Like classrooms, online communities can be structured to make thinking conscious, deliberate, clear and focused on needed outcomes. However, to get there, virtual communities require intentional dialogue leadership. For that, communications specialists must study the ways to organize and arrange interaction patterns, so they may outline a productive structuring of their time and energy. While participatory media is sought out to modestly inform audiences, it must not be confused with broadcast media—it’s social. In the attached report, I explain important online behaviors for school public relations, those that help enable community thinking. Continue reading
During an open house event April 7, I joined University of Massachusetts Boston’s Critical and Creative Thinking program in honoring the work and upcoming retirement of Dr. Carol Smith, a professor of psychology and pioneer in cognitive development, conceptual change and restructuring, and learning for deeper understandings.
UMass Boston faculty members described Smith’s decades of dedication, compassion and goodwill, as she navigated through transformative learning and problem solving, identifying what’s important to think about, as well as why and how. They explained her comfort in appreciating diverse perspectives, and her capacity to offer mixed observations. Continue reading
During an open house event March 3, I listened to stories offered by graduates of the Critical and Creative Thinking program at University of Massachusetts Boston. Their stories revealed several common themes among the program’s alumni.
While virtually seated in Boston from Colorado Springs, via an online Google+ Hangout, I heard the first graduate explain how the curriculum had caused some restlessness. She started reopening texts, revisiting ideas. Her thinking had evolved. Her view of the world had changed.
After completing the program, “I figured out just how much I had learned,” she said. Continue reading
My fingers frequently flirt with keyboards, oftentimes making a move, sometimes when they shouldn’t. It’s that digital hush, again: “Facebook isn’t for essays or politics.”
Where ought I write to understand? Describing her writing process, Flannery O’Connor said, “I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.”
As a graduate student in critical and creative thinking, I’m fascinated by literacy as mastering process, not content. Knowledge isn’t a commodity. It’s an exploration.
It’s about people using tools—it’s sociotechnical. Continue reading
“Critical thinking” recently topped a Forbes list covering important job skills for the 21st century, suggesting employers are looking for candidates who “use logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems” (Casserly, 2012).
As Socrates opined, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” We must constantly re-examine our beliefs, and identify when remaining intellectually honest requires us to accept contrary opinions. We must represent a genuine curiosity for other’s belief systems.
We’re already highly collaborative today. Every day, more than 500 terabytes of data is sent to Facebook, with the processing of text, photos and videos (Facebook, 2012). Twitter’s microblogging platform receives 12 terabytes daily (Naone, 2010). Actively and passively, we’re creating 2.5 quintillion bytes of data every day – 90 percent of the world’s data was created within the last couple of years. (IBM, 2013). Continue reading
PEYTON, Colo. – “The hatred I see today bothers me – it bothers a lot of people,” said James Wade, while unveiling a school project Sept. 11.
Wade, 17, a 12th grader known for his creativity at Patriot Learning Center in Peyton, Colo., had led the school’s ninth through 12th grade social studies students’ three-day civil rights project that combined ideas, materials and artworks.
During the 12th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, they unveiled to their school a pictorial tribute to the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s iconic “I Have a Dream” speech.
Hung in a hallway, a large, bell-shaped pressboard contains the collage of student works, each representing excerpts from King’s speech. A cutout of the word “freedom” is situated as the bell’s clapper. Continue reading
PEYTON, Colo. – “You have a choice to be bitter, or get better,” said Rai Henniger, speaking Aug. 9 to a group of high school students in Peyton, Colo.
While Henniger was setting up a fireworks display May 12, 2007, at Security Service Field in Colorado Springs, he says it was negligence that led to a powerful explosion. Someone had ignored a critical safety precaution.
The blast threw him 15 feet, leaving him with a 1 percent chance of survival. Continue reading
Through innovation, creative people attempt to solve unmet consumer needs. Design thinking is the process of reviewing user experiences with products and services, uncovering implicit gaps causing frustration, and then pointing toward new approaches (Kaufman & Sternberg, 2010, pp. 161-162). In reviewing trends in emerging media, I applied the seven steps in creative problem solving: assess a situation, explore a vision, formulate challenges, explore ideas, formulate solutions, explore acceptance and formulate a plan (Puccio, Mance, & Murdock, 2010, p. 71). Social media’s history and evolution covers a relatively brief period in human existence, but it’s a couple of decades that witnessed massive developments in consumer technologies. It’s time for innovators to reflect on how it might better serve society.
Every day, we create 2.5 quintillion bytes of data. Ninety percent of the world’s data was created within the last couple of years (2013). In the year 2000, we stored roughly 800,000 petabytes, or 0.8 zettabytes (Zikopoulos, Eaton, Deroos, Deutsch, & Lapis, 2011, p. 5). Researchers expect our storage to reach 35 zettabytes by 2020. Simple morning routines are filling storage devices in tons of ways. Data is created when you turn off your smartphone’s alarm, enter an expressway toll road, buy a cup of coffee and access a secure building. Much of the produced information is rarely analyzed, if at all. Continue reading
Online communities lacking leadership often get trapped within the realms of talking nice or tough. Debate is healthy, as it creates a container for reflective and generative dialogue. But within all conversational settings, dialogue leaders must ensure harmony, protecting a culture of inquiry and a commitment to emergence and creativity. They synchronize the actions people take during a conversation. Movers initiate ideas and transition conversations, while opposers challenge their direction – both act as advocates. To inspire, followers complete ideas and support the conversation, as bystanders provide perspective. Leaders keep everyone transitioning through the fields of conversation, ensuring debate leads to breakthroughs not breakdowns. What might Voltaire, an 18th century writer and philosopher, a fighter of free thinking and human dignity, an influencer of the French and American revolutions, offer today’s online dialogue leaders? Continue reading