Category Archives: talks given

Building the RIGHT Thing

Product managers are responsible for creating and delivering the right thing to their customers. 

Product Managers are sometimes called product ‘CEO’s’, because of their central position of authority with respect to the product, and because of the need to communicate the vision for the product both to an audience of ‘investors’ (the company leadership) who must provide people and resources, and to their own team who must deliver the product. They are not ‘owners,’ however. Ownership conveys the wrong set of skills. Product Managers aren’t buying and investing as an owner would, and they aren’t deciding where the team invests time and energy based on their own personal preferences as an owner would. Instead, a good Product Manager has to learn the needs of their customers, and figure out how their team can fulfill them to achieve the organization’s strategic goals. 

Great product managers are skilled at determining what the right thing to build is with the consumer in mind, communicating that to leaders, colleagues, and team members, and then working productively and flexibly to deliver the right value to their customers. 

I recently gave a talk to Rice University Computer Science Alumni as part of a panel on Product Management as a career, and you can access my talk and slides below. In this series of posts, I will be going into a lot more depth to explain  more ‘tools’ for the product management toolbox and how to use them effectively to create useful and beneficial products.

Panel: (Minute 36:44)Slides: 

Recent talks about creating, editing, and remixing textbooks with the OERPUB editor

Normally I would create a post after each talk, but I got behind so I am going to link in my talks from “The New Publishing” W3C workshop, Books in Browsers, and Open Ed, all in fall/winter 2013. 

First up in September was the W3C Workshop, The New Publishing and the Open Web Platform. The title for my paper is practically its own abstract, “Semantic HTML5 is the Future of Textbook Publishing and Non-technical Authors Can Participate using Customized Web Editors that Support Accessible Authoring“.  In the paper, I argue that we should be writing textbooks in HTML5 using a clean, open, and semantic format, so that books can be read online, on the web, and in print, and more importantly are easy to keep up to date, combine, translate, and make accessible to learners with disabilities.

Next up in October was Books in Browsers,
My talk, “Textbooks in Browsers: An Editor for Creating, Adapting, and Sharing“, covered our open-source editor for textbook authoring that lets authors create, adapt, and remix textbooks that display well in the browser, on mobile devices, and in print. Since the editor itself runs in a browser, and the book can be read on your browser, it was a perfect fit for the conference. The slides (linked above) show how the editor supports mathematics, accessible images and tables, and structured features like definitions and exercises, using a constrained subset of HTML5. At the end, the slides give links to use the editor and for developers to get involved. You can see me giving the talk, here (minute 8:40 to 28:17). My favorite tweet during the talk: “Github-Bookeditor!? Yes, it’s a thing. A very awesome idea brought to life by @oerpub #bib13”

In November, I spoke at Open Ed 13, on “Write to share; Real remix realized”. Remix is the gold-standard of OER effectiveness, but technical barriers have made it hard to do, even when author-educators want to share their content and reuse and adapt high quality open resources. OERPUB’s open-source editor solves this problem by making it easy for authors to create rich open textbooks that can be remixed and shared. The editor supports editing mathematics, embedding multimedia (coming soon), and is supportive of creating content that is accessible to learners with special needs. I reported on Adrian Garcia’s research on best practices for motivating author-educators to create semantically rich OER that is easy to share and remix. He found that K-12 teachers were especially interested in content that will work for learners wtih disabilities. I also reported on our textbook creation sprint in South African with St. John’s College teachers (see more in this blog entry). We got great feedback from the teacher, enthusiastic support for the collaboration and drag and drop features, and plans for custom Physics and Chemistry textbooks for 11th and 12th grades coming out over the next year. They are using Siyavula textbooks, Open Stax College textbooks, and their own materials. ( You can see the video of me giving the Open Ed talk here).