🌍Free-Range Tech BONUS Feb 2021 Edition🌎

Sharing the Things I'm Learning & Using

New Digs

It has been almost a year since I de-camped from my office on the 5th floor of Cornell Hall and holed up in my basement workshop, converting it into a studio/office for teaching, interviews, and producing content. I made a number of improvements over the winter break. If you are interested in seeing where I spend my days, here is a short video tour.

As always, be sure to hit reply ↩️ and tell me what you have been up to, what you are reading, and what neat stuff you have discovered lately!

Discoveries and Lifehacks

🦦Transcription Service: Otter.ai

This year, I've decided to go all-in on any service or device that will make me more productive, without worrying if it has some small cost. For the past two months, I have been using Otter.ai, which is a service that will transcribe audio and video files into text. After a simple setup to integrate with Dropbox, I have an excellent system for turning audio and video files into Microsoft Word and PDF files.

I now have an "Otter" folder in Dropbox. When I drag audio and video into this folder, Otter.ai detects the new file and transcribes it. About 45 minutes later, I receive a message that the audio has been transcribed. A text file of the transcription is now in that same dropbox folder! You can select other formats for delivery to your dropbox, and you can log in to the otter.ai interface if you later decide that you want a word file, pdf, etc.

This service works for all sorts of recordings. Zoom recordings, podcasts, downloaded youtube videos, voice memos, etc.

I've used Otter.ai for all of these and to transcribe podcasts on which I have appeared, pulling out my excellent insights (ok, mediocre insights) and turning them into posts on medium.

One of the books that I review below (Post-Corona by Scott Galloway) was developed this way. Galloway took all of his podcast interviews, media appearances, and lectures transcribed to text and then used another piece of software to bring together related paragraphs based on terms and frequency of use. Voila! Galloway had created a rough draft, and he went to work editing. In two months, he was able to "write" a best-selling book.

As an educator, I somehow lucked into a huge discount ($50 per year). Higher paid plans include additional features, including live transcription of zoom calls.

Web Link: https://otter.ai/

🧑‍🏫Course and Event Platform: on.zoom.us

Zoom is the company and verb of 2020 and continues to dominate the video conferencing marketplace in 2021. Considering the scaling and support Zoom had to roll out to accommodate millions of new users, you might think they would have little time to innovate. But Zoom is zooming ahead to lots of new features and ways to use its service.

On innovation is a new platform called On Zoom (on.zoom.us), which allows content creators (called hosts) to provide classes, group events, and workshops. Hosts are offering everything from cooking lessons to workout lessons, or, in my case to how to understand blockchain.

With On Zoom, Zoom has created an elegant platform that integrates video conferencing, a course catalog, a ticketing system, a payment system, and the post-event follow-up. Zoom is also offering this as a "free" service. If you charge for your workshops, you pay just what the payment processor assesses Zoom. So 95% or more of the ticket goes directly to you. You can also offer events free of charge in which case there's no processing charge.

Another fantastic feature of this is that people can use this for fundraising. On Zoom also integrates with a nonprofit donation platform called Pledgeling. They have an integration specifically for zoom: https://www.pledgeling.com/zoom. This integration allows you to raise money before, during, or after an event). Or you can even have a telethon-style event to raise money. A custom video overlay allows the live tallying of money raised.

You must have to have a paid zoom account to be a host; your Zoom license limits the number of tickets you can sell. For example, I have a personal license on Zoom that allows me to host up to 10 people at a time and up to 100 people. Therefore, I can sell 100 tickets or give away 100 free seats to my event. Or split the 100 seats between paid and free tickets, etc. If I get more demand, I would need to expand my license to offer or sell more tickets.

While still in beta, this service works great. I've experimented with offering two events. My technology-lectures are not bestsellers, but the platform is excellent.

Web Link: https://on.zoom.us/

🧑‍🎓Message-Based Learning Platform: Arist

Another platform I've been experimenting with is Arist, which lets you design and offer delivery courses via a text messaging platform (SMS, WhatsApp, or even Facebook Messenger).

Arist was initially targeted as a service for corporations to use in onboarding new employees. Instead of having two days of employee training, you might have one day, and then over the next 20 days, you would receive a text message each day telling you more about your new employer or job function. Arist allows for two-way interactions, so as a course designer, you can see your students' responses or ask them a question at the end of each text message.

There are several free courses that you can sign up for and try out for yourself.

I think this is a very intriguing idea, especially when it comes to executive education. Imagine having a workshop for a day or two to bring together people around one particular topic or strategy and then continue that education after leaving the classroom via Arist. And perhaps end with another follow-up live session after that. These platforms will help bridge the gap between synchronous and asynchronous education and offer new hybrid ways to deliver Just In Time (JIT) training.

I have been in touch with the founders, and they are willing to let instructors play around with the platform without getting charged. So if you sign up and are intimidated by the fees (designed for their corporate clients), don't worry. Write to them and explain your goals, and they will work with you (or let me know, and I will get you in contact with them.) They have several webinars to help you get started: https://www.arist.co/webinar

Web Link: https://arist.co/

Book Reviews

😷 10 Lessons for a post-pandemic world by Fareed Zakaria

Well-written and organized, but not a lot of predictions or insights (in my opinion). This might be a great book if you have not been reading the news for the last couple of years and needed to know what are the big trends that will shape the future in the post-covid world. It is more of a state of the state discussion of where various issues stand and why they will be important in the coming years. Good analysis, but I had expected more insights about the future from Zakaria.

Perhaps the most interesting/clear point that the author makes is that America's withdraw from the global stage during the Trump era has changed the landscape and other players have stepped up to fill the void. American's hegemony in setting the global agenda is over. China's Belt and Road Initiative is a compelling alternative for many struggling nations.

"At this point, the restoration of an American-dominated international order is not possible. Too many new powers are rising, too many new forces have been unleashed that cannot be tamed, even if the American presidents were a dedicated multilateralist."

Amazon Link

💊Post-Corona by Scott Galloway

Never one to pull his punches, Professor Galloway lays out the problems of democracy, education, and capitalism in this short book that predicts what a post-Corona future holds for humanity. Unlike Fareed Zakaria's book, Galloway offers lots of opinions about why our systems of capitalism, the government are screwed up and what to do about it.

Galloway examines many different areas of our world, from big tech and retail to elections and higher education. A "class-traitor," tenured-professor Galloway reserves his harshest criticism for higher education and his profession (still not sure that Mike C. didn't ghostwrite this part of the book🙂).

I enjoyed this book, and I think it provides a lot more insight into how we should shape the future. You will undoubtedly find opinions that you differ from or dislike in this book. But you'll also find some challenging ideas that will challenge the way you think about how the world currently works or should work in a post- Corona scene.

I highly recommend this well-written short read.

Amazon Link

🗞️Newsmakers: Artificial Intelligence and the Future of Journalism by Francisco Marconi.

Newsmakers is an excellent, relatively short book that examines the use of AI in journalism. Artificial intelligence is already writing stories in papers such as The Wall Street Journal and can do much more. This book provides an introduction to AI with a focus on implications for the newsroom. Specifically, Mr. Marconi looks at the ethics of AI journalism and how the Wall Street Journal and other outlets are dealing with the issues raised. He also addresses AI-created problems for journalists, namely, deep fakes and differentiating between real and AI-generated photos, videos, audio, and reporting (Search for "Deep Fakes" on YouTube and prepare to freak out). Francisco is also a Mizzou graduate and has been kind enough to speak to my class on a couple of occasions.

Amazon Link

Exploring-->Learning-->Building--> Sharing

I have lots of things in the works and look forward to sharing them in March. In the meantime, I always look forward to getting responses from you all, hearing about what you have been creating recently, and the resources/lifehacks you are using!! And thanks to the 800+ colleagues and friends who read my monthly (almost!) emails!

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Take care,