Monday, December 2, 2013

Liberating Structures: Farewell to the Traditional Small Group Breakout?

Here's an interesting group process that I wanted to "bookmark" on this blog.

At CompassPoint, we've been exploring and testing out methods to liberate our group work from processes that feed us into routine patterns and default ways of thinking. At our recent staff meeting, consultant Alan Silva introduced us to a few of the 33 frameworks provided on the eponymous website Liberating Structures, which offers exercises for teams to engage in group work to unleash creativity and fresh ideas. The impetus behind these frameworks is that "conventional structures are either too inhibiting (presentations, status reports and managed discussions) or too loose and disorganized (open discussions and brainstorms) to creatively engage people in shaping their own future." Do you agree? It's certainly worth a try, isn't it?

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

6 Useful iPad Apps for Creating Tutorials and Screen Casts

Yesterday Anna came home very excited at having been asked by her teacher to produce a Khan Academy like tutorial on multiplying decimals for her classmates using Educreations. She gave me a very enthusiastic tour of the app and proceeded to spend the next hour or so practicing with the tool to create a variety of "mock" tutorials comparing the iPhone to a Windows phone, how to do basic addition with illustrated flowers as the "prop" etc.

I was impressed and inspired to find out more about "screencast" tools and did a bit of web research to find out what else was available. The best, most concise article I found (in my extensive 20 minute research) was in a website called Educational Technology and Mobile Learning. I don't want to forget these resources (I'd like to start using screencasts in my work) so I decided to "bookmark" them here in a blog post. Here's the link  and below is the article
By definition, a screencast is a recording of your computer screen accompanied by audio narration.In the past, screencasting tools used to cost a fortune and only tech savvy people were able to use them but thanks to web 2.0 technologies, there are now dozens of easy to use and simple platforms to record your screencast. Educational Technology and Mobile Learning has already featured several of these tools in previous posts. Today, however, I am going to share with you some of the best iPad apps to create screencasts and tutorials. Check them out below and let us know what you think of them. Enjoy

Explain Everything is an easy-to-use design, screencasting, and interactive whiteboard tool that lets you annotate, animate, narrate, import, and export almost anything to and from almost anywhere.

2- Teach

Knowmia Teach is a new free lesson planning and recording tool for teachers. It helps you create short video lessons on any subject and publish them on so your students and the public can find them. Knowmia Teach makes it easy to bring in visual aids from multiple sources, organize them in steps (like slides in a presentation) and use your own voice and fingers to bring your lesson to life.

3- Show Me

ShowMe allows you to record voice-over whiteboard tutorials and share them online. It’s an amazingly simple app that anyone can use, no matter how young or old!

Educreations turns your iPad into a recordable whiteboard. Creating a great video tutorial is as simple as touching, tapping and talking. Explain a math formula... Create an animated lesson... Add commentary to your photos... Diagram a sports play..

Doodlecast Pro is the easiest way to create presentations on your iPad. The app records your voice as you draw to create quick presentations. Doodlecast Pro saves videos to the camera roll making it easy to import them into popular video editors or presentation tools such as iMovie, Keynote, or iBooks Author. Perfect for teachers, students, business people and anyone needing an elegant way to share ideas.

Pixntell adds your voice to your pictures and creates a personalized video you can share on Dropbox, Facebook, YouTube, FocusTrain or email.

Friday, June 21, 2013

The Innovators Dilemma

Listened to this on Audible books commuting to Menlo Park for a Social Media for Nonprofits #SM4NP Conference. Good foundation, classic text on disruptive innovation and business.

Basic premise is not really that new and is pretty straight forward . . . "We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them." Einstein

In other words, the very business practices that make a company a success and enable it to grow are the ones that limit its ability to develop and sustain a new disruptive technology. Therefore, if a company is interested in maintaining its current scale and success as well as engage in developing new disruptive technologies it will need to to do so by acquiring or spinning out a small, flexible, independent, organization who's sole purpose is to focus on the disruptive technology and who's small scale matches the small scale of the new markets that will be "early adopters" of the new disruptive technology.

The three elements of a business: Values --> Processes --> Resources are very different in large, successful, established organizations that focus on incremental change vs. small, entrepreneurial organizations that focus on disruptive change.

Citizenville, Gavin Newsom

... How to Take the Town Square Digital and Reinvent Government.

Just barely started this one so no comment yet. Going to see Newsom speak at Dominican University on March 7th. More on this later.

6-21-13 While I don't always agree with Newsom, I found the book quite provocative in its indictment of our current governmental systems as bastions of Luddite driven bureaucracy, certainly not capable of engaging 21st century Gen X citizens. Citizens (and government officials) need better access to information. Government 2.0 is about improving constructive and well informed public engagement through enhanced digital access to information that is...

  • Searchable & Indexed (not in static pdf docs!!!)
  • Accessible via any device or platform through open source systems (Device Agnostic)
  • Share-able - not limited by onerous copyright restrictions (an alternative would be to use Creative Commons licencing agreements); not locked down with restrictions that  impede re-use of the information - should be "remixable" or "mashable" via opensource API's (Application Programming Language); connected to public feedback systems (blog comments and other social media tools)
  • Free - the government should not charge for access or licence sole rights to the information to a third party distributor that can charge for access.
A few additional resources in this arena:

Open Government Data Videos

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Too busy to be ...

When our hyper-linked, multitasking minds become as fragmented and compartmentalized as our computers we will become as soulless as they are. The future may be less about increasing AI toward a state of self-directed consciousness and more about decreasing our humanity into a state of hollow, self-absorbed, utilitarianism. Are we already on the path toward making ourselves unconscious slaves to a world of conscious machines?

Monday, April 22, 2013

Precautionary Principle

My friend Renee and I were talking about this yesterday so I did a little research ...

From Wikipedia ...

  • One of the primary foundations of the precautionary principle, and globally accepted definitions, results from the work of the Rio Conference, or "Earth Summit" in 1992. Principle #15 of the Rio Declaration notes:
"In order to protect the environment, the precautionary approach shall be widely applied by States according to their capabilities. Where there are threats of serious or irreversible damage, lack of full scientific certainty shall not be used as a reason for postponing cost-effective measures to prevent environmental degradation."

  •   ... an implicit reversal of the onus of proof: under the precautionary principle it is the responsibility of an activity proponent to establish that the proposed activity will not (or is very unlikely to) result in significant harm.
  • The application of the precautionary principle is hampered by both lack of political will, as well as the wide range of interpretations placed on it. One study identified 14 different formulations of the principle in treaties and nontreaty declarations.[7] R.B. Stewart (2002)[8] reduced the precautionary principle to four basic versions:

  1. Scientific uncertainty should not automatically preclude regulation of activities that pose a potential risk of significant harm (Non-Preclusion PP).
  2. Regulatory controls should incorporate a margin of safety; activities should be limited below the level at which no adverse effect has been observed or predicted (Margin of Safety PP).
  3. Activities that present an uncertain potential for significant harm should be subject to best technology available requirements to minimize the risk of harm unless the proponent of the activity shows that they present no appreciable risk of harm (BAT PP).
  4. Activities that present an uncertain potential for significant harm should be prohibited unless the proponent of the activity shows that it presents no appreciable risk of harm (Prohibitory PP).

A Few Buckminster Fuller Quotes and my reflections (in Green)

[Design Science is] the effective application of the principles of science to
the conscious design of our total environment in order to help make the
Earth's finite resources meet the needs of all humanity without disrupting the
ecological processes of the planet.

--- R. Buckminster Fuller

The last part of the above quote ... "make the Earth's finite resources meet the needs ..." Sounds very much like the Brundtland Commission's definition of sustainability, which coined what has become the most often-quoted definition of sustainable development: "development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs."

It is not for me to change you.  The question is, how can I be of service
to you without diminishing your degrees of freedom?

--- R. Buckminster Fuller

My own working assumption of why we are here is that we are here as
local-Universe information-gatherers and that we are given access to the
divine design principles so that we can therefrom objectively invent
instruments and tools -- e.g., the microscope and the telescope --
with which to extend all sensorial inquiring regarding the rest of
the to-the-naked-eye-invisible, micro-macro Universe, because human
beings, tiny though we are, are here for all the local-Universe
information-harvesting and cosmic-principle-discovering, objective
tool-inventing, and local-environment-controlling as local Universe
problem-solvers in support of the integrity of eternally regenerative

--- R. Buckminster Fuller

And the summary version below. I like the short one for brevity but the long one for the filler detail.

We are most probably here for local information-gathering and
local-Universe problem-solving in support of the integrity of eternally
regenerative Universe.

--- R. Buckminster

We humans are manifestly here for problem-solving and, if we are any good
at problem-solving, we don't come to utopia, we come to more difficult
problems to solve."

--- R. Buckminster Fuller

I live on Earth at present,
and I don't know what I am.
I know that I am not a category.
I am not a thing -- a noun.
I seem to be a verb,
an evolutionary process --
an integral function of the universe.

--- R. Buckminster Fuller

I like the idea of thinking of myself as a Verb.

The most important fact about Spaceship Earth:
an instruction manual didn't come with it.

--- R. Buckminster Fuller

There is something patently insane about all the typewriters sleeping
with all the beautiful plumbing in the beautiful office buildings --
and all the people sleeping in the slums.

--- R. Buckminster Fuller

We are on a spaceship; a beautiful one.  It took billions of years to develop.
We're not going to get another.

--- R. Buckminster Fuller

You can't better the world by simply talking to it. Philosophy
to be effective must be mechanically applied.

--- R. Buckminster Fuller

The case for being a practitioner, a maker, a doer, a published writer, or an artist in a gallery at some point in your life. Also the case for "reflection in action" and "ready, fire aim"

When individuals join in a cooperative venture, the power generated far
exceeds what they could have accomplished acting individually.

--R. Buckminster Fuller

The case for collaboration!!!!

You never change things by fighting the existing reality.  To change
something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.

--- R. Buckminster Fuller

Don't fight forces, use them

--- R. Buckminster Fuller

If the Success or Failure of this Planet, and of Human Beings,
Depended on How I Am and What I Do,
How Would I Be?  What Would I Do?

--- R. Buckminster Fuller

A twist on "What would Jesus do?" Or "If you knew you only had a short time to live would you be doing what you're doing today?"

Love is omni-inclusive,
Progressively exquisite,
Understanding and tender
And compassionately attuned
To other than self.

--- R. Buckminster Fuller

There is no such thing as a failed experiment, only experiments
with unexpected outcomes.

--- R. Buckminster Fuller

How can we make the world work for 100 percent of humanity in the shortest
possible time through spontaneous cooperation without ecological damage or
disadvantage to anyone?

--- Buckminster Fuller (1895-1983)

Shortened and combined with concept of sustainability - "How can we make the world work for 100% of humanity, present and future, without disadvantage to anyone or any living thing?

I learned very early and painfully that you have to decide at the outset
whether you are trying to make money or to make sense, as they are mutually

--- R. Buckminster Fuller

How often I found where I should be going only by setting out for
somewhere else.

--- Buckminster Fuller

Making the journey is what it's all about!

The importance of man in the next generation of technical research is very
much greater than in the previous.  The computer cannot ask an original
question.  The computer can only reask questions which were originally asked
by the human brain.  No computer can apprehend the plurality of potentially
significant patterns newly emergent in evolution.  Men will continue and
flourish as the great question askers and exploratory inventors.

--- R. Buckminster Fuller

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Fellow Conservatives, by Jonathan Rowe in West Marin Review Fall 2010

I just read the following prose and it so captured the irony and paradox of life in Marin . . .

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Explore. Dream. Discover.

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.
Mark Twain (perhaps not!? H. Jackson Brown, Jr. published the work containing the quotation, but he did not take credit for it. The book “P.S. I Love You” contained a collection of wise aphorisms from Brown’s mother.)

What is it that confers the noblest delight? What is that which swells a man's breast with pride above that which any other experience can bring to him? Discovery! To know that you are walking where none others have walked; that you are beholding what human eye has not see before; that you are breathing a virgin atmosphere. To give birth to an idea -- an intellectual nugget, right under the dust of a field that many a brain-plow had gone over before. To be the first -- that is the idea. To do something, say something, see something, before anybody else -- these are the things that confer a pleasure compared with other pleasures are tame and commonplace, other ecstasies cheap and trivial. Lifetimes of ecstasy crowded into a single moment.
Innocents Abroad

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Fall of Giants, Ken Follett

I love historical novels and this a doozy at 985 pages! Here's the Amazon blurb ... Ken Follett’s magnificent new historical epic begins, as five interrelated families move through the momentous dramas of the First World War, the Russian Revolution, and the struggle for women’s suffrage.

It's book one of a trilogy. Looking forward to the rest (once I finish this one).

Flight Behavior, Barbara Kingsolver

Recently finished this novel. Classic Kingsolver - excellent narrative voice that captures the characters and culture of the community (rural Apalachia). Although the "environment vs. economy" story is not new the use of fiction to bring it to life works well. Hopefully the medium of fiction and Kingsolver's engaging style will bring the global warming, climate issue, to light for many new people that might be unfamiliar with some of the concepts and details presented in this book.

Here's a link to the book at Amazon.

Books, Blogs, Articles and More . . .

I've added a new advanced widget tool to my sidebar that will aggregate all posts labled as "WhatI'mReading" to track my thoughts on things I read. Hope to me bigger thana list but shorter that a full blog post. Let's see how this works . . .