29.7.15

[blogging shift from specialist subject to multi-faceted]

Influencer marketing has tons of room for creativity, which makes it one of the most unique forms of marketing today. Brands that employ influencers strategically can knock their campaigns right out of the park and into the laps of their target demographic.
One recent influencer marketing trend is brands' partnering with bloggers and social influencers that don't fall within their industry. Venturing outside of your normal space can open up your product to a completely untapped market.
That's where the magic happens.
To that end, we've also noticed a shift with bloggers moving away from focusing on one subject matter and letting their readers in on all the things they love.
When doing influencer marketing, the hardest thing to nail is finding the right bloggers for your brand. Doing so forces you to take a good hard look at what your product is and who's in the market to buy it. For example, if you're selling boxed undies, do you really need to enlist underwear-specific bloggers (if these even exist)? No, everyone wears underwear (with the exception of that one percent of commandos out there).

This article is all about those adventurous brands that have ventured into to uncharted territory.
We've compiled a roundup of five favourite examples:
1. Blue Apron
Blue Apron delivers fresh ingredients paired with stellar recipes right to your doorstep... kind of like a personal trainer for your cooking.
After doing some investigating, we're really impressed with Blue Apron's approach to influencer marketing. Rather than targeting only foodie blogs, Blue Apron partnered up with lifestyle blogs.
Blogger Emily Henderson, in particular, impressed us with a curated article featuring the foodie subscription service. Blue Apron's flank steak and beet salad inspired the rich burgundy tones in her winter rustic tablescape, making for a beautiful, color-coordinated article.
First, Henderson shows off her perfectly cooked Blue Apron dish, followed by step-by-step instructions revealing how to recreate this warm and sexy design in your own home, on a budget. She even gives her first 100 followers with two free meals.
We like this article, not only for its clever spin on presenting the dish but also because by tying in Blue Apron, the blogger shows how her readers can also use the service. That makes it entirely applicable and well targeted to her readers. 

2. Biore
In a world of Prada, Marc Jacobs, and Kate Spade, Biore had the ingenious idea to reach out to high-fashion tastemakers to sell its drugstore brand to the elite.
Blogger Barefoot Blonde created a beautiful sponsored article highlighting Biore's #stripwithbiore contest.She cleverly lets her audience in on a few of her favorite "cold day" things, and one of those things just happens to be Biore strips. Barefoot Blonde then explains a contest the company is running:  Simply snap a picture of yourself with your Biore strip of choice, post on Instagram or Twitter with the hashtag, #stripwithbiore and you've been entered to win a trip to LA and a chance to walk the red carpet with Brittany Snow.
This sponsored article took a stab at changing perceptions of its drugstore product by partnering up with a blogger who tends to gravitate towards expensive digs. The company then used her to promote its stylish and glamorous contest. These efforts are transformational for altering brand perceptions. Moreover, the blogger wearing Lululemon in a stylish house only adds to a more polished and elite aesthetic, leaving readers in awe of Barefoot Blonde + Biore, commonly known as B cubed.

3. Bark Box
One of our (and our company pooch, Toggle's) favorite subscription services is Bark Box. Every month, the company sends a box in the mail with perfectly selected bits and bobs, such as tasty treats, grooming products, and nifty gadgets, for one's dog.
One would expect the brand to be targeting pet or maybe even mommy bloggers. But these days, a girl's favorite accessory is not her three-carat diamond studs, it's her lovable, abnormally small dog that can fit into the palm of her hand (or her Prada tote).
Aware of this new "accessory," Bark Box reached out to lifestyle bloggers just as crazy about their pet doggies as we are about ours. Moreover, Bark Box executed myriad creative giveaways and partnerships.
Our favorite, hands down, is the sponsored article with Lauren Conrad.
Instead of merely gifting readers with a percentage off the subscription with a blogger-specific code, Bark Box partnered with Lauren to give back to tons of homeless pups out there. In spirit of Adopt A Shelter Dog Month, Lauren gifted her Instagram fans with an extra month added to their subscription. In addition to this, Bark Box would send a free box to some of the canines down at the Downey animal shelter. Free stuff plus doing a good deed? It doesn't get much sweeter than that.

4. Nike
Getting sweaty, hiking the rough terrain, and lounging around in sweaty leggings and sports bras doesn't exactly scream high fashion. Fitness in general seems the opposite of glamour. However, being fit is very much in style. 
With that in mind, Nike set out to stake its fashion claim with trendy lifestyle bloggers rather than fitness fanatics and health junkies.
Nike's collaborations reveal how stylish activewear can be. For example, The Blonde Salad mixes and matches activewear in a completely chic new way and I-AM STYLE-ISH praises its new Nike App. By aggregating different influencers in a variety of ways, Nike spreads its different goals across multiple platforms.
Instead of fully focusing on just the app or the activewear, Nike fully saturates its influencer market with everything and anything Nike, upping the chances to get their influencers' readers on the path to conversion.

5. Williams-Sonoma
Williams-Sonoma, a brand known for its gourmet kitchenware and home furnishings, is not exactly the first brand that comes to mind when we think "fashion blogger."
Having said that, Williams-Sonoma definitely appeals to a very specific type of person. It could be argued that this demographic might be the one found reading at expensive digs besides kitchenware.
With that idea in mind, Williams-Sonoma paired up with Rachel from Pink Peonies who showcased a beautiful Williams-Sonoma throw, a lovable pooch, and shots of herself curled up in her favorite JCrews. This type of article paints a picture of not only a type of lifestyle but one that her readers want or already do lead. This is an excellent example of taking everyday objects (like a throw) and giving that object some backbone by creating a story behind it.

* * *
So, what do these five brands all have in common?
They have a little creativity and thought beyond what they're selling and focused more on who uses their product. These successful brands thought strategically about who their target demo is and what kind of bloggers attract those customers.
What the brands discovered was that you don't have to be a beauty blogger to appreciate good skincare products or be a pet blogger to go gaga over dog toys.
The bottom line is that as long as the blogger shares the same demographic as yours, you're on the right path to getting in front of your customers, no matter what your product is.


Read more: http://www.marketingprofs.com/opinions/2015/28130/five-brands-that-successfully-tapped-into-the-power-of-bloggers-outside-their-industry#ixzz3hIRkcD00

24.7.15

[beautiful canada]

A lovely spot on Crawfod Bay beach in BC.

8.7.15

[surgery 101: medicine and podcasting to drive student engagement]



Muppets, Lego and surgeons hit medical education milestone

Worldwide popularity boosts Surgery 101 podcasts past two million downloads.
By Amy Hewko on July 7, 2015

(Edmonton) Jonathan White has gained international fame for his approach to surgical education as the mind and the voice behind Surgery 101, which has just celebrated two million downloads from more than 200 countries around the world.
“It’s pretty cool because more people have heard me say, ‘Welcome to Surgery 101’ than will ever hear me in person,” he says. “I’m probably never going to go to North Korea, but apparently my voice has been there already.”
What started as a one-man podcast supported by office administration slowly grew into an app that offers users notes, mini-courses and the now-famous videos featuring Muppets, Lego, zombies and more.
Bringing the videos to life is a feat: from start to finish, the process can take up to four weeks and challenges the team to use a variety of photo and video editing tools, DSLR cameras with multiple lenses, GoPro cameras, a cinema camera, green screens, stop-motion programs—and, of course, favourite pop-culture icons.
“If you would have asked me a few years ago about the video stuff, I would have said it’s a massive headache because it’s so much more complicated than audio. Creating it, you have to take a totally different tactic,” White says. “Now, the podcast itself has become way less audio and much more visual, and I find I’m becoming much more focused on the visual aspects of surgery myself.”
White, who also teaches a variety of surgery courses at all stages of medical education, was named a 3M National Teaching Fellow in 2014, partially due to his work with Surgery 101. When he speaks of his work, it’s clear where his passion lies.
“It’s my job to help students see behind the surgeon’s mask and inspire a wider range of students to learn about surgery,” White says. “I want to show learners that surgeons are made, not born. You don’t have to have a certain kind of hands or a special sort of heart. I’m trying to tell students that I’m an ordinary guy and if I can become a surgeon, maybe they can do the same—and they might be really good at it.”
White’s enthusiasm for sharing his work was part of what encouraged this year’s summer research students, Lucy Wang and Corey Luda, to get involved in Surgery 101.
“I went on iTunes and typed in ‘surgery’ because I was interested in going into medicine,” Luda, a pharmacology student, says of his introduction to Surgery 101 in 2009. “Surgery 101 popped up [and at that time] was still only a few podcasts.”
Wang and Luda assist in scripting, filming, editing, creating special effects and publishing the videos. “Corey is really excited about photography, lighting and setting up the shots,” explains Wang, a science student who will enter medical school in September. “I’m more excited about [Adobe] Premier and editing.” 
Jenni Marshall, the program assistant for digital education, notes that they will also create their own video on the CanMEDS framework; targeted to residents, it will be supplemented with Lego stop-motion videos outlining principles and presentations from the annual resident teaching retreat in Banff.
Episodes are available free at the new Surgery 101 website and the Surgery 101 YouTube channel, where users will soon find the second “season” of Muppet Surgery, which, White notes, will be released together. The team has also developed a 99-cent Surgery 101 app for OS, Android and Windows Mobile operating systems; proceeds from the app are donated to the Tom Williams Endowed Chair of Surgical Education, which White currently holds.
- See more at: http://uofa.ualberta.ca/news-and-events/newsarticles/2015/july/muppets-lego-and-surgeons-hit-medical-education-milestone#sthash.uQZUIs26.dpuf

30.6.15

[fiction writers' perspective-taking: is it better?]

via On Fiction:


Fiction writers’ perspective-taking no better than other people’s

In a striking recent article Theanna Bischoff and Joan Peskin (2014) asked whether writers of fiction have better abilities of perspective taking—inferring the mental states of others (theory-of-mind)—than people who are not writers. In a survey, the researchers found that the general public did believe that fiction writers were better than average at perspective taking. When the issue was put to the test on writers and non-writers, however, no such superiority was found. Bischoff and Peskin studied 20 people who had a book of fiction published by an independent publishing house (established writers), 20 people who were enrolled in a fiction writing course, or who had published in a magazine, or who had self-published (intermediate writers), and 20 people who didn’t write fiction (the control group). Three outcome measures were used: the Mind in the Eyes test, in which people looked at 36 photographs of people’s eyes, as if seen through a letter box, and chose from four adjectives what the photographed person was thinking or feeling; the Interpersonal Perception Task in which people viewed 15 video clips of people in interaction, and for each clip answered a question about what was going on; and the Levels of Embedded Mental StatesTask, in which people read two vignettes and answered a series of true/false questions about the embedded mental states of the characters in the vignettes. The researchers also asked their participants to provide sample pieces of fiction, and had these rated for quality by independent expert assessors. 

Bischoff and Peskin found no difference between established writers, intermediate writers, and the control group in their peformance on any of the outcome measures. Nor was there any relationship between participants’ performance in the perspective taking tasks and the expertly rated quality of the writing they supplied.

This result came a surprise to the researchers. There is now good evidence that reading fiction promotes better perspective taking in readers. Bischoff and Peskin review these results. So the difference between the current experiment on writers and the previous data on readers of fiction prompts a question. Are writing and reading fiction different, and if so, in what ways?

Bischoff and Peskin suggest that their finding can be explained by perspective taking being very specific to context. I think this may be right. The way I see it is that, first, in reading fiction one can sample across a wide variety of societies, personality types, and circumstances so that reading extends the range of one’s experience of others, and second that in reading fiction, particularly artistic fiction, one has to make inferences about what characters might be thinking, feeling, and wanting. It seems likely that these factors contribute to the better perspective-taking abilities of people who read a lot of fiction. In contrast, as Djikic, Oatley and Peterson (2006) have shown, fiction writers tend to be preoccupied with negative emotions, and these no doubt are their own emotions. In their fiction, writers typically explore implications of such emotions. Hence although writers often depict particular kinds of circumstance, they are not extending their experience of a range of circumstances in the way that people can do when reading. Because fiction writers tend to project themselves into their writing, it may be that the skills of writing don’t involve any more perspective-taking than occurs for everyone in day-to-day life.

It will be fascinating to see how the similarities and differences between writing and reading fiction, which Bischoff and Peskin have uncovered, will be uncovered in further research.

Bischoff, T., & Peskin, J. (2014). Do fiction writers have superior perspective taking ability?Scientific Study of Literature, 4, 125-149. 

Djikic, M., Oatley, K., & Peterson, J. (2006). The bitter-sweet labor of emoting:  The linguistic comparison of writers and physicists. Creativity Research Journal, 18, 191-197.

18.6.15

[the future of #edtech at the uni of alberta]



Ed Tech: Taking teaching into the 21st century

An in-depth look at UAlberta’s innovative Tech in Ed, where students, professors and administrators come together to explore how tech can be used to teach.

By Suzanne Vuch on June 17, 2015




The Tech in Ed learning commons provides an interactive environment where students, faculty and staff from across campus can develop their digital literacy.

(Edmonton) On the third floor of the Education North building you’ll find the hub of teaching technology at the University of Alberta.

The Technologies in Education: Support and Solutions (Tech in Ed) learning commons provides an interactive learning environment for students, faculty, instructors and staff in the Faculty of Education and across campus to develop their digital literacy in the areas of teaching, learning, research and administration.

“We look at new technologies that we see coming into the schools, and then test them to see how they can be used in administration, teaching and learning, and research,” said Janet Welch, assistant dean of education (academic technologies) and director of Tech in Ed. “Teaching tools have gone from bulletin boards to mobile apps in just 10 years.”

“Teaching tools have gone from bulletin boards to mobile apps in just 10 years.” —Janet Welch, director of Tech in Ed

Tech in Ed is like a toy shop where students, faculty members and administrators can get their hands on the latest and greatest inventions and explore how tech can be used to teach. They have Google Glass, enhanced publications, sphero robots and even a 3-D printer. “It is a place where students can get some practical experience with technologies that they will surely encounter in the classroom,” Welch explains.

Students are welcome to attend Red Chair sessions offered throughout the school year. The free 30-minute sessions cover everything from Tackk and S’more to Animoto, Prezi, eBook tools and many more applications.



Students attend a red chair session at the Tech in Ed learning commons.