In Pursuit of the Light

Today, I want to continue my very personal story (last post was in October 2014) and as “Circle of fear” feels rather like where I have come from than where I am going to, I want to rename my very personal story from now on to “In Pursuit of the Light”. To illustrate what I mean with these words, I want to show you my…

Vision of life

The goal(s?) in my life

The power of love

Yes: I am a dreamer

And yes, sometimes it feels like a punishment but it feels so great when you meet someone who sees the dawn with you before the rest of the world and maybe can even help you make the world see it a little earlier.

Why sustainability?

But now back to my very personal story…

In Pursuit of the Light

Let’s say I begin to think about my life again after three years filled with studies and girlfriend struggle. I discover the great book “The seven habits of highly effective people” by Stephen Covey and begin taking control of my life again. I do better at work, enjoy my life more and more and feel quite good. I am spending very great summer holidays, one week of hiking with my parents (Austria) and two weeks of language-learning/practising and partying/excessive dancing (Salamanca, Spain). I discover how much I like to get to know to new people once again and organise some parties and connect people to each other. Back in Germany, some may have a hard time getting used to my new self-confidence but yeah, we are working on that. So lots of things are happening/I make lots of things happen and I want to leave you here for getting my shower to get ready for another exciting day.

This is how I left you last time I was writing down my very personal story. So what happened since then?

After the extreme energy and dancing in Summer 2014, I get known to a lovely girl from Fall to Spring and reaching Summer 2015, I wake up from my “Wintersleep” realizing I was not living to my full potential in this relationship and we break up. In Spring 2015, I begin working as an IT consultant quitting the company I worked at during and after my studies. As I am working most of the time from my home office (and only sometimes having workshops with customers what I would prefer much more), I look for excitement and social interaction outside of my work. I go a lot to the dancing parties of my dancing school, most of the time with the dancing partner I am dancing with for more than a year now. We spend our summer holidays at the Lake Constance together and enjoy the time very much. I am reaching my highest energy at the end of September 2015 when taking part in the Project Management Karlsruhe where I can talk and think a lot with great people and inspiring sessions.

12112326_901860236570880_4282879029084418846_n

I go to another dancing party just after the PM Camp is over and my life changes in a sudden. I am dancing with a woman I am knowing quite well for the little walk we had with some other persons from my dancing school in the summer. She tells me that my eyes would look empty and I begin to listen to my body. She tells me a few words while we are dancing and all of a sudden, my artificially pushed energy level gets down to a kind of natural tiredness after exhaustion and at the end of the dance, we hug each other. Laying in each other’s arms, we change the room and sit down for a close talk. In the following days, we see each other a lot and have continued to do so ever since. My words from “In our forest” are inspired by our first days. We seem to be very different but having the same goals in life which means we can support each other quite well, living a love I have not known before. When I see my grandma for the next time, I tell her that I have a new girlfriend and before she can reply anything, I tell her “I believe this time, she’s the one”. I am sure we will enjoy our pursuit of the light together.

But well, there is not only light in the world. In Spring 2015, I discover that I have started my master studies (distant learning) without thinking too much and decide to quit the pain and live without master degree – quite well so far I think.

In Fall 2015, I end the friendship with my dancing partner I spent my summer holidays with because I feel like I have to be an older, less energized version of myself when being with her. It gets complicated and sometimes ugly but feels great once I have cut all ways back – after all it is often leaving a door back open which ties us to our past and prevents us from reaching our full potential, I think. Of course, this does not mean that we do not need to make peace with our past – I accept that I have lost a friend but am grateful for the great time we had.

With the shaping of my vision of life I told you about above, I feel wrong with my job at the IT consulting company. I feel like I have to do too much things, I don’t love or the world don’t need that much and at the same time, I have learned during a Massive Open Online Course about Social Business which great things companies can do. I love my customers and enjoy working with them a lot but my bosses boss me around too much and sometimes show that they dream less than I do. I know that I am a hard-to-employ employee because I do not accept leadership executed by organizational position (“You have to do so because I am the boss”) and ask for real profit from my work for our customers and less focus on the profit of the company. But anyway, I close the door to my past once more and quit the job (currently I have my last working days till January 2016). It feels great, this smell of adventure!

Well, I am not unemployed despite this, I have started working for the Cooperate State University Karlsruhe as a project staff member in the area of eLearning (well known from my studies) – a job which feels a lot more like the purpose star in the first image.

DSC_5928_smallAnd there is a lot more to come, whatever it may be. I am on my way in pursuit of the light.

Enjoy the last days of this year – spend the Christmas days peacefully and wisely with your loved ones and if we do not talk to each other before 2016 – have a great start into the new year everybody!

 

… and it makes sense!

Hey folks,

some of you might already know that I am currently taking part in the CBS Social Entrepreneurship MOOC. My original intention was both to learn more about social business (which I find a great way of working on social and environmental problems in a sustainable way) and about entrepreneurs (whom I find very interesting and inspirational personalities). Now I am part of an online project working on delivering personal and emotional support online to people in need of it and training mentors to give this support. More information on this project can be found here and before starting with my main post, I will share our short presentation video (“pitch”) we just have done for the online course:

Always looking for feedback by the way 🙂

But now to what I want to share with you today:

An entrepreneur is born (… and it makes sense)

First, I don’t think someone becomes born as an entrepreneur. But if you tend to seek solutions for problems existing in your environment, you are likely to become an entrepreneur one day. I think the most organic (in the meaning of continually growing) and sustainable way of becoming an entrepreneur is to be deeply committed to solving a problem in your environment (e.g. loneliness of the elder people).

You now begin to think about and search for solutions and develop a kind of idea what your solution could look like to solve this problem. Feeling this deep commitment and therefore need for a solution, you have a fire burning within which empowers you to work a lot on your solution and communicate with enthusiasm to other people to find like-minded people and form a team. Forming a team is very important because some day you will need more skills or thought exchange or working hours than you have at hand yourself and if you don’t have a team then, your solution will be limited in its growth and loose its sustainability and you can even begin to burn out.

So far my thoughts are no rocket science I think. But a thought hit me as I was telling a friend that I lacked the feeling of having the parts/activities in my life integrated into a vision/goal which makes me feel like “This is what I am. This is what I want to achieve. I don’t just work, I burn for making my vision real and everything makes sense!”

If you are deeply committed to solving a problem in your environment and burn for it, the way you are and the skills you have will make more and more sense in your life as you will be able to use them for your solution and the puzzle of your life reveals a mystery and shows the entrepreneur required for making the solution real.

I think this must be a wonderful feeling (even if you can’t sleep at night sometimes because you are full of visionary thoughts) which gives you a lot of inner fuel and strength. I mean after all, you have just found the confirmation for the need to be needed and a really meaningful activity and you are somehow made for it – wow!

I feel like my words still lack a bit the clarity to paint the picture of this entrepreneur in my mind but maybe you can help me with your comments and questions so that I can develop this idea further?

Have a great day,

Chris

Ten Thoughts That Changed My Life

Howdy folks,

Mind creates life

Mind creates life (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

today I want to introduce to you ten thoughts that changed my life as you voted me to do so in the last customer service poll. I used the blockquote formatting to mark my thoughts, might see it as a citation of my mind.

(1) It’s a small world full of great opportunities and great people.

This thought came in my mind once again this morning when I asked a young man at the Karlsruhe Main Station for a pen to write the notes for this blog entry. We began to talk and realized that we are both studying at the Duale Hochschule at Karlsruhe, both studying Applied Computer Science. The only difference was that he started his studies in 2012 and I started in 2010, so he will hopefully enjoy the Software Engineering course I designed starting in October 2013 and I will have finished my studies and be employed by this time. Thank you very much for giving me a pen, Michael K!

(2) There are entity theorists and incremental theorists, also called fixed mind-set and growth mind-set people.

I believe that there are also inconsistent people. These people believe that they can improve in one area and keep at the same level for all their life in another area believing that they are not able to change this. I think that being an incremental theorist/growth mind-set people is essential for being able to head for meaningful activities. Which will make you happier, you know. I believe I can grow!

(3) If something is made for me, I will feel and find it someday.

Door light

Door light (Photo credit: @Doug88888)

I think that there are always opportunities that show you that you should decide to go somewhere and that you can always decide to live against what you are meant to but will feel when you listen to the hints of life and do what you are meant to. I just start to feel the flow then. Why someday? Because the good things sometimes take longer. I am taking singing lessons for almost five years now but only within the last two months, my progress have begun to scratch the surface of audibility.

(4a) If I do not take the responsibility for my life, nobody else does.

Does that sound daunting? It’s a great opportunity as you will see in the next thought…

(4b) Only if I take the responsibility for my own life and my personal development, I can become the best version of myself.

And that is what I aim for as I am looking for making my life a meaningful activity.

(5) We live in a wonderful world. How can I help and what can I do to maintain and even improve this world?

What do you think? What do you do?

(6a) I have to feel my body but be present and focussed on the outside.

Singer.

Singer (That’s not me, will post about my band when we are ready :)). (Photo credit: flo and me)

This is very important to have the right source of energy (the body) and be able to use this energy letting it flow to a target outside. As a singer, groove and audience help me to do so.

(6b) In my mind I have to be precise but my body will only be able to translate this precise imagination if it is not cramped.

So I have to differ between precise thoughts I make in my mind and precise actions that result from the precise imagination in my mind (call it a template for action) and are improved by regular, mindful reproductions of the mind template (known as training).

(7) Freedom does not mean you do what you want to. Freedom means that you do what you want to as long as it does not limit the freedom of other people.

E.g. you could turn up your music as loud as you want to but as you would thereby limit your neighbour’s freedom to have a nap or simply relax, you should not do so. To say it with Eleanor Roosevelt‘s wise words: “With freedom comes responsibility.”

(8) There is bad work, good work, do your own thing and meaningful activities.

Social integration and meaning plus following personal aims leads to a meaningful activity

Social integration and meaning plus following personal aims leads to a meaningful activity

I already wrote about this one. If you did not follow one of the two meaningful activity links above, you can read about it here.

(9) There is the instruction paradigm and the learning paradigm.

Regretfully, you can not only find it in college but almost everywhere in life. I wrote about my thoughts on the great book of John Tagg here.

(10a) I do not need to rely on existing enterprises to satisfy my needs. I could start my own business.

social media

social media (Photo credit: Sean MacEntee)

I often have ideas how to improve existing business models or how I imagine a great business/store of a certain kind. The last thing that came into my mind was my favorite future fashion store with no sale and no cloth hangers. As I am always looking for great opportunities and great people, I am sure that I will be able to realize the concepts one day.

(10b) We are all social beings.

So enjoy your friends, go for social interaction, use the amazing technical possibilities of our days. Join and communicate, meet people and make a difference, for you and for others. Remember, it’s a small world full of great opportunities and great people!

Goes without saying that I am looking forward to getting to know you and reading and answering your comments!

Lessons I learned from reading John Tagg’s “Learning Paradigm College”

Howdy folks,

Today, I want to introduce to you a great book about education and life I read some time ago: “The Learning Pardadigm College” by John Tagg. I read this book for my research on designing a new course concept for the Software Engineering course at  the Duale Hochschule of Karlsruhe and got a great bunch of inspiration from reading it that I want to share with you now. But some important questions first.

P question

What do you think about the Learning Paradigm College?

What do you think are the problems we are facing as students and as teachers at university/college/school?

Have you ever worked in a project in school/college/university and how did it feel compared to everyday’s learning?

I love to read and answer your comments, thanks in advance!

So now we can begin with the lessons I learned from reading John Tagg’s “Learning Paradigm College”.

Guidance from the map and feedback when you see a roadsign you expected to see. (Photo credit: fotalia.de)

Guidance from the map and feedback when you see a roadsign you expected to see. (Photo credit: fotalia.de)

Teaching is never adequate to cause successful learning because no matter how well you guide me in advance, I still need to determine whether I am successfully doing what you asked me to. (S. 189)

Guidance gives direction; feedback tells me whether I am on track or off track in a way that enables me to self-adjust. (S. 189)

This is an important thought first: A teacher can tell a student what to do but the student will need feedback from the teacher to determine if he/she is still on the way to success and how he/she could do better. If the teacher fails to give accurate feedback, every exercise will probably result in frustration for every student that accidentally lost the road (the way to success).

Many students will take time to learn to use their freedom because they have adopted a radically short time horizon, thinking in terms of the next test or the next assignment. (S. 245)

If you implement a new course concept which uses Problem-based and Collaborative learning (which I would really appreciate by the way, please remember to share your findings and experiences with us. Thanks!), don’t expect the students to change their habits from one day to another. As Tagg says, they have adopted a very short time horizon which makes it hard for them to work on problems that do not directly lead to the next test. This was the reason that I decided for the Software engineering course re-redesign to plan for almost weekly grades but always paired with feedback which is important to the students to improve as they will do the same activity again and again in the course.

When students write reflective journals or essays about their experience in the field – in internships, research, or service – they reify their formative meanings. And when they discuss those reflections, they participate in the ongoing negotiation of meaning. (S. 259)

Planned student activities during a "lecture" in my re-redesign of the Software Engineering course

Planned student activities during a “lecture” in my re-redesign of the Software Engineering course

In my SE course re-redesign, students are expected to write regular blog entries that are graded and that they receive feedback on. In their teams they discuss what they learned and how their project is doing and write a blog entry about it. Additionally, there are peer reviews for submitted project progresses with predefined criteria. The meaning of this criteria has to be negotiated, too.

Only if the teachers are learners too, and if they are seen to be learners, can they genuinely model deep learning for the apprentice learners in the community. The best design for learning in classrooms, it seems to me, is the combination of several teachers with a group of students who are addressing a theme that none of them quite has charge of, the meaning of which must be negotiated by the teachers as well as the students. (S. 263)

In this very inspiring quote, Tagg claims (in my opinion) for cross-discipline Problem-based and Collaborative teaching. There we get to a very central point of the Learning Paradigm College: Opposed to the Instruction Paradigm College with its “One teacher, one room, x students all focussed on the teacher (or should be)”, the Learning Paradigm College expects you to drop all the unjustificable relicts from the history of education: The blackboard and the teacher table do not have to be in front of the classroom and the chairs should not be arranged in lines. You may ask if it is still school then? No and yes. No, it will not be like school we know it today. But yes, it will (finally) be a school in the meaning of a “place where students learn something for life”.

English: 5th floor lecture hall at Baruch Coll...

English: 5th floor lecture hall at Baruch College. Taken on the day of an Economics Final Examination. The watermark is my own; I have full rights to this image and am the original photographer for this image. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A lecture hall affords sitting among a mass and listening. The overwhelming message sent by the room is “sit down and watch what happens at the front of the room.” (S. 290)

Lining up the chairs in rows is an Instruction Paradigm habit. (S. 309)

As I already told you, the Learning Paradigm College expects you to drop all the unjustificable relicts from the history of education…

Shupe’s template for categorizing learning outcomes:

–          Understanding: a student’s demonstration of what he or she knows and understands within a specific context

–          Performance: a student’s demonstration of what he or she can do that is specific to a context

–          Perspective: a student’s demonstration of what he or she knows and understands that can be carried from one context to another

Capability: a student’s demonstration of what he or she can do that can be carried from one context to another.

(S. 301)

This template can be used to evaluate a student. And remember, evaluation is to analyze where the student can still improve in a learning environment that has a long time horizon. If you do so, please share your findings and experiences with us. Thanks!

Rich feedback leads to learning, while frequent evaluation often deters it. (S. 332)

Think about it in relation to deep learning vs. short time horizon created by test and drop.

Collaboration Rooms

Collaboration Rooms (Photo credit: Robert E. Kennedy Library at Cal Poly)

A major focus of course redesign should be to create communities of practice among students. (S. 330)

Go for Collaborative learning, internships and team project work!

Everything depends upon how the institution uses technology, whether it reinforces the cool cognitive economy that thrives in most institutions today or raises the temperature. […] On the other hand, if we look at many online courses offered today, we see a very cool cognitive economy, where students are isolated and denied significant feedback for most of their activities.

I laughed wenn reading these lines in Taggs book because I remembered the Duale Hochschule using Moodle but having deactivated the messaging function between students so that only the teacher could communicate to (not with) the students. Does not sound like Instruction Paradigm yet? You have to read or ask about it again, I guess…

If the goal is to facilitate and highlight student performances, the tools that count most are the tools that students use. (S. 333)

So Facebook and Co. have a great potential for learning? Anyone got any experiences with it? Would be great to read about, share them with us, please. Thanks!

So much for now, I added the “Golden rule – a kind of Ten Commandments for teachers” to the poll to vote for the next blog entry. Maybe you want to learn more about it…

P question

P question (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What do you think about the Learning Paradigm College?

What do you think are the problems we are facing as students and as teachers at university, college and school?

Have you ever worked in a project or taken an internship in school, college or university and how did it feel compared to everyday’s learning?

I love to read and answer your comments, thanks in advance!

Failure and what I learned from failing – A course re-redesign

Howdy folks,

Today, I want to introduce myself as someone who tried educational gamification and failed. And as someone who read the amazing book “Learning Paradigm College” by John Tagg and was much influenced by Tagg’s thoughts. But let’s begin with the beginning…

English: University of Cooperative Education (...

Duale Hochschule Karlsruhe/University of Cooperative Education Karlsruhe (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

For my studies (Applied Computer Science), I wrote two 30 page papers (called “Studienarbeit”). Both are about redesigning the 1 year-long (2 semester) Software Engineering (SE) course in the Bachelor program for Applied Computer Science at the Duale Hochschule of Karlsruhe (DH).

The first one is about gamifying this SE course.

Most important ideas were:

  • Using a Map (see image below) where students could choose their way through the material (autonomy).
  • Providing students with a profile with a progress bar (feedback).
  • Giving Experience Points (XP) for completing tasks.
  • A Marketplace for creating and joining projects for the second semester.
Map providing students with autonomy to choose their way through the learning material

Map providing students with autonomy to choose their way through the learning material

Problems with this course design encountered in collected student feedback were:

  • Early release of the prototype had as a consequence that students were likely to find it buggy and feeling like guinea pigs (subjects of experiments).
  • The course design had too little focus on grades for a grade-centered environment like the DH.
  • Games seem to have a connotation as inefficient and not having the same value as work (sounding a bit like “Man, I’m serious and hard working, not just playing around!”).

So feeling quite frustrated, I said to myself “If you want hard work, you get hard work and if I only get you hard working by regular grading, let’s have a try!”.

This led to the second paper about implementing a Flipped Classroom for SE course:

Most important ideas were:

  • Diverse kind of tasks for students to avoid “reproduction-only” tests and increase learning efficiency (see image “student activity over lecture time (minutes)”).
Student activity over lecture time (minutes)

Student activity over lecture time (minutes)

  • Team work from the beginning to facilitate students keeping motivated and moving.
  • Regular grading and feedback for students on almost every task (see image “Possible points (sum) over lecture number”).

    Possible points (sum) over lecture number

    Possible points (sum) over lecture number

This design will be used in the next SE course starting in October 13. I’m already excited about how it will be perceived and rated by the students. I hope that the regular grading will avoid that students do not take the course serious just because it feels less like a lecture they are used to. After reading John Tagg’s amazing book, I thought that if we add enough feedback to every grade so that students can get better and better, it could heat up the learning environment a lot.

Do you have any ideas or comments to share on one of the papers? Or do you have any questions about one of the papers? Waiting for it in the comment section!

By the way, I wrote a shorter paper about the second paper and won a trip to Russia in September 2013 to participate in the IGIP conference. I’m looking forward to that adventure…

Have anyone ever been to Russia? Would be great if you shared your experiences with me!

I will write about the Russia trip and the conference and the Flipped Classroom for SE course after my conference participation. So if you already have questions concerning one of this three topics, let me know! Thanks in advance!

Sustainable gamification

Howdy, folks!

Sustainable gamifcation

Poll result “You suggest, you vote, I write about…” 29.06.2013

Been away for a long time and I’m sorry for it. But a lot has happened during this time. My initial favor of gamification changed to a critical view of points and leaderboards and I’ve realized that life is so much more than some marketing guys want to make us believe.

But enough of this now, as you voted for “Sustainable gamification” as the next post, I want to tell you what I think about it now.

Sustainable gamification
The ugly truth first, it depends on you if gamification is sustainable! Gamification is probably not sustainable if you

  • aim for quick wins instead of long-term customer satisfaction
  • have no idea what to do but want to have that cool gamification thingy into your app/store/whatever
  • think that people can be manipulated and controlled for a longer time by gamification
  • have products that are not good enough and you need advertising to sell enough of them and see gamification as a kind of marketing

So how becomes gamification sustainable?
Easy question to answer now we know when it is probably not sustainable! Gamification is probably sustainable if you

  • aim for long-term customer satisfaction and take quick wins only as a nice add-on on your path to success
  • have a clear idea why and how you want to implement gamification into your business
  • acknowledge that people can only manipulated for some time against their inner values and therefore, you try to help them to follow their inner values by giving them small and defined motivation kicks in their sometimes lazy a.s.s.
  • have products that help people to satisfy their wishes and allow them to follow their inner values

Or if you like it more visually:

Factors for sustainable gamification

Factors for sustainable gamification

One thing needs to be said before this blog entry can be completed: Gamification is this way only an additional ingredient for your success. Hope you can use it being in the green range of all the four gauges above.

And if you struggle hard implementing gamification, check your inner values or your business’ inner values. If you have any questions, please comment on this blog entry or join me on twitter or facebook.

I’m looking forward to your questions and comments!

And don’t forget to vote for the next blog entry!