About Me

Education, the knowledge society, the global market all connected through technology and cross-cultural communication skills are I am all about. I hope through this blog to both guide others and travel myself across disciplines, borders, theories, languages, and cultures in order to create connections to knowledge around the world. I teach at the University level in the areas of Business, Language, Communication, and Technology.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Writing for learning: deep learning vs. skimming

My process for writing my dissertation coincides with some of the findings I have for my study. This is especially true as my children are now home for summer vacation and I am constantly being interrupted. I try to write at least two hours a day. Often, this is early morning as typical teens, my kids don't get up until 9 or 10 in the morning. I might be in the middle of a significant idea when they come down, speak to me (I can't complain that I actually have teens that speak to me!), trips I need to make, giving a list of things to do for the day, burps/arguements between siblings...you name it.

As a result, I find I have to continually read what I have written and try to capture the thought I had. However, as I am creating the knowledge, what happens if it is lost? Was it truely an important thought? Upon rereading what I have written so as to recapture an idea I might have lost, might I not create a deeper understanding of what I am writing? And where does that idea go that was lost? Is that lost knowledge? Or is it just part of the process of idea generation and knowledge building?

I occasionally see this with my own students, who have created a speech using powerpoint. In their presentations, they will sometimes forget to mention something and may go back to it. I am continually asking them however, how important that piece of information is for the audience to understand them. If they have forgotten it, perhaps it is not really necessary for the audience. However, they may still have that knowledge in their head which allows them to understand what they are saying. That specific piece of information was a building block as they were creating their speech (and a basis for their speech as a whole) but it may not be necessary for others to have that piece for their (the audience's) understanding.

I think of it like a building that is built on the ruins of others. The original building creates a foundation and even a shape upon which a new building can be constructed. However, it is not necessary that the new building be constructed exactly the same as the original. More often than not it is improved upon, creating its own flavor or style. It is a unique creation in the end, which also can be built upon.

It is difficult to let go of the lost ideas, just as it is difficult to create something new rather than going back to the original design. The process as we discard, change, and/or create something new helps us to have a deeper understanding in general of the topic. Writing helps us document our thinking, although not all thoughts will be put down. This might be the underlying reason for why project based learning creates a deeper level of learning, much more than the finished product or even a test could measure.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

A Generation of Teachers

I realized yesterday as my son was teaching me how to text (yes, I couldn't figure out how to text on my phone!) that not only is this a generation of learners, but also a generation of teachers. I see this all the time in my class (online and face to face) and with my children and their friends.

So how are they different from my generation? My generation looked to the teacher for answers. Ultimately, the teacher was the expert who would "teach" us how to do things. If we don't know how to do something, we go to an "expert" who will know how to "teach" us how to do something.

What I noticed about my children's generation is that they take direction from the person who wants to know how to do something, asking a lot of information. I was impressed with the fact that my son asked me if I knew how to do "X", then showed me how to do it, then had me do it. He didn't always have the patience to let me make mistakes and have me try it again. Rather, being a typical teen, he looked at me in disgust and showed me again how to do "X". I find this is the same process my students use (with out the disgust) when showing something to their classmates.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Sports and culture: the case of the World Cup

Yesterday, my son watched the England vs. USA soccer world cup game. As I am sure there was a different vibe in England, this was actually well watched by many of my son's friends...even those that don't play soccer.

Throughout the game, my son was texting one of his best friends from grade school. "What are they thinking??" (The US). "They should be playing the Latin American game. They can't beat the Brits playing a European game.""Where are the middies?."

At the same time, I heard the commentators, "He's doing what a striker should do." "The D needs to mark his man. That's why they made that goal."

So I asked my son, "Do you think they use the same terminology to describe the game as they do in the US?"

His answer was that he once had watched one of the British league games on line and didn't understand a single thing the commentators were saying.

So this tells me a few things about the cultural differences in sports:

  1. There are cultural differences in strategies.  HOW a country plays the game depends on the cultural values they have on winning, "fair play", the team, individual team member responsibilities,  and the role of the sport in that country.
  2. Even in the same language, different terminology develops which reflects the region and country's values.  Sports terminology is one of the most culturally ingrained specialty language.  Study the sports terminology and its philology and you'll get a good idea of the culture's values.
  3. Sports has always been perceived as a uniting activity.  However, it can also be a dividing activity.
  4. Look to other cultures and their strategies to improve your own play and understanding of the sport.  This could then be used to advantage in other parts of your life (i.e. business, education).
Finally, a heartfelt thanks goes out to Andy Cloverdale for posting the link to the World Cup interactive calendar.  We've bookmarked it on delicious and access it daily as this is not a high priority for American Sports (although the US vs. England game was shown on US network TV).