Work Transformed in the Knowledge Era (and btw–school is a business)


To Talk Like This and Act Like That

Work Transformed in the Knowledge Era

by Duane Sharrock

One of the challenges that software applications and other “tech tools” creates is that these digital objects hover in a gray area between products and services. In many ways, computer products aren’t even the “point” without the apps that support them. Although, iPhone, for example, works as a computing device in addition to being a phone, a  camera, and a music player, in many ways, the iPhone is also a “gateway” or an “attractor” for the purchase of data access (data plans), phone service contracts, and with different kinds of network participation by streaming your voluntary private info into big data marketing servers. The devices also encourage consumption from the app store. Welcome to a couple of the knowledge era’s business constructs–the platform and the ecosystem. Greg Satell, of Digital Tonto, explains:

“When Steve Jobs and Apple launched the iPhone in…

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Musings about a Future Educational Ecosystem


Musings about a Future Educational Ecosystem

By Duane Sharrock

As an educator participating in various discussions online, I have often come across  the question about education reform: How can educational experiences become more effective, more relevant, rigorous? I have responded to this question in its various guises.


When I was first participating in these discussions, I would often promote the “Four Cs” of 21st Century Learning. Soon, though, I thought deeper, reflecting on what a future learner would specifically need to know and be able to do in a world of increasing use of predictive analytics, expert systems, “big data”, the Internet of Things, robots, and artificial intelligence. I came up with a laundry list of skills and experiences students should possess before they graduated secondary school. Even more recently,  I took a different tack. I looked back to the past in order to see the future like Michio Kaku suggests that we do as possessors of a 3rd level of consciousness.


I look back.


I was always a curious kid, so there were many topics that interested me that weren’t normally taught in school. I was, and still am, an avid reader. I especially enjoyed myth and folklore from all over the world. The stories feature visitations of magical beings teaching lessons about being kind to strangers, especially old people and poor people, and to be kind  to anyone who is different. There are tricksters who discover their talents (or expressed their talents) on the way to satisfying their greedy or lazy or lustful ways. There are bindings and taboos and geasa that operate both as weaknesses, like kryptonite for Superman, but also as opportunities and strengths. Anyone could be the hero of a story, and greatness was something each person discovers “while seeking their fortunes.”


In those days, there was no publicly accessible world wide web, and I hadn’t even heard of the Internet in any of its developments, so I had found these stories by visiting brick and mortar libraries. Now, with the variety of ways we can instantly communicate and share with others beyond  the library buildings, I imagine how I might have benefited if I were that kid in the world of today or in the not-too-distant future. These imaginings are inspired by the website of a conference captured here By looking at the images and pages, you might glimpse some of the ideas behind this vision which includes gamification strategies and ways  technology might encourage learning, but also how learning coaches could support inquisitive students.


Looking back, I wonder what I would have done if I were approached by a librarian who was interested in what I got out of those stories. What if that librarian could videocall (like Skype) a few storytellers? What if the librarian introduced me to appropriate storytellers and shared my interests with the mythologists? Maybe a storyteller might share an interest in psychology–Carl Jung, in particular–and might quickly send me some URLs of some YouTube interviews or general introductions to Jungian psychology. What would I have done if I were introduced to concepts like archetypes or motifs? In my digital folder, I might collect explorations of archetypes or review lists of prevailing archetypes in certain countries. What if one or two of these contacts began setting appointments with me so that we could discuss stories in more depth? I might get assigned certain activities like listing the archetypes and motifs that I come across in the stories I read. Maybe one of them might forward my summaries and reflections to someone skilled at explaining philosophical ideas in simple language. This person might suggest that what I was looking for was entertaining stories but that I might begin a correspondence that explores my questions about living the “right way”. My questions might flag me for religious instruction and an education site might email a brief summary of world religions. And so on. Ultimately, though, I would grow and develop communities supporting me and guiding me based on my interests.


Meanwhile, each day, for about 3 hours, I might receive regularly scheduled instruction for using thinking tools, note-taking methods, visual thinking tools, writing instruction, physical education, history and culture exploration using text as well as virtual reality, multimedia, art classes, music classes. My attention and level of engagement with instructors and activities would be monitored and measured. These measurements would impact activities and choice of lesson delivery.  Also, there would always be the option to extend my learning using virtual reality or alternate reality hypertext-like portals to differentiated activities/experiences. Gamified assessments would challenge my understanding, show what I know, and recommend scaffolded projects that would help me to improve my understanding when weaknesses are revealed in those assessments. My performance would help me “level up.” I might choose which direction the leveling up might take me–one direction might lead me towards topics that explore interdisciplinary units that might generalize my learning while another direction might lead me towards domain-specific topics most appropriate (statistically) for my interests and skills.

Arts and crafts and music instruction would be based on recommendations generated by predictive analytics as well. Booklists with study guides, learning guides, activities that build skills and designed to encourage me towards  reflection; poetry with textbook like questions/assignments and varied interpretations of kids and people from different walks of life and questions would explore what resonates personally; types of artworks of artists responding to certain poems or poet topics/interests; physicists or other experts of STEM domains would be asked to interpret or respond to or share their appreciation of specific poems/songs/art forms so that students could recognize connections between disciplines and domains. The quality of these explorations would be ranked or progressively charted in various ways demonstrating the dynamics and positioning in animated webs.

Student works responding to the same artworks could be uploaded– whether the works are two-dimensional as pictures or three-dimensional as sculptures/constructs or four dimensional as narratives or vids. The audience–students, lurkers, instructors, etc–would be encouraged and rewarded for evaluating these works. Evaluations could range as well, from general appreciation to targeted assessment using formal rubrics to more detailed long answer critiques. Expert aestheticians might link the art to educators or masters of this particular media or technique or approach.

People might interview students to explore the cognitive loads and insightful leaps students make. Machines will assist experts in categorizing student contributions as various types (art, solutions to problems, interesting questions, connections, insights, comparisons, wherever they fall on a chart similar to a revised Bloom’s taxonomy). The student’s products would be mined for similarities or approximations of ideas of others, of philosophical concepts, intellectual periods, movements, eras, aesthetics, in order  to provide recommendations leading me to pursue and continue exploring, eventually resulting in the ultimate development of differentiated instruction and targeted “teachable moments”.

These levels of learning and participation will be valued in a knowledge economy where deep learning machines improve their problem solving skills and algorithms and their appreciation of connections and aesthetics to better serve humanity with targeted services, products, and experiences.

The weird values of this knowledge economy and societal environment would drive learning and improvements of various types. Using sophisticated voice recognition systems, dialogues could be automatically arranged based on themes, topics, types of problems, solutions, suggested approaches, etc. Voice-recognition may lead to citations or suggested citations with voice-to-text publishing of debates or information-seeking dialogues that can be later edited and revised to improve value. Group discussions, like the discussions we have on LinkedIn, might be “remastered” and reformatted in order to appear as one, unified, continuous piece with occasional pauses for voiceovers or informative animations to support utterances with fact-checking, explanation, or the citing of references that might have been overlooked or glossed over.

This kind of society would encourage everybody to express themselves, their interests, showcase their skills in whatever medium or space or articulation possible, so that some expert can appreciate them, and could in turn suggest directions and resources to increase personal mastery or experience. Every act has an aesthetic of thought, expression, form, style, etc. Others exist who appreciate these acts and actions so a community can emerge around the aesthetics. Such a development will encourage individuality, creativity, and even more innovation. As people share and prepare food recipes, apply checklists, produce new knowledge in new academic domains, create new diagnostic tools and sensors, new experiments, validate findings, reproduce experiments and findings, and perform in new ways tricks, techniques, skills, and more, people will connect in hundreds of ways with hundreds of others.

This socio-educational  innovation would depend on a technology that could provide near-real time support for conversations, documentation of ideas and insights, and recommendations of all types of information services, information products, research topics, authors, artists, artworks, competition and performance vids, courses, mentors, or coaches, and more, while academics and scientists are fed “food for thought” and research directions. The infrastructure might result from the use of bitcoin technology called blockchain technology which would offer a kind of copyright service on the fly so that creators and thinkers can be credited.

These would indeed be interesting times.

How To Turn Duties Into Accomplishments On A Resume | CAREEREALISM


Resumes and coverletters are modes of communication that are used to specifically communicate the list of beliefs about how the candidate could satisfy somebody else’s needs. This kind of communication should not have any information that would contradict this argument. But, as recruiters become increasingly sophisticated in their searches to fill positions, they need more information than what you were previously hired to do. They might want an idea as to how successful you were at performing those duties. That performance may need to be rated or compared to the performance of others. Developing students who can explore the needs of another requires the sophisticated development of a “theory of mind”, which may include the active development of empathy, making it more conscious than passive.  What kind of design activity might facilitate the learning of task analysis and social-emotional needs of a person performing in a certain company, department, set of duties?


How To Turn Duties Into Accomplishments On A Resume

Don Goodman

February 10, 2015

Job Search Resume

Managers want to hire the best talent. So when your resume gives a rundown of your duties and responsibilities in each position, it offers the hiring manager little information as to how well you performed on the job and what you are capable of doing.

Related: 4 Red Flags Employers Watch For On Resumes

Your resume really needs to highlight your accomplishments – it tells the hiring manager here’s what I can do for you and here’s proof that I‘ve done it before – and I’m great at it!

Ask yourself some of these questions to help turn duties into accomplishments on the resume.

1. What would you brag about?

Think of a particular instance where you utilized specific knowledge or skills important for the job you’re applying for and came to impressive results.

2. How do I compare with my peers?

Are you more senior than others? Do you specialize in a particular area? Are you the ‘go-to’ person for specific areas? Were you chosen to train others? This will help differentiate you from others who may have the same level of responsibilities and duties.

3. Was there anything I did that was above and beyond my normal responsibilities?

In some professions, it’s harder to quantify results, in which case we go to qualified results and look at how you may have improved a situation like employee retention, customer service, and so on.

4. Was there a time when I was recognized for a job well done by those higher up?

Things like Employee of the Month, Top Salesperson of the Year, and other forms of recognition can be used to relay how great you are at the job.

5. Was there something I did or an idea I proposed that led to implementation that resulted in notable improvements in performance, service, or profit?

This question can also be used to help you showcase results.

It’s important to remember that hiring managers already understand the duties of the job – they want to know how you are better than the next job candidate, and that’s the difference between a resume that lists duties and one that demonstrates accomplishments on the job.

Remember also that success and accomplishments are best demonstrated when performance is measured – whether quantified, qualified, or both.

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Superheros, Superegos, and Student Discipline


As a school administrator for “at risk” students in an alternative high school, I’ve experienced similar emotions and attitudes. I have reached some of the same conclusions and made similar decisions. There really is no better social skills curriculum or character education unit that does better than point to modelled behavior and personal stories where ego was held in check. I can discipline a student without yelling and without intimidation.

molehills out of mountains

Superheroes crossing cc flickr photo by brettjordan

How we treat our best students shows our aspirations; how we treat our most challenging students shows our values.  ~ Mendler and Curwin

This past Friday, an incident occurred at school that had me seeing red.  While supervising in the cafeteria during the lunch period, I was asked by our one of our cafeteria staff members to address a group of boys who had been leaving trash on their table, and arguing with one of our lunchroom monitors when asked to clean up the mess.

When I caught up with the boys, near the center of campus, they immediately began to provide a litany of excuses, and one particular student began to argue that he had done nothing wrong.  I asked the boys to go into the administrative building where we could speak privately.  This is where things began to go wrong.  One of the…

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Human Brain Adapts To Modern Problem-Solving With Skills Learned Through Evolution


Parkinson said, “we did not evolve to read. Instead, a growing body of research suggests that we read by repurposing neural machinery that evolved to process faces and objects.” The same goes for other forms of cultural expression, which emerge according to a much shorter timeline than evolutionary repurposing and often fade just as quickly. The brain doesn’t have a need to encode each skill individually, so it co-opts other circuitry in its place.

A taxonomy of motivation and game design


Instructional Design Fusions

Although I know many passionate and skillful teachers, I have to say that much of what I learned as a child, I learned in spite of school, not because of it, so this quote resonated a bit with me:

The will to learn is an intrinsic motive, one that finds both its source and its reward in its own exercise. The will to learn becomes a ‘problem’ only under specialized circumstances like those of a school, where a curriculum is set, students confined and a path fixed. The problem exists not so much in learning itself, but in the fact that what the school imposes often fails to enlist the natural energies that sustain spontaneous learning (Bruner, 1966, p. 127).

As noted by Bruner, intrinsic motivation means that people act even when they’re not driven by external rewards or an absence of punishments. It’s the kind of motivation that drives…

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