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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.

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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.

death_cafe_corvalis_jon_dorbolo_88x31

Image Acknowledgements

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

books-1170768_960_720.jpg
https://pixabay.com/en/photos/old%20book/

036-letter-writing-correspondence-q90-300×160.jpg
http://www.fromoldbooks.org/Jefferis-SearchlightsOnHealth/pages/036-letter-writing-correspondence/

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

writing-hand-1443450574xaT.jpg
http://www.publicdomainpictures.net/hledej.php?hleda=writing

aerial-displayHave you ever heard the rhetorical question; “What will they think of next?”

Viable answers to that question may be gleaned by perusing applications filed with the US Patent Office (USPTO).

A patent is an assignment of exclusive intellectual property rights by a government to an inventor for a specified time period, in the U.S. and Europe for 20 years.

When someone files a patent on an invention or process, others are prohibited by law from creating and selling products derived from that intellectual property.

Inventors cannot patent ideas alone, they have to demonstrate how the invention will work and that it is feasible.

The word patent stems from the Latin word “patere” meaning “to lay open.”

This etymology reflects the public nature of patents and distinguishes them from trade secrets which are kept private and guarded.

In addition to sheer curiosity you can make powerful uses of the information at uspto.gov.

Some investors make profitable uses of that information in deciding what industries to put their money into.

Writers can gain excellent topics for analysis and writing from patents because successful future products are communicated to us in the present.

For instance, students may develop presentations and papers based on patent information.

infectious-diseaseSuppose that you have a class presentation or paper to prepare and need a strong topic.

Browsing through recent proposals at the USPTO you find a patent filed in 2015 by Boeing Inc. for “Infectious Disease Detection.”

This proposed invention would use sensors to detect traces of specific pathogens; bacteria and viruses.

Why would a company that makes airplanes invest in disease detection?

Because infectious disease is spread significantly by air travel leading to pandemics which are global outbreaks of illness

To turn this idea into a paper or presentation, think through the conditions and implications of effective disease detection at the primary points of transmission.

Detecting disease allows for intervention and preventing its spread which may dramatically impact the global health situation.

Think of other situations where the spread of disease is significant, such as hospitals, daycare and University residence halls where the Norovirus runs rampant.

The analytic strategy of turning a proposed patent invention into a top-rate paper is to produce a reasoned analysis based on the problem, the proposed solution and the implications of a successful solution.  Break it down like this:

1. The problem: describe the circumstances that occur without the invention; e.g. infectious disease spreads rapidly and is hard to control leading to deaths, illness, increased health care costs and other economic impacts.

2. The proposed solution: explain the proposed invention and how it will solve or change the problem; e.g., a system of disease agent detection and intelligent alerts will recognize when a severely contagious disease is present and allow for immediate interventions to help infected people and prevent further contagion.

3. The implications of a successful solution: speculate on the social impacts that will occur if the invention works and is used effectively; e.g., by detecting and managing disease at the primary points of transmission the spread of infectious disease can be significantly contained and prevented.  The gains to human welfare in terms of health will be great and economic benefits from lower health care and otherwise lost productivity will add significantly to the general welfare.

cardboard-bicycleYou can totally make an interesting paper or presentation with a strong analysis and argument from this by filling in the details and backing up your claims with facts, such as the current costs of infectious disease to the economy.

You might also think of potential negative effects of such inventions, which is how writers like Michael Crichton make great stories (Jurrasic Park, Prey) and tons of money.

Now that you see how such analysis and future-casting works, try your mind some other fascinating recent patent filings.

Multi-Part Navigation Process by an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle for Navigating to a Medical Situation”: Google filed a patent for a drone with navigation and flight control processes capable of reaching an emergency with appropria1te reinforcing-photosynthesis1medications and medical equipment. Imagine in the future subscribing to a medical response service that responds immediately to your crisis based on your medical profile.

“System in Space for Reinforcing Photosynthesis and Method”: Airbus, a European airplane maker, may have a way to collect sunlight by satellites in orbit and retransmit the energy to Earth to re-enforce photosynthesis and crop growth. I wonder whether this technology can also boost solar energy collectors.

“Fact Checking Using and Aiding Probabilistic Question Answering”: IBM filed a recent patent for a use of its Watson artificial intelligence program that won the Jeopardy game show. In its role as fact-checker Watson will “decompose a statement into sets of question and answer pairs for each of which it then determines a confidence value from which is calculated a probability that the statement is true.” Imagine this at work in newsrooms and Presidential debates.

“Gamma Secretase Modulators”: Pharmaceutical giant Merck filed a patent for a compound that “targets amyloid beta, a metabolite of amyloid precursor protein which is considered to be of great importance regarding the degeneration and loss of neurons in Alzheimer’s patients.” This may lead to a treatment and even prevention of Alzheimer’s disease.

It does not follow from the fact that a patent was filed that the proposed concept will really work, be practical and economically feasible.

Patents do show us the realm of the possible driven by human imagination.

Here are some titles of patents filed in the last few years to peak your interest.

“Method and Apparatus for Delivering Energy to an Electrical or Electronic Device Via a Wireless Link.”

“Devices and Methods for Transferring Data Through a Human Body.”

“Method for Personalizing an Appliance User Interface.”

“System and Method for Targeting Customers Who Invite Other Customers to a Business.”

“Apparatus and Method for Sharing User’s Emotion.”

“Recyclable Cardboard Bicycle.”

“Foreclosure Prevention and Protection.”

“Seawater Desalination System.”

“Foreign Currency Solution.”

“Aerial Display System With Marionettes Articulated and Supported by Airborne Devices.”

“Fabrication of Products On Demand.”

“Self-propelled unicycle engagable with vehicle.”

“Telescopic Contact Lens.”

“Virtual Universe Teleportation Suggestion Service.”

Find many more filed patents at: uspto.gov >Patents >Patent Search (Search for Patents) > Seven Step Strategy.uspto_logo

For patents filed since March 2001 be sure search the AppFT: Applications database.

Understand that patents are legal documents and not designed for easy reading, but you are smarter than the average duck and can hone in on the key points, especially the “abstract” or ”summary” sections.

Make sure that you access the images linked at the top and bottom of the patent text.

Learn to access these ideas directly from the USPTO and you will gain a wealth of future potentials that you may talk and write about.

 

Source Acknowledgements

USPTO
http://www.uspto.gov/

The Top 10 Patents Issued in 2015, Steve Brachman
http://www.ipwatchdog.com/2015/12/28/top-10-patents-issued-2015/id=64025/

Image Acknowledgements

aerial-display.jpg

infectious-disease.jpg

cardboard-bicycle.jpg

reinforcing-photosynthesis1.jpg

Students searching for jobsI am about to tell you how to increase your odds for getting the job for which your degree qualifies you.

I write this mainly for the seniors and graduates who are looking for a job.

Perhaps you know someone in that situation and will share this advice with them.

Juniors, sophomores and frosh may take even better advantage of this knowledge by using it to make advance preparation.

My advice comes in two parts: (1) do your research; (2) use your education, not just your degree.

I hear many students ask Will this degree get me a job?”

The answer to that question is “No” because your degree is a tool that you must use in combination with other tools to get that job.

“It is not what you can do with your degree, but what you can do with a mind capable of earning that degree.”

Many thousands of others all over the world have degrees just like yours.

That is why you hear human resource departments tell you that your application is one among many.

So the winning move in the employment game is to document your unique abilities that stand out from the many

There are clear ways to accomplish that standout quality and it is a fact that most job applicants do not do so.

The most basic method is to make your resume, cover letter and reference letters match the needs and values of the prospective employer.

How do you know what they need and value? Because you have done your research on that employer.

You should research your job hunt with double the rigor and intensity that you put into any project or paper in school.

Research means learning everything you can about the job, the company and the people who work there, much of which is online.Linkedin network

A critical way to research a job is through the people who work for that company and department.  They all have profiles on LinkedIn and Facebook which will tell you about the work they do, the skills they value and the projects they are working on.

Search for the company in social media to find its employees.

It will take creativity on your part to find the right information and piece it together, but this is not more intellectually challenging than many of the course assignments that you have succeed

You are accomplished at those skills at some level, or else you would not be getting an OSU degree.

In the end it is not what you can do with your degree, but what you can do with a mind capable of earning that degree.

So how do I, Dr. Tech, know all of this? Because I have hired scores of employees and read hundreds of resumes, from high-school volunteers to Vice-Provosts.

Most of the resumes I have seen resemble a grocery list, merely enumerating the jobs worked at.

Such a resume does not include either what you are good at or what the employer is looking for.

Many job seekers bemoan the experience paradox – i.e. you can’t get a job without experience and you can’t get experience without a job.

If you feel trapped in that paradox it is because you have a narrow conception of your own experience.  You have lots of experience; four or five or more years of it at OSU alone.  You just need to recognize the activity of your education as experiential and turn that activity into language that communicates your expertise.

Consider another bit of information gained through research: there are consultants who report every year on industries of all kinds by conducting surveys of companies to find out what skills they are looking for in the people that they hire.

Please read that sentence again. How much would knowing what skills are most valued by the employers that you are applying to be worth? A lot and you can have that information for free just by doing online research.

In this instance I will refer to The Bloomberg Job Skills Report 2016: What Recruiters Want and Forbes’ The Ten Skills Employers Most Want in 20-Something Employees.

For the 2016 report Bloomberg surveyed 1,251 recruiters in 11 industries to find out which skills they rate both highly desired and hard to find.

Forbes based it’s analysis on surveys asking hiring managers what skills they prioritize when recruiting from college graduates.

Here are the skills employers say they seek, in order of importance as rated by employers.

1. Ability to work in a team structure

2. Ability to make decisions and solve problems (tie)

3. Ability to communicate verbally with people inside and outside an organization

4. Ability to plan, organize and prioritize work

5. Ability to obtain and process information

6. Ability to analyze quantitative data

7. Technical knowledge related to the job

8. Proficiency with computer software programs

9. Ability to create and/or edit written reports

10. Ability to sell and influence others

The good news is that the learning objectives and requirements for the majority of OSU degrees cover most of the skills on the list, which means that

Bacclaureate Core Writing Skills

OSU Bacc Core Skills

you have practiced them and have the right to claim them on your resume and cover letter.

Those group projects that many students complain about required that you actualize team work, decision processes, planning, communication and influence.

Baccalaureate Core, DPD, WIC and other requirements involve obtaining and processing information in order to write and communicate persuasively.

These are real skills that you have specific and demonstrated evidence of your competence in.

Even better, those skills are explicitly stated in the learning objectives for the courses, so you can refer to objective sources in claiming success with those skills.

If you passed an OSU Bacc Core course, then you succeeded at the skills certified through that course.  Have you mined your course objectives for demonstrated skills?

Draw on that objective evidence and you have unique and demonstrable qualifications to bring your resume and cover letter into the top tier.

That you can communicate, solve problems, find information, and lead a team is exactly the experience that employers say that they want.

They also say that those skills are “hard to find.”

Do not make them hard to find in your resume and cover letter.

As the Forbes article notes; “The survey makes clear that employers want universal skills you can learn across academic disciplines and in any job where you are working with others. The trick is to communicate clearly that you have those skills.”

The trick for you is to take ownership of your acquired skills and take yourself seriously as a fully educated person, not merely an applicant with a degree.

You will accomplish that by researching what your prospective employer values and by researching what skills your OSU education gives you the right to claim as your own.

 

Image Acknowledgements

looking-for-a-job-68958_960_720.jpg
https://pixabay.com/en/looking-for-a-job-work-silhouettes-68958/

head-1250008_960_720.gif
https://pixabay.com/en/head-circle-linkedin-networks-1250008/

bacc_core_skills.jpg
http://oregonstate.edu/ctl/baccalaureate-core

dangerous-software-1200_croppedImagine that you are working to meet a midnight paper submission deadline.

Suddenly your computer freezes. Reboots don’t help. The Engineering major down the hall can’t help. Midnight passes helpless. The next day the repair specialist tells you that a wicked virus trashed your machine and only a total reformatting of the hard drive will save it. It is expensive.

Even worse, all of your data including your paper, drafts, research and earlier works are just plain gone.

This heartbreak is a genuine possibility, but the odds against it can be radically shifted in your favor.

“OSU is subject to 16 million hostile network attacks every day of the year.”

To understand how we may ward ourselves against digital catastrophe at OSU I spoke with Lois Brooks, Vice-Provost of Information Services (IS), and Dave

lois_brooks

Lois Brooks


Nevin, Chief Information Security Officer for the Office of Information Security.

These guardians of our networked community had two salient calls to action for you: be aware and compute safely.

dave_nevin

Dave Nevin

 

Being aware means paying attention to the daily changes in our network ecosystem in order to take appropriate action.

For example, are you aware that this week OSU Information Services is recommending an Apple computer patch and device update in order to address new security risks to the Apple OS?

If you are not aware of this current threat, then you are not network secure, no matter what operating system you use.

“Criminal hackers seek to access your personal information (e.g. SSN) and sell sell it to high-end information identity thieves.”

Nevin is blunt about the risks to the inattentive; “OSU is subject to 16 million hostile network attacks every day of the year. The hostile attacks are from criminal organizations seeking personal information and intellectual property. OSU can prevail against this assault only if students, faculty and other members contribute by safeguarding their computers and devices against the hostile hackers.”

I was like; “Did I hear that right? 16 million attacks per day? Why would anyone even do that?”

The answer is that your Social Security number and other personal information is stored digitally at OSU which criminal hackers can immediately sell it to high-end information identity thieves.

Nevin observes; “It’s tough. We’re out-numbered. The people we’re fighting against to protect that information are smart, and have a lot of resources available to them. But we have smart people too, and we’re working together to do everything we can to prevent t1hat from happening.”

norse_map

NORSE Attack Map

To see a live display of network attacks around the globe, see the NORSE Hack Attack Map (do check this out because it is amazing!)

Brooks is OSU’s chief information officer and is ultimately responsible for the University’s information technology (IT) policy and budget.

She explained to me in detail the delicate balance between security, safety and privacy at the large scale of the university enterprise.

“All OSU members participate in a social compact with one another to ensure a secure community of trust and shared resources. It requires that every individual take personal responsibility to meet that overall aim.”

Do your part by keeping all of your devices fully patched using current anti-virus and anti-malware available to you for free from Information Services.

Sometimes safety goes beyond network hacks and enters the realm of physical threat.

Brooks and Nevin affirm that OSU cooperates with law enforcement to protect public safety.

osu_recommended_software

On occasion this involves accessing information from the accounts of individuals.

Brooks emphasizes how extraordinary such instances are; “Even though we need to be able to respond when there is a problem, we at OSU go out of our way to not look at people’s data unless necessary.”

Ours is a culture of respect and I speak from experience to vouch for the integrity of our university leadership in upholding these values.

For you, dear reader, there follows from this balance of privacy and safety a principle based in the wisdom of discretion.

That is: do not use OSU network resources to post information that potentially puts you and others at risk.

Create your own balance of safety and privacy by keeping your machines full patched against hacking and by maintaining intellectually responsible content.

This is what it means on Overheard at OSU when someone posts; “Keep it classy Beavers.”

“We at OSU go out of our way to not look at people’s data unless necessary.”

Here are two simple steps that you can take to do your part in upholding safety and respect at OSU.

Be Aware: Build your expertise about the OSU’s security ecosystem at “Be Aware!”

is.Oregon State.edu/accounts-support/be-aware

Free Software: Turn your computer and devices into a personal anti-hacking fortress by installing the free and essential software at:

“Anti-virus is a requirement while you are at the university as it is part of the Acceptable Use of University Computing Resources agreement.”

Nevin invites all OSU members to contact him about network security and privacy issues: Dave.Nevin@oregonstate.edu.

Brooks has an open door policy concerning all OSU IT matterantivirus-icon[2]s: Lois.Brooks@oregonstate.edu.

You can always write to me about anything.
drtech@oregonstate.edu

I promise to make sure that your comments get to the appropriate people and I will write you back.

Have a great start to Spring term, invest some time in your network awareness and safety and keep it classy, Beavers.

Resources

OSU Office of Information Security

OSU Antivirus Software

OSU Campus Civility and Inclusivity Campaign

 

Image Acknowledgements

dangerous-software.jpg
http://is.oregonstate.edu/office-information-security-created

Dave_nevin.jpg
https://www.linkedin.com/in/david-nevin-a9a9b2

lois_brooks.jpg
http://is.oregonstate.edu/adminserv

norse_map.png
http://map.norsecorp.com/#/

osu_recommended_software.png
http://oregonstate.edu/helpdocs/security-and-tuning/computer-viruses/antivirus

antivirus_icon.gif
http://oregonstate.edu/helpdocs/security-and-tuning/computer-viruses/antivirus

4098316462_2846b60687So what do you know? Is there any measure to determine how much you know? If you needed to know something new would you know how to learn it?

Your answers to these questions matter more than any set of information that you memorized in school.

The reason is that the sum of knowledge is growing at an ever increasing rate.

The growing rate of knowledge was described by philosopher/inventor/genius Buckminster Fuller, whom you should learn about.

In his 1982 book “Critical Path” Fuller presented an analysis of collective knowledge based on scientific and technical milestones through history.

He assigned values to the earliest known innovations, tools of the Stone Age going back 3 million years, up to the year 1 CE and designated that value a “knowledge unit.”

Using that measure he found that it took about 1,500 years from 1 CE for that knowledge unit to double to 2 knowledge units.

It doubled again 250 years later to 4 knowledge units and again in 150 years, around the year 1900, to 8 knowledge units.

Other thinkers have used Fuller’s analysis to extrapolate that by the year 2000 collective human knowledge was doubling every year.curve1

Some observers project that with coming changes in our information networks, such as the internet of things (IOT), total knowledge doubling will occur on a daily or even hourly basis.

Using this system it follows that the pace at which human knowledge is accumulated is accelerating; not only is the amount of total knowledge increasing but also its rate of growth.

Is there a natural or functional limit to knowledge acceleration? We do not know.

In some respects self-knowledge is one of our areas of greatest ignorance.

Just months ago our species learned something new about ourselves – that each individual’s brain memory power is greater by an order of magnitude; a GFPneuronfactor of 10, than previously believed.

In 2015 Thomas Bartol and associates of the Salk Institute reported that the anatomic structures of the trillions of synapses in the brain support a carrying capacity measured in petabytes – millions of gigabytes.

This finding is important because in addition to the amount of available storage it reveals sophisticated synaptic processes that use probability to create and retrieve memory.

The fact that knowledge is increasing rapidly does not imply that our intelligence is unable to handle it.

Creating strategies for managing complex information is what intelligent organisms like us do.

The acceleration of human knowledge does imply that the primary skill of a future knowledge worker will be research, analysis and synthesis of the not-yet-known.

You will succeed at your job by finding relevant streams of data, turning it into meaningful information from which you will produce usable knowledge.

At present that set of intellectual skills is the realm of the expert who is typically hired as a consultant.

In the near future those forms of expertise will be the foundations of all knowledge work because every career will consist of navigating a steep learning curve in the face of the accelerating velocity of knowledge.

The knowledge that drives your field will have changed significantly by the time you start the job won via your degree.

Your core strength in that job will be your capability to learn.

You can hone that capability now in your work at OSU, but to do so you must color outside of the lines of specialization.

Here are three practical ways that you may ramp up your learning prowess.

First, treat all of your learning as valuable.  The process of learning anything strengthens your capabilities for learning something new.  It is short sighted to negate a learning experience just because you do not see value in the information. You are not a giant flash drive for storing information. You are a learning organism that can grow and adapt to changing conditions.

Second, broaden your range of learning. Mastering subjects in depth is powerful and so is challenging your mind with subjects outside of your specialty.  As the sum of human knowledge grows its complexity increases. Diversifying your learning experiences inculcates stronger strategies for managing complexity.

Third, plan to keep on learning. A degree is not a finishing line, it is a portal to new learning in new contexts. Set your sights on a continual path of life-long learning beyond any program or position and you will increasingly thrive in a world of complexity that many people find overwhelming.

Some time soon you will wake up each day to a job that is already obsolete, but you will not be obsolete because of your skill at navigating the raising rate of cognitive change.

Human knowledge is growing at a scale that is hard to measure and so are you.

 

Notes

1. Disinformation Alert!: As quickly as knowledge grows, disinformation spreads faster, even on the topic of knowledge.

A claim widely reported on the web is that IBM predicted that knowledge

doubling will increase to occur on an hourly basis. The re-telling’s of this this vary and are frequently referenced back to a web article by David Russell Schilling, Knowledge doubling every 12 months, soon to be 12 hours in which he writes;

“ According to IBM, the build out of  the “internet of things” will lead to the doubling of knowledge every 12 hours.”

Schilling links “IBM” in the sentence to a 2006 article from IBM; The toxic terabyte How data-dumping threatens business efficiency. On page 2 of that article is this sentence;

“It is projected that just four years from now, the world’s information base will be doubling in size every 11 hours.”

The IBM article says no more about this matter than that single sentence and does not reference any source for the projection. We have to treat that claim as anecdotal and not authoritative as it has been subsequently played out on the web.

Moreover, that article and claim are about the growth of digital data which is entirely separate from the knowledge acceleration concept based in Fuller’s analysis. Schilling misinterpreted the IBM document. Nothing in that document supports the claim that is presented in the title of his article.

Schilling is a credible writer and typically provides sources for his articles. Sadly, his erroneous article title has been takes as a demonstrated truth by not-credible media personalities such as Glenn Beck who opined on his talk show;

“IBM has just come out and said all of human knowledge soon will double every – think of this – all human knowledge will double every twelve hours.”

Beck was adlibbing live from Schilling’s story on an iPad and adding his own embellishments ad hoc.

The assumption of authority and facticity of this hourly doubling claim increases with each retelling. Of course, we know that IBM said nothing of the sort.

Anyone may quickly check the sources and find for themselves the basic misinterpretation. That popular pundits such as Beck and his production staff do not do such basic fact checking underscores the key point of my posted article above, that the intelligent uses of information and knowledge are based in research, analysis, and synthesis.

Basic Intelligence Skill: Before replicating a claim, be sure that you have check the sources for yourself.

Beck, G. (2014). Will human knowledge soon have the power to double every 12 hours?
http://www.glennbeck.com/2014/04/07/will-human-knowledge-soon-have-the-power-to-double-every-12-hours

IBM Global Technology Services. (2006). “The toxic terabyte How data-dumping threatens business efficiency.” http://www-935.ibm.com/services/no/cio/leverage/levinfo_wp_gts_thetoxic.pdf

Schilling, D.R. (2013). “Knowledge doubling every 12 months, soon to be 12 hours.”  Industry Tap into News. April 19. http://www.industrytap.com/knowledge-doubling-every-12-months-soon-to-be-every-12-hours/3950

Image Acknowledgements

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https://www.flickr.com/photos/44568283@N02/4098316462

curve.png
http://sustainablebenefits.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/curve.png

Pneuron.png
https://gl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neurona#/media/File:GFPneuron.png

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

77aa99b53b82d17d5f03ca8a3fcbfe35.jpeg
https://www.pinterest.com/pin/551409548100840461/

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

2447112317_b1f13112cb.jpeg
https://www.flickr.com/photos/12662957@N05/2447112317/

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

This morning my bleary eyes focused on the top email in my inbox with the subject; “Immediate Action: Your Mailbox Size Notification.”

The email was simple and to the point.

“Your email account has used 23.7 GB (95%) of 25 GB.

Spear-PhishingYou will be unable to send and receive messages if you do not reset your account storage space to a higher limit.

Click the link to reset and validate your account.

http://oregonstate.edu/amiladministrator

Sincerely, OSU Mail Desk Administrator

This is a phishing attack and if I took the bait by clicking on the link, I could compromise my identity, my money and my data.

Phishing is the use of fraudulent messages disguised as coming from legitimate entities to acquire privileged information.

Phishing exploits trust, worry, and desire to trick people into giving up their up their sensitive credentials such as passwords and credit accounts.

A grim finding from an Intel Security survey shows that 97% of people globally are unable to identify phishing emails. Now that is scary.

The most powerful tool for computer hacking is social engineering which is the larger category of human manipulation into which phishing falls and there are numerous sub-categories of phishing.4894714911_42f0f50f72

Spear Phishing is targeted at specific individuals or groups and may contain familiar graphics and Web addresses to trick you.

Whaling is like spear phishing but aims at very large fish, such as a university president or corporate vice president.

Clone Phishing reuses a legitimate email and modifies it to contain the malicious url.

False Friend is email from someone that you know whose contacts have been hacked or spoofed and used to generate phishy emails.

Tab Nabbing exploits Web browser tabs to open a tab to a fake page.

Evil Twins are bogus wireless networks that mimic public networks in airports, libraries, coffee shop, and hotels in order to harvest credit cards and other personal information.

Phishing and social engineering are confidence games or confidence tricks and c7bc35f579799a5973f2b66937bcd3afcan also occur in text messages, phone calls, Web pages, social media posts, Skype calls and snail mailConfidence games are very old; read the Iliad for some prototypical instances.

Given that phishing is based in deception and some of the fakes are very convincing, how may time-stressed individuals such as yourself protect against the ruses? The solution comes in two parts: know what to look for and alter your online habits accordingly.

In his book The PrinceThe Prince Machiavelli gave advice that rings true when protecting oneself against phishing; be like the fox and the lion, the fox to discover the traps, the lion to frighten the wolves – be both smart and strong.

Here are some clues to watch for in order to detect predatory messages.

Asks for too much: computer system administrators never require your username, password, credit card or social security number. Even if sensitive information is needed online or by voice you are better off taking an alternate path to double-check the source.

Mismatched links: Don’t click on email links, but do examine them by mousing-over and you will see that phishing emails include linked text that is different from the Web address linked to.

You did not ask for it: a warning, threat or offer comes to you without you having initiated the contact – beware.

Threats and promises: fear, greed and pride are the nuts and bolts of confidence games and when you detect those elements in a message your phishy antennae should perk right up.

Poorly constructed: some phishing messages are expert but most are barely literate and would end up in the reject folder at crappypasta.com. You should know enough to reject them as well. This is one reason why advanced literacy is a practical part of your education.

“97% of people globally are unable to identify phishing emails.”

Cultivate smart habits to protect yourself against predatory messages (see my earlier columns for techniques of habit change) including the following practices.

Slow Down: most phishing threats can be disarmed by separating action from feeling. Phishers rely upon the impulsive actions of their victims and so when an email or related message gives you feelings of urgency, take that as a sign that you need to step away from the mouse and give clarity time to emerge.  Much of what feels like an emergency in life – for instance a midterm – is not as big as it seems.

Analyze before evaluating: Judging something as bad, dangerous, desirable or important are evaluations that will benefit from analysis. Learning to discern the relevant facts of situation before evaluating those facts is a fundamental critical thinking skill that will save you from confidence games. It is like looking both ways (analysis) before crossing the street (judgment).

Research the claims: What is the message seeking from you? What does it claim to be? What evidence do you have for these claims? A great way to check any message for phishing is to copy the message text and paste it into a Google search. It took me less than ten seconds to do so with the email that I receive this morning (see above) and my search returned hundreds of posts identifying the fraud. This method directs analysis to a safe and useful action.

Never link from an email: Once when I was little I put my finger in a stapler just to see what would happen. Once I clicked on a link in an email just to see what would happen. I have not done either of those things ever again.

Never reply with personal information: Todd Davis is CEO of Lifelock, a personal identity protection company. To promote his product Davis give out his social security number on television and the Web claiming that Lifelock will prevent identity theft. Within months his identity was compromised 13 times including fraudulent loans, credit cards, and gift basket purchases. Don’t be like Davis and do not give out your social security number, passwords, credit card information, and other personal information unless you are very sure about whom you are giving it to.

Be network selective: be very careful about using personal information on public networks such as coffee shops and airports because you may expose it to an evil twin or wifi sniffer.

Do not reply at all to suspects: do not reply to phishing or spam messages because even selecting the unsubscribe link will verify your email address and invite more malicious attacks.

Use your junk mail, spam filters and security programs: get familiar with7557181168_91f4af2d99_b your self-defense tools and use them effectively. Look into Google Safe Browsing for Chrome and Firefox. The OSU Computer Walk-Up Help Desk in the Valley Library and the OSU Computer Help Desk at 541-737-3474 will help you become an internet ninja.

Report phishing: the OSU Helpdesk has a feedback form by which you may report phishing messages. See jondorbolo.com for resource links. Reporting helps the community address phishing and makes you more aware because you become an active participant.

Stay informed: security specialists like McAfee Labs, Symantec and Norton are reliable sources for phishing threats and defensive strategies. Being aware of the threat environment and current protective measures is a source of personal power. OSU Computer Helpdesk has extensive online resources on Phishing including effective breakdowns of actual examples plus no-cost security software and help in using it.

Don’t be paranoid: be smart and safe but please do not let this information make you more fearful or cynical. With reason, knowledge and habit adjustment you can be cyber-secure. The key to a better life is learning to see a better world.

For more depth on phishing and other malicious hacking phenomena consider two sources which I drew from for this column.

Phishing Dark Waters, Christopher Hadnagy (2015, Wiley).

The Art of Deception, Kevin Mitnick (2007, Wiley).

Please send your experiences with phishing to me at drtech@oregonstate.edu.

Image Acknowledgements

Spear-Phishing.jpeg
https://blog.knowbe4.com/tech-firm-ubiquity-suffers-46m-cyberheist

4894714911_42f0f50f72.jpeg
https://www.flickr.com/photos/35484468@N07/4894714911

c7bc35f579799a5973f2b66937bcd3af.jpeg
http://www.amazon.com/The-Prince-Dover-Thrift-Editions/dp/0486272745

7557181168_91f4af2d99_b.jpeg
https://www.flickr.com/photos/61423903@N06/7557181168

Pictofigo_FrustrationThe Turning clicker system is currently a source of irritation to OSU students and faculty alike.

In this column I will consider what the problem is, what solutions are being pursued and what you can do to succeed with your clicker this term.

What are clickers?

In Fall 2015 approximately 12,000 students are using the Turning clicker system in 77 course sections.

The Turning clicker system consists on the student side of a physical remote, ResponseWare iOS and Android apps, a web clicker for browsers at rwpoll.com and a licensed Turning Cloud account.

On the instructor’s side is a USB receiver and the TurningPoint software.

What holds all of this together is the Turning License. Think of the license like the data plan for your smartphone. The phone will not work without a data plan and your clicker system will not fully work without a license.

“See the video of Dr. Tech being soaked with ice water in freezing weather as penance for this unfortunate situation.”

In Fall 2015 the Beaver Store began selling the QT remote which replaces and costs the same as last year’s NXT bundle.

Costs to students are contained by not raising them when the tools upgrade.

The updated system works with the NXT so that students who own a clicker from previous years do not need to buy a QT.

Costs to students are contained by designed backwards compatibility thus limiting new required purchases.

What is the problem with the clickers?

The problem with the clickers is that many students are having difficulty registering their system such that their name and the device ID are paired.beaver-46239_640

This problem is due to several factors.

One factor is the transition from Blackboard to Canvas which produced the need to connect accounts to both; the departure of Blackboard from OSU this term will simplify that matter.

Another factor is the existence of three ONID email address for each OSU member: @oregonstate.edu, @onid.oregonstate.edu, @onid.orst.edu.

Most of the student registration troubles that I encounter involve a combination of email logins for multiple Turning Cloud accounts.

Add to these factors Turning’s move to a cloud-based system with some design flaws and the variations proliferate faster than fruit-flies in a compost bin.

85% of OSU students in clicker-using courses this Fall are correctly registered so that their names and clicker device IDs are paired in Canvas.

Consequently, 15% of this term’s students – about 2,000 people – are not completely registered as of week three.

Being completely registered means that you have a Turning Cloud account that is linked to Canvas and contains a redeemed license and a valid device ID.

The most important point I have to convey is that the Turning clicker system saves your participation points 100% of the time.

I will not tolerate a system that loses points of students who use it correctly.

Even if you are in a registration snarl, every time you use your clicker and get a check mark symbol, your responses are received and saved.

The TAC plan is to get every student registered and then go course by course, file by file to retrieve and post every participation point for every student.

You have my word on that and if you feel that your participation points are not being properly credited, please come see me and we go after it with a passion.

All of the instructors who use clickers are aware of these facts and co-operate fully in crediting the legitimate participation points of students.

You also have my humble apology for the confusion and irritation related to our clicker system.

To wit, see for the video of me being soaked with ice water in freezing weather as penance for this unfortunate situation.

What is being done to fix this problem?

I take responsibility for leading us to a clicker registration solution for future terms.

I am working with Turning and Canvas to guide development of a direct and logical integration between the two nxt_qtthat supports a three-step registration process such as is common to many web applications.

The critical objective is to eliminate false-positives so that students do not believe that they are correctly registered when they actually have incomplete accounts.

Basically I plan to banish incomplete clicker accounts to the bowels of hades so that students get one of two outcomes: “that worked, congratulations” or “that did not work, go get help.”

Verily I say unto you, this strategy will result in a 98% successful registration rate before the end of week two in a term.

Moreover I am seeking to normalize clicker ownership so that incoming students receive their fully registered clicker bundle at START in the Summer.

I’d like to add unicorns and rainbows to this plan, but for the coming academic year a completely reliable and hassle-free clicker registration system will suffice.

What can I do to solve my clicker issues now?

Visit the TAC Clicker Registration Station in the lobby outside of LINC100 from 10-2 M-F.

Many students have more than one Turning account – often one linked to Blackboard and another to Canvas.

I suggest that you check each of the ONID email addresses – @oregonstate.edu, @onid.oregonstate.edu, @onid.orst.edu – at the Turning Account login; go through Canvas to find it.

Use the password retrieval to see if the account for that login exists and to determine whether you have a stealth account.

If you do have multiple accounts, check to see which one has a redeemed license and whether it is linked to Blackboard or Canvas.

Often the solution is to link Canvas to the licensed account by selecting the Turning link in Canvas and logging into Turning.

If you reset your password the Canvas link is broken but you only need connect from within Canvas again and login to restore it.

In the Dashboard “http://oregonstate.turningtechnologies.com” shows a Canvas connection.

In the Dashboard “http://my.oregonstate.edu” shows a Blackboard connection.

If you are in any doubt, come see us at the Clicker Registration Station in the lobby outside of LINC100 from 10-2 M-F or write to clickers@oregonstate.edu.

My clicker crew colleagues and I agree that OSU students are among the most patient and civil people on the planet.

In tribute to your excellence we are holding a raffle with Turning Technologies support.

Love for money

Prizes are Beaver Store gift certificates in denominations of ten $10, five $25, two $50, and one $100.

Winners will be drawn from all OSU students with fully registered Turning clicker accounts and announced in a future Dr. Tech column.

Please come to TAC’s Clicker Station in the LINC first floor lobby M-F 10-2 for assistance and write to me with your thoughts on clickers and anything at all: drtech@oregonstate.edu.

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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