30% of people under 30 say “social media freedom” more important than salary

November 20, 2011

While employers are struggling to crack down on employees’ social media behaviour, young professionals are saying “Don’t bother trying. We won’t be controlled”.

In a story called “Great Tech Expectations“, The Province reports some startling statistics about the Millennial generation (those under 30). The article draws on research presented in the 2011 Cisco Connected World Technology Report. The research surveyed 2800 students across 14 countries, all under the age of 30. The findings revealed that:

The study, which surveyed 2,800 college students and young professionals in 14 countries, found:

  • 56%of college students “said that if they encountered a company that banned access to social media, they would either not accept a job offer or would join and find a way to circumvent corporate policy.”
  • 1 in 3 respondents younger than 30 said social-media freedom and workplace mobility were more important than salary.
  • A quarter of college students said a prospective employer’s policy on social media usage would affect their decision in accepting or declining the job.
  • In India and China, more than 80% of respondents said their primary work device should be mobile.
  • More than 70% of college students said they didn’t want to differentiate between “personal” and work-related devices – “company-issued devices should be allowed for personal and business use because of the daily blending of work and personal communications.”
  • 70%  also say they want to be out of the office regularly, working remotely.

Read the whole article.

While employers are fighting to control what employees are doing on line, employees are fighting for their online freedom. This is especially true in education, where school boards argue that teachers are role models for children and often impose strict social media guidelines. It also applies to other industries where companies and non-profit organizations are desperately trying to figure what to do — and they want to do it quickly.

If you’re in Calgary, join me at an event hosted by the Canadian Industrial Relations Association this coming Thursday. I’ll be on a panel of experts debating with a lawyer and an arbitrator about how to deal with social media challenges at work.

How do you feel about employees using social media? Or employers trying to control your use of social media?


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Update – January 2018 – This blog has had over 1.8 million views thanks to readers like you. If you enjoyed this post, please “like” it or share it on social media. Thanks!

Sarah Elaine Eaton is a faculty member in the Werklund School of Education, University of Calgary, Canada.

Kids and Gaming: Let’s Talk About It

February 25, 2011

Technology and gaming can cause tension in families. Some parents become exasperated at what they believe to be their children’s over-use of technology. Gamers enjoy the sense of achievement, exhilaration and “flow” they experience.

The notion of “flow” has been documented by scholars such as Mihály Csíkszentmihályi and others. It is difficult to explain, but when you experience it, you know.


  • To watch an educational video focused on technology as a family.
  • To discuss the pros and cons of gaming for individuals, families and communities.
  • To explore the notion of responsible gaming and how to use technology skills for the benefit of others.
  • To offer perspectives on what activities offer a sense of achievement, exhilaration and “flow” to both children and parents.


Watch Jane McGonigal’s 2010 TED talk “Gaming Can Make a Better World” (20:02) together as a family.

Conversation questions

  • What do you think of McGonigal’s idea that gaming can make a better world? Do you agree or disagree? Why?
  • How are you using technology now in your daily life? Do you over-use technology? Under-use technology? What do these terms mean, anyway?
  • How can you use technology to help others? (This can include things like helping family members improve their technology literacy, using technology skills in volunteer and community work, etc.)
  • What other activities in your life give you a sense of achievement and exhilaration?

Further reading for parents

Csíkszentmihályi, Mihály (1996), Creativity: Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Invention, New York: Harper Perennial.
Csíkszentmihályi, Mihály (1996), Finding Flow: The Psychology of Engagement With Everyday Life, Basic Books.
Csíkszentmihályi, Mihály (2003), Good Business: Leadership, Flow, and the Making of Meaning, New York: Penguin Books.

Download a 1-page copy of this activity from Scribd:

View this document on Scribd

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Update – January 2018 – This blog has had over 1.8 million views thanks to readers like you. If you enjoyed this post, please “like” it or share it on social media. Thanks!

Sarah Elaine Eaton is a faculty member in the Werklund School of Education, University of Calgary, Canada.

Thoughts on literacy issues in Cameroon

June 2, 2010

Recently a colleague suggested to me that I put together an abstract for an upcoming conference in Cameroon. I’ve never been to Cameroon, so naturally I did some research. Research, of course, leads to more thinking. Here’s a thought-piece on literacy in Cameroon, just because I’m a thinker.


Learning is changing in the 21st century at a global level. There is a rise in the importance and recognition of non-formal and informal learning. This is particularly important in the case of literacy and languages, not only in Canada, but in other countries as well. Let’s take Cameroon as one example. The Republic of Cameroon is located in central and western Africa. Bordered by Nigeria, Chad, the Central African Republic, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon and the Republic of the Congo, it is home to almost 19 million people.

UNICEF reports that the total literacy rate for Cameroon from 2003-2008 was 68% of the population, with 77% of the males and less than 60% of the females having basic literacy skills. That’s significant.

I ask myself what countries in the west can do to improve the situation in countries like this? What are the implications for the 21st century if we do not? Literacy today includes more than just reading and writing. It includes thinking skills, technology and information literacy and the ability to communicate with others. Together these skills allow us to work together, build partnerships and continue to improve collectively, rather than having the gap between those who “have” and those who “have not” widen even further. It is time to close this gap, or at least narrow it. This is more possible today than it has ever been in any point in human history. It is a possibility in the 21st century, if we work towards it being so.

There is a movement in the west to link second language learning to leadership. How can people in the developed nations, particularly the youth, use their own skills in literacy and second languages to improve the lives of those in developing nations? There are those who would argue that we must work first to improve literacy conditions in our own country. I don’t disagree. I also know that 20-somethings get itchy feet. They want to travel, backpack and see the world. What would happen if we created a world where literacy was so important and so “cool” that youth with itchy feet from developed nations were inspired, of their own volition, to combine their travels with a deeply-rooted personal desire to help others in developing nations improve their literacy skills? Wow.

Educational leadership guru Michael Fullan states that “leaders learning from each other raises the bar for all”. The youth of today are the leaders of the 21st century. They live in a globalized, technologically progressive world unlike that of their parents and grandparents. How can we, in the 21st century, mobilize youth on a global level to transcend geographical, political and economic barriers to raise the bar for each other, using the improvement of literacy skills as a starting point?

Literacy is the key to improved education, skills, and employment. These, in turn, build the capacity to improve our situation, increase our human dignity, provide for our families and contribute to our communities. I believe that it is the responsibility of developed nations such as Canada and the United States to work together with other nations to “raise the bar” for everyone across the globe. I believe that literacy and improved language skills are foundational skills for leadership in the 21st century, a century where technology will change at rapid rate. I also believe that the youth from western developed nations must be mobilized to use their skills to help others from around the world.

Eaton, S. E. (2010a). Formal, non-formal and informal education: The case of literacy, essential skills and language learning in Canada. Calgary. Retrieved from http://library.nald.ca/research/item/8549

Eaton, S. E. (2010b). Leading Through Language Learning and Teaching: The Case of Gandhi. Paper presented at the Interdisciplinary Language Research: Relevance and Application Series, Language Research Centre. Retrieved from http://www.eric.ed.gov/ERICWebPortal/Home.portal?_nfpb=true&ERICExtSearch_SearchValue_0=Eaton%2C+Sarah&searchtype=keyword&ERICExtSearch_SearchType_0=kw&_pageLabel=RecordDetails&objectId=0900019b80400b42&accno=ED508664&_nfls=false

Fullan, M. (2006). Turnaround leadership. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Index Mundi. (n.d.). Cameroon Literacy. Retrieved June 1, 2010, from http://www.indexmundi.com/cameroon/literacy.html

UNICEF. (n.d.). Cameroon: Statistics. Retrieved May 31, 2010, 2010, from http://www.unicef.org/infobycountry/cameroon_statistics.html


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Update – January 2018 – This blog has had over 1.8 million views thanks to readers like you. If you enjoyed this post, please “like” it or share it on social media. Thanks!

Sarah Elaine Eaton is a faculty member in the Werklund School of Education, University of Calgary, Canada.

Leadership through Language Learning and Teaching: The Case of Gandhi

May 11, 2010

In February I presented a paper called “Leading through Language Learning and Teaching: The Case of Gandhi” at the “Interdisciplinary Language Research: Relevance and Application Series” at the Language Research Centre at the University of Calgary.

I talked about a study I conducted of Gandhi’s autobiography, An autobiography or the story of my experiments with truth.
My purpose was to uncover and analyze Gandhi’s experiences as a second language learner. Here’s what I found:

1) Gandhi learned 11 languages throughout his life, including his native Gujarati.

2) He used his knowledge of other languages to connect with others on a deeper level, helping them fight for human and civil rights.

3) He believed that all children should learn more than one language.

He says, ““It is now my opinion that in all Indian curricula of higher education there should be a place for Hindi, Samskrit, Persian, Arabic and English, besides of course the vernacular.” (Gandhi, 1948, p. 9)

For Gandhi, language learning and leadership were intertwined. He saw language learning as a way to communicate with others in his own country, to connect with others on a deeper level, understanding their human condition from a compassionate point of view.

While not everyone who learns another language may go on to have a profound effect on the world to the degree that Gandhi did, any person who learns a new language grows as a human being because they can communicate with others in new ways. This helps to develop a more profound curiosity about the world around us, which leads us to learn more about that world. Learning more about the world and those who live in it leads to deeper understandings of other cultures, other values and other ways of understanding life, love, politics, spirituality and all that is important to humans. Learning other languages opens up new possibilities for personal and professional growth, new opportunities to do meaningful work and ultimately, to value others more deeply because we can communicate with them better and understand them.

The presentation included a practical classroom activity for students.

The full-text paper is publicly available on the ERIC data base.



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Update – January 2018 – This blog has had over 1.8 million views thanks to readers like you. If you enjoyed this post, please “like” it or share it on social media. Thanks!

Sarah Elaine Eaton is a faculty member in the Werklund School of Education, University of Calgary, Canada.

Language schools and Facebook: Just do it

March 26, 2010

Recently a colleague (someone whom I respect very much) told me that as far as social media goes, she has a “Just say no” policy. She claims it would take up too much of her time if she “did Facebook”. I felt like jumping across the table at the restaurant where we were enjoying lunch and strangling her.

Anyone who knows me knows that I am a big fan of social media. But me being a fan of it means nothing and that’s not why anyone should explore it. There is a one good simple reason why language programs should have an online presence, including a Facebook page. It is this: If you’re marketing something, you need to “be” where your prospective students are.

I have a client who runs an adventure language learning school in Europe. I’ve suggested to him that he focus his marketing efforts on finding students who are already into the adventure lifestyle. He’ll probably get more traction at outdoor expos than he will at a traditional language fair. He wants to “be” where his students are. He’s also looking at online marketing, and rightly so.

Why? Because his learners are young people, aged 18-25. And where are those folks? They’re on line. This age group rules the Internet. In particular, they’re on Facebook.

My adventure language learning school owner has it right, folks. If you’re marketing to 18-25 year olds, you don’t just want a website. You want an entire online presence that includes a Facebook page.

This means a Facebook page, at the very least. Don’t know how to get one? It’s easy and it’s free. I’ll give you an example. Here’s my company page: http://www.facebook.com/EatonInternationalConsulting

I’m not offering that up as shameless self-promotion, but rather to make it easy for you. On the bottom left hand side of the page there’s a link that says, “Create a page for my business”. Click on it. Make a page for your school.

See? Wasn’t that simple? 10 minutes of your time increases your online presence.

When you’re done that, send a note out to all your current and past students, asking them to become fans of your page. Yes, ask. It’s not cheesy. It’s how it’s done. Being a “fan” of someone’s FB page is code for “I think these folks are all right and I’m happy to be part of their community and support them”. (By the way, since I believe in practicing what I preach, why don’t you become a fan of my FB page while you’re there?)

Hopefully you already have a Facebook account for yourself and your students are your friends. If not, get yourself an account. Keep it professional. Search for a few student names and start adding friends. The term “friend” on Facebook can be your actual real, live friends and they can also be customers, business contacts and others. I keep my Facebook page fairly neutral and don’t mind if colleagues and former students are friends. It’s a good way to stay in touch.

If you go onto Facebook and do a search for groups using the term “language schools”, the results may surprise you. There are businesses listed who have hundreds of fans. Who are all these fans? Their current and former students, of course! The students use the school’s page as a place to post photos and exchange messages. It creates a hive of online activity, led in a large part by the students themselves. This is pretty much the perfect low-cost, high-impact marketing and promotion I am a big fan of.

When you’ve got your FB page, send me a note or drop me a comment on the blog and I’ll become a fan of your page. Why? Because I am way more of a “Just do it” kind of girl than my colleague in the restaurant. That is to say, when “just do it” is good for you, of course. When it comes to marketing it is definitely good to “do Facebook”.


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Update – January 2018 – This blog has had over 1.8 million views thanks to readers like you. If you enjoyed this post, please “like” it or share it on social media. Thanks!

Sarah Elaine Eaton is a faculty member in the Werklund School of Education, University of Calgary, Canada.

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