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  • Networks Rule: from Seperatedness to Interconnectedness

Networks Rule: from Seperatedness to Interconnectedness

An excellent article on how business should been seen in the scope of the [much] bigger picture;

Insights: In fact, the more we understand how life works, the more we recognise how the organising principles of life can be applied to business.  It is as if the challenging business environment we find ourselves in (this ‘perfect storm’) gives the perfect environment for us to shift our perceptions to see the business world for what it really is – a part of life.
Learning to see business through more of an ecosystems lens. Less machine. More organism.
At the core of this paradigm shift is a perception shift from ‘seperatedness’ to ‘interconnectedness’ 

Found via a post by +Adam Johnson shared on the "Building better places to work" community by +James O'SullivanThe conversation on +Gideon Rosenblatt post also contains some useful links to follow.
Ecological Thinking for Business TransformationMost people in business subscribe to an out-dated worldview, a perception of reality inadequate for dealing with the volatile and globally interconnected business world.
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  • Nurture Compassion in Education

Nurture Compassion in Education

Nurture compassion on a daily basis.

Wouldn't it be nice if educational establishments spent less time focusing on exam results and more time focusing on what makes an individuals brain light up. I'd like to see researchers deep dive in to what really motivates learners to learn. I'd also like to see studies conducted on the physical and psychological reactions that occur when students request help from one another, and the effect this has on motivation. In essence, I think more needs to be done to create opportunities for learners to help one another?

Students should be constantly questioning and if they're not, the question has to be asked, why not. Without the motivation to ask why, how or what, the learner is destined to learn very little. I think it's time to stop taking the learning opportunity away from learners by teaching them and instead help them learn through discovery. Ask them questions, lots of questions, and encourage them to question everything!

I think if the focus can shift from establishment centric, to student centric, a natural increase in compassion would be seen; we need people to care more.

Perhaps it's time to include compassion as a subject in the curriculum. Perhaps it needs to have a similar weighting to maths and science. Because if they don't care or don't know how to care or they've forgotten how to care, life and the footprints they leave will not make much sense, less have any positive ripple effect.

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  • Chocolate That Does Not Melt - A Cadbury Innovation

Chocolate That Does Not Melt - A Cadbury Innovation

A world first. A Cadbury innovation. It's melt-free chocolate!

At first glance this may seem like a gimmicky marketing trick designed to reinvent a brand's product offering. However, the more I thought about it, the less gimmicky it seemed, and the more innovative it appeared. Hot countries don't sell chocolate in the same volume that colder countries do. To solve the problem there are two choices; keep the chocolate cool, which is difficult to manage and requires energy, or, make chocolate that doesn't melt.

The latter is what Cadbury's have been pioneering. I can imagine a James Bond film style lab-environment with mad scientists working day and night. Or perhaps a scene from Willy Wonker and the Chocolate factory. Well, it seems they've cracked it. Soon hot countries will be delivered chocolate that doesn't melt thanks to the Cadbury innovation.

This is one story I'll be following, not because I live in a hot country and have the need for this product, but because I'm intrigued to see if they can create a new market out of thin air, or runny chocolate.

How are you innovating your product range, and what lessons can be learnt from Cadbury's innovative approach?
The 'temperature-tolerant chocolate' stays solid at temperatures that would turn conventional chocolate into a gooey mess.
We've known since the advent of the cream-filled Cadbury Egg that scientists at the confectionary company like to play fast and loose with the rules of chocolatiering. But the latest development out of Cadbury's R&D facility in Birmingham, UK, has us wondering if they've crossed that delicate line between genius and madness. They call it "temperature-tolerant chocolate." But let's call it what it is: chocolate that doesn't melt.
At least, it doesn't melt like regular chocolate does. The new stuff remains solid--very solid, so much so that you can reportedly press on it with a finger after exposing it to 104-degree temperature for hours and it will maintain its form, defying the scientific laws of chocolate which clearly state that standard chocolate should melt at 93 degrees.
Anyhow, many of us may never know what this augmented chocolate tastes like, or whether Cadbury has taken science too far. The company only plans to distribute it in warm-weather countries that lack the supply-chain infrastructure to deliver conventional chocolate reliably to market. That means huge potential markets like India and Brazil could soon be awash in temperature-tolerant chocolate--the U.S. and Britain, much as we may want it, don't get any.

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  • If children cannot learn the way we teach...

If children cannot learn the way we teach...

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  • Are There Better Ways to Learn Maths

Are There Better Ways to Learn Maths

I know children need to learn maths and have challenging mental problems to solve. I realise there is a national maths curriculum that is deemed very important. I understand that Rome wasn't built in a day. Actually I only have one simple wish; could those in education find ways to make maths just a teeny weeny bit more contextual. Kids shouldn't die of boredom before they reach the age of 13.

Learn maths in context

As a suggestion, instead of following the above image scenario again and again, why not listen to the child's advice and use Google spreadsheets to learn maths. Get them to work cooperatively with one another while addressing a collaboratively applied project. Apply context (in large doses) and make sure it relates to something they care about; like their weekly allowance, their big savings plan, their holiday fund or saving for their next smartphone!

Let Maths teach them how they could save money. Teach them the value of learning maths and about sharing what they've been able to save. Show them that they can still have a great time with less. Teach them that if they waste money there will be less  available to do other things they want...
Teach them responsibility with maths and not just how to add up numbers rote style.

...show them how technology can support their learning; they all know it exists, most have it in their pockets, so why hide it. If possible try to tie it all together so that when they wake up each morning they don't yawn and think, "oh no, not another boring maths class today." And finally, let them play outside (much) more.

Create conditions for children to do well in maths. Tell them the truth. Give them hope. Prevent the scenario depicted below from becoming norm.

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  • This Is The Reason Why Social Is So Important

This Is The Reason Why Social Is So Important

"If you have an apple and I have an apple and we exchange apples then you and I will still each have one apple. But if you have an idea and I have an idea and we exchange these ideas, then each of us will have two ideas." ~ George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950) 

Thank you Inma for reminding me of this social gem and leading me back to it.

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  • Adaptive Learning: Success Breeds Success

Adaptive Learning: Success Breeds Success

In an ongoing quest to better understand how Education can be improved utilising both new technologies and smarter ways of working and learning, I've been reading up on the Adaptive Learning approach utilised by Knewton. The snippets below, from a recent post about how to make students smarter, provided the inspiration for the commentary that follows. In other areas of recent research, the work done by the Kahn Academy and that of Peter Norvig have also inspired. The combined reading leads me along the path of how (big) data can be used to get a much more accurate view of real learning, both from the student and the teachers' perspective.
In order to improve student performance and self-esteem, we need to break this cycle and prove that intelligence is malleable and that students can control their academic destiny. Adaptive learning, a teaching method premised on the idea that the curriculum should adapt to each user, is the sort of limitless technology that is up to the challenge of untangling the cyclical effects of self-perception and social expectation on students’ academic performance.
I like how the Kahn Academy platform is based on data analysis and that a teacher and pupil can easily identify the knowledge gaps. The idea that all 30 students in a room will understand the information at the same time is completely flawed, even more so today when technology can provide rich statistical data to support on an individual basis.

In most cases the teachers' hands are tied, as they themselves are guided by a strict curriculum, and if they want to keep to their jobs it must be followed to the letter. In order to keep the curriculum on track, teachers have to move on, which in turn leaves obvious 'knowledge gaps'. As time goes by those gaps are the fundamental building blocks the student needs in order to advance to the next phase of understanding, without them being filled complete understand is not possible.

Both Kahn and Knewton are addressing these issues in innovative ways utilising advanced statistical analysis that enables the learner to plug those gaps in ways that best suit and make sense to them. Technology's role is to supports this process by making sense of how best that individual student likes to learn, identifying where problems occur and routing them back through the foundational work to ensure the gaps get plugged before more content overwhelms the student. I'm inspired by both systems.
Here are 5 ways in which continuous adaptive learning can promote the idea that intelligence is malleable and help each student control his or her academic destiny.
The concept that students are in control of their own destiny is very important. Once a student begins to understand they have the reins in their own hands and they are able to steer the course, and that the system is there to support them, as opposed to it being there only to be adhered to, motivation to fully engage and achieve changes. Students, and in the broader sense, learners, need do it for themselves and not for the reason they 'have' to - they also need to take responsibility for that in a supported environment - Education!
1) Pace of feedback. "If neither success nor failure is final, the learning process becomes geared toward exploration and long-term development rather than grades and crash studying. All this shifts the emphasis from talent to effort and promotes the idea that one can control his own ability."
This is one of my favourite quotes "neither success nor failure is final", lending itself fully to a life long learning mentality, and that the student is actually responsible for his or her own learning. With this approach the necessary buy-in is created for a sustainable creative future of those who are willing and able to make possible what they aspire to, and to what they can imagine.
2) Targeted focus. "By allowing each student to focus on what he or she most needs to work on at any given point, adaptive learning helps students concentrate on maximizing their own individual potential rather than meeting externally defined one-size-fits-all standards; this encourages them to harness a deeper and more intrinsic motivation."
Knowing where the specific knowledge gaps are is crucial, because without this information much time and effort it's misspent relearning mastered sections of work; it also ensures the student to remain highly focus which leads to increase motivation. There is nothing more boring than listening to a lesson that one has already demonstrated mastery in. Unfortunately, this is how the current system of public education operates. There is little or no opportunity for a student to fill their own gaps as the tide of curriculum waits for nobody; it's still very much a one-size-fits-all public system that is failing today's learners. Utilising technology and the resulting data in innovative ways is the disruptor and the enabler.
3) Flexibility of presentation. "After discovering how each student learns best, an adaptive system might show one student a video, another a diagram and another an essay on the same subject."
The blending of preferred choice also makes perfect sense, but of course is only possible once it is known. A teacher managing a class of 30 students, pressured by the timetable, has little chance to personalise the content, so the gaps continue to exist. The more data the student gives to the system, the more the technology can learn and 'adapt' to their preferred method of learning.  I would however caution that the technology should not only support students in their preferred ways of learning, but should also provide a balanced mix of methods; understanding the dynamics of that balance is easier when analysing the data, especially when visualisation techniques are applied.
4) Productive social opportunities. "Through an adaptive learning system, teachers can use data regarding performance, learning style, and preferences to create cohorts of students who complement each other academically."
Peer to peer is how Education scales in the 21st century, and how it creates the inclusive feeling of being part of the bigger picture - you teach and you learn, you are valuable and valued. One teacher to thirty students has never been a viable scenario, the dynamics of thirty to thirty changes the entire game plan. Everyone is a learner and a teacher and the conditions need to be created for peer to peer support to occur. Using data analysis it is possible to identify who can complement one another, which should in turn create social opportunities for students to work with those who previously were not considered 'part of their circle'.

I've seen this occur recently with my daughter. There was a boy at school who was 'not' in her tribe, so to speak, until it was identified that he loved music and played drums really well. Suddenly the topic bonded them and a relationship based on the desire to support one another around that topic developed. The technology can aid this process, individualising learning in ways that previously would have been missed, or would have occurred more often than not by chance.
5) Improving self-awareness. "Self-awareness is ultimately what allows students to rebound from failure and understand that their poor performance is not a reflection of innate ability but rather a misunderstanding of something very specific."
The final point here is so important. The student is in the hands of the 'Education' system at a time when they are at their most impressionable. It is isn't that the students aren't able to learn, but more that the system is not designed well enough to produce the best for the 'individuals' it has responsibility for. The current system is outdated and comes from a a time in history where the economic outcomes required by industry and commerce were very different. Creative thinkers who have learnt how to learn and how to solve problems, both individually and as part of network, are now the real purpose of education.

I tip my hat to those pioneering processes and technology platforms like Knewton and Kahn Academy and those who are pushing back against how Education is currently provided, change is needed and quicker than it is currently occurring.

The final two quotes are from a Mashable interview with the founder of Knewton, Jose Ferreira, and I think they sum up this post rather well.
“We use data to make your education better, that’s it.”
Doesn't get clearer than that, does it!
“We know everything about what you know and how you learn best because we get so much data. We can predict failure in advance, which means we can pre-remediate it in advance.”
I have great hope that the future of learning is going to be very bright. There are so many committed and talented innovators and educators who through their determination are finding smarter ways of working, living and ultimately learning.

If you have questions or comments please reply below, and if you enjoyed the post please consider sharing it with friends, thanks.

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  • How Does Storytelling Impact What We Learn?

How Does Storytelling Impact What We Learn?

Storytelling is a means for sharing and interpreting experiences. Stories are universal in that they can bridge cultural, linguistic and age-related divides. Learning is most effective when it takes place in social environments that provide authentic social cues about how knowledge is to be applied. Stories provide a tool to transfer knowledge in a social context.
Keywords; learning, social, environment, authentic, knowledge, context

Human knowledge is based on stories and the human brain consists of cognitive machinery necessary to understand, remember and tell stories. Humans are storytelling organisms that both individually and socially, lead storied lives. Stories mirror human thought as humans think in narrative structures and most often remember facts in story form. Facts can be understood as smaller versions of a larger story thus storytelling can supplement analytical thinking.
Keywords; cognitive machinery, narrative structures, remember facts, analytical thinking

Stories are effective educational tools because listeners become engaged and therefore remember. While the storylistener is engaged, they are able to imagine new perspectives, inviting a transformative and empathetic experience. Listening to a storyteller can create lasting personal connections, promote innovative problem solving and foster a shared understanding regarding future ambitions. The listener can then activate knowledge and imagine new possibilities. Together a storyteller and listener can seek best practices and invent new solutions.
Keywords; educational tools, engaged, imagination, empathy, connections, innovation, ambitions, invention.

Stories tend to be based on experiential learning, but learning from an experience is not automatic. Often a person needs to attempt to tell the story about that experience before realizing its value. In this case it is not only the listener that learns, but also the teller who becomes aware of their own unique experiences and backgrounds. This process of storytelling is empowering as the teller effectively conveys ideas and with practice is able to demonstrate the potential of human accomplishment. Story taps into existing knowledge and creates bridges both culturally and motivationally toward a solution.
Keywords; experiential learning, empowering, accomplishment, culture, motivation, solutions.

Source: Storytelling, Wikipedia.
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  • Redesigning Education on a massive scale

Redesigning Education on a massive scale

Loved the analogy at 1:55 where he explains that they were trying to create the environment similar to a bar where your friend is explaining something that you haven't yet grasped, but you know you're about to; and then this to tens of thousands of students all at the same time - awesome!

I also like the learning principles applied - the reflection time - the ability for everyone to get on the same page by a certain day - peer review and support - collective space to discuss after reflection, also via mobile - this goes beyond the idea of having to take it all in during a live session. I also like consideration given to the length of videos; hour long lectures are not what the brain prefers.

All in all, an inspiring TED talk, look forward to following up on the data they gather and how they apply it to making further improvements. Watch the video here.

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  • Social Learning Creating Waves of Change

Social Learning Creating Waves of Change

There is a wave of change and it's being driven by social learning via the internet. How long it takes for institutions to adopt these new concepts is based on many different factors. Perhaps the biggest problem facing education is the education system itself and those who are controlling it.

I’d say we should focus instead on helping people find what will make their lives as fulfilling as possible, and then support them in excelling at it. Let’s figure out the best possible role the schools can play in achieving that outcome.

Kids are not stupid, they know that once they complete their 'education' a job in their chosen interest is not guaranteed, especially in today's job market. Motivation is therefore dampened and as a direct result happiness and fulfillment are negatively affected .

Tomorrow's knowledge workers need to gain new skills. They need to learn from Master learners who can teach them how information can be curated, stored, re-found and shared. It is no longer necessary to memorise everything, it is more important to know where to find the answers and from whom.

Building communities of practice and allowing those communities to find their own solutions plays a defining part in the future of education. If the future of schooling is to be heavily based around the social internet it would make sense for education to adopt it as soon as possible.

Is it possible that as leaders we need to be thinking differently?

For leaders to think differently leaders need to change their thoughts. From a cognitive perspective, this is easier said than done. If leaders are unable to change their thoughts, technology will eventually become disruptive and cause change without choice. This is probably the most likely outcome based on the difficulties of changing core foundational upbringing.

I don't think there are any teachers whose personal ambition isn't to ensure kids are fulfilled or happy, although I do think teacher's hands are tied, and from their own professional perspective, ensuring their students hit 'educational' targets is their main priority - especially if they want to keep their jobs!

Thanks to Jeff Cobb for inspiring this post, which was originally shared in 2010.

Insights from: What if schools had to make kids happy? by Jeff Cobb

Here’s a simple (though perhaps not easy) proposition: Let’s value schools based on their ability to help produce happy adults.

I’ve been struck by how little weight is given to fulfillment and happiness as a desired outcome of our educational system – at least in the U.S.

If it is all about higher test scores, then guess what, our educational institutions will develop approaches aimed at producing good test takers.

Trying to gauge whether schools have contributed in a meaningful way towards fulfillment, towards the type of happiness associated with “the good life,” as Aristotle put it, may seem messy, but it strikes me as increasingly possible. The research that Martin Seligman, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi and others have done in the field of positive psychology suggest numerous approaches that might be tried if we have the collective will to test and implement them.

A focus on fulfillment also strikes me as increasingly necessary

But more importantly, if we expect to achieve new heights, we need the people who do these things to love them, to be passionate about them, to see them as part of a fulfilling, happy, engaged life. We don’t need to be shoving them down the throat of every student who enters our educational system. That devalues both the outcome and the student.

Source: www.missiontolearn.com

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  • Truth and Hope: Dedicated to Education

Truth and Hope: Dedicated to Education

When passion and dedication for others success meet, such things are not only possible, but inevitable. An inspiring speech with rays of truth and hope, please share it with your networks.

Via Forbes: Every now and then a speech comes along that reminds me why public speaking is still essential and why I said back in 2003 that the only reason to give a speech is to change the world.
But the speech does a great deal more than that.  It is beautifully constructed around 2 stories – the first one illustrating what is possible, and the second what is next, as Johnston says.  His real themes are truth and hope.  He says children need both from the adults around them – and then kids can do anything.  Johnston delivers the speech with passion and real feeling, even choking up at one point as he talks about his kids.
I had tears in my eyes by the end of the speech, and you will too.  Johnston’s dedication to education and the real progress he has been able to make deserve to be celebrated.  Watch the speech and reaffirm your faith in teaching and teachers – and most of all students.
Caveats aside, this speech will have you standing up and cheering for education by the end.  It’s 21 minutes that are worth spending on the future of our children.  Watch it, and tell everyone you know about it.  And thanks, Mike, for your service to education.
Watch the video here.

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  • Brands Need Social Like Fish Need Water

Brands Need Social Like Fish Need Water

The gem in this article was "Simply put, social brands have become integrated into the average user’s web browsing experience." It reminds me of the phrase, 'you've got to be in it to win it...' and if you're not in it, your competitors will happily nibble away at your share of the pie. Whether your customers are B2B or B2C, they all subconsciously expect to see their brand represented in Social and in a way the reflects the best of their brand. They want to associate with you so make it easy for them and the rest will follow very naturally.
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  • Motivate children to question everything

Motivate children to question everything

Motivate children to question everything, and then support them to find the answers themselves. Teaching them this will ensure they grasp the concept of life long learning long after they have left your company. That is the duty of everyone who enters the teaching profession.

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  • Purpose of Community

Purpose of Community

How many laughed and nodded when they first saw the evolution image; monkey to man sitting at the computer?

This was the first image that came to mind when I saw the black and white images below. The combination made me stop and think about the current state of education, technology, families, work, and how for many, preparation for adult life is not the main purpose or indeed the reality that exists after education.

Take a good look at the black and white images below and try to imagine how it was for those children working at such young ages. At first it made me realise how important it was that we'd progressed away from using children as cheap labour in factories. Then I thought about it some more.

At the time those children working in the mills, those in the pictures below, didn't think it odd, in fact it was normal, especially as all their friends were there too. I concluded that they indeed had a form of purpose, were rewarded, in one way or another, and from a very young age learnt about contribution. They had learnt three important lessons - nothing in life is free, life is not always fair, and contribution to the family and community was a prerequisite.

Now I'm not condoning this as a model that should be returned to, heaven forbid, and for all those businesses who continue to employee child labour every effort should be made to stop them. But it did make me think about purpose, and in light of what I've witnessed  with my own eyes, especially in my immediate surrounds, ie. Europe and actually in many of our developed & free economies, there does seem to be an increasing lack of purpose on the faces of young people.

I've been in a unique position for near on ten years where I've been able to personally watch this generation evolve. With our photography business I've observed 100,000's of young people, many I've photographed, and I guess as a result I've subconsciously mapped them and created some kind of happiness measuring-stick. I've seen a trend emerging, and the balance on the positive side is under attack; to note, these observations, this primary research, was across all socio-classes ie. the general public, enabling a wide-angle picture of society, and as a portrait photographer I've been able to get close to their inner person, albeit for a short moment in time.

A short story:
The other evening I sat in my local restaurant and listened to two local builders talking about the education their children receive - which in itself was an interesting conversation, ie. learning being delivered! But specifically they talked about the importance of healthy food, even more interesting was the importance of it occurring at home and that it should be an engaging experience. What struck me was their comparison of (their) times gone by and how actually when a generation of parents don't pass on the the knowledge and good habits, how easily it can be lost forever.  They could clearly see how a generation brought up on packet food, microwave dishes and deep fried fast food were very unlikely to discover, or as importantly share it with their children. In essence they were discussing a change in societies culture leading mankind away from balance and health - they saw this as having very serious consequences in the future.
One comment stuck in mind:
The parents don't even encourage their children to wash and peel potatoes or chop vegetables. It all comes out of a packet. It's not healthy, you know. But worse than that they become accustomed to it and so will their children. The importance of helping parents to prepare fresh food and then eating together as a family at a regular time has been lost. It's very sad." (broad translation from Bavarian!)

What I've just written is really a continuation of the my post on the 'Purpose of Education' and 'Educational Change Starts Locally', both of which see community, from an holistic perspective, as the key to nurturing purpose in the lives' of children (and adults).

You may be thinking, so why did I use the amusing image of evolution at the top of this post, and what does this all have to do with technology. I see a clear correlation between purpose (or the lack of it) after prolonged use of non-specific, non-focused, non-guided technology tasks. I also see a correlation between the concept of hard work and the ease of tasks technology enables and the link this may have to the onset of boredom and heightened expectations. One other thing I see is that parents need to spend more time hugging their children, and less time being distracted by technology themselves; do as I do, not as I say, springs to mind!

I would define the purpose of community, in its purest form, as inclusion.

Here's a closing thought and a small dose of inspiration...
Before enlightenment; chop wood, carry water. After enlightenment; chop wood, carry water. ~ Zen proverb
Put your heart, mind, intellect and soul even to your smallest acts. This is the secret of success. ~ Swami Sivananda

What comes to mind when you look through these images?

A child in 1908 arriving for work in a mill to help her sister.

The children working at Cornell Mill in Fall River, Massachusetts, in the winter of 1912.

By 1911, Stanislaus Beauvais had already worked in this Massachusetts factory for two years.

Two little girls smile sweetly as they take a break from their jobs in a cotton mill in Tifton, Georgia, in 1909.

Street Bretzau, with a bandaged finger, was injured while working in the mule room of this Tennessee factory in 1910.

A hundred years earlier, in 1911, a young child in Yazoo City, Mississippi, works a spinner.

Some of the kids in this Macon, Georgia mill were so small they had to climb up into the machines to repair them.

Black/White images from U.S. National Reserves:
Images courtesy of U.S. National Reserves via Gizmodo

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  • Thousands of pupils to resit English GCSEs

Thousands of pupils to resit English GCSEs

I bet the children are really looking forward to resitting their exams!
Exam boards said they were offering the English resits free of charge to schools as a response to strength of feeling on the issue. 
The regulator insisted it would be inappropriate for either of the sets of exams to be regraded and students would be given an extra chance to resit the GCSE in November.

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  • Tribes need a place to gather

Tribes need a place to gather

"By building a community of employees, prospective employees, contributors, consumers and the general public around their knowledge (read: content), brands will achieve a profound educational influence that goes way beyond a simple “social media strategy.” It’s already happening."

What Can Brands Teach Us? | Sparksheet »
What divides the average worker from the innovative linchpin? A lot of the time it’s the opportunity and passion to keep learning. Product marketer Ramon Pedrillo Bez argues it’s time for brands to be...

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  • Jobs for Life are Becoming a Distant Memory

Jobs for Life are Becoming a Distant Memory

Professor Mason argued that entrepreneurship teaching had to be experiential. Students needed to be able to apply what they were taught in the lecture hall through practice, make mistakes and learn from them.
"It's very important given the current level of graduate unemployment," he said. "We are seeing traditional jobs being replaced by agency jobs, self-employment and freelancing. All of this means entrepreneurial skills are increasingly important.
"It is a new world of work, and universities need to be able to equip people with the skills to survive."
Times Higher Education - Experiential enterprise: can-do students need hands-on teaching
Universities have failed to react to changes in the labour market that render some traditional business teaching methods defunct, according to an expert in entrepreneurship. That is the view of Colin ...

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  • 4 Psychology Tips to Improve Brand Messaging

4 Psychology Tips to Improve Brand Messaging

Thanks to +David Amerland for leading me to this article by +Richard Conyard. These snippets resonated with me, though I'd encourage you to read the whole article.
"You can’t please all of the people all of the time." - very true!
...in digital and especially in social we need to embrace the fact that our audiences are people and brand messages need to be tailored to them. Whilst this is stating the obvious, the methods and challenges of tailoring message are manifold, but if we are going to get creative in improving message, I believe a route that deserves investigation is psychology.
We give out and receive messages in many different ways, through all of our senses, gestures, musings and actions; we also deal with message through tone, style and timing. Our innate use of message also goes beyond to factor in methods of delivery and route, including societal, influence, projection, empathy and disruption – each strengthening the message to achieve specific goals. 
The simplest way to understand cognitive dissonance and calls to action is to consider a life buoy (CTA), thrown to a drowning person (audience member induced into cognitive dissonance). Of course if the life buoy is being pulled in by cannibals, the person can reflect on their decision from the cooking pot, but that is another set of choices (I do not condone cooking your audience btw). < Agree, don't cook the audience!
"What do we want to make them feel, long-term?" - Great question
Brand message therefore needs to reflect into the aligned audience, to build upon their image of self so that they experience worth from their alignment.

Digital Strategy: 4 Psychology Tips to Improve Brand Messaging | Social Media Today
What is good brand messaging? Sitting in brainstorms I often hear terms such as voice, tone, style, none of which are incorrect - when we build our digital strategy campaigns and / or social media pla...
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  • Life is like a camera

Life is like a camera

"Capture the good times..."

Reshared post from +Kathy Porupski
Love this and wanted to share it with my Google+ friends... I am armed with my camera and headed out the door to focus on what's IMPORTANT and capture some GOOD TIMES... :-) Happy 4th of July everyone and may it be spent safely with family and friends! I am told this quote was generated by Don Carroll.

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  • Sifting through the data deluge

Sifting through the data deluge

Great data tips from +Meri Walker of +BeingSocial.Us - here's an extract:
"Spending less time on gaining information that is nice to know and more time on things that we need to know now.
Focusing on quality of information, rather than quantity. A short concise e-mail is more valuable than a long e-mail.
Learning how to create better information (this is what Infogineering is about). Be direct in what you ask people, so that they can provide short precise answers.
Single-tasking, and keeping the mind focused on one issue at a time. Spending parts of the day disconnected from interruptions (e.g. switch off e-mail, telephones, Web, etc.) so you can fully concentrate for a significant period of time on one thing."
I'd also add curation to the list. Since my experience with Amplify, having a clipping tool or at least applying the principles of clipping, both via desktop or mobile, has allowed me to build me own library of useful content, that in essence is what my blog is, a depository for my clippings and writings, tagged and sorted so I can find it again as and when required. I also recently setup a plugin that sends out an archived post once a day to twitter - being randomly reminded of my content helps to really cement it; reinforcement rocks.

Post souce.
Photo credit: JD Hancock / Foter / CC BY
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  • Whale Sharks Dont Live In Fish Tanks

Whale Sharks Dont Live In Fish Tanks

Co-Existing: Bridging Cultural Differences

Before we begin you may want to pop the kettle on and make a fresh cuppa, this post is not short.

An interesting thing occurred this evening. A photographer by the name of Shirley Lo +1'd three of my posts on Google Plus in rapid succession.

As I'd never heard of her before, I decided to follow her profile and began to read her lastest post. It was about co-existing and there was a nice poem and an a spectacular image of a Whale Shark - in a fish tank.

if you could communicate w/any lifeform, what would you want to know, and from whom?

a fin's length of glass separates us from another world
a flick of our tails brings us closer together
you taught us colors and voice signals, and you gave us free health care
we don't know what we can teach you
but we can show you that it is possible to coexist...
Skimming the comments, it seemed that everyone was enjoying the uniqueness of the photo and the stimulating replies.
This is fantastic...

So beautiful...

...magic vision and really emotive...

Mesmerizing, thanks for the perspective...

...amazing photo
The post does contains some great inspirational comments, well worth reading once you're finished here - just try to ignore the Whale Shark photo. It was actually a shame that all I could see was a Whale Shark not co-existing, 'a fin's length of glass' from her own freedom.

You get the idea.  I was disgruntled.  It was because nobody said - wait a minute, that's a Whale Shark in a fish tank. So, I had to. There is only one place in the world where fully grown Whale Sharks (plural) can be found in a fish tank, and that's one place too many.

I left this comment:
"I'd like to free the whale shark from the fish tank, they just don't belong there. Having dived with them on numerous occasions this scene makes me feel rather queezy."
Within a few moments Shirley replied and asked me this question:
"Where did you swim with whale sharks? could you share and tell us more about your experiences with these wonderful creatures? : )"
Sigh. The answer I had in mind was long. It can't be shortened and I'm up to my eyes in Website design (sorry for the delay, Jay), social media measurement reports (not long now, David), branding proposals etc... So, do I, A) clear the desk and answer the question honestly B) give a short non-descript answer and get back to work or C) ignore her completely and just +1 her reply. Bare in mind I have no idea who Shirley Lo is, though her photos at the top of profile were nice and she did leave a : )  I chose A), clearly!

Beyond a fin's length of glass

Here's a little story about co-existing, with Whale Sharks. I'd never shared this publicly before today - hope you like it.
I spent many years teaching Scuba Diving in SE Asia. My first experience with a whale shark was in Thailand. On that particular dive we were at 30m surrounded by a swarm of jellyfish - not pleasant. Then she arrived, mouth open graciously gliding through the depths. I only got to see that particular Whale Shark for about 30-40 seconds, she was 10m above us. I instantly forgot all about the jellyfish, my natural reaction was to fin as hard as I could after her, which I did - on that day I was not quick enough and all I could do was watch her swim out of sight. Arriving later on the boat I'll never forget the sheer joy of having been in the same space of such beauty and elegance. From that moment on sharks, and particular, whale sharks became my passion.

A few months later, also in Thailand I was taking an overnight trip to the famous island of Koh Toa, near the island of Koh Samui. The trip was not fully booked and actually it was nearly cancelled. We were five on that trip, one French girl, two Israeli's, a Norwegian and myself. The two dives on the first day were nice, nothing out of the ordinary, but nice. That evening we grilled under the moonlight, drank a few glasses of local whisky and slept under the stars on the top canopy of the boat.

The morning dive was planned for 7am, a deep dive to 35m. The dive site was renowned within the instructor circles for Whale Shark sightings, although I'd been there often I'd never had any luck, some instructors had been hoping for years also with no luck! My group awoke late, recovering from one or two whiskies too many. At 7.30am we were kitted up and ready to dive. Another dive school was already moored at the site and had beaten us too it - I always liked to be first as you had a better chance to see bigger fish before they were scared off by humans in their space. My group had annoyed me a little as they had faffed around getting ready and no one was really that interested in diving!

As we descended I became aware of a group of divers huddled together in a circle some 50-100m away. They were completing their safety stop at 5m. It struck me as a little odd as they were so close to one another. I then looked in the direction they were looking and my eyes nearly fell out of my head! Two whale sharks. Mum and child. My regulator did fall out of my mouth as I stared in amazement. The protocol in this situation is for everyone to stay close together and observe quietly.

I gathered my little team together while watching the other dive school exit the water. I told my group to stay together and wait there, I'd be back in a moment or two - they nodded. The visibility, some 50-70m was fantastic, a deep dark blue - early mornings often gave the best clarity. The mother Whale Shark had retreat a little, she was around 5-7m in length, hard to be accurate at that distance, but large! The child was perhaps 4m and around 50m away. There was no land or island around we were in open water and at a depth of 10m. I left the group and begin slowly finning in her direction (to me she was a she, I can't be sure actually, but in my mind she was a she). I wasn't really sure what to expect next, but it was my instinct to say hello.

To my surprise she turned and started to also swim towards me, head on, mouth closed. When we were about 10m apart I stopped swimming and just hovered at around 15m. She also slowed down. Little by little we got closer until she made the first pass, the distance between us was perhaps 2m. I turned to watch her glide by. I then watched her turn and head back in my direction. This happened two or three times, each time I sat (hovered in a sitting like position) still and smiled at her. On the fourth occasion as she swam close I reached out a hand and stroked the length of her body - pure silk. She did not flinch or react badly, so I guess she liked it - she always had an eye on me - she had big eyes! 
Feeling more confident that she was also enjoying the experience I waited until she passed again and this time I latched on to her side fin, holding on gently, I looked over her fin so she could see me, our eyes met, she was looking back at me. We glided slowly along for 40-50m - it was amazing. I looked at my watch and noticed I was now at 30m, my group was still huddled together. It was time to leave her. I let go and finned back to the group. The baby Whale Shark moved back towards her mum who had been watching the entire time - I'm sure with a little bit of anticipation for her baby! I signalled for the group to descend with me to 35m. We landed on the sand at the bottom and I just lay there with a huge grin on my face staring at the surface. Both whale sharks could be seen above us swimming freely.

After the allotted time, 10mins or so, we slowly started to make our way towards the surface. Again, Mum kept her distance, but baby was not finished with us - she even seem to know that we had to spend time in shallow water. We hovered around 7m, then 3m for as long as we all had air. The baby Whale Shark swam around us freely, everyone was able to stroke her gently, it was a very magical moment. As others began to run out of air they surfaced. I was last out of air and spent the last 5-7 minutes alone with my new friend. We had many eye-contact moments, we really connected with one another. No words were spoke, of course, but we had the most deep and meaningful conversation I've ever had with any creature on the planet - it was a purity that is seldom found amongst humans.

Eventually my air was gone - with one final stroke and a little wave I said goodbye. As I surfaced I'll never forget the noise that awaited me. It was like being at a world cup final. We cheered, we hugged, we laughed, we were the luckiest people on the planet that morning and we knew it. As I write these words, which I have to say I've not done before (so thanks for asking), a tear is in my eye and my heart is glowing. Now you know why the picture of a Whale Shark in a fish tank makes me feel a little queezy!

My love for the underwater world took me all over Asia, I followed the Whale Shark trail to the Philippines and met up with them at their annual gathering place; a 50-60 whale shark gathering! No diving was allowed, but snorkelling was ok. I've dived with many different types of sharks and never once felt threatened, and although one could say I was lucky, I would say it was more a karma thing - they seemed to know I was there to learn from them and not there to disturb them, it seemed to put them at ease.

Today I exist offering consultancy, innovation, design, brand, data and learning technology services. Everything I learnt from my underwater friends I apply to helping others connect better. I try to help bridge culture gaps through better acceptance and understanding of our differences and more importantly our similarities. The creatures of the sea were my favourite teachers, they taught me about the Zen of Symbiotics, and I thank them daily for their lessons.

(To Shirley) You seem rather popular on G+, to be honest I've not read your profile yet, I only noticed you because you +1'd my posts today. I like the few photos I've seen and I'm going to explore a little to find out more about +shirley lo, the lady who asked me to share a tale about my diving adventures. It's been a pleasure meeting you, I hope we stay in touch. In any case, I wish you well on your journey and if you get the chance to go diving, take it, there's lots to be learned underwater ; )

Sincerely, Paul.

To conclude the story, Shirley wrote back shortly afterwards with:
what an enjoyable read your writing was. thanks for sharing your experiences with us. feels as if we were right there with you! whale sharks do seem to be gentle giants, and it so spectacular that you were in such proximity with not one, but two whale sharks! that's so wonderful that she sensed your gentle and kind intentions and probably enjoyed your touch, while the mum seemingly kept a watchful eye.
i've shared your experience up above in the main post so that others can enjoy it. it was a pleasure meeting you and hearing your story.
this is such a good read that maybe you should also post your story as a stand alone google plus post on your side as well? : )
I replied...
Glad you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed recalling it. Regarding reposting it - great minds must be thinking alike - my blog post will be ready in about 30 minutes - which I'll also add to G+ - I'll send you a link once it's up and perhaps you could re-share it with your friends, you have a few more than me! Thanks for the inspiration and the little smiley face in your original reply - it spurred me into action - which you'll understand when you see my blog... bye for now...
Thank you for reading and thanks to Shirley Lo for inspiring this post - now go and check out her amazing questions and view her stunning photography...

Update: I think it is important for readers to consider the reply from Shirely and my reply in return - it may help to better keep a bigger picture on the Whale Shark story.
wow, your post was even more enjoyable to read with the interspersing photos as well as your thought processes between our correspondences! : )
i've included your blog post link into the post so that in all the shares of my photo, everyone can see your wonderful stories : )

the poem was written from the point of view of the whale shark, and was implicitly encouraging the reader to perhaps think from different points of view, including the shark's mind and imagine how he might feel. so you responded exactly the way i hoped some people would : ) i couldn't help but know that it was being held in captivity and might not have been happy being there. i asked the staff about how the sharks might feel, and from what i understand, the aquarium inspires visitors to learn more about conservation and appreciate the beauty of the ocean, which in turn raises awareness and may perhaps save more of these creatures. there are even some purists that are against scuba diving as it disturbs the environment, and may mislead the creatures to possibly detrimental assumptions about human contact based on past experiences. however, we can all probably agree that these creatures deserve to be happy. hopefully through dialog and appreciation, we can all help more creatures to understand each other : )

thanks for sharing,
My reply...
Thank you for adding the link to the post and I'm pleased that the post came to life in way you liked. Sometimes pictures can help a story, as I'm sure you'll know, sometimes it's nice to let the mind create the pictures - ah, did I mention I'm also a photographer? A portrait photographer - possible one of the most (in) famous English photographer's here in Germany (actually the only one, doing what we do) - we have one of the most unusual photo businesses you could ever imagine - remind me to tell you all about it one day, I'm sure you'll love this story too : )

I liked your poem. I like it even more that I know the intent you had. To be really honest, I need to revisit the post now that I've done my 'save the Whale Shark' thing and really appreciate it what it for what your were expressing. In between I've skimmed your previous posts here on G+ and realised that I'm talking to a most wonderfully creative person - your posts add a new dimension in terms of quality, thoughtfulness and finesse - super!

If you'd really like to know, I think the Whale Sharks are absolutely fine where they are, but don't tell everyone. I don't think their consciousness allows them to question and I like that they have friends who are for sure fun to play with - even though I played it more along the lines of 'wow, three of them, that's not good' - It is only we as humans who are able to delve so deeply - they are fine and well looked after and as with many elements of nature, serving is often the highest reward.

However, this should not become a fad with every aquarium demanding to have such large creatures in tanks, especially my favourite one ; ) - and I totally agree with your considered argument about divers. The truth be known, I was very naughty, and should never have engaged with the Whale Shark, those of us in the profession know this, but we also know how hard it is to resist the pull to be closer to nature. I'm well studied in the underwater world, and realise I disturbed the ecosystem, possibly for the worse - but on a deeper level - we did what both came very naturally to us - which is also important - I guess what I'm trying to say is, as with nature itself it's a fine balance.

You closing sentences resonate and I'd only like to add the word compassion to the mix - people should be as compassionate as much as they can, to as many as they can, for as long as they can.

Thank you for taking extra time to chat, really was very nice.

Best wishes from the Bavarian forest...

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Do You Speak Data?

Data is the ultimate currency and it's where the wind's howling.

Businesses need to make smarter decisions, quicker. The smart business of the future will correlate and compute a mix of data including demographics, psychographics, web analytics, social analytics and business intelligence to create predictive scenarios that can be delivered in real time at the point of need; this will enable those with access to make better informed decisions that more accurately impact performance in a positive way. This creates vital brand differentiation in the market place and sustains real competitive advantage.

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