Thursday, September 11

101 Open Educational Resources

Is another 'Visualized Link Collection' (or link visualization) to spice up our learning and teaching. If you prefer a less graphical version, all the OER or free resources visualized can be found in the text-based OER List, which even includes more resources for us to explore. I have to warn that the visualized OER collection might give you a 'information overload' kind of learning experience. Perhaps, the best thing is to swoosh through first, and then explore it in details to find something interesting. Actually, the best thing now is for me to shut up, and let you explore the 101 OER for yourself. Here we go:

You might be wondering why I bother taking the effort to visualize a bunch of juicy links. After doing four collections, I have come to realize that I am using 'A Whole New Mind' more effectively. Okay, I am just playing around with last year's buzz phrase and book by Dan Pink. But I did read this book recently, and I have to say that I have a long way to really grasp and nurture the kind of senses (skills, behaviors, competencies, attitudes, beliefs, etc.) required for the 'Conceptual Age' (at least that is what he calls it). But by increasingly nurturing both our left and right directed brains (One brain! I think!) we can evolve into more productive innovators, empathizers, problem solvers, designers, story tellers, bla, bla, you name it (Be creative!)... Why only three dots? Lets' add a couple more, and play with the colors and sizes ..... (Is this an innovation or what!).

Did you watch and listen to Oprah Winfrey's 2008 Stanford Commencement Address (30 min)? An interesting and inspiring speech! Though, what really got me thinking was not the three magic lessons in life, but that she talked about the conceptual age and promoted Dan Pink's A Whole New Mind book (Yeah, every graduate got one copy, too. Now, that is cheap, but creative marketing!).

So, what is the fuss about this book? Let me ask you three questions:
  1. What are the three major future trends in the global business economy?
  2. What are the three crucial questions we need to ask to succeed in any business?
  3. What are the six essential senses needed to succeed in the future?

Let me see: 3 trends + 3 questions = 6 senses. Is that correct?

Let's say you don't want or have time to read this book, here are a few brainless reflections to these three questions (Source):

But, first you need to know that Dan Pink outlines four major 'ages':
  • Agricultural Age (farmers)
  • Industrial Age (factory workers)
  • Information Age (knowledge workers)
  • Conceptual Age (creators and empathizers)
In short, we Asians should stop babbling about becoming knowledge workers, and swoosh towards becoming innovators and empathizers. If we can swoosh our left-directed brains with the right side, we will be amazing. We are already hardworking and have stored tons of facts in our brains, and by nurturing our creative mind, we can actually use all this stored fuel (knowledge) to innovate and become greener. Game on! Are we up to the challenge? Wake up! Get up! Don't give up the fight (I mean learning adventure)!

Question 1 - What are the three major future trends in the global business economy?
  • Abundance (consumers have too many choices, nothing is scarce)
  • Asia (everything that can be outsourced, is) and
  • Automation (computerization, robots, technology, processes)
Yes, even creativity will eventually be outsourced to Asia (I am not joking!). Today, you can even find 1-2 year old kids being sent to brain development programs such as Shichida method to stimulate their creative senses. Amazingly, you will even find mothers and fathers worried that their 2 year old kids are not progressing well (If no progress, I will change school/method!). Some are even nurturing their future kids in the wombs with brain exercises and Mozart. Never mind that Einstein could not speak until he was four. It will be interesting to see how these super geniuses will evolve into becoming the Asian Einsteins. Give the kids a break, and let them play (at least until they are 3) :)

Question 2 - What are the three crucial questions we need to ask to succeed in any business?
  • Can someone overseas do it cheaper?
  • Can a computer do it faster?
  • Is what I'm offering in demand in an age of abundance?
Think about it! Yes, Yes, No, and you are in big trouble. Post it on your business wall, or it might collapse!

Question 3 -What are the six essential senses needed to succeed in the future (Source)?

"When these three questions above are present (question 2's questions), creativity becomes the competitive difference that can differentiate commodities. Pink outlines six essential senses:
  • Design - Moving beyond function to engage the sense
  • Story - Narrative added to products and services - not just argument. Best of the six senses.
  • Symphony - Adding invention and big picture thinking (not just detail focus).
  • Empathy - Going beyond logic and engaging emotion and intuition.
  • Play - Bringing humor and light-heartedness to business and products.
  • Meaning - Immaterial feelings and values of products."
Educational point(form)-of-view:

  • Next time we design a course, we should do our best to simplify the complexity (not the other way around!), and engage students to learn beyond memorization (Is thinking and doing aloud?).
  • Also, we should not just stimulate the logical mind, but instead mash-up the boring stuff with stories (real stories, real people, happening in the real world! The Y-generation especially, loves the reality thingy!). If you are lazy, just link them to real case-studies or stories that you believe are relevant to the student's learning and course. There are tons of them on the web. If you cannot find them, be creative. Why just reflect real stories, why not act them out in class (offline or online), or convert them into a learning game on-the-fly. Have you ever wondered why you can watch a movie for 2 hours without trouble, but fall asleep within minutes during a lecture. On both occasions the learner is simply watching and listening. Why?
  • If symphony makes no sense (another sweet jargon like blue ocean), think synthesis (Another jargon, but I suppose you are familiar with it). Yes, we need to nurture the students ability to synthesize (in addition to analyzing), or the ability to see relationships, patterns, connections and linkages from multiple sources. In short, big picture thinking or or making sense of many sources, and then putting them together in new and innovative ways. How do we do that? Think!
  • Spice up your students learning with short videos, pictures, quotes, jokes, stories, etc. that challenge and provoke them to think. It should only take you a few minutes to find something on the net to spice up your teaching and learning space a bit. Show some empathy to how boring your lectures/tutorials might actually be. Imagine how you like to learn? Not surprisingly we often don't like to be taught, but we love to learn. Empower and engage your students to participate in the learning adventure. They might do a better job than us (teaching their own learning).
  • Yes, there is no harm with a bit of play, or having fun while learning or teaching. Why not spice up the learning events with a bit of humor and engaging activities. Take your course seriously! Take your students seriously! Take your curriculum seriously! But, don't take yourself too seriously! When you loosen up, students will probably join you, and learning will be more fun and engaging. We mostly know this, but we somehow forget when reality creeps in.
  • Finally, we need to find meaning in what we facilitate and teach. Students should know why they are learning whatever they are learning. Especially the Y(Why)-generation wants to know 'Why', or why bother! Oh, that makes sense! Now, I know why it is important to know this! I can use this knowledge to...! Why learn something which has no meaning to me? Or why teach something that has no meaning to the students? These things are not obvious, but if we can persuade and make sense to them why they are learning this and that, I suppose they will be more actively embracing it with their thinking minds.
That was a few brainless (or right-directed!) reflections.

Overall, Dan Pink's A Whole New Mind is a conceptual age mind awakening book, which I don't regret spending my time and money on. I really enjoyed his conversational light and easy writing style, which engaged both my logical and emotional mind. Did you know that he was previously a speechwriter to Al Gore? Now, you do!

See, my right and left brains (hemispheres) are processing at the same time, and things are getting messy (order vs thinking flow!). Stop!

I got one more collection to visualize (wait and see!), and then I will hopefully begin a journey of deep reflection (yeah right!) on how we can use the different web 2.0 technologies (e.g. blogging, wikis, podcasting, RSS, social bookmarking) to facilitate effective learning.

I am still learning (a lot!) :)

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