Creating, Education, effectiveness, HBDI, Learning, mind mapping, mindmapping software, Teamwork, Thinking Styles, writing

Real Republishing

See What You Think (2)When a colleague introduced me to Smashwords – she republished her husband’s excellent book book that originally came out in 1990 – I couldn’t resist doing the same with one  of mine that came out in 2006 – though a manual dates almost immediately, unlike the well written history of a Toronto landmark.

My book was written to help those interested in real life applications for mindmapping software – using the software program, VisiMap, as listed in the menu above.  The ideas in it apply to any software or hand drawn maps in this now broad software class.  So if you would like a free copy you can access it here.

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Education, Reflection

Rethinking Physical Space

Here’s school as it ought to be!

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Creating, Education, Reflection, Technology

Good ideas

I wish I could draw like the folks at RSA – but at least I can forward their messages. A tip of the hat to colleague Dave Robinson for recently posting this. He notes – not new but worth a look.

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Creating, Creativity, Education, Learning, Reflection

The Next MOOC Adventure

This one is a Coursera course called Creativity, Innovation and Change.  Compared with Jazz Improvisation, where I was well out of my league and alas never completed the course, though I would like to return to it after some upgrading of my basic knowledge – and Song Writing, where I was much more attuned to the work and really enjoyed composing a song from scratch, this one in part of a territory that is familiar as well.  But I am always interested in learning how others view creating.

The first week’s assignment includes the creation of a Life Ring – a visual presentation of roles and responsibilities – with a view to getting them down to a manageable number based on passion and priorities.  The centre is to delineate a passion or driving force.  I like the graphic image of the course itself – which shows a mixture of organic and man made features so that became the centre.  And the obvious way for me to create such a map was with the use of VisiMap.

Creative Design (2)

You can look at a full size version here

The course is just getting underway.  So if you need to go to class in September, it looks as though this one would be more than worthwhile.

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Education, Learning, Reflection

Adventures in MOOCing

Yesterday’s daily paper’s op-ed piece read, Students are cool with MOOCs, so why aren’t Professors? It caught my eye because I’m pursuing two MOOC courses at the moment, having completed one, with another one scheduled to start next month.  I didn’t have to scramble or wait in line to get in and I didn’t pay a cent.  What I am paying is hours of time and insight into how I learn and get in my own way in the process.

The last time I took a university course was in the 1980’s but full time study dates to the late 1950’s.  I’m not among the students that worried professors have in mind when they think that MOOCS will draw the best and the brightest away from their classrooms. The more positive ones about MOOCs would never have seen me as a potential Einstein.  And I don’t qualify as a disadvantaged student several thousand kilometres or continents away.

What do I like about MOOCs? –  the  short time frames for a start.  Spending six to eight hours of classroom time a week for seven weeks was pleasurable for my first venture. It focused on surrealist art – a combination of art history with an additional studio component.  The second of these was more valuable as a form of learning and as engaging as the live studio classes I had taken in the past. Video lectures were informative, though not very exciting; the texts provided were sounder and more thorough.  I tended not to join discussion groups along the way, but I did enjoy peer assessment of my own projects and the work of others.  The marks I received from my peers were fair and their comments were helpful.  In the final assignment we were challenged to visit a local gallery and write a critique of a painting or installation – and for the first time, one of them made sense.

Flush with success – a grade of 131% (because of completing more than the minimum assignments) I signed up for courses out of Berklee School of Music in Boston – one in jazz improvization and the other in song writing.  I knew enough about Berklee that this would be a stretch.  I hadn’t been prepared for how challenging it really would be.  I’m well out of my depth in jazz improv. I could just un-enroll of course with the click of a mouse.

But I haven’t.  I’m learning far more from my limited success here. It’s good to feel overwhelmed right down to the gut.  It’s good to hear the jazz improv instructor say, “What you learn about in the next five weeks may take you several months and years to execute in a relaxed way”. He’s a dry and solid teacher – I might even say boring, in terms of delivery until he waves those magic wands on his own keyboard and notes that it takes twenty seconds to say what he does in an instant instinctively.  The song writing instructor is one of the best classroom entertainers I have ever seen – I’ve spent part of my life teaching English poetry and that’s what he is really doing so well – and my eight year old grandson agrees.

What’s good about this is learning how to learn all over again.  It’s not just beginner’s mind – it’s beginner’s humility that’s required. It’s good to feel clueless, not because I’m avoiding something but because I are trying as hard as I can – and still hardly getting it.  It’s opening up head and heart and soul and respecting the fact that I don’t have to achieve anything for anyone else– nobody will know or care but me, but it will feel really good if I can even pass Jazz Improv.  As my own professor said, many decades ago.  “You’ve chosen to teach your subject because you’re already good at it.  You don’t know what it feels like not to know it.   I do now.

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Education, Learning, media, Technology

Technology as a Tool

Earlier today I complained about the Apple ad that thinks the point of technology is product (theirs of course) instead of about people.  I like the products – but not for their own sake but for their utility.  But this short video redeems the Ipad when you see what little people can do with it.  I have spent the past two years one half day in a junior/senior kindergarten.  No such tools there at this point.  But one of these days I hope there are. Have a look to see what kindergarten students can do.

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Creating, Education, Reflection, self realization

AWOL – but with a couple of excuses

One should not be a blogger and be absent without leave for months at a time.  What it means in my case is that personal projects too often get cast aside as other projects take precedence.  There were some bright spots and hard work though.  I was part of a team writing several grant proposals.  Two out of three where I played a role were fully funded.  One produced a yellow light and the granting body wanted us to come back to answer questions – which we can. In May I visited Harvard for the first time to celebrate a graduation in the family.  Two inspirations came out of that.  I posted an article on Medium about the Harvard visit that was picked up by others. And I was so inspired by higher learning that I looked at some Harvard/MIT MOOCs in the fall.  In the interim I signed up for a course on Coursera on surrealist art out of the University of Pennsylvania – and as of today I have graduated with distinction.

Online courses are well worth a try.  Most who sign up of course never finish them. The only real requirement is self discipline and determination to learn – and you are responsible solely to yourself.  My course included readings, videos, quizzes and studio assignments.  There were two of the last required to graduate with distinction.  I did five.  I have done art courses at an excellent school but there are advantages in the online process.  In my local art school, one basically had to complete a project (usually a still life or portrait in pastels) in a three hour time frame.  In this case I took as much time as I needed – and I was able to stretch the assignments over a week. Here is one example:

Choose a portrait

Choose a portrait in black and white

Recreate it using torn paper from newspapers or magazines

Recreate it using torn paper from newspapers or magazines

Close up

Close up

The studio assignments included mainly collages based on the historical aspect of the course. Assessment of one’s work was by peers. I was gratified both with the responses to my own work and the opportunity to assess the work of others. It was a chance to learn to be a good and fair critic.  Mail art was fun too.

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While the course was an introductory one, I now feel that I have a context for modern work that I didn’t have in the past.  So now I’ll move on to song writing and jazz improvization.  But I’ll try to write about the experience as I go.

And what about the media history – probably online is not the best place to do it – but it is still on the to-do list.

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