Are you a connector — or looking to connect?

malcolm-gladwellIn his 2000 book “The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference,” author Malcolm Gladwell argues that ideas, products, messages, and behaviors “spread just like viruses do.”

He then explains how “word-of-mouth epidemics” and trends are triggered through “The Law of the Few” by three pivotal personality types:

  • Connectors: people who know large numbers of people across a wide array of social cicles who enjoy making introductions between individuals in those different circles; a connector is the social equivalent of a computer network hub.
  • Mavens: a subject matter expert expert who connects us with new information; they gather knowledge and understand how to share it. Gladwell explains that mavens are the people who start “word-of-mouth epidemics”  because of their knowledge, social skills, and ability to communicate.
  • Salespeople: charismatic persuaders with powerful negotiation skills responsible for advertisements and marketing through which they strive to convince others of “needs” (which may or may not exist). They are masters of “The Stickiness Factor,” and know how to make ideas and products simpler and more attractive. Notably, Salesmen are often paid for their skill, while Mavens use their skills for the simple pleasure of sharing knowledge and and helping others

On Wednesday, March 1 from 6 to 9 pm at Dusty’s in Dubai you can discover if you are a Connector, Maven, or Salesperson at “My Friends Your Friends,” is a social gathering where everyone is connected through mutual friends.

mfyfExpect great conversations, new relationships and an environment where luck feels at home. Visit the event’s website to learn more and to register at https://myfriendsyourfriends.com; you can also explore the gathering’s Facebook event page at https://www.facebook.com/events/755312037978472/.
Attendees are invited by the hosts (of which I am one), who will ensure you have a great time and get the most value from attending. Hosts are responsible for bringing along friends with an eclectic mix of stories, interests and goals. The hosts will ensure you always know somebody at My Friends Your Friends and make memorable connections. They include:
  • Anika Morjaria: online personality Literally Anika; content creator, brand ambassador and model.
  • Arthy Baheerathan: founder of Arthyreally and Patches & Flash; photographer and digital content creator.
  • Harshana De Silva: founder of Alliance Events, Dubai’s best kept secret for corporate events.
  • Hunter Lee Soik: head of global community at Dubai Future Foundation; tech entrepreneur and futurist.
  • Kanchan Kulkarni: founder and fashion designer at Kara, a home grown label making noise on catwalks globally.
  • Lobito Brigante: DJ; organiser and curator of cultural events; party rocker and turntablist.
  • Matthew A Gilbert: instructor at The American University In The Emirates; tech and marketing expert.
  • Omar ‘Ot’ Tom: co-founder and co-host of The Dukkan Show; established Dubai’s number one podcast; MC and strategic planner.
  • Raj Kotecha: founder of Creative Content Agency and My Friends Your Friends; co-founder of Vaynerworld; DJ.
  • Richard Boullemier: news presenter at Arabian Radio Network; head of business development at First and Ten Productions.
  • Ritesh Tilani: founder of Joi; active member Of Dubai’s entrepreneur and investor community.
  • Saana Azzam: founder and CEO of Mena Speakers, responsible for bringing incredible speakers to Dubai.
  • Shyam Savani: brand manager in lifestyle, fashion, and travel; Trendsetter of The Year, 2015
  • Sonal Kotecha: interior designer at Pallavi Dean Interiors; Young Interior Designer of The Year, 2015.
Learn more about the hosts at https://myfriendsyourfriends.com/#hosts-section. If you don’t have an invite from a host, you are still very welcome, just register now at https://myfriendsyourfriends.com/attend.
mfyf

Indicate your interest in attending this event by registering now!

logo-gessIt is my pleasure to announce my workshop, “Professor, Brand Yourself!” was accepted for presentation on March 16 from 2:30 to 3:00 pm (exactly four months from today) at the Global Education Forum of the Global Educational Supplies and Solutions (GESS) in Dubai.

What is GESS Dubai? According to the organization’s website: “GESS Dubai is the largest education event not just in the UAE but across the entire Middle East. It’s the only event that brings together all levels of educationalists together, in one place.”

“Professor, Brand Yourself!” is a personal branding workshop for individuals working in higher education, vocational, and leadership/management positions. However, it will also appeal to anyone wanting to develop their personal brand and learn how to leverage social media to promote themselves professionally.

logo-gefIt is designed to help you understand what personal branding is, what it is not, and why personal branding is an important career development skill. You don’t need prior personal branding experience to participate in the workshop.

We will identify which social platforms are best for branding you by introducing ideas for Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, and YouTube along with your blog and website.

During a “Personal Branding Brainstorming” activity you will learn how to prepare a unique selling proposition, personal motto, and professional bio which you can use as the foundation for your future personal branding efforts.

An outline of the workshop includes the following points:

  1. What is (and what is not) personal branding?
  2. Why is personal branding important for me?
  3. What social platforms are best for branding?
  4. Who am I and how should my brand reflect it?
  5. Activity: Personal Branding Brainstorming.

After the workshop you should know how to:

  1. Define personal branding and its relevance.
  2. Identify the most effective social platforms.
  3. Develop and promote your personal brand.

This will actually be my second appearance a GESS; in 2015 I gave my presentation, “Pedagogy, Socially: 7 Strategies for Curating and Creating Curriculum with Social Media” to give guidance to educators looking to leverage social media to make curriculum. Here’s a video of the presentation:

Looking forward to seeing you there!

Indicate your interest in attending this event on my Facebook page now!

uae-flag-dayThursday, November 3, 2016 was a day of celebration and pride as expats and citizens of the United Arab Emirates alike celebrated Flag Day.

This day commemorates the anniversary of President His Highness Shaikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan‘s assumption of office as the leader of the country on November 3, 2004.

Celebrations were held throughout the seven Emirates of the UAE, including the flag raising ceremony below where Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, ‎Vice President and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates and Ruler of Dubai, was joined by 20,000 students from more than 120 nationalities.

The UAE flag is full of meaning and pride; it is a symbol of the rich heritage and bright future of the United Arab Emirates. You can learn more about the specifics of the flag and what each element means in the article “What does the UAE flag mean?” Thinking about the flag more philosophically, the Protocol Department of Dubai shares the following:

The Flag is considered a symbol of nationalism, independence and sovereignty in all places and at all times. It is closely connected to the national anthem, with both commanding the full respect of all citizens regardless of social status, education and financial standing. The flag represents all, without exception.

The UAE flag signifies peace, security, and happiness as seen in all national, religious, official and public events related to the political, economic, social and sports fields – whether held in the UAE or abroad.

The UAE flag reflects the ambitions and hopes of citizens and expatriates living in the land, particularly students who greet the flag daily in respect of the state’s role in creating generations of achievers and creatives.

Looking back on my two years here in Dubai, I am grateful for the many opportunities living in the United Arab Emirates has provided me. This has been an experience unlike any other and I could never fully express my gratitude for this experience. I am thankful for the exceptional vision of UAE’s leaders and proud to celebrate this wonderful country and its noble flag today!

Arrr Matey!

talk_like_a_pirate_dayToday is International Talk Like a Pirate Day! Launched in 1995 by John Baur (Ol’ Chumbucket) and Mark Summers (Cap’n Slappy), the pair proclaimed September 19 as the day when everyone should talk like a pirate.

It was initially an inside joke between the friends, but grew when American syndicated humor columnist Dave Barry promoted it in 2002.

But, beyond tales of pirates, it’s also the 9th anniversary of this blog. That’s right, September 19, 2007 was the first post here on Doctorious!  What is this blog about? To quote the “About” page:

This blog celebrates my adventures in academia while revealing my in-class, on-the-road, and at-home experiences; topics tackled include business, education, technology and a personal focus on Autism.

Some things haven’t changed since then, including the focus of this blog; I am even still using the Neat! theme (which has since retired by WordPress).

However, almost everything else in my life has changed, both personally and professionally.  Most notably, since September 8, 2014 this blog has primarily focused a on my experience as an expat in Dubai, UAE.

In addition, here are some fast facts about Doctorious in:

  • 142 Posts (including this one)
  • 14 Pages (static informational pages)
  • 245 Comments (mostly tags to posts)

I haven’t been as prolific as I planned to be, but I have been writing more in recent months. I appreciate those of you who have read this blog and hope you find it interesting, informative, and entertaining. Here’s to the next nine years, matey!

Delighted to have met Mohammed Alsiddiq, a founding partner of Eight Creative Technology, in Dubai last week on Thursday, July 28, 2916. This was the first time I have met a reader of my book, edX E-Learning Course Development, and by coincidence he also lives in the United Arab Emirates!

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Founded in 2015 and based in Twofour54 Abu Dhabi, Eight Creative Technology is Khalifa Fund‘s first initiative focused on digital innovation.

Their services include digital‬ strategy, platform development,‪ social media, business applications,‬ and ecommerce‬. They collaborate with industry leaders to deliver a broad range of training‬ programs and‪ workshops‬ in areas of digital marketing‬, social media and multimedia‬.

Mohammed is developing an Open edX installation for an online learning program that will soon launch here in the UAE. He bought my book, “edX E-Learning Course Development” on Amazon.com to help him design, develop, and deploy his edX initiative.

If you are evaluating (or have chosen) edX as an online learning platform for your enterprise or educational organization consider buying a copy of my book; you can get it on Amazon or directly from Packt Publishing.

The Pod(cast) people have returned!

satisfactionistThe second part of my appearance on The Satisfactionist Podcast with Ben Olmos has been published. Be sure to also read the blog post about my first appearance.

Once again it was a great experience and, it appears Ben and I might collaborate on future episodes of the podcast; more to come soon!

This is the second of two podcasts in which I will appear (the previous podcast was published one week ago). My interview begins at 22:58; listen to it on SoundCloud below or you can also hear it on Stitcher.

Topics tackled in this episode include:

The “Gig Economy” and my “minor league pitching” experience teaching traffic school where I developed my classroom management skills. This lead to my adventures as an adjunct instructor for 9 years — during which I have taught 3,000 to 4,000 students in 70 courses (with numerous sections) at 16 different universities in 2 countries.

This lead to my work designing curriculum and developing courses that I taught and those I was specifically contracted to create without teaching them. We chat about my favorite word — rubrics — although, as an instructor, I am careful about when I use them to limit students from obsessing about matching their rubric to a specific grade.

We then discuss how I found my way to Dubai where I have been teaching marketing and management courses since September 2014. My expat experience was inspired by the possibility of my participating in a program with UCLA Extension in which I would teach for 30 day cycles in Saudi Arabia.

Unfortunately, that opportunity never came to fruition, but it did make me realize there was an entire world of opportunities outside of the United States — including two opportunities in Kabul, Afghanistan that I decided to pass on.

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We then explore my exceptional experiences living and working in Dubai where I have been widely welcomed by the local population and individuals from elsewhere who call UAE their home. I share details of driving the roads and roundabouts — including some Google Map misadventures!

I discuss the surprisingly temperate weather during the winter months (mid-October to mid-April) along with other aspects of daily life, including the impressive integration of SMS functionality and mobile phones into everything from paying speeding tickets to paying to park.

I also elaborate on my admiration for my students and the effort they invest into their education; they take their role as the next generation seriously and are focused on being prepared for the responsibilities with which they will be entrusted.

Notably, a large percentage of students at my current university — American University in the Emirates (AUE) — are Emirati (approximately 70%) and most of the remaining percentage are from other Arab countries or elsewhere in the world. In total I have students with 30 different nationalities here. It’s a wonderfully worldly experience!

Although it is challenging to be so far from my 10 and 12-year-old sons, traveling 8,000 miles from the life I had known to finally find a foothold in the life I had fruitlessly worked towards in the United States.

Similarly, contrary to the absurdity of the current election cycle in the United States, my experience in Dubai has been a rewarding and enriching one; I am grateful for this unique opportunity and am making sure to maximize the moment.

edx_logo_finalLastly I introduce and explain the ways my book, edX E-Learning Course Development, can be used by teachers and trainers to prepare, produce, and promote a course on edX or Open edX.

I explained my unique approach to starting each chapter with an anecdote, quote, or pop culture reference, additionally outlining how I worked from edX technical documentation, rearranging and re-imagining it in a way that aligns more accurately with the way an individual would create or convert curriculum.

We then boldly go on to discuss my experience as an extra on the upcoming Star Trek Beyond movie where I was on set for 17 hours straight!

Beam me up!

Social media has revolutionized the way we live, but how can we leverage it for learning?

GESS_2015_1I had an opportunity to explore this during a presentation I delivered on Tuesday, February 24, 2015 at the 2105 GESS Global Education Forum in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Sharing seven strategies for curating and creating curriculum I promoted best practices and case studies you can use to prepare your pedagogy, socially.

There is both uncertainty and opportunity with regard to using social media to power your pedagogy. Consider that, in 2013, 59.2% of nearly 8,000 higher education participants in a Babson Survey Research Group and Pearson survey agreed “the interactive nature of online and mobile technologies can create better learning environments.”

Additionally, 41% currently use social media in their classrooms. However, 56% of that same population are concerned that online and mobile technologies are “more distracting than helpful to students.”

As an educator you have an array of options from which to choose: blogs, Facebook, Google, Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr, LinkedIn, Pinterest, YouTube, and more. Each of these interactive options can enhance engagement and increase interaction in your classes. But having a tool and knowing how to use it are different experiences altogether.

The content of my presentation includes:

  • Why use social media to curate and create curriculum?
  • How do the seven social media strategies work?
  • Strategy 1: Collect, Curate, and Share Knowledge.
  • Strategy 2: Engage with Virtual Communities of Practice.
  • Strategy 3: Identify, Archive, and Share Information.
  • Strategy 4: Follow Blogs, Microblogs, and Aggregators.
  • Strategy 5: Listen to, Create, and Share Audio.
  • Strategy 6: View, Create, and Share Photos.
  • Strategy 7: Watch, Create, and Share Videos.
  • What are social media best practices?
  • Presentation summary

You can watch a video of my presentation via YouTube or embedded below:

I also invite you to view the presentation that goes with this video below or via SlideShare:

Serendipity+?

Yesterday I recorded a video for my online UCLA Extension Social Media Marketing course (MGMNT X460.398A) in an area under construction near my apartment in the Sports City area of Dubai, UAE. I’ve been living her shortly after I started teaching for Jumeira University this September.

Designed to mirror the content of Gary Vaynerchuck’s book Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook, the course challenges students to create a content marketing plan for a product, service, individual, or organization of their choice.

google+-auto-backupThe theme of the week for which I recorded the video is “Embracing Emerging Options.” As presented in the Round (Chapter) 8, Opportunities in Emerging Networks, the emerging social networks include LinkedIn, Google+, Vine, and Snapchat.

While today and even when the book was first published in November 2013 these platforms weren’t “new” in the literal sense none had yet achieved critical mass.

That said, Snapchat has quickly gained momentumVine has seen impressive growth,  LinkedIn has aggressively evolved from its initial role as an “online Rolodex,” yet the role and relevance of Google+ continues to fluctuate.

I was invited to join Google+ three years ago, early into it’s Beta launch. In the more than three years since I am still not quite sure what to do with it nor have I seen tremendous engagement on it, but I remain cautiously optimistic.

Speaking of which, if you’re not already doing so, please stop by my Google+ profile and follow me; I will do the same and, together we can enhance our experience on this platform with potential.

However, I actively use the Google+ Auto Backup feature and continue to be amused by the Google+ Auto Awesome functionality for photos and for Google+ Auto Awesome for videos as well.

And so it was remarkably coincidental (and strangely sentient) for Google+ to “Auto Awesome” my UCLA Extension video that included content about Google+ just a few hours later. It includes footage from the video I shot plus still shots I also took (yes, including a selfie; for shame).

Interestingly, it removed the actual audio track and made it more of a montage. More intriguing was the awkward yet entertaining  1980s sitcom style music Google+ added to the video!

So, without further delay, I present to you my Auto Awesome video:

Have you ever been Auto Awesomed?

Welcome to Dubai.”

Waiting to depart LAX on Sunday, September 7, 2014.
Waiting in the United Airlines terminal to depart LAX the morning of Sunday, September 7, 2014.

After flying 9,357 miles from LAX and traveling for nearly 22 hours — including an almost 4 hour delay in Dulles (IAD) — I had arrived at Dubai International Airport (DXB) the evening of September 8, 2014. Coincidentally Lady Gaga  arrived that evening for her first UAE concert ever.

Beginning a two year contract as a full time Lecturer in the College of Business Administration at Jumeira University, I awaited a brave new world of professional development  and personal growth. One quick month later, I have experienced that and more.

Below are three of my initial  impressions — aka “teachable moments” — from my first month in Dubai. Each is a different degree of the same spectrum of educational adventure and I am grateful for the knowledge gained through each experience:

Community

Having worked as an adjunct instructor since 2007 I became accustomed to a “lone wolf” style of working and, to some degree, living. One of the first changes — aside from the obvious fact that I am thousands of miles from my former home in another country — is I am now a full-time faculty member, with all the rights and responsibilities that entails. I am fortunate to have exceptional colleagues and students who, from  day one, have enriched my experience ten fold. There is a wonderful sense of community and camaraderie here and it is both motivating and reassuring. I am looking forward to creating a community of practice and making the most of this exceptional opportunity.

Connectivity

Finding reliable WiFi has been a challenge everywhere including at my apartment, where I had to wait an additional 10 days for service due to an issue with the fiber cable and, subsequently, the server box in my apartment.  This complicated  matters, including my ability to speak with my sons via Skype over WiFi. Fortunately, my building management and my Internet provider — du — worked with me to resolve the issue even with an important Muslim holiday, Eid al-Adha, impeding their progress. I am happy to report that I am now writing this fully connected at my apartment. Ironically, my connectivity issues started even before I arrived in Dubai when neither of the two flights I took had WiFi on-board. Having previously been continuously connected, this was a challenging adjustment; one that forced me to find creative, constructive, and somewhat costly alternatives. The lesson here was one of persistence mixed with patience and politeness.

Mobility

Coming from Los Angeles (where nobody walks), I was accustomed to driving everywhere. But, when I arrived in Dubai I had $300 in my pocket, two large suitcases, one carry-on, and a messenger bag with my laptop; I was without personal transportation. Initially, and now occasionally, I depended on the kindness of strangers or colleagues. I even had an exceptional experience with a total stranger named “Ali Boots” who graciously drove me to my university after getting an important housing document called an Ejari. Now I am taking taxis or the Dubai Metro light rail system. While individual taxi rides are only between AED 30 and 50 ($8.17 to $13.61), these costs can quickly add up, as can the time spent waiting for scheduled taxis or trying to find an available option. For the most part this has been a seamless process, but it has taught me to plan more efficiently, travel lightly, and be flexible — it’s also forced me to more carefully budget my cash flow.

Me in front of Jumeira University in Dubai, UAE.
Me in front of Jumeira University in Dubai, UAE.

This is a small sampling of my observations. During my next two years in Dubai I will share “tips and quips” as time and subject matter permit. If ever there was an opportunity to learn continuously and live generatively this is certainly it!