Social Media in K-12 and other Educational Institutions: A Secure Approach
May 24, 2011

Social Media is the technology platform that has received  exponential growth in adoption by consumers of all ages. The age barrier to use the likes of Facebook, Twitter, Texting is going down every year, irrespective of the legal age limits proposed by the Social Media Companies in their terms of services agreement. Hence, educational institutions including K-12 schools can play a key role in training, coaching and mentoring their students and teachers in using the Social Media responsibly and safely.

Recently, the Virginia Department of Education has worked on developing a framework or guidelines on the use of Social Media. [Reference: Educational Editorial: Social Media in Schools by Dr. Bill Bosher, Posted March 28,2011 on

However, there are some key challenges with the current social media networks, including Facebook, Twitter, etc. Some of these challenges are:

1)   Privacy: The privacy concerns are one of the most important ones. In social networks, the profile of students, and teachers becomes public. The profiles are crawled and indexed by search engines. This makes these profile owners an easy target for abuse by unwanted elements of our society. 2)   Content Filtering: The content posted on social networks is not moderated and shows up unfiltered in real time. For social media to be effective and provide value in the educational environment, the contents need to be filtered appropriately. 3)   Unstructured Data: The real-time streams of text in likes of Facebook, Twitter showcase large amounts of text that causes to miss a lot of material of interest.

However, there is a great attempt in building social media platforms that cater to the educational industry. One of them being Schoology and another one is EduBuzz.Net. ( The key features of edubuzz addresses the above concerns as well as provides additional features:

1)   Privacy: The platform is provided in two offerings, both addressing the privacy concerns.

  • The SaaS (Software as a Service) offering is for small educational groups, who do not want to maintain infrastructure, and
  • The Secure Inside the Firewall download and install offering is for education institution who want their Internal communications to be highly secure, while monitoring the larger social media networks on the Internet.

The internal user id or profiles, do not become available to outside networks, thus providing a good protection to the users.

2)   Content Filtering: The easy to use features for moderating the content that is posted. 3)   Structured Data Streams: The ability to create topic specific groups., The teacher-student specific group provides an easy to read and respond feature to content. This increases productivity and effectiveness of the social media.

Today’s young generation is not restricted to books. The internet and social media are blasting it with information, contacts and virtual visitors. Hence the need to put controls to make  social media a safe and effective social tool.


1. 2.    Teaching, Learning, and Sharing: How Today¹s Higher Education Faculty Use Social Media, April 2011 by Mike Moran, Jeff Seaman, Hester Tinti-Kane, Pearson and Always Learning Report.

Social Media – Is it a Dot Com Bubble 2.0?
May 1, 2011

Many of us may remember the growth of bubble and the subsequent burst of the bubble whose repercussions are being felt by technology and Internet companies till date.

So the question is what makes something a bubble? In simple terms, a bubble is something that has a very thin film around a space of air. As the air increases inside, the thin film keeps expanding, and depending on the adhesion, surface tension of the material of which this thin film is made of , the bubble can expand very fast. Once a certain level of surface tension is reached, the bubble bursts or if a very small speck of dust comes in touch with the thin film, it changes the cohesive forces of the film and the bubble bursts and disappears.

Now let’s look at the Bubble 1.0 – The Internet technology had just been out of the academic and military research labs into the hands of the commercial world.  The Web started to grow and the key factors the investors, the companies were looking were the number of eyes balls or unique visitors that come to the view their site, portals or web property. Some used cool techniques to get those impressions like the carpet bombing of CD’s by AOL, the use of taglines in every piece of email  “Free Email by Hotmail”  (the Viral marketing approach) among others. The companies who got exponential growth in their visitors saw their stock prices soar, and valuation of companies increased exponentially.  That was the rise of Bubble 1.0. However, the customer base got saturated and the surface tension in the form of competition grew when the thin layer on top of Internet technology companies just crashed and the bubble broke and shattered the dreams of many people.

At present, the Social Media, to me feels like a Bubble 2.0.  For example, pioneers of Social Media 2.0 (SM 2.0) – companies like MySpace, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, etc. all have touted exponential growth of their user base in last few years. The stock market and the investor community has acted in the same manner as they did during the era 1.  The investors are looking to put more money in SM 2.0 companies, thinking the success of new ventures could be a repeat of growth like those of the above-mentioned pioneers. However, I see that the stress is slowly creeping in to the psyche of the SM 2.0 users. For example, the users are getting tired of creating ‘avatars’ in various platforms and being equally engaged and active in them.  Unlike some celebrities who are provided a perception of being engaged in all SM 2.0 network by using paid writers.  The earlier stars like MySpace and Twitter are having challenges in growth areas.  I feel it is a sign that the Dot Com Bubble 2.0 is reaching it’s critical expansion limit? What is going to be the trigger that will burst this bubble? I leave it to the audience to think about it. The burst of Dot Com 2.0 is imminent, the timing is anybody’s guess. However, I feel timing is soon, for the following reasons:

  • The SM 2.0 is a crowded space, where many of the players add little to no value.
  • The users base is overwhelmed by the irrelevant content provided by 1000’s of connected users. (Analogous to email spam)
  • Friend or Friend of a Friend definition has changed for the worse in SM 2.0, and SM 2.0 platforms are not providing good filters (unlike LinkedIN).
  • Enterprises do not see value in SM 2.0, even many Internet companies do not understand SM 2.0 value.
  • Users have preferred SM 2.0 network, even though they exists in all or many networks. The inter connectivity of networks is not easy.

However, few SM 2.0 players can have a long life, if:

  • Interoperability between networks become smooth and simple.
  • Enterprise promotes the usefulness of ‘real-time’ collaboration using SM 2.0 internally.
  • Secure SM 2.0 for internal data sharing, while monitoring external SM 2.0 networks.
-Satyam 4/29/11 @Cafe in VHC, Arlington, VA
Social Media – The Future
January 24, 2011

Just heard on Bloomberg TV channel, a comment by Hussein Kanji “Social networking companies lose users when they push for profits”.  As per the interviewer Kanji has watched Facebook closely when he was at Accel, an investor firm.

The rise and decline of AOL and now the re-emergence of AOL could provide good insight into this statement. AOL was the ‘Social Media company’ even before the term social media was coined.

The products and services of the current social media companies are the new Avatars of some of the products/services in the late 90’s at the Internet giant then. Here is a very brief comparison:

New Avatar Previous Generation
Facepages, Google Sites, Weebly etc. Hometown@AOL
Groups, Private Groups on LinkedIn, Google, Facebook, etc. Groups@AOL.

The new Avatars leverage the latest technology, attracting a larger audience from older products and services. Last couple of years saw an exponential growth in the adoption of these new Avatars. However, one needs to think what will happen to these current products and service, due to the following factors:

  • Growth in funding of entrepreneurial activities in various parts of Asia and the adoption of local social media products in various area. For example, SMS GupShup is the leading social media platform in India.
  • The growth in users of current social media will flatten out, after an exponential growth, as the number of users are fixed in the world.
  • The discussion about privacy is getting hotter for these social media companies.

In summary, if current social media companies need to remain competitive and growing, they need to focus on innovation more than profits. The users will leave for the new technology platforms, as they did when the current Avatars were created.

Social Media Leads to Success of Grow Smart Biz Conference 2009
October 6, 2009

Barely a week before the Grow Smart Biz conference 2009, the registration count was just below 200 people. So it was a surprise when on Sept. 29, the day of the conference, the hall was filled with well over 400 attendees. What happened? The Social Media Buzz superseded the traditional marketing of the conference, and the attendees poured in to listen to a great cast of keynote speakers like Senator Mark Warner and Chris Anderson, editor-in-chief of Wired magazine, and Roy Dunbar, CEO of Network Solutions. Our own social media swami, Shashi Bellamkonda, known in the social media world as “Shashib” or “Shashi” worked tirelessly with support from a few of his teammates to explain the value of the conference to small businesses. The team used Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and other social media tools to spread the word about the conference. And the word of mouth spread quickly!

After speaking with the attendees and listening carefully to their thoughts on the conference, it is clear that the verdict is that GrowSmartBiz conference was a great success.

Having attended many conferences in the D.C. area in last few years, I have seen that the afternoon sessions typically seem to retain less than 40% of the attendees that were present at the morning sessions. At the Grow Smart Biz conference, the attendees were constantly engaged and the attendance rate of the afternoon sessions was 80% of those that were present in the morning. Many who left still joined the conference via webcast. The conference had over 1000 streaming visitors and 150 simultaneous streaming viewers. We even had attendees from as far as Australia watching the live stream of the conference!

Another indicator that the conference was a success was that people showed interest in expanding this event in the future. Some talked to a few Network Solutions executives about ideas for next year’s conference, and many asked if this would become an annual event. There were also a lot of people talking about the content on social media as opposed to talking about the tools and software for social media, which is often the focus at conferences. With this insight, small businesses have a better idea of how to use social media to help them grow.

Even after a week of the conference, requests coming in are for people willing to pay for the content of the conference.

You can learn about Grow Smart Business here and watch the video replays of the conference here.

If you attended or watch the replay, let me know your thoughts. We would love the feedback.