Wednesday, September 02, 2015

Cantinflas: Genio del Posmodernismo en Soy un prófugo (1946)

Mario Moreno Reyes, mejor conocido por su personaje, "Cantinflas," es un genio de posmodernismo. Así, sus obras contienen y demuestran una energía subversiva y interrogación de las estructuras del modernismo que existían en la primera mitad del Siglo XX con sus los vestigios del colonialismo que todavía impusieron jerarquías y límites en la sociedad mexicana. A través de su personaje, Cantinflas, Moreno privilegió la cultura populista mexicana de las clases humildes, y así mostró que el pueblo mexicano se constituyó una tremenda fuerza y fuente de vida, creatividad, ingenio, y el espíritu emprendador, y una anarquía capaz de producir una sociedad que vibra con vida.

Las primeras películas de Cantinflas ilustran muy bien una reacción al modernismo, con sus ideas monolíticas y las dogmáticas y rígidas ideas de sus líderes, especialmente los de los "cultos de personalidad" que florecieron en varias partes del mundo.

Mario Moreno Reyes, "Cantinflas"
En las películas antes de 1950, la manera de Cantinflas de subvertir todas las formas autoridad fue y sútil y multifacética. Se destacó por la yuxtaposición de caós y libertad a una epistemología del absolutismo, que se manifestó como despotismo político, elitismo cultural, y simplemente las ideas de realidad que se ubicaban en el modernismo (especialmente la tecnocracia).

El modernismo en los últimos años del siglo XIX y los primeros décadas de siglo XX se cuadró muy bien con los dictadores que utilizaron la tecnología para establecer su propio elitismo. También, el modernismo aprovechó de una ontología que incorporó las jerarquías del colonialismo.

Pero una sociedad viva y sana tiene que tolerar (hasta fomentar) la resistencia; ejemplos abundan en las épocas fructíferas de la literatura y el arte: la novela picaresca (Lazarillo de Tormes; El diablo cojuelo, Huckleberry Finn, etc.); la novela satírica (Pantagruel y Gargantua de Rabelais, Candide de Voltaire, Gulliver's Travels por Jonathan Swift). Se puede decir también que para tener una sociedad sana es también necesario que haya la presencia de lo dionisio que deja entrar la fecundidad, no sólo de lo físico sino también que deshace la idea de orden. La presencia de desorden en la literatura y cine abre nuevas posibilidades de expresión y creatividad.  Posiblemente la idea más poderoso en todo ésto es el concepto de un dialecto entre el orden y el desorden, que resulta en una desintegración de las estructuras rígidas que, si nadie las perturbe, pueden paralizar la sociedad y quitar su esencia.

Y así entra Cantinflas -- que emplea todos los tácticos y estrategias para restaurar vida y energía precisamente porque sus actos y manera de hablar precipitan una cáscada de disrupciones --


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Soy una norteamericana quien acaba de descubrir a Cantinflas, la creación de Mario Moreno Reyes, gracias al hecho de que alguién mencionó su nombre en una ocasión, y se me picó la curiosidad para buscar árticulos y comentarios en línea. Después descubrí una colección sus películas disponible en el Internet y que las películas han sido restauradas y que aparecen en "definición alta." Muchas de las películas están accesible por YouTube.com.



He empezado a mirar las películas de Cantinflas, empezando con las más viejas, que me gustan muchísimo. Pienso que él merece en absoluto su fama y buena reputación por ser un genio cómico y un gran humanista que poseía un talento de unir la audiencia a pesar de sus diferencias. También se ve que es un satirista de la sociedad, pero no conozco suficiente de la historia de México, especialmente en la primera mitad del siglo XX para comentar con mucha autoridad.

Por eso, yo quisiera comenzar por pedir disculpas en adelante por los errores que haré por no conocer muy bien el entorno de todas las películas de Cantinflas.

Pero, de todos modos, aprecio la obra de Cantinflas y quiero escribir unos pensamientos y observaciones que me surgen después de mirar una de sus películas.  Quiero comentar de su trato posmoderno y también los elementos subversivos. En este caso mi enfoque es en Soy un Prófugo  (título alternativo: Bandido a Muque) (1946), dirigido por Miguel M. Delgado.



Resumen del Complot de Soy un Prófugo:
Cantinflas trabaja en la limpieza de edificios; en este caso, un banco.  Una banda de ladrones roba el banco, pero el "crédito" del crimen llega a Cantinflas y su compañero de trabajo. Aunque Cantinflas y su compañero se niegan de haber sido involucrados, la policia los meten en la cárcel. Ahí, al conocer a su compañero de la celda, que se llama Gargantúa (una referencia a Rabelais, supongo), fastidian tanto al gigante que él les ayuda a escapar.






Pero, su escape no sirve para mucho, porque Cantinflas y su amigo son seducidos y secuestrados casi inmediatemente por una rubia en un coche con conductor (al principio, los dos no pueden creer que una rubia tan elegante les está haciendo caso). Les lleva ella a un salón de apostar que forma el sede de una pandilla de ladrones / tramposos. Se nota que los ladrones se visten meticulasamente y con nitídez y pulcritud, en una moda idéntica a los banqueros y los privilegiados, que constituye un comentario subversivo en sí; es decir que los ladrones y los ricos se parecen en cada aspecto. Los miembros de la pandilla están enojados porque quieren que el mundo sepa que son responsables por el crimen, por el crimen fue realizado con elegancia y buena técnica. 

En estos momentos, Cantinflas parece obtener el poder de hipnotisar a los de más por manipular sus ojos y cejas; y él usa su nuevo poder con mucha frecuencia.  Entrega la pandilla a la policia, que aprecian a la oportunidad de detener a los delincuentes verdaderos. La policía explica al banquero principal que Cantinflas y su compañero son inocentes, y de hecho, merecen una recompensa. El banquero llena un cheque para $5 mil pesos, pero bajo la influencia hipnótica de Cantinflas, lo cambia a $20 mil. Cantinflas está ahora con fondos suficientes para comprometerse, y invita a una bonita empleada de la tienda de la vecindad. Cuando entra Cantinflas, la bonita chica está hablando a su novio, pero Cantinflas usa sus poderes para hipnotisarles para convencer a ella (y al rival) que el rival ya está casado, con 8 hijos y una señora que necesitan sus recursos.  Al final, Cantinflas y su bonita novia estaban contentísimas, y todo sale bien.

Cantinflas y sus subversiones de lenguaje:
Cuando Cantinflas habla a su manera particular y cuando entra en una conversación extensa, él habla mucho pero no dice nada. De hecho, es una subversión de lenguaje, o por lo menos, en la idea que las palabras representan la realidad. Si es cierto, entonces la realidad no tiene forma absoluta, y que su forma preferida es de caós y desorden. Para mí, es absolutamente postmoderno, y que en un solo tiro Cantinflas subvierte y erosiona el poder de las autoridades y del poder de lenguaje de producir significado. Me hace recordar el famoso dicho de Wittgenstein: "About which we cannot speak, we must consign to silence."





Cantinflas reduce el lenguaje a una especie de silencio, y destruye el poder de que tienen las autoridades. También, su manera de hablar significa que en la ausencia de un significado seguro, existe la posibilidad de interpretar. Es decir, en la presencia de un idioma que falta la habilidad de significar, existe la posibilidad de invención y de re-invención -- de significado, de identidad, y de la realidad.

Para Cantinflas, la destrucción de la capacidad de lenguaje de producir signficado predecible es un proceso de liberación. Es posible crear y recrear la realidad porque por desatar el idioma de todos sus reglas y normas, lo pone en flujo, y el mundo es, de repente, un lugar de infinitas posibilidades.

El vestido posmoderno: La moda particular de Cantinflas y el significado

Posiblemente la primera cosa que se nota en Cantinflas es su manera de vestirse, en una camisa blanca (o que era blanca, ahora es de un color más o menos gris), un sombrero raído rollado para dar un aspecto muy sugeriente de algo indecente, y pantalones caidos con muchos remiendos, que se están cayendo hasta el punto de ser también indecente. Una soga sustituye por un cinturón, y sobre un hombro lleva algo que parece una toallita y que se llama su “gabardina.” Lleva zapatos demasiado grandes, también raídos.  No obstante, se ve muy orgulloso de su propio "uniforme" -- y hace una yuxtaposición llamativa cuando habla de personas de la clase alta or media, que se destacan por cuidar los detallitos en su aspecto.

También, se nota una gran diferencia cuando Cantinflas mismo se cambia de traje; el cambio es muy abrupto y la audiencia se consciencia del impacto de lo visual, y la importancia de las aparencias en la producción del sigificado.  En su trabajo de limpieza, Cantinflas tiene a un compañero de trabajo (un empleado y colega) y los dos se visten en harapos, pero con cierto "estilo particular."  Obviamente, la moda y la manera de vestirse es un poderoso símbolo, y aún más cuando los rangos de la sociedad son tan bien delineados, y que son impenetrables; es decir la mobilidad social no es posible, excepto en casos extraordinarios.



Al mismo tiempo, se nota que en Soy un prófugo, Cantinflas es, más o menos, un pelado (aunque se puede decir que representó más el concepto de “pelado” en la película El Portero y también en Ahí está el detalle). Le gusta su vida, y no tiene ni aspiraciones ni deseos de subir de estado social. De hecho, expresa su punto de vista cuando  explica por qué no quisiera ser banquero. Ser banquero le quitaría su libertad.  
 


Después de ser secuestrados por la banda de ladrones "profesionales," Cantinflas y su compañero tienen la oportunidad de conseguir nuevos trajes; el líder de la banda dirige que venga el sastre particular para vestir a los dos. La moda sugerida por el sastre no cae bien -- y dos puntos inmediatamente se surgen, por mi visto, por lo menos. Primero, Cantinflas rechaza en absoluto las normas de la sociedad, y su manera de vestirse. Segundo, un subtexto homosexual sube a la superficie; cuando el sastre menciona que Cantinflas posee un "cuerpo divino" y le toca, sugeriéndos, Cantinflas hace una mueca y lo rechaza. Encima, insiste en modificar el "esmoquin" y el chaleco para conformarse a su propio estilo.

El encuentro con el sastre, que es posiblemente, una parodia del homosexual con atributos femininos, funciona a aliviar a la audiencia, y asegurarles y afirmar que aunque Cantinflas y su compañero viven como pareja, hasta en la misma cama, y que comparten de la misma cuchara -- viviendo "como una sola persona" -- su subversión de los roles masculinos no implica que se adhiere a un estereotipo de la homosexualidad, sino que Cantinflas amplia el rol masculino para incorporar más posibilidades emotivas.  Así, el personaje de Cantinflas abre un panorama de posibilidades, y, sobre todo, remueve barreras sociales; y en cambio, en su rol de "trickster" bastante juguetón, fortalece la aceptación.

Yuxtaposiciones: Alto y bajo
Para mí, es sumamente divertido mirar todo de Cantinflas, y cómo todo sale muy cómico, no solo por su manera de hablar en absurdidades, sino también en su manera de moverse -- sus movimientos, sus acciones, su comedia física.  Surge una alegría tan profunda en mirar sus movimientos que no se puede dejar de sonreir.

La manera en que baile Cantinflas es muy divertida.  Contrasta el baile formal, con buena técnica clásica, y la yuxtaposición causa que se destaque la manera suya de ser, y es un tipo de liberación de los valores burgueses.

Por supuesto, la yuxtaposición de lo absurdo con la "cultura alta" constituye precisamente lo absurdo y el "carnivalesco" en la manera que lo describe el pensador ruso Mikhail Bakhtin. Lo más importante de todo es que significa una subversión de las normas sociales, y así libera a la audiencia.  Por mirar una versión, realizada con mucha alegría, energía, y picardía, la audiencia se siente autenticada -- es decir, valorada y legitímada.

Otras yuxtaposiciones aparecen en la obra de Cantinflas:
-- la clase alta y la clase más humilde, con el resultado que los ricos parecen absurdos
-- el trabajo de los privilegiados y los que no privilegan - siempre resulta que las personas en los puestos más humildes demuestran sus dones y habilidades; y en una manera que afirma la inteligensia de los del campo.

La Subversión de la masculinidad y la pareja convencional
En su trabajo en la limpieza, Cantinflas tiene a un compañero de trabajo (un empleado y colega) y los dos se visten en harapos, pero con cierto "estilo particular."

En su trabajo, no es de ninguna manera evidente que ganarán suficiente para sobrevivir, aunque el banco luce muy elegante, y los banqueros son evidentemente "cómodos" (es decir, ricos). Cuando el banquero pregunta a Cantinflas, cómo puede tener él un empleado, responde por explicar que están viviendo como una persona, compartiendo de todo (hasta una sola cuchara, una sóla almohada, etc.).


No sé como suena a un mexicano, para para mí, suena como una forma muy simpática de referencia de vivir como pareja, y, a la vez, subvierte los valores platitúdinos y perogrullescos del matrimonio, y también borra la definición precisa de la masculinidad.

Aunque tiene un trabajo humilde, no se porta como si aceptara su rango bajo en la escala social. De hecho, juega mucho con los privilegiados y con la autoridad.  En una escena al principio de la película, Cantinflas se seinta en el escritorio del presidente del banco, y habla en un dictafono. Su conversación tiene que ver con la compra de acciones y lo que suele hacer un jefe de una institución financiera. Cuando le pregunta su compañero de trabajo, el responde que lo hice para demostrar que él es preparado y capaz de ser el presidente del banco, pero que su vida así como es más le conviene.

Se supondría que por ponerse en una posición subversiva frente a la sociedad, Cantinflas estaría dispuesto a unirse con la delincuencia y que se uniría con una banda de ladrones a la primera oportunidad.

Pero, no puede ser más lejos de sus deseos. Al ser secuestrado por una banda de ladrones organizados (con salones de apostar, emprendimentos de robar bancos).

Siempre pícaro, siempre ajeno ...

En Soy un Prófugo, aunque Cantinflas recibe una gran cantidad de dinero como recompensa (aún más por su manera de convencer al banquero que le dirija un cheque más generoso), no se incorpora ni en el mundo de los banqueros ni en el mundo de los ladrones. Su éxito representa la afirmación de los deseos de los de un rango social bajo de subir, y efectuar la mobilidad social.
Cantinflas quede libre de las pretensiones de clase - adapta cuando le conviene, y disfruta, con gusto, las posibilidades de auto-expresión y auto-realización. Con mucho amor propio y picardía sigue siendo “pelado” y sigue subvertiendo los valores de la clase media y las actitudes burguesas.

También, mantiene su picardía, y el mundo sigue siendo un gran lugar para jugar con la expectativa social.

Aunque no he mirado muchas películas de Cantinflas, observo que en las primeras películas, mantiene su rol de "forastero" o "el ajeno" de la sociedad alta o privilegiado, y juega mucho con ellos.  En otras películas que filmó más tarde, como la película, Sube y Baja (1958), el deseo no es de quedarte aparte. En cambio, cuando teine éxito, con mucho gusto se abandona su vieja vida y abraza su entrada, sin cuestionar los valores y actitudes. En Sube y Baja, se enamora de una millonaria que es bella, a pesar del hecho de que es muy mercenaria, y abraza su nuevo rol de gerente de una compañía que vende productos para deportistas, aunque está muy evidente que menosprecian a los de orígenes humildes, y seguramente, eventualmente crearía un conflicto interior en Cantinflas, por ser de origen humilde.

La subversión y la satisfacción del lector / la audiencia:
Por eso, pienso que los desenlaces de las películas iniciales son generan una satisfacción con más concordancia a la persona que mira, especialmente en cuanto a su sentido de identidad, los sueños (auque pueden ser todavía no expresados), anhelos y aspiraciones. La manera en que Cantinflas celebra la cultura populista y honra la experiencia particularmente mexicana es y una subversión de las jerarquías colonialistas y también una afirmación del espríritu democrático. 


Article written by Susan Smith Nash, Ph.D., Tulsa, OK, September 2015
Please contact me with suggestions, thoughts, impressions.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Interview with Braulio Perdigao, Petrolessons: Innovators in E-Learning Series

With the "great crew change" accelerated by the oil and gas downturn, knowledge transfer is more important than ever. Welcome to an interview with Braulio Perdigao, PMP, CEO/Founder of Petrolessons.com - the first knowledge marketplace dedicated to the oil and gas industry.

What is your background? What are your areas of experience?
I'm Brazilian and I've been in Houston for 15+ years. I have experiences in multiple industries:  over 7 years of experience in oil and gas, 6 of those at Petrobras, after that I also did communications and change management consulting for Exxon, Hess and BP.

I stay pretty busy, I'm the CEO/Founder of Petrolessons.com. I'm also the chairman of Oil and Gas Entrepreneurs organization, we are over 460 members working on innovations for the oil and gas. In addition, I'm a member of the Change Management Association Professionals, Association for Talent Development and I'm a Project Management Professional (PMP).



Video Interview with Braulio Perdigao on LifeEDGE

About me and my experience that is relevant to this topic:
I came to the US in 2000 to go to school and ended up staying, I graduated from the University of Houston Downtown in Interdisciplinary Studies - that shows my multi disciplinary interest and experiences - Some will say I am ADD, I think I am just curious and ambitious and could never be in a box. I wanted to experience a little bit of everything. In my coursework I included everything from language development, business, psychology, education, legal, marketing, design - yes it took me 7 years to graduate! I've worked in education, travel industry, logistics, web marketing, creative project management, video/photo production and finally several roles in oil and gas (communications, risk, change management mainly).

Braulio Perdigao, PMP, Petrolessons
To be honest, I never really thought I would work in oil and gas, my relationship with the industry was basically filling up my car and watching accidents and explosions in the news. But I was very lucky to be recruited in 2008 to be part of a PMO working for a major project in the Gulf of Mexico. In fact, when I accepted that offer, I was afraid that oil and gas would not be creative enough for me, I was completely wrong!

In that role, I was in charge of project communications, risk management and change management mainly (although I wore many hats). I was running countless workshops, project annual events, and one of the coolest projects was to produce a film documentary of our project which was a breakthrough project in the gulf (first FPSO in US gulf and at the time the deepest E&P project in GoM) we were exploring in unknown territory the Lower tertiary, so there were always a lot of that suspense of a new discovery. Well, doing communications for the project allowed me to get out of the office and really see and gain a tremendous appreciation for the industry. I was talking to leadership, engineers, going to vendors, going offshore, hanging from helicopters. It was by far the best experience of my life.




There are SOOOO many smart people and such a dynamic, complex, creative industry, and so many variables and so much risk it really blew my mind. I dare to say it is the most complex and dynamic industry. Most projects in O&G starts in the billions, take hundreds of companies to come together from around the world, it takes years and years to breakeven IF they are lucky because there are so many variables. So as a result and as I developed communications materials I was seeing how productivity and excitement in the office increased because now people could see what they were working on. I also thought how unjust the media and public perception was around oil and gas. So the initial idea was to create a portal like TED talks to oil and gas. I'm addicted to TED Talks by the way. I was still working for Petrobras at the time and developing the idea, doing research, interviewing people and working on Petrolessons in my off time.

The problem we are solving:
After a while I noticed the common thread around training, skills gap which in oil and gas is called The Big Crew Change. There is so much project intelligence that is lost, over 4MM professionals leaving the industry in the next 5 years and over 1.8MM coming in and there is a huge gap here. The knowledge gap in O&G is due to a hiring freeze between the 80's and early 2000's, and it represents a MAJOR challenge for the industry. Other factors: O&G projects count and depend on these expert engineers to are like birds migrating from one project to the next so a lot of project intelligence is lost and it costs a LOT of money. And now that the industry is in crisis, we just lost over 100K people that were laid off or got early retirement packages. So that knowledge gap is becoming wider and wider! It's estimated that it impacts 30% of projects worldwide, so that represents over 3 trillion in costs!

The solution:
Well, putting my background together, with advancements in technology, how easy it's become to produce video, the whole movement of MOOCs etc Petrolessons became a knowledge marketplace, so it's now an innovative platform with a B2C and a B2B offering. The B2C is a global platform available on www.petrolessons.com that allows any professionals with experience in oil and gas, associations, training centers and universities to share their knowledge, build a reputation and make $. We aggregate and curate oil and gas knowledge from around the world. The goal is to be the number one platform for oil and gas knowledge online. At least 90% of each course is video based, they can include quiz and other interactive elements. They are mobile friendly so people can access courses on the go with a 12 month access window. We are working on a native app where people will be able to access courses even without wifi. Content owners make 70% of net revenue from sales of their courses. Even if they have other platforms they are publishing we can be an added channel and revenue stream as long as it's relevant to O&G industry. As for topics of courses think engineering, geology, subsea, facilities, wells, refinery, safety courses, but also think project management, business skills, cyber security,trading, leadership, HR, Supply chain, IT, finance, logistics, language, culture...all of these are very relevant. Because it takes a lot of parts to support the industry.


Since launching in Dec 2014, I've been focusing on building a library of courses that are relevant for O&G. I'm working with over 60 instructors from around the world, and several colleges and associations. And we have over 40 courses in post production now.There are over 150 people signed up representing all major oil and gas companies and service companies and this is very organic, I haven't really done much marketing yet since my focus now has been to build the library of courses.

What do you see as potential for companies?
The B2B offering is a private label version of the platform offered as a SaaS model to oil and gas operators and service companies where they can now capture internal knowledge create video courses and disperse to their workforce, they can also drag and distribute courses from the global platform. We can offer just the platform or offer a turnkey solution with our partners to identify gaps, build strategy and create courses. If companies are spending at least 1 million dollars in training we can generally save them 50% of training costs and do it 60% faster.

What are some opportunities for people who would like to share their experience?
Shout out to all Subject Matter Experts: many of you have been laid off and this is a great opportunity for you! Also associations and colleges, share your content beyond your members! There are so much knowledge that is silo'd and doesn't get enough exposure. Further, there are many people around the world who do not have knowledge readily available. Let's bridge the knowledge gap!  By going to petrolessons.com/teach you can start the process of publishing your course on Petrolessons and we help you in every step of the way. We help people DIY their courses or we are happy to partner and refer media houses to help create video content.

There are tons of bells and whistles to this platform that makes is super unique and relevant to the oil and gas industry.

I'm looking for content owners, experienced professionals to publish their own courses on Petrolessons and pilot companies for our B2B offering. Instructional designers, consulting firms working on this space as well as media houses should get in touch and see how we can work together.

For example, we are helping promote some of AAPG's e-symposia to help people learn about some of the resources that AAPG (American Association of Petroleum Geologists) has available.

Do you see potential with STEM education?
I'm in talks with organizations that are working on STEM education so we can partner to share Oil and Gas knowledge and help folks appreciate the industry that is the source of everything we know today.

The mission and ambition is big! I think we can change the world by changing how training is done. Oil and Gas gives origin to most of the things that touches our lives today. From technology to food, living, transportation etc. Ultimately by helping companies produce oil more efficiently, less costly will help them lower costs of the supply chain, make operations safer, and everything down the supply chain will be optimized.
URL: www.petrolessons.com and www.petrolessons.com/teach (this last one is for content owners who want to publish their video courses on Petrolessons.com)
Media links: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hwfeg_xOFps

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Infographics as Working Memory Boosters & Engagers for Learning

Infographics can serve a unique purpose in an online course or training program in that they both engage learners and provide a very handy mnemonic which assists in the storing and retrieving of information.

Infographics are easily incorporated into courses, and can be deployed via social media and within learning management systems. Further, it is a simple process to store your infographic in a cloud-based repository such as SlideShare (slideshare.net) which allows links, embeds to an easily downloaded pdf, along with allowing you to share accompanying notes and information.

For an audio recording, click here.

Here are two examples which were used for the petroleum industry, where it is often challenging to communicate information cogently and without clutter.
http://www.slideshare.net/beyondutopia/geology-and-engineering-mustknow-realities-for-reservoir-development

Geology vs Engineering Reservoir Realities
http://www.slideshare.net/beyondutopia/geology-and-engineering-mustknow-realities-for-reservoir-development
http://www.slideshare.net/beyondutopia/four-key-considerations-for-mature-fields
 4 Considerations for Mature Fields
http://www.slideshare.net/beyondutopia/four-key-considerations-for-mature-fields

Working Memory and Infographics
Baddeley and Hitch (1974) described the mechanism used by short-term memory as a process they denoted as “working memory.” In their view, working memory is a process driven by the “central executive” which collects, temporarily stores, and directs data to the cognitive subsystems of the a) visuo-spatial sketch pad, and the b) phonological loop.

As a highly visual artifact with engaging and unique organization of visual information, an infographic is an ideal tool for facilitating the smooth functioning of working memory.

The central executive can easily incorporate a well-designed infographic in the visuo-spatial sketch pad, which is, in essence, the inner eye.  The visual spatial sketch pad not only functions in the retrieval process, it also is used in navigation – in locating spatially where information might be.

The central executive takes and replaces information in the visuo-spatial sketch pad, and then relates it to long-term memory. The central executive can move material back from long-term memory to working memory, so the infographic can be used not only to store new information, but as a memory-trigger to retrieve information from long-term memory.

Baddeley emphasized that the central executive also functions as a system to keep attentional processes engaged, and to continually organize and prioritize (McLeod, 2012). It can also relate processes together, so that a infographic that is primarily attached to the visuo-spatial sketch pad, also can be related to the phonological loop processes.

Guidelines for Developing Infographics for Working Memory

1.  Keep your information tied to one or two categories 
2.  Use a clear color scheme
3.  Avoid clutter
4.  Maintain a minimal main message
5.  Connect / refer to details (don’t include all the details in the infographic)
6.  Use colors, white space, lively design
7.  Use phone, tablet, and laptop-friendly hosting / delivery
8.  Make your infographic multi-purpose, reusable
9.  Encourage sharing / comments / collaboration

Tools for Building Infographics
Infographics were originally designed almost exclusively by graphic designers, but now there are a number of free and premium services that provide cloud-based services that include professionally designed templates which utilize unique graphics, layouts, and fonts.

Examples include:

Canva (www.canva.com): Templates and unique fonts / images for infographics and presentations.

Piktochart (www.piktochart.com): Templates, images for infographics, reports, presentations

PicMonkey (www.picmonkey.com): Photo-editing that also includes a number of unique fonts, images, and clip art, and easy creation of collages that can also be designed as infographics

Final Thoughts
Infographics can be very practical as well as engaging and fun. For example, if you save them as a pdf files and print them out, you may use the infographics as a point of departure for an impromptu mind map.

The key is to design with an eye to inspiring and triggering thoughts – about the present, past knowledge, and collaborations. Used well, infographics can be an effective tool for deep learning.

References

Baddeley, A. D., & Hitch, G. (1974). Working memory. In G.H. Bower (Ed.), The psychology of learning and motivation: Advances in research and theory (Vol. 8, pp. 47–89). New York: Academic Press.

Baddeley, A. D., & Lieberman, K. (1980). Spatial working memory. ln R. Nickerson. Attention and Performance, VIII. Hillsdale, N): Erlbaum.

McLeod, S. A. (2012). Working Memory. Retrieved from www.simplypsychology.org/working%20memory.htmlwww.simplypsychology.org/working%20memory.html

Wednesday, August 05, 2015

Interview with Rajeev PS, Blobeo: Innovators in E-Learning Series

Making effective, collaborative expert instruction and mentoring readily available is an ongoing challenge. Welcome to an interview with Rajeev PS of Blobeo, a new entity dedicated to facilitating the process of bringing together industry practitioners and those seeking practical knowledge.

1.    What is your name and your relation to eLearning?

My name is Rajeev PS and the Co-Founder of Blobeo.

https://blobeo.com/
https://www.facebook.com/blobeo
https://twitter.com/blobeor

  
 
I began my career in software and have progressed a lot. During my journey, I attended various trainings to acquire new skills, I learned many skills with help of my mentors and I have been a mentor to various developers as well. Of my entire career, I have noticed that my learning was effective when it was with a mentor than online reading or online videos or attending training. I heard the same thing loud from my mentees as well.  Then I took a step back and analyzed and found that there are two major reasons why this was the only effective way.

a)    One was because the online reading and videos were not interactive and didn’t hold my attention for long
b)    The other key reason is because my mentors were real practitioners where as the trainers in most of the cases were only teachers but not practitioners.

So I realized that my learning would have been quicker and effective if it was from a real practitioner who can offer me an interactive course. I wanted the same thing to happen to billions of people in my situation and up-skill themselves effectively. That idea motivated me to co-found Blobeo.

   Blobeo is built just with the vision to help every one learn a new skill or up-skill themselves effectively.

2.    What are some of the problems that need to be overcome in eLearning right now?

The traditional eLearning gained momentum primarily with its on-demand and self-paced nature, anywhere- anytime flexibility and its very low cost.  However, this poses the key questions:

1.    How many of them who register for eLearning courses really get to complete it – not more than 10%
2.    How effective is the learning experience? – Not really, as it is not interactive and engaging
3.    How much value I am getting? – Very minimal as the courses are more theoretical in nature and more of a canned content which is prepared to fit a variety of learner segments and interests
4.    Is it better to hear some real experiences from an expert/practitioner? - Makes a lot of sense as most of them are looking to apply the learning in their real life situations at work
5.    Is the quality of instructors being considered seriously? – Very limited visibility about instructors and in many cases it is not very significant as there is not any personal interaction






The next wave of online learning is starting with a mission of addressing the above concerns and Blobeo is founded to lead this change.

3.    What is Blobeo? What does it look like? How does it work?

Blobeo is a market place for learners to connect with instructors who offer interactive live online courses. This is a platform to learn from a verified expert who is an industry practitioner in his or her own area of specialization. No matter your age or profession, Blobeo provides a powerful open online eLearning environment for you to learn.


Any individual can design and offer a course on Blobeo, provided their qualification and experience in the subject can be verified. Blobeo's intelligent profile verification uses LinkedIn and other social platforms to validate an instructor.

If you love to share a piece of your wisdom, this open platform enables you to uncover your hidden tutoring talent and make it as a key income source. You will also connect with enthusiasts in your profession and outside, thereby building your personal brand.

Blobeo is more than teaching or learning online, it also establishes a ‘connect’. It is a blob for your future - next dream job, research programs, career guidance, homework support, technology advisory or even start-up mentoring.



4.    What is the ultimate goal?

Blobeo is established with a vision to take the online learning to the next level to make it more engaging, effective, serious and thereby meaningful.  With Blobeo, we will shift the eLearning to outcome-oriented and value-based learning.

5.    What makes Blobeo different?  How can it beat the competition? 

a.    Blobeo will focus on online live interactive courses than the traditional recorded eLearning classes
b.    Unlike the traditional eLearning marketplaces where wisdom is “sold”, Blobeo will help establish a connect between the learner and his instructor where the wisdom is shared and not repeatedly “sold”
c.    Blobeo will bring more discipline to the learning process by combining the benefits of traditional eLearning like flexibility and availability with lively, interactive and engaged learning

6.    Why not just use Skype for personalized tutoring and/or live coaching? Why does one need an LMS?

Skype or a similar tool is only a technology enabler for the learning process while Blobeo will take you through the 360-degree aspects of any individual’s learning process.



Blobeo will also have a robust technology platform for live audio, video, content sharing, collaboration and even recording.

7.    How do you assure quality?  How can you utilize social media?

The key aspect of an eLearning marketplace is the quality of the instructors and the courses they teach. Blobeo’s primary focus is to ensure quality. Blobeo’s intelligent profile verification uses LinkedIn and various other social media platforms to validate an instructor and also his expertise in the area where he or she is offering the course. In addition to this, there will be a 360-degree review and feedback mechanism to consistently monitor and improve the performance of the instructors and quality of the courses.

8.    What are your plans for the future?

Blobeo is built just with the vision to help every one learn a new skill or up-skill themselves effectively. The key aspect of our future plan is to facilitate connecting the desire with knowledge across the boundaries. We realize that each region/country is rich in wisdom and expertise in certain unique areas. There is a great opportunity to facilitate a greater collaboration in the education and up-skilling, which will benefit a larger population, and for better humankind




Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Using Web 2.0 in Online Courses: Creating Mystery & Engagement with a Collaborative Story Line

One interesting way to engage students is to put together a PowerPoint presentation that can be shared via social media, and which gives the opportunity to create a response presentation, and which includes a mystery / adventure story line.

In this case, which was for a basics of petroleum geology course, I created a six-slide PowerPoint presentation which I shared using Slideshare.  The story is based on a real-life class action suit in Oklahoma that had to do with the underpayment of oil and gas royalties. 

The learning objective was to discuss royalty payments on oil and gas production. 

To build the presentations, I used photographs I took in Istanbul as background graphics. I used cutout figures from eLearningArt.com, and I modified graphics using PicMonkey.com.  

I then uploaded it to SlideShare.com, and I shared the link via an email announcement in the course, which uses Blackboard. I encouraged students to post responses in the Discussion Board area.



http://www.slideshare.net/beyondutopia/underpaid-royaltiesconv

Here’s the concept and call for collaboration:

Incident in Istanbul: The Secret Files & the Case of the Underpaid Royalties 

Zounds! Maria has stumbled across secret files – they have information that shows that a midstream transportation company has been underpaying royalty owners by deducting line charges.
This could be one of the largest class action suits in her state’s history. But, she needs to explain the situation.

Help her explain what is going on and how oil and gas royalty owners are paid for production.
    Who is involved?
    Who pays the royalties? How much?
    How are the payments (and the deductions determined?
    When are they decided?)

We need your expert help! Please create a presentation that helps a royalty owner, or potential jury member (in the case of a Class Action lawsuit) understand what has happened, and also what kind of information Maria needs to collect.

***
This example was also used in an Instructional Design Certificate program (Rollins College) to provide an example of how simple storyline presentations can be used with Web 2.0 tools, and to boost engagement and collaboration.



Monday, July 20, 2015

Be a Decision Architect: Structure Your Mind, Your Processes

The basis of bad decision-making is human behavior.  But behavior is often simply reinforced by current decision-making processes. In order to break through, one needs to redesign the environment, and be the architect of the context and conditions.

That's a strong statement, but it's what John Beshears and Francesco Gino have asserted in their article, "Leaders as Decision Architects" which appeared in the May 2015 issue of Harvard Business Review. 
 
For Beshears and Gino, the most important elements for making sound decisions and doing it in a timely fashion is to create a framework that facilitates good decision-making. The most critical elements are the following:

1.  Motivation:  All members of decision-making team must feel motivated. After all, decisions involve risk and a sense of vulnerability. To overcome the inner resistances that may arise, it's important to make sure there are rewards, both intrinsic and extrinsic. Without good motivation strategies, and ones which are flexible and meet the needs of individuals, it's unlikely that the project will be carried through to fruition.

2.  Cognitive Bias:  Daniel Kahnemann and others have long demonstrated that what makes cognitive bias so insidious is the fact that it's invisible to us. So the first step is to recognize that there is bias. This often requires the view of a neutral outsider, since those within the organization are often afflicted with the highly contagious (but often useful) groupthink, or worse, folie a deux.  So, a neutral outsider can identify the presence of cognitive bias. Then, the challenge of further determining what kind of bias it may be, and then the underlying assumptions that allow it to exist (and which make it hard to resist or eliminate). We all have our pet ideas about reality and about identity -- and, they can be quite destructive. One of the most useful tactics is to gather evidence that denies / fails to confirm the preconceived notion. Disconfirming evidence needs to be plentiful and reviewed often, because those who suffer from cognitive bias tend to reject or discount evidence that does not align with what they want to see.

3.  Align with Decision-Makers' Best Interests:  Cognitive dissonance is one of the surest ways to paralysis, and yet it's surprising how many times people are asked to do things that are not in their best interests.  Often, too, individuals try to force themselves to do things that go against their own best interests as well. It's amazing how often we may be unaware that we're either asking individuals, team members, partners, even loved ones to do things that are not in their best interests, and then we exhibit surprise when there is resistance to the idea.

4.  Positive Emotions: Caring About the Outcome. It's hard to do something when you don't care. It's even harder if you feel aversion. So, whatever the decision is, the issue needs to be something that the decision makers care about, and their feelings must be positive.

5.  Redesign the Context.  This is where the concept of being an architect can really be useful. If you can change the structural environment in which you're making your decision, then you have a chance of seeing it in a new light. If not, you're likely to be impeded by resistance, bias, emotional blockage.

Finally, once the steps have been taken, it's important to focus on solutions. Instead of trying to implement or evaluate numerous solutions, the key is to find one and then try one's best to implement it. There will be variations in the ways in which the solution can be implemented, and it can be modified while in the process.

Reference:
Beshears, J. and Gino, F. (2015) "Leaders as decision architects." Harvard Business Review. May 2015: 51-62.
susan smith nash, ph.d.
Leadership / decision-making are mission critical.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Blended Problem-Based Learning: Finding the Best Blend

Problem-based learning has proved to be highly effective for careers and industries in which a great deal of hands-on learning / skills-based practice is required and also in team environments.

Examples include petroleum exploration and development, pipeline construction, manufacturing / processing, construction, medicine, pharmaceutical sales, allied health industries, and hospitality / tourism.

Outcomes are often measured in the ability to effectively and accurately perform tasks.

Keys to Successful Learning Program Design

The keys to successful design of a problem-based blended or 100% elearning program include the following:

    *  Definition of the outcome - the level of competency required by the skill or task
    *  Identification of a representative problem or task
    *  Determination of how to develop materials that provide information, conceptual underpinnings, and support
    *  Determination of the best ways to effectively collaborate, either digitally or face-to-face
    *  Identifying the limitations of the communications technologies and the learning management system
    *  Alignment of abilities of the team members, both in terms of the subject of the training and their technology skills / abilities.

Collaboration Materials and Methods

In a blended problem-based learning program that includes face-to-face with online learning, it is very important to determine the best blend of online and face-to-face. Generally, collaborative activities are done both face-to-face as well as online, but in some cases the collaborations take place completely online.

Collaborations can take the form of the following
   
    *  Collaborative forum
    *  Wiki
    *  Collaborative project
    *  Portfolio
    *  Gallery

It is important to find the best combination of synchronous and asynchronous communication so that joint work on the collaborative project is done in a way that is confidence-building for all the members of the team.

Good collaboration project design provides an excellent opportunity for assuring optimal conditions for learning as well as for building self-efficacy. Creating flexible roles and a wide range of topics also helps foster a sense of self-determination, which can be very motivating.

Building Block Process for Problem-Based Learning Design

Modifying the widely-used Maastricht University design (Schmidt, 1983) for blended solutions can be highly useful in order to avoid missing elements of content or process.

Seven-step process for developing materials / design

1.    Case:  Find the one that is most effective for the learning outcomes
2.    Define problem:  Within each case, find the core issue or problem
3.    Brainstorm:  Take a moment to start to uncover ways to solve the problem; this is an invention stage.
4.    Form possible solutions: After doing the  test them
5.    Define deeper learning objectives (metacognition)
6.    Self-study -- conduct research, work with group, use a "pull" model for information
7.    Collaboration / Synthesis: final outcome and/or assessment

Conclusions

Evaluating the learning situation in order to optimize the methods, tools, and materials in problem-based learning is very important. However, more important is the method in which collaboration takes place so that constructivist learning can be optimized. This paper lists a few methods and methologies.


REFERENCES

Moeller, Stefan; Spitzer, Klaus; Spreckelsen, How to configure blended problem-based learning -- Results of a randomized trial. Cord. Medical Teacher. Aug2010, Vol. 32 Issue 8, pe328-e346.

Schmidt, HG. (1983) Problem-based learning: An instructional model and its constructivist framework. CRLT Technical Report No. 16-01.

susan smith nash, ph.d.

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