Learning in the present, and near future

A few days ago I had to give my last presentation at my MEd class. It was a great experience. Not only because it marked the end of a very important step in my professional development, but also because it was achieving a 2-year program that had to fit into a very busy schedule.
In terms of learning I had a great deal of it, personally and as a member of a great group of professionals of different areas (interpreter/translator, librarian, teachers, dentists, police men, linguist, lawyer, graphic designer, and me, a biologist turned educator). The perspective to see many things was very rich coming from such a diverse group.
My last presentation was about the education in the future, in order to prepare for that I had to review a large amount of information from the past and try to set one of the possible scenarios for the near future of education, I don't think anybody can accurately predict the long term future of education, changes are too rapid and technologically strong to predict something for more than 15 years.
It was undeniable for me to foresee, as many others have done that the way we assess and evaluate students will not serve a real purpose in the long run. We´ve been assessing students' knowledge based on the amount of information they can remember. That might have been useful before, but nowadays anybody with internet access can have access to almost infinite amounts of information. Definetely, that is not the ideal way we want to make sure we're educating our students right. It is not how much information they may remember or memorize, it is what they can learn, create or produce from it that really matters.

The following video is a great way to see that, it is an experience called I Scientist in the UK:

I Scientist film from Storymakers TV on Vimeo.

The following video speaks for itself, let's democratize education and have mistakes being a part of the learning process.

These are some of the words I could type in my iPod while I was reading about learning theories and i think it's useful for my thesis that tries to link use of technology with learning strategies:
Education in the 21st century must not be restricted to theoretical and abstract knowledge acquisition. It is imperative to put even more emphasis in skills that promote obtaining, selecting and analysis of large quantities of information in short periods of time.
Learning must be active in the sense that any learner must have the capacity to take informed but fast decisions based on vast amounts of information presented in different formats, in order to produce analytical comments and recommendations presented in visually-frienly and attractive formats. 

Learning must be based on training of skills on the move, and the evaluation methods must be modified from assessing the amount of processes in what Vigoysky calls, the Zone of Real Development, and the Zone of Proximal Development. This is of great importance due to the fact that the amount of information available to anybody with Internet access is practically infinite. It would be counterproductive to pretend that society can determine the professionalism of a person, or the academic or developmental potential of an individual based solely on the amount of knowledge already acquired, instead of the potential production and creative solutions that individuals can provide if learning skills are directed and trained.
These skills are hardly obtained if the student is left untrained. And it is in this part where today's students are found in significant amounts. The economic constraints in developing countries imposed by superficial needs to follow the lifestyle of developed countries, obliges parents to maintain more than one job at the same time, leaving young students (teenagers) at the will of mass communication media and their own to overcome the academic exigencies imposed by public and private schools.
Once these young students are left alone or minimally supervised at home, they are prone to the actions of a massive avalanche of information that demands the information user to be developmentally mature, a blending between the concrete and abstract operational stages described by the famous psychologist Jean Piaget decades ago. 

It is the formation of the personality, organizational skills and academic goals,or their absence what will determine the perspective and desire of learning for the future life of young students.
The essential skills to be developed have to cover these gaps of parental attention and circumstancial solitude facing the academic demands. Cognitive and metacognitive skills, in that order take years of academic training, usually obtained in the years spent in higher education. However, the cultural,  economic and technological demands require education to be oriented towards the formation of an individual with order, positive attitude and ambitious goals supported by a solid academic basis.
Based on Vigotsky's theory, the proximal area of development is the area that 21st century education must concentrate its efforts, because it is now impossible to sum up information and knowledge as could be done only a few decades ago. The amount of information is doubling in less than 5 years already, this infinite amount of information could not be acquired using traditional educational methods, mostly based on memorization and classic repetition of information. It is the intense training of cognitive and metacognitive skills in conjuction with clear practical applications to what is being learned, bringing real-life applications to my class and out of it.


Dealing with Technology and Education

I've been very quiet with this blog in the last few months. I've been very busy between school work, BEd program, MEd program, family and others. However, there's always time for dealing with technology and education. I'm still working on designing a suitable questionnaire to be used with high school students and first-year college students based on their technology use and how that might have changed their learning strategies and academic performance, any help is well appreciated. Indeed, I commented this with Silvia Tolisano, and she suggested that I should request help via twitter and my PLN. It's a great idea, because I might be able to have students from other countries take my standardized learning styles test and my technology insertion questionnaire.
One of the things that keeps me alive in education and technology, is the firm belief that the future is our present and dealing with new generations and even harder, educating them to solve yet unknown problems in globalized environments is very difficult. But nothing is impossible, especially when creativity kicks in.
My education and creativity guru is Sir Ken Robinson. I saw his RSA Award receiving speech video about a month ago, it's a short animated video (little over 11 minutes). The animation significantly enhances the already remarkable message about Changing the Education Paradigms.
There's nothing more important than keeping fresh in our minds, why and how we are educating people.
Take a look at the animated and original videos:

RSA Animate - Changing Education Paradigms

Original Receiving Speech

In his last book, Sir Ken Robinson writes about The Element, which is the inspirational and creative passion that makes us what we are, or what we would like to be. I recommend you to read it, you'll certainly enjoy the life experiences depicted there.


Global revolution...ing

How many times in your life can you say that you've been part of a global revolution? Not many, I would assume, or perhaps a lot, depending on which revolution you think i'm writing about. There are indeed many revolutions happening right now. Some can be summed up in Technology (Information, Communication), others in Science (Biology, Medicine), but all of them should have a commanding force: Education.

I read news, reports, journals and so on about Biology, Education, Technology and Culture in general, and every single day I get enough adrenaline to continue form one more year.
I regularly watch TED lectures, and there are two speakers that are my favorites: Sir Ken Robinson and Juan Enriquez, not only because they tell us the stories and things we must listen to and work on, but also because they speak from their hearts and minds with passion and humor.
This morning I watched 2007's Juan Enriquez wants to grow Energy, and agriculture was the centralized topic.

I have just finished watching 2010 Sir Ken Robinson's Bring on the learning revolution!, and again there was a central reference to agriculture, and this reference was metaphorically essential. We need to grow education, water students with appropriate learning environments, and harvest life-long learners eager to act on their and our world's problems to arise.

I dream about doing things better in my life, family and work, the beauty of being an educator is that even though we can make mistakes, we can offer knowledge and opportunities to students, and have a larger impact in other people's lives.

I am in the middle of revolutionary times, and so are you, I'll try my best, but if you are a student you have to at least match that effort. And yes, you can do it.



I participated in the organization of the Latin American Heads Conference (LAHC) Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) Conference in Lima, Peru. This conference became something real with teachers and students participating in this event.  It is so rewarding to see something materialize from paper to actions.
This conference talked about many things, but the main theme and drive was to promote concrete actions for schools in Lima, Peru regarding a very important issue, educating our student with a Sustainable Development approach, perspective and creed. After all, doing that will help us take good care of our planet by consuming Fair Trade products, raise community awareness, organize and participate in students' activities, and overall, be responsible with ourselves and our planet.
You can find more information about this conference and the informatiuon that was made available through its wiki, click here.
Fair Trade is the approach to business by doing things in a sustainable way, better wages, giving things back to the community, which promotes further development and increases the production and helps businesses grow by taking good care of the planet. Find out more about fair trade from: Wikipedia, Fair Trade Foundation (UK), Fair trade Labelling Organizations International (FLO), Fair Trade Federation (US), and review some good examples of TransFair (US).

One of the impacting messages I took from this conference is to be aware of the products I and most of us consume. I'll follow this post with another one about Green Chemistry, but take the time to visit a very interesting website, The Story of Stuff, where you can watch Annie Leonard.

The best of all is that The Story of Stuff will help students raise awareness in their immediate community, and for us teachers, we'll be able to use their resources for teaching this and other lessons.



How diverse and multicultural is your country? Shouldn't education aim to form Global Citizens?
How much of it is based on Cultural Competence and Tolerance?
Can I type ablog post solely on questions? How Web 1.0 is that?
The only different, is that I'm typing it from an iPod Touch using free wifi.


Blogging in a busy 21st Century World

I love blogging, although my concept of it has changed over time. I've always been a fan of writing properly. My humble experience tells me that if the text is not interesting enough in the first 3 lines, then your post will most likely be browsed...so my 4th line will mention the new assignment I gave to my 9th grade students. It is about Geologic Eras, Origin of Species and Evolution.
How impressive it is to analyze time from the geologic point of view, it just makes us remember that our lifetime is nothing more than a tiny speck in a huge field.
I'm also a fan of scientific literature, so I've given them the good news, they'll read 4 books with me this year: The Microbe Hunters (Paul De Kruif), The Naked Ape (Desmond Morris), The Selfish Gene (Richard Dawkins), and I'm still debating for a 4th one, suggestions are appreciated.
In the meantime, I'll leave you with the video: "Eleanor Morgan says we evolved from Aquatic Apes"


People and Devices: Online 24/7

Every single day, 350+ million users access Facebook, a slightly less number of users communicate by 140-character messages via Twitter, and others exchange info, feelings and messages via hi5, MySpace, MSN Messenger, etc.

It is easy to understand the explosion in Social Media in the last few years, Communication is innate and inherent to humans, and language is its highest expression, and humans have perfected it.

I started on Twitter last year, and ever since I’ve tweeted over a thousand times, and for sure I’ve read over 100,000 tweets already. Growing in Social Media is as exponential as bacterial growth, unstoppable.

Demographics depend on the type of Social Media you are inquiring about, but in general terms most internet users have experienced it in one way or another.

However, one thing is certain, kids love social media, and they are the fastest growing demographic group showing presence in these websites. So, how does that translate into something to be used in education?

Well, it is necessary to be able to get into Social Media as well, as teachers and administrators, we must be facilitators (unintended rhyme) and not scared away from it, and less of all…forbid it.

Digital Natives are anew generation, and as much as we want to categorize them as ADD or ADHD kids, they are multitaskers. I’m sure there will be a significant change in appreciation in the still valid idea that women are true and efficient multi-taskers, and men aren’t. In the near future, kids and teens will have to be occupying that perception.

How’s the behavior of our kids’ and teens’ right now? We can certainly verify it by watching this video and identifying our son, daughter, niece or nephew:

M(2) Video

The report published by the Kaiser Family Foundation, indicates numbers that are completely true. Usage of media has increased to 10 hours and 29 minutes in 2009, discounting the multi-tasking time (29%) we reach to 7 hours and 38 minutes a day.

Media Use

So, kids are “working” a whole shift in total media (Tv, internet, music, games, etc.) Wouldn’t it be productive for teachers to insert knowledge acquisition and learning enhancement activities in such shift?

What does that indicate? We have to adapt! Adaptation is a human characteristic, and one that we need to use a lot in this case.

How will be the Web of Tomorrow? Simple answers: more portable, smaller, easier to use, ubiquitous, and easier to integrate to any of our daily devices and appliances.

I always go back to Sir Ken Robinson and his TED conference when dealing with questions about Education, and this time is not the exception. Creativity in Education is something we must constantly go back to as a reference point, but also as a stimulus for learners and teachers.


eReading, WiFi Pedestrian

I’ve been downloading several iTunes files to learn about Psychology (Yale 1, 2), or American History, or even learn how to make iPhone Apps. This is a trend that has been followed by many universities already.

It is undeniable that our life has been molded towards mobile gadgetry. My 6 yo son complains when I change his movie trailers from the iPod, and sometimes enjoys listening to Paul Bloom lecturing about Psychology.

So, that makes me think that in the 5 years we could be seeing at highly innovative new products, but I’m sure we’ll updated versions of the current, still “new” products.

iPhone 4G The iPhone will probably be updated to its 4G version on the Apple event on January 27th, and the iTablet launched, as well as presenting the iLife 2010. The excitement that Apple creates in the tech biz is incredible, every other year all of us are waiting to see the novelties from Steve Jobs’ company.


Kindle colorThe eBook readers is another of those devices that are hot these days. However, a close look to the Kindle brought some points to consider, for example, when is the color Kindle coming out? A report last year indicated that by August 2009 the 3rd version could have it, but it is the end of January 2010 and is not here yet.

What will come next then? Will we track our children’s location with subdermal GPS devices? Will the refrigerator in your kitchen remind you of today’s To-Do list while it sends the shopping list to the local market?

What comes next? What is in the future of mobile and technology devices for our kids?


Global Warming…or, Global Raining?

Temperature I’ve been hearing about the issues of Global Warming for years. Causes and consequences have shifted in some way over the years. Many are the reasons for that, certainly the world’s needs are sometimes a drive force to modify some of these issues. Carbon dioxide, greenhouse effect, oil, methane, and other terms have been in our mouths for years. Nothing has been significantly done government-wide in the US, more than separate actions that have have little or no effect nationwide, not a good move considering that the US populations represents 4% of the world population but contributes with 25% of the World Carbon dioxide emissions.

I’m talking about this because I woke up at 5 am with water dripping from the roof of my apartment due to “intense” rain for Lima, PERU. Since I came back to my home country, I have witnessed more rain in the last 3 years than during my first 25 years here.

Click here for the news report.

I call it “intense” because 3-4 cm in the city of Lima is a significant problem, the city is not prepared for rain. In fact, floods all over the city were registered yesterday, disrupting transportation and bringing down mud and houses.

How can an old bureaucratic city with a corrupt government prepare for mother nature’s fluctuating weather conditions? That is something that must be answered not only in my country but everywhere. The difference with northern or european countries is that they have had more extreme weather regularly and they are prepared, but we’re not.

If problems come from extreme weather and unpredictability, what’s better than mother nature to help us solve those problems. I review TED talks constantly, and these two lectures might be of interest for this topic:


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