Good Old Technology

In less than 24 hours, tech shoppers everywhere will be faced with their version of ‘42‘ – their meaning of life… Or so they (we) hope…

In the meantime, here’s a little something to set our perspectives right before the main event


Interestingly enough, this rather ‘contradictory’ and ‘controversial’ article about IKEA just flushed out recently too…

Don’t you just love the irony of it all? And they’re both (Apple & IKEA) my personal fave super-brands too (can’t blame me, I’m an Industrial Designer by training!).

And speaking of irony, isn’t it funny that gadgets and computers have made couch potatoes of us all and now the rumour mill has it that the next breakthrough for gadgets is health and all things active!!???

RIP Robin

The world is reeling from the loss of one of its brightest sparks. This week, Robin Williams took his own life. What I felt most tragic and paradoxical about this is – How could this funnyman (if ever there was one) who is able to make almost anyone laugh so very easily and joyously was himself denied that joy that he so graciously and generously bestowed on others? There are so many stories now emerging of how sensitive and caring he was as a human being and not just as a career comedian. If only he had asked, voiced out and shared his heart. If only.

I remember 3 super-impactful seminal moments in my life inspired / challenged by Robin (and his character in the movies).

1. Dead Poet’s Society

It is awesome to note that DPS had inspired a whole new generation of teachers (people who actually, intentionally and purposefully redirected their life goals to become teachers – and impacted future generations) who took to heart the lesson Keating (Williams) ‘taught’ in the movie. For me personally, the scene that made a huge impact was this one – starting from 1:50. The thing about our ‘inner poet’… our inner voice… it validated and encouraged me to listen, and I have never stopped since. Thanks, Robin.

2. The Adventures of Baron Munchausen

Who could ever forget Robin Williams as King of the Moon in Terry Gilliam’s masterpiece? When I first saw the movie, I was so fascinated by his portrayal of a God in action. Remember the bit when he ‘created’ Spring? So, ‘I think, therefore you are’! This scene totally messed up my perspective on all things divine and Godly. It made me rethink and re-evaluate my ‘human’ perspective on God. It totally blew my mind away. Thanks, Robin.

3. What Dreams May Come

If DPS impacted my view about Life, then WDMC totally obliterated my view about Death. If I can list two movies / ideas that twisted my thinking around death and all things after-life, it’ll be ‘What Dreams May Come’ and the ‘Tears in Rain’ scene from Blade Runner. I really should watch ‘What Dreams May Come’ again, this time with my family. There aren’t many movies that can help people open up about death and letting go, in a meaningful and closure kind of way. And how many people in the world today could do with some closure because of unexpected good-byes of their loved ones?

To lose such a special human being so young (by today’s standards) is tragic enough. But to lose him to depression when he could potentially be the ultimate ‘every-one else’s antidote for depression’ is unbearable. If only.

 

Before I forget, please honor Robin – if there’s someone you know you care about who you think could benefit from a ‘If Only‘ right now – reach out to them and make it easy for them to share and speak up. Don’t wait for them – it might be too late.

Another spark that died too early in 1980 was John Lennon. His song, ‘Imagine’ inspired a whole new perspective of thinking that transcended the set beliefs and thinking of his time. Personally, I think his son Julian outdid his dad and released a song that unfortunately has failed to inspire a new perspective of thinking that could transcend our thinking and beliefs at this time. Although then it was a song mostly about the environment and our misdirected priorities, the theme hasn’t changed. Until we get this and are humbled into submission that we aren’t as clever as we think we all are, we are doomed to repeat the mistakes of our generation. I pray that one day we will wake up and rethink our values and what really matters to us and those around us. And do something about it.

 

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!

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.

 

5 Minds for the Future

Dr Howard Gardner published a very interesting book called 5 Minds for the Future – this is but one of his many ground-breaking books and ideas he published, most notably Multiple Intelligences and one of my personal faves, The Unschooled Mind. 

In this book, he outlined the specific cognitive abilities that would be ‘game-changing’ and ‘compulsory’ to thrive in the leadership of businesses, governments and communities in the near future. They are :

  1. The Disciplinary Mind – mastery of major schools of thought
  2. The Synthesizing Mind – ability to integrate ideas from different disciplines into coherent whole
  3. The Creating Mind – capacity to uncover and clarify new problems, questions and phenomena
  4. The Respectful Mind – awareness of and appreciation for differences among human beings and groups
  5. The Ethical Mind – fulfillment of one’s responsibilities as a worker and citizen

I found the book and ideas presented very convincing. Recent research and conclusions in neuroscience and social behavior are also leading many futurists and educators to believe that there needs to be equal measure of future and past looking and learning to nurture future leaders who are responsible, ethical and accountable. That’s the trick, isn’t it? In a world of disposable income, relationships and ambitions, the one thing that remains at the end is the legacy we leave behind, who gets to deal with it?

If you look at the 5 minds, it is almost a progressive learning (life long, at least) journey. For example, schools teach you to have a Disciplinary Mind. University education is best positioned to provide the Synthesizing Mind, a PHD or Masters would give you the Creating Mind, and work and on-the-job experience would give you the Respectful Mind. Lastly, if we get that far, as you grow older and wiser (hopefully), and kids and grandkids come along, you’ll be tempered to form the Ethical Mind. Pretty much sums it up, eh?

Where does spirituality come in? Where can we introduce spirituality into the equation and not only accelerate the process, but balance it? If you look at the journey, as you progress, spirituality would play a bigger and bigger role, regardless of your spiritual or religious inclination.

Looking at the state of the world today, we would do well to nurture future leaders with the right values to make the world a better place. What can you do to kickstart the revolution?

 

Halftime @TheWorldCup : Is God Watching?

We’re almost at the halfway mark of the World Cup 2014. There’s been plenty of thrills and spills, and at the time of writing, a quarter of the quarter final matches have been confirmed. Many would agree that this has been one of the most exciting world cups in recent history. Why?

In my humble opinion, I think the world game and soccer in general has ‘equalized’. By this, I mean that the understanding and appreciation of the game is now complete, whether you are an ex-world champion with loads of experience, or a debut team with a lot of passion and determination and conviction to make it there and beyond. Because people generally now have access to the same resources and knowledge as others in the peer group (in this case, the world cuppers), managers, coaches and players can now strategize and plan their moves and counter-moves to overcome their opponents. This is what we are seeing in this world cup. Any team that comes in thinking they can just do what they did previously and hope to win will be in for a big surprise, as teams like Italy, England, Spain and even Germany have discovered. The only teams that stutter are the ones that refuse to adapt and evolve. Although seemingly insignificant, this great equalizing big idea powerfully enabled by technology and accessibility has given the Davids of this world tremendous ability to defeat the Goliaths.

However, the big spiritual question today that I want to ask about the World Cup is – Is God watching? I can’t help but be blown away by the humility and piousness of some of the players and managers (and fans too). Sometimes, you sense that players are playing for their country, fans and other players. But, the truly masterful and virtuoso performances I feel are played for God. How else can you explain the gestures and ‘actions’ of the players when they celebrate their goal? These ambassadors of God are shining their light in perhaps the biggest stage in their lives, and what a wonderful job they are doing.

Case in point is this morning’s goal by Jackson Martinez from Colombia. Here is a religious man who the commentator made it a point to state as someone who begins each day with the bible. Is that common knowledge? Is that what makes a soccer player stand out? How did that get in the script? He is but one example, there are so many you can see – what do players do before they step into the field, or off it? When they miss a goal, who are they asking forgiveness from (hint – they look up!)? When they score a goal, (more often than not), how do they celebrate?

What the world cup has shown is that it is more than a game, and tournament. It is an opportunity to showcase the human spirit and in a certain way, a form of worship for the players and fans. It is a pity that we have to wait 4 years to experience the next one. But, from the ominous signs of how it is evolving, I can’t wait to see what comes next. I have a feeling God feels the same way too.

Does anyone remember what happened in the last world cup !? Guess what he’s going to be when he grows up?

 

 

 

 

The Human Spirit


In less than a week, the biggest event in the world is going to begin… For as long as I can remember, I’ve been mad about the ‘world game’ – actually the first memory I do recall is in 1978… The Road to Argentina. That was when it kicked in for me, literally. I caught football (or soccer to some of you) fever as a kid in Standard 5 (similar to Year 5 in Australian primary school speak). I would save my daily allowance, skip lunch and instead buy a plastic ball for a dollar and by the end of the day, us football-mad kids would have busted the ball and the next day, the cycle began anew. It was always me, among the group, who would lead by buying the ball. I would have easily been the most ‘assetized’ kid in the block, and also the one crazy enough to skip food and instead choose to play football with my friends. Those were some of my best memories growing up.

I would spend countless hours at home perfecting moves playing against the wall. When friends came over, we didn’t need a field, any space would do. I had more than my fair share of scoldings and beatings (yes, we were ‘expected’ to be disciplined by the rod and worse) when we err… lost control of the ball and made a mess of things breakable. But, did that stop us? No!

We were totally addicted and passionate about ‘the game’.

The question was, and is, ‘How did we catch the passion and love of this game?’

When I wasn’t playing football in the field, I would invent games using cards, action figurines etc. Have you seen how creative kids can be using bottle caps to invent a game of table soccer? Even pieces of paper or card and a scrupled up ball with matchbox goal boxes? Then video games came along and I swear, being a video game junkie that I was (and still am) I had every known electronic soccer game ever written.

It is very interesting to note that this year, the game will be played in Brazil. Wow, Brazil. Home to the most recognizable, famous and universally acknowledged champions of the game – Pele, Zico, Socrates, Ronaldo and today’s would be legend Neymar. Can you imagine the pressure?

But, I digress. It’s normal when you start talking about something you are passionate about. These days, I can only play (well) on the iPad or as a manager in those sims on the computer or iPhone. Still passionate about soccer, but it’s a tad more intellectual. What I did want to point to, and I’m sorry it took more than half the blog to get there, is where did the passion come from?

I didn’t get taught this. I wasn’t very good at it – I only made it to the class team, not even the school team. But, I did score and made some spectacular goals in my time. I think that happened because I was passionate about the game and not the other way around. What about the game (and any other sport) influenced and attracted people like me to love it, feel for it and become a fan(atic)?

How did that happen? Wouldn’t it be great if we can distill this great insight and use it to create super-learners in schools today?

One thing I can say for certain is this… football and how I view and played it had made me who I am today. I am more creative and ‘adaptable’ because of the game and the stars of the game I idolized and admired. Players like Platini, Georghe Hagi, Glenn Hoddle, Scholesy were people I had looked at and wondered at their genius, vision and absolute artistry. They were able to create something out of nothing, just like that. And that was an ethos and mastery I had sought to emulate in everything else that I do.

It’s been a while since I last watched and followed the World Cup. In 2010, I didn’t even watch a single match in its entirety. But, this year I intend to reignite my love and passion for the game. With the internet, and live streaming, it’s easy. Let’s hope it’s a good one.

After all, it’s more than a game, it’s a celebration of the human spirit. But then, what is the human spirit?

Nike attempts to capture it in its World Cup ad… Enjoy!

 

RIP Maya Angelou

A great writer, poet and thinker – spiritual in every way – passed on today. Thank you Maya, for making spiritual sense of this muddled up, mixed up world. In her own special way, she used words to express spiritually what the world meant to her, as she saw it with her own eyes and heart, and with that unique talent of hers, she has enabled many to share her spirituality. She truly is ‘a light in the world’.

In the 1990 Paris Review, Angelou was asked, “You once told me that you write lying on a made-up bed with a bottle of sherry, a dictionary, Roget’s Thesaurus, yellow pads, an ashtray, and a Bible. What’s the function of the Bible?”

“The language of all the interpretations, the translations, of the Judaic Bible and the Christian Bible, is musical, just wonderful. I read the Bible to myself; I’ll take any translation, any edition, and read it aloud, just to hear the language, hear the rhythm, and remind myself how beautiful English is. Though I do manage to mumble around in about seven or eight languages, English remains the most beautiful of languages. It will do anything,” she replied.

The Paris Review reporter then asked, “Do you read it to get inspired to pick up your own pen?”

“For melody. For content also. I’m working at trying to be a Christian and that’s serious business,” Angelou asserted. “It’s like trying to be a good Jew, a good Muslim, a good Buddhist, a good Shintoist, a good Zoroastrian, a good friend, a good lover, a good mother, a good buddy—it’s serious business. It’s not something where you think, ‘Oh, I’ve got it done. I did it all day, hotdiggety.'”

She continued, “The truth is, all day long you try to do it, try to be it. And then in the evening, if you’re honest and have a little courage, you look at yourself and say, ‘Hmm. I only blew it 86 times. Not bad.’ I’m trying to be a Christian and the Bible helps me to remind myself what I’m about.”

To read the entire wonderful article from Christian Post, click here. Thank you Maya, may you rest in peace.

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?

 

Don’t we all…

I wish I knew how it would feel to be free
I wish I could break all the chains holding me
I wish I could say all the things that I should say
Say ’em loud say ’em clear
For the whole wide world to hear

I wish I could share
All the love that’s in my heart
Remove all the bars that keep us apart
And I wish you could know how it FEELS to be me
Then you’d see and agree that every man should be free

I wish I could be like a bird in the sky
How sweet it would be if I found I could fly
Well I’d soar to the sun and look down at the sea
And I’d sing cos I know how it feels to be free

I wish I knew how it would feel to be free
I wish I could break all the chains holding me
And I wish I could say all the things that I wanna say
Say ’em loud say ’em clear
For the whole wide world to hear
Say ’em loud say ’em clear
For the whole wide world to hear
Say ’em loud say ’em clear
For the whole wide world to hear

One love one blood
One life you’ve got to do what you should
One life with each other
Sisters, brothers

One love but we’re not the same
We got to carry each other Carry each other
One One One One One…

I wish I KNEW how it would feel to be free
I wish I KNEW how it would feel to be free

Do yourself a favour this weekend and watch the best movie about soul-sickness (IMHO) ever and #haveagoodweekend.