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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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