Friday, May 13, 2022

Verizon Wireless Offers Free Small Business Training and Coaching


I got an email from my wireless carrier (Verizon) the other day that was really intriguing. It read: “Join our free learning program to help you succeed in a digital world. Over 30 personalized learning courses, small business peer networking and even grant opportunities. Best of all? It’s free.” I clicked on the “Don’t Miss Out” button and here’s what I found.


Verizon’s Small Business Digital Ready program has the goal of helping 1 million small businesses “thrive in the digital economy.” The program includes free courses on subjects like search engine optimization (SEO), working remotely, and finance management (e.g., good credit management). It offers one-on-one and group coaching and mentoring with experts from your industry, as well as networking opportunities with other small business owners.


A success story is highlighted on the program’s website. A food truck owner in Philadelphia took a Social Media 101 course that was personalized to her business, helping her market her food truck better and attract a larger clientele. 


Verizon is also offering $10,000 grants to small businesses. Applicants must complete two courses or coaching events between January 1 and June 30, 2022, and must apply for the grant by June 30, 2022.


You can register for the Small Business Digital Ready program here, email, or call +1(800)-916-4351.


I looked quickly to see if competing wireless carriers are offering anything similar. T-Mobile offers small businesses $200 to spend on digital advertising, apparently limited to Facebook. I didn’t find anything for AT&T or Sprint.

Wednesday, April 27, 2022

Getting Hired Without a 4-Year College Degree May Be Getting Easier

Used to be that most advertisements for “good” jobs started with the requirement of a 4-year college degree. That may be changing, due in part to the tight job market and in part to the realization that a degree does not necessarily translate into job-appropriate skills.


A recent report from the Burning Glass Institute looked at over 50 million job postings in the past few years to see whether the hiring prerequisite of a 4-year degree was changing over time. They found that more companies are dropping the degree requirement all the time, and instead are outlining the specific skills that a desirable employee must possess. Technical skills and soft skills (communication, inter-personal relations). The report concludes that “we project that an additional 1.4 million jobs could open to workers without college degrees over the next five years.”


The Rework America Business Network consists of 12 major companies (like Microsoft, AT&T, Walmart, Toyota) who gathered together in 2018 to “seek to deepen their talent pools of qualified candidates and expand opportunities for people of diverse backgrounds by recruiting and hiring with a focus on individuals’ skills. … [T]his means emphasizing an individual’s demonstrable skills, over other proxies of one’s capabilities such as education, experience, references or pedigree, in all aspects of the employment cycle from sourcing and hiring to training, evaluation, advancement and retention to workforce planning.


Google (not a member of the Rework America Business Network) has recently announced a $100 million fund to help train potential new employees. Its fund is targeting the two-thirds of American workers who do not have a four-year college degree. Some of the fund’s money will be given to non-profits to provide training in technical skills using Google’s existing career certificate curriculum in information technology. The other portion of the fund will provide loans to students to acquire needed technical skills; the loans will be repayable at no interest in $100/month increments, provided the student obtains a job earning at least $40,000/year.


This trend in hiring opens up so many possibilities for acquiring the necessary skills: community college (less than 2 years in person), less than 2 years online, certificate programs, apprenticeships.

Thursday, April 14, 2022

Teaching Classes in Virtual Reality (VR)


My personal experience with online classes is via a-synchronous pre-recorded video and pdf documents or synchronous sessions using zoom or a similar platform. There is now an up-and-coming trend of offering online classes using virtual reality (VR) technology.


Of course, there have been university-level classes about virtual reality for quite some time (about the VR technology itself). But I’m talking about classes that are hosted in virtual reality (using VR technology, but possibly about some unrelated subject matter).


The Virtual People course offered by Stanford University is one of the first courses to be offered completely in virtual reality. Offered by the Communications Department for graduate students from multiple disciplines, the course curriculum is described as follows: “the concept of virtual people or digital human representations; methods of constructing and using virtual people; methodological approaches to interactions with and among virtual people; and current applications. Viewpoints including popular culture, literature, film, engineering, behavioral science, computer science, and communication.” All interactions between faculty and class students throughout the entire semester take place via VR.


Students have found the VR format provides a broader type of learning, allowing them to develop empathy by virtually standing in others’ shoes and participate in different life experiences. One guest speaker in the Stanford course “teaches racial empathy by having the viewer experience life as a black man who encounters racial prejudice.”


A study of student experiences in VR classes has found that students with previous VR experience benefit most from this class format. Students who are less comfortable with the VR format reported physical discomfort and distraction from the actual learning experience. Seems to me that this problem could be addressed with some VR format training/learning before the substantive class presentation sessions start.


As Covid has changed the way education is provided, more schools are incorporating VR into their curriculum offerings. And some, like VictoryXR Academy, offer much of their curriculum via VR.


Interested in incorporating VR into your own online teaching? Find VR curriculum resources here, here and here.



Wednesday, March 30, 2022

A College Degree Without All the Debt


Laurence J. Kotlikoff, a Harvard-trained economist currently teaching at Boston University, recently suggested that borrowing money for college is a waste of money. Kotlikof recites the downsides of incurring massive debt to finance a college degree (you have to pay it back, with interest) and cites some statistics about the average amounts of debt college students graduate with (an average of $33,000 debt upon graduation, with over 15% owing more than $50,000).


But, to me the far more interesting part of Kotlikoff’s article is his review of creative options to obtain a value-laden college degree with little or no debt.

·      Find a cheap college.

·      Go to community college for three years (cheap), and finish your last year at a better (more expensive) school.

·      Work for a few years before starting college, then apply for grants and scholarships on your own financial situation (presumably less income than your parents’ situation).

·      Attend community college, while also attending inexpensive online certificate programs. That doesn’t get you a college degree from the elite institutions, but it certainly gets you good credentials for the job search. Harvard, MIT, Stanford and many others offer these kinds of certificate programs.

Tuesday, March 15, 2022

Affordable Connectivity Program Replaces Emergency Broadband Benefit effective 3/1/22


Our May 19, 2021, blog post outlined the parameters of the Emergency Broadband Benefit, then available to US residents who met certain low income qualifications. As of March 1, 2022, that benefit is transitioning to the Affordable Connectivity Program.


The Affordable Connectivity Program, also administered by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), is funded at $14 billion to institutionalize essentially the same function as the Emergency Broadband Benefit: “help ensure we can afford the connections we need for work, school, health care and more for a long time.”


The new Affordable Connectivity Program will provide the following benefits:

·      Maximum monthly benefit of $30 toward internet access for qualifying households not on tribal lands. (This is a reduction from the $50/month emergency benefit.)

·      Maximum monthly benefit of $75 toward internet access for households living on qualified tribal lands. (No change from the emergency benefit.)

·      Up to $100 to purchase a laptop, desktop computer or table for eligible households (you need to contribute $10-50 toward the purchase price). (No change from the emergency benefit.)

·      Only one monthly benefit and one device purchase benefit per household. (No change from the emergency benefit.)

·      To qualify for the new benefit, a household needs to meet one of these criteria: 

o   Income less than or equal to 200% of Federal Poverty Guidelines. (This is a change from the 135% limit under the emergency benefit.)

o   Participates in certain federal assistance programs (SNAP, Medicaid, Federal Public Housing Assistance, SSI, Lifeline, WIC). (Several programs were added under the new program.)

o   Participates in Tribal-specific programs, such as Bureau of Indian Affairs General Assistance, Tribal TANF, or Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations.

o   Participates in the National School Lunch Program or the School Breakfast Program, including through the USDA Community Eligibility Provision.

o   Received a federal Pell grant during current award year.

o   Meets eligibility requirements for participating in a broadband provider’s existing low-income internet program.


If a household was fully enrolled in the Emergency Broadband Benefit as of December 31, 2021, they should have continued to receive their monthly benefits under that program until March 1, 2022. They should also automatically start receiving benefits under the new Affordable Connectivity Program. Households that qualified for emergency benefits because they experienced substantial loss of income due to job loss or furlough since Feb 29, 2020, and total 2020 income was below $99,000 for single filers or $198,000 for joint filers will have to reapply for benefits under the new program and qualify on some other basis.


There are two steps for new participants to enroll in the Affordable Connectivity Program:

o   Fill out and submit the application found at the program’s website.

o   Contact your preferred internet provider to select a plan and have the benefit applied to your bill.




Monday, February 28, 2022

2022 Rankings of US Online Degree Programs Revealed


US News & World Report issues rankings of various higher education institutions on an annual basis.  The 2022 rankings for online degree programs in the United States were recently released.


US News develops its rankings for online degree programs based on the following methodology:

·      35%: engagement (effective interaction between faculty and students, and between students)

·      25%: services and technology (diverse technologies to empower students to study remotely)

·      20%: faculty credentials and training (including training to teach distance learners)

·      20%: expert opinions derived from surveys of other online degree programs

The methodology is fine-tuned by type of online degree program (see below for the categories).


And the #1 winners are …:

·      Bachelor’s Programs (a tie)

o   Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University-Worldwide

o   University of Florida

·      MBA Programs (a tie)

o   Indiana University – Bloomington (Kelley)

o   University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill

o   University of Southern California (Marshall)

·      Graduate Business Programs (tie)

o   Indiana University – Bloomington (Kelley)

o   University of Southern California (Marshall)

·      Graduate Criminal Justice Programs

o   University of California – Irvine

·      Graduate Education Programs

o   Clemson University (Moore)

·      Graduate Engineering Programs

o   Columbia University (Fu Foundation)

·      Graduate Computer Informaton Technology Programs

o   Columbia University

·      Graduate Nursing Programs (a tie)

o   Ohio State University

o   University of Pittsburgh

o   University of South Carolina

Wednesday, February 16, 2022

Being a Lifelong Learner is the Secret to Success … (from Business Insider) ONLINE!

 Being a lifelong learner is the secret to success, according to executive business coach Sue Hawkes, who is also the founder and CEO of YESS.  In her book,

"Chasing Perfection: Shatter The Illusion; Minimize Self-Doubt and Maximize Success."

She says that successful leaders are always trying to learn and open to learning in new ways. That means they're coachable and willing to throw out what they know and assume. Learning is different from knowledge - it's behavior in action.  Learn more:

And the best feature:

All of this learning can be done online.  Enjoy!