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!

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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.

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 🙂

 

 

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!

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?

Seminary

What is a seminary? According to the dictionary, a seminary is

  1. A college that prepares students to be priests, ministers, or rabbis.
  2. A place or thing in which something is developed or cultivated: “a seminary of sedition”.

If we look at definition no. 2, wouldn’t that make all schools seminaries? Is the internet a seminary now that learning has transcended physical and inter-personal boundaries?

What about seminal (as in a seminal moment)? Again, definition of seminal is

1. (of a work , event, moment, or figure ) strongly influencing later developments

Do you remember those seminal moments that make you who (not what) you are today? If you need some help remembering, try this link.

Better?

I realized not too long ago that oftentimes, people go back to visit places they grew up in not because they wanted to visit the place, but rather, they wanted to revisit the time. It’s like our Bethel moment.

Some songs do that to us. Some foods do that too, for example, ice cream. Smells do too, that brand of perfume, or that aroma. They trigger our recollection of what’s important and seminal to us. They evoke the sense of awe and reverence in how we felt, almost like a time travel moment.

Deep within each of us are seeds waiting to sprout, put there by circumstances, experiences and people – ready to grow when the time is right. Perhaps, the time is right now for another seed to grow.

I leave you with a talk by Candy Change who created wonderful art movements that touch the soul – Enjoy!

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.

Habit #7 : Getting & Staying Connected

The 7th Habit in our series of highly spiritual people is ‘Getting & Staying Connected’. One of my favorite verses in the bible is Matthew 5 : 13-6

Matthew 5:13-16   |   Salt and Light

13 “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.

14 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

It talks about how we as spiritual influencers should be living examples of Jesus’ spirituality wherever we may go. The internet, on-the-go mobile devices and social media today give us the ability (a curse if left unchecked) to stay connected anywhere anytime with people we love as well as people we look up to. It has become seamless to converse with many people across geographical divides (as well as cultural and socio-economic ones) to bond, debate or challenge.

So, how do we live as the salt and light of the earth?

This brings me back to a couple of stories I’ve read from the internet shared by people and I think these two especially captured the essence of what I’m trying to say here – Click here for one and two. Not exactly salt and light but hey, coffee is a good metaphor too!

There is a new ‘back-to-the-basics’ sense of spirituality and awareness that’s sweeping the world these days. People are becoming tired of the affluenza and ever-growing need to be more ‘successful’ and many have simply given up or are looking at ways to simplify their needs and in consequence, their lives.

Have you read about Jose Mujica, the world’s ‘poorest’ president, or about how newly elected Pope Francis is ‘living’ the new spirituality – simplicity?

Or this video about one of the world’s richest (and most wealth-magnetic) businessmen?

Interesting times, but one that empowers us so much that it is quite literally, the Age of Possibilities. This age, more than any other in our experience is one which has so much potential and possibility in it that you can almost become anyone and achieve anything you could dream of within one lifetime.

“With great power comes great responsibility” – Uncle Ben, from Spider Man

And because ‘Knowledge is Power’ – that basically means all of us who have access to knowledge and who spread knowledge are now endowed with a lot more power than we can possibly imagine. We must steward that well.

You can begin with some of the best tools to get and stay connected :-

1. Facebook
2. YouTube
3. Google+
4. Path
5. Instagram

I hope that the last 7 blogs on the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People have helped you take your spiritual journeying to the next level. To close this entry, here’s a little YouTube video on something about a change of perspective – and how that can sometimes create a new reality, which is after all, how new habits are formed. Enjoy!

Habit #6 : Serving Others

Prayer in action is love, and love in action is service. Try to give unconditionally whatever a person needs in the moment. The point is to do something, however small, and show you care through your actions by giving your time … We are all God’s children so it is important to share His gifts. Do not worry about why problems exist in the world – just respond to people’s needs … We feel what we are doing is just a drop in the ocean, but that ocean would be less without that drop.“- Mother Teresa

Highly spiritual people are always looking for opportunities to serve others. In order to serve, one needs to be attuned to the needs (not merely wants) of others around them. Compassion plays a huge role in this. It’s in our DNA to serve, one have but to look at quotes on service and serving to see that serving is part and parcel of leadership and influence.

Where do we start? How do we cultivate a habit of always wanting to serve? One attribute that helps is a feeling of gratitude. This sense of being gracious and blessed motivates one to seek out another and pass on the blessing. Highly spiritual people are usually more patient, compassionate and generous because they understand and appreciate the blessing that they can be in another’s life.

Don’t believe me, or agree? Let’s start with something basic. Try this website.

Did that help? No? The stats may be a bit outdated, but it’s hasn’t really changed that much because the gap between the rich and the poor has also become bigger.

How about this website? Helps put things into perspective once you start to focus on a scale you can wrap your mind around, doesn’t it?

Here are some links to websites and resources that puts some pretty big ideas, concepts and social justice issues on the map (literally)…

1. The World’s 5 Most Dangerous Countries for Women
2. Seeing the bigger issues in life
3
. Organized Crime : The World’s Largest Social Network
4. Where Children Sleep
5. Our World 2.0

And here are some links to websites and resources for you to start a movement or two…

1. http://www.3things.org.au
2. http://www.twibbon.com
3. http://www.avaaz.org
4. http://www.dosomething.org
5. http://www.squidoo.org

To end this blog, here’s a little video about Gratitude – wonderfully filmed, but more importantly, it’s the thought that counts! So, be gracious today and bless another!

Habit #5 : Valuing Your Relationships

One of the biggest insights one can have about spirituality is referenced through Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. If you want a quick, easily digest-able and contemporary exploration of how the hierarchy works, here’s an interesting video illustration based on Disney’s movie, Up.

Relationships (or sense of belonging) is one of the most prevalent needs in the hierarchy – especially so in our 24 x 7 x 365 uber-connected world today. Teens fully live the ethos of hyper-social-connectedness. That’s one of the reasons why kids and teens these days as so into Facebook, social media and keeping in touch. Many fail to realize that the tech is not the motivator, merely the means – sense of belonging (and wanting to be a part of the crowd) are the key drivers.

In Jesus’ time, staying connected must have seem pretty archaic compared to today. The lyrics from the musical Jesus Christ Superstar always reminds me of how different things were then than today. Mass communication today is extremely pervasive and ‘devastatingly’ effective. That doesn’t mean it’s positive or always constructive though.

By the way, those of you who wish to go back to the days of pen-pals and snail-mail communications, well – there’s an app for that!

So, how do you value your relationships (spiritually) in this day and age of technological ‘boom’? Here are some apps to help you be the light and salt to the earth…

1. Amen – Spread the good things in life by commenting and advocating good stuff, and shooting down bad stuff
2. Twitter – Attract or join a tribe of like minded people via microblogging
3. Facebook – With FB, you can connect with family, friends, organise events and causes
4. Pinterest – Seek and share all the nice (and weird) things in life with people around the world
5. Google+ – Join and subscribe to special-interest communities and share your own personal learnings
6. Cards – Use this app to create a personal photo card on your iPad or iPhone and mail a physical card to anyone anywhere in the world!
7. Evernote Hello – This awesome app helps you to keep track of contacts and those special meeting moments in a timeline
8. Evernote Food – Another awesome app to keep track of those gastronomic adventures with friends and family
9. Occasions : Birthdays – A great app to keep track of birthdays and anniversaries (including those from FB calendars and contacts)
10. Zapd – Easily set up a website (looks professional and snazzy) on the go from your iPhone or iPad!

To end this blog entry, here’s a link to 99 stories that MMT (makes me think) – a collection of seminal life snippets from real people impacted by real experiences in their relationships that change the direction of their lives. Enjoy!