Monthly Archives: January 2012

Oh, thank you Compfight

For helping me stumble upon Crinid, my new favorite website for all things idea-related. I began my exploration with this image (which I found while looking for the search time “ideation”).

Image: Crinid via Flickr

After making the jump to, I found a whole new world of idea generating, ideation, and design-centered thinking. I cannot wait to discuss this model for design-centered thinking, but for now, I’ll focus on a few topics coming up next class, including Seth Godin’s Lizard Brain, as well as this brilliant presentation by David Burton. Seriously, you need to watch this.


Colbert and Stewart Simplify PACs

I tout the phrases keep it simple, simple isn’t easy, and simple is best often in my discussion of design. But one area in which I could devote more time to these axioms is content. I think teaching for 8 hours at one time tends to make one want to pack as much information as possible into a session. The anxiety of so much time can lead to information overload (which often happens during the persuasion mega-double). In an effort to tweak my focus and narrow down my lecture time to essentials only (and make way for application), I turn to inspiration from the communicators I trust.

In Friday’s Decker Blog, Ben Decker discusses how Stephen Colbert has consistently taken the very complex issue of Political Action Committees and campaign finance and simplified it through the use of SHARPs (Stories, Humor, Analogies, References & Quotes, Pictures & Visuals). Decker refers specifically to the use of skits with fellow comedian turned social commentator Jon Stewart. The use of satire, impacting visuals, and dynamic delivery to communicate a complex idea in a simple way resonates with audiences, makes a convoluted and mystifying political practice accessible to the average viewer.

I wonder how much one of these would cost...LOVE!

Check out this infographic from the Huffington Post, which chronicles Colbert’s ongoing campaign against PACs.

For another perspective, check out this infographic from iWatch:

The stark difference between our current president and the current Republican frontrunner, Mitt Romney is particularly interesting.

What do you do to keep it simple for your audience? In what areas could you simplify and streamline?

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Link of the day: redesigning apple crapple

I ran across this link from the New York Times Learning Network. As one who has fallen victim to the “apple crapple” as one listener of Studio 360 referred to visuals like ” apples, ABCs, 123s, one-room schoolhouses with bells on top” (New York Times), I think I’m ready to take a cue from 360 Design and rethink my visual representations of teacher.

360 Design has created an entire campaign around the idea of connecting dots and fostering learning journeys. I am so stoked!

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Images and Ideas of the Day

I am feeling very inspired after some excellent progress with my online section this month. There are several students who are really reminding me of the awesomeness that is just a little bit of empathy.

I’m taking a break to share a few images and ideas that I found particularly useful in this day of scaling “Grade Mountain.”



Finally, I’d like to introduce you to Flickr user, Zoriah. Zoriah’s work is powerful, moving, disturbing, and inescapably human. I love it so much, I can’t bear to place text over this and any of Zoriah’s other amazing images:

I think we are living in selfish times. I’m the first one to say that I’m the most selfish. We live in the so-called ‘first world,’ and we may be first in a lot of things like technology, but we are behind in empathy.
–Javier Bardem

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Attribution matters: Lamar Smith’s attribution blunder

Yesterday, Keith Olbermann posted his Worse, Worse, and Worst list. Guess who was the worst: Lamar Smith, but not for the obvious reasons. Smith, author of SOPA, has apparently been using an image on his site without showing any attribution or giving credit to the creator of the photograph. According to his own proposed law, this would make him liable for copyright violations. Yesterday, our students got the bad news that yes, they were actually expected to follow instructions and show attribution on any images used in slides, and that not doing so earned them one letter grade lower on their final slide design scores. But, Smith’s blunder costs him more than just a letter grade.  Attribution matters people–not only does not giving credit when credit is due make one a plagiarizer, but it also completely damages one’s credibility. It’s also just plain lazy. How credible is Smith as a source of valid and correct information regarding piracy and copyright now? Here is Olbermann’s take on Smith, SOPA and attribution:

P.S. I also love his worser choice, Rush Limbaugh, someone who has never come up in a classroom conversation, and who I hope will remain firmly in the category of downright ineffective speakers. Olbermann on the other hand, just might be my choice for next month’s Qualities of Effective Speakers exercise.

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Help students gather primary research!

Our students know by now we love them. They have been consistently energetic and eager to learn. No, they are not perfect, but as a whole, they’ve made this first class of the year a memorable experience.

Currently, they are working on their Pecha Kuchas, which will be delivered next Tuesday. One of their tasks as they prepare is to gather primary research via brief audience surveys, which will help them learn more about their target audience, as well as give them a sense of how their topic is perceived by others. If you have a few moments and want to get a glimpse at the neat topics the students are discussing next week, please visit the January Class Surveys Google Doc!



On another note, these precious kids will also be getting a little talk from Y U NO Guy…

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Blackberry Cobbler

This is exactly the sorts of pictures of amazing food I’d like to begin taking myself. Must take better pictures!

Blackberry Cobbler.

Design in digital education

So, part of being a teacher, at least a good one, is a healthy bit of complaining. I don’t mean complaining about course loads or workplace politics or noisy cube neighbors. I complain about the disconnect between the online learner and the online teacher; I complain about the pervasive shift away from teachers who are creative problem-solvers towards teachers who are mere task masters, trapped and demoralized by a system that focuses much more on results than it does on an enriching learning experience for students. I’ve referred to Ken Robinson’s “Bring on the Learning Revolution” (once to my own detriment and at the expense of my “reputation”) in the conversations I have with superteachers. Although his first TED talk “Schools Kill Creativity” is definitely the more popular of his two takes on the state of education, it’s in his second talk that he brings up the idea of fast food education, a one size fits all assembly line model of educating the masses, that like one too many cheeseburgers, deteriorates and destroys the quality of the educated, while at the same time reinforcing the idea that teachers are merely there to dole out grades, to check off on work completed without criticism.

I spent several hours last night networking with a fellow superteacher, who feels shackled and constrained by his school’s insistence on checklists. He teaches art to elementary schools students and actually has to warn his students that he is going to teach differently and act differently when an administrator stops by to ensure items are checked off. He is thinking of moving on to something else. He loves education and working with kids, but feels education has been coopted by other interests and concerns.

I believe this disconnect is most prevalent in the online environment. Although this not entirely absent in the traditional classroom context, in a physical classroom, the teacher’s role is more clearly defined (even if it is just task master) and the student has a clearer sense of what the process of being educated requires (active participation, immersion in course concepts, thorough study, analysis, discussion, revision, and self-reflection). Recently, our department has been working ways to make online feedback more dynamic. We’ve begun using Jing to record audio feedback to student work. I listened in to many of my colleagues recording their feedback and I was definitely pleased by the enthusiasm and dynamism this approach engenders. I can only imagine what it would be like as a student to receive verbal feedback from a teacher, to hear a teacher’s sense of encouragement and willingness to help.

As I perused for some inspiration today for another post on photography, I ran across this article from The Design Thinking Network on the place of design in digital education. Adopting design-centered approach, meaning drives each intentional decision, and each decision made is meant to creatively solve another pedagogical challenge in both the live the virtual classroom, has enabled me to tweak my class to the needs of my students as opposed to stick with a routine/pattern/structure that works best for me. Keith Hampson asserts that design is even more important in the online learning environment than it is in the physical classroom because the mediums being used but that most online learning systems fail to take design into account when creating content and software. The online experience is a design-based experience. Every day we are bombarded with both good and bad design. Consider how many pinterest boards you visit each day. How many websites you Stumble Upon, and how many blog, magazine, and news articles you read. Hampson sees this as an opportunity to use design in a design-saturated environment. Similarly, the Design Thinking for Educators organization is committed to bringing the design process into the classroom. If you haven’t checked out this amazing resource for 21st century conceptual approaches to education, you are missing out. Thanks to Alex Rister for the share!

I truly believe design-centered thinking (problem solving, ideation, troubleshooting, radical ideas) can save education. What do you think? What will help move education in the right direction?

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Final TED Roundup

So, I made these last night. I promise pics of my actual brownies being devoured later. I used the sugar from a bite of these little wonders to fuel my TED explorations. I’m off to school, but here’s a recap of today’s chosen speakers. I can’t wait to TED it up in class today!

Steven Johnson, “Where good ideas come from”

This talk validates my love of coffee, chaos, and collaborative thinking. Thanks Kevin Savage!

Jill Bolte Taylor, “A stroke of insight”

This is my favorite TED talk in terms of fulfilling the TED spirit of spreading worthy ideas (Benjamin Zander is my favorite in terms of delivery and energy). My favorite moment is the audience’s reaction to Taylor explaining how the brain works with a real human brain. One audience member yells out “Yess!” Great choice, Nikki Barber.

Thandie Newton, “Embracing otherness, embracing myself”

Newton is known for her beauty, but her eloquence and humility are far more admirable. Can’t wait to hear Jessica Cabrera’s analysis!

Kathryn Schulz, “Don’t regret regret”

Regret is a part of the human experience. Schulz argues that we embrace it as opposed to running from it. Brittany Egersett will break this talk down for her classmates.

Rory Sutherland, “Sweat the small stuff”

Mike Poveda chose this charming ad man who makes economics accessible through humor that reveals simple truths.

Kate Hartman, “The art of wearable communication”

This is a fitting choice for the awesome Audrey Peart. I want one of those inflatable hearts…

Sir Ken Robinson, “Schools kill creativity”

This is a must-watch talk if you consider yourself a TEDster. Robinson’s talk is fresh and thought-provoking every time. Thanks to Gernon Tait for sharing this talk with the class!

John Hodgman, “Aliens, love…where are they?”

Of course love and science fiction go hand in hand. I am curious to hear Ben Greger’s take on this talk.

Daniel Goldstein, “Battle between present/future self”

Okay, okay, I definitely need to start saving more. Thanks to birthday boy Eric Merrell for this talk!

J.J. Abrams, “The mystery box”

Jorge Rutmann chose this excellent, energetic, and inspiring talk from Abrams, whose energy is infectious.

While I may never be able to afford the 75oo it takes to go to TED or the 3500 it costs to attend TEDActive or TEDGlobal, each month feels like a mini-TED, and I truly love introducing people to these spreadable ideas.

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My TED choice: Dan Pink on the science of motivation

I’ve been thinking a lot about motivation lately. What motivates us to do what we do? What steers us toward something that is so blissful it generates self-motivation? It’s damn tough to motivate people to act. I talk to my students about motivated sequence and formal strategies of motivation, but I myself find that I am completely powerless to motivate others to really break out of their shell of apathy or self-importance long enough to really try the stuff I’m so excited to share with them.

Dan Pink is twittering up a storm right now, and as I am spending the evening with TED, his tweets led to a revisiting of his TED talk, “The science of motivation” and a very interesting article from my new favorite resource for all things teaching amazingness, The Learning Network courtesy of the New York Times.

Students and teachers alike need to find intrinsic drives for motivation. I encourage students to hold on to one concept or idea to cultivate as they work through class and beyond. But that encouragement doesn’t really stick without the transference of that drive to succeed for intrinsic reasons. Pink believes that incentives don’t work. Incentives don’t create creativity. The self does. True creativity comes when the self generates its own intrinsic motivations. The candle problem cannot be solved by our left brain, which values the logic of figures and tangible incentives. It’s our right brain, which is driven by self-actualization and creativity that truly motivates and drives. Pink breaks this type of motivation into three building blocks: autonomy, the urge to direct our own lives; mastery, the desire to get better and better at something, and purpose, the yearning to do what we do in the service of something larger.

It’s like Dan Pink lives in my head. When I read his books, I had one of those really important aha moments. It’s our task as teachers (and our students’ tasks as speakers) to facilitate moments of intrinsic motivation. We have to find ways to facilitate autonomy, mastery, and purpose. This is something that is second nature to me now because I found that switch that turned me on to self-motivation, teaching. It’s a process that takes some of us our entire lives. I may feel entirely inept in many aspects of my life. My calling and craft are not among them. It’s DRIVE!

The exercises crafted by Larry Ferlazzo are meant to generate these sorts of motivation moments. I cannot wait to try number 3 next week! This talk of motivation led me to my next two assigned talks in this night of TED, Tom Chatfield’s “7 ways games reward the brain” and Jane McGonigal’s “Gaming can make a better world.”

Thanks to Tevin Bryant for this excellent talk.

Thanks to Will Kim for this truly enlightening talk.


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