Education is Its' Own Language

Education is Its’ Own Language

What was your first language?

 

Spanish? English? French? Education? Wait. What? Education isn’t a language! I would argue that it is. Language is a means for people to communicate, to reach an understanding. Can education not help within those areas? It can and does.

 

Education is a way to come together and communicate with each other. I might have nothing in common with the person standing next to me. We can come from different cultures, have different religions and different languages. The one thing we might share is an understanding of math, or a love of Victorian authors, or Renaissance artists. It is our education about things that allow us to seek and find common ground with those around us.

 

The all-encompassing mission of Global Learn Day is that while we celebrate mankind’s learning we are promoting the concept of “One Planet, One People”. We are a collaborative people, building up ideas one on top of the other, expounding on previous research. It is through this language of education that we come together and improve the human condition.

 

This link lists 100 influential scientists. Looking through the list you find individuals from a variety of eras, cultures and languages. They spoke the same language though. Education opened up their mind and engaged their curiosity. Via their education and their willingness to continue to learn they were able to contribute to man’s understanding and knowledge long term.

This is the language of education. The desire to never stop learning, to never stop sharing what you have learned with others. This contribution has the ability to shape the world, to Build a Bridge to the Future. Never stop learning. Never stop speaking the language of education.

What is your favorite thing to learn about?

As always, consider joining us this year for Global Learn Day 2017!

Boredom has its' own value.

The Value of Boredom

When the Activity Ends

School is out and the exhilaration of not having anything to do has already worn off.  How many children have complained, “I’m bored!” just days after summer break begins?

 

Pinterest is full of “boredom buster” ideas and tutorials.  Local libraries ramp up their offerings to accommodate the aimless and bored children.  Then there are camps for every interest and skill under the sun.  None of these are bad ideas, and each has value in its own right, however so does boredom.

Going, Going, Going

We live in a “let’s entertain me” culture.  The children of today are not only inundated with television in every public place, but have grown up in organized play for the most part.  While generations past ran outside to play with the neighborhood kids and didn’t return until dusk.  Today’s generation is most likely to only play at scheduled playdates or organized sports.

 

Boredom is the dreaded disease of down time.  It is something that needs to be cured, immediately and effectively.  Parents are often worn down trying to keep every moment interesting and engaging for their children.  Have you ever wondered what’s the worst that can come of boredom?

 

But What Will We DO?

True, idle hands are the devil’s playground, but idle minds are fertile ground waiting to bloom.  If there is no down time how will new ideas be explored, let alone formed?  Boredom may be uncomfortable at first, but it is a necessary distress.  Once the entertainment ends, we are left with ourselves.  It is just us and our mind.  What will we think?  What could we do?

 

Our pace of life is extremely busy.  We are on the go so much and hardly stop to smell the roses.  It is difficult even for adults to find themselves with nothing to do.  On the other side of uncomfortable, though, is innovation and creativity. We need to be bored sometimes.  According to Andreas Elpidorou of the University of Louisville,  “In the absence of boredom, one would remain trapped in unfulfilling situations, and miss out on many emotionally, cognitively, and socially rewarding experiences. Boredom is both a warning that we are not doing what we want to be doing and a ‘push’ that motivates us to switch goals and projects.”

 

Sweet Summertime

 

Summer break is the perfect time to practice boredom and see where it leads.  In the absence of noise, distraction, and obligation the mind is allowed freedom to wander.  In the wandering, the brain relaxes and switches to creative problem solving mode.  New ideas take shape and the person finds something to do.  Not something he has to do, but something he wants to do.  Boredom allows you the freedom to discover your true passions and evaluate your likes and dislikes.

 

In fact, psychologists suggest that it is most beneficial for children to have a “boring” summer.  In the doldrums of inactivity, they are afforded the opportunity to self-motivate.  This motivation allows freedom to discover not only the world around them, but the one inside their own head.  If adults are always prescribing and directing what a child should do, how will she ever know what she wants to do?

 

Facing boredom head on and pushing through it, is “developmental achievement” for children.  Even the sulking at being bored has value.  The children are not wasting their time but taking their time.

 

In The Conquest of Happiness, Philosopher Bertrand Russell wrote, “A child develops best when, like a young plant, he is left undisturbed in the same soil. Too much travel, too much variety of impressions, are not good for the young, and cause them as they grow up to become incapable of enduring fruitful monotony.”

 

So, the next time your child comes to you with the age old gripe, don’t rush in to save the day.  Instead, encourage him to sit a while and just relax, explore something new, or lie down on a blanket under the clouds and just daydream.  Resist the temptation to rush him on to something new.  Let the effects of boredom run their course. His mind and your summer will be better for it.

 

What have you discovered while being bored?

Climb to new heights with learning.

Why Does Life Long Learning Matter?

Do you remember fourth grade?

Do you remember everything that you learned?  While you may remember that year, just like exercise if you don’t use it, you lose it.  Our brains need to be worked and stretched.  Putting an end date on learning limits the potential of our mind. Lifelong learning is essential.

 

Imagine if you exercised consistently, intensively, and productively for 12 years straight, then you stopped and never did a single sit-up, jog, or workout again.  What would happen?  While your body gained flexibility, endurance, and muscle mass during those 12 years, the years afterwards would strip it all away. If you woke up and thought, “I exercised so intensely for all those years, I’ll go run a marathon today!” You would quickly come to realize how much your body lost from atrophy and neglect.

Learning, like exercise, is a never ending process.  Not only does our brain need the engagement and challenge to stay sharp, but there is always more to learn.  The body of information in our world is rapidly increasing.  Even learning all that is known today would take more than a lifetime.

In addition, the capabilities and comprehension of brains change over time. Experience shapes our view point and opens us up to a different analysis of the facts we know.   Learning expands our minds for new ideas.  New information leads to new discoveries.  Our world would stagnate if no one continued to learn beyond the basics.

The practice of endless learning is not new, it has been the backbone of human innovation since the dawn of time.  Those who keep researching, wondering, growing, and trying are the historical figures who have shaped our world. However, in this age of information, the wealth of knowledge and data is staggering.

Each day 2.5 extabytes (which is one billion billion bytes) are produced. Not all of this is relevant, neither is a large chunk of it true.  However, there it is, our lives are inundated with massive amounts of information.  Continual learning and study gives each of us the tools to wade through the false information, misinformation, and useless clutter to discern what is important.  In this way, we can make informed decisions and continue to grow in understanding, not get pulled down a stream of lie.

 

Lifelong learning matters because as “One Planet, One People” there is a never ending process of bettering this world for all who live here.  The more you know, the more you grow.  Let’s keep learning and create a brighter tomorrow.

 

How do you keep learning?  Why is lifelong learning important to you?

 

 

 

Coding for Math

Technology in Education

Tool or Hindrance?

 

It seems that everywhere I look, I see kids with technology. Like many, I have had mixed feelings about this increased presence in the hands of younger and younger children. I paid for my own cell phone as a teen and young adult, but my child has one as part of her every day tools. Granted, she is an avid reader and I have found that the gas and book money I save by being able to check out books and download them to a cell phone covers the cost of the plan she has. It is still a huge difference from when I was young.

Recently, I watched a video on Facebook that equated technology usage to cocaine for children. That is a jarring comparison, especially coming from the After School Special and DARE generation. It caused me to question if there is a way to find harmony between Technology and my children. Can technology be a helpful tool without the harmful effects?

Math and Programming?

 

In my search, I came across a blog by Jonathan Mugan a researcher and author. You can read it here. In his post, Dr. Mugan walks parents and educators through a “how to” in order to use programming to teach our children Math. It seems like fun to me, and I am not all that interested in programming! Disclaimer: This is probably because I LOVE to learn.

This fantastic blog post walks the educator through using Python and how to effectively teach basic arithmetic on up to PEMDAS and Variables. I can see where this could be useful for many kids! It is also an excellent example of technology being used effectively to teach.

 

Back to my child…

 

We had a rough school year and Math was often a struggle. Do you remember the Summer Slide post? This can also be an effective tool in a parent’s arsenal to combat it! I can’t wait to set this up for my mini me to work through. It will break up the usage of the Kahn Academy, which we are on daily and also will provide a new skill. Who knows, could this spark a “First Moment of Lasting Excitement?” Will a new path to software programmer begin?

 

In reality, anything that I can use as a tool to educate could also be abused and turned into a problem. As Dr. Mugan shows with his blog post, Technology can absolutely help with education. In fact, programming to learn Math is Innovative and could be Transformative for many. This could be a child’s “AHA Moment”.

 

So, go check out the blog post and maybe take some time to learn how to program! Consider joining our voyage if you have not already!

Education Across Borders

Education Across Borders

Education is the key to breaking free from poverty. It provides the means necessary to rise above circumstances and make a better start for the future.  Knowledge is power and millions of children are left powerless through a lack of educational opportunities.

 

At the same time, where education abounds, it is important to remember to educate the entire person.  Memorizing facts alone is not what helps to create leaders and innovators.  Children need inspiration. They need to move outside their comfort zone and be able to work on a team.  However, the greatest skill that children must learn, if we want a brighter tomorrow, is compassion.

 

Education Across Borders (EAB) serves some of the poorest people of the world.  Centered in the coffee farming region of the Dominican Republic, EAB is working to change the lives of those who so desperately need hope for the future. Their greatest asset, though, is that they teach the lessons of empathy, multiculturalism, and hard work to American students and adults in the process of improving lives in Dominican Republic.

 

EAB’s primary focus is education and community building.  Through projects that provide sanitation, scholarships and greater access to education, and adequate housing, EAB has been serving the areas of Batey Libertad and Franco Bido for 20 years.

 

In the Dominican Republic, 42% of the population lives in poverty and only 10% of children graduate from high school. Yet, it is an area ripe for the best educational experience for groups of young people.  Through the Immersion Program, groups of teens and young adults perform short term service projects that have lasting results.

 

The Pentecost Project immerses participants in the realities of poverty and teaches them how to work together with community members to fill dire needs.  The futures of both residents and immersion volunteers are forever changed as the projects provide housing, sanitation, and health care.  The greater gift is “the hope of conscientization: developing the critical consciousness (of self, and of local and global communities) to understand the roots of injustice and oppression, in all forms, as well as the ability to convert compassion into action for the common good.”

 

EAB is not only building bridges between American teens and Dominican residents in the communities they visit.  A flip side of the education is the Community Exchange program that brings scholarship winners from both Batey Libertad and Franco Bido together to experience each other’s towns.  Though these two towns are not geographically distant, this trip is far reaching in scope.

 

Scholarship winners have the opportunity to integrate, understand each other, and bridge gaps between the poor coffee farmers and the children of Haitian workers seeking a better life.  The barriers of misunderstanding and marginalization are being toppled as the rising leaders of these regions learn to overcome discrimination.

Education Across Borders is at the head of the class for mitigating positive change in the world.  There is much to be learned from their models and practices that teach best through working hands and open hearts.  The epitomy of “One People, One Planet.”

 

Have you ever worked beyond your comfort zone to help in a culture much different than your own?  How did this experience better prepare you for your future?

Dad

My Dad Helped Me Build my Future

Thanks Dad.

It’s Father’s Day in the United States. For some this is a good day to Bar-B-Que or go out to dinner. For others, it is just another day or even a source of pain. For me, I can’t help but look back on my childhood and give thanks for the father that I had (and still have).

In no way am I claiming a perfect childhood. I have no rose colored glasses, I assure you. However, I do have a dad with an adventurous spirit and a love of education (and by default, educating). Together, with my mother, Dad created an educational whirlwind of a childhood and opened doors and opportunities that still help me today. So instead of talking about an article or some crazy technology innovation today, I’m going to share some memories and with them ideas that can help you build your child’s future.

Adventure.

It was not uncommon for my weekend to involve finishing Church services and my dad announcing when we hopped into the van that everyone needed to get inside, get changed and load up the car with beach chairs and towels. I’m sure a lot of kids in South Florida experienced that. Fewer experienced the three hour drive as we would go discover some new beach and the ham radio that we all had to be quiet so Dad could be on. My teenage self was not pleased with these Sundays because they prevented me from spending time with friends and watching TV. Looking back, I became an excellent navigator thanks to the multiple times we got lost in the pre GPS days. It’s a tool that I still use today. We also discovered isolated, beautiful beaches and had the chance to really explore them since they were not crawling with other families. So, pack a bag and take your kids on a local adventure today!

Interact.

Sometimes, instead of the ham radio in the car we would listen to him as he was sitting at his desk and talking to people around the world. He would often run mini contests when we had friends over, just to see how many contacts in how many countries we could make. When the twin towers were attacked, I didn’t need an explanation of where Afghanistan was and it wasn’t the first time I had heard about the Taliban. You see, one evening we were running a contest a few years earlier and we got to speak with a ham operating his illegal station from inside Afghanistan. I remember looking up the country and then the Taliban so I could understand why he couldn’t chat long. Had my father not been willing to interact with me or encourage me to do so with others, I never would have taken that time to learn.

Encourage.

There was never a dream that I had that my father didn’t say was possible. I went through a phase of wanting to be Scully from the X Files, and my dad told me I could absolutely do that. Even though that is nothing close to the career I have found myself in, I never doubted that I was capable. Encouragement to explore and discover who I am and where my interests were was a huge part of me being who I am today. There is no fear when I consider what I want to do in the future. Even now, when I tell my father I want to take on a new endeavor he talks me through the logistics and encourages me.

Educate.

I’m sure most of us have heard that we, as parents, are our children’s first teachers. A more accurate statement would be we are our children’s longest teachers. I’m still learning from my parents in my thirties and I can’t be the only one. I came close to a perfect score on the Vocabulary portion of the SAT. I’m sure part of the reason is that I have always been a voracious reader. However, a stronger part is likely my father. We would sit around the dinner table most evenings and enjoy a meal together as family. During that time there were many common topics and some not so common ones. Whatever the conversation landed on, we were each able to participate. Often, one of us would use a word that my father thought was inaccurate. At that point, we would be challenged to provide the definition of the word and if we did not know it, we would be required to get the dictionary and read the definition out loud. I love my expansive vocabulary and the only people who have offered a challenge in Scrabble in the past 15 years are my siblings.

 

We don’t have to do things the same way my father did, but we do need to consciously create and make available opportunities that encourage a love of learning. My father still does this with my children. While other kids are told to stop asking “Why?”, Dad is actively asking, “Do you know why?” It might drive you nuts but he is taking advantage of the sponges that children are. They absorb knowledge from all around them. So, today, go ask a child if they know why something happens. Listen to their answer and then help them discover what an adventure learning really is.

Happy Father’s Day to all of the dads out there and if you are an educational adventurer give yourself a pat on the back. You are a likely a big reason why your child LOVES to learn.

 

This post is dedicated to my father, a life long learner and adventurous educator. Happy Father’s Day. I love you.

In the beginning there was Global Learn Day 1997

Looking Back at an Initial Impression

Access to Education: Global Learn Day

By Terrence R. Redding, Ph.D.

OnLine Training, Inc.

(Note – This was Dr. Redding’s initial reaction to Global Learn Day, almost twenty years ago. The GLD crew felt that it was still relevant today.)

No learning environment is ideal for all potential participants. Some individuals will find they are at a distinct disadvantage in one environment, while in another their disadvantages may disappear. Access for some may be restricted to distance education via the Internet. Online education is viewed by many as second rate (Hibbs, 1998). Why? The instructor and the student do not have face-to-face communications.

A year ago I would have agreed that online education is restricted by the lack of physical proximity. But that was before Global Learn Day 1 (GLD1), my first experience in a distance education online conference. I could hear speakers clearly via streaming RealAudio. I viewed PowerPoint presentation slides directly on my computer screen. I exchanged ideas with other participants and presenters in the Java Chat room. And I posed questions to the presenters through a moderator. In some cases I was also able to see presenters by using streaming video. I came to prefer the online conference over physical attendance. I had a more comfortable seat, could hear and see the content better, and actually had more access to presenters and participants. I missed the social interaction, but I was also not distracted by it. In 30 hours I went around the world hearing from some of the brightest and most innovative distance educators working today, all from the comfort of my home using a computer fresh out of the box with just a dialup connection to the Internet.

Internet technology does not yet convert the sensations of touch and smell to bandwidth, but in many ways Internet technology is far superior for some types of educational forums. I know that courses delivered via the Internet are often devalued as second-rate by traditional faculty and by the public who may view distance education as a poor second choice to attending class on campus. But I believe that within ten years, courses without a distant education (DE) components will be considered second rate.

Distance education via the Internet is not restricted to conferences. The company I am associated with, OnLine Training, Inc. (OLT), delivers educational content exclusively through online technology over the Internet to individuals in need of basic education or continuing professional education. Our students do not conform to the standard notions associated with age, grade, or development. For example, OLT has been developing and marketing a basic adult education program for the General Educational Development (GED) market. Our enrollment profile shows almost equal distribution among US students pursuing a GED, students overseas who need to pass the GED in order to qualify for college in the US, and young students ranging from those with learning disabilities to those who are “gifted”. Some are home schooled; others pursue online courses while attending public or private schools. If you open the door to education, and minimize the gate keeping, it is difficult to predict where the demand will be.

This past month I had an opportunity to speak to a graduate class of Human Resource Development (HRD) students at Florida Atlantic University. As we explored the pros and cons of distance education, I started thinking about some of the GED students with learning disabilities at OLT. One in particular, a young fellow of 15, came to mind. This lad’s speech is difficult to follow, with extended pauses between phrases. My guess is that in a traditional classroom he would not do well. He communicates too slowly to interact effectively with other students. Online he can take as long as he needs to put his thoughts in writing.

Online educational education has fewer barriers and presents wider access to potential student populations than do traditional schools. Students who require special accommodations in a traditional setting (and who therefore may be at a disadvantage) may not be at a disadvantage online. Whether that disadvantage is age, sight, height, mobility, speech, hearing, or whatever, these disadvantages often disappear online.

I am reminded of the commercial for the United Negro College Fund that concludes with the sentiment that “a mind is a terrible thing to waste.” How many minds will be educated at a distance that might not other wise be educated at all? And what of the contributions those minds will make to the human race?

Eight years ago I had a chance to make a presentation at an educational conference that focused on a Shuttle Amateur Radio Experiment (SAREX) that I had conducted for 3,000 children in 21 schools in seven cities in Southwest Oklahoma. I was pretty proud of myself. I had involved a large number of children in a program that ultimately led to a group of students speaking live to the astronauts in the Shuttle as they orbited the earth. The entire exchange was broadcast on educational television.

A NASA scientist followed me. He described the development of a special wheelchair for Stephen Hawkins, a scientist suffering from Lou Gehrigs Disease, who could neither walk nor speak. This wheelchair provided Hawkins with access to the Internet and thus the rest of the world, to include libraries and the ability to write manuscripts and generate artificial speech. Last week I saw a presentation by Hawkins, from his wheel chair, using the artificial speech from the synthesizer in his chair-mounted notebook computer. He described being able to access the various research telescopes of the world via the Internet. His topic was the most recent discoveries by the Hubble Space Telescope and the implications for theoretical astrophysics and mankind’s understanding of the universe.

Eight years ago there were few that considered the implications of the internet as a distance education tool. I was not among them. Today, I still believe my SAREX was a significant contribution in the field of education. However, I believe the Hawkins’ wheelchair to be the more significant contribution because it allowed one of the great minds of our generation access to knowledge and the ability to share his understanding with millions if not billions of his fellow human beings. While I, with my SAREX, touched the minds of a mere 3,000.

I would compare Hawkins’ wheelchair to the internet for the globe, with one note: where the wheelchair was wired for just one man, I would compare the value of the internet to the value of a billion human minds online, to the thought that a single mind is a terrible thing to waste. Access to distance education via the internet will empower potentially billions of human minds.

Formal education requires a firm foundation: a frame of reference, theory, concept, and structure. However, none of these things are static. They, and our understanding of them, change over time. The pace at which they are changing is increasing. The internet is providing a means by which these structures can be discussed and understood on a global scale. Toffler (1970 and 1980) in his two volume set discusses the implications of “Future Shock” and “The Third Wave” for mankind. There are those who are over whelmed by the pace of change; who suffer from Future Shock. And, there are those who appear to thrive on change; who may be the Third Wave. Those on the internet, and especially those educated on the internet may well be Third Wave people. No one can predict the outcome of the advent of the internet as a distance education medium or the potential power it will unleash in mankind as a learning animal. But I believe its impact will be more profound then the advent of the printing press.

Our task as educators is to ensure that as many people as possible have access to the mind-expanding power of the Internet. The date for Global Learn Day 2 (GLD2) is rapidly approaching. It occurs Columbus Day weekend and begins with the rising sun in Guam, and, proceeding for nearly 30 hours around the globe, ends with the setting of the sun in Hawaii. Whether you are interested in distance education for yourself or an organization consider taking the opportunity to experience it first hand during GLD2. I know of no better way to celebrate mankind’s natural continuing conquest of knowledge than to encourage people to celebrate learning through the interconnection of the planet during Global Learn Day.

END.

Today, OLT offers Business Development, Continuing Professional Education and Personal Development Courses both with partner institutions and direct to the student. They do this by partnering with Subject Matter Experts and creating courses in house. If you are interested in a partnership opportunity, contact them!

Consider joining #GLD2017! Contact us to become a Presenter!

Hovercraft and Education

Hovercraft and Education

I was recently on Twitter and came across videos of science classes that were racing hovercrafts as part of their lessons. It reminded me of my daughter’s third grade class. Students were divided into small groups and taught how to design a robot. They then got to build the robot and the student groups raced them the last week of school. This was genius! Not only did the children learn about robotics but they had to work as a team and build something.

 

After seeing the Twitter post, I went and looked up more information about students building hovercrafts. I came across a short article in Popular Mechanics.  It is great that a well-known magazine would talk about something (like teaching technology students how to build hovercraft) and a few years later schools from all over are replicating it. Sometimes, we learn better by doing.

 

In some parts of world action is still how students learn the majority of their knowledge. In industrial countries that call to action in the classroom is a key to innovation. Rather than learn about coding software through a book or someone yelling to a student, students get on a computer and code. The difference between these two methods is the first is teacher-centered learning and the second is student-centered. This visual by Paul Curtis offers a better explanation.

 

Who knows if by participating in this learning activity, a future designer for Toyota, Ford or Mercedes is created? Who knows if participating in designing or building a hovercraft or robot is going to spark excitement that lasts a student’s lifetime? Who knows if by participating in this learning activity, a future designer for Toyota, Ford or Mercedes? Previous Global Learn Day presenter, Dr. Terrence R. Redding, shared his thoughts about this when talking about “The First Moment of Lasting Excitement”. You can learn more about that here!

 

This is more of what Global Learn Day celebrates! Education opens doors, it excites us and helps us learn who we are and where we belong. Education builds a bridge to a better future. Across the globe, we are a learning people. We share our previous experiences and hopefully, we learn from them. Education, and our thirst for knowledge, is what helps us to unite and become “One People, One Planet”.

What excites you about learning? What incites you to learn more?