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Online Facilitation – Adapting to a Virtual Environment with Free(mium) Tools – Part One

We’ve written a number of posts about both facilitation and the use of online tools for virtual and face to face events. See, for example:

“The Connected Facilitator: What’s in the Online Toolbox?”,
“Look Behind You! The Webinar Facilitator’s Non-Technical Checklist”,
The Two-Day Total Twitter Immersion: Using Twitter for Social Learning“,
“Knowledge at a Distance: Skype Video – It Works!“; and
“Create a Facilitator Role for Your Conference Calls and Webinars

In this two-part blog post, we are sharing (in part 1) some examples of tools that are either free or have a “freemium” model (you pay for increased functionality) and which we think can be usefully used in online facilitation; and (in part 2) some ideas about how you might adapt facilitation methodologies to an online environment using these tools (plus IRISnotes – as we haven’t yet discovered a lower-cost option…). We hope you find it useful, and that you’ll share your ideas and experiences too!

Twitter.com
● Contribute to / follow conversations in real time with short bursts of info: max 140 characters
● Hashtags aggregate related content
● Content can be ‘retweeted’
● “Follow” option
● Tweetdeck

Backnoise.com / Yammer.com
● Similar to twitter
● Private option

Skype.com
● Conference call diverse group sizes
● Option to add video (max 10)
● Screen-sharing
● Instant-messaging with chronological display
● Send files

Screenr.com
● Create screen-casts, recording screen and voice to share online

Slideshare.net
● Share presentations, documents and professional videos publicly or privately
● Create slidecasts (slideshow + MP3 audio synced)
● Create channels & favourites

YouTube.com
● Upload video content
● View video content online
● Create channels & favourites

Wikispaces.com
● Co-create documents collaboratively
● Track changes / contributions
● Password protection option

Docs.google.com
● Co-create documents collaboratively
● Similar editing to word / excel (and can export in these formats)
● Design surveys (google forms)
● Auto-generate survey reports with graphics

SurveyMonkey.com
● Design and manage online surveys
● Auto-generate survey reports with graphics

PollEverywhere.com
● Create multiple choice or free-text polls
● Collecting info in real time via text message, web, twitter, and smartphone responses which can be instantly combined
● Charts update instantly as people respond (online or embedded in ppt)

Doodle.com / MeetingWizard.com / TimeAndDate.com
● Propose dates / times and gather responses online to quickly and easily determine preferred options

MindMeister.com
● Co-create Mindmaps online in real time
● Working simultaneously and see changes as they happen

Wordle.net
● Generate “word clouds” from text with greater prominence given to words that appear more frequently

Smart Phone / computer video cameras
● Create short videos for sharing (by email if video-bites)

Smart Phone / computer audio / voice recorders
● Create audio files for sharing

DimDim.com
● Slideshow, chat function, audio for presenters, recording, private chat, whiteboard, video link for the facilitator, and more.

Online-stopwatch.com
● Keep time online, counting up or down
● Customize the visual (stop-watch, clock, egg timer, etc.) and sound (bell, alarm, laughing, beeping, etc.)
● Once customized, download the link to your timer. (Personally, I like the egg timer with applause as here: http://www.online-stopwatch.com/eggtimer-countdown/full-screen/?ns=../../s/3.mp3)

And here’s another one we love but that’s not free (you’ll need to make a small purchase):

IRISnotes
● A pen and mobile note taker
● Capture handwritten notes and drawings
● Edit, save and export them
● Convert handwritten notes into editable text

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Online Facilitation – Adapting to a Virtual Environment with Free(mium) Tools – Part Two

Following part one of this blog post (which shares some examples of tools that are either free or have a “freemium” model and which we think can be usefully used in online facilitation), this part two shares some ideas about how you might adapt facilitation methodologies to an online environment using tools that are either free or have a “freemium” model (plus IRISnotes – as we haven’t yet discovered a lower-cost option…).

1. Scheduling future events
• Use Doodle.com / MeetingWizard.com / TimeAndDate.com to quickly and easily determine favourable dates and times for future events (e.g. future conference calls). Not only can this be done to schedule your online event – you can effectively use it during the online event to efficiently schedule your next in real time!

2. Presentation
• Use Ignites (igniteshow.com) / Pecha Kucha (http://www.pecha-kucha.org/) (timed presentations) to keep to timing in online events and make sure presentations are well prepared and maintain a good pace.
• Use Prezis (Prezi.com) for variety in presentations (a change from powerpoint), creating visual interest.
• Use short videos and/or screen casts via YouTube.com / Screenr.com or Slideshare.net

3. Work in small groups with online “job aids
• Provide a participants list to everyone in advance, including names and Skype.com IDs (or equivalent). Divide the group up into small groups, designating a host.
• Pre-create job aids using Wikispaces / Google Docs / Mindmeister etc. These will most often be templates, to which you can provide links.
• Direct people to your ‘job aids’ with links (plus log-in and password).
• Provide an online timer to keep time and remind people to promptly rejoin the whole group at the specified time.

4. Report back (after small group work)
• Use Screenr.com to create screen-casts for report back
• Create video or audio recordings – using computer and smart phone programmes / applications to pre-record report-back and share using YouTube.com or Slideshare.net – helping to avoid lengthy monologues and add diversity to the event
• Use an online timer (such as online-stopwatch.com) to help with time-keeping and speaker management

5. Prioritizing questions (e.g. for a Q&A with a speaker)
• Use Twitter.com / Yammer.com / Backnoise.com. Determine a hash-tag in advance and provide this to participants.
• Give participants a few minutes to submit questions. To prioritize these for the speaker (so they respond where participants are most interested in learning more in a limited time), then ask participants to ‘retweet’ the questions others have posted that they are most interested in hearing the responses to. The questions most ‘retweeted’ are then prioritized and the speaker addresses the questions according to this prioritization.

6. Clustering questions / ideas
• Use a mind-mapping online tool such as Mindmeister.com (or do a hand-drawn version using IRISnotes). Set up the mind-map in advance and provide all participants with the link / access (to edit or view) or, just use Skype.com screen share (or equivalent) to share the map and designate one editor.
• Ask all participants to think of a question / idea and then cluster these as follows: Ask any person to start, sharing their idea using instant messaging (this is important to keep it concise and to the point) – as well as reading it aloud (but not expanding on what is written unless someone asks for clarification!).
• The mind-mapper copies and pastes the idea from the instant message into the mind-map. With this done, ask for someone with a like / similar idea to share it (again, instant messaging it and reading aloud), which is then copied and pasted into the mind-map / or summarized by hand if using IrisNotes. Do this until there are no more like / similar questions or ideas. Then start with a different ‘branch’ of questions / ideas on the mindmap. Repeat until all questions or ideas are represented.
• The mindmap will clearly show where there is greatest interest, most clarification needed, most energy and/or ideas and conversation in plenary afterwards can start from here.

7. Voting
• Use an online tool such as PollEverywhere.com to do real-time voting (with an anonymous option). Prepare the questions / options in advance, or generate them online and set the poll up in the course of the online event. Either-way, if you think you might vote on something, get familiar with polleverywhere and its parameters (e.g. more than 30 people and you may need to pay a subscription fee) ahead of time.
• One advantage of poll-everywhere over google docs and survey monkey (see below) is that rather than having to download the results as a pdf, you can actually see results live – as they change second by second, creating more excitement and anticipation.
• Google docs (‘forms’: docs.google.com) and SurveyMonkey.com could also be used for voting prior to or during an event. Both enable results-exporting as visuals (pie charts / bar graphs) in pdf.
• All give you the option to track – or not – who responds and how, so you have the option of anonymity or respondent profiling and analysis. (e.g. how do responses vary by sector / region…)

8. Carousel
• Use Skype.com video conference calls (or equivalent) for small group discussion (Note: make sure all participants are in one another’s contact list in advance and provide a participant list with names and skype IDs, as well as who is in which group for the carousel so that the host / facilitator of each station discussion knows who they need to include in the conference call)
• Use wikispaces.com / google docs (docs.google.com) / Mindmeister.com mindmaps in place of flipchart stations
• And/or use IRISnotes for visual / hand written work in combination with Skype.com screen share (can save and share doc with next group for further editing, or have same station ‘facilitator’ throughout)

9. Open Space Technology
(visit openspaceworld.org for the ‘how to’ steps in a face-to-face environment)
• Use instant messaging (e.g. Skype.com chat) for people to submit topics / questions to schedule
• Prepare a blank timetable (in word / google docs / wikispaces.com) and copy and paste across questions and topics as they are submitted
• Provide each topic ‘host’ a few minutes to decide where they would like to capture the key points of the discussion as it progresses (e.g. wikispaces.com / google docs / Mindmeister.com / irisnotes), to set up the appropriate ‘page’ and send you the link plus log-in / password if necessary. Note: If you prefer, you could just pre-determine that everyone will use (for example) a wiki and provide the topic hosts with links to appropriate wiki pages – labeled topic x through to topic y.
• In the same doc as the timetable, include the following info:
(a) Who is hosting the conversation (plus their Skype ID)
(b) Links to the page(s) where the conversation will be captured, plus log-in / password if necessary.
• Use a screen share tool (e.g. Skype screen share) to share the timetable with everyone as it is developed
• Ask participants to instant message the topic host when they wish to join a conversation
• As the facilitator, keep time and use instant messaging to inform groups when they have 10 mins / 5 mins / 0 mins until the end of their session (OR use an online timer such as online-stopwatch.com) and then invite everyone to revisit the timetable for information on where to go for their next conversation.
• Use Skype conference calls (or equivalent) for small group discussion, in combination with Skype screen share as necessary.

10. World Café
(visit theworldcafé.com for the ‘how to’ steps in a face-to-face environment)
• Provide a participants list to everyone in advance, including names and Skype IDs (or equivalent). Include also in this list some coding (in a table) to facilitate organizing three different groupings of 4 participants for each round of the World Café, and nominating a host.
For example, for the first round of the World Café / first grouping of 4, you might group people by simply going through the participant list organized alphabetically by surname, and counting people into groups of four – giving each person a letter next to their name – e.g. the first four participants would be coded ‘Group A’, the second four ‘Group B’ etc. For the second grouping of four participants, go back through the list and this time number them from 1 through to the total number of participants / 4 (e.g. if you had 40 participants you would number them 1-10 four times. For the second round of the World Café, all the 1’s will chat together, all the 2’s together, etc. Then for the third round, you might assign different symbols or colours. You choose – the important thing is to determine in advance how you will group everyone, and include this ‘coding’ in the participants list so it is clear and easy to create the groupings.
Additionally it is important that, for each round of the World Café, you designate clearly in the participant list who is responsible for hosting the conversation (i.e. hosting the Skype call, keeping time and making sure everyone contributes!)
• Once everyone is clear about with whom they will chat in the first round and who is hosting the call (plus their Skype ID), you can launch round one. But first – set an online timer (such as online-stopwatch.com) that everyone can see and which will ring to call everyone back into plenary.
• Back in plenary, take some highlights ‘popcorn’ style from each group (call on the hosts of each group of four) and capture these in wikispaces.com / google doc / Mindmeister.com / irisnotes using screen share at the same time.
• Repeat.

11. Point and counterpoint (read the description of this methodology for the ‘how to’ steps in a face-to-face environment in the book: Thaigi’s 100 Favourite Games)
• Provide a participants list to everyone in advance, including names and Skype IDs (or equivalent).
• With everyone on the conference call, use Polleverywhere.com (or google forms / or SurveyMonkey.com) to gauge participant’s positions regarding a controversial statement. Set the poll/survey question up in advance, putting opposing controversial statements at either end of a scale of 1-10, with 10 fields in between into which they must enter their first name. (You need the names later!) Give participants only 30 seconds to decide where they are on the scale.
• As soon as you have all the results, generate the report (export the results) and share this with participants using Skype screenshare (or equivalent). You should be able to see the names of all participants on the scale from one to ten. At this stage, make a comment on the distribution. Then ‘count off’ participants, starting at the person nearest 0, putting them alternately in team 1, team 2, team 1, etc. Note: Designate one (or two) participant(s) – you want to ensure there is an equal number of participants in each team) who fall in the middle of the distribution as ‘judges’ who won’t participate in the work of team 1 and 2. Then designate the person nearest 0 as the “captain” for team 1 and the person nearest 10 as the captain for team 2. They are then responsible for hosting two team calls (using the list of participants shared prior to the meeting).
• Use a tool such as wikispaces.com / google docs / Mindmeister.com as a work space for each of the groups (having set up a space for each team in advance). Provide them with the link and (if necessary) login/ password and set them to work brainstorming all the arguments in favour of ‘their’ controversial statement – capturing all contributions on the tool provided. (This capture is essential for later.) Use an online timer (online-stopwatch.com) to keep time and remind them to return to a full group call.
• Meanwhile, set up 2 quick slideshows. Make sure you can play both on loop. In the first, go through the results from the poll, entering one name per slide into the slideshow starting with the name closest to 0 (and remembering to remove the judge(s)). With all the names in place, make the slides with the names of all participants from team 1 one colour, and all the names from team 2 in another colour. When you play the slideshow, as it goes through the names, the slides should alternative team/colour one and team/colour two. You will use these to call on the members of the teams to share their arguments, as well as helping everyone keep in mind who is talking and on behalf of which team / position. A second slide set is just two slides with just the two team colours (no names).
• Back in full group, launch the ‘debate’, determining who speaks when using your slide set, until all the arguments captured are exhausted. The switch to your second slide set and invite people to ‘change teams’ and spontaneously argue from the other team. You will not have names, so just switch from colour one to colour two. Participants can only share if they are adding a new argument from the other team to the one in which they participated.
• Once all arguments are exhausted. Invite the judge(s) who have listened to the debate to give their ‘verdict’ with a brief synthesis of which arguments they found most compelling.
• Finally re-do the poll that you started with. Generate the report and compare the results! Have people shifted in their thinking?

Please let us now how you get on and what you think!

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Tweets from a TED Week: TEDActive 2011

In February, I had my first “TED-ache” at TEDActive2011. TEDsters know all about TED-aches. They come with the “mind-mash” that is a TED conference. One minute its talks on quantum mechanics, biochemistry or brain science. The next its the latest in information technologies. And then you’re plunged deep into the ocean, taking a swim with seals alongside a nature photographer. Or you’re marvelling as a life-size horse puppet breathes and trots around the stage, and then Bobby McFerrin has you singing and laughing from your gut!

This is no ordinary conference. It stretches you to go where you would likely not go if just browsing the talks on TED.com. Most people listen actively to every single talk. And the beauty comes in the meaning you make for yourself as you listen to talks on a great diversity topics and begin to see patterns; to make connections; to find learning where you might least expect it.

On the journey home, I tried to create a mindmap as I read through all my notes (without which I would have retained but the merest fraction of ideas worth spreading). It was messy. However, perhaps even messier still has been my process of trying to sort all my tweets into some sort of coherence in order to share them here. From the mind-mash that was TEDActive, here are what are still a mish-mash of tweets (with some tweaks) to share my take-aways with you, clustered under some imperfect headings. The talks can be found here: TED2011 Talks

a. Perspective
b. Right, wrong and assumptions
c. Unintended consequences
d. The need to encode ethics in algorithms
e. Innovation and counter-intuition
f. Instrumental information: visualizing systems
g. Collective wisdom for change
h. Art for social change
i. Crowd-voicing
j. Collaborative creativity
k. Leveraging learning
l. Breathtaking medical breakthroughs
m. Miscellaneous communication products and technologies

a. Perspective

Astronaute in space Cady Coleman speaks perspective & the importance of connectedness & value of the earth as she circles once/18 mins.

“If a chunk of metal can be in two places at the same time, you could be. We have to think about the word differently as an individual” Physicist Aaron O’Connell.

Physicist Aaron O’Connell: “Everything around you is connected & that’s the profound weirdness of quantum mechanics.”

In a gfa-1 microbe in Mono Lake CA, arsenic seems to function as phospherous in a cell. Evidence of alternative biochemistry on our planet? It would change our definition of habitability elsewhere… Felisa Wolfe-Simon

We can only find what we know how to look for. For Felisa Wolfe-Simon that’s learning to look for alternative biochemistry on earth.

Edith Widder’s eye-in-the-sea explores bioluminescent deep ocean life & language. “Don’t know what they’re saying… I think its sexy!”

Paul Nicklen chokes up recounting leopard seal stories from his polar photo missions for Nat Geog and shows pictures of the white ‘Spirit’ or ‘Kermode’ bear – only 200 left on the planet! Save sea ice; its as important as soil.

Swiss explorer Sarah Marquis: “I dont want to put people back in nature; I want to put nature back in people”. “Let your soul touch the earth…. go walking.”

RachelSussman photographs living things >10’000 years old. “If you didn’t know what you were looking for, it would be easy to overlook something other megaflora were grazing on before extinction”.

b. Right, wrong and assumptions

“Trusting too much in the feeling of being right can be very dangerous and create huge tactical and social problems as we believe our beliefs reflect reality and make huge assumptions to explain people who disagree with us: assume their ignorant, idiots and/or evil, leading us to treat each other terribly, missing the hole point of being human. The miracle of the mind is that you can see the world as it isn’t.” Kathryn Schulz

“We need to learn to step outside of rightness, look around at one another and the vast complexity of the universe and say: ‘Wow, maybe I’m wrong!The system tells us getting something wrong means there’s something wrong with us. We learn the way to succeed is to never make any mistakes.” Kathryn Schulz

“How does it feel to be wrong?” Asks Kathryn Schulz. “Wrong. You’re answering the question, ‘How does it feel to realize that you’re wrong?’ It feels like being right to be wrong until until you realize you’re wrong.”

Daman Horowitz speaks about his work in prisons giving philosophy classes & the importance of questioning what we believe and why we believe it, including exploring wrongness. “What is wrong? Maybe I am!”

Magician Franz Harary demonstrates playing with glitches in peoples minds that distort and manipulate thoughts, using magic to fake technology that doesn’t exist.

c. Unintended consequences

Evolution will be guided by us in the future, thanks to genetics. What will we choose? More competitive? Empathetic? Creative? “If anything had the potential for unintended consequences, this is it!” Harvey Fineberg

We cannot foresee all consequences. But how can we close the gap between capabilities & foresight? Edward Tenner’: “Learn meticulously from unintended consequences & chaos”.

Edward Tenner: An example of unintended consequences = adding lifeboats to a ship, making it more unstable and resulting in tragedy.

“We are at a threshold moment: a single global brain of almost 7 billion individuals learning collectively at warp speed = very powerful and potentially very dangerous. Nuclear weapons are evidence.” David Christian

Looking at ‘big history’ shows us the power of collective learning and the dangers that come with it. Studying this will help all students make better decisions in the future. David Christian

d. The need to encode ethics in algorithms

“We need new info (Internet) gatekeepers to encode ethic responsibility into their (Facebook, Google…) algorithmic code & give us some control” El Pariser.

Speaking of Facebook and Google, Eli Pariser asserts: “’Personalized algorithmic filter bubbles are throwing off balance our info diet, converting it to info funk food.’

“The demise of guys is a consequence of arousal addictions stimulated by the internet & video ‘porning'” – Philip Zimbardo

e. Innovation and counter-intuition

“The greatest time for game-changing innovation was The Great Depression.” Edward Tenner

“When you train people to be risk averse, they are reward challenged”, said Morgan Spurlock in his talk encouraging the embracing of transparency. He sold the naming rights to his talk.

Inspiring talk by Kalia Colbin about reimagining Christchurch: “10 days ago my be the beginning of the demise of my city, but in the rubble their may be promise”. Help with ideas at www.reimaginechristchurch.org.nz.

Do something good for the city and we’ll give you more land, says Malaysia to property developers as incentive. Thomas Heatherwick does, with buildings that leave more ground for the forest.

For the first time in history not one child in Utter Pradesh & Bihar (northern India) has Polio. New vaccine + resolve + tactics = a unique eradication opportunity. Bruce Aylward

Chefs Hamaru Contu & Ben Roche introduce “Disruptive Food Technology”: from the Future Food science lab: tricking taste buds we can reduce energy & waste http://planetgreen.discovery.com/tv/future-food/.

Bill Ford asserts ingenuity in mobility solutions is not only about our movement, its also about access to food and healthcare. Smart cars, smart parking, smart signalling and smart phones all integrated in new smart mobility system is the future.

A leap in thinking is needed to avoid global gridlock if the population reaches the predicted 9 billion in 2044. Real time data is needed for a new mobility system. Bill Ford

“If we sped up cars in our cities by 3mph, we would reduce by 11% the emissions of our transport system.” Counter-intuitive! Luis Cilimingras, IDEO (formerly FIAT)

Speaking of cars actively driven by the blind (unveiled Jan 2011 http://is.gd/ruV8l1): “Technology will be ready, but will society be ready?” Need system change. Dennis Hong

f. Instrumental information: visualizing systemss

“As the world becomes increasingly instrumented and we have means to connect the dots, we can see interactions not previously visible with profound implications for us as individuals” Deb Roy,

Deb Roy set records in home-video hours to reveal patterns linking words to context and identifying feedback loops as his son acquired language in his Human Speechome Project http://j.mp/ePanlq.

Collaborating with scientists, Rajesh Rao tries to use computer modelling to decipher the last major undeciphered ancient script – Indus. Does it boil down to picture of ‘bee’ + ‘leaf’ = ‘belief’?

Ebs and flows in US flight patterns are visualized, providing powerful communication www.aaronkoblin.com/work/flightpatterns/

Carlo Ratti, MIT SENSEable City Lab, uses pervasive technologies to track trash in an investigation into the “removal-chain”. Listening to Haydn’s ‘Farewell’ Symphony (45), he shows us trash doesn’t leave, just moves! http://senseable.mit.edu/trashtrack/

g. Collective wisdom for change

Students tackle 50 interlocking systems problems learn how not to follow short term destructive paths and learn how to think about World Peace long term, learning right and wrong through their experience. John Hunter

John Hunter asserts very openly that the collective wisdom of his 4th grade students is so much greater than his own. He trusts them to solve world problems, practicing with his World Peace role-play game.

US General Stanley McChrystal talks about changes in leadership with distributed technologies and the inversion of expertize as old ‘leaders’ are less familiar wit the technologies required.

h. Art for social change

Under house arrest in Shanghai, Ai Weiwei speaks via video of art for social change & the creation of a civil & more democratic society in China despite no party willingness.

Street Artist JR’s wish: “Stand up for what you care about by participating in a global collaborative art project. And together we’ll turn the world INSIDE OUT”: www.insideoutproject.net

Women Are Heroes project by street artist JR: www.womenareheroes.be In Kibera “we didn’t use paper (on the rooves), because paper doesn’t prevent the rain from leaking in the house but vinyl does.”

“It doesn’t matter today if it’s your photo or not. The importance is what you do with images… We decided to take portraits of Palestinians and Israelis doing the same job. They all accepted to be pasted next to the other.” JR

i. Crowd-voicing

Human right activist & TED Fellow Esra’a Al Shafei presents www.crowdvoice.org – a project of MidEast Youth tracking voices of protest around the world using crowdsourcing.

Wael Ghonin: Egypt saw extreme tolerance, Christians & Muslims protecting one another praying. “The power of the people is much stronger than the people in power”.

Surprise talk by Wael Ghonim on the Egyptian revolution: “No one was a hero because everyone was a hero.”

“We cannot have a well-functioning democracy if there is not a good flow of information to citizens” El Pariser.

Head of Al-Jazeera, Wadar Khanfar: “The democratic revolution sweeping the Arab world is the best chance to see peace. Let us embrace it.”

j. Colloborative creativity

“Electronic communication will never be a substitute for someone who face to face encourages you to be brave and true” Marc Martens talking of the powerful “Glow” public art playground http://glowsantamonica.org/. Public art to connect people is at the heart of the Santa Monica ‘Glow’ project.

Face ache follows the Bobby McFerrin session. “Unparalleled joy” was in the programme! Playing along with Bobby’s creative spontaneity warmed everyone’s hands, voices and hearts.

The lennonbus.org at #TEDActive – a non-profit mobile recording studio dedicated to providing students with opportunities to make music and video projects.

eyewriter.org – an ongoing collaborative research project using completely open source technology to empower people suffering with paralysis to draw with their eyes. Mik

Co-creating a music video through crowdsourcing: Aaron Koblin describes www.thejonnycashproject.com: a living, moving, ever-changing portrait as people all over the world contribute portraits to the collective whole.

Aaron Koblin: “Interface can be a powerful narrative device”, showing a crowd-sourced video, which when viewed is unique to each viewer www.thewildernessdowntown.com/

Conductor Eric Whitacre’s “Lux Aurumque” gives voice to a virtual choir – http://ericwhitacre.com/the-virtual-choir. The upcoming project received >2050 videos online from 58 countries.

k. Leveraging learning

Project V.O.I.C.E. – lovely project by Sarah Kay uses poetry as a way to entertain, educate & inspire. List 10 things you know to be true. Sharing these lists – who has the same? / opposite? / who heard something never heard before? / heard new angles on what you thought you knew? Sarah Kay

Make a list “10 things I should have learned by now.” Sarah Kay uses poetry to work through what she doesn’t understand with a backpack from where she’s already been.

Neuroscientist Antonio Damasio looks at the conscious mind: “There are 3 levels of self: The proto, the core & the autobiographical (past & anticipated future). We share the first 2 with other species.”

NYT Columnist David Brooks asserts emotions are the foundation of reason and, as social beings emerging out of relationships, we need to learn better how to read, listen to and talk about emotions.

Ed Boyden explores the brain signals that drive learning & describes the process of installing molecules in neurons and using light to turn on/off specific cells in the brain and treat neurological disorders.

“Personal perceptions are at the heart of how we acquire knowledge.” Autistic Savant, Daniel Tammet, shares insights from synaesthesia about colours, textures & the emotions of words & numbers.

29% greater retention from doodlers & better problem solving because it engages all learning styles – Sunni Brown. “The doodle has never been the nemesis of intellectual thought. In reality, it’s been one of its greatest allies.”

Khan Academy learning: self paced, interactive, peer-to-peer, encouraging trying & failing (like falling off a bicycle), and designed to be iterative and so avoid ‘swiss cheese’ gaps in education. Salman Khan

“By removing the one-size fits all lecture from the classroom, these teachers have used technology to humanize the classroom.” “What we’re seeing emerge is this notion of a global one-world classroom.” Salman Khan

“Kids 1 year from voting age don’t know butter comes from a cow. They’re not stupid. Adults have let them down. Every child has the right to fresh food at school & food education as a requirement. It’s a civil right” Jamie Oliver

Jamie Oliver’s exciting new announcement about the future of the Food Revolution: http://bit.ly/hbRmGM #TED

Alison Lewis presents fashion technology, encouraging DIY “Switch Craft” projects blending sewing and electronics to bring handiwork into the 21st century: http://blog.alisonlewis.com/?p=541.

Fiorenzo Omenetto reinvents something that’s been around for millennia. Learning from silk worms, he reverse engineers the cocoon turning water & protein into material with environmental & social significance.

A seed cathedral, inspired by Kew’s seed bank, jurassic park & play doh mop-tops is Thomas Heatherwick’s stunning London Pavillion @ Shanghai: www.heatherwick.com/uk-pavilion/.

Learn a second language in Second Life: an alternative emersion process that works with the 5 stages of second language acquisition and the mastery of the 4 language skills, says Jeong Kinser.

Indra Nooyi talks about Pepsi’s Refresh University to sustain & multiply social change emerging from www.refresheverything.com: stories, lessons & ‘how-to’ online + leadership skills training.

l. Breathtaking medical breakthroughs

Luke Massella is living proof of Anthony Atala’s regenerative organ work. He was one of the first ten people to receive a ‘printed’ kidney. 3D printed organs are the next frontier in medicine.

Eythor Bender showcases his incredible exoskeletons, which enable the paralyzed to walk again.

m. Miscellaneous communication products and technologies

The effects of HIV can be reversed. Watch this powerful ad from the Topsy Foundation: http://t.co/lLph2Or via @youtube.

A compelling video for the genocide-awareness www.onemillionbones.org/ project by Art Activist TED Fellow Naomi Natale #TED: http://youtu.be/FFukmsLLG0k.

Weforest.org’s “Lessons from a tree” video – narrated by Jeremy Irons – supports the “Buy2get1tree” campaign, working with corporate partners to save 2 trillion trees by 2014. Bill Liao

Kate Hartman creates devices that play with how we relate and communicate with ourself, others and nature. “Our bodies are our primary interaction with the world”.

The Handspring Puppet Company breath life into a larger than life War Horse puppet on stage using masterful “emotional engineering” and “up to date 17th century technology to turn nouns into verbs”.

Mike Matas demos www.pushpoppress.com/ – the first feature length interactive book and sequel to “Inconvenient Truth” – with Climate Change solutions. Blow on the screen to turn wind turbines!

A smart braille phone varying the height of a pixel instead of color to communicate information on “screen”: A concept of TED Fellow – SumitDagar.com.

Mattias Astrom demos C3, a new 3D mapping technology: http://www.c3technologies.com/

Bubbli – ambitious new startup seeks to change the way we record images with cameraphones. Terrence McArdle & Ben Newhouse.

Shea Hembrey invented 100 artists and imagined their art. http://www.sheahembrey.com/

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TEDx Workshop Talks, Tips & Tweets during TEDActive 2011

Attending TEDActive 2011 back in February – and joining a couple of hundred other organizers of TEDx (independently organized events under license from TED.com) for workshops, back stage tours, talks and tips – I tweeted about my TEDx learning. For posterity, I’m now sharing the tweets here:

Began #TEDActive 2011 with pre-workshop of TEDx organizers. Great community! Learn about the independently organized TEDx events near you: www.ted.com/tedx

Discovering high +ve correlations between TEDx organisers, entrepreneurs & The Hub network (www.the-Hub.net) at #TEDActive

Idea / quote of the day from TEDx Middle East – “TEDxRevolutions – Revolutions worth sharing” at #TEDActive

TEDx Talk Tips from Ruth, TEDxColumbus: “Who is the hero & villain in each talk? Can I relate? Can I learn from it? Can I follow you? Is it primal? Can I root for you?” #TEDActive

Kelly & Rives’ TEDx Host Tips: Get a stage manager; start hosting pre-event and finish at the after party; introduce the unexpected; have time-fillers and back up plans #TEDActive

TEDx Kids Tips: Shorten; embrace chaos & noise; keep adults aside; invite on stage; involve from seats; outsource jobs to them; give them what they want; max demo’s and Q&A’s; & feed them! #TEDActive

TED set up: casual, relaxed format; 50% seating, unobtrusive background music; brain/superfoods; wine & beer – not spirits; large name tags; & locatech online tool. #TED

Nancy Duarte on storytelling formula: What is – what could be – what is – what could be – what is – call for action – the utopian new bliss. #TED behind the scenes tour, Longbeach

Nancy Duarte quotes Ernest Hemmingway: “The first draft of anything is shit.” #TED

Nancy Duarte quotes Woodrow Wilson: “If I have 10 minutes to present I need a week to prepare; if I have an hour I am ready now.” #TED

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Meetings Too Long and Too Wordy? Try a Twitter Meeting

I hear over and over again that meetings go way too long (and certainly have been in more than a few of these myself). People are not always to the point (if they get to the point), and the actionable items are often embedded in lots of description and anecdote. Loose narrative is not necessarily a bad thing, and at the same time, when an institution has a meeting culture where everything happens in meetings, it is refreshing when they are planned, concise, decisive, and over.

Would it be possible to practice being concise by having a meeting on Twitter?

Here is how it might happen. You could have the first meeting in the same room, with everyone there with their laptops or smart phones. You would have to get everyone on Twitter (in most institutions, only a minority are – and still people are incredibly curious). Help them sign in, set up and connect. Then do a little practice chatting so people get the mechanics. Then start your meeting – try to conduct at least the first item completely on Twitter.

Imagine a silent room with 10 people in it all staring at their computers or phones – frankly, lots of meetings with one person talking are still like this (except people on their laptops and phones are not paying attention to the speaker – see my blog post on Email During Workshops: Bad Manners or Proof of a New Paradigm). At least this time, the other 9 people are all typing and commenting as the person sends through their very concise report, idea, or question. Every agenda item would have everyone’s multiple inputs – thoughts, comments and questions. Stop at some point and debrief it, how is it going? It is interactive? Are people getting used to saying things that are short and pithy?

The next practice might be the same group in their offices. Set a time for the Twitter meeting and have everyone start engaging on Twitter from wherever they are. Imagine in this format, some of the people might be at home, on the train, or having a coffee at the cafeteria. Again see what that is like in terms of helping people be concise, and in the next face-to-face meeting reflect on that. How easy is it to get to the point? How much preparation does it take to have a short meeting? (I think it always takes more – how many people do not prepare at all for meetings, and do their thinking on their feet? Is this why meetings can take so long?) With the Twitter meeting, how easy is it to interact and engage in the discussion? And what’s it like to have the minutes of the meeting at your fingertips immediately as the meeting is going on?

Full disclosure, I have not yet tried this myself although I love the idea. It sounds like an excellent way to help people notice the value of being concise in meetings and to help them practice that. Even in a formal learning situation it might be an interesting exercise in using social media, reflective practice, summarising, reporting, and two-way communication. If you try this, let me know!

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Search Revolution: Social Media Can Save You Time (With a Little Help from Your Friends)

Many people say they don’t have time for social media, are not on Facebook, can’t follow the flow of Twitter, don’t keep up with LinkedIn, never tried a ning, would never bother with a blog. They have too much email, spend too much time on the internet already looking for things; they simply don’t have time to get into these new information streams. “Time wasters” they say – “Where do you find the time?” they ask.

Would they ever believe that using social media might actually save them time? This is what the experts are saying, and they point to the coming revolution in Search.

I recently went to the Social Business Summit in London, and this was one of the big discussion topics – the change in how people will search for information in the new social media environment. It was predicted that in 5 years, Google would no longer be the way we get our information. Google would be out, and our Friends would be in.

Instead of googling something and getting either 1,300 pages of nothing good for too specific searches (e.g. “lighting shops” + my village in Switzerland), or 11,300,000 pages for searches that are too broad (“light shops Switzerland”), people will increasingly use their social media networks of friends and followers to get the granuality of information they need to answer their questions, fast (e.g the Facebook Group that some women in my village set up called “Move and Improve” that shares information on home renovation and local vendors, in English no less). I will never google local electricians again.

Along with this, out goes celebrity advertising. We will no longer want to know what kind of watch to buy from Tiger Woods, we will go directly to one of our friends whom we know has done recent research in watches locally (because she is writing about it on her blog). Now that we have so much more information on our Friends and their preoccupations, whether through their Fan Pages or the discussions they start on LinkedIn Groups, or their incessant Tweets on one topic or another, we will begin to use these more personal filters, much closer to home and our interests, to shortcut our own lengthy research through broad search pathways. Our Friends rate things, they vote, they share their favorite links, videos, photos. And, because of our personal connection, if we ask them a question, they will probably respond.

And our Friends are not only social, we have our Plaxo’s, our LinkedIns, our nings, our professional networks with their Web2.0 platforms where we can ask for and get work-related information, from those whom we know are experts in our topic-of-the-day.

Our Personal Knowledge Management Systems will become a connected web of Friends whom we know personally (or at least virtually), and where we will go for all kinds of information. They will become our Search engines of the future. Hours and hours of Google out, a quick check with our Friends in.

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The Two-Day Total Twitter Immersion: Using Twitter for Social Learning

Many people do not see the point of Twitter. I know this because I counted myself as a proud member of this large, non-plussed group until a few days ago. We had followed the hype and set up an account, followed some people (quickly stopped following some people), Tweeted a few times to see how it worked, and then thought, “so what?” Nobody tweeted back to me, most of my “followers” didn’t know me, and it felt a little silly to be sending these cheeps out alone.

Using Twitter in a conference setting however completely changed my mind about its utility and possible applications for learning.

The Online Educa Conference was full of Tweeters. I know that because I spent a lot of time looking at the hashtag that was set up by the conference organizers (smart, they printed it in the front of the Conference Programme Catalogue in “Important Practical Information”.) A hash tag – like #oeb2009 – is a tag that people include in their 140 character Tweets that is searchable on Twitter. If you put the hash tag in the search box on your home page, any post that includes it will come up in an aggregator window on Twitter. So you can keep track of the whole conversation happening in real time, even if you are not following the individual people Tweeting (yet).

Believe it or not, a big conference was a great place to be totally immersed in Twitter as it had so many useful applications at the event. Here is what I was noticing about how people were using Twitter for social learning in this setting (remember there were some 2000+ people attending).

  • At any time, there were up to 10 sessions going on in parallel and obviously you could only attend one, but you could count on the fact that a dozen or so people in each session were Tweeting the main points, and if one of those sessions sounded better than yours you could always split and go find it. Twitter helped make more purposeful the Law of Two Feet.
  • Speakers were using Twitter to publicise their sessions in advance (plenty of healthy competition with participants spoiled for choice). They also used Twitter to share their websites and papers. They even used them to announce changes to rooms, speakers line ups etc.
  • Being active and thoughtful on Twitter helped people gain visibility in a large conference. In vast plenary halls, no one could really stand out, and very few got to make their points publically, but on Twitter anyone could jump in with good ideas, and be rewarded with comments and engagement.
  • Participants were using Twitter to gather people together – for example plenty of Tweets announced snacks and discussion at a certain time at some stand in the Exhibition Hall, or at the bar. As one Tweeter lamented, “Shoot!!!…. i see i missed the Tweet meetup at the oeb bar yesterday…always good to meet tweeps in RL.”
  • In each session, there were assistants handing out paper feedback forms, but I noticed that not too many people were filling them in. I think they didn’t need to, people were giving real feedback to speakers and organizers on Twitter on everything from the quality of the presentations to lunch. One Tweeter wrote, “maybe we need an online course for silently closing the door!” (obviously sitting too close to some conference room exit).
  • Panel Chairs could use Twitter to gather questions from the audience. At least one Chair monitored Twitter for questions, that she then used to launch discussion when the panelists were done with their formal presentations. One Tweeter even asked his “followers” (not at the conference), “going to mobile learning session- mates of mine, any questions I should ask?”
  • People were using Twitter to be a part of the larger conversation and interact with many more interesting people. We noticed that we could talk to about 20 people face-to-face in the breaks during the two-day conference. However, we heard from and engaged in conversations with hundreds on Twitter.
  • Now, after the conference, Twitter acts as an archive of content through Tweets, with their links, ideas, and connections to a previously unknown group of like-minded people.

Overall, I was impressed by how much Twitter added to my conference-going experience. It took me a while to get into it. I needed to install Tweetdeck on my I-phone before it got really easy to use it for all the things above. It took me some time to find my “voice”, make some personal policies about what, when and how I would engage with the community through Twitter. And suddenly, I wasn’t learning alone anymore.

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Ahead of the Curve: This Year’s Learning Trends at Online Educa

I just spent the last two days at Online Educa, one of the largest global conferences for technology-supported learning and training, held annually in Berlin. It is my third time attending and every time I return full of new ideas and a glimpse at the future learning trends through the eyes of some of the top thinkers, academics and techno-geeks. This year was no different.

Each year there is some tool or topic that is capturing the excitement and imagination of the 2000+ participants. When I first attended in 2006 it was blogs and wikis, with many people enthusing about their experiences with these young tools. At that time we had just started this blog, so were eager to hear how people were experimenting with theirs for learning. Informal learning was also a topic with Jay Cross’ original book on this published.

In 2007, the buzz was around real learning applications in virtual worlds, like Second Life (SL), which most people had discarded as playgrounds for slackers. Many formal and informal learning experts were exploring and exploiting their potential for all kinds of learning. Podcasting was also a hot topic, and mobile learning was a beginning topic of conversation then, but was being drowned out by SL avatars and a much bigger conversation about the quality and quantity of user-generated content. (I’ll never forget plenary speaker Andrew Keen -author of The Cult of the Amateur: How Today’s Internet is Killing Our Culture- who was boo-ed for proclaiming to the audience of thousands of otherwise very polite internet enthusiasts that wikipedia and the internet was being written by monkeys, or something to that extent.)

Trending this year were a few things: Tools like Twitter were not only mentioned in practically every session, but also was being actively used to extend the learning beyond the seminar rooms throughout the conference. All kinds of video application was also a trend, from having school kids use the video clips they took with their phone for show and tell, to the question of whether YouTube and its mega supply of how-to, just-in-time learning content might ever replace formal training. Mobile learning was also very big this year, with everyone doing it on their I-phones (or other, although I saw lots of them) as well as discussing the future of learning as being “hand held”. This was linked to an ongoing discussion about the coming of cloud computing, having everything in the “cloud” with ubiquitous access, where any user can access any content, anytime with their phone, PDA or even a TV. One plenary speaker heralded the end of “bulky” laptops, while holding up one of the smallest I’ve seen.

I myself found it fascinating that I only turned on my own PC once the whole two days (and that was for a skype call to Sweden). Not that I was taking notes and talking instead, no, I was on my phone the whole time. I used it to Twitter the conference, used it to give feedback in sessions on Backnoise.com, to ask questions of other participants, to meet and interact with many people, and more. Instead of sitting down to write my blog posts, I micro-blogged the whole time (I would have never found the hour it takes me to write a proper blog post during that fast-paced conference.) And in doing got some experiential learning in “going mobile”, learning alot about this new handheld future, from many who do it so expertly.

In fact, my last Tweet from the Conference was: “#oeb2009 Difference @ OEB for me this yr: Didn’t use my laptop at all- all interaction with mobile & found it great- Next yr no pc 4 me!”

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What’s New for HeatSeekers? Using Twitter in Meetings

If you look up “Heatseeker” in Wikipedia, you get redirected immediately to “Missile Guidance”, and a long explanation of how these kinds of missiles work to find their targets. However, the top link of this entry is another redirection to Billboard weekly album chart’s Top Heatseekers which refers to a selected list of new and emerging artists who have never been on the top 100 albums list. In fact, once an album hits the top 100 chart, they are off the Top Heatseekers list. The label of heatseeker is strictly reserved for great new stuff.

I was interested at David Allen’s GTD Summit a few weeks ago to hear the label of “Heatseeker” used over and over again. It was used to refer to speakers and participants, like Guy Kawasaki or Taco Oosterkamp, who are out there looking for the newest technologies, gadgets and productivity enhancements (usually these people are in the technology space, but this is probably not a necessity.) One of the participants beside me in a panel session was using the newest Kindle, and delighted in showing me how it worked, what he liked about it and what he was looking forward to in the next version. Everyone had their iPhone and were talking about new applications for it and wishes. David Allen was given a Mac after Guy Kawasaki hassled him about not having one, clearly for the Heatseekers a Mac with all the bells and whistles is essential.

One thing I noticed about this meeting that I have not noticed before, was that everyone seemingly was using Twitter. In fact, it was the first time I had seen a plenary session where, in addition to the two central screens, there were two lateral screens that were scrolling the Twitter Tweets as people posted them. It turned out that there were dozens of people in the room who, throughout the speeches and discussion, were micro-blogging their 140 character Tweets, including questions (that other Twitter users were answering), quotes, additional information and connections to what other speakers had said (especially when they contradicted each other). Nothing got past the people Twittering. And the interesting thing was that people outside the room were following people inside the room, so not only were we benefitting from the Tweets, but who knows how many people not attending the conference were following those Twittering inside the meeting rooms. Apparently David Allen has over 75,000 people “following him”, which he said was either the cause of celebration or great paranoia.

I had heard of Twitter a few years ago just after it started. We had a demonstration during our New Learning Meeting in Alexandria, Egypt in 2007, where at the time the primary new and interesting Heatseeker thing was using Second Life for learning. I started my own Twitter account in the meantime but had not discovered its potential yet for learning. In addition to using it to host multiple conversations during what otherwise would be a monologue of a plenary session, they had some other applications for Twitter. For example, the Heatseekers said that it definitely could be useful for learning how to waste time (that was their first response.) However, they also said that it gave people up-to-the-minute news flashes (remember the people who tweeted about their plane crashing before any other media was on the spot.)

And of course trend spotters and Heatseekers use it to find the heat, so no wonder they like it. There are definitely different levels of Heatseekers, we have a few in our institution, although I don’t know of anyone yet who is Twittering as a part of their work (or even for recreational purposes for that matter). We haven’t had a meeting yet that mentioned real-time bullet-point reporting via Twitter. Our team has introduced reporting via a cartoonist, graphic facilitation and blogging. Maybe Tweeting is next. When you only have 140 characters to make your point, you need to make sure you are on target – maybe that missile guidance system analogy works after all…