Monday, March 24, 2014

Research Beginning in Financial Times

Submission date is due in one week. Sunday turned out to be an intense writing and editing day. Still relaxed. 

Recollecting how it all started, I remember all the details, especially how my proclaimed thesis partner first discovered the award winning contribution to a Financial Times essay competition under the title: "Educating Amaretch". It was written by James Tooley, and was an answer to William Easterly's final question in his book White Man's Burden of how to educate the poorest of the poor. Amaretch was one of the young girls with seemingly no access to education, a girl too typical in so many underdeveloped areas around the world.

James Tooley's essay was breathtaking and eye-opening. It was the beginning of my quest to fulfill a newfound purpose.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Research Article and Colombia Memoir

I had quite a productive and still very relaxing weekend just before today. Most of the weekend's writing time, I spent entertaining myself with tables and figures for the article, a brushed-up and densed version of the master thesis. Two weeks to submission and I feel relaxed, probably too relaxed.

For relaxation after the journal work, I checked through the first part of my first Colombia Memoir. It's been waiting for too long to be completed by the subsequent parts. Although I had long ago thought about publishing it as a series, I finally decided that the first part was ready to go. It passed a final edit and review and is now published on Amazon through Kindle Direct Publishing.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

The Art of Learning - Part II

Although I've so far only listened to 6 chapters of the audio book narrated by the author himself, I'm already fascinated by it and convinced I'll listen to it several times this very month. Josh Waitzkin, a grand master of chess and martial arts, not only describes his immensly densed learning journey through some of the most thought-pressured experiences you could imagine, but he also deconstructs the individual components of his learning journey and thought processes so as to help both himself and his audience understand the logic behind it all. What's more, he does it in a very appealing way.

I'm inspired to learn that his ideas are being put in use through his foundation, The JW Foundation. I just found out about it and see I have some research to do.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Slow Development, War and Lost Generations

I just saw this tweet from UNICEF encouraging to sign a petition not to lose a generation from getting educated. I have thought a lot about how too many children in our most advanced countries are missing out on opportunities due to the pedagogical miscommunication between traditional methods and modern children's way of learning. This, however, as with children in under-developed parts of the world, is something completely different.

It's shameful that modern society cannot develop throughout its spectra of core human development needs enough to include honest investments in educating and developing all children, no matter how far away they are and in what surrounding they live. It should be a given that this is unacceptable and that all leaders with resources should take action to help. The rest of us can at least sign a petition for change.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Schools in the Cloud - Part II

The development continues of Sugata Mitra's cloud schools first mentioned here. It will be very interesting to see how this will evolve throughout the world and over time. I would most gladly like to be a part of this development in Colombia, as first proposed and suggested at the outset of this blog in my very first post 5 years ago. The outlooks were optimistic then, until the financial crisis hit. It seems the outlooks are turning more and more positive again. Let's see if I manage to connect with Prof Mitra before or during his visit to Helsinki next month. Time to reach out.

More about the present news:

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Remembering Our Second Hero

I have the ambition to write significantly more frequently on this blog this year than before for several reasons. One reason is that I'm back working with education full time on a more concrete level than before. Another reason is that I joined a challenge to blog 100 days in a row as a kickstart to my writing this year. The challenge started on the 1st of March and any posting is accepted.

Now, unfortunately it's just passed midnight in Finland, but i) it's still before bedtime for me, and ii) it's a Swedish challenge called Blogg100, and in Sweden it's still Saturday. :)

I'm writing on the research article since about 2 hours. I'll continue remembering the heroes in Aguablanca by mentioning our second one here: GREAT GERARDO. As I mentioned about 5 (OMG!) years ago, he started his own foundation briefly after having helped us so greatly, both in 2007 and in 2009. I don't know in what state the foundation is today, but it was called FundaciĆ³n Social Sembrando Semillas de Amor. Some day, we'll meet again... I hope.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Business Angels and Education - Part II

Out of about 25 education companies, 5 were selected to practice their pitch today before a group of Angel investors. I was content not to have been selected at this stage, as I was mostly curious about the event and the networking. The Finnish Business Angel Network had an initial presentation before the pitches, mentioning that Finland probably has around 1000 business angel investors, of which about 400 are registered with the network.

I saw interesting potential for all presenting companies, and I really think Finland and Education Technology will not fail to prosper in the near future.

The event was arranged by Tekes, the Finnish Funding Agency for Innovation.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Remembering Our First Hero

As I'm writing on an article about my research in Colombia and how the field work started, I'm recollecting how I first got connected with this very special lady. She was our access to the entire district of Aguablanca, the area of our field work. I had just arrived in Cali and met up with some old friends one afternoon in a park. Quite randomly, I started talking to a friend of a friend, a university student, who told me I should talk to her professor. There was an event at the university in a week's time, a celebration in the name of national salsa legend, and the professor would be there.

The professor connected us with a community leader, who in turn connected us with another professor. This latter one, finally, connected us with Dora, our first hero in Aguablanca.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

The Art of Learning

Book tip of the month: The Art of Learning by Josh Waitkzin

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Business Angels and Education

It might not sound as the most intuitive combination, coming from Scandinavia, but this Friday the business Angel network FiBAN is sitting down with a group of Education Solution Providers to hear their pitches, for educational purposes. I was invited to join the "business breakfast" after the Learning Festival meeting last week, and thought it'd be another interesting learning experience to sit down and enjoy the show. 

However, at the mandatory online registration, I had to select between "pitching" and "not pitching", so, hungry for another learning experience, or mostly curious to see how I'd be doing, I registered to pitch. No matter what, Friday will be a big day of learning and I do welcome events like these. I sense refreshing winds in the Finnish spring air.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Helsinki Learning Festival and Sugata Mitra

Just last week, I was invited to take part in the planning for a special section of Helsinki Learning Festival next month. A really exciting event this year, since special attention will be given to my kind of companies. Also really exciting to learn is that Sugata Mitra will attend. If I started writing about possible expectations, I'd be outside of myself. Instead, I'll stay cool and make sure to report about it all afterwards. I will most definitely try to meet with Sugata again to catch up on his fascinating research, and see how I can be of assistance somehow, somewhere.

All I can say for now is that I truly recommend a visit to Helsinki around 11th-12th of April.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Lean Education Research

I gave a presentation last month in Saudi Arabia on the topic Agile Learning & Lean Education, proposing a model for both teachers and education solution providers to reach better results. This was based on the Lean Startup theory, which, as a scientific approach to entrepreneurship, seems to work splendidly in entrepreneurial environments. I have for some time had the desire to find a more practical approach for making research results more accessible to everyday people.

In other words, I believe that important findings in fields that are highly relevant to everyday people, such as education, firstly, deserve more attention outside academic journals, and secondly, need to reach the world much more effectively. The Lean Startup theory might help with just that.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Reconnecting with Academic Research as Education Entrepreneur

Things move slowly in the academic world. It is, however, an important world that I wish would have more direct impact in real time. I am presently working on a small contribution to make my own work more relevant and widespread, although embarrassingly many years behind my initial plans.

In 2007, as this blog highlights, I carried out the field research for my Master thesis in Aguablanca in Cali. In 2008, before presenting the results in Newcastle and Stockholm, I practically moved to Colombia to push the research further then and there, without much success. In Newcastle, an older master student was inspired by the work and in 2009, we were in the field together carrying out a small advancement of the work. In 2010, I was accepted as a PhD candidate in economics to specialize further in the economics of education. I declined due to the extremely high term fee. In June 2011, I was offered a full scholarship for the PhD program and a full-time employment as a young researcher for the same university. This was exactly what I had wanted, three years earlier. By now, I had lost faith in the abstract world of academic research requiring years of theoretical studies completely disconnected from the schools that I already knew how to help.

I have instead chosen a path as an education entrepreneur and will, with my continued interest in education research, combine these two fields to connect my academic knowledge and interest with real time and real world actions.

This is what 2014 holds for me. Here we go!