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What (and who) inspired me in 2012?

As the calendar clicks over to 2013, it’s an opportune time to reflect on some of the inspiring tools and ideas that have engaged me over the past year – and will continue to have traction in the coming year.

Here is a reverse-ordered list with lots of links to explore. Happy New Year!

10. Playlists: Every course (or presentation) needs a good soundtrack. Songza is an auto-playlist-maker recommended by Mary Nisi on NPR’s technology blog

9. Infographics: We can all do a better job at presenting complex ideas visually and elegantly. Here is a List.ly List of infographics tools

8. Presentation Zen: (Re)imagining visual communication – Garr Reynolds has been a big influencer on my own presentation style and content

7. Personal Learning Networks (PLNs): The whole really is greater than the sum of its parts

6. Gaming: Networked learning and simulation can benefit from the principles of successful, immersive and authentic hi-fidelity game environments – and this is progressing in medical simulation in Canada and worldwide.

5. Virality: What is the “replicability factor” intrinsic to certain memes? How can we infuse knowledge products with that same DNA? Check out some emerging research by Berger and Milkman (2012) What Makes Online Content Viral? and Stanford now offers an online course on viral marketing

4. Another MOOC MOOC by Hybrid Pedagogy: Because information wants to be free

3. Motivational Interviewing: A clinical approach that maps equally well to teaching and learning

2. Y Combinator: A model with applications for curricular innovation, education research and student engagement?

1. Social Inclusion: Anyone can learn if they have the tools – like the instrumental support pioneered by the World Braille Foundation: Braille = Equality… Why? Because literacy is the key to opportunity, economic security and freedom. Yet in many countries 95 per cent of blind children don’t even attend school due to lack of skilled teachers and limited access to Braille materials.

This international foundation is dedicated to promoting literacy, independence and empowerment to blind persons, with past and current projects in Kenya, Swaziland, Niger, Burkina Faso, Mali, Liberia and Lesotho. I make a donation every year. Plus, full disclosure, the WBF was started 10 years ago by my dad, Euclid Herie, and my #1 inspiration!

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How can we bridge the teaching/learning gap?

 

The evidence-based clinical practice model that I use and teach, Motivational Interviewing, is a respectful and collaborative way to talk about change with people who are ambivalent or unwilling.

In fact, conversations about change are clearly relevant beyond counselling, therapy or health care. The new edition of Motivational Interviewing by William Miller and Stephen Rollnick outlines four essential processes that map well onto processes of adult education, particularly in contexts where learners may be less than enthusiastic. These processes are somewhat linear but also recursive –  one naturally leads to (and provides a foundation for) the next, but we may also circle backwards and forwards as needed.

1. Engaging:

This is about establishing a relationship with the group and creating a positive learning community. Is it safe to speak up, disagree, critique and explore? Meaningful discourse hinges on successful engagement.

2. Focusing:

Engagement comes first, but it is also important to understand and highlight the relevance of the topic/learning objectives to real world problems and issues. What will I learn, and why should I care? How will mastering new knowledge and skills make my work easier and better? Individuals may raise topics or issues that instructors hadn’t anticipated. These are the burning questions that need to be resolved through successful focusing. Optimally, adult learners are engaged in co-creating curricula.

3. Evoking:

Learning is 100% volitional. Constructivism and paragogy mark a shift from installing knowledge and solutions towards evoking these. Although faculty bring expertise to the table – and we shouldn’t shy away from sharing this – a motivational approach presupposes doing so in partnership with learners, and with a spirit of nonjudgmental acceptance and compassionate empathy.

4. Planning:

We’ve engaged learners in an active partnership, linked curricula to real-world issues, and evoked new connections, insights, ideas and approaches. Now what? Identifying implications for practice and committing to an action plan are key. The planning process helps bridge the gap between learning and life. If new learning has no real-world implications, then we’ve missed the boat somewhere along the way.

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