Thursday, January 27, 2011

Unschoolers on Museums

Today’s guest post is from Ilana and Maya McGrath, passion-driven learners who live with their mother Sara, a National Unschooling Examiner, in Seattle. (You can read more of Sara’s observations on education here.)

The McGraths responded to my recent post about unschooling with some personal observations about museums as learning resources.

Ilana, 5-year-old unschooler and amateur artist:

My favorite museums are the Pacific Science Center and the Museum of Flight. I like OMSI in Portland. That place is really my favorite, because it's fun. At OMSI we had my cousin's birthday party.

At the Burke Museum I went to "Cruisin' the Fossil Freeway." It had dinosaur bones and art. I want to be an artist. We got the CD of "Cruisin' the Fossil Freeway," too.

Maia, 8-year-old unschooler and amateur marine biologist:

I like museums because they're fun and help me learn about all kinds of stuff. I just love the fossil sections. I especially love the marine life fossils. Marine life is one of my interests. I plan to be a marine biologist when I grow up.

One time for my cousin's birthday, I went to a really big museum called OMSI in Portland. I had lots of fun, but I missed the saber-tooth tiger fossil.

I did get to pet a snake and hold a stick bug. The stick bugs were sort of sticky. That must be how they hold on to sticks. My cousin thought they were sort of gross.

I went on a Navy submarine tour behind the museum. I went under water. I was in a torpedo room. It was quite cool. When I went into the bedrooms, I actually heard snoring. I think it was an animatronic. I asked if there were rats there. The tour guide said no.

Then I saw a battery bunny down through a little glass hole. I asked the tour guide where the bunny slept. Then the tour guide showed me a gigantic plastic rat. I screamed because I'm scared of rats. Then he said, "The bunny sleeps wherever he wants to."

Now I want to have my birthday party at OMSI, but I don't want to see the giant plastic rat. I was very disappointed when we had to leave, because I wanted to stay there all day.

(You can read an interview with Maia about her unschooling experiences here.)

Sara: There's so much more my daughters could say about their experiences with museums and how those trips tie into their learning adventures. For example, Ilana listed the Museum of Flight as one of her favorites after we read a Magic Tree House book about Leonardo DaVinci and his Great Bird. The Museum of Flight has a model of DaVinci's flying machine.

When Maia was two years old, we took her to a Chinasaurs exhibit at a science museum in Minneapolis. She developed a fascination with dinosaurs that made for some impressive toddler conversations and continues to influence her life plans. She has transitioned from a focus on fossil digging to marine life, but often ponders how she might combine her two great interests.

For my part, I felt so privileged to be able to take my daughters to see "Lucy" when she came to the Pacific Science Center. Going and seeing museum exhibits has so much more impact than reading about a topic of interest or even watching a video.

You can read my introductory post about unschooling here. If you are involved in homeschooling, unschooling or other non-traditional forms of education (as a learner, a facilitator, or a resource provider) I would love to hear from you about the role museums do or can play in the changing educational landscape!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

A Call for Creativity! With Prizes…

What do these creative, mind-blowing, reality-warping museum projects have in common?

• An “Amazing Race”-type game that sends teams scampering through the city to explore their communities

• Museum staff hanging out in bars, using beer coasters embossed with provocative questions to start conversations about science

• A education program gone meta modeled on Pixar (Animation Studio) University: museum staff teach other museum staff in the kind of programs usually aimed at visitors

Got you stumped? They are all winners of the Brookings Paper on Creativity in Museums competition.

And why am I blogging about this? Museums need to foster creativity to thrive in the future! Creativity & innovation are the institutional equivalent of sex—sources of variability that spawn new forms that may thrive (or die) in new environments. (Have I mentioned before that I’m a biologist by training?)

Have you got a project to enter in the Brookings competition this year? The deadline for papers is February 2 but (shhhhh, sharing a secret) I can wrangle you an extension if you need it, just ask.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Advice on the Strategic use of Twitter from a Master Tweeter—Neil Tyson

Neil deGrasse Tyson, director of AMNH’s Rose Center for Air and Space, is an astrophysics rock star. How many museumers get interviewed four times by Jon Stewart? In the first interview, Jon reveals he is a “big fan” of AMNH and the Hayden Planetarium. By the second time, Jon is referred to Neil as “My liege.” (Then again, by the third interview he’s calling him &%* insane.)

Neil is a hit on Twitter as well, with (at time of posting) 99,578 followers. Thus proving that humans can be social media celebs for museums, along with other species! (We were getting a little defensive about that, Blobby and Sue.) In this interview, Neil shares his strategies for effective use of this much denigrated medium. Stay tuned over the next month for more posts on the effective use of Twitter, culminating with a CFM twebevent on Feb. 24.

I have to ask-- because with some this isn't true—do you tweet for yourself?

Oh, of course.

So what's your strategic goal for your tweeting?

That's an interesting question. I spent nine months doubting the purpose and value of the entire social media world, but specifically tweets. Why would I waste my time telling people what I'm having for breakfast, or if I'm walking in the park now, or what a nice day it is in New York?

Then I had a kind of revelation: I was on a trip to Las Vegas filming for NOVA scienceNOW. It occurred to me that that week, a lot of things would happen in my life. First, I'd be filming. I would then be speaking to Penn and Teller about how you can fool the brain. Then later that week, I would be on Jon Stewart. So I thought, "Let me do an experiment and see what happens if I tweet my brain droppings of what goes on in the universe."

The first time I tweeted was from the Vegas airport. I go into the bookstore—an actual bookstore with sections labeled above the bookshelves. I went to the owner and I said, "Where's the science section?" And he said, "We don't have a science section." I thought that was interesting, and so I tweeted it. I forget the exact wording, because I had to fit it in 140 characters. Something like "Just landed in Vegas airport. Visited the bookstore. No science section. Wouldn't want any critical thinking going on before you start betting on the tables."

That tweet was an indictment of the science illiteracy of the nation and what the consequences can be. If you think you're going to win because you can influence the probability, you're wrong, and a background in science helps you understand how wrong you can be. Here's a bookstore that doesn't even have a single book in science, and it is in the Las Vegas airport.

So I started tweeting, and all of the sudden people took an interest in it, and the ranks of followers grew, at a rate of about a thousand a week. And it's still growing at about a thousand a week. That told me that thoughts that I take for granted every day are thoughts that others thrive on.

So you see Twitter as a kind of telepathy, where you can see the world from another person's point of view?

Well, I know that I'm granting others the opportunity to see my world through my point of view. I'm using Twitter as an educational tool, as a tool to provide scientifically informed insight into the operations of the world. Every day of my life, I have thoughts, as an educator and as a scientist, that others might be interested in.

I'll give you another case—the earthquake in Haiti a year ago. A quarter-million people died, right? There was a lot of news and talk about this. I waited the right amount of time—it might have been six months—and I said: "Worldwide death toll from various causes in the last six months: #1: starvation, 1 million; #2: malaria, half a million; #3: car accidents, 300,000." Last on that list was Haitian earthquake at 250,000. That was a singular event. Meanwhile, everything else is happening all the time. That was one of my earliest tweets that got heavily re-tweeted, because it put these numbers in context. We can't yet do anything about earthquakes, but to lose a million people, mostly children, because they don't have enough food… . The real tragedy is not the earthquake; it's the preventable causes of death that are not prevented. I think people would rely on me as a scientist to do those numbers accurately and then present them in a new and interesting way.

I think you've shown that 140 characters is plenty to share insights that get people thinking. Do you pretty much tweet independently, or does the museum's PR department exercise any editorial control?

Completely independently. But I'm not unmindful of my overall accountability as a museum representative or as a representative of science in general. So I do it with some accountability and responsibility in mind. I don't use foul language; there's no need to. Foul language is when you couldn't find another word to use or didn't know that other words could have expressed the same emotion, for example. And I tweet under my name, being aware of myself as an emerging public figure. I'm not unmindful that I'm a face of science, and so I carry some of that accountability with me. It doesn't mean that I'm politically correct. I'll say something sharp if it has to be said. And if it ticks off a couple of people, that doesn't bother me—whereas a museum might be a little more tepid about that.

Any other advice for our readers?

Museums that don't track the role and value of social media going forward, just either because of traditions against it or because they think it's just a fad, do so at the peril of their own budget and their own annual attendance.

These remarks are taken from a longer interview I conducted with Dr. Tyson—stay tuned for his thoughts on the educational role of museums, and how museums can shape the future, in the May/June issue of Museum. Want to hear Dr. Tyson in person? Join us for his keynote address at the AAM annual meeting in Houston, May 22-25!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Unschooling—a Fringe Future of Education

Earlier this month I blogged about the future of education—a theme CFM will be exploring for some time. As part of this exploration, I will share scanning hits—news, hints, pictures and premonitions that point to where in educational landscape of the Cone of Plausibility we might end up in twenty or fifty years.

In an earlier post in the Futures Studies 101 series I talked about the importance of including “fringe" sources in scanning (for example, blogs by new voices and emerging experts, social media, YouTube). Fringe sources help challenge our beliefs and help us to question our assumptions.

This week’s post shares some of the fringe sources I have been monitoring in my education scanning—“new voices” from the frontier of unschooling.

That’s right, not home-schooling, un-schooling. Also known as passion-based learning. While it can be categorized as a kind of homeschooling, home-schooled kids typically have parents standing in for traditional teachers. Unschooling is based on the philosophy that children can direct their own learning, facilitated by adults, and in fact learn better when their natural curiosity is not crushed by standardized curricula, grading, etc. Given the movement’s emphasis on hands-on, real world experiences, it seems like museums should be a natural learning resource for unschoolers. So I’ve been following blogs by unschooled students (and young adults who were unschooled) to see what community and cultural resources they access in their self-directed studies, and where museums feature in the mix.

Some do write about memorable visits to museums though not as often as I hoped. I have, however, found some compelling stories I’d like to share.

For example, meet Armond, a passion-driven learner who made the New York City Transit Museum a keystone in his Personal Learning Network.

And get to know Cheyenne La Vallee, a Skwxwú7mesh-Kwakwaka’wakw youth from British Columbia and author of the blog From Camas Dreams: An Example of Alternative to Schooling. Cheyenne presented one of the most articulate challenges I have read to the traditional school system. “One of the problems I find with [the] theory of bringing change within First Nations communities is the assumption that the success we need, or even seek, is economic progress. If the goal of a group is not economic progress but resurgence of traditional cultural values and principles, where does high school completion fit in?” She advances “the idea that high school is essential is a damaging idea that is pushing people who haven’t finished high school away from their dreams and goals. Separating education from completing high school and allowing more space for other options is what we need.”

As for the role museums have played in her life, Cheyenne writes “What inspires me these days is the realist, landscape painter Robert Bateman. Inspiration is magical. It comes in many different ways and these days my inspiration is for painting and art. When I was in grade 3 I went on a school field trip to the Artist For Kids gallery where he had an exhibition. He was one of the art patrons, supporting art programs for kids.” Inspiration—a pretty good role to play. Once someone’s passion is ignited (so the theory of unschooling goes) self-directed learning will follow.

If you would like to follow these and other voices from the fringe of education, here are some resources compiled by the Innovative Educator:
If you know of additional sources on unschooling or alt education I should add to my scanning list, please add them to the comments section of this blog!

And, if you are an unschooler, I would love to hear from you. What can museums do to support your self-directed learning? Would you be interested in helping museums test new learning resources?


Tuesday, January 18, 2011

How many museum educators does it take….

….to respond to Elizabeth Merritt’s “Call to Action” issued in Museum related to the CFM’s Demographic Transformation report?

Apparently, 40 is a good start.

Word cloud of participants’ responses to the question “What lingering thoughts, questions and ideas do you have after this program?”

New York City Museum Educators Roundtable (NYCMER) recently convened an afternoon program for its members and colleagues on the topic. Cathleen Wiggins (director, Leadership in the Arts Programs, Bank Street College) moderated a roundtable discussion with:

In our short two hours together, from a range of personal perspectives, job responsibilities, and seniority levels, we just scratched the surface. Below are some lingering questions and ideas that came from the program participants and panelists. We extend sincere thanks to Cathleen, Barbara, Edwina and Lauren for sharing their experiences and kick-starting the discussion.

We discussed the “d” word

We were going to challenge ourselves to write this post without actually using the word “diversity,” but that’s an exercise for another time.

In our discussion, the panelists and NYCMER members brought up race, gender, ethnicity, sexuality, ability, income and education levels, and skill set or discipline. We spoke of diversity in museum audiences, staffing, and programs. We agreed that word, “diversity,” gets slung around a lot—coded favorably, coded unfavorably. Shorthand is good, but so is clarity—we were far from arriving at a working definition, but clearly there is a need for one.

We identified barriers to diversity

  • Desire to preserve status quo rather than embrace new audiences
  • The fact that non-profit organizations are not required to publicly share diversity statements. We wondered if this could be a part of accreditation?
  • The time it takes to chip away at the us/them mentality; each person brings their own perspective from their membership in a minority and/or majority group.
AAM and Diversity
Barbara Cohen-Straytner brought us up to speed on history and activities of the AAM Diversity Committee.

We brainstormed questions and further actions

Broaden audience

  • Invite community members to co-create or run programs.
  • Be relevant. What roles can museums play in advocating for equality in society at large? How do we respond to current issues like Arizona’s SB1070 and the Islamic center at Ground Zero? • Conduct focus groups to find out why certain populations aren’t attending. Edwina Meyers shared the process of doing so when Cool Culture was founded over 10 years ago to equip all parents to support their children’s learning through cultural participation.
  • Work to prevent new divides, such as access to technology.
  • Initiate advisory groups or partner with other organizations that already interact with the audiences you seek to reach.
  • Raise awareness within our organizations about the disparity between the demographics of school programs audience and other realms of the museum (high level staff, general visitorship). Use it to leverage the merit of school programs, and the need for new initiatives in the other realms.
Get organized
Network and collaborate
  • Establish a local peer group on diversity.
  • Diversify NYCMER membership through outreach to institutions and museum studies programs not currently represented. Offer scholarships/discounted memberships to fellows that are underrepresented.
  • Ask what can museums learn from libraries (whose audiences are notably more diverse than ours). What is it about their structures, services, programs, staff, architecture, etc. that make them accessible and welcoming to all?
Diversify our staff

  • Attend high school career fairs to woo today’s youth into the field. During school visits, demystify for students the variety of potential careers within the museum.
  • Increase compensation levels and benefit packages (including tuition benefits!) to attract and retain young employees.
  • Develop model of mentoring and promotion which seeks to diversify museum leadership.
  • Investigate graduate museum studies; how do they prepare students for the changing demographics of America?

As the lists above indicate, there is a hunger for concrete examples and successful models. Almost every survey respondent mentioned an interest in the extensive award-winning diversity initiatives that Lauren States contributes to at IBM. Their strategic system examines diversity in all levels of leadership and early on identifies employees to prepare for management roles. Vertical groups representing a single demographic, up and down the career ladder, meet to identify the needs and desired outcomes within their group. Periodic meetings across groups help to cross-fertilize successful practices. IBM also has a history of working to understand clientele differences culturally and regionally. As Lauren remarked, “Diversity is now a business imperative,” a key to success and innovation. The audience’s response to IBM’s model was mixed. Some expressed frustration at not having the buy-in, resources or agency to impact such systematic change in their own organizations. Others were more optimistic and eager to begin strategizing with colleagues.
Initially, it appeared that IBM’s Diversity 3.0 program was very different from the other two models our presenters discussed, but we realize now that they each represent a different way of responding to demographic shifts. IBM demonstrates a systematic way of working for equal representation within an organization, whereas Barbara Cohen-Stratyner’s work as the chair of AAM’s Committee for the Diversity of Museum is looking across institutions and examining the role AAM might play in instigating change.

Finally, Edwina Meyers spoke about founding Cool Culture over 10 years ago to seek equal educational opportunities for all children. By collaborating with 90 NYC cultural institutions Cool Culture provides 50,000 under-served families with free, unlimited access to cultural resources—enabling them to support children’s learning during out-of-school time.
The variety of the methods and aims of these programs demonstrate that there’s a lot of work to be done. We look forward to continuing the conversation.
Today’s post was authored by Barbara Palley, a NYCMER board member and the education manager at Cool Culture, and Alexa Fairchild, president of NYCMER and school programs manager at the Brooklyn Museum. NYCMER (founded in 1979) is a forum for museum education colleagues to address issues of museum and educational interest, exchange and disseminate relevant information, and to explore and implement cooperative programming opportunities such as roundtable discussions, workshops, and an annual spring conference. We currently have 425 members.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Straight Up or with a Twist: Two Examples of how to Envision the Future

The biggest challenge in preparing for the future is imagining what it will be like. One of the most important roles of futures studies is to help people write stories of the future that, like all good fiction, tell the truth about something that hasn’t actually happened yet. These stories are called scenarios: imagined futures based on the intersection of new and existing trends and potentially disruptive events.

An effective scenario should be internally consistent; be engaging and compelling; explore uncertainties and differences; and be provocative, pushing people a little past their comfort level and igniting their imaginations. Scenarios should not try to eliminate uncertainty, reinforce a preferred outcome, or make people comfortable with things as they are. A really good scenario blows apart the boundaries of peoples’ thinking and opens their minds to new ways of seeing the world.

Here are two great examples that create scenarios in different media. The Institute for Alternate Futures' Vulnerability Scenarios, created for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, are straightforward written descriptions of potential futures. For each of ten areas of focus (education, economy, housing, etc.) they present a description of the current situation and trends and then present three stories of the future: an alpha forecast (the most likely future), beta (a dark future based on worst-case projections) and delta (a preferred future). I think forecast #3 on education is of particular interest for museumers.

Scenarios can be dramatic and immersive as well. KnowledgeWorks Foundation has teamed up with Grantmakers for Education to produce a more playful way of envisioning the future of learning in 2025. They’ve created videos depicting a “future learning agent” interacting with distant students via the web to organize their “learning journey” assignments, and audio interviews with future teen learners.

CFM encourages this kind of storytelling in many ways, including our Voices of the Future videos. If you would like to tell your story of the future of museums, either as narrative (via the CFM Blog) or video, contact CFM Coordinator Guzel duChateau and let us put you on the schedule!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Finding Foresight in Houston

Today’s guest post is by Lisa Eriksen, an independent consultant to museums, artists, and cultural organizations. Previously, Lisa was the director of education and public programs at the California Historical Society. Lisa is blogging this week from the Houston Future Studies certificate course—the one I took last year.

This Monday, I learned about multiple futures, change, and that eras are ended by discontinuity. Last May, a new era in my career began when I was invited to participate in the workshop “Forecasting the Future of California Museums” at the American Association of Museums Annual Meeting. My thanks to Celeste DeWald, executive director of the California Association for Museums, and Elizabeth Merritt, founding director of AAM’s the Center for the Future of Museums for including me in this enlightening workshop and helping set me on the road to a “transformative transition” in my career.

Before the CFM/CAM workshop, I was aware of field of futures studies, but never thought deeply about it could be applied to my work with museums. I had dabbled in foresight in my leisure reading and online adventures. On the wall of my office is a printout of the Trends and Technology Timeline 2010+ from Richard Watson’s website, which I find fascinating. When I discovered there was a 5-day Strategic Foresight certificate program offered at the University of Houston I thought this is for me, and here I am in Houston!

The first day of the course was a fascinating introduction to the practice of futures studies and how to analyze change and systems. A few snippets we learned are that no one can predict the future, but that “the trick of being a futurist is to always be thinking of multiple futures.” The present may or may not singular, but the future is multiple, there are many possible futures that we need to consider. Futures studies (note the use of the plural) is academic term, whereas strategic foresight is used more often in professional context. Change can be both viewed as inbound (what happens to us) or outbound (the change we create) - the future is a combination of both. Professor Peter Bishop recommends that we create organizations where people are rewarded for bringing in ideas about the future from outside, no matter how irrelevant. Eventually, one of these ideas will be important in planning for future change. Assumptions, which are often viewed negatively, are useful in considering beliefs and values in forecasting the future. We need to challenge assumptions and stress testing for uncertainty.

In attendance are 35 individuals who came from as Perth, Australia and Trinidad and Tobago. We have an economist/city planner, a life coach, a non-profit marketing consultant, an engineer, people working for technology companies and in tourism, a number of people from various branches the military, and many others I have not met yet. I am not sure which I am enjoying more, the instruction or the engaging dialogue I am having with my fellow students. My mind is full of new ideas and I already have a cadre of fellow futurists-in-training to share ideas with. Now on to a whole week of finding foresight!

Interested in starting your own training as a futurist? Join us at the AAM Annual Meeting in Houston for a day-long forecasting workshop co-taught by professional futurist Garry Golden of Oliver Kaizen and me (Elizabeth Merritt). AAM members can register for the annual meeting by Feb. 18 for the Early Bird rate—just $375. Not a member? Join now to get this special rate!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Forecasting the Next Educational Era

As I wrote last week one of CFM’s foci in 2011 and 2012 (and probably beyond) will be the future of education. You’ve told us in workshops, correspondence and in feedback to this blog that the trends shaping American education will have a profound effect on the museum field and museums, in turn, can have a profound effect on education. So, here starts our expedition to explore potential futures in the educational realm, mapping the boundaries of the Cone of Plausibility.

We’re undertaking this journey because museums are, first and foremost, educational institutions. The national standards for U.S. museums require that a museum “assert its public service role and place education at the center of that role.” Despite this mandate, and the extensive resources museums dedicate to education through exhibits and programming, the field has traditionally been relegated to a minor role in the educational landscape. Ghettoized as “informal learning,” the vital, experiential, multi-modal educational opportunities afforded by museums are too often regarded as expendable accessories. As the formal K-12 education system is paring back, narrowing focus and marginalizing or jettisoning content regarding arts, culture, history and experimental science, there is more need, yet less funding, for museums to play even this supplementary role. But America is on the cusp of transformational change in the educational system. The current structure has been destabilized by rising dissatisfaction with the formal educational system, the proliferation of non-traditional forms of primary education and funding crises at state and local levels. At the same time, new horizons are being opened by technological advances in communications, content sharing and cultural expectations regarding access, authority and personalization. We are at the beginning of a new era, characterized by new learning economies based on diverse methods of sharing and using educational resources.

What early signals hera
ld the destabilization of the current era, and the possible nature of the next era?

1) The rapid increase in non-traditional forms of primary education.

2) Rising dissatisfaction with the existing formal primary education system

  • Only 31% of American adults say they are satisfied with the nation's public schools; 69% are unsatisfied—and a third are very unsatisfied.

3) Funding crises for schools at the state and local level

  • Radical cuts to education budgets across the country—in New York State, California and elsewhere.

In the coming months, with the help of some fascinating guest bloggers, I’ll be exploring where these trends may lead us. Meanwhile, if you want to start adding information on educational resources to your scanning, I recommend adding the following to your blogroll:

And to fuel your imagination about the future of education, I recommend KnowledgeWorks Foundation’s 2020 Forecast: Creating the Future of Learning.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

The Short Term Future—CFM 2011

I’m going to use this first blog post of the New Year to share a preview of the themes CFM will focus on in 2011. Based on the trends we monitor through Dispatches from the Future of Museums, your feedback on our forecasting reports, participant contributions at forecasting workshops, (and a careful reading of the CFM horoscope), we’re going to pay particular attention in the coming year to:
• Continuing the exploration of Demographic Transformation and the Future of Museums, investigating how the museums can reach a broader and more diverse segment of the American public. I look forward to sharing stories of how various museums are responding to AAM’s call to action as well as reporting on what AAM is doing to help meet this challenge.
• Plumb the complex relationships between museums, food & community—probing how museums can contribute to the national dialogue about food equity, health and nutrition, and how museums can use food to build connections with their own audiences. (See this post for a story on this theme.)
• Begin to explore the future of education and the role museums can play in a reshaped educational landscape. While you’ve given us huge props on AAM’s initial forecasting report, Museums & Society 2034, you told us loud and clear we goofed in not addressing the complex and massively important trends in this topic.
• Establish mechanisms to foster innovation and experimentation in museum operations, in order to discover methods and strategies that will help museums thrive in the future. This is one of CFM’s mandates, and this year we’ll start experimenting with ways to support and recognize innovative practices.

In addition, at the AAM Annual Meeting in Houston this spring, artist Tracy Hicks will challenge conference attendees to think about how natural history museums can help shape the future world, and what natural history museums themselves may look like in the future.

With your help, I look forward to exploring these topics through posts on this blog, videos on Voices of the Future, exchanges of scanning hits and resources on Twitter and (as funding allows) more in-depth participatory formats such as web events and in-person convenings. Please write and let me know if you want to become involved in any of these issues—do you have stories to share, ideas to spread, resources to help? And best wishes for a great 2011!