Reflections CEOM RE Conference 2014

Firstly, thanks to all the participants at the iGod workshop last Friday – it was a very meaningful and engaging experience for me, and hopefully for you all too. It’s always encouraging when participants engage and ‘hijack’ the presentation 🙂 To summarize, here is a list of the 8 mind shifts we were attempting last week :

  • Half full or Half Empty – you have a choice to change the options
  • We need to shift our focus from Teaching to Learning (it’s already happening!)
  • Empathy is a powerful universal principle for learning (near future)
  • Discernment is a compulsory principle for learning (near future)
  • We have a responsibility to AWE
  • Genius is seeing the unseen – that’s the realm that future learners need to thrive in
  • God is in the unseen – If we seek we will discover Him
  • Education is not the filling of the pail, but the lighting of a fire – everyone should be on fire for God, especially teachers!

Half Full or Half Empty – Where’s the Jug?

We talked about how people view things and explored the idea that sometimes we need to see beyond what is present to uncover new opportunities. Ken Robinson’s video helps us to understand Divergent Thinking.

Shifting our focus from Teaching to Learning

The shift from teaching to learning is already happening. Concepts of learning such as Blended Learning and Flipped Classroom are clear examples of this thinking in action. Although the current education system had been adequate over the different ages (enlightenment, industrial, information) it is becoming apparent that the explosion of the tech revolution is changing the way we learn (and teach) and rewired the brains of learners such that the education system must change. The good news is that the fundamentals of what drive learning remain the same and that small shifts in thinking is all that is required to leverage on this. One effective way to focus on learners is to understand what multiple intelligences are and how we can spot them in the learners.

Empathy

One of the most important and universal learning principles is Empathy. If we can tap into this talent, we can overcome almost any barrier (language, religion, beliefs, cultural etc) and educate one another. RSA has a wonderful video that teaches us a lot that recent science and research have uncovered about empathy.

Here are a few other resources we can use to start discussion about how we can empathize with the rest of the world :

Discernment

The bible talks about what the eye sees helping us to discern and act. This video says it all.

In the groundbreaking book, The One Minute Manager, there are many principles about management that teachers can learn to apply learning in the classroom. These 3 are priceless – try it and see what you can accomplish!

Resources to help you AWE and inspire young geniuses

And finally, here’s a list of the apps we tried (and some we didn’t get a chance to try out) that’ll bring some awes to your day. Enjoy!

Have a great week ahead! And remember, every bush is burning!

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Being an educator just got a bit more powerful…

Apple updated iTunesU app yesterday, and wow – is it getting even more fun for educators. Included in this latest update is the ability for any educator to create their own courses – right from their iPad!

Here’s what iTunesU version 2.0 can do for you (and your class) :

Introducing the new iTunes U

Let the discussion begin
• The new iTunes U makes it simple for students participating in private courses to pose questions on the course or any post or assignment.
• Other students in the class can jump into the discussion and ask more questions or provide answers.
• Teachers and students can keep up with the conversation when they receive push notifications as the discussion progresses.

Create courses on iPad
• Teachers can now create and update their courses using the iTunes U app on their iPad—getting started is fast, simple, and completely free.
• Provide every student a course outline, write posts, distribute assignments, upload class materials, easily track participating students, and much more.
• Take advantage of the built in camera on iPad to easily capture photos or videos and upload them for course assignments.
• Create materials using Pages, Numbers, and Keynote—or other apps from the App Store—and add them to your course by using “Open in iTunes U” from within each app.
• Teachers affiliated with qualified institutions have the option to publish their courses to the iTunes U Catalogue—making them available to everyone for free.

To learn more about what iTunesU can do for you as an educator and for your ‘learners’, click here. Apple has also provided a very clear set of guidelines to help you get started on iTunesU courses. The beauty of Apple’s approach is that they let you be the educator and focus on teaching and gathering almost any type of content from the web to create your course. With collaborative tools built in, there are very few reasons why any educator would want to use anything else.

If you’re keen to create something a little more elaborate, what about iBooks Author?

With Apple’s suite of iWork apps (Keynote, Pages and Numbers) and iBooks Author all easily integrating into iTunesU course design and creation, you won’t need much time and effort to digitize your existing or even new course content.

The e-Learning race is heating up, recently with Google Classroom launching, and also forays into education scene by Samsung and many others. Educators and learners of all ages are winners here, and not a moment too soon 🙂

For me though, this is what I hope the future of education will look like one day soon. The technology is already here, and so is the vision. All we need is the human spirit and conviction to step up and embrace it to make it real – right here, right now.

 

7 Habits of Highly Spiritual Teachers (who use technology)

I came across this article over the weekend – The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teachers Who Use Technology – and decided to do a take on what these habits could be for Highly Spiritual Teachers who use technology effectively.

I do think they would share very similar traits with those in the article, just with a bit more emphasis on soul-healing and spiritual-unravelling. Just my thoughts, so feel free to chip in with comments and remarks.

Habit #1 : They are always inspired (and inspiring)

Firstly, they are always in search of divine inspiration and seek to stimulate and engage using technology for the right reasons and outcomes. And more often than not, the outcome is to point to spirituality and challenge their mentees (is there such a word?) to ask questions and seek further enlightenment. People see them and what do they see? – A spiritual sojourner.

Habit #2 : They care

That one word says it all – care. They care that their audience learn, are interested and inspired enough to do something about what they’ve seen or heard. They enthuse, cajole, encourage, rebuke and mentor incessantly to get the point across. And their points must always open new doors, new thinking and bigger perspectives. It all starts from a spirit of caring. They are addicted to spirituality and everything they do imparts a little bit of that addiction to the people they meet and touch.

Habit #3 : They are magical

Everything they do, they do it with panache. That’s crucial because confidence is contagious, and when you’re taking people outside their comfort zones, you need to imbibe in them a sense of ‘I can do it too’ – otherwise, that becomes a form of disempowerment. What’s the definition of magical? Well, it’s only magic because you don’t know how it’s done, right? Try this – anyone can do magic with technology… And magic is literally the magic wand to break down the barriers of ignorance.

Habit #4 : They are absolutely, fantabulously, madly, truly and deeply serendipitous

Did I emphasize that enough? There is no greater responsibility and opportunity than that which arises out of a questing mind and heart. Serendipity – a talent for making fortunate discoveries while searching for other things. And we all have to make our own luck these days, right? So, to improve our luck, we must have at our fingertips (literally) a huge toolbox of ideas, resources and cool stuff to keep stimulating and engaging questing young minds. A highly spiritual educator who uses technology effectively is always collecting, organizing and looking for opportunities to turn the spark into a flaming inferno. If you’re looking for tools to help you, rewind to an earlier blog here.

Habit #5 : They are seminal

There are too many useful and appropriate definitions for the word seminal for me to list here, but if you’re keen to explore – click here. What I am interested in though, is to focus on the ability and opportunity to ‘seed’ for the far future. Think back on your own journey, who and what was the scenario that had made a significant and lasting impact on your values and character? How did technology play a part? In my own journey, these ‘seminal moments’ have been seeded long ago and are triggered when I face certain life-scenarios. As educators, we have the opportunity to do the same and create a future legacy. But, how will we do it? Begin with the end in mind and see what makes people think here.

Habit #6 : They are vulnerable

Now, this may seem weird and counteract habit no 3 but like Woody said of Buzz in Toy Story, ‘That’s not flying, that’s falling – with style!’ Vulnerability is honesty, transparency and authenticity. The worst thing you could do as an educator is to try and show that technology is perfect and works exactly how it should ALL THE TIME. The same goes with spirituality. When you add them both together, you need to be vulnerable and open to learning yourself. This stance will be mirrored and give your mentees (that word again!) the opportunity to be vulnerable too and seek enlightenment. Being human is part of the spiritual journey. In my experience, the best way to involve and bring the learning into the personal and intimate realm of the audience is to encounter problems and together, we overcome them. Tech failure or issues are cheap, and they happen all the time. But, in taking the audience on the journey and getting them involved, they learn and gain the confidence that you’re like them, and they’re like you. That is the best form of empowerment I’ve ever known.

Habit #7 : They always end with the why

I am a firm believer that as an educator, the class or workshop is the beginning, not the end of learning. That’s why I think every educator should use technology to stimulate and engage, but the trick is to keep the engagement going after the class or workshop is finished. And that’s the reason I say, ‘Educators must always end the learning with a why’. And the ‘why’ must be able to be personal and different for everyone. To do this, educators need to think about the What-How-Who-Why in the lesson and utilize the technology in a way that leads the learners along that path.

And there you have it, my thoughts on the matter. If you agree or disagree, feel free to comment and we can have a conversation about this. If you’re looking for more guidance and tips, here’s a PDF Apple has just issued for Teachers – it’s a guideline for using the iPad and what you should consider when selecting the right apps to use. Very comprehensive and refreshing, if you ask me.

Here’s an additional bonus for those of you who wants to change the world – it’s a design toolkit for educators developed by one of the leading designers on the planet, IDEO – follow this link. Enjoy!

So, what will your verse be?

 

Be Thankful

Thankfulness is one of the most important and overlooked character traits you and I need to survive these days. In a sense, thankfulness or gratitude is an antidote to worrying and anxiety, and let’s face it, who isn’t worried these days?

I mean, look at some of these facts – if you weren’t ultra worried before, you should be after studying them. Here’s one of my fave from the list.

What can we do to nurture a spirit of humility, thankfulness and gratitude in this age of entitlement with our kids and students? Plenty, in fact. Here are some suggestions.

1. The grass is greener on the other side? Maybe, maybe not – Have a look at these photos – it’s a set about what people around the world eat (and the calories consumed). Or this one, same idea – but of a family’s consumption instead. Puts into perspective how blessed we are, no?

2. What about bedtime? Here’s a gallery of how kids in different parts of the world spend their nights. Take note of some of the propaganda on show, wow – scary to think how some of them will grow up thinking?

3. What about we create a digital prayer and reflection space? Try this video by Louie Schwartzberg – The visuals and narration (including the message about gratitude) works perfectly to challenge, confront and direct us into a mental and spiritual space that’s filled with gratitude.

4. How about some life altering questions? Here’s a link to some really thought provoking and potentially life-changing questions. Suggest you pick a few rather than overload with the whole set!

5. Personally though, if I had the opportunity, I’d go full left field and take an excursion shopping. I’d tell each student to prepare $2.80 and pick a friend from class to buy a gift for – something to thank him or her for being a friend. Then, I’d take the whole class to Daiso – where you’ll find more than 200,000 products, all priced at the same price of $2.80. (Mind you, a huge majority of these products are designer made – the Japanese are still leaders of single purpose designed products and Daiso is one of their flagship proponents of this thinking globally). And watch what happens. Will it work? God knows!

6. If all else fails, we can try my personal mantra, “It Could Be Worse!” – Can you guess where I picked this from? I had this all my life, and I only (re)discovered where it first seeded more than 2 decades later… If you thought of that classic scene by Mel Brooks, I’d have to say that was the scene that reinforced it, but not seeded it. Guess again…  🙂

Have a grateful rest of the week!

 

Science blows your mind away…

Have you seen this? It’s an article about 11 trending emerging scientific fields that everyone should know about. I can’t even pronounce the names, let alone remember them!

What about this? It’s an article about 35 psychology based critical thinking strategies.

So, if we learn and use the 35 strategies we should be able to nail the 11 trending fields that are emerging, easy peasy, right?

If only…

But, there’s a light at the end of the tunnel, Apple’s launched their ed website and they’ve gotten teachers to share their ideas and success stories. And thankfully, they are very down to earth, practical and real. Just the right approach to changing the world, if you ask me.

Happy teaching!

Helping the blind see


 

Although this video is now more than a year old, I recently stumbled upon it again. Although I am not an app developer, my role in iGod as a ‘enabler’ especially for those who have not realised how easy and accessible apps are to help them in their daily lives, have given me a renewed appreciation for the developers that have created their amazing apps to help others. Literally, they are changing the world – as the video so rightly trumps.

Since 2011, we have been involved with different schools and educators and have seen the eyes and minds light up at the possibilities. It’s quite awesome to note that we are on the verge of the biggest social and educational revolution in recent history. Not only are the apps and technology ripe and ready to power charge the revolution, but that the target audience, kids and next gen learners are all ready to rumble!

Bring on the revolution! In the vein of Les Mis –

Will you join in our crusade?
Who will be strong and stand with me?
Beyond the barricade
Is there a world you long to see?

Incidentally, there is also a story in the video about an extraordinary teacher who is making learning so fun and interesting for his kids, despite their resources and environment.

The (Spiritual) Journey

We are all on a journey, whether we are aware of it or not. In our journey, we meet and bond with people, sometimes for a short time, sometimes for an entire lifetime. What we don’t realise most of the time is that in the time we journey together, we change and evolve. We sometimes see things like the wheels on the bus, they don’t really change much except for the rotation (which we are seldom aware of), but if we look up, the scenery would have changed drastically!

And this is where time plays a crucial role. Take a look at this video…

Amazing isn’t it? Once you compress time into a bite sized morsel, the change is so much more ‘obvious’!

Spiritually, we evolve over time as well. According to M. Scott Peck, we go through 4 different stages of spiritual development (from Wikipedia – link here). 

Stage I is chaotic, disordered, and reckless. Very young children are in Stage I. They tend to defy and disobey, and are unwilling to accept a will greater than their own. They are extremely egoistic and lack empathy for others. Many criminals are people who have never grown out of Stage I.

Stage II is the stage at which a person has blind faith in authority figures and sees the world as divided simply into good and evil, right and wrong, us and them. Once children learn to obey their parents and other authority figures, often out of fear or shame, they reach Stage II. Many so-called religious people are essentially Stage II people, in the sense that they have blind faith in God, and do not question His existence. With blind faith comes humility and a willingness to obey and serve. The majority of good, law-abiding citizens never move out of Stage II.

Stage III is the stage of scientific skepticism and questioning. A Stage III person does not accept things on faith but only accepts them if convinced logically. Many people working in scientific and technological research are in Stage III. They often reject the existence of spiritual or supernatural forces since these are difficult to measure or prove scientifically. Those who do retain their spiritual beliefs move away from the simple, official doctrines of fundamentalism.

Stage IV is the stage where an individual starts enjoying the mystery and beauty of nature and existence. While retaining skepticism, he starts perceiving grand patterns in nature and develops a deeper understanding of good and evil, forgiveness and mercy, compassion and love. His religiousness andspirituality differ significantly from that of a Stage II person, in the sense that he does not accept things through blind faith or out of fear, but does so because of genuine belief, and he does not judge people harshly or seek to inflict punishment on them for their transgressions. This is the stage of loving others as yourself, losing your attachment to your ego, and forgiving your enemies. Stage IV people are labeled as Mystics.

Peck argues that while transitions from Stage I to Stage II are sharp, transitions from Stage III to Stage IV are gradual. Nonetheless, these changes are very noticeable and mark a significant difference in the personality of the individual. The four stages provide foundational material for Dave Schmelzer’s 2008 book Not The Religious Type.

What do you think? Do you agree with his thinking?

What I find useful for me personally (and now made so much easier with technology) is to be able to map out my journey into a timeline. There are many timeline software and services online to help teachers and educators leverage a timeline to illustrate how things have evolved over a long period of time.

If you want to try out some timelines and apps, check out

1. IBM Think – a free educational app to explore how progress happens
2. IBM Minds of Modern Mathematics – a free educational app to explore how mathematicians and mathematics have shaped the world we live in
3. Easy Timeline – a basic but powerful timeline software for the Mac
4. Timeline 3D – an advanced and awesome timeline software for the iOS (Mac version also available)
5. Links to some of the most creative timelines &  infographics you’re likely to see

Before signing off, here are a couple of ‘before and after’ cartoons to end this blog with a guffaw or two… Enjoy!

ATT00002 ATT00003

Makes you wonder, are we really moving forward?

Are you a Teacher or a Guru?

Do you know the difference between a Teacher and a Guru? Watch this presentation and see what you think?

Guru and a Teacher from Ashit Jain

Is there really a difference? Or is it a matter of perspective – an AND rather than an OR?

Consider James 3:1-2

'Not many of you should become teachers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness. For we all stumble in many ways. And if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle his whole body.'

Quite a burden, no?

Alexander the Great is an excellent example to use here for the Teacher – Guru conundrum. History tells us that his father King Phillip sought the best teacher he could find for the adolescent Alexander, no less a legend than Aristotle himself. Incidentally, rumor has it that when Steve Jobs was asked if he could go back in time to meet anyone, he said he wanted to meet Aristotle! So, Alexander must have been a very happy student. All his achievements (he wasn't known as 'the Great' for nothing, you know) was probably seeded and germinated during his time with Aristotle, or were they? Another interesting character in Alexander's short life was Diogenes. The two anecdotes that have survived of his encounter throw interesting light on both the character of Alexander and Diogenes. Read them here. They had a profound impact on Alexander, so much so that Alexander said, if he wasn't Alexander, he wanted to be Diogenes – to which the eloquent Diogenes remarked, 'If I wasn't Diogenes, I'd still want to be Diogenes.' What audacity!

So, perhaps Aristotle was Alexander's teacher and Diogenes his Guru? Isn't that what Gurus do?

For those of you who are keen to explore this conundrum – here are some apps and links to resources to help you explore…

1. IBM Think
2. Minds of Modern Mathematics
3. Choice of Kung Fu
4. Book – The Man Who Planted Trees by Jean Giono
5. Book – Character by Samuel Smiles
6. Book – 5 Minds for the Future by Dr Howard Gardner
7. Book – Imitation of Christ by Thomas Kempis
8. Book – God's Debris by Scott Adams (yes, that Scott Adams)

Hope you find these resources useful. I'll end the post with another gem of a quote from one of the greatest thinkers of our time…

Picasso

 

Reinventing education

As a futurist, I get asked a lot about the future. People I meet in almost any context ask me what their industry or role would look like in the far future. Some people seem very anxious and others very optimistic when I give them my views. I like to share imaginatively and philosophically when it comes to the future. That’s because I’m the most optimistic skeptic I know. I expect the worst but hope for the best 🙂

So, what would education look like in the future – many of you ask?

I subscribe very much to Ken Robinson’s view about what the future of education should become. If you read or viewed his TED talk, which incidentally is the no.1 most watched TED talk to date, you’ll quickly understand why. For those of you who are keen to get an idea of what he’s on about, here’s the RSA version. It’s more palatable and digestible (IMHO)…

But, Ken’s view is quite philosophical and idealistic. If you want to picture what a classroom of the future could look like, this video from Corning based on advances in technology and materials can give you a glimpse of what’s possible.

Cool, eh? In fact, most of the technology they are talking about are already in development and prototyping stages. That’s really exciting, isn’t it? For most of us, we are just about done going through what we can and cannot do with our brand new iPads and iPhones! And they’re about to up the ante again!

Have no fear though. Not all of the future involve sophisticated and complex technology. Sometimes, going back to basics is the way to go. Have you ever heard of the Green School? They’ve won the annual Greenest School on Earth award again last year – and they’re located practically in our backyard (in global terms). Watch this video of John Hardy (founder) talking about the school on TED.

Now that I’ve got you thinking, how’s about translating that ‘stimulation’ into ‘engagement’? Here are a few articles with links to loads of ideas and clever, snazzy apps to help you kickstart your journey to transforming education within your social context.

The Next Web : 10 Incredible iPad Apps for Education
IDEO’s Design Thinking for Educators’ Toolkit
5 Ways to Continue Growing as a Teacher
The 5 Best Tools for Creating Videos Without Installing Software
60 Educational Apps in 60 Minutes

If you are still hungry for more, here’s a link to a great article on the guy and platform who’s set his sights on reinventing education from his incubator in California.

I hope this post gives you a bit of encouragement that you’re in the middle of the next education revolution – whether you are aware of it or not. If you retrace the beginnings of the Society of Jesus when St Ignatius had a revelation and went forth to create the foundation for Catholic education more than 400 years ago, you’ll discover that we’ve been down this road before. So, what’s next?

I leave you with this wonderful thought from John Lennon, peace be with you.

PS : If you think this is all too overwhelming, and that you are just one person, here’s a quote I just heard from Cloud Atlas – awesome movie –

“You are but a drop in an ocean, yet what is any ocean, but a multitude of drops?” – David Mitchell.