and Transformation. He is also currently enrolled in the Master of Entrepreneurship Degree Program at Western Carolina University. Webmasters and other article publishers are hereby granted article reproduction permission as long as this article in its entirety, author’s information, and any links remain intact. Copyright 2014 by Amit Ginotra.