Archivo de la Categoría ‘Educación / Education’


Second Life as a tool for learning

Escrito el 28 junio 2007 por Ricardo Pérez Garrido en Educación / Education

With weekly, even daily, news about Second Life, we decided to try it officially and, with the help of Jaime Casado from Telefónica, we decided to have an official meeting with students from the Master of Management in Telecom and Digital Business to discuss the approach to how SL can be used in education. Specifically how it can be used in business education. It is not something that you can decide or envision immediately.

The potential is enormous, but also the current limitations. Starting with how difficult it is to control the different in-world stuff you need to control only to have an avatar and move around. It is difficult at least for those that are not from the playstation generation. That is, most of the customers of executive education for an average business school. Just the same group that is eager to know what is this entire buzz about.

Also the interaction (mainly chat by now, voice is coming slowly), is effective for those used to the tool as their principal way of communication. You really see the difference. I cannot follow the conversations, though I use chat for work, not at that level.

We will have more meetings, and they will probably get better and better. I will leave you notes on how they improve. The first note to remember is that the platform can fail, so you need a plan B. The second is that group control is very important, and though you see the avatars, it is also useful to have some sort of connection with the real world (list of people, with their photo, and the avatar)… probably old-fashioned, but I think we also need links to the world, as in any virtual platform.


The Age of Real-time Information

Escrito el 11 junio 2007 por Administrador de IE Blogs en Educación / Education

Santiagoie_1Santiago Iniguez, Dean of IE Business School. Ie_logo_11

You may have read about the historical episode, which happened at the time of the Battle of Waterloo (18th June 1815), that contributed decisively to build up Rothschild Family’s financial empire. Rothschild had offices in different European capitals and acted as lender to important individuals and institutions, including the British Crown in its efforts to beat Napoleon. They had a potent information network, composed of messengers, carrier pigeons and regional offices, which earned them the reputation of being first with the news. When their informers reported "the scoop" of Napoleon’s defeat at Waterloo, Rothschild agents in London started to sell stocks, acting as if the French had won. Many other brokers, unaware of the British victory, replicated Rothschild’s initiative, causing the crash of stock prices. Shortly before news about the victory reached London, Rothschild started to buy stocks. As a result, the family amassed a huge fortune.Applestocken

This episode epitomises the economic value of scoops and being first with the news. In the early 19th century, the elapsed time between the occurrence of events and their reporting could be many hours or even days. Nowadays, it may take just seconds. Perhaps a defining moment in the realisation (at least mine) of the power of blogs took place recently when Engadget (no.1 blog according to Technorati) inaccurately reported an Apple product-release delay causing Apple, in six minutes, to lose 4 billion dollars in stock market capitalisation. As you can see from Apple Inc price chart, (Zoom "1m") it quickly recovered.

Futhermore the web and multiple complementary devices, such as instant text messaging and “Twitter”, (the personal view of the head of Ogilvy PR Interactive Marketing Team) have amplified the sources of information and anyone can virtually report about events as they attend them, even providing live pictures or video (e.g. "London Bombing Pictures Mark New Role for Camera Phones"). In addition, the channels of distribution have become massive, cheap and universally accessible. We live in the age of real time information, conditions that changes the way managers understand business and the time and forms of decision making processes.

For example, how much time do you take to respond to an e-mail or a text message? When ordinary mail was the prevalent channel of business communication it took days or weeks to get answers to letters. Facsimile machines reduced response time to hours. Today, agile managers answer text messages in minutes. Moreover, courtesy demands that light messages are answered on the same day and that messages that require elaborated responses take no more than two days –unless they are urgent. My golden rule is that e-mails should be answered, at most, on the same week. In order to comply with this I regularly dedicate the needed time over weekends to get updated.

In an interesting post published in Harvard Business Online Tammy Erickson explains that the “use of technology is heavily centered in Gen Y today. About half of Y’s surveyed say they sent or received a text message over the phone within the past day, approximately double the proportion of those in Gen X. It’s something that will, however, grow in use and eventually enter the world of business”. I am sure you have heard mentions of the "Blackberry withdrawal", felt by "Crackberries" when they cannot access their email. There is even TwitterBerry,  used to write those previously mentioned Twitter updates on a Blackberry. If you are interested in whats happening in Australia as regards to the changing nature of communication at work you might want to read this PhD study.

I am intrigued about further developments of instant messaging devices. For example, how can mobile telephones, which are truly ubiquitous, (and especially Wifi-enabled ones) be used effectively as an education tool?

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Our week in San Francisco (IV): EA Games and Ideo

Escrito el 29 mayo 2007 por Ricardo Pérez Garrido en Educación / Education

Finally the last day of our visit we spend time talking about venture capital and financial support in the valley versus some of the examples we could share from the different perspectives of the students. We also visited Electronic Arts and had the opportunity to share some time with the group working in the Sims – Survivor game. Finally, we spent the rest of the day at Ideo, working with them to understand the type of work they do with clients and the processes they apply to help them find new ideas and make them work.
Michele Libraro, CEO and Founder of Globalstartups, helped us understand the flow of money and the changes that the crisis of 2001 brought up to the capital investment in the area. In fact the changes have been important, from the flamboyant times where you could be bought only because you had an office space, to today, where projects are well scrutinized and followed by the venture capital companies that are placing a lot of effort and experience in trying not to fall again for the excess of past times. Some of the interesting trends is the drive to find connections from different countries to the valley, in the case of Michele the links are to Europe.
We moved on to visit EA Games. Imagine the feeling of the group. They have grown up with the products of this company being part of their life, even of some of their best moments. As I mentioned before, we had the opportunity to share some time with the team that is working in the production of the next big Sims product, an island/survival game based on the successful TV. We had the opportunity to analyze with their help the evolution of the industry and the challenges they face. It was interesting seeing how the human team required to produce a top level game has grown to more than two hundred, meaning it is approaching the complexity of a film production, and also its budget.
This growing size is also placing a lot of pressure in companies to come up with successes, which in turn mean using the previous successes to build series of sequels (and as you know EA is extremely good at this). But the process is also making it difficult to risk it all with new games, and even more when non-traditional products like Wrold of Warcraft or Second Life are bringing new dynamics (pay-per-month) to the market, and impacting the traditional life cycle of a product.
At EA you could again feel the spirit of a very creative company, with the working space of the group really having the feel and even the looks of an island, lots of shared spaces, lots of fun and openness. Even the spirit during the visit, very open and fun, helped build the stage for an impression of a company that really wants to do different things and needs people bringing different skills to the table, not just doing the stuff, but thinking differently.
Our last visit was to Ideo, where we were part of an innovation workshop, a reduced version of what clients will experience in real projects, and had the opportunity to walk around the company while everybody was dealing with clients. The conclusion again is that setting up the stage is extremely important for results (the good ones). Small things are important, and the fact that they had a textures and interesting materials cabinet was a proof of that: anything interesting was placed there, with a small note of the composition and why it was there (things like how it felt, its special properties, why it was cool…).
All this experiences had a common point of how you link innovation to the market, with customers and technologies changing so fast that you cannot afford product cycles that are really long. The different answers we saw there had much to do with how you get the best people to do what they love for you, and help them be really creative. For most companies that I know, this means including the word innovation and creativity in their annual reports, maybe hiring some people to build an innovation department, but then manage the accounts, clients and workers as always… I am curious to see how long it will take for more “traditional” companies to realize that they have to learn to treat people and ideas differently. We have seen first hand how you can do it well and be successful.


Our week in San Francisco (III): Google and HP

Escrito el 25 mayo 2007 por Ricardo Pérez Garrido en Educación / Education

Our third day in the valley started with a visit to… yes, the GooglePlex. Thanks to the collaboration of Marco Marinucci (he has posted a couple of videos of our visit in his blog), IE Alumni working at Google, we had the opportunity not only to walk around the facilities with help from a volunteer guide (anybody can help out with this in the company, as I guess the place has become sort of “the place to go” when you are around from anywhere in the world, but also to meet and discuss with several executives from the company.

As you may expect if you know the company, the conversation was very open at all times, and the pride of being at a company leading the industry that it had previously changed, was obvious and created a great feeling in the group. The fact that the whole framework of buildings, offices and services has been created to help googlers feel at home and be able to work and interact at all times is more than a note on the strategy of the company. Though one can discuss if this is appropriate for all companies, probably not, those that want to improve creativity and innovation (and many companies in the world say they want to do so), should have a good look at this place.

The philosophy of the company is something you all know, but probably one thing you can understand better after being there is the magic recipe of flexibility and agility in terms of being able to ask anybody about anything and feeling really close to “the action”. I wonder what will happen when all this great group of young geniuses grow up and change a bit their priorities, but for know you can see this is a company difficult to beat, at least their spirit.

While we were at Google, we had the opportunity (thanks again Marco) of meeting Fabrizio Capobianco, founder of Funambol. Open source and mobility connected to making money. That sounds improbable enough to be successful. And they are. Fabrizio’s passion for his ideas, and the possibilities of development with capital from the valley and intellectual capital from Europe (the development team is in Italy), were a great lesson on how to use the spikes of this not-so-flat world to your advantage.

Finally we spent the afternoon with HP, looking at their latest products (I loved the Misto prototype, great product for the digital living room). One thing that was extremely interesting was the approach to simple solutions for the living room that is going to change the way we interact with our digital life. I wonder how long it will take until you can find a touch screen like this in every house… that will be an interesting change, and also a generational gap for all of us…

We also had the opportunity to experience their videoconference/telepresence product Halo (on Monday we had a meeting with London from Cisco’s offices in the valley, and the differences in approach are extremely interesting, being both solutions a real step forward towards avoiding all those business trips), and finally we spend time talking about their strategy in the Telecom and media markets. What is interesting is how they are building and delivering the concept of platform to help large telcos move faster towards new business and revenue models that can leave behind the memories of the before-the-flat-rate times.

Again a great day, and many thanks to Google, Funambol and HP for their help building it.


Our week in San Francisco (II)

Escrito el 23 mayo 2007 por Ricardo Pérez Garrido en Educación / Education

Our second day in San Francisco was a mix of conferences and a visit to Sun Microsystem’s headquarters. For the conferences we had the opportunity to talk about the innovation process and its link with regional clusters with Marco Marinucci, IE Alumni working for Google and dealing mainly with content acquisition activities for the company; Philipp Stauffer, a member of the Strategy group with Accenture at their offices in San Francisco, and finally Robert Winder, in charge of innovation for Genesys, the leader in technology solutions for call centers in the telecom industry.

The first part of the morning was devoted to understanding what is special in terms of the working, social and cultural environment about the region we call Silicon Valley. Marco and Philipp helped us in that effort, both of them being Europeans attracted to the area either by and entrepreneurial spirit -the case of Marco- or by the great professional opportunities that come when you are very successful in a multinational consulting company helping others build what is differential about the region – the case of Philip. The fact that Marco is also an IE alumnus created a strong connection with the group which helped the conversation. The discussion ranged from the work ethics of the long hours to the myths and realities of the garage companies, and one of the ideas that was mentioned several times during the week kept being part of the conversation: the approach to risk by individuals, organizations and, most of all, the venture capital money funding all the entrepreneurship going on. We have discussed this issue here several times before, but it still strikes me as one of the key competitive advantages that countries can build: what happens when you fail? The rule is: if you fail, at least you tried and now you have the experience, try again. The approach is quite different from many cultures and countries. Their vision helped us understand some of the big issues behind the success of the ecosystem: work mobility, pool of talent, access to funds, low aversion to risk, a push to share ideas, world class universities in the area… difficult to find in the same place at the same time, and a big force to create and develop ideas and products that change entire industries.

With Robert we changed gears towards a specific example: Genesys. The industry might seem boring, but they actually redefined it, helping companies understand in a different way what they could do with their call centers. This approach, based on innovation and knowledge of the industry, has been so successful that they are by far world leaders in their industry and expanding to other rapidly. The passion of Robert for finding new ideas and new talent was a reflection of the type of approach that companies need to create if they want to really do “different” things.

After lunch we moved on to visit Sun Microsystems, interested in listening to their approach to the market after several years of being in trouble… but that will be the subject of a different post.


Our week in San Francisco (I): Cisco

Escrito el 22 mayo 2007 por Ricardo Pérez Garrido en Educación / Education

As I mentioned last week, we have spent a week at Silicon Valley visiting companies, amongst them Cisco, Sun, HP, Google, Electronic Arts or Ideo. This is the first post trying to describe the most interesting points (that are within the NDA’s we signed) we covered there.

Our first day (monday) was all about Cisco. As you know they are the leaders in providing the technology that makes the internet what it is today, and looking at their plans, they have a lot to do in terms of what internet will look like in the future, helping telecoms and other companies improve their communications, and, more importantly, make them simple and based on the user context.

The visit started the day before, when the group (remember, our Master of Management in Telecom and Digital Business) had the opportunity to share dinner with Alberto Mazagatos, country manager of Cisco Spain. During the conversation one idea was clear: Cisco is willing to explore new opportunities in different industries and is not afraid of change, something we had the opportunity to see the following day.

During our time at Cisco we had the opportunity to talk to several executives from different business areas about their specific strategies related to the Telecom industry, and their position in the market as a partner more than a provider of many of the key companies in the industry. A couple of those meetings used their Telepresence solution, in the real internal rooms they will use for internal meetings. A quite interesting experience, in which after some time you almost forget the distance from your counterpart (we were connecting to London).

But one of the most interesting parts of the visit was a discussion on diversity and retention of the workforce and their approach to the “new office”, where open spaces, shared spaces and a concept of a shared purpose and shared environment was key. This is not new or a strategy that only this company can claim, but the fact that a leader in the market is investing and paying that much attention to new ways of collaboration and the needs of those working with them… well gives a hint of what is going to take to keep being first in an industry based on invention and innovation. Their motto “welcome to the human network” is something you see reflected in every conversation you have there, which also talks to the way you build a culture in a young company.


“The day may not be far off when companies receive resumes that include a line reading “level 60 tauren shaman in World of Warcraft.” The savviest employers will get the message.”

Those are the last words of a Wired article of the April edition, “You Play World of Warcraft? You’re Hired!” written by John Seely Brown and Douglas Thomas, that has been receiving a lot of attention during the last months, while news about how massively multiplayer online games (MMOG) reach traditional media are, suddenly, important for “real” business.

Playing one of these games and being good at it means that you have to develop and improve your skills at leading groups, managing scarce resources, decide with low levels of information, compete against organized groups with the same – or similar- needs and objectives… basically some of the skills that make the “most wanted” list in many business around the world.

Being at a business school, the question to ask is clear: what is the role of gaming in business education? We have been using simulations in online learning for many years. But games and the open frontiers of MMOG are challenging for the systems of many institutions. They challenge the common assumption of someone going to a B-School to improve their negotiation or leadership skills. And though it might only be applicable to younger players, the definition of young is probably escalating to the twenty-something more than staying at the teen’s zone where it was supposed to be.

What is the percentage of work your organization and your employees perform in “virtual teams”? I mean, how many times a day you decide, communicate, share… with people in different places, companies, time zones…? And the number is growing, both in companies involved in this type of work and in the number of interactions and tasks solved. Are the skills of a virtual game related to these needs?

I bet (predictions for 2007) that we will see more and more companies using MMOG for their training needs, and Business Schools reacting to these trends with better simulations, some using the same platforms. At the end, these are games that blend perfectly with roles that are needed in real life, and the fact that they are not announced as such, make the experience even more important and productive. Have you tried these games? Do you feel more capable of managing/ working with teams after the experience?


Carlota Pérez

Escrito el 25 mayo 2006 por Julian de Cabo en Educación / Education

Ayer tuvimos (conste que no es plural mayestático, sino que también estuvo Ricardo) la oportunidad de debatir un rato con Carlota Pérez, una profesora venezolana que lleva 25 años analizando las causas, efectos y evolución de las revoluciones tecnológicas. Aunque su trabajo tiene un sesgo macroeconómico, resultó ser una persona conocedora de las tecnologías actuales, y capaz de conectar con gran lógica algunos fenómenos que nos parecen novedosos con situaciones ya vividas en épocas precedentes.
Como creo que es una frivolidad opinar sobre su trabajo con base en una conversación de hora y media, he pedido su último libro a Amazon y espero profundizar pronto en sus teorías. Aun así no me resisto a glosar una de sus tesis centrales, que me pareció enormemente relevante.
Según ella, cada una de las cinco revoluciones tecnológicas que hemos vivido en la historia tiene siempre dos ciclos claramente diferenciados: un periodo de instalación donde se efectúan todo tipo de pruebas de forma y que termina con un gran crash bursátil, y un posterior periodo de despliegue donde se cambia el espacio económico como efecto de la adopción generalizada de los desarrollos beneficiosos que tuvieron lugar en el periodo de instalación.
No sólo eso sino que parece ser que también resulta constante el hecho de que estas dos fases van separadas entre sí por un periodo intermedio en que se realizan los cambios institucionales necesarios para crear las condiciones necesarias para el despliegue.
¿No suena parecido a lo que hemos vivido con la explosión de Internet?
Pues es hora de empezar a revisar conceptos, según parece …


¿Cómo compiten los sistemas educativos?

Escrito el 31 marzo 2006 por Ricardo Pérez Garrido en Educación / Education

Estos días las noticias sobre la competitividad en tecnología, en I+D, en patentes… se suceden en los medios. Detrás de todo este ruido están unos sistemas educativos con orientaciones muy distintas, con visiones de lo que debe salir de sus aulas y de qué deben ser los profesores e investigadores que marcan la capacidad de una nación para competir, entre otros, en un entorno de innovación tecnológica como el actual.

Otro de los temas recurrentes ultimamente en casi todos los foros es la innovación. Cómo ser creativos e innovadores en el trabajo, como crear y gestionar equipos innovadores, como encontrar talento y retenerlo. Dejando a un lado el hecho de que la mayoría de las veces estas afirmaciones se quedan en una bonita declaración de intenciones, el problema seguramente se arrastra desde el sistema educativo. ¿Tenemos un sistema educativo que fomente la creatividad, la innovación, el convertir una idea en algo real y recibir un premio a cambio? Probablemente la respuesta es no. Los mismos incentivos dentro del sistema universitario, que debería estar produciendo empresas, patentes, ideas, productos… hacen que aquellos que intentan ir por ese camino sean minoría. ¿Una solución fácil? Casi nunca existe. Para ir acercandose lo mejor es poner los medios para que aquellos que quieren hacer algo nuevo se atrevan, sin miedo al fracaso.

Se ha hablado de crear un Instituto Tecnológico Europeo al estilo del MIT en Estados Unidos. Lo dificil será replicar la relación de la empresa con la universidad: un entorno donde los proyectos están orientados a lograr patentes, mejoras reales en los métodos (procesos) que se emplean para hacer las cosas. Es un debate que implica no solo a los gobiernos y a sus políticas educativas, sino también a la actitud de las empresas a la hora de buscar recursos para aprender a hacer mejor las cosas, sin miedo al fracaso. Una de las características más sorprendentes de las universidades y empresas con más exito en innovación es su actitud ante el fracaso: no hay miedo, lo importante es buscar la solución, asumiendo que no siempre se acierta (al contrario). ¿Es esta nuestra actitud? ¿Es la formación que se defiende desde el sistema actual?

Las noticias de estos días deben preocuparnos no solo porque la escala de competitivad en I+D de España siga descendiendo, sino porque es un fiel reflejo del acercamiento a la innovación que se genera en una sociedad, en sus empresas y en los responsables de incentivarlas. Si el coste de mano de obra está dificultando competir en otra cosa que no sea conocimiento – llamémoslo diseño, innovación…- y el mundo es cada vez más plano, habrá que fomentar que los emprendedores, dentro y fuera de las empresas, tengan cada vez más importancia. Para ese papel, al menos en el sector de tecnología, la relación entre investigación, tecnología y desarrollo de productos habrá de evolucionar y dejar de estar en manos de agentes que no son capaces de entenderse. Un buen lugar para empezar puede ser el sistema educativo.


El huevo y la gallina

Escrito el 12 diciembre 2005 por Julian de Cabo en Educación / Education, Innovación / Innovation, Internet

Estos días de atrás se ha vuelto a leer sobre el portátil económico con que el MIT intenta colaborar a la alfabetización digital de los países menos favorecidos. Y suponemos que se seguirá hablando, porque la iniciativa tiene interés desde muchos ángulos distintos.
Aunque si debo ser sincero, me está sucediendo con este tema lo mismo que me ocurre siempre que oigo que el principal inhibidor para el desarrollo tecnológico son los costes: que me parece una explicación simplista. Intento explicarlo.
Siendo cierto que los actuales precios de los ordenadores los ponen lamentablemente lejos del alcance de algunas capas sociales (o de algunas sociedades, si se prefiere el ejemplo) cuya inclusión digital deberíamos favorecer, no lo es menos que su éxito depende, como en casi todos los aparatos que conozco, en su mayor o menor percepción de utilidad.
Sé que es un ejemplo simplista, pero no conozco empresario al que hubiera que evangelizar sobre el uso del fax. Simplemente, hubo un momento es que o tenías uno o perdías oportunidades de negocio, con lo que los empresarios compraron su fax sin necesidad de subvenciones ni cursos gratis sobre su funcionamiento. Todo un fantástico ejemplo de aquella ley de Metcalfe que decía que el valor de una red es igual al cuadrado de los nodos que la componen … que es como decir que cada nuevo fax conectado a la red incrementa exponencialmente la utilidad del mío.
¿Qué hace distinto al ordenador para que estemos pensando en alternativas como las del MIT?. Pues entre otras cosas, la red. Que en el fax existía de manera previa a que el aparato saliera al mercado. También los ordenadores han basado sus últimos crecimientos en el deseo de acceder a una red, que es Internet. Pero el acceso a la misma no está garantizado satisfactoriamente con las líneas de teléfono normales, ni es tan barato en ocasiones, entre otros factores diferenciales. Leyéndolo como oportunidad, aquí sí tienen los estados posibilidades de hacer una labor positiva. ¿Compraríamos coches si no hubiera carreteras?.
Y en segundo lugar está el tema de la utilidad: ¿para qué necesito conectarme a la red con un ordenador?. Si alguien es capaz de demostrarme que hay un valor ahí, no tendré necesidad de mucho más aliciente, como ocurrió con el fax. Y ahí el estado puede tener un papel de nuevo: si se despliegan servicios públicos sobre la red que hagan más fácil o cómoda la vida al ciudadano, le estaremos dando los mejores argumentos para “autoincluirse digitalmente”.
Mientras tanto, bienvenida sea la iniciativa. Mirándola en positivo y recordando aquella broma de que unas cosas caen por la Ley de la Gravedad y otras por su propio peso, seguro que si tiene éxito contribuirá a la expansión de la red en aquellos países donde el retraso es mayor.
Que en el fondo, tanto da que fuera primero el huevo o la gallina con tal de que tengamos qué comer.

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