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5449002019_c15cd9cc3a_b_editI have awoken to an America that I do not recognize.

The 2016 election shows that what I thought I knew about national politics is wrong and I feel humbled.

Nearly all of the expert analyses of the election turned out flawed including my own amateur efforts.

What is frustrating about the failure of professional and academic analyses of this election is that the methods used to project outcomes are the same methods used to explain the outcomes.

That makes it hard to trust any analysis as to why Trump and the GOP succeeded against expectations; it also makes it hard to trust analyses of what Trump is doing and where our country is going.

A source of error in the projections was that the pollsters and the media did not accurately represent the portion of the electorate who made the difference and that turns out to be half of the voters.

That omission is important to reflect upon because the nearly 60 million people who elected Donald Trump are misread by those of us who were caught unawares on election night.

Trump supporter and PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel provides a clue about that misreading;

“I think one thing that should be distinguished here is that the media always is taking Trump literally. It never takes him seriously, but it always takes him literally. I think a lot of the voters who vote for Trump take Trump seriously, but not literally.” [1]

Thiel’s distinction makes all the difference in how we interpret one another across the political divide.

For instance, I suspect that many on the left suppose that Trump cannot practically deliver on promises that he made in the campaign and conclude that this inconsistency will disillusion his supporters and weaken his base.

That conclusion follows only if Trump supporters interpret his Duck-Rabbit_illusionpromises literally and I have come to believe that Trump voters construct his meaning not all literally, but symbolically.

If there are multiple ways to make alternate meanings out of the same words, we must strive to comprehend all of those meanings together.

Unless the people on the opposite sides of the political divide become visible and clear to one another the prospects for national unity will continue to dim.

In the political struggle that fractures America, most of us are boxing with shadows.

I do have one data point to rely on in my account of this election because in August I attended a Trump rally in Everett, WA.

I wanted to find out personally what attraction this unconventional candidate held for his followers.

I want to tell my progressive colleagues and readers that Tump supporters are not bad people; not deplorable.

I talked with a dozen rally attendees and observed hundreds and for the most part, I liked them as individuals.

The rally was thousands large and had a festive atmosphere with families, kids dancing and no physical violence that I witnessed.

The campaign rhetoric was jarring to my ear and I had difficulty referencing what people told me.

They all said that the economy is failing, the military is in decline, billionaires are incorruptible and that America’s core values have been undermined.

None of it looks that way to me, but I did not argue, I listened and listening may be the most important part of dialog.

In academia and on the left of center we have not been listening to half of the electorate and we paid the price for that insensibility on election night.

candle-335965_960_720Perceiving the need to listen to people whose ideas we reject lights a path to a way forward for those of us who value dialog and the exchange of ideas as a means of growth.

The opportunity is to step up to the challenge of creating conversations between people who are not hearing and seeing one another.

This conversation is possible because we all have so much in common.

This conversation is hard because we generally disbelieve what the other side sees as true.

This conversation is necessary because finding our common ground is the one hope that we have to transcend our growing national chasm of ideologies.

To Trump supporters reading this I want to say that those of us who emphasize justice, equity and individual rights are not bad or deplorable either.

We are operating with caricatures of one another, you and I, and it is to our mutual interest to understand how those false images come about and to what purpose.

You know as well as I that election victories are temporary and the political pendulum will swing back in time, so what matters to the good of our nation is how we manage the change together.

I genuinely want to understand what you think and what you trust and what kind of world you aspire to.

flag-american-heart_editWhen enough of us recognize the reflections of ourselves in the human beings on the other side, the bridge building will begin.

I pledge to work towards producing opportunities for political reconciliation and human communication across our community.

I hope that you, dear reader, will join that effort in your own way to make America work together again.

 

Sources
[1] Roller, E. Peter Thiel Wants You to Take Trump Seriously, but Not Too Seriously. November 1, 2016.
http://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/01/opinion/campaign-stops/peter-thiel-wants-you-to-take-trump-seriously-but-not-too-seriously.html

Image Acknowledgements

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https://c2.staticflickr.com/6/5298/5449002019_c15cd9cc3a_b.jpg

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https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/4/45/Duck-Rabbit_illusion.jpg

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https://cdn.pixabay.com/photo/2014/05/02/12/41/candle-335965_960_720.jpg

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http://www.publicdomainpictures.net/view-image.php?image=85942&picture=flag-american-heart

tools_losStudents and instructors share the complex challenge of managing the elements of multiple courses simultaneously.

Solutions to that daunting task just became more reliable and perhaps easier with the Learn@OregonState ecosystem and website—http://learn.oregonstate.edu.

The power of this concept flows from the unification of OSU’s teaching and learning technologies to provide seamless access and dedicated support university wide.

This growing learning ecosystem currently consists of Canvas, Kaltura, Turning clickers, Turnitin and online content from publishers.

Three key attributes of tools in the Learn@OregonState ecosystem are:

1) They are available to every member of the OSU community via ONID authentication.

2) The applications are interoperable to multiply their power.

3) The tools are centrally supported for all users.

The result of this is organic management strategy is more than a set of technologies, it is a framework for managing technological change and bringing new tools into the system.

In order to understand the dynamics of OSU’s learning ecosystem I spoke with Lynn Greenough, Associate Director of Learning Platform Services.

Greenough managed the transition from Blackboard to Canvas in 2015 and works for Academic Technology in Information Services.

She made clear that supporting student success is her top priority; “Without students there is no Learn@OregonState. We know the world they are preparing for requires ever-changing skills, and our goal is to ensure that OSU’s learning environment supports their academic goals.”

Greenough perceives success with technology for both students and instructors as being a function of quality; “not only knowing how to use the tools, but how to use them well.”

That is why the dedicated support aspect of Learn@OregonState is significant to instructors and students alike.

You may be aware of the applications that make up this learning ecosystem and it is important that you know how they fit together and where to go to improve your uses of them.

Canvas is a learning management system (LMS) that provides course-level tools for students and instructors including a class list, grade book, assignment uploads, online grading, online tests, communication tools, an tools-canvas-group-imageassignment calendar and numerous ways to share course content.

Students value having a single place to get key information for all of their courses, so I urge instructors to at least publish their syllabi in the appropriate Canvas courses.

OSU’s front-line Canvas expert is Tasha Biesinger who helps the teaching and learning community make the most of those capabilities – contact Tasha at –canvas@oregonstate.edu.

Kaltura is a media management system where instructors and students can upload video and audio into a streaming format for online viewing and listening, similar to YouTube.

kaltura-group-imageKaltura provides more access controls than YouTube making it the appropriate option for identifiable student media.

A great use of Kaltura is to use the Screen Capture tools to quickly create tutorials and commentaries.

Embedded video quizzes integrated with the Canvas grade book are a recent innovation in Kaltura.

Raul Burriel is the key support agent for Kaltura at OSU; get help and comment on Kaltura at – kaltura@oregonstate.edu.

Clickers are a means by which many instructors structure and credit in-class participation.tools-clickers-group-image

The Turning bundle, which students purchase at the Beaver Store, includes a remote device for participating in class and a four-year ResponseWare license allowing iPhone, Android and laptop to operate as the student remote.

Instructors interested in using clickers will receive equipment and quality training from Nargas Oskui – clickers@oregonstate.edu.

Before this website launched Fall 2016 the support resources for these tools were in several places; now they are collected in a single site, are presented with consistent style, and are kept up-to-date by the people who know the tools inside and out.

A critical feature of the new system is how change is managed. Greenough explains;

“We have an established process for reviewing and evaluating requests, which is posted on our web site: We look at the impact that a proposed addition will have on students and instructors, and also validate that new applications meet our standards for accessibility, data security and technical interoperability.”

All OSU members are positively encouraged to be active agents in of the growth of our learning ecosystem by sharing feedback and requests for new elements.

Lois Brooks, Vice Provost of Information Services, succinctly sums up the core principle of the instructional technology support strategy;

“We have had two major innovations in the last year; Learn@OregonState is our virtual ecosystem and the Learning Innovation Center is a state-of-the-art physical facility that allows active and engaged learning. What we are working to accomplish is excellent educational opportunities for our students whether they are in a physical or virtual space.”

Learn@OregonState is a contemporary sophisticated foundation for succeeding at the information side of teaching and learning at OSU.

Image result for democrat republican politicsI think it a fair observation that most Americans are not pleased with the 2016 Presidential contest, but it is also fair to challenge ourselves to describe what we would prefer.

What do you hope for the American political process to be?

The answer to that question lies in your presuppositions about human nature and the purpose of government.

Philosopher John Locke (1632–1704) produced an influential account of theImage result for locke concept of government and the basis of its validity in his “Second Treatise on Government.”

A key idea in that work is the assertion that the purpose of government is to protect the rights of life, liberty, and property of its citizens and to pursue the public good.

If this idea sounds familiar, then you may be thinking of the authors of the American Constitution and Declaration of Independence who closely followed Locke’s political philosophy.

So how does a government determine which actions will best protect the rights of its citizens?

Some people think that government should be minimal, allowing economic powers such as corporations to manage society.

Other people think that government should advance the pubic good even if that requires overriding the natural rights of some citizens.

A third view is promoted by an OSU graduate student, Sami Al-AbdRabbuh (Industrial Engineering) who is also is a candidate in the 2016 election for the Oregon State House of Representatives for District 16 – Corvallis and Philomath.

He argues that science should be the basis of governance; “Science is the act of learning in a way that is more impactful than just trial and error or following the trends of the polls. Public policy that’s informed by trial and error and perceptions isn’t going to do so much good.”

Al-AbdRabbuh believes that our current political system promotes decisions produced by emotion-laden perceptions generated by stories that competing politicians sell to the voters solely for the purpose of getting elected.

A rational society, he maintains, would develop public policy from rigorous data gained from the real-life experiences of the people in it.

His idea proposes that we use scientific method to determine and weigh the interests of individuals and produce analyses that distribute the promotion of those interests fairly across the population.

Al-AbdRabbuh champions science as a model for government because science is a successful means of neutralizing our social/cognitive biases which make it appear as if the experiences that individuals have in common are instead issues of opposition.

This is a good point that you can see played out in the current election.

If you systematically study individual people from different cultures you find that there is a significant commonalities among people regarding basic needs and values.

Given this evidence some people immediately focus on the fact that the cultures are different and so assume that the needs and values of individuals from them are also different.

When someone’s social/cognitive bias selects out the differences only, there is little hope for them to perceive the factual commonalities.

Al-AbdRabbuh believes that scientific method allows us to minimize these biases and bring the authentic lives of many different people into productive co-operation.

It is true that science is one of our most powerful problem-solving methodologies.
                       
It is also true that many people do not trust science and I agree that there are reasons to be suspicious of it.

Science does not have a built-in moral guide which is how we end up with social problems that are the products of science such as nuclear weapons and global pollution.

Now we face potential dilemmas with scientific advances in artificial intelligence and genetic engineering.

If government is required to regulate the excesses of science, how can science be trusted to guide public policy?

The answer to this concern is that the “science” at issue here is not an institution or interest group, but rather a form of thinking, the scientific method.Image result for scientific method

Scientific method is logical reasoning based in measurable evidence and testable claims.

The criterion of testability is essential to this concept of science because the method involves testing a claim against the ways in which it may turn out to be false.

Compare this to the major campaign claims in our national election; “We stand stronger together” and “I will make America great again.”

These are not testable claims; it is not clear what would count as measurable evidence for or against them.

In contrast to emotional story telling which is designed to persuade the electorate, Al-AbdRabbuh argues that we need governance based on reasoned analysis of evidence that comes from listening to the needs and values of individuals.Image result for platonic forms 

Such government would be based in a science of human relations.

In the 3rd century BCE Plato argued that our leaders should be philosophers and by that he meant they should be well practiced at logical and analytical thinking, which today is largely the domain of the sciences.

Al-AbdRabbuh points out that governance by scientific thinkers “is not an outrageous idea. Thomas Jefferson was an inventor and German leader Angela Merkle is quantum chemist.”

You may assess Al-AbdRabbuh’s platform and qualifications on their own merits at http://sami2016.com.

So far as I can tell he is the only candidate in the current election who is talking about the form of thinking that should guide public policy and for that reason he is worth listening to.

Image Acknowledgements

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https://www.flickr.com/photos/donkeyhotey/12480988943

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https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/6/69/John_Locke.png

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https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/2/27/The_Scientific_Method_(simple).png

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https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/1/14/Plato_-_Allegory_of_the_Cave.png

Herkulaneischer_Meister_002If you want to stand out in your career search and progression then it is important that employers know that you can read and write.

You should be reading books that are relevant in your career area or important generally and you should make sure that employers know that you are literate in this respect.

Your cover letter should have a “right now I am reading…” line with a title that matters to your career area and why you think it relevant.

Your resume should have a “significant books that I have read” section with titles that matter to your career area.

You should be conversant at job interviews about books that matter to your career area.

A top interview question is; “What important book have you read?” and they will expect you to tell them why you think it matters.

Do you know the 10 books that leaders in your career area consider important?

It is not hard to find that out and those who do so, and read the books, will have a distinct edge over less literate candidates.

Research the leaders on LinkedIn and look for their blogs.  They will often tell you which books they are reading and consider important.

What better strategy to promote your career than by getting inside the head-spaces of the people that you want to work for?

Be warned that claiming books that you have not read is a quick ticket to embarrassment and disappointment.

This summer is an excellent time to cultivate your professional reading habit.

Here are two books on my summer reading list.

The Seventh Sense: Power, Fortune, and Survival in the Age of Networks, Joshua Cooper Ramo, Little, Brown and Company. In this book Cooper proposes a framework for interpreting large-scale and seemingly chaotic changes in the world. His framework is based on network analysis which he applies to finance, economics, politics, cultural conflicts, war and terrorism. Anyone who promises a new way of looking at the world gets my attention and this summer I’ll find out whether Cooper provides a usable paradigm.  I’ll get back to you on that.

The 160-Character Solution: How Text Messaging and other Behavioral Strategies can Improve Education, Benjamin Castleman, Johns Hopkins University Press. Some people worry that text messaging and twitter indicate that shallow thinking is generally increasing. Castleman argues that effective uses of short messages lead to more focused meaning on the part of writers and increased self-regulation on the part of readers. Maybe I can use his ideas in my teaching.

Consider the reading one of the following recent books this summer:

But What If We’re Wrong?: Thinking About the Present As If It Were the Past, Chuck Klosterman, Blue Rider Press.pile-of-books

Blockchain Revolution: How the Technology Behind Bitcoin is Changing Money, Business, and the World, Don Tapscott, Portfolio.

Pinpoint: How GPS is Changing Technology, Culture, and Our Minds, Greg Milner, W. W. Norton & Company.

Throwing Rocks at the Google Bus: How Growth Became the Enemy of Prosperity, Douglas Rushkoff, Portfolio.

Seven Brief Lessons on Physics, Carlo Rovelli, Riverhead Books.

Sharing our Lives Online: Risks and Exposure in Social Media, David R. Brake, Palgrave Macmillan.

Using Technology, Building Democracy: Digital Campaigning and the Construction of Citizenship, Jessica Baldwin-Philippi, University Press.

Inside the Machine: Art and Invention in the Electronic Age, Megan Prelinger, W.W. Norton.

If none of these books catch your interest, I promise that with a bit of searching you will find some that do.

By choosing to read books that are relevant to your career area and by telling others what you learned from those books, you are presenting yourself as a literate member of that profession.

To put it conversely, if you were in charge of hiring someone, would you choose someone who is conversant in the current literature of the profession or someone who reads only what they are told to read and never talks about it?

That leads to the topic of sharing what you read with others; in particular others in your chosen profession.

Book reviews on social media are a strong way to demonstrate your literate intellect.

Goodreads is a social book review platform with 25 million members and can be linked to post your reviews to Facebook.Goodreads_'g'_logo

With these online connections you can make your professional literacy public and point employers to it.

Strong reviews are concise and identify specific aspects of a book while explaining why those aspects are significant.

A social book review is not intended to explain the whole book. Think of your book reviews as arguments that are intended to give evidence for whether someone should read the book or not.

If you need to prime your writing pump in order to write a review, consider Minimalist or Distraction-Free writing tools.

ZenPen is a prototypical online Minimalist writing site because you don’t even login, just start writing. Do not confuse it for the electronic cigarette with the same name.

FocusWriter is a program for Linux, Windows, and OS X that has plenty of features in the settings though they are hidden when you write.

Write! Is a distraction-free text editor with a “focus mode.”

Hemingway Editor started as a free online app and has morphed into a paid-for desktop application that is a minimalist interface with useful analysis and formatting features built in.

One does not need a computer to write; just a pad of paper or journal and pencil.

Keep those tools with your book so twriting-hand-1443450574xaThat you can note insights as you read.

My proposal is simple: find out what books matter in your future profession, read some of those books, write about what you read and make sure to promote what you read and write to prospective employers.

A with less effort than you put into a single course project you can make your professional literacy into a key asset for finding a job in your career area and moving steadily upward in that career.

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Image Acknowledgements

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https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Female_education#/media/File:Herkulaneischer_Meister_002.jpg

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https://pixabay.com/en/photos/old%20book/

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http://www.fromoldbooks.org/Jefferis-SearchlightsOnHealth/pages/036-letter-writing-correspondence/

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https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Goodreads_%27g%27_logo.jpg

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http://www.publicdomainpictures.net/hledej.php?hleda=writing

77aa99b53b82d17d5f03ca8a3fcbfe35All learning is a form of research as we test our mental models of reality against the cold hard facts of the world.

When someone keeps making the same mistake we can say that they have not learned what that mistake is and how to avoid it.

Humans have evolved the ability to keep track of our successes and failures in order learn.

Keeping track of and analyzing what happens is the basis of research, which I claim is the foundation of learning.

It follows that treating your education as a research process will make you a more capable learner.

Technology can help you to become a more capable researcher and to better understand the relations of information and reason to knowledge.

Zotero is an OSU supported no-cost application that assists with collecting, organizing and citing research sources.zotero_logo_300x300

You should be using Zotero or a similar tool because when you write a paper or produce a project the sources upon which it is based are critical.

Your sources are established by citations which follow formats including APA, MLA, Turbian and IEEE.

If these are not familiar to you, then you are at a distinct disadvantage when developing a paper or project for a class as many instructors place significant grade value on well-formed citations in the correct format.

Check your syllabus and assignment description to ascertain the citation format then install Zotero and access the OSU Library resources to learn how to use it well.

Zotero has a stand-alone version to install on Windows or Mac and also as plugins for FireFox, Safari and Chrome and apps for iOS and Android

Build your Zotero “Library” by creating a “Collection” and adding sources as you search for sources.

A Collection may be for a project, a class, a topic or whatever you need to gather information for.

The sources can be books, articles, websites, videos and other forms of information that you have used in developing your work.

While developing your work, such as a paper or project use Zotero to retrieve sources and then to cite those sources for your bibliography.

A bibliography is the part of a work that lists the sources that form the research upon which the work is based.

The purpose of a bibliography is so that readers can retrieve the sources in order to check on the accuracy of the claims in the work.

Bibliographies consist of references which provide the information that anyone needs to find and retrieve the source referred to.

Citations are the expressions embedded in the text of a work that indicate the reference on which that portion of the work is based.

In my work as an Editor I have received submissions that included bibliographies that contained numerous references that were not cited in the text of the paper.

I sent those submissions back for revision because the relevant references are those that are used in creating the work.

It is an error to pad a bibliography with books and articles that you did not read or use in your writing.

If you did use a source, then cite and reference it properly.

If you did not use a source, then do not refer to it.

2447112317_b1f13112cbIf any of these aspects of research puzzle you, then you should visit the OSU Writing Center at 123 Waldo.

Writing Center assistants will help students, staff, faculty and community members with all aspects of writing from brainstorming to writer’s block to bibliographies and beyond.

Once you understand what citations and bibliographies are and know what formats are required for your papers, then you are in a strong position to use writing tools like Zotero effectively.

A powerful feature of Zotero is the capability to create Collection items contextually from your Web browser so to gather relevant reference information from whatever web source that you are viewing.

This contextual sensing feature is amazing when researching journal articles, news articles and books in the OSU Library; see the Valley Library tutorial “Using Zotero with 1Search.”

I emphasize again that finding likely titles and capturing reference information is not research unless you read the sources and use them in your work.Research-Illistration-4x4

Once you have a collection of sources Zotero helps you tag, sort, move, copy, annotate and edit your sources.

Organizing and connecting your sources, which are prior information about a topic, is a powerful way to construct knowledge out of your research.

Knowledge constructed from intentional collections of sources may involve finding patterns, drawing inferences, producing new research questions, identifying problems and much more.

A research-based paper and project is designed to communicate the knowledge that you have constructed, your findings, from the sources that you have collected and analyzed.

That is a basic description of how research and learning work.

Zotero supports sharing collections online which vastly increases its power as a research tool, for instance when working on a group project designate a role for “research managerin the group and have them curate the Zotero collections.

With your thesis, narrative, and references accomplished you then use Zotero to produce the bibliography which can export to Word and OpenOffice documents.

With a collection and bibliography created it is easy to re-format your references to different citation standards.

Valley Library has many resources including workshops and online tutorials for becoming proficient with Zotero at guides.library.oregonstate.edu/zotero

In addition to Zotero I have used Citation Machine, a web-based citation creator, to create bibliographies for publications – citationmachine.net.

Both tools provide a form in a selected citation style that prompts you for necessary information about a source such as author’s name, book title, publication date, page number and publisher.

Both tools allow switching citation styles for already created references.

Zotero is the more powerful of the two, but Citation Machine is handy.

Social bookmarking is a technology that is related to the research-oriented tools.

Diigo and Delicious are powerful social bookmarking applications, also called “social tagging,” with browser extensions that support tagging, annotating and highlighting web sources including pages, PDFs, blog posts, images and videos.

The social character of these tools is changing the way that information and knowledge works.

Think of the efficiency with which disinformation such as rumors spread.Wikipedia_-_taste_the_fruit_of_knowledge

Now imagine similarly efficient information but grounded in referenced sources.

Our information environment is changing fast and you will be better equipped for that change when you are able to use social bookmarking and referencing tools.

Most important is your understanding of how information constructs knowledge and how references provide evidence.

Of immediate value to you is how you can use these tools to do a stronger job of writing papers and projects.

Image Acknowledgements

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https://www.pinterest.com/pin/551409548100840461/

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https://pbs.twimg.com/profile_images/482247447293337601/hBQdLi_-.png

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https://www.flickr.com/photos/12662957@N05/2447112317/

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https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/b/bc/Wikipedia_-_taste_the_fruit_of_knowledge.jpg

I am deeply troubled by the recent tragedy in Roseburg and recent atrocities in Yemen and Afghanistan, so I want to share with you ways that I have been exploring for responding to horror without becoming numb to its significance.

I am learning to implement a technology by which you too may sustain yourself while also acting effectively in a tragic world.

First consider how we commonly respond to news of a horrible event.

When I heard of Thursday’s Umpqua massacre I felt a cold weakness in the middle of my chest.

Shortly after I stood before a class of first-year students, some of whom I knew were from Roseburg, all of whom reminded me of the dear people we had just lost.

It seemed apparent to me that they did not yet know what had just happened and I struggled with a sense of unreality as I reached for something meaningful to say.

After that class I wept.

Perhaps you also have physical reactions to awful news.

Next I did what many parents do when we hear of a disaster; call our children just to make sure they are ok.

Then come a series of predicable messages from predictable sources.

People start sharing rumors and reports as if possessing the latest bit of information can impact the gravity of the incident.

Leaders hold press conferences and send email denouncing and consoling.

Some people immediately seize the shock of the moment to advance or defend their political and personal agendas, often in ways that increase the harm.

Then comes a barrage of angry and speculative verbiage about who to blame.

Experts weigh in with analyses, statistics and opinions.

That evening people with gather with candles, put personal items at the site of the harm and set up memorial scholarships, every detail shared by constant repetition through many media.

Then we go on about our business in wait for the next appalling event.

In our present age all of this reaction happens with blinding speed and tends to race past the reality of the moment, as if the attendant information and spectacle is more significant than the event itself.

This set of reactions may be called a “viral cycle” because the activity builds on itself and has a predictable path as social phenomena.cue_routine_reward.fw

Do you recognize the parts of this viral cycle and most important, your roles in it? Do you have characteristic reactions to news of a horrible occurrence?

If you do, and I think that we all do, then there is a habitual pattern in you that guides your reactions automatically.

What concerns me about these habitual patterns is that they typically leave us individually and collectively in a negative mental state and with a sense of impotence about effecting any change for the better.

When there is nothing that we can do about suffering except feel bad, it is natural to seek emotional distance and I suspect that much of transpires in the social viral cycle are various ways of gaining that distance.

Yet we really can do something to make things better in the face of horror and it starts with our remarkable ability to modify our own habits.

There are techniques – a technology – for changing our own habits. By using those techniques we can teach ourselves to react with care and kindness in the face of horror.

This capability matters because increasing care and kindness in the world is the effective means to preventing future tragedies and because acting with care and kindness sustains your self when the worst happens.

Here is how you may modify your gut reactions to tragedy (and any other habits that you want to change).

Learn the technique of habit modification such as that developed in The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business (2014) by Charles Duhigg. the_power_of_habit

In Duhigg’s analysis every habit consists of a cognitive/behavioral loop in which a cue triggers a routine which elicits a reward.

Think of the cue as an event that happens to us, the routine as a behavior pattern that we perform in response to the cue, and the reward as a perception that the routine was successful.

Habits are self-reinforcing and habit change is most effective when we associate the cue and reward with a different routine.

When we learn of a horrific event it is a cue that triggers routines (such as those listed above) which reward us by reducing negative feelings.

Following this analysis of habits, the effective means to changing your reactions to shocking events is to associate the cue (horrible events) and the reward (feeling less badly) with a new routine (patterns of action).

A routine that is relevant to the cue of horrible events is to increase your feelings of care and expressions of kindness

I am serious that expressing kindness from a feeling of care provides an effective counter to shock and frustration

Treating others with kindness from care through words and actions will change how you feel.

I’ll not suggest how to be caringly kind because in order to effect personal change those feelings and behaviors must be uniquely yours.

I will show how to develop those feelings and behaviors for yourself.

Step 1: Every day for two weeks practice caring kindness for yourself and turn them into a habit.

You already know how to be mean to yourself and maybe have a strong inner critic.

Now add to that self-judgment an inner advocate that throughout the day acknowledges positively you for simple accomplishments and voices value for you as a person.

In second week scan the news for a horrific tragedy, it won’t take long, and when you find it make yourself aware that the fact that you care about it is reason enough to be kind to yourself (just some inner kind words are enough).

Step 2: Every day for two weeks practice caring kindness for others.

People are all round you so opportunities for care and kindness abound.

Start with people whom you know and tell them what you value about them, then expand into kindness to strangers.

Repeat the news-scan activity in step 1, this time responding to tragedy by increasing your caring kindness to others.

Step 3: Every day for two weeks practice caring kindness for people whom you dislike or who irritate you.

Caring for enemies may be as simple as wishing them well in your mind instead of wishing them harm; i.e. that they suffer the same as they cause.

Replace signals of irritation (scowls, gestures and words) with quiet patience until you are practiced enough to muster a smile.

Repeat the news-scan activity in steps 1 and 2, this time responding to the tragedy by increasing your caring kindness to people who irritate you.

Now put the three steps together so that you perform all of them at least once per day and please note that in order to work you need to make this a practice in action, not merely a thought.

I base this formula upon the psycho-spiritual technologies developed and taught by Lao-Tzu, Buddha, Jesus, Muhammad, Śāntideva, King and Gandhi among other luminaries.

I believe that using the technology of habit modification to transform your feelings of hurt and frustration into actionable change will benefit you because the resulting patterns of behavior make you more effective and positive in dealing with tragedy.

I also believe that this practice will contribute to preventing some horrific events because as the practice of care and kindness grows – by you joining it – the people who potentially cause harm will encounter care and kindness.

The killers at Umpqua, Virginia Tech, Sandy Hook, Northern Illinois and so many others expressed their perceptions of social isolation as a partial motive for the horror they inflicted.meditation-651411_640

If a potential killer experiences even momentary kindness from strangers, their path of destruction may be altered.

We have the technology to change ourselves, our actions and the people around us.

You and I are not helpless in the face of horror and tragedy as long as we have the will to become the change that we want to see in the world.

 

Oregon State University Support Resources

OSU has resources for students, staff, and faculty for addressing grief and stress.  The centers of these resources is:

CAPS
http://counseling.oregonstate.edu

Student Health Services
http://studenthealth.oregonstate.edu

 

Image Sources

Sépulcre_Arc-en-Barrois_111008_12
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sadness#/media/File:S%C3%A9pulcre_Arc-en-Barrois_111008_12.jpg

cue_routine.reward.png
jon dorbolo

the_power_of_habit.jpg
http://charlesduhigg.com/the-power-of-habit/

meditation-651411_640
https://pixabay.com/en/meditation-compassion-presence-love-651411/

Acknowledgements

Thanks to the following individuals who contributed to this essay.

– Jennifer Knaus

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immersive_environments…augmented_reality…virtual worlds…robots…full_VR…games…social_media…community…genius

The Immersive Learning Research Network (ILRN) conference 2014 at Oregon’s State University (Corvallis, OR) in person, webcast, and Second Life – November 20, 21, 22, 2014.   Sponsored by The ILRNTechnology Across the Curriculum (TAC), Oregon State University, and the Applied Research in immersive Environments for Learning Special Interest Group (ARiEL SIG) of the American Educational Research Association (AERA).

Attendance (free)

Conference Schedule
http://elcommons.org/conferences/emergent-learning-conference-2014/?show=schedule

Live Web Cast
http://live.oregonstate.edu/elc

Second Life – Beaver Island
http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Oregon%20State%20University/193/145/30

http://oregonstate.edu/tac/how-to-use/virtual-worlds/beaver-island

Everyone is encouraged to join ILRN for free before January 1, 2015 when membership application fees may apply. See http://immersivelrn.org/ for information on joining the Network.

The theme for the ILRN Corvallis, Oregon 2014 Meetup is “Immersed in the Future, Together: Scholarship, Experience, and Community”. The iLRN Oregon Meetup Committee will give preference to those proposals of Immersive Learning presentations that feature:

  • Attempts to substantively bridge multiple kinds of expertise to generate a sense of “immersion” (e.g. psychology, pedagogy, architecture, computer science, etc)
  • Sharing resources and visions for Immersive Learning researchers and practitioners to use in developing a common future
  • Sharing technical expertise on creation of Immersive Learning experiences that is not readily available for free elsewhere
  • Featuring design or evidence based reasoning for learning within the design of an immersive experience
  • Explicitly develops capacity within immersive learning experiences to form community OR focuses on the community that forms as a result of efforts to create immersive learning experiences
  • Providing Open Educational Resources or open source possibilities for developing Immersive Learning to everyone – to encourage community and sharing
  • Articulating conceptual frameworks or definitions for specific kinds of Immersive Learning expertise that may be of possible benefit or use by others

Please join us

Contact:

………………………………………………………………………………………….
Jon Louis Dorbolo, Ph.D.
Associate Director
Technology Across the Curriculum (TAC)
317 Waldo Hall
Oregon State University
Corvallis, OR 97331
Email: Jon.Dorbolo@oregonstate.edu
Gmail: jondorbolo@gmail.com
Web: http://oregonstate.edu/tac
Voice: 541.737.3811
Fax: 541.737.7967
SMS: 541.915.0260
Blog: http://jondorbolo.com
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slurl: Beaver Island

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