Trainer MOOC April-June 2012 :Po – Idea’s in Training – provoking our thinking

“Po is a notation used in Lateral thinking, by Edward de Bono. It stands for provocative operation and is used to propose an idea which may not necessarily be a solution or a ‘good’ idea in itself, but moves thinking forward to a new place where new ideas may be generated. ”

In our view a good wrap-up of the Trainer MOOC April-June 2012 would be sharing a few Po idea’s in Training and Teaching and inviting others to share what they think.

As per our team some Po idea’s:

For children:

  • What do we observe today to predict relevant skills for the future?
  • How do we have a rapidly changing curriculum for our children that keeps pace with the rapidly changing world given the typical time taken by educators to review and adapt curriculum?
  • What is it that we NEED to teach our children when all information is available on the fingertips? Have some subjects become obsolete?
  • Do schools only teach or is their role broader? Will we have schools or will home schooling through high tech devices be the norm? How will the need of socialization then be met?
  • What will be the role of the teacher in a technological world? Will it only be to connect and motivate?
  • Can we “teach” life skills from a computer app to our children?

For adults:

  • Who has control of what we as adults learn: us as self directed learners or our organization?
  • Do we learn only to add to our skills or for the pleasure of learning?
  • What do we as adults observe today to predict relevant skills for the near future? And who does the prediction..the organization or the individual?
  • Will we as adults invest in our ongoing education just like we invest in our children’s education and not leave it to our organizations to train us in only what is relevant to them?
  • Can technology be used to effectively “teach” behavioral skills such as leadership, influence, decision making etc? How can we promote these skills at a mass scale?
  • As technology has advanced it has removed the need of intermediaries in a lot of field’s. Are teachers/ instructors a source of knowledge or an intermediary? The question arises do learners even need a trainer/ facilitator? If so, what would their role be? Will it be solely to motivate their learners to learn?
  • How do we as a society fulfil the need to up-skill large numbers of people quickly, continuously, efficiently, cost effectively with minimum disruption to their earning.
  • As more people move up to self actualization on the Maslow’s need hierarchy, how do we cater to these learners who are not using learning as a means to an end…the learning is the end?

I also contacted our SME’s and Mentors asking them to share their idea’s on Training and Education. And they very graciously shared their thoughts. I am sharing their responses verbatim.

Prof Madan Mohan Pant :

Long back, in my childhood, I had read the Yaksha-Yudhisthir dialogue in the Mahabharata. Yaksha had asked Yudhisthir “Kim Ascharyam” ( What is the greatest surprise?) and Yudhisthir had replied ,”every day scores of people die, yet nobody thinks that they are going to meet the same fate”. This has guided me for a long time. And often spurred me to do different things or do them differently.

The context here is the recent all -round economic decline as evidenced by all indicators and the warning given by S&P that India may be the first fallen angel among the BRICS.

My point is very simple. Just as cheap energy was the key to success in the industrial era, the creative and innovative contributions of skilled humans would be the drivers for success in the knowledge economy in the post Internet post WTO world.

So the critical competence to be developed is the rapid training and re-training of millions of persons in new areas over shorter periods of time. This requires a new model. The MOOC is a good starting point, but serves some goals. We need to evolve new methods which are massively scalable to impart focused measurable competences through an efficient system where returns on investments can be measured and systematically improved.

This is doable and we must roll up our sleeves and get to doing so. And remember the statement of Cassius in Julius Caeser ‘ The fault dear Brutus is not in our stars, but in ourselves that we are underlings’..

Dr Rajiv Tandon

  • The big concern is of a mismatch between the available supply of skills and their demand in the marketplace.  What is the main impediment to having a match between them?  How can your “solution” be covered cost effectively?
  • What is the biggest source/ method of “levelling the playing field” in education for students among the diverse socio-economic spectrum?

 Dr Melissa Shamblott:

  • At times it has been necessary here in the US to endorse an educational approach that encompasses certain principles even if they are not the perfect fit. For example, endorsing the use of all observational assessment tools that cover the learning and development of the whole child (vs. tools that are only look at one or two isolated skills) even when there are some that are far superior than others. I have seen this move a whole segment of the field towards understanding the importance of looking more broadly at a child. After several years and once the schools were on board we were able to educate them about some of the other criteria that is important to consider (reliability and validity, ease of use, etc.) when choosing a tool. In this example early childhood educators were introduced to a developmental approach to assessing children (our goal) vs. behaviorist approach and later the decision making process was refined towards greater appreciation for indicators of high quality. (Starting with a blanket rule to aid ease of implementation and then educating on fine indicators)
  • Another example can be drawn from my mother in law’s ministry called the Faithful Fools. Wanting to help the homeless and deal with the relatively widespread problem of privileged people not understanding or having compassion for the plight of the homeless, she invented a ministry of presence whereby people homeless and not have learned to “walk together” through accompaniment and with passion in hope of forging new understandings. The ministry is conducted through the examples of living on the streets and people participate in different activities designed to foster commonalities amongst humans. For example, there are street retreats where non-homeless live on the streets for a day, week, 2-weeks and then to Nicaragua where they live amongst the homeless in the barrios. Through dialogue, poetry, journal, dramatic arts, meditation people learn how to co-exist without judgement and to express themselves and their lived experiences. In this example homelessness is framed in a way that allows people to come at it with creativity, compassion and understanding, which has helped the situation overall. Now people are better able to fight for and represent the homeless in a way they were not able to before. (Immersion as a technique for learning)
  • I was working with a group of parents who were not enjoying or interacting with their children during the parent child play time. I asked them what was going on and they revealed to me that they had not had very adequate childhood play experiences of their own and therefore were not able to play with their children. This information led me to design an Adult Play Group to fill the gaps in their experiences. The more we played the more they were able to relate to and understand their children’s needs for play. Over the course of 13 months the adults came together every Wednesday night to play. We worked with play dough, easel painting, sand box work, story time snack time and riding on the classroom hammock swing.

We could swing almost all the way to the ceiling! The experience was phenomenal and the parents shared what it was like for them in my MA dissertation, which was a phenomenological study on the Parents’ Experiences of Being in the Adult Play Group. In this example we stepped to the side to fill in some missing experiences for the parents so they could carry out the goals we had for them relative to their interactions with their children. When they were ready we got back on the typical parenting track. (Using simulations to enhance ability to appreciate the learner)



  1. Lovely Kumar – Chief Projects
  2. Anila Rattan – Chief Strategy

Larks Learning

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  1. Pingback: International MOOCs Past and Present, by Stephen Downes | Ida Brandão

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