Memories: Our House on the Roof

My Roof
My impressions of the roof house

When I was a little kid, my parents had a house on the roof of my grandfather’s building. It was made up of one bedroom, one living room, one dining/sitting room. And a large outer space which extends to the rest of the roof. It was separated by the living room with a wide glass facade. My parents converted this outer space into a garden and a swimming pool. Yes, a swimming pool on the roof of my grandfather’s 4 story building.

The swimming pool side was very beautiful. When you are sitting in the dining room, facing the outside wall, you enjoy the sight and sound of a water fall. It was built by my father. You switch on the power, and water falls continuously. It was build with hollow volcanic rocks. The water falls from the top to a small pod surrounded with similar rocks that prevents the water from flooding to the swimming pool. On the other three sides of the swimming pool, a low flower basin carries different types of plants, shrubs and trees. I still remember my mother spreading few artificial, real looking birds, on the short trees. Before my brother was born, my dad used to fill the pool for me and I swam regularly in it. He used to fill it up to one foot deep only. He used to say that more water would make the building collapse. I believed him. I swan on it like a dead fish, facing down, my stomach would hit its bottom and my back was not even covered with water. My mom used tp like feeding us outside. I am fond of these days. Then my brother was born and my dad stopped filling the pool with water. We just enjoyed the water flowing from the waterfall. But the noise of the pump was bit annoying.

Another thing I remember of this open space in the roof is the breathtaking views. Our building was the highest in the neighborhood before 1960. From the west, we would see the Mediterranean sea with its heavenly sunsets throughout the year. I still remember its orangy shadows hitting the east side of our walls reminding me that the time for sleep is soon. On the north side of the roof, you would see the mountains of Lebanon. Far away, always covered with the white top throughout the year.

Riz2allah!

Below I plotted its present location on Google Earth.

 

View Aboluay Memory Spots in a larger map

 

Detect language » Arabic

Learning: Two modes of Learning

This is an old idea that I mentioned before and now I want to express it in a different way.

Now I believe that learning has two modes: natural and forced. In natural learning mode, we want to learn because we have a natural drive to learn. This drive comes from our talent and who we are. The force learning mode is when something want us to learn in an area that is not natural force. Theat we find difficulty to relate in a natural way. For example, trying to learn math when we hate math. Or to play basketball when we do not like sports. It could be more global. Like wanting to drive a car when the State does not permit it. Or learning to enjoy straight sex when you are gay! Or forced not pray when you have an urge for it.

Schools are created to promote forced learning. People do not need teachers to learn their talent. Most poets never went to school to learn poetry. Musicians do not need formal teaching to develop their music ability. They go to school only to complement their and enhance talent. I still need to find a real musician who does not have talent and a school system helped him to develop it. Similarly artists.

I just wanted to jot down these ideas while they are fresh in my mind.

Mobile Learning: The 3 Challenges of Mobile Learning

Background information: The below argument is based on applying mobile learning at my work in a community college.I am sure I will face far more than 3 challenges when implementing mobile learning. I tried to group the challenges I will face under three big groups:

(1) Managing the Change: Introducing mobile learning in my organization follows the usual change resistance that poses multifaceted challenges. The first one, is the buy-in from top management to allocate resources to support the project. The second one, which is the most fundamental, is the required shift in the educational paradigm from “knowledge resides in the brain” to the notion that “brain knowledge is augmented with outside knowledge”. The third one is the shift in assessment paradigm from “students should be assessed based on a norm that is determined by the curriculum” to a new paradigm that allows students to grow based on their own talent and abilities. The fourth paradigm shift is from “students should learn on their own” to “learning happens through social interaction”.

(2) Training and Resources: Using mobile devices will require a lot of preparation work to ensure its success. Basically, it is a two legged race. The first leg-work is to train and/or educate the instructors on the usefulness of mobile devices in learning and the different approaches that could be applied. The second leg is to identify the right mobile tools and resources that are suitable for each program or course. Most of the available mobile resources did not reach its mass suitability for the learning process. They are still device and operating system dependent which poses technical challenges that most educators would like to avoid. At the moment, the only two effective educational tools are the eReaders and the social media tools. Unfortunately, most publications used in education does not promote a mobile-friendly format, and social media is not widely accepted as a learning tool.

(3) Study Habits: Another major challenge is the acceptable mode of study. The widely accepted and recognized approach to learning is that it requires organized, preplanned, dedicated study and in most cases, quiet time. It is still very difficult for many educators to comprehend studying in a different mode. Since mobile learning encourages studying during unplanned idle time, anywhere and on demand, addressing this shift at the teacher level, on the curriculum level and the assessment is a major hurdle that I hate to face.

References

  • Anderson, Terry, (2011), “Three Generation of Distant Education“, presentation website, last accessed on 10 March 2011.
  • Araya, Daniel (E), Peters Michael (E), (2010), “Education in the Creative Economy: Knowledge and Learning in the Age of Innovation” Published by Peter Lang Pub, ISBN 9781433107443
  • Kukulska, Angel (Editor), Traxler, John, (2005), “Mobile Learning: A Handbook for Educators and Trainers (The Open and Flexible Learning Series)”, Routledge, ISBN: 0415357403.
  • Tapscott, Don (2009), “Grown up Digitally” Published by McGraw Hill, ISBN: 978007150863
  • Weiten, Wayne (2010), “Psychology: Themes and Variations”, 8th Edition, p. 28,  Cengage Learning, ISBN: 0495601977.
 

Detect language » Arabic

Psychology: Themes and Variations, 8th Edition / Edition 8 by Wayne Weiten

Online Learning: Khan Academy in Numbers

I think we should put Khan Academy in perspective. It is not suitable for all. It is good for 1 in every 90 individuals. Is it worth it? let’s do the analysis:

First Pedagogy: Based on Paul Kurucz, there are 3 types of learners: those who learn by seeing the big picture, those who learn by seeing the process and those who learn through networking. Coupled with Kelb ideas, it is easy to recognize that Khan’s style is suitable for the learners “who like to see the process and observe someone else doing it!”. It is not suitable for all.

Mathematically: combining Kurucz 3 criteria and kelb 4 styles, and for simplicity let’s assume that an individual can be only one of them, it is easy to calculate the permutation: 1 in every 90 people find Khan’s method suitable for their learning. This means, the other 89 finds it useless.

Demographics: Roughly, if 40% of the world population are learners (students, lifelong learners, adult, informal, etc..), and there are there 1.8B users of the internet in the world, then there are 720 Million active learners around the world who have access to the Internet.

Conclusion: as we said, only 1 in every 90 of these learners can learn based on Khan method. This means, there are 8 Million learners around the world who have access to the internet and who are in benefit from Khan’s work. 8 Million!

Isn’t this phenomenal? One person (i.e. Khan) offering a suitable learning material for 8 Million people, for free… around the world? the way they like to learn? Isn’t it outstanding! Or should we focus on the the other 712 Million to prove it futile? I am on Khan side. I like to see the droplet in an empty glass!!

P.S.

1) I am ready to offer data to submit my arguments.

2) An opportunity: we still need to figure out a good teaching tools for the remaining 712 Million people. I see a lot of money here! Any partners?

 

 

Memories: My Parental Grandpa and his garden

I have decided today to move my personal memories from my blogger site to here. I do not know really why? I should one day.

Today, I want to talk about my parental grandpa. The last time I had a major interaction with him was when I was 10 years old. I did not have any major interaction with him until he passed away when I was 22 years. He was 85 or so.

My memory reminds me that everybody loved him. Everyone said he was funny and light hearted person. I did not feel that when I was young. He always ignored me. I felt he favored my other cousins, especially my aunts children. Most my direct interaction with him were negative. Either telling me I am not doing something right, ask me to do a tough chore, or criticizing something I am doing. The only positive memory is when I hard him telling my father that my white skin will make me a successful doctor. They kept talking about me for around 5 minutes and how I will heal people the moment they see. Then he called me and said: “When you grow up, you must become a doctor. You should start reading all medicine xxx”. And he gave me a bunch of them. If I did not hear him complementing me, I would have thought he was punishing me by forcing me to read these xxx!

My indirect interaction with him were lighter. I still remember when we sit around the table with the large family and crack all these jokes. I did not understand them. But everyone was continuoulsy laughing around the table. This gave me a positive feeling. The only joke I still remember it is his saying: “Money is not yours, what is yours is what your mouth own. When you eat, praise the lord”. It rhymed beautifully in his language. It was like a prayer before eating. It was fun.

The other found memory of him is seeing him working in his garden. Since I was living in the city, this memory is the only experience I have about nature. I admire him for giving me this chance. I remember him taking care of every single plant, flower, tree or pieace of grass. Once he allowed me to water a tree. I was around 7. For me, it was boring. So I played with the hose to make the water dance. Obviously he shouted at me forcing me to stop playing and focus on water the tree. I remember he had different set of roses. I loved their smell. I like to go there, pull down the stem to reach down my nose. Inhale strongly so the smell fells my lungs and give me refreshing strength. You guessed it. He will shout at me because I might break it.

Other fond memory about him was during the festivities. He would come to our house and give us money. the moment he walks in, the whole house will become filled with laughter and joy. He was a man who can set the mood. I still remember his bedroom which had a huge mirror attached to a beautiful antique dresser where many items were placed there. One of them contained caramel drops. I used to be thrilled when he gives me one piece. Although I did not know how to eat it until I was 7! I used to think it is a chewing gum and try hard to break it with my teeth instead of sucking it. I can blame my week teeth this incident.

Another memory about him when I was older… maybe aroung 16. When my family talked about his walks. He take 2 pounds of orange and walks all around the city eating these oranges. He ends the day on the beach where he watches the sunset. Then go back home.

I know about his death when I was reading the newspaper. I went directly to my grandma and spend few days with her. She was strong. She told many stories about him.

The last story I heard about him was 3 years ago, when my uncle told me what happened at his death bed. My uncle said that my grandfather held his hand and whispered: “Love Each Other!”. Then he passed away. My uncle still writes this phrase at the end of every email he sends me.

Jido Abousohail, that was his name, had a lot of impact on my life. Ala yerhamou.

Jido Abo Souhail in His Garden
My grandpa, in his garden with my sister (in the middle) and my grandma (on the right)

 

لم تنظر لي الحفيد الخاصة. شعرت أنه كان لطيفا مع أكثر

Detect language » Arabic

A Read: Getting a message from God in the Internet age

Nice read on Edmontonn Journal. I like to capture the following qoutes:

“Social media has challenged today’s Catholic Church to fit 2,000 years of belief into a 140-word tweet”, says Edmonton Archbishop Richard Smith.

“Technologies focus on quick reads instead of deeper thought”

and

“The church needs the way to reach the heart, but must go through the distractions of the head to do so, the archbishop said”

visit his blog: http://archbishopsmith.blogspot.com/

Mobile Learning and Social Media

While reflecting on mobile learning, I recognized that our focus should shift slightly when thinking about the use of mobile devices in learning. The focus should not be on the hardware, the operating System nor interfaces only. The focus should be on its ability to offer “social media” services. Will anyone buy a wireless phone if it does not offer texting, Facebook interfaces, or any of Google gadgets?

Consequently, Social Media should be considered when discussing mobile learning! Your thoughts? I leave you with this video to give you more insight on the topic:

Tools: Zotero

Website: http://www.zotero.org/

Since I decided to pursuit my doctorate studies, I am looking for tools that can help me study anywhere, anytime and on any device. One reserach that synch across many computers is Zotero. It has nice features like capturing web bibliographies, quotations, take notes and few more. I will be testing it and give my verdict if it is a useful too.

 

Detect language » Arabic

Mobile Learning: The mobile nomad

Who do I consider a mobile nomad? First, let’s agree that learning is converting the public information to personal knowledge.

The obvious answer is that the mobile nomads are the busy workers who seeks education anytime and anywhere. The one who spend so much time idling waiting for the next process of his work. Those who commute. Or those who work in modern corporate world where they have to spend 8 hours at work while their actual work load needs far less than that. Or those who live in locations that lack traditional cable internet connectivity.

The non-obvious answer is still unclear. I think the real mobile nomads are the  lifelong learners who can learn when new knowledge is needed. Information is exponentially changing and knowledge need to be created based on the most up to date information. This is a new breed of beings who are among us but not widely recognized by education. The wikipedians (i.e volunteer collaborators and open source developers) are very good example. They contribute to their knowledge and the global information anytime, anywhere and with any device.

Mobile Learning: mobile technology and education

The majority of educational institutions will find using mobile learning a major challenge. They are busy marking tests, ensuring students do not cheat, checking plaigarism and copyright issues and arguing about classroom management. Mobile Learning adds another layer of headache they do not want to address.

Educational institutions that focus on student learning, student success, student growth and/or preparing lifelong learners recognize the potential of mobile learning. They recognize a tool that can help students at risk to be more productive. A tool to shift the infamous bell curve to the left. Something similar to what the calculator did in the 70-90’s to those who found arithmatic a challenge: it allowed them to become productive in the industrial economy. Consequently, emerged the growth of franchises like Walmart and Mcdonalds who can now hire anyone without worrying about giving the wrong change.

Should we worry about devise, OS, size of screen, application to use, etc…? Yes for now. But very soon, Web 2.x (or another name) will emerge to solve this issue. The browser will handle the conversion to make the transition seemless. HTML 5 started the process by unifying the video format. I am sure, in no time, OS/browser/device will not be an issue. Google is trying it with its Chrome OS and Apple with its iOS. Who will prevail? I do not care, as long as they make knowledge avaialble seemlessly to me.

Should educational institutions worry about the design of the learning activity? Yes. But not because of the emergence of mobile technologies. They should worry because the present educational methodologies serves a dying breed. Robenson, Clifton, Siemens and others are talking about it.

Detect language » Arabic

Learning: Disposable Knowledge and Learning

I was in the middle of the following discussion that ignited in the Mobile Learning Course. The Professor wrote:

In reviewing the blog posts, I came across some interesting comments. Some of which I am bringing into the class for further discussion:

Anas’ comments to Brandy’s post read

“Hi Brandy, like you, I am still researching and checking all Apps as much as possible. I haven’t made my mind what would be really useful. So far, I find myself heavily attached to Media Apps (Movies and news). I use the How To apps (cooking, do it yourself) a lot. Those help me get things done quickly but I do not retain the information. For example, I can cook the best disk from Betty Crockers App, but I cannot repeat it unless I have the app next to me. Is this learning? Don’t you agree that these small devices are forcing us to redefine the term “learning”.

Good post. Thank you.”

What is learning in this respect? Has retention been relegated to rote learning and therefore dated? Does the fact that most of the information we need are available on the mobile device, in our hands or the computer hard disk at home, prevent us from retaining knowledge? Where do you think the future of mobile learning could lead to when we consider what is retained and what is not? When can we apply the “sixth sense” as provided by our mobile devices and when are we allowed not to? Can we ask our job interviewer to wait while we contact our mobile device for a response to his/her question?

Here is my answer:

Yes, definition of learning needs to be modified.

According to earlier work of Clifton and Buckingham, and recently by Robinson, we have certain talents and strengths that in many cases ignored by the educational systems. Very few individuals align their talent to the requirement of education. These individuals become high academic achievers. The majority have talents that does not match the educational requirements. These individuals are forced to learn things they do not feel comfortable with. Those students memories the information and rarely convert them to knowledge or apply them. Consequently, due to modern knowledge tools, they can use mobile devices to learn on demand. We do not have to retain them for they are readily accessible. Does this mean we stop learning? No! Because we have tendency to learn concepts related to our talents with no problems. We will continue learning them. It is those we do not like, or have talent to do, we capture them through the knowledge tool and dispose them when not needed. This is good. Developing such an attitude will help to endorse change instantaneously. It will increase the human ability to evolve. I like to call this “disposable knowledge”!

Detect language » Arabic

Definitions of Mobile Learning

Definitions

  • Mobile learning (or m-learning) is the combination of e-learning and mobile computing that promises the access to applications which support learning at anytime and anywhere [Holzinger, A., Nischelwitzer, A., Meisenberger, M. (2005). Lifelong-Learning Support by M-learning: Example Scenarios. ACM eLearn Magazine, 2005(11)]
  • Mobile education is learning delivered or supported solely or mainly by handheld and mobile technologies such as personal digital assistants (PDAs), smartphones or wireless laptop PCs.  [Source: Current State of Mobile Learning, www.irrodl.org/index.php/irrodl/article/view/346/875.].
  • Personalized learning is learning that recognises diversity, difference, and individuality in the ways that learning is developed, delivered, and supported.
  • Situated learning isl earning that takes place in the course of activity, in appropriate and meaningful contexts (Lave and Wenger 1991).
  • Authentic learning is learning that involves real-world problems and projects that are relevant and interesting to the learner.

Tips:

From: http://elearningslam.blogspot.com/2008/11/designing-mobile-elearning-courses.html [bit old, but has some values]

  • The rule of thumb, is to provide about twice the amount of content that can be viewed on the screen: If an average mobile screen supports 300 characters, limit your pages to 600 characters.
  • Avoid placing important text inside graphics. The mobile browser may shrink graphics so that they fit on the small display size. Any text that is in the graphic will also be shrunk, potentially to a size that is illegible.
  • Avoid rich/multimedia content until a new standard is universally adopted.
  • Have two different style sheets, with the appropriate one loading at run time based on the device. One for desktop and the other one for mobile device.
  • Use small or unobtrusive graphics and logos
  • Avoid navigation bars that may take up a large percentage of the screen.
  • If you want to include complex navigation, place these at the end of the page content so that learners have access first to the primary content.
  • Avoid background graphics.
  • Pull-down menus don’t necessarily work on mobile devices (because of uneven JavaScript support), so consider using arrows to take learners through a tour of your course.
  • Graphic navigation icons should be simple arrows or a descriptive word such as “next” or “back”.
  • Navigation frames work well on some devices, make sure your content can be downloaded quickly.

Stats

[Source: ITU World Telecommunication/ICT Indicators database, 2010]

  • By the end of 2010, there will be an estimated 5.3 billion mobile cellular subscriptions worldwide, including 940 million subscriptions to 3G services.
  • Access to mobile networks is now available to 90% of the world population and 80% of the population living in rural areas.
  • People are moving rapidly from 2G to 3G platforms, in both developed and developing countries. In 2010, 143 countries were off ering 3G services commercially, compared to 95 in 2007.
  • Towards 4G: a number of countries have started to off er services at even higher broadband speeds, moving to next generation wireless platforms – they include Sweden, Norway, Ukraine and the United States.

CI: What is the “Controlling Instinct”?

I keep using the term: “Controlling Instinct” in my blogs. What is it?

I have coined the term. I am not aware that it was used before in the same context I am using it. It is popular in the sense that a person should control his instincts. In my context, it means the set of values that instinctively control us. These are values that we build up in our subconscious, without recognized that, and it becomes the drivers of our action, understanding of the world around us and controls our communication, reaction, and the day to day decision making. In many cases, it controlls our passion and drive us to think emotionally rather than intellectually.

For example, tale the concept of “family”. It is simple, universal and understood clearly by all. Its basic connotation is “the people I feel I belong to and who can make me feel safe and who I can trust”. However, the actual meaning and definition of the word differs largely between one person and another. For those who do well in the educational system, family means the immediate direct family: Parents, grandparents, uncles and aunts and children. For another person who lived in an agrarian setting, it will mean the extended family that includes all the tribe. With the younger generation, it is forming a new meaning: the set of friends on the Internet.

In my premises, most controlling instincts are developed through observance and not through education. Education will play a role as well. But mostly, the person can recognize the education created instincts. The actual controlling instincts is not recognized in an individual. For example, the idea of “Time”. Education explain to us the value and meaning of time. Encourage us to be on time. Forces us to adhere to deadlines. Still, Time has a deeper controling instinct. For an industrialist, time is fixed and nonstopable. To an agrarian person, time is flexible and repeatable. So, an industrialist student, will understand the time presented in education. To the agrarian, time presented in education is a challenge and an obstacle in achieving as expected in education.

Most of our controlling instincts are built at an early age. Younger than 8 years. I believe that the ability of kids to learn is far superior than adults. There are many reasons for that. Mainly neurological. A baby learns by trial and error and observation. They try to internalize the world around them. A red flame is harmful. A sour lemon tastes strangely. All of these experiences become controlling instincts. If the family laughs when the child touches flames this makes the kid think that harming himself is good, and we have a masochist. If the parents does not allow the toddler to look at a girls body, but permits looking and male bodies, the boy become gay. And so on. We learn by observing behavior. And these observation generate our controlling instincts.

So far, I am able to group the translation of the meaning of a value-set into three groups: those who were living in an agrarian background, those who were living in an industrial background and those who were brought up in the Internet Age.

CI: Wikipedian Controlling Instincts

I have talked before about my experience with Wikipedia. As well, I mentioned in a couple of previous posts (here and here) that the Middle Eastern Revolutions should not be considered a FaceBook revolution, but a Wikipedian Revolution.

In this post, I will outline some terms that reflects the controlling instincts of a Wikipedian:

  • Stubbing: the drive to contribute
  • Idling: Make use if Idle Time
  • Tolerance: accepting difference
  • Collaboration: work with others without expecting return
  • Non-personification: can work with strangers
  • Contribution: sense of giving
  • Vim: taking initiative
  • copyleft: does not believe in copyright. Believes ideas are contributors to other bigger ideas and it does not matter who started it
  • manytasking: can work on more than one task at the same time.
  • Everchanging: change world around him is the norm.

I am still working on the right choice of words. And I will explain them in another post.

Learning: Sir Ken, Theatre, Education and Personalized Curriculum

The Link: http://blip.tv/learning-without-frontiers/sir-ken-robinson-march-2011-learning-without-frontiers-4928095

Some quotes:

  • A person graduating from an educational experience must have his confidence improved.
  • Human Resources is like Natural Resources… Individuals have deep talents that are buried deep within their surface, educators need to mine them like other resources.
  • 3 Purposes to education: Personal (connect people to their own sense of possibility, give them sense of creativity, and give them self confidence), Cultural (enable identity, share the identity of other and tolerance) and Economic (must address economic needs and prepare for evolution, prepare ourselves to the challenges of economy.)
  • TV Program to watch: How Many People Can Live on Earth: if everybody consume food and water like a person in Botswana, Earth can handle a population of 15B, if we consume like someone in North America: 1.2B only.
  • HG Wells: civilization is a race between education and catastrophe.

Quotes: Lazy like a Fox

I was watching Evan Roth video when he related the idea of “Lazy like a fox” to the idea of low work, maximum impact. I always believed that efficiency is a superior state of laziness and I have been thinking if this is making me justifying laziness. Does it? Evan does not believe so. What I do not like about him is he is using it to annoy people who annoys him. I still hate to use a negative approach even in a positive way.

Some terms of his outstanding terms: Severe Cultural Impact; Traditional Education taught us “To Obey”. New education should promote: “disobey!”.

You may watch his video here: