Swimming Instruction

Last post I wrote about some fabulous projects that bring sharing and learning into communities, making our cities more vibrant places to live and work. This post, I’ll be sharing a few online initiatives. These fabulous websites feature a plethora of resources that you and I can access, anywhere, anytime, completely free!

The Khan Academy was just recently announced as a (very worthy) winner of Google’s Project 10^100, a two-year search for creative, crowd-sourced solutions to improving the planet:

Idea: Make educational content available online for free
Project funded: The Khan Academy is a non-profit educational organization that provides high-quality, free education to anyone, anywhere via an online library of more than 1,600 teaching videos. We are providing $2 million to support the creation of more courses and to enable the Khan Academy to translate their core library into the world’s most widely spoken languages. (read more about the winners in GOOD)

What is brilliant about this site is the content, which is really top notch, covering subjects that appear in various countries’ standardized tests. Even better, each lecture is delivered in a nice bite-sized format but without “dumbing down” the content.

Wiki’s offering, World University, has a mission to

provide a free, wiki-based education platform and, through facilitating the development of broadband worldwide, to make our service accessible to under served parts of the world.

I can’t comment about the quality of the content on this site, but it looks a bit rough and unpolished, and I couldn’t work out how to navigate to any of the subject offerings on my particular area of interest, the visual arts.

A less formalised way of learning is the Forum Network, a collaboration funded by PBS & NBR public media service. This site is less about getting a formal education, and more about

protecting and projecting the public voice and…informing and inspiring that public voice to foster deeper understanding of and engagement in the culture, education, politics, science, and literature of our time.”

A quick search on “visual art” brought up several really interesting lectures which I’ve bookmarked for watching later.

Finally, the mother(father?) of all that is the online lecture, TED. TED’s mission is to

build…a clearinghouse that offers free knowledge and inspiration from the world’s most inspired thinkers, and also a community of curious souls to engage with ideas and each other.

TED started out as an annual conference, and has grown hugely since 2006 when lectures (largely focussed on technology) were first published online. Over 700 talks are available on the website, and once you have endured the ad that appears at the beginning of each lecture, you are in for around 18 minutes of intelligent and inspiring entertainment. Some of the lectures may even blow your mind.

There are many ways to share what you know with others. Here are some alternatives to traditional education that are either free, extremely cheap, or rely on some form of barter or trade.

Shareable features an article this week on a Freeskool in Ithaca, NY:

With classes like Mushroom Hunting, Bike Repair, Know Your Rights with Debtors, and D.I.Y. Movie Making, it’s a refreshing variety of completely free classes for people of all ages. Started only a few years ago and run entirely by volunteers, the Freeskool gives the community an opportunity to share their skills and knowledge.

Another venture, also featured on Shareable, is described as a ‘pop-up’ school, which for a month offered classes for barter. Anyone can sign-up to teach, and the list of classes is esoteric and exciting. Even better, each class has a corresponding blog post, which acts as a perfect refresher if you’ve forgotten some of the basics. From organising an arts festival to caviar. Here’s a quote from Elizabeth, who taught the Caviar Demystified course:

I think Trade School is beautiful – from a design perspective, from the curation and execution. It should live on as a platform for individuals who can’t afford school to have a place to be inspired and then potentially teach too. Or think critically about what they can talk about – It successfully inspires human engagement and education.

Other formats that I have seen include the School of Everything. I signed up, but I haven’t had any bites yet. It may be simply because the site hasn’t had much exposure in Australia (be warned, it loads very slowly). Or maybe the concept is still a bit out there for Aussies? Here’s a lovely posting from their site anyway, which will go some way to explaining the ethos behind the concept.

As we decide what next for School of Everything we’ve been doing a little bit of soul searching and thinking about what we truly believe in (as well as working hard, being nice to people and the power of good chili sauce). Here’s what we’ve come up with – would be great to know what you think.

We believe…

  • The real world is better than the internet. Step away from your computer please. Getting out and trying new things is better than being sat at a desk all day.
  • All subjects are important. Learning is learning, and learning is good. Knowing how to rewire a plug is just as valuable as understanding inverse trigonometric functions.
  • Everyone has something to teach. Everyone, yes everyone, has something they can teach someone else.
  • Everyone has their own way of learning. It’s better to learn in the way you want to. You know what suits you best.
  • Learning is better with friends. People are brilliant, inspiring, generous and smart. Being with others makes it easier and enjoyable to learn more.
  • You should never stop learning. You can keep learning whatever your age, far beyond your school days.
  • Education shouldn’t be expensive. With a bit of ingenuity you can learn new things without spending lots of money.
  • Qualifications are overrated. A good education is about the things you learn along the way, not a fancy bit of paper.
  • All of these projects and initiatives are inspiring. I’d love to start some sort of venture based on these models here in Hobart.

    350Here’s my attempt at 350 – some images that I made on my way to Uni in Thursday morning. A small gesture, but if mine is one of thousands, or even millions, that adds up to something – right?

    Get involved, its pretty simple! For some inspiration visit the gallery at 350 org

    Maybe you could make some art:

    What do you get when you mix the arts and activism? Artivism!

    With the International Day of Climate Action only a week away, now is the perfect time to start building some creative visuals for you action. You’ve been planning your action, making phone calls and having meetings: now is the time to have some fun, and get into the “hands-on” part of creating an action. The plan: organize an “Art Build”. Call your friends, or round up some local youth and set a time to spend 3 hours making art for your action. It doesn’t matter if you have 2 people or 20, we’ve got a few simple tricks that will help you make your action louder, more colorful, and more fun. A little art goes a long way! Fun events such as this are also great ways to strengthen your action community, and to get more and more people involved. You can even invite the press, and get some coverage before your action even starts.

    There are lots of ways to get creative, and each day we receive new photos with all sorts of wonderful ideas. We’ve got a few things on our site that can help you, step by step, with the logisitics of making art for your action. Look at a few of the following pages, and let them spark your imagination. A good place to start is to make a banner for your action, this can appear front and center in your action photo: so everyone knows what your message is. You can create t-shirts for your action using these great stencils, or you can make headbands using potato prints. The possiblities are endless… Want to get some theater involved? Check out this script for a short skit that can be done quickly with groups of any age. Want to put some movement into this movement?  Look no further than this great idea for a dance performance. Don’t be afraid to push your limits – its all for the good of the climate movement.

    Looking for more ideas? Check out our Spread the Word page for even more tips on how to create hand-made posters to advertise for your event, cardboard hats, instruments made out of garbage, and other fun ideas to get your action to stand out in a crowd. We are a vibrant, colorful and diverse global movement, lets show that to the world! Become an artivist today!

    Or get involved in someone else’s action. Check out the actions that are happening near you. In Hobart, there are several events happening, including a plant collage at the Botanic Gardens, a procession on the waterfront, and the 350 photo challenge.

    To find out and register to attend an event, search the map at 350.org

    View Actions at 350.org

    350 a350 b

    Read more here: Science of 350350 Science

    350 parts per million is what many scientists, climate experts, and progressive national governments are now saying is the safe upper limit for CO2 in our atmosphere.

    Accelerating arctic warming and other early climate impacts have led scientists to conclude that we are already above the safe zone at our current 390ppm, and that unless we are able to rapidly return to 350 ppm this century, we risk reaching tipping points and irreversible impacts such as the melting of the Greenland ice sheet and major methane releases from increased permafrost melt.

    There are three numbers you need to really understand global warming, 275, 390, and 350.

    For all of human history until about 200 years ago, our atmosphere contained 275 parts per million of carbon dioxide. Parts per million is simply a way of measuring the concentration of different gases, and means the ratio of the number of carbon dioxide molecules per million other molecules in the atmosphere. 275 ppm CO2 is a useful amount—without some CO2 and other greenhouse gases that trap heat in our atmosphere, our planet would be too cold for humans to inhabit.

    So we need some carbon in the atmosphere, but the question is how much?

    Beginning in the 18th century, humans began to burn coal and gas and oil to produce energy and goods. The amount of carbon in the atmosphere began to rise, at first slowly and now more quickly. Many of the activities we do every day like turning the lights on, cooking food, or heating or cooling our homes rely on energy sources like coal and oil that emit carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases into the atmosphere. We’re taking millions of years worth of carbon, stored beneath the earth as fossil fuels, and releasing it into the atmosphere. By now—and this is the second number—the planet has 390 parts per million CO2 – and this number is rising by about 2 parts per million every year.

    Scientists are now saying that’s too much – that number is higher than any time seen in the recorded history of our planet – and we’re already beginning to see disastrous impacts on people and places all over the world. Glaciers everywhere are melting and disappearing fast—and they are a source of drinking water for hundreds of millions of people. Mosquitoes, who like a warmer world, are spreading into lots of new places, and bringing malaria and dengue fever with them. Drought is becoming much more common, making food harder to grow in many places. Sea levels have begun to rise, and scientists warn that they could go up as much as several meters this century. If that happens, many of the world’s cities, island nations, and farmland will be underwater. The oceans are growing more acidic because of the CO2 they are absorbing, which makes it harder for animals like corals and clams to build and maintain their shells and skeletons. Coral reefs could start dissolving at an atmospheric CO2 concentration of 450-500 ppm. These impacts are combining to exacerbate conflicts and security issues in already resource-strapped regions.

    (Text from the 350 website)

    Spiral image

    Is this the future for Knowledge Management?

    In 2025, every individual in every organization uses their own personal computer for both personal and work applications. Almost all information is Web-based, with organizations’ proprietary information only accessible through authorization software. E-mail has disappeared, replaced by a virtual presence application that includes instant messaging, screensharing, voice/videoconferencing, filesharing, calendaring, tasklists.

    The KM department still manages the purchase of external information, though almost all information in 2025 is free; information producers have realized that their business model is to apply that information to specific customers’ business environment, in consulting assignments, rather than trying to sell publications. Most of the mainstream media were nationalized after they went bankrupt using their traditional business models, and now operate as public services.

    Most of what the KM department does now is trying to facilitate more effective conversations among people within the organization and with people outside the organization, including customers. They facilitate many meetings that use the virtual presence application, especially those that involve more than five people. That facilitation includes organizing the meeting, distributing advance materials, facilitating the discussion (conflict resolution, staying on schedule etc.), and even recording, editing and publishing the meeting as appropriate. They run courses in effective conversation, meeting and presentation skills.

    I am a great admirer of Dave Pollard’s thought provoking posts, so I really don’t have anything to add to this one.

    Read Dave Pollard’s post

    crab colony on Bruny IslandWhat does this really mean?

    Is it possible to have a truly democratic space on the internet for everyone to contribute?

    I have been Twittering for a few months now, and have found this the most open place to contribute my own or hear other’s point of view. You can be highly political, or not. Its up to you.

    However, the limitations of 140 characters may not work for all. Also it can be hard to keep on track. Pretty, shiny, juicy tit-bits of information contantly pop-up and its easy to be diverted.

    Here is something newish: Open Forum (http://www.openforum.com.au/content/learning-change) This is what they say about what it is:

    OpenForum.com.au is a non-partisan site that aims to stimulate focused discussion on social, political, economic, ecological and cultural issues facing us today.

    The site accomplishes this in two significant ways; by promoting time-limited (and often outcomes-based) discussion on forums, and through less formal blogs, written by and for users of the site.

    Now a collaborative thinktank is a great idea. They go on to say a little bit more about the site:

    Open Forum is an independent collaborative think-tank built around an interactive discussion website hosted and moderated by Global Access Partners (GAP). It provides a platform for focused dialogue on social, political, economic, ecological and cultural issues and challenges.

    The Forum is registration-based and enables participants to make connections, share their opinions and concerns, test their ideas, raise and discuss specific topics, suggest solutions and ultimately contribute to policy development and economic outcomes for government and business, as well as the democratic process in general.

    With support from the Australian Government and a number of industry partners, the forum operates as a powerful web-based consultative mechanism enabling access to and by, key people in our community.

    Sounds SERIOUS, doesnt it? Obviously, there will be no 140 characters mini-posts showing up here. Also, if you don’t have a post-graduate degree, political affiliations or connections with the movers and shakers of Australia, chances are you will be too intimidated to post here. Yes, you’ve got to have balls.

    Anyhoo, back to twitter, here’s a post that interestingly, twitter put me onto.

    Twitter the forum killer. Read it and join up, now!

    suzemuse posted yesterday (Social Media is NOT an Innovation) about the WWW finally becoming a place of connection:

    Communication, collaboration and communities are starting to become the mainstream ways in which people are using the Web. The social Web is no longer just for the “social media crowd”. I suspect, over the next 6 months, that this is going to become even more prevalent. I also suspect, that over the next little while, our label of “social media” is going to, if not go away, at least change. 10 years ago, people saw the Web was a place to get information. Today, more and more people are seeing it as a place to connect.

    Some of the comments were really interesting. Including this:

    allan isfan, on December 1st, 2008 at 10:22 am Said:

    Amazing how long it has taken to finally get here. We are finally using the web the way it was intended and yet, it feels like we’re at the tip of the iceberg.

    The trick will now be to figure out how to actually improve the planet we live on through the web. Solve big problems. That is what I’m really excited about.

    Yes that is something to get excited about. It’s time to roll up our sleeves people. Let’s get working!

    (more…)