How to Become a Lean manufacturing Consultant

Employment as a Lean Consultant

So, you are considering finding employment as a lean consultant! Why? Are you after fame, fortune or just want to get the girl? Before you run out and quit the day job you need to look carefully at your motivations and your plans. Be honest about why you want the job and objectively analyze if you can achieve those goals. Be honest about why you want to work in consultancy and if lean consulting is the job for you.

This hub will look at the following areas;

Education and experience

Independent Consultant


Working for a Consultancy

Many people move into consultancy believing that it is an easy life and a get rich quick scheme, the reality is very different. It is never an easy life, you have to work hard if you want to succeed, the more you put in, the more you will get out. As to the money, when you start out the rewards can be very low, but the harder you work the more you can earn, at the top of the profession there is the opportunity to earn the big bucks, but getting there is going to take extreme hard work and dedication.
Becoming a Lean Consultant
Working as a Lean Consultant
Working as a Lean Consultant | Source
Improve value add by employment as a Lean Consultant
Improve value add by employment as a Lean Consultant | Source
Become a Lean Consultant and implement lean Tools
Become a Lean Consultant and implement lean Tools | Source
Education and Experience to Become a Lean Consultant

In this section I will discuss the education and experience that you will need to find employment as a lean consultant. I will expand on this in the later sections.

If you are going to impress your future employers with your skills and knowledge then it is best that you have a reasonable level of education to get your foot through the door. It is unlikely that your CV or resume (Yes they will want to see a full CV for the consultant) will pass first glance unless that you can show that you have as a minimum a degree, preferably a Masters in a relevant subject, Phd can actually be counterproductive as some see this as a sign of someone that is too academic!

It is also very worthwhile having membership of a professional body in addition to your degree, this shows some dedication to your profession, again this needs to be a relevant professional membership, institute of management, institute of mechanical engineers etc..

All of these will get your CV or resume at least looked at! Then you need to demonstrate your experience and capability. You need to demonstrate that you have the necessary skills and knowledge specific to lean, what training courses have you attended and how have you implemented that learning?

You need to demonstrate your capability with some relevant implementations of lean, not just a few individual tools but the broad philosophy to show how you have interacted with a company at all levels. You need to have implemented lean manufacturing ideas and tools with measurable success and you must be able to detail these improvements on your CV or Resume. It is not enough to have just implemented 5S or 5C a few times, you need to show a full understanding of the principles of Just in Time (JIT) and all of the lean tools.

If you have none of the above then you need to be honest with yourself about your future prospects within this area, or go out and earn them! You need to have a clear understanding as to what is lean manufacturing, the history of lean manufacturing and if you want to sell your services you need to demonstrate the benefits of lean manufacturing.
Tackling Problems by becoming a Lean Consultant
Become a lean manufacturing consultant to explain Lean Principles
Become a lean manufacturing consultant to explain Lean Principles | Source
Employment as a lean manufacturing consultant to apply 5S or 5C
Employment as a lean manufacturing consultant to apply 5S or 5C | Source
Become a lean manufacturing consultant to identify the Seven Wastes
Become a lean manufacturing consultant to identify the Seven Wastes | Source
Employment as an Independent Lean Consultant

Most people who leave employment to become an independent consultant are normally fed up with their current job and are seeking greater variety and more money without the bind of working for someone else. In addition to this there is also the recently unemployed who decide they can make it on their own, which ever category you fall into you have a lot of work ahead of you.

You have to be able to market yourself, do you need a website to advertise your self? Do you need brochures, flyers, business cards? Business address, registration, bank accounts, the list can go on and on. Before you jump in go get some advice, there are organizations out there who will give you free and impartial advice about setting up your business, also talk to your bank, most have small business sections who will give free advice also! Be prepared, do the groundwork, prepare your business plan as to what you want to achieve and how you will get there, if you can’t do this then you should not even be considering the move into consultancy, go get a job now or stay where you are, be honest with yourself!

Once you have the basics you need to find customers, network with all possible groups in your local area. Chambers of commerce, Universities, Technical Colleges, specific networking groups! There are a number of networking groups that are businesses in their own right, they charge you a membership fee and help put you in touch with different companies who also join looking to sell their services and products. Work to make many contacts, speak at events about your subject, do anything to put you in a position to speak with potential clients. This is not a 9 to 5 job, most of your networking will be breakfast meetings and evening events!

Visit every company that you can for any reason, have an eye open for any opportunity within those companies, be able to make your sales pitch at the slightest sign of interest or opportunity. Make everyone knows who you are and what you can do in your local business community! Network with every governmental agency and employee that has contact with local businesses, introduce yourself to every business adviser at every bank in the area.

Keep your eye on the Job pages of your local newspapers, look at who are taking on new employees, this generally means expansion and change, an ideal time to start to implement lean.

Does this sound like hard work? It is, you need to build the groundwork for your business, without the groundwork being complete your business will take 3 steps backward for every 2 forward! You have to put in the hours and work hard at this job, the eventual rewards are worth it. This networking can actually be quite enjoyable, traveling and meeting many new people without too much real pressure.

Eventually you will meet people who want to avail themselves of your services, be realistic you will have to invest your time to convince them of what you can do, you will have to produce a realistic proposal that addresses the real needs of their business and give them a good idea of what your proposals will save them in real money, this is where you can win the business with ease as there are so many opportunities to save in most businesses!

Be prepared to work for low wages or be paid on performance until you prove yourself, do this on the basis of the fact that you like the company, you think it has a great future and you really want to work for them in the future, not that you need to prove yourself and any work is good work at the moment!

Once you have proved yourself in your community and you have made some significant improvements the word will get around, you can use your reputation to demand a reasonable fee, after all if the company can make these improvements themselves they would have already done it! Do not try to compete on price or to win business at this stage by reducing your fees, set a realistic achievable fee and stick to it! If you can demonstrate cost savings and success then you can give real figures for the companies return on investment, normally you should be able to show that you will save them at least ten times what you charge them if not more. The fact that you have done it before proves this. I have always walked away if the company does not want to pay my rate when I have shown them the return, I have other business that is paying that rate, they often return after a few months when the area you were offering to improve has caused them pain in some way!

This business model is a slow starting, high maintenance model that has great benefits and earning potential if you stick to it and work hard, if you don’t want the hard work then the rewards of this employment will be low!
Employment as a Lean manufacturing consultant Partner

The partnership model is similar to above, the difference is that you join a group of like minded individuals who offer business consultancy services, you share the networking and business administration in some manner and everyone promotes each other. This can be a formal or an informal arrangement.

This can work well if everyone involved pulls their weight, however if there are a few individuals who don’t do their job and appear to be living off the backs of the others this model can quickly dissolve.

Within a partnership arrangement it is not necessary for you all to be of the same discipline, it is more often advantageous to have a range of different skills and educate each other in what you each are capable of. That way the Financial guy can see where your skills could help a business to save money and recommend your services.

This model is a very good way of working, I worked informally within a group in the UK and we often passed business back and forth between ourselves doing “sales and marketing” for each others abilities to maximize the amount of work that we could find.

Industry Standards for Consultants and Experts

Industry Standards for Technical Experts and Consultants

Becoming a consultant may still be as simple as adding that description to your business card. However, professional organizations, engineering standards groups and federal regulations are standardizing both the rules of conduct to be followed by consultants and technical experts and the rules companies must abide when hiring them.

Groups from ASTM International to the French national standards organization have standards regarding the employment of experts and consultants.
ISO Standards for Consultants

ISO 10019 gives the guidelines for selecting quality management system or QMS consultants and using their services.

ISO 10019 has been adopted by the French, British and Spanish national standards organizations, in addition to ISO std 10019 being an international standard in its own right.
Industrial standards for consultants are common, and they have been issued for groups as diverse as quality consultants to forensic experts.
Industrial standards for consultants are common, and they have been issued for groups as diverse as quality consultants to forensic experts. | Source
ASTM Standards for Consultants and Technical Experts

ASTM E620 gives the standard practice for reporting the opinions of scientific or technical experts and consultants. ASTM E678-07 describes the standard method of evaluating scientific and technical data used by consultants to form an expert opinion.

ASTM E2159 outlines the recommended practices for selecting, assigning and monitoring technical experts, assessors and auditors. ASTM E2159 is ANSI approved.

ASTM International has several standards specific to forensic experts. For example, ASTM International Standard E1188 describes the practices for collecting and preserving physical items as well as information by an investigator. ASTM E860 lists the practices for preparing items that may be involved in a later court case.

ASTM International has issued a number of standards on evaluating properties and real estate. ASTM D7053 is the ASTM guide for evaluating low sloped roofs for causes of water leakage. ASTM D7053 states that it is a guide for engineers, roofing contractors and consultants with a background in the maintenance and design of low sloped roofs.

ASTM E2166 gives the approved method of organizing information about buildings for direct comparison. ASTM E2166 is the recommended method of reporting to be used by consultants discussing building conditions.
European Standards for Consultants and Technical Experts

UNI 11251 is the Italian set of guidelines for delivering organizational consulting and training to public administrations. UNI 11369 describes the method of classifying management consultants. UNI 11394 gives guidance on how to use management consultants to develop small enterprises and small business.
AFNOR NF X50-767 is the French standard for setting the quality of services for recruitment consulting firms. AFNOR CWA 16275 gives the guidelines to be followed when selecting consultants giving advice on integrating quality, safety, health and environmental management systems.
American Standards for Consultants and Technical Experts

A variety of American standards organizations have issued standards on how to work with consulting engineers and subject matter experts and addressing the standards consultants should meet.

ASCE MOP 45 is a publication by the ASCE on how businesses can select and best work with consulting engineers.
ACGIH 03-027 is a publication by ACGIH, the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists Inc., which details the recommended business practices of its members working as consultants.

The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials or AASHTO has published a Guide for Consultant Contracting or GCC. AASHTO HDG CHAPTER 15 lists the recommended guidelines for selecting and using hydraulics engineering consultants.

The American Institute of Architects or AIA has a list of recommended agreement forms for use by consultants and clients, with different agreement forms identified for those work with international clients and those working with domestic clients.

AIA C401 is the standard form for American architects and clients, while AIA B161 is the standard agreement form for international projects. AIA C727 is the standard form for consultants providing special services other than designing and building projects. AIA B204 is the standard form to architects to use when the owner is also employing a value analysis consultant.
U.S. Government Standards Regarding Consultants

DOE 3304.1 is a Department of Energy publication on the hiring of consultants and subject matter experts. DOE 3309.2 addresses the use of consultants by DOE contractors.
7 CFR PART 1789 describes the allowed use of consultants funded by borrowers. 29 CFR PART 406 outlines the reporting required of labor relations consultants.

U.S. DoD standards also require contractors to avoid conflicts of interest, such as permitting an employee to work as a consultant for a competitor or hiring a relative of the contracting party as a consultant.

How to Start a Sales Training Consulting Business

A 40 Percent Success Rate?

Business owners and managers are engaged in a constant quest to increase company sales. One practical solution for businesses is to hire a sales training consultant to train sales managers and the sales staff to do a better job. If you are thinking about starting a consulting business that provides sales training, find out in advance what is required to succeed in this business.

Sales training and consulting can be rewarding. However, prospective sales training consultants cannot afford to ignore the challenges on the horizon. In a healthy dose of reality, the Small Business Administration reports that the failure rate for cross-industry businesses is 60 percent during the first year — plan ahead to make it into the 40 percent that succeed.

Starting a consulting business is much harder than it looks.
— Dan Schawbel
How to Start Your Consulting Business
How to Start Your Consulting Business
Review Your Skill Set

Before jumping into any business opportunity, you should always examine if you “have what it takes.” Running a sales training consulting business requires a complex mixture of skills — for starters, management and the “Big 3” skill set of consulting, training and sales.
One Consulting Mistake: Scope Creep

How many salespeople (and managers) are not realizing their fullest potential? What stands in the way to greater performance isn’t something they don’t have but something they don’t get consistently: effective coaching. Unfortunately, most managers don’t deliver consistent, effective coaching or have the coaching skills needed to make a long-term, positive impact on their salespeople’s performance.
— Keith Rosen
A Playbook for Coaching Salespeople
Coaching Salespeople into Sales Champions: A Tactical Playbook for Managers and Executives
Coaching Salespeople into Sales Champions: A Tactical Playbook for Managers and Executives

More than one credible source has referred to Keith Rosen’s masterpiece as the best sales coaching book ever written. For anyone involved in the sales and marketing process, this is truly “must reading” at its finest. Selling success starts at the top of any organization — business owners and senior executives should not delay in absorbing what this book has to teach.

Evaluate Your Sales and Training Experience

Clients will expect your sales training consulting firm to bring valuable experience to the table. If you do not have this expertise, you can hire employees who can add immediate street credibility to your new consulting team. If you are planning a one-person consulting shop, your most practical route is to have several years of specialized marketing and sales management experience on your professional resume. At a minimum, your prospective clients are likely to insist that you understand their business — and know how to sell to their customers.

What Is A Bluetooth Earpiece

Blue Tooth is unplugging the world, one device at a time. The global technology uses radio waves to connect devices (within a short range) without any cords or cables. One of the most amazing features of Blue Tooth is its ability to link devices that you may not otherwise think would have any compatible features at all. Many major companies are manufacturing products that include Blue Tooth capabilities. Some of these companies include Apple, Microsoft, IBM, Intel, and Nokia. When you attach a Blue Tooth USB adapter to your computer, all of your peripheral equipment becomes connected. This is an incredible way to become wireless, use more of your devices, and save money running your own network.

The range of devices that are Blue Tooth enabled are vast, including mobile phones, PDAs, desktop and notebook computers, printers, and digital cameras. By using special Blue Tooth enabled devices such as an earpiece you can even listen to your mp3 files while wireless.

There are so many innovative ways to use Blue Tooth technology and it seems that we can only expect this technology to advance. It is very cost effective, since many products are pre installed with Blue Tooth. For the simple cost of the adapter, you can run your own network virtually free of any additional charges. However, if you were going to use a Blue Tooth earpiece for the sake of speaking over a mobile phone you would naturally incur cell phone charges.

As wireless technology continues to spread, more mainstream providers of services are turning their attentions to Blue Tooth. For example, Verizon Wireless has now released a headset designed by Logitech that fits snugly over the ear. This makes for instant hands free telephone conversations as well as a great way to enjoy listening to some of your favorite tunes.

By incorporating Blue Tooth in your work office, home office, or entertainment you will derive the most benefits from your applications and devices. It is relatively simple to install Blue Tooth in your computer and create your own network. When watching the latest technological trends, it is apparent that people want simple solutions for their workstations and by eliminating cords and wires and giving people the freedom to stay networked while wireless has amazing benefits. Keeping an eye on Blue Tooth and its applications will allow you to stay up to date with the current technological advances and products.

Reox Holdings (dairygold): Small Step To Radio Means A Giant Leap In Bandwidth For Reox

When Reox Holdings went looking for a secondary network to back up its
wide area network. It found more than it bargained for in AirSpeed.Now the bandwidth, resilience and reach of the AirSpeed solution has convinced Reox to make radio its primary network to its core sites.

The diverse nature of the Reox Holdings business puts a greater demand on its IT systems than other, non-diversified enterprises face. The IT department in Reox works with four distinct business divisions: the 4Homes DIY retail business; the Dairygold dairy business; a cold foods division; and a substantial property business. The Group IT division is responsible not only for the Reox data centre at Cork Airport
Business Park, but also for anticipating and meeting the changing needs of the four divisions, each of which has its own IT manager.

“We decided that AirSpeed would become our primary WAN circuit to our sites. The wired network will become our backup.”

Michael Costello, Group IT Service Delivery Manager, Reox Holdings

In 2007 Reox undertook an initiative to strengthen its wide area network, as the momentum within the business was toward the centralisation of more IT infrastructure in the company’s data centre. The WAN serves a number of sites in Cork and Dublin, and the first priority in strengthening it was to provide resilience. The company already had an IP MPLS network from another provider as its primary WAN circuit, and it began investigating its options for a secondary network.

“It became clear, as we looked at the AirSpeed solution, that we were being offered a very high performance network that offered excellent bandwidth capabilities,” explains Michael Costello, Group IT Service Delivery Manager for Reox Holdings. “So we decided that AirSpeed would become our primary WAN circuit to our sites. The wired network will become our backup.” Radio from AirSpeed — the right technology and the right skill set.

The decision to go with AirSpeed was an easy one, Michael notes, because of the total package on offer. Not only did AirSpeed offer coverage and excellent bandwidth to all six sites, but it also offered a fully managed solution using its own Juniper-certified personnel.

“Other companies were either providing only the equipment and leaving us to manage it, or were providing a managed solution using outsourced personnel, which would mean more complexity and more people involved whenever support issues arose,” he said. “Only AirSpeed offered just what we needed, including the in-house management.”

Michael says the dramatic increase in bandwidth AirSpeed offers over its current provider will provide real business benefits. With the current environment, the company has a 10Mbps connection to the MPLS cloud. But with the implementation of AirSpeed, the company will have a 150Mbps WAN link.

“We will be able to start looking at remote-site disaster recovery — our current network just doesn’t have the bandwidth for that,” he says. “We will be open to other business opportunities by allowing
more centralised applications, so from a strategic point of view there are good opportunities.”

High bandwidth, limitless possibilities

The significant increase in bandwidth will be a major boost to Reox, Michael says, and to its plans to create a stronger, future-proofed WAN for all types of potential projects. With the MPLS network
providing resiliency and AirSpeed providing a primary network with a large bandwidth increase, Reox is well positioned to get the maximum benefits from its WAN, with AirSpeed radio leading the way.

“We have found AirSpeed very approachable and obviously very knowledgeable in their field, and we feel they can help us with our business needs going forward,” Michael says. “They are technologically
very good but they also understand from a business perspective what the solution needs to provide us with.”

Michael also notes that he’s pleased and encouraged to see the huge strides radio technology has made in just a few years.

“I’ve had quite a bit of input into wireless technology over the last few years, and I’ve seen it improve vastly,” he says. “We’re comfortable not just in using wireless technology, but in making it our primary WAN infrastructure. Areas like functionality, security and cost were all taken on board during the assessment process, and we are confident the solution is going to be a huge benefit to the organisation moving forward.”

The Versatility Of Internet Radio Stations

One of the most exciting developments in high tech media is the emergence of Internet radio stations. Everyone can now make their own webcasts or podcasts. All an individual needs to have is an inexpensive sound recording software, a computer, and of course, Internet radio stations.

Major communications firms established the majority of Internet radio stations as Internet versions of their own radio stations. The beauty of the World-Wide-Web is that it gives everyone a chance. Through the amazing technology of the Internet, you can listen to the top forty hits from New York or listen to some kid spin acid rock in Birmingham, Alabama though the amazing Internet radio stations.

One impressive feature of Internet radio stations is its ability to allow you to listen to your favorite radio station even if you move out of the city where it is based. I used to love WCBN in Ann Arbor, Michigan, the local college station, when I went to college there. When I transferred to another state, I had to leave many things behind, but not the music of my favorite radio station.

Fortunately, WBCN has a live streaming, Internet version on my computer, so I was able to tune in as if I still live in that area. This is really great for a music lover like me, I can listen to all my favorite programs from anywhere in the entire country. Nothing can possibly beat that.

Another thing to look for in Internet radio stations is the type of music that you prefer. Cities of average size would normally have a few different radio stations, but the line up is often pretty much similar across the whole lot of them. But if you have an internet access, you can listen to country, polka, blue grass, old school soul, and any other music type. There are plenty of people throughout the world who would appreciate sharing their music with you and would be overjoyed if you were to listen to their internet radio stations. Another bonus with internet radio stations is it’s mostly free, because if you charge for music from your radio station, people will just listen to something else.

What Is the Relevance of Technology?

“Technology in the long-run is irrelevant”. That is what a customer of mine told me when I made a presentation to him about a new product. I had been talking about the product’s features and benefits and listed “state-of-the-art technology” or something to that effect, as one of them. That is when he made his statement. I realized later that he was correct, at least within the context of how I used “Technology” in my presentation. But I began thinking about whether he could be right in other contexts as well.

What is Technology?

Merriam-Webster defines it as:


a: the practical application of knowledge especially in a particular area: engineering 2

b: a capability given by the practical application of knowledge


: a manner of accomplishing a task especially using technical processes, methods, or knowledge


: the specialized aspects of a particular field of endeavor

Wikipedia defines it as:

Technology (from Greek τέχνη, techne, “art, skill, cunning of hand”; and -λογία, -logia[1]) is the making, modification, usage, and knowledge of tools, machines, techniques, crafts, systems, and methods of organization, in order to solve a problem, improve a preexisting solution to a problem, achieve a goal, handle an applied input/output relation or perform a specific function. It can also refer to the collection of such tools, including machinery, modifications, arrangements and procedures. Technologies significantly affect human as well as other animal species’ ability to control and adapt to their natural environments. The term can either be applied generally or to specific areas: examples include construction technology, medical technology, and information technology.

Both definitions revolve around the same thing – application and usage.

Technology is an enabler

Many people mistakenly believe it is technology which drives innovation. Yet from the definitions above, that is clearly not the case. It is opportunity which defines innovation and technology which enables innovation. Think of the classic “Build a better mousetrap” example taught in most business schools. You might have the technology to build a better mousetrap, but if you have no mice or the old mousetrap works well, there is no opportunity and then the technology to build a better one becomes irrelevant. On the other hand, if you are overrun with mice then the opportunity exists to innovate a product using your technology.

Another example, one with which I am intimately familiar, are consumer electronics startup companies. I’ve been associated with both those that succeeded and those that failed. Each possessed unique leading edge technologies. The difference was opportunity. Those that failed could not find the opportunity to develop a meaningful innovation using their technology. In fact to survive, these companies had to morph oftentimes into something totally different and if they were lucky they could take advantage of derivatives of their original technology. More often than not, the original technology wound up in the scrap heap. Technology, thus, is an enabler whose ultimate value proposition is to make improvements to our lives. In order to be relevant, it needs to be used to create innovations that are driven by opportunity.

Technology as a competitive advantage?

Many companies list a technology as one of their competitive advantages. Is this valid? In some cases yes, but In most cases no.

Technology develops along two paths – an evolutionary path and a revolutionary path.

A revolutionary technology is one which enables new industries or enables solutions to problems that were previously not possible. Semiconductor technology is a good example. Not only did it spawn new industries and products, but it spawned other revolutionary technologies – transistor technology, integrated circuit technology, microprocessor technology. All which provide many of the products and services we consume today. But is semiconductor technology a competitive advantage? Looking at the number of semiconductor companies that exist today (with new ones forming every day), I’d say not. How about microprocessor technology? Again, no. Lots of microprocessor companies out there. How about quad core microprocessor technology? Not as many companies, but you have Intel, AMD, ARM, and a host of companies building custom quad core processors (Apple, Samsung, Qualcomm, etc). So again, not much of a competitive advantage. Competition from competing technologies and easy access to IP mitigates the perceived competitive advantage of any particular technology. Android vs iOS is a good example of how this works. Both operating systems are derivatives of UNIX. Apple used their technology to introduce iOS and gained an early market advantage. However, Google, utilizing their variant of Unix (a competing technology), caught up relatively quickly. The reasons for this lie not in the underlying technology, but in how the products made possible by those technologies were brought to market (free vs. walled garden, etc.) and the differences in the strategic visions of each company.

Evolutionary technology is one which incrementally builds upon the base revolutionary technology. But by it’s very nature, the incremental change is easier for a competitor to match or leapfrog. Take for example wireless cellphone technology. Company V introduced 4G products prior to Company A and while it may have had a short term advantage, as soon as Company A introduced their 4G products, the advantage due to technology disappeared. The consumer went back to choosing Company A or Company V based on price, service, coverage, whatever, but not based on technology. Thus technology might have been relevant in the short term, but in the long term, became irrelevant.

In today’s world, technologies tend to quickly become commoditized, and within any particular technology lies the seeds of its own death.

Technology’s Relevance

This article was written from the prospective of an end customer. From a developer/designer standpoint things get murkier. The further one is removed from the technology, the less relevant it becomes. To a developer, the technology can look like a product. An enabling product, but a product nonetheless, and thus it is highly relevant. Bose uses a proprietary signal processing technology to enable products that meet a set of market requirements and thus the technology and what it enables is relevant to them. Their customers are more concerned with how it sounds, what’s the price, what’s the quality, etc., and not so much with how it is achieved, thus the technology used is much less relevant to them.

Recently, I was involved in a discussion on Google+ about the new Motorola X phone. A lot of the people on those posts slammed the phone for various reasons – price, locked boot loader, etc. There were also plenty of knocks on the fact that it didn’t have a quad-core processor like the S4 or HTC One which were priced similarly. What they failed to grasp is that whether the manufacturer used 1, 2, 4, or 8 cores in the end makes no difference as long as the phone can deliver a competitive (or even best of class) feature set, functionality, price, and user experience. The iPhone is one of the most successful phones ever produced, and yet it runs on a dual-core processor. It still delivers one of the best user experiences on the market. The features that are enabled by the technology are what are relevant to the consumer, not the technology itself.

The relevance of technology therefore, is as an enabler, not as a product feature or a competitive advantage, or any myriad of other things – an enabler. Looking at the Android operating system, it is an impressive piece of software technology, and yet Google gives it away. Why? Because standalone, it does nothing for Google. Giving it away allows other companies to use their expertise to build products and services which then act as enablers for Google’s products and services. To Google, that’s where the real value is.

The possession of or access to a technology is only important for what it enables you to do – create innovations which solve problems. That is the real relevance of technology.

Article Source:

If Technology Is Effective in the Classroom – Why Do Some Students Dislike It So Much?

The effectiveness of technology use in the classroom has become a controversial issue. While many teachers and students feel that it’s best to use technology because it enhances teaching many others feel that it causes too many challenges and that it is a waste of time. If technology is as effective in the classroom as many teachers believe it to be; why do some students dislike it so much?

In order to objectively respond to this question, 3 articles were examined. 2 out of the 3 relate how the use of technology in the classroom frustrates students while the last one translates the thoughts of students who feel that technology in the classroom has responded to their need. So the issue is not that technology is not effective but rather that some teachers need to be mindful about technology use in the classroom and others need to be trained in order to properly use technology to teach so that students do not view technology as obstruction learning but as an enhancing tool.

After summarizing the 3 articles that have been reviewed we will be able to prove that there are 2 groups of students who claim to dislike technology in the classroom: Those who are improperly exposed to it by their teacher and those who did not give themselves enough time to familiarize themselves with it. We will then be able to get to the logical conclusion that those same students would appreciate the value of technology in the classroom if their teachers used it properly. Let us first summarize the articles that we are referring to.

The article “When good technology means bad teaching related that many students feel that teachers and professor use technology as a way to show off. Students complain of technology making their teachers “less effective than they would be if they stuck to a lecture at the chalkboard” (Young) other problems related by students include teachers wasting class time to teach about a web tool or to flab with a projector or software. When teachers are unfamiliar with the technological tools, they are likely to waist more time trying to use them the technological software that is used the most according to students is PowerPoint. Students complain that teachers use it instead of their lesson plan. Many students explain that it makes understanding more difficult “I call it PowerPoint abuse” (Young). Professors also post their PowerPoint Presentation to the school board before and after class and this encourages students to miss more classes.

Another problem reported in the article with the use of technology in the classrooms is that many schools spend time to train their staff about how to use a particular technology but it does not train them on “strategies to use them well” (Young). The writer believed that schools should also give small monetary incentives to teachers and professors to attend workshops.

In an interview made with 13 students, “some gave their teacher a failing when it came to using Power Point, Course Management systems and other classroom technology” (Young ) some of the complains were again about the misuse of PowerPoint’s and the fact that instructors use it to recite what’s on the scale. Another complaint was that teachers who are unfamiliar with technology often waste class time as they spend more time troubleshooting than teaching. The last complain mentioned is that some teachers require students to comment on online chat rooms weekly but that they do not monitor the outcome or never make reference to the discussion in class.

Similarly, the article “I’m not a computer person” (Lohnes 2013) speaks to the fact that students expectations as far as technology is concerned is very different. In a study done with 34 undergraduate university students, they advise that technology is an integral part of a university students life because they have to do must everything online from applying for college or university, searching and registering for classes, pay tuition and that in addition to being integrated in the administration, etc. technology is also widely used to teach and is valued by higher education.

Those students, however, feel that technology poses a barrier to success as they struggle to align with the ways in which the institution values technology.” A student explains that technology is used in her freshman year to turn in assignments, participate in discussion boards and blogs, emailing the professor, viewing grades and for a wide range of other administrative task including tracking the next school bus. This particular student whose name is Nichole says that she does not own a laptop but shares a family computer. She has a younger brother who also uses the computer to complete his school work so she consequently has to stay up late to complete assignments. She states “technology and I? We never had that connection” (Lohnes). Nichole dislikes the fact that her college requests that she had more contact with technology than she is conformable with. Nonetheless, she explains that as she started doing those school online assignments so frequently she came to realize that they were not that bad.

One of her issues though with technology is that she had come from Puerto Rico about a year prior entering college and that she never had to use the computer so much there. The articles relates that other college students like Nichole have admitted that they are “reluctant technology users” (Lohnes) The article wants to explain, in essence, that although most people would expect that college students prefer technology and are already familiar with it,” that assumption is faulty” (Lohnes).

On the other hand, the article “What Screenagers Say About… ” High school age students were asked about what they thought of technology but most expressed liking it. One of them said about PowerPoint: “My history teacher did a good job with Power Points. He would put them online, which made for really great reviews.” (Screneagers, 2011) Others expressed how technology was really who they are and that teachers should understand for example that when they text in class, they are not being rude but that they have gotten used to multi tasking. Another student invites teachers to not be afraid of technology “Teachers shouldn’t be afraid of technology. Understand that it’s how we live our lives. So don’t just push it out. Learn to cope with us and how we work.” (Screenagers, 2011)

Another student however, expressed how she prefers simpler technology that her teacher is comfortable with rather than high tech that the teacher does not manipulate well “The most important thing for teachers is to be comfortable with what they’re using. It doesn’t have to be super high tech. My math teacher used a projector, and it was one of my favorite classes. Then I would go to this other class where the teacher used Power Points and the SMART board, but I didn’t get any more out of it because she wasn’t comfortable with the technology” (Screenagers, 2011) Students spoke about their appreciation for virtually all types of technology used in the classroom. Another said “One of my teachers used Skype. That’s face-to-face interaction. If I had a problem with some math problem I was working on, I could take a picture of it and put it on the Skype screen. She could see where I was making my mistake. It really helped.” (Screenagers, 2011) The bottom line is that those high school students wanted to let teachers know that they really like technology and that it is already a great part of their daily routine but that it had to be used properly in order for them to enjoy it.

Similarly, they summarize a few things that they dislike as well. Among the list, they said: reading on the computer, paying a lot for an online textbook and the fact that they often forget everything else when they get caught up with using technology.

Nonetheless, they had much more positive things they liked in technology like for example that some teachers would text a question for them to think about before class, so if they do not know they answer, they would communicate with classmates to discuss the possibility for the answer before class. This allows them to go to class prepared. They also like using Skype, emailing their teachers instead of going to speak to them in person. They also enjoy discussion boards. The advice they would like to convey to their teachers is to make sure that they are comfortable with whatever technological tools they are using, to give them more freedom to use the good sites and those in the middle range when they are surfing the net using school computers and to understand that technology is part of their lives.

After summarizing those articles, we can see that the students mentioned in Youngs, 2004 dislike technology because their experience with it was not satisfactory. In other terms, a group of students dislike technology because some teachers are not mindful about technology use or they need additional training. For example, some students are frustrated because they feel that instructors waist their time when they are not properly trained to use the technological tools. Others disliked the fact that some teachers had PowerPoint presentations which were either not meaningful or they would just read whatever they wrote and add no additional comments. Those examples are called “bad teaching (Young, 2004) and they are in fact terrible examples that teachers should not follow because technology is not meant to help teachers do the least work or to adopt poor teaching practices. Somme students related that PowerPoint was widely used by teachers so they even call it PowerPoint abuse.

I can relate to what is being expressed by those students. I observed a Teaching Assistant teach a grammar class recently. He purchased a device to allow him to monitor the screen without touching the computer. He was able to walk throughout the class while changing slides. It all looked so impressive but despite all of this show, students were left so confused at the end of the lesson. When they asked questions, he went back to the slide that had the grammar rule and read it over to the class. The PowerPoint was a duplication of the textbook chapter. The same examples of the book were used. At the end of the course, he felt that he had done a great PowerPoint when in fact, it was not meaningful. It was a copy/paste project from the text book to the screen. This example shows that we need to use common sense when using technology. When teaching grammar, a teacher has to be able to come up with examples other than those in the book, you have to write on the board, have student practice what they have learned. PowerPoint use was a real bad idea, in my opinion, for teaching this course. It was just not the right technological tool for the lesson.

Students in that class may decide that they hate Power Points because it confuses them more while the issue is not with the use of PowerPoint but instead with the teacher’s poor choice of technology. The point I also want to make here is that teachers may sometimes be unaware of their improper use of technology. This is why, as educators, we sometimes need to ask students for their feedback so we may make corrections where needed.

We can then conclude that those students dislike technology as a result of improper technological use by teachers, and also because many teachers do not attend workshops or training sessions to help them obtain a broader knowledge of technology since they are so busy. Like suggest (Youngs, 2004) and (Lohnes, 2012), those same busy teachers would have attended those trainings if there were given an incentive. In the article “Technology Standards in a Third-Grade Classroom” (Kovalik, 2001), it is related how a study done on a 3rd grade class of 25 showed that students were properly using technology. There is no indication that those students dislike using technology. The article also mentioned how the teachers were highly trained because the Ohio board pays incentive to teachers to participate in technology training which teaching them not only how to use technology by teaches them strategies on when to use them.

Boards from other states should consider doing the same thing to ensure that their teachers are responding to the technological need of their students and that they are teaching them according to the standards. The Ohio school mentioned above met the standards as far as technology is concerned because of the technology coaching received by the teachers. If teachers learn how to properly use technology in the classroom, it will be a less frustrating experience for them and for the student who will less likely dislike technology since it will meet its purpose to enhance teaching.

The other groups of students who dislike technology are those who were not exposed to it for long enough. The College Freshman, Nichole advises that she was not exposed to so much technology while she was in high school in her home country; consequently, it seemed to be a burden to her to have to need a computer to complete most of her school assignments but also to interact with her classmate via a discussion board. What is interesting though is that even though she claimed to dislike technology so much, she advised that once she started to spend so much time using it, she realizes that it is not so bad. Even though it is likely that some people do not like the telephone and texting so much, the computer and some website have become part of most people daily routine. In Nichole’s case, she does not own a laptop and has to wait for her turn to use the family computer which means that she has no attachment to this media because her use of it is controlled. However, once she gets to own her own computer, it is a guaranteed that her view of technology will change.

I returned to school after about 12 years. When I was in college the 1st time around, nothing was electronic but when I contacted USF to apply, they told me that everything was online. At first, I asked why everything was online but once I got used to it, I started to understand the value of having the convenience to do a lot of things without having to live my home.

Therefore, Nichole will certainly not continue to dislike technology that much once she gets more familiar and more attached to it. The fact is that she stated that she started to realize that it was not that bad once she started doing so many assignments. She came to the conclusion that the computer was not yet a friend but that it was no longer an enemy; it became to her an acquaintance.

With this understanding, depending on the background of some ELL students and depending on whether or not they were exposed to technology in their home country, they may not like technology at first but this should not be a sign that they will never come to appreciated it. As teacher, we will need to allow them time to familiarize themselves with it while we continue to properly use it so that we do not advocate against it or involuntary send missed information about its true value.

On the other hand, the last article testifies to the fact that the new generation is technology driven and that when used properly, they benefits from it in the classroom, there are several examples of how teachers originally used technology to teach which are appreciated by students. What should the conclusion be then?

We have proven that technology use is effective in the classroom but that teachers need to take some actions in order to make this tool useful to students. It is necessary that they received some training if they lack it, and like a student suggested in the Screenager article, they should refrain from using complicated tools if they are not sure about how to use them. It’s best to properly use something much simpler that they are familiar with like a high school student suggested.

In addition, it is important for teachers to screen the countless technological tools and to research them before introducing them to their teaching. Should they test some that do not work well, they have to stop using them and seek one that is more appropriate. Most importantly, technology is not always the answer this is why teachers should be balanced when using it. If it is required that we use the board and chalks to help students better understand, this is what we should do. Doing so, we will ensure that more students appreciate the use of technology in the classroom for what it is worth.

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Mobile roadshow showcases IoT solutions

Nokia shows latest innovations to help Ghana meet the demand for network capacity, speed, coverage, and utilise Internet of Things (IoT) opportunities.
Image by 123RF
Image by 123RF
At its Mobile World Congress roadshow (MWC-R) in Accra, Nokia demonstrated to telecom operators how to meet the ever-increasing demand for network capacity, speed and coverage, and improve the customer experience with high-quality and secure networks.

Nokia was showcasing its latest innovations to telecom operators, government departments, enterprises and business partners, to help them build smart cities with Internet of Things (IoT) and critical-communications networks for public safety; while ensuring a world-class mobile broadband customer experience for the subscribers in Ghana.

The demonstrations included key areas like IoT, public safety network, Small Cells, customer experience management, IP backhaul network, transport network and Software Defined Networking.

Ramy Hashem, country senior officer in Ghana, Nokia, said: “Ghana is an important market for Nokia. This is the first innovation roadshow Nokia brings to Ghana for the country’s socio-economic benefits. We see this as an opportunity for the Ghanaian ICT market to benefit from our state-of-the-art technologies and concepts to transform telecom networks to be more dynamic, agile and evolving.

“The series of technology roadshows in Africa are designed according to the different market needs to meet the growing demand for data-intensive applications, and prepare for the next wave of network development including cloud, IoT and ultra-broadband networks. This is foreseen to change the consumer life style for years to come for a wide range of services from education, public safety, e-health, multiple connected devices and more.”

Key demonstrations at MWC-R:

IoT: Rapidly developing IoT technology is opening up multiple new business opportunities for operators and enterprises in a range of sectors areas including public safety, healthcare, connected mobility, smart parking, connected home, water leakage management, smart cities, etc.

Small Cells: Nokia Flexi Zone small cells cost effectively increases network capacity for operators to meet the huge data demand. It is a 3G, LTE, Wi-Fi-capable small cell that ensures a rich user experience while complementing operators’ macro network capacity and coverage.

FastMile: This demonstration shows how Nokia’s FastMile allows operators to use LTE radio technology to deliver high-speed broadband connectivity to the home in hard-to-reach areas, maximising spectrum use in the process.

IP Backhaul: Mobile backhaul solutions gives operators the flexibility, scalability, and operational simplicity to deliver the best customer experience at the lowest possible TCO.

SDN: Nokia Nuage Networks’ Virtualised Services Platform (VSP) provides SDN capabilities for clouds of all sizes – from small private clouds to the largest public clouds. It makes the network as readily consumable as compute resources.

CEM: Nokia CEM tools, built from a deep and thorough knowledge of today’s complex network environment, deliver an exceptional customer experience by automating care, service, network and IT operations with unparalleled data analysis.

Transport: Nokia IP/MPLS and DWDM convergence creates a flexible high-speed transport network, enabled by the introduction of Transport SDN.

WFFSA committed to promote heterogeneous network

Imagine a Wi-Fi hotspot concealed within a ‘smart palm’. That’s exactly what Wi-Fi means in Dubai, where lookalike palm trees provide high-speed connectivity to some 60 concurrent users up to 50 metres away. In the developed world, a tipping point is being reached where over half of consumers use Wi-Fi technologies on a daily basis.
Raj Wanniappa
Raj Wanniappa
Closer to home, many innovative Wi-Fi projects – including those being rolled out in Tshwane and a recent initiative in Braamfontein that includes Wi-Fi benches being installed in that Joburg precinct – show us that this increasingly ubiquitous radio technology is being deployed across South Africa to meet consumer demand.

Most South Africans still equate Wi-Fi with internet and email connectivity provided primarily in hotel lobbies, at conferences and of course at restaurants, which is probably the first place the vast majority of us first experienced a Wi-Fi connection. This perception of Wi-Fi is becoming increasingly outdated as organisations such as the Wi-Fi Forum of South Africa (WFFSA) work to promote the adoption by business owners and others of the technology that will lead the way in mobile access.

Industry associations

In addition, the WFFSA has engaged with leading ICT industry associations including the FTTH Council, Wireless Access Providers’ Association (WAPA) and the Internet Service Providers’ Association (ISPA) in order to help WFFSA achieve its mandate of constructive cooperation with established ICT players in pursuit of open access principles.

We will continue to deepen our engagement with the industry in order to effectively promote the concept of the heterogeneous network that is open to all and closed to none. ‘Hetnets’, as the WFFSA defines them, consist of 3G and 4G mobile networks, small cell networks and Wi-Fi networks all interlaced to deliver a seamless connectivity experience that is also pervasive. Operators restricting access to their networks is simply counter-productive.

So what else can be done to promote the use of Wi-Fi as a viable, affordable and reliable open access technology?

As a start, South Africa needs our telecommunications regulator, ICASA, to provide the proper policy framework so that this country can reach the five million Wi-Fi hotspot target referred to by our chairperson, Andile Ngcaba. At present, the WFFSA estimates that there are some 12,000 public and private hotspots in South Africa. With less than impressive statistics like this, we cannot hope to reach a situation where Wi-Fi is so ubiquitous that it is installed in street lights, such as in Copenhagen.

©rawpixel via 123RF

Achievement of goals

When you reach this level of hotspot penetration, Wi-Fi goes well beyond mere internet connectivity and begins contributing to the achievement of government and society’s goals in the spheres of health, education, entrepreneurship, job creation and crime prevention.

It is interesting that there is currently no agreement regarding how a hotspot is defined. Manufacturers might define the latter in terms of similar equipment rolled out within a particular area while operators and service providers might be interested only in location.

On the potential reasons for South Africa having less than its reasonable share of the globe’s almost 300 million Wi-Fi hotspots, the country’s 3G mobile data coverage must surely be right up there. However, while consumers downloading data via 3G might be a historically acceptable scenario, consumer data needs in 2015 are such that it just does not make sense any longer for downloads to be taking place over expensive 3G and 4G cellular networks.

Fortunately, I think there is a growing acceptance amongst mobile operators of the concept of the ‘hetnet’. Let us continue the kind of frank discussions amongst all local stakeholders that will result in this open access ideal.