The Newtown CT shock of last week…..still shocked!!!

17 12 2012

I can not express my empathy, sorrow and pain enough about the tragedy that played out in Newtown CT at Sandy Hook Elementary.  The deep desire and wish to just be able to remove all that for every mother and father affected by it.   For every brother, sister, husband or wife of a victim. Shock is still an understatement and my wonder about what is “next” does not describe what by now we continue to learn about the circumstances but more importantly the beautiful kids and teachers we lost.  During my lifetime this is the 5th tragedy I get to see as a father, an uncle and friend to many other fathers and mothers wondering about the very same as I do:  “How do we truly keep children safe and protected from such a tragedy. How do we protect them and reassure them especially now of their own safety.  Kids are curious and inquisitive, unbiased and sweet.  They certainly do not understand the exact details, but they understand better than we did when we were little, what death and loss is about.  They hear it so many times, but it is far removed from their day-to-day lives, as we protect them and keep the really “bad things” away from them.  We try, regardless if they’re 5 or 15.  Not here.  We didn’t. We couldn’t!  So the question is, did we fail them?  Did we disappoint them?  Did we let an entire generation down and set them up to fear life and people around them?  We can not allow one crazy mind to destroy kids being kids, and relinquish their beauty of curiosity, trust, playfulness, openness and make them give up being a child!  I refuse to do that as a father and refuse to accept that this is what we need to do and is the only option.

I saw last night a Republican politician on CNN justify 48 hours after the tragedy the right to bare arms, his right to carry a concealed weapon…really???  This is not a political issue, this is a call upon everyone in this country to take a look at how easy someone can get a hold of a weapon.  Criminals will always be criminals, but a mother carrying a gun just because she can, a father with a full collection of rifles in his house unlocked and someone either breaking in  or even a child such as the bad apple last week simply taking the parents weapon and go crazy – a stricter and very different law would have possibly eliminated “Newtown superdark Friday”.  Again, I am not looking to politicize, but frankly is there a gradual way?  I do not believe so and I believe that the “cowboy mentality” as much as it is historical and anchored in the US constitution, may need another look at it.  We do live in different times and protecting your land and house as well as defending borders and assets has been officially transferred to police and other agencies, which are doing a good job overall and maybe they need to be called to action even more.  Good advice is hard here.   No one will be able to bring the children and teachers back.  As President Obama said beautifully yesterday to not let us waste the life of the children and teachers but make it their legacy that we found a path forward together to create a system, a law, an evolution of past practice and allow everyone to take a fresh look at every aspect of what allowed Friday in Newtown to happen.  Every action, non action.  Every law, regulation and permission as irrelevant as all of it may look at first. We need to and we need to take action now.  We owe each teacher and child just that.  Not next year, in 5 years, NOW!  We truly have to!  I can’t find any different way to feel about it! The parents will never get closure, so close to Christmas and holidays. Many gifts already bought and carefully thought about.  Holiday plans made, vacations planned and family times looked forward to!  What now…..none of that!!  Destroyed!!   And as I am on my way to NYC for meetings I am seeing a newsflash that the discussions about better laws has started and is already being politicized!  Sad but I guess that is what politics for some people is, rather than what is required here urgently and called for, which is the respect and honor of human life, especially if it is lost and taken so senseless!

With much sorrow, thought, empathy and love to everyone in Newtown CT.


Big Ideas Fest Half Moon Bay

4 12 2011

Arrived in beautiful San Francisco and looking forward to seeing a lot of the old and new Garde.  The week promises to be exiting and many discussions and conversations around learning and teaching impact in scalable formats will happen and all on the search for impact-ful outcomes.  Hopefully we will see some real progress.  Having spent much of my last 5 years in the Open Space and seeing product focused contribution my wish is we see the systemic approach overarching many of the small efforts entrepreneurs are making.   Its not about the product but the people it can affect in a highly scalable manner! Stay tuned as we proceed thru the week…..

14 09 2011

Are we too abstract in class?

Are we too abstract in class?

14 09 2011

A few thoughts about OPEN and the empowerment of OPEN

30 08 2011

If in Inner cities, suburban land or metropolitan areas around the world, I had the opportunity to see many different academic environments and have also learned over the years that not everything what has to do with education necessarily does happen in a classroom or the auditorium of a University or College.

I have gained many perspectives and expertise based on many interactions and years of assimilation of interactions and implementations to enable educators at many levels to foster learning, teaching and innovation in teaching and facilitation around the globe.

I have had the opportunity to be able to observe, study and understand the challenging and opportune times that lay ahead in the knowledge economy.   We have realized that in the new knowledge economy we have many stake holders such as Governments, foundations, individuals and academic institutions.

As we all attempt to maneuver thru the forest of new media and new stimuli, which technology and connectivity provide today, it more than ever before demands us to focus onto the present and envision and design the  future in an even more so responsible and socio economic manageable manner.   Suddenly we are faced with the requests, the demand to engage and participate in College and University 3.0, while our mindset is stuck in Education 1.0.

There is no question in anyone’s mind that we are facing a breakpoint opportunity within the Global OER community and many who are historical champions in the OER space have recognized that as well.

The outlook into the future requires us to carefully look at the Power of “3”.  Content,(1) Courseware(2) andTools(3).

No light burden and easy responsibility we are given – but what a thrilling opportunity to be the stewards of undoubtedly some of the most brilliant minds in the world!  And this is where we truly have the highest impact – People, Human Beings!

When we define words such as “Open Education”, “Open Service”, Open Access and Open Content what we really mean and hope to be able to define are access, resources and consistency and if we think on a global scale “human and social interoperability” – playing nice with each other, while observing the rules!! When we switch on the light as we enter a room no questions are asked why one of the greatest innovations of its time simply works and allows us to enjoy the luxury of electricity.

A carefully thought out approach in support of the academic core can create a similar impact we are all looking for:

  1. I.                Technological change
  2. II.               The facilitation of a reliable  flow of information
  3. III.              The simple increase of opportunities
  4. IV.              Better use of existing resources
  5. V.               The Discovery of new resources
  6. VI.              The Creation of knowledge

And exactly here is where we all seem to differ a bit in terms of what that stewardship today may mean and individual’s philosophies may oppose each other.

To some of you it may simply mean original authorship and copyright. To others is may define Faculty members concerns of access to their curriculum – The fear of losing control of the brand is another aspect we discuss often.  And herein also lays the opportunity for each and every institution to adopt and share not only its resources but also its best practice approach as a Center of Excellence in forming the leadership to move education forward.  And it provides opportunity for organization around the world to become brokers of relationships between Governments and employ forms of PPP models.

Words as “creation of knowledge”, “discovery”, and “resources” all are full of meaning.  Many different meanings today and possibly brand new meanings tomorrow.

How do we best leverage existing resources?
More importantly, do we really all understand the resources?
What is the effect of new technologies and methodologies onto the existing infrastructure and global education dynamics for that matter?

If you follow the global press and the progress being made in nations which are considered developing and emerging nations, education seems to be most contradictive to the private system and it is by many perceived as left behind. Licensing battles and permitting issues seem to hold education as of today as least, behind.

As the “older” generation we all know and realize daily that Learning and Teaching is shifting to facilitation and becomes an offering of the resources we create and make to each other available!!  We need to ask ourselves what is the role of the future school and university.   And we need to consider such novel idea such as the internet in context of allowing access to an infrastructure which can provide a share platform and distribution of resources and access to skill, knowledge and expertise.

When we talk about “e” learning we mean nothing else as the dynamic Thomas Friedman described as the “world is flat”.  E is no longer electronic alone, it defines remote, distance and ubiquitous.  Remote access to people and knowledge we had to go to the library for and source and look at it in hard copy. The same does apply when we talk about mobile learning.    When we talk mobile let’s talk about the cloud and its implications to the mobile world which then means nothing else but a “client” which accesses remotely placed resources, remotely existing and geographically distributed networks.  Or access to the crowd, cloud intelligence.  The communal power of a group.  Facilitation is at the core of a current and highly dynamic shift of the old paradigm of education.

The use of community principles and qualified cloud intelligence are also at the core of global possibilities of collaboration. Applying principles of open source in terms of sourcing and validation of content will and already is starting to be a game changer also in education.  AcrossWorld has done just that: Applying principles of cloud, crowd, existing resources and an underlying Amazon model in terms of access.  No longer one expert, rather a marketplace for skill, competency, and knowledge where the best pieces of it survive and become emergent knowledge.  A global access point to resources and experts.

Again I cannot emphasize enough the need for an open source approach in education rather than the continued convolution of the space with licensing dynamics and DRM which precludes people from access to knowledge and essentially the right to education.

In the developed world we have a steward ship responsibility to expose the contextual pieces to parts of the world which on the basis of socio economic motivation understands the impact of education on one child and one tribe and one nation’s people.  If you have ever seen the curiosity of people about you as a visitor and guest to their country in India, Africa, Vietnam or Cambodia you understand the willingness and eagerness to engage with you and what you may offer in terms of resources in the context of education in particular.  That spark we need to build on with education and realize once we give they consume.  Emerging Nations understand the impact of better education and the day to day impact on their lives such resources and education can have.    Examples like Mitra’s “hole in the wall” and other similar studies and pilots from institutions like “Stanford’s learning tree” show that people do not need to be taught how to learn and acquire knowledge necessarily, but that it is about resources and access to those resources.

We need Involvement of people and the provisioning of larger communities!! We need demographic and academically appropriate engagement!! That means location, skill, competency and relevance based models.

For Administrators, Scientists, Teachers and Students – we need to introduce a model that engages communities further and continue to drive the open education movement!

People crave to belong and they crave for social recognition.   If we consider applications such as foursquare and others …we need to give them something they are proud of belonging to.  Brand equity – my brand, your brand, our brand, the institutions brand…all our brand.

We need to access the global resources thru “brokers” and collaborate on new “knowledge and learning superhighways”.

When we talk about access we miss to define access not only in terms of connectivity, we need to define access in the contextual relevance of an individual.  That may mean research and the publication of those results that will mean search and discovery of the results in a contextual manner for the work I may be engaged in today or may need quick access in terms of information.  We need to talk about engagement models, business models and define what the implications of that are to the various stakeholders within the local and certainly the global community.    The model of communal mentorship amongst faculty, students and institutions applied properly, will penetrate into much further areas than we may even think about today. Remember Education is Power and Knowledge is its currency! That is the opportunity and the resolve we need to bring to the table.  And we need to remember a famous quote of Ralph Ellison:  “Education is all a matter of building bridges!”

20 07 2011

How inspiring….. 😉

How inspiring….. ;)

20 07 2011