A place where stories, thoughts and ideas come together

Friday, April 30, 2004

The flow of optimal experience

Via the most recent conversations hosted at AOK, I discovered a reference provided in brackets by Chris Macrae trying to explain the 12th grade of e-mail:

(If you have to have an academic track to this model I would suggest Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi's work on the way people enjoy learning and accomplishing presence)

That was music to my ears, so I googled the name. This is what I found out:

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi is a professor of psychology at the University of Chicago. He has written several books on positive psychology, but probably the most famous is Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience .

According to Professor Csikszentmihalyi, a joyful life "is an individual creation that cannot be copied from a recipe....Happiness, in fact, is a condition that must be prepared for, cultivated, and defended privately by each person."

"Many people feel that the time they spend at work is essentially wasted—they are alienated from it, and the psychic energy invested in the job does nothing to strengthen their self," he observes. "For quite a few people free time is also wasted. Leisure provides a relaxing respite from work, but it generally consists of passively absorbing information, without using any skills or exploring new opportunities for action. As a result life passes in a sequence of boring and anxious experiences over which a person has little control."

But it doesn't have to be this way. During his years of research the professor has identified a state of happiness that he calls flow. When an individual is engaged in a well defined task of his own choosing that is both challenging and within his capacities, he will experience what the professor calls optimal experience, or flow during its performance.

The features of a flow-type experience include one or more of the following.
(1) A task we have a possibility of completing.
(2) Ability to concentrate on the task.
(3) The task has clear goals and provides immediate feedback.
(4) We act from a deep but effortless involvement that removes quotidian concerns.
(5) We have a sense of control.
(6) Concern for self disappears during the task, but the sense of self is stronger after the flow experience is over.
(7) The sense of the passage of time alters.

Isn't this a good description of what happens to us when we learn by surfing the web, reading and writing blog posts?
The time disappears, we are completely unaware of what's going on around us, in the real world, and we are going with the flow... completely efortless, and with a sort of special joy that gives us wings!

That reminds me of what Lilia Efimova decided she wants to be: a fun employee!

And suddenly I feel like re-discovering the wheel- I just found out that Lilia wrote about Discovering organic learning and flow ages ago!

On the same journey (starting from the AOK discussion), I also found out about the Antidote Campaign for Emotional Literacy - a lot to think about! This sounds like making actionable sense of this theory, something very concrete!
|| Gabriela 6:04:00 PM
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Friday, April 23, 2004

Presentation on weblogs and wikis

Yesterday afternoon, I travelled to Stuttgart to give a presentation at Forum3 on how to use weblogs and wikis for on-line marketing purposes in front of a group of Bücherfrauen. It was a great experience!
How did I get there? I was invited by a colleague of mine, who's one of the webgrrls, to help her. She spoke about newsletters via e-mail, web sites and so on, and I had to speak about the"new trends". I had an English PPT presentation with me, but I had to give the presentation in German. I hope the lovely ladies understood at least part of my speech, my German is not that good, but I was passioned by the subject and the interest they were showing to me enabled me to make my point.

All of them were aware how an e-mail newsletter looks like and what it should contain. Most of them heard about weblogs before. We discussed a little bit about what they could do with blogs and wikis to promote their books (die Bücherfrauen is an association of women who work in publishing houses and bookstores or are bookstores owners).

I think they understood what RSS feeds are and how could they be used for getting and sending news. They asked for more links from the German blogosphere and I promissed I will send them some (unfortunately we didn't had an Internet connection in the room!)
I must look for a free news aggregator in German. I'd be grateful if someone could help.
I wonder if there's any German printing house which already uses weblogs. I was able to locate Fotoinfo News-Feed Fotografie, and I suppose some of the publishing houses with an IT focus already provide RSS feeds. I will search for other examples.
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Monday, April 19, 2004

My BlogTalk proposal

Trying to catch up with the blogs I'm reading, I discovered that the list of accepted proposals for Blogtalk 2.0 was made public before Easter. And I wasn't on the list. I was a little bit frustrated in the beginning, but then I re-read my proposal and couldn't understand much of it myself, even if the idea of the paper was so clear in my mind.

Now I even don't like the title anymore:
Weblogs and becoming emotionally involved in learning
Doesn't sound very good, isn't it?! Almost hollywoodian!

My ideas were:
- reading and writing weblogs could become a new way of learning: no compulsory topic, no schedule, no dictatorial teacher, already filtered, subjective knowledge
- the learner is forced to think about, to reflect upon - blogs are no authoritative textbooks - they present opinions
- feedback is possible and stimulated
- commitment, emotions are naturally involved
- interaction, conversation, sharing - this is the name of the game
- new knowledge is created in the process
- there is a sense of freedom, of empowerment, of brotherhood involved in doing this
- learning can occur in different forms: apprenticeship, learning webs.

I will have to work on it - for me, it becomes clearer every day that learning has to become much more interactive than it is today!

I will be in Vienna anyhow - I already registered! - and I'm looking forward to the huge brainstorming I can expect BlogTalk will be!
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Friday, April 16, 2004

Why do we need these stories

I had a talk today about that Little Prince story. The person told me he read it and considers it rubbish. And he said the same when I tried to mention the thesis that we learn better when we become emotionally involved in learning.
The idea was he agrees with all these theories, but considers them obvious, of common sense, and useless to talk about anymore. That we have to do something, to come up with something that could make the difference in e-learning.

My opinion was that this type of research results, stories, papers are confirming our own feelings - the old way of learning is agonising.
And that we still need them as support. New solutions never arise in a desert - first comes awareness of the problem and critics of the existing situation, then various descriptions of it, followed by different solution proposals, trials, failures, successes, and only later, if we are lucky enough, by THE SOLUTION that really makes the difference!
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Thursday, April 15, 2004

The Little Prince and the Adult Educator

A colleague just pointed me to a paper on Adult Education that starts with the following story:

- Hello, said the Little Prince.
- Hello
, said the Adult Educator.
- What are you doing here?
asked the Little Prince the Adult Educator who was sitting in his office behind a big pile of papers and was developing some help documents intended as work support.
- I'm planning the education of people, said the Adult Educator, not without certain pride. Do you want to be educated?.
- No.Why? answered the Little Prince.
- Almost all the people living today are not educated, stated the Adult Educator. I speak to them. And when they see their problems the same way I do, I prepair an education concept for them.
- This is odd. And how do you know what kind of education the people need, do you know them all that well? asked the Little Prince.
- You see, I have work to do, answered the Adult Educator, embarassed by the question. I still have to write down the extra worktime from last month, to sum all the miles I had to travel for professional reasons, and to write a report to my critical boss on the progres of the last education arrangements...
The Little Prince asked again:
- And how do you know what kind of education people need? Because he never gave up trying to have his questions answered.
- I am a human myself, answered the Adult Educator. And besides, I went to university, he added, in order to bring this discussion to an end.
The Little Prince became anxious.
- That you are a human, I can see. But what did you study at the university?
- A lot of important stuff: Sociology, Theology, Pedagogy, Politics, Psychology, Anthropology. Didactics and Methods, Law and Administration. I've got licences for film and video and I also have a driver's licence. I have basic knowledge in Statistics and Computer usage. And I am also a well-known youth defender and media pedagogue.
- Oh
, said the Little Prince astonished. This is very much. But what has this all to do with people?
Stepping out, he added with low voice:
- If I would like to get education, I would look for a friend and I would make a long trip together with him. This way we would come to know what do we need for life!

(Josef Rohe)
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Friday, April 02, 2004

Blogging again and thinking of my audience

From Jill/txt:
Half an hour's writing a day keeps the doctor away, Finn notes. Let's blog!
I think this is what I need too!

Lilia was recently writing about Weblog audience: how to you find your own?
At the end of her post, there's an invitation and some open questions
Anyway, I'd love to hear about your relations with your audience. Do you have one? Do you care? Is there something to be done to find people who will read you? Do you think about your audience when you write?

I think Coniecto already has an audience, and I must confess I care a lot.

I was able to read my mail from the hospital and I got a report from sitemeter that amazed me!
I think I owe this to Ton, who discovered my blog from the very begining and posted a note about it.
But knowing you have an audience is not comfortable: it is rather challenging! With every day gone without posting on my blog, I felt more and more guilty! And then the accountability for what and how you are writing - this is a bit scary!

I'm maintaining several other blogs, but they are all destined to a small audience, formed of people I know.
I even write a blog for my self, because I like having a handy place to store my ideas in their first form. There, I don't have to bother about anything: I post 20-30 times a day - mostly links, excerpts, my own ideas.

But this one is different: just like Janine Swaak, I have this imaginary audience in the back of my mind since I started my blog.
And just like Andy Boyd, I was reading a lot in the last two weeks, but wasn't able to articulate one post! There's another example about the difficulty of switching into the writing mode!

Have you ever thought about the difference between a blogger and the author of a book? The book author has the chance to review his work before sending it to printing, to think about the implications of the ideas presented in his book.
On the other hand, it could take years till the book is published. I think we, the bloggers have the huge advantage of publishing instantly our ideas, nevertheless having to bear the responsability for making them public.

A friend of mine called me an exhibitionist. What's the use of publishing your ideas?, she asked.
My answer was: Networking. I see blogging as a way to connect to people sharing the same interests, as an opportunity to check my ideas and to share some other people's ideas! What's wrong with that?

And here we are again to Lilia 's words: blogging is about conversations, .

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Thursday, April 01, 2004

Coming back

It's really hard to catch up after such a long absence. Especially because of too many events, too many thoughts, too many comments on other's ideas...

The first thing I would like to blog about is how frustrated I was not being able to attend the BlogWalk 1.0 in Enschede due to my health problems. And in the mean time how fortunate I felt having the chance to read so many things about it in the participants' weblogs!
From Lilia Efimova's announcement that it has started, through Ton Zylstra's description of the first day, Martin Roell's concentrated and well-illustrated post, to the BlogWalk further thoughts of Andy Boyd, these posts enabled me to get the great picture, even if I wasn't there.

The interesting discussion I had with Martin in Mannheim on his way back from Enschede gave a special flavour to the information I was able to get from the Net. I was curious to find out what was all about, and Martin mentioned some of the topics - personal weblogs compared to group weblogs, internal versus external blogs, and how they can be useful for learning, thinking and discussing with other people interested in the same topics. We also had the chance to compare our experiences in doing presentations on weblogs, to talk about each one's topic for BlogTalk 2.0 - and of course about the bad habit of sending proposals in the very last minute!

By the way, I still due an explanation about my proposal, I finished it at 3:00 am before leaving, and then I wrote the previous post. I am sure I included a link pointing to my ideas, but as I lost the post three times before publishing it, it looks like I omitted this the last time!

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