Rethinking Reading | “Do you read me?”

Before we begin this post, an urgent note for those of you who are into comics – Halftone 2 is the App Store’s App of the Week. If you haven’t gotten this app yet, now is a good time to get into it!

Which brings us to today’s topic – Reading! Following on the theme of Divergent Thinking in a Convergent World, today we tackle ‘reading’. I mean, we read books, read comics, read a chart, but do we read a painting? As media converges, what will reading look like in the future? How can we prepare today’s learners to cope with its evolution?

“Do you read me?” – funnily enough this is radio talk… You can read about its history and significance here. Reading applies to more than just words and books. It can mean many things. So, why when we mention reading we automatically revert to the idea of reading a book and little else?

As the world of reading converges because of multimedia, innovative ways to communicate and sub-culturalism, a lateral approach to reading is required. Are our learners being educated to embrace and wrestle with this?

Reading will become more interactive and lateral

Instead of just reading words and sentences, the future of reading will become more lateral. iBooks and interactive books for example now present information in new ways. Learners will now need to ‘read’ not just literal words but also graphics, colors and ‘actions’. Pictograms and other graphical elements become the new universal language. Information can be presented multi-dimensional and layered – meaning, like an onion, information can be layered and you can take a different perspective as you digest and analyze information and go in different directions. And (scary thought for some), reading becomes non-linear. Like websites, pages don’t have to flow in a straight fashion anymore. You can have multiple sources of information AND choose to multi-read at the same time! Have you heard of De Bono’s 6 Thinking Hats?

Some examples that stretch the idea of reading include

Reading will become more nuanced

Apart from media and new delivery methods, reading will also become more nuanced and personalised. One of the biggest trends in education today is personalized learning. Educators are beginning to see the inadequacy of ‘batched learning and teaching.’ Learners do not conform by age, demographics or psychographics. Because every individual is unique, his/her personal combination of nature and nurture will present a huge challenge for any system that reduces learning into a fixed, rigid and narrowed curriculum. Learning will become more outcome based, with building blocks that can be mixed and matched into countless combinations to suit the personal learning preference of each individual learner so he/she can each learn more effectively. Hence, reading becomes nuanced – while some learners ‘read’ books, others ‘read’ by listening to audiobooks, and others ‘read’ by playing a game. What is important is that learners understand there is no right or wrong way to read, just ways that are more effective than others depending on the goals and the media involved as they comprehend and engage with their world.

Some ideas to think about include

Writing and reading are obviously intricately related to one another. We sometimes take reading for granted because when the writing is done well, it just flows. That’s one of the reasons why I like movie scripts so much. They are writing that need to read well enough to be translated into a visual narrative that engages the audience and make them see, hear and feel the story. Wow, that’s one sentence that helps us see how many things converge when we talk about writing and reading!

Now, all we have to do is bottle that thought and take reading to the next level. Do you read me?

PS : Here’s a link to an article about how challenging it is to create something that reads well… Enjoy!

Re-thinking Writing | So, What’s Your Story?

 

What comes to mind when you think back to what ‘writing’ meant to you in school? For me, Weird Al just about nailed it.  Is it just me or was English / Literacy / Language / Writing just a litany of corrections and what rule to use when? At least, until I got to English in Year 12 here in Australia. But that’s another story altogether…

Divergent Thinking : Writing

Let’s think hard about the origins of writing and why we learn to write. What came before writing? Pictograms preceded writing – and before that, the oral tradition. Am I wrong then to assume that the evolution of writing corresponds closely with the evolution of communication, and more specifically, story-telling? I mean, aren’t all forms of writing just a type of story-telling? Whether you are telling a fictional story about a boy wizard, or a non-fictional story of what happened in Afghanistan, or empirical, scientific ‘story’ about what happens when virus A attacks virus B, aren’t they all just different types of stories?

Seen a good movie lately? What made the movie good? The plot? Characters? Special effects? What?

It’s interesting to note that after close to a century of ‘movie-making’, the industry still needs a written script to start the movie-making process. I like reading movie scripts, often more than I enjoy watching the movies. Why? Because the movie scripts allow me to feel and ‘see’ the nuances often lost in translation into the movie. With a written script, I can ‘imagine’ the scene. And that’s what writing is to me, far more than the literal meaning of words and letters jumbled to convey a fact. But, all that is about to change. As story-telling tools become more accessible and ‘efficient’, I think writing will evolve into something quite extraordinary. Seen this? What a creative way to tell a story… and what an awesome story too.

So, if we were to rethink writing – how do we diverge? For me it’s simple, we should get back to basics and focus on what writing was meant to do… tell a story… and evoke a response. What’s the point of writing if it doesn’t evoke a response??? And what has happened in the recent past that has given us the tools to take ‘writing’ and story-telling to a whole new level? Like this?

Which brings us to the next part of this post – Convergent world.

What’s converging in the world of story-telling and writing, you might ask…

They say, “A Picture Paint A Thousands Words.” So, what kind of a story would a video like this tell?

Awesome, isn’t it? If you check out the stories that ‘ordinary’ people are ‘writing’ about their not-so-ordinary lives using this technology, you would be totally inspired!

What happens when drones, cameras and ‘tracking sensor’ technology converge like this? What kind of stories will emerge?

There are so many different tools now available for story-telling… why are we still not rethinking ‘writing’ and how to help it evolve? As a calligrapher, I am all for learning and preserving the art of writing, but I think it’s time we start thinking about what comes after writing that both celebrates and innovates it, don’t you?

Hint : I think it’s got to do with what you see, and what touches your soul…

 

 

Divergent Thinking in a Convergent World

Before it runs out, Apple’s App of the Week this week is an awesome app called 2Do. If you haven’t already, do yourself a favor and download it before it goes away (well, back to its normal price as opposed to FREE!). If you want to know more about it, visit their website. It’s definitely a keeper, I can personally say it’s a super-duper app that can help anyone become more productive and effective – especially if you’re into GTD. It’s a universal app so it’ll work on either iPhone or iPad! And it’s one of the few apps to sync across over to their app on Android too!

We are currently in a bit of a difficult position from a mindset point of view. We have begun to realize that the world needs people who can think divergently while generally, the entire world is converging. If anything, our mind needs to be opened more and more and be able to become adept at thinking divergently when processing information, addressing issues and solving problems. At the same time, we notice that like molecules in a superheated container, dots we assumed were separate are colliding and merging into newer, never-before-seen bigger and weirder dots. I am talking about how technologies, industries and faculties are merging in new ways and we are all struggling to keep up with them.

These two factors are creating all sorts of opportunities (and problems) while our learning and knowledge systems are trying to keep up and rationalize their very relevance and existence.

New models of schools and learning have emerged – and they all look very interesting indeed. There are some that deal with the content of learning and teaching, and some that deal with the process of teaching. Have a look at some of these…

What do you think, what’s happening? Before we go jump ship and go all gooey either way about where education is headed (good or bad), remember this?

Oh, btw, the VIC ed department has just released an app… get it here. Any comments?

Over the next few blogs, I will continue with the theme of ‘Divergent Thinking in a Convergent World’ as we explore how technology and spirituality will mould and shape education and future generations.

Our Lady’s Craigieburn & Roxburgh Park RE Conference 2015

I had quite an adventure last Friday at Craigieburn with a wonderful lot of participants and presenters. Always refreshing and mind-boggling to see how others are embracing learning, teaching and educating in this ever-changing world of ours.

As promised, here’s a blog post with references to further reading, viewing and experimenting for those who were there (as well as those who weren’t!)…

The theme of the conference was John 10:10, “I have come so that you may have life, and have it abundantly”. Succinctly, Mark the keynote presenter pursued the theme of Greatness, which coincidentally, was mine too!

For those who are keen to explore further the personal vision template I adapted from Jim Collins’ ‘Good To Great’, here’s a good link for a guide you can use. Just adapt and replace ‘organisation’ with ‘you/me’ and you should be able to create a framework for yourself. I personally think having a clear picture of who you are and what your personal vision/mission is help you communicate better and more effectively to the people you are influencing.

For those who are a bit stumped as to what I am referring to, this is the framework I am talking about.

Good2Great

We then discussed the difference between a compass and a map, which is pretty well summed up by this set of slides about the difference between a teacher and a guru.

We touched briefly on the difference between process vs content, and also the SAMR model – explained here.

The apps we touched on (different for each of the 3 sessions depending on where the conversations were leading to) include :

Videos and other web resources

Phew, that’s quite a big list to check out! I’ll close this blog with a video and a link to an article – a sign of things to come – mind boggling in its technology and application, but no less impactful in its simplicity and audacity to challenge us about the fundamental things that make us human, enjoy!

 

Women’s Aid from Ocean Outdoor on Vimeo.

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Choose Love

I was a bit stumped this week preparing for the next iGod workshop in Craigieburn next month. So, I did the most reasonable thing I could think of and asked my fellow sojourners for help, and lo behold – the creative Holy Spirit intervened and voila, all clear… I wasn’t actually asking for help in doing the task, but in essence I was asking for help to gain clarity and direction for my thinking and being.

The theme of the conference is John 10:10, “I have come that you may have life, and have it to the full.” Patrick’s response helped clarify that for me once again.

From my little predicament, I realized I have started the year on the wrong foot. I led with my head instead of my heart, a simple enough error, but enormous in the implications that can grow out of the misstep. I chose fear, instead of love.

Fortunately, I asked and Patrick helped set me straight in a way that he always does. Thanks, bro!

Leading with the head is different from leading from the heart. The symbolic head lead is filled with fear, anxiety, pessimism, what-ifs of the ‘when things go wrong’ type and generally, a mindset of scarcity rather than abundance.

Generally, a heart lead is filled with enthusiasm, optimism, gratitude, love and faith. A heart lead focuses more on possibilities and extraordinary outcomes, and more often than not, if we can keep the head-lead in check, we achieve beyond our expectations. The good point about a heart lead is that we have peace with the outcomes no matter what.

It is easy to confuse a head lead with a heart lead though. If you search deeply, you will find that a head lead depends on analysis, an over focus of when things went wrong in the past and more of an emphasis on plan B than plan A (i.e. planning to fail). It is also easier to have un-peace with the head than the heart. All in, it’s based in fear.

A heart lead is often categorized by a reliance on God and pins the outcome on prayer, faith and love. In some instances, it defies reason and logic. Intuition comes in, and with that a sense of letting go and freedom to let the outcomes work themselves out. That’s what love is, love expands and gives of itself but never wears out.

To live out John 10:10, I personally believe we need to lead with the heart and not with our heads. We need to choose love, and not even give fear any thought. A fearless life, what a concept!

What do you think? Are you choosing love over fear today?

Over to you, Jim…

 

One Thing

It’s a new year, so we all do what we usually do, reflect on the past, audit your present, set goals for the future. And then, 12 months later, we do it all over again. It’s pretty much the same pattern in schooling, and at work. Does it really make any sense?

Einstein once said, “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.” In time, some not-so-informed wannabe motivator decided to turn that quote into the oft-used but totally misguided definition for insanity – doing the same thing and expecting different results. And attribute that definition to Einstein himself!

Anyways, I digress – the point I am trying to make in this post is – Focus is very important for anyone, from the very, very young, to the very, very old. We lament these days as parents, educators and learners that the ‘current’ generation (X, Y, Z, Millennials, Alpha etc) all lack this elusive and rare trait to focus. Is that true?

Digging further, we start to realize that there could be 3 main reasons why we struggle to focus

  • We are easily distracted – i.e. we don’t know (or want to choose) what’s important and what’s not
  • There are too many things crying for our attention – from the really mundane to the really useful and urgent
  • We worry too much

For me personally, focusing is more a choice than a character trait or habit. The ability to focus (especially as you get older) banks on my self-discipline and self-control. Of course, there are tools and techniques (see below) that can help, but generally, it all comes down to discipline.

If we can get learners to focus, I think the battle is half won. So, how can we do this effectively?

1. One Thing – Focus

Have you ever heard of The Pomodoro Technique? Maybe that can help. And thankfully, there’s an app for that too!

2. Prioritizing

We should really spend more of our time and attention on what make us tick. There are now so many convergences happening – one of my fave – science and emotions – there are so many videos here to get started. Along the way, you will learn how to better equip yourself against science used against you and your willpower.  And of course, there are wonderful apps like One Hour A Day, Rescue Time, GPS for the Soul and Stop Breath Think to help you stay sane in an insane world.

3. Getting Things Done

One of the biggest setbacks to a productive schedule is worry. Anxiety, fear and worry can disable anyone, kill enthusiasm and trigger paralysis. Once you understand the science and look at techniques or systems such as GTD to overcome (or sidestep, more like) worry and anxiety, you’ll become more productive. Apps like Life Balance, 2Do and Things are just a few tools you can use to help you get started.

I believe once we get the discipline to focus and become clearer about who we really are, what drives us and why we do what we do, we can have more enriched and fulfilling lives.

Here’s to an extraordinary year (and life!)

 

 

 

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Tis’ the season to be merry…

Well, it’s the silly season again… And the debate has already started about whether Jesus would be at the centre of Christmas this time. I guess my response to that would be, it depends… on YOU!

Before we get into all that, what does Christmas signify for you, I mean, really? For me personally, Christmas has always been about starting afresh, about a new hope (by the way, have you seen this – for next Christmas?)… about wiping the slate clean and giving everything a chance to start over.

Funnily enough, I came across two articles today about education that I simply had to share, in the hope that someone out there would take note and dare to start over. In this day and age, starting over is so easy and possible. Our parents and their parents never had the chance to start over. By the time they realized they wanted another path, it was too difficult and too late to even try. Of course there were exceptions, but mostly, people just took it as a dream gone by.

Have a read, and see if they can spark a bit of a revolution in your mind and heart for next year. 365 days is a long time these days, and with a little bit of enthusiasm and a lot of teamwork, you can achieve almost anything. If you’re game, I’d like to be on your team!

Interesting how things panned out even if both these authors didn’t actually get the schooling they wanted / needed. But, you have the power the change all that for future generations – it starts with you!

Like it did with Jesus 2,000 years ago.

Looking for resources to share to start talking about Christmas, Baby Jesus and Advent?

Here are 3 to try out… (sadly, these are old but IMHO, they are still the best ones to use…)

 

And this one is a tad wacky but hey, it’s a wacky world out there! And it is the silly season…

I sometimes wonder if perhaps things were not a little bit more exciting and action-packed then than what we read now. After all, miracles, breakthroughs and all things magical were happening in those days much to the awe of the writers and chroniclers. Maybe they didn’t have the ‘Hollywood’ and ‘Movie-Review’ lingo in those days that’s why the stories don’t seem to be so ‘out-there’.

Which reminds me of this…

A little boy went to church with his grandma. He went into Sunday school with the other kids. After church he rejoined his grandma, who asked what he had learned that day.

“Well there was this guy named Moses,” the boy started, “and he was running from this mean pharaoh. Moses & his army came to the Red Sea, but pharaoh was closing in, so Moses had his engineers build a bridge real quick & they got in their tanks & went across it. They got to the other side & when pharaoh’s army was still on it they called in an air strike!!”

“I don’t think that’s the story you were told,” the grandma said.

“You’re right grandma, but if I told you the story they told us you wouldn’t believe it either.”

Speaking of Moses, Nic is going to watch Moses tomorrow… and believe it or not, it’s in the Bible…🙂

 

Passing the Baton

Paying it Forward

There’s so much promising going on (because of the state election this weekend) it’s likely to make you cynical. In times like these, those of us who want to stay sane, positive and cheery need to look far and wide for that glimmer of hope and all things biophilic. Fortunately, with the internet and connectivity, we don’t have to stray too far to find glimpses of Heaven and goodliness.

 

Firstly, for those who haven’t already – Things is the App Store’s App of the Week (i.e. FREE!) – go download it quick. It’s a pretty good to-do manager for getting your life organised. It’s a bit different from listers like Wunderlist and heavies like Omnifocus but in a good way that may appeal to those who wish for simpler and more Zen-like options.

Before you get all cynical with all those promises on the TV, radio, internet and snail mail – watch this. Hopefully it restores your hope and faith in the little things that matter big time. Have a good week ahead and try to slow down this pre-holiday season. If you’re depending on others to do it for you, it’s not going to happen🙂

 

 

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Creating a (Sacred) Digital Space

I was a tad disappointed that we had to cancel our Digital Space iGod session this weekend. Alas, past experience had shown us that this period is one of the busiest in the school calendar so it’s not unexpected. We didn’t have enough numbers to make the interaction meaningful between participants so we decided to call it off.

But, all is not lost – in this post, I hope to give enough information for you to Create Your Own (Sacred) Digital Space – most of the apps and resources I was hoping to cover in the session will be introduced here, so with a bit of ingenuity and effort, you should be able to re-create the session in your own space and time.

The idea of a Digital Space is something new and recent thanks to the depth and extent that gadgets and devices and apps can create a meaningful and engaging experience for users. Thankfully, with just a gadget or two and some accessories, you can create your own digital space.

Sacred Music

Personally for me, music is one of the most important ingredients to create a digital space that works. There are a few ways for you to start the ball rolling. If you have an extensive music collection, create a ‘Holy’ playlist and have Siri play it every time you are in the mood, just say, ‘Siri, play my Holy playlist’. Works for me! Here’s a great article on how to create a playlist, if you haven’t created one before.

If you have way too many songs, you can take a shortcut and do a Genius playlist instead. Pick a song you feel gets you into the ‘Holy’ space, then use the Genius function in iTunes or Music app in your iPad or iPhone to make a Genius playlist based on the song. You’ll be amazed how quickly and effectively the smarts in the playlist maker select the right songs to put in the playlist.

Another option to consider is iTunes Radio. To make that work, you’ll need to log into your iTunes account first. Once that turns up in your iTunes, look for the Radio tab, get to My Stations and create your own streaming radio station, even from your iOS device! Pick an artist, song or genre to kickstart the selection. If you need some help, try ‘Planetshakers’ or ‘Hillsong’ to get started.

Internet radio apps like TuneIn, Spotify and Pandora works too. Download the app onto your device and just set up your preferences.

Of course, getting a nice set of external (preferably Bluetooth or Wireless) speakers help with the ambience. Or a nice set of headphones (wireless is good) helps too.

Prayer Apps & Websites 

There are way too many apps and websites dedicated to prayer and devotion to cover so I’ll shortlist a few very unique and different ones just to give you an idea of the scope and diversity available. All of them are free so take them for a spin and see if any suits the way you engage with spirituality.

There are many apps and resources available, and they are there to cater to all the different ways people engage spiritually. Experiment, explore and discover the ones you prefer. Share them with others and seek out how others engage too. There are also many wonderful videos like the Gratitude video, and if you’re looking for a spiritual eye candy experience you can’t go wrong with Samsara or Baraka.

Happy Exploring!

 

 

 

 

RU OK?

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Today is RUOK? Day – So, Happy RUOK? Day everyone!

It sounds like a very simple idea, but it’s a huge idea that can make a significant impact in someone’s life. I don’t think I am exagerrating when I say it could be a life-changing idea at the right time.

In our daily grind, we come across people who either add or subtract the little stresses that can make or break the mental time bomb we carry everywhere. Unless enough people care to instinctively and deliberately defuse that bomb, we grow up harboring negative thoughts, ideas and notions that eventually become physical manifestations in our lives and the lives of people we love around us.

RUOK is a simple starting point to show you care, and can sometimes open doors and invite conversations that can restore and repair relationships, hurt and pain so that healing and loving can happen.

So, why not step out today and ask someone near you, ARE YOU OK?

Another idea I’d like to share along this theme is, how about asking yourself ‘ARE YOU OK?’ Technology has progressed sufficiently these days to easily, conveniently and discreetly send your future self letters. Have you read this heart-wrenching article about Taylor Smith’s letter to her future self?

So, what would you write to your future self? And when?

I personally don’t think there’s a rule for either. It’s entirely up to you, and you can write many different letters or even just short notes. You could be going through a tough or euphoric time now, and you just wanted to ‘bottle’ the moment and remind yourself a week, a month, a year or a decade ahead how you actually feel right here, right now and what triggers you want to include to remember the moment – music, smell, who you were with, a photo, article, thought, idea – anything!

If you’re really stuck for ideas, try this for inspiration.

So, now – how do you do it? Here are a few resources to try out…

Alternatively, you could be someone who prefer to look at the past and think about those moments. How do you organize your special memories and revisit them?

Personally, I use DayOne to organize my ‘memories’. I looked and looked for an app that can help me chronicle my life in thoughts and photos that I can easily revisit every year to the day just to remind me where I was on that day a year or more before but there weren’t many that fit the bill. So, I did a workaround and used DayOne to do what I needed.

Firstly, I created a hashtag for each day (i.e. #sep11) and ensured that I used the hashtag for every day entry to mark the date. I also ensured they are consistent and spelled right! Hence, every day when I end my day, I recapped my day and took the opportunity to search the day’s hashtag to see where I was and what was happening at the time in the past. DayOne worked great with this workaround and because I sync with my iMac, iPad and iPhone, I can capture and reminisce anytime, anywhere… This little trick would work with almost any note taker available today – Evernote, Awesome Note, OneNote – the key is in the hashtag.

It may sound like a lot of work but over the years, it’s worked out nicely and I am so super glad I took the trouble. Especially now that I am starting to forget what happened and how I felt at the time. The kids growing up at the speed of light doesn’t help either. It’s hard to imagine how different things were 3, 5 or 7 years ago. With video and audio and photos, wow – you can almost relive the moment… Trust me, it’s priceless! For your future’s sake, do this NOW!