Thursday, January 9, 2014

Flipping The Script

Barbering Shop

I’m here for a haircut but it looks like I would need to wait in a queue longer than expected, due to many people in line here for their turn. I’m the sixth person now. What a way to start the New Year, probably everyone here had haircut as their first New Year resolution.

First of all, I see the cleaner with his white earphones on, connected to his phone, nodding his head as if he’s enjoying the dusting more than the music – obviously some good music is beating in his eardrum. Everyone, except the kid sleeping on his mum’s lap is engaged on their Smartphone. The newspapers and magazines lying on the center table for customers and visitors are just for decorations, at least, for now.
This makes me wonder; would there ever be a generation who would read only digital content from school text books, novels, etc.? Yes I suppose. OK, then how would the physical libraries and bookshop function? 

Digital Natives vs. Immigrants

But make no mistake, we live in a world of digital natives and digital immigrants. 

The former are made up of Mavis Beacon typing students and alumni who prefer typing to writing. They also prefer reading all materials on screens while flipping, tapping, scrolling and performing all kinds of finger gestures on the screen. The latter tries to adapt to their environment but always retain, to some degree, the "accent" that reveals they keep one foot in the past. Examples are people who are not fully comfortable reading books on screens but prefer books they can physically touch, smell and taste. 

Digital immigrants print out e-mails (or have a secretary print it for them —an even "thicker" accent); print a computer-composed document in order to edit it; and bringing people into their office to see an interesting website (rather than just sending the URL to them). I hope you get the point I’m putting across. I agree with Marc Prensky that digital natives cannot go backward, so digital immigrants have no choice but to migrate, adapt, and innovate. If anyone should come back alive from say early 90s, the mention of Facebook may end the person in a local bookshop or library to get a copy. 


Do you agree that CVs (Curriculum Vitae) may fade away soon? Well, not the name CV but the traditional way of building the CV. I’m referring to the one, two, or even more page document divided into educational and professional written experiences. Look, if you want to stay competitive today and tomorrow, you’ve got to be present online. I’m not talking about only appearing in search results after your name has been entered on a search engine. You need to find a way to demonstrate your experiences, skills or interest online.

For example, if you write, you can blog – if your skills can be demonstrated, show it on your YouTube channel. Beside been part of a professional network site like LinkedIn, you could also join and engage in various discussion groups of interest or forums online. These social tools are free and most recruiters or managers first search to find out more information about potential candidates before even inviting them for interviews. CVs now are turning into documents with hyperlinks to publications or featured skills. Very soon if no one finds you on Google, then you do not exist in the 21st Century.

Look, school is no more within a block structure with a teacher in front of a board. School today is with us anywhere there is internet, same with jobs. And if you think education is expensive, wait till you see how much ignorance cost. Some of us spend our lives acting rationally in response to a world we recognize and understand but which no longer exists.

Big Data

Are you aware of big data? Well, Big data has arrived and not a fad. Hold on, I’ll explain in brief shortly. 

“Who here uses the cloud? Please just raise your hand”, this was the question I asked my audience (about 50 in number) during one of my business presentations. Surprisingly, no one showed up, even though it was an audience of IT professionals. So I assumed either they didn’t hear my question or they were not paying attention. So I asked again, “who among you uses a Smartphone or any smart device?” Well, you probably know the feedback now, everyone showed up with hands. If you have a smart device and you use it connected anyway for data from the internet, most, if not all of the data is in the cloud.

The fact that so many people are connected onto the cloud via Smartphone also means a whole new generation of apps around entertainment, education and social life, affecting the way we live, communicate and learn. We forget too soon; the mention of gigabyte some few years back was like “Wow! The whole world information could go on it”. 

These were the days of floppy disks, but time has changed that we now put gigabytes in our pockets. Every data accessed on a screen resides on a memory or disk. So more access to the internet means more information with more different data sets which eventually lead to more memory and disk capacity requirements. These different data sets gave birth to big data, as I mentioned earlier, it is one of the new terms in computing. Now the interesting challenge is the ability to perform analytics on different data sets to discover patterns for decision making in various field of endeavors. 

Consumers Today

If you’re a company offering products or services and you do not pay keen attention to social media, start counting your doom days if not dead yet. As Gary Hemel
 put it, “somewhere out there is a bullet with your company's name on it. Somewhere out there is a competitor, unborn and unknown, that will render your strategy obsolete. You can't dodge the bullet – you're going to have to shoot first. You're going to have to out-innovate the innovators.” Look, technology puts power in communities not institutions anymore. 

What I mean is that, consumers trust word of mouth and consumer generated media more than any other information source. Customers today are more in control of their media experiences than ever. They decide what they want to hear, see or read and when they want it. Technology tools including Really Simple Syndication (RSS), enables consumers to choose and subscribe to the information that interest them. With the global expansion of internet access and smart devices, consumers are looking elsewhere for information; from print to online and from institutional media to online consumer communities. If you are the type of person like me who first check online for consumer reviews or ratings of new product regardless the brand or company, before committing to purchasing the product, you’ll get what I’m trying to put across. 


The basic rules or norms we used to have are changing. A very interesting one just occurred in the music industry with Beyonce’s new album release. Did you hear about that? She changed the rules completely; let me be more urban here, she “flipped the script”. 

The initial rule was that, first put the music on radio, followed by promotion and a big release day. But Beyonce surprised the entire music industry by releasing her latest album “Beyonce” on iTunes – with no initial radio play, no promotion and no launch parties. But her new album quickly became number one selling on iTunes, selling more than 1million copies worldwide in just the first week (more of this story on CNN). Think for a minute how much money Beyonce saved from promotions and launching, yet making it hit on top of the chart. 

Barbering Shop

Well, it’s almost my turn to get my long awaited haircut. Would you consider yourself as a digital native or immigrant? And what else do you see as technology changing the way we live our lives? Please share your feedback. 

Thank you.

Harry Tetteh | .

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Friday, May 13, 2011

Paradigm Shift?


It is becoming more popular now as it makes life easy or perhaps for convenience sake if not just show off. The first time I experienced it was at church service when the Priest asked everyone to open their bibles but realised few church members pulling their mobile phones from their purse and pocket. Interestingly, one old folk tapped the shoulder of a young lady who had a phone and then pointed his hand to the notice “Kindly switch off your mobile phone, thank you.” The old folk stared astonishingly after the lady whispered quietly “it has a bible”. On Palm Sunday, the Priest used an IPad for his sermon, prayers and bible readings. A few years back this would have been entirely impossible.

“He is not poking back my pokes after leaving the message on his wall, I wish I didn’t tag him on that album” – “I followed his twits after googling his company’s name” – “facebooking is restricted during working hours, we mean business not pleasure”. If it was easy to understand the scenarios above, I guess you’re a 21st Century citizen, if not, why not? I believe you’re getting the point I’m trying to make now. The way we live our lives today has changed radically, leaving technology to take control of most of our time.
Time to check a quick email turns to hours on social media websites, if not on facebook. My grandmother would certainly agree with you about this change because even though she appreciate the fact that she can talk to us anytime through my uncle’s phone, she has no idea how this is possible. Possibility is what technology stands for.

Yes, we’re in the social media revolution, the digital age where uprising in our (physical) societies easily sparkle from the (virtual) internet. We’re in the knowledge age where the role of the teacher in the classroom is not just providing information but guiding and empowering students to be creative and innovative because most (if not all) information is available online.
Right, it’s quite obvious about the encroachment of technology in the 21st Century but keep in mind that not all nations or societies in the world are experiencing this paradigm shift. Therefore any attempt to revolt against the Chief in my hometown via facebook or twitter would not be only in vain but inconsequential. If you doubt, try! Many societies still live outside the system even though technology keeps travelling on a top speed.
America still remains leaders in technology innovation in the world – designing technology tools and applications for the internet are based on their lingua franca, culture and ideologies. And this is influencing other cultures around the world. Typical examples are freedom of association, freedom of information (sharing), transparency and respecting individual privacy – this have played major role in effecting the uprising of nations through social media websites.
Today, we need 21st Century leaders’ not just leaders leading in the 21st Century. We need leading experts in Change, Innovation and Strategy like Dr. Dave Richards, who is a globally successful senior executive, serial entrepreneur and intrapreneur, innovator, author, inspirational speaker, and advisor on strategic innovation and leadership -  Desi Lopez Fafie, who is a highly capable business executive and leader, with excellent skills to build relationships and manage large groups of people with diverse cultural and linguistic backgrounds and has the eyes to unearth the potentials, opportunities and possibilities in the African continent ( and John P. Kotter, a Professor of leadership, emeritus, at Harvard Business School, who is widely regarded as the world’s foremost authority  on leadership and change (

Just as social media has opened a dialogue between businesses and consumers, its value is apparent to those in political office, whose work and very professional survival hinges on the needs and perceptions of their constituents. But when was the last time a local politician garnered the same social media buzz as a hip start-up, or a savvy online retailer?
We need a government that embodies the paradigm shift of the 21st Century like President Barak Obama. There’s still an entire year and seven months until the U.S. presidential election on November 6, 2012, but social media has already played a huge role in the burgeoning race.

About three weeks ago, Mitt Romney had already announced his bid on Youtube. and Tim Pawlenty had already joined the race through his facebook page. President Obama also kicked off his re-election campaign with a number of digital initiatives.

President Obama continues to leverage IT leaders’ role to grow the American economy. No wonder he created the Chief Technology Officer position in his government, which Eric Schmidt (Executive Chairman, Google) was mentioned as a possible candidate.

Increased mobility, immigration, intermarriage, and access to job opportunities worldwide have led to another kind of blending and mixing-communities across the globe are becoming ever more culturally diverse in the 21st Century. Even though I’m not an American citizen, I concur the speech by President Obama on “Building a 21st Century Immigration System”. In his speech President Obama said, “…it doesn’t matter where you come from, doesn’t matter what you look like, it doesn’t matter what faith you worship, what matters is you believe in the ideals on which we were founded.”

The 21st Century challenge for each of us is to build and maintain our own identity from our given traditions and from the wide variety of traditions all around us. At the same time we should all learn to apply tolerance and compassion for the different identities and value of others.

With growing diversity of global traditions and values that now surrounds us, the challenge to maintaining social harmony is great, but the opportunities for richer, more creative, and vibrant communities are even greater.

That’s the way technology is affecting the way we live and work today.

Is this a paradigm shift? Your comments are welcome.

Thank you!

© Harry Tetteh

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Akwaaba (welcome) CRSTE members and visitors!

In the Agrarian Age, when farming the land was the primary work for the society (as it still in many parts of the world), contributing to society meant learning how to grow food for more than your family. Passing on the knowledge, tradition, and crafts of rural life to your children was an essential survival need.

In the Industrial Age, when the population dramatically shifted from farm to city – rural urban migration – and work moved from the fields to the factories, education played new roles in society. Typically, men had one or two career paths: working in a trade factory or clerical job, or becoming a manager, administrator, or professional if they could make the grade. Women’s choices were, of course, far fewer.

This brings us to our time, our recently arrived Knowledge Age.

Technology is more a part of our children’s lives each day. Why should they have to check their technology at the classroom door and compete for limited school computer time?

The world is full of engaging, real-world challenges, problems, and questions. Why do teachers spend so much time on disconnected questions at the end of a textbook chapter?

Doing projects on something one cares about comes naturally to all learners. Why are learning projects so scarce inside so many classrooms?

Innovation and creativity are so important to the future success of our economy. Why do schools spend so little time on developing creativity and innovation skills?

My blog shares my experiences and sentiments for the 21st Century Education, Life and Work.

Thank you for your visit.


Diverse teams for classrooms?

How time flies! Memories of my involvement in the ThinkQuest International challenge (2002) come into mind especially when I’m at work due to its profound impact on my life. ThinkQuest is an international competition that challenges students to work in diverse teams around the world to solve real world problem by applying their critical thinking, communication and technology skills.

In my ThinkQuest team, we were diverse team members from Ghana, Egypt, Netherland, Australia and USA. We worked together online to create a project on sea mammals with the title “Gentle Giants of the Deep”. Of course, we were working from different time zones exchanging over thousand messages in the course of the project. Most times, I stayed overnight when it is mid-day for some of my team members. We used different web tools to create and share our work online, constantly adding, editing and modifying our work.

The first time I met with some of my team members was at San Diego for ThinkQuest conference in 2006. It took a short time to readjust with my team members because there are no accents in online messages, and the finer points of personality, styles, body language and joke could not be fully appreciated until the team was physically together. Our friendship also deepened.

The world of work is increasingly made up of diverse virtual and real teams working together to solve problems and create something new. Why do students mostly work alone and compete with each other for teacher approval?

Today’s fields of endeavors are made up of team diversity, from the soccer field to the field of work. Increased mobility, immigration, intermarriage, and access to job opportunities worldwide have led to another kind of blending and mixing-communities across the globe are becoming ever more culturally diverse. Though this diversity has brought vitality and richness to our communities, difference between traditional culture and modern values are still a troubling source of tension in the world.

Students need different skills for these new challenges. There should be a vibrant global movement in play to retune the instruments of education for a rising band of digital learners, and to sync up learning to the new rhythms of the 21st Century.

Diverse work teams, scattered around the globe and connected by technology, are becoming the norm in the 21st Century work. Diverse schools and communities are also becoming more common worldwide. The ability to work effectively and creatively with team members and classmates regardless of difference in culture and style is an essential 21st Century life skills.

Understanding and accommodating cultural and social differences, and using these differences to come up with even more creative ideas and solutions to problem, will be increasingly important throughout this century. The skills to become socially adept, cross-culturally fluent global learners and citizens are more important than ever.
21st Century.

In our newly flat world of connected knowledge work, global markets, social media world, tele-linked citizens, and blended cultural traditions, the 21st Century demands a fresh set of responses.

To be a productive contributor to society in our 21st Century, you need to be able to quickly learn the core content of a field of knowledge while also mastering a broad portfolio of essential learning, innovation, technology and career skills needed for work and life.

And when you apply these skills to today’s knowledge and innovation work, you are participating in a global network in which, for example, a product may be designed in Africa, manufactured in China, assembled in the USA and sold in cities across the world.

© Harry Tetteh

Thursday, June 3, 2010

What does this mean?

It really marvels me when dedication for work becomes the pleasure to make an impact. My good friend William Effah Owusu gladly welcomed the responsibility as an opportunity to teach Seidi D/A Junior High School and make an impact with his profession as a teacher. Trust me; very few city residents would accept this task.  Seidi is rural community located within the suburb of Ashanti region of Ghana with population less than 1000 and maize farming as their main profession. They don’t have flowing tap water but recently got connected to the electric grid through cash contributions by school teachers in the village.

William now lives in Seidi but occasionally comes home (to Kumasi city) and gets the chance to check his emails. It was a delight to reconnect with William on Facebook to share his experiences.

According to William, very few students are able to graduate to the Senior High School at Seidi, let alone obtain a University degree. Not because the students are not intelligent but the school lacks the basic educational resources to equip the students development. Profession of parents is automatically inherited by their children in Seidi. Students need to be continuously persuaded and motivated to attend school each day. Some students even prefer to assist their parents on the farm in the morning and join the class in the afternoon.

Even though Information Communication Technology is part of their curriculum, William says “the mention of it in class seems like one of the planets somewhere on the solar system”. The only computer which William helped to purchase is now the school’s computer lab. Seems like the pace of the 21st Century change differs globally and what does this mean for education?

Research has disclosed that the top 10 in-demand jobs for 2010 did not exist in 2004. The amount of new ‘technical information’ is doubling every 2 years. So for students starting a 4-year technical related degree, this means that half of what they learn in their first year of study will be outdated by their third year of study. And what does this mean?

Of course, this brings a lot more questions in mind after thinking of how the world was when we were kids and what the world has become today.  All boiling down to where exactly is the world heading – or – what would the future of the kids of today be? The information age brought more knowledge workers due to the demand for their services. Obviously, we are preparing students for jobs that do not exist today, in order to solve problems that we do not even know exist yet. 

The invention of IPv6 (Internet Protocol version 6) has led to the increase of internet devices from PCs to mobile phones, TVs, watches and counting. What does this mean? To share with you some interesting facts....

Google says over 31 billion searches are done on its servers every month. In 2006 the number was 2.7 billion. To whom were these questions addressed before Google? Wikipedia was launched in 2001 and now features over 13 million articles in more than 200 languages.

Studies show the number of unique visitors on Facebook, Youtube, and Myspace every month collectively exceed 250 million. But none of these sites existed 6 years ago. We’re living in exponential times indeed.

How are you using social networking sites?

Social media is not a fad, it’s a fundamental shift in the way we communicate, connect and relate to each other in the 21st Century. Interestingly, the virtual world created by the internet is also presenting a virtual culture. A typical example is the language widely adapted online with numerous abbreviations especially on chat sessions to express our mood. For example, “l8r” for “later”, “g2g” for “got to go”, “brb” for “be right back”, “lol” for “laughing out loud” etc. Anyway, how many of us honestly were actually laughing out loud before typing “lol”? – Well, I wouldn’t be surprise to see these chat expressions appear soon in dictionaries if it hasn’t yet. What does this mean?

Everyone should have a passing interest in technological development as eventually they may change everyone’s life for the better. The 21st Century Skills brings the skill set needed to continuously prepare workers and students to survive today’s challenges and enjoy tomorrow’s opportunities. What does this mean?

It means that education is no longer a pathway to opportunities but a prerequisite for success in the 21st Century. I share with President Obama that in the 21st Century, “…a nation most valuable currency is the knowledge and skills of its people”. And like Sarah Brown Wessling (2010 National Teacher of the year, USA) said, “we need 21st Century teachers not just adults teaching in the 21st Century” to prepare our students for the future.

© Harry Tetteh