Earlier this week, I signed on with WizIQ as their director of marketing. My mission? To bring a virtual classroom platform with a large overseas following and a moderate following here in the US to the forefront of the virtual classroom market in the United States and beyond. No small task, but one heck of an adventure, wouldn't you say?
This has some implications for you, my readers (and, of course, the PR people who love to pitch the latest ed tech products to me). Most of these implications are actually incredibly cool, though. You see, WizIQ is based in India and is the brainchild of an Indian man named Harman Singh, conceived while he was a graduate student at North Carolina State University.
I'm hardly what you'd call an international man of intrigue and just because my best friend in high school was born in Kolkata, I'm no expert on India-US relations. I have a lot to learn about Indian culture (not that there is a single Indian culture, making for even greater challenges for American companies and individuals looking to do business there).
I do know that when I was a little kid, I visited the home of one my dad's colleagues, an engineer from India. His wife made what I remember as ice cream with saffron and cardamom which didn't appeal to my 5-year old taste buds but that I will now absolutely need to track down if I have the opportunity get over to the company's headquarters. Of course, armed with Google Apps and a solid web-based meeting platform (you know, the company's product, WizIQ), it might be hard to justify the trip, but hopefully one of my new colleagues can help me in my quest for India ice cream anyway.
While many of the little lessons I'm learning every day aren't germane to this blog, there is much about Indian culture, education, and business that will impact our students as they increasingly compete with Indian counterparts for jobs in a very flat world. Insights that affect our kids, our educational system, and our teachers I'll definitely be sharing.
Similarly, I generally won't be saying much on this blog about specific virtual classroom technologies anymore. This is journalism, not marketing, and, while those two things meet more often than they used to, I won't have any conflicts of interest coloring the things I write here. My opinions will still color what I write, of course (it is a blog, after all, not the New York Times). That being said, I'm going to be tuned in to broader changes in the market and related technologies. For example, Adobe will be enabling some technologies in Flash 10.3 that will be important to WizIQ and other Flash-based educational platforms. I'll certainly talk about the implications of changes like this for the market and for users of virtual classroom systems.
I'm sure that WizIQ will come up in these blogs (or perhaps over on Between the Lines) in much the same way that my old employer (our local school district) used to come up in this blog. There were important "from-the-trenches" lessons and stories to share based on what was happening in our district and the same will probably go for WizIQ. After all, we all learn new things from our jobs almost every day; when I stop learning on the job, it's time for a new job.
Any way it goes, I will be coming to this blog often with new perspectives and insights that I wouldn't have without this new relationship with an Indian company and without now being immersed in the educational technology services provider world where only 8 months ago I spent my time buying educational technology services.
I'm incredibly excited about this new phase of my career and I'm looking forward to bringing that excitement to this blog, even as I continue to write about the countless facets of educational technology that have nothing at all to do with virtual classrooms.