SXSWedu presentation: “Designing for Peer Learning”

Christina Tran presenting at SXSWedu

This March, I presented a “Future15” talk at SXSWedu on Designing for Peer Learning. The “Future15” format is four shorter talks within the same hour around a loose theme. My talk was grouped under the theme “Social and Mobile Learning” along with Meredith Swallow’s Participatory Action Research in the Classroom and Abhi Vijayakar’s Collaborative Learning Through Social Games.

I knew I was going to use HourSchool’s work with Green Doors as a case study for the talk, but I debated for a long time about whether to focus more on our design process or more on guiding principles for peer-learning. I wanted the info I presented to be as tangible, useful, and inspirational as possible, so I ended up focusing the talk on the lessons we had learned about peer education and tips for how to foster more peer-learning in all types of settings. I’m happy that I got to tell a lot of stories that encapsulate many of HourSchool’s core beliefs.

Audio and slides of the talk below. Hear other SXSWedu speakers here.

I’ll write more about my takeaways and experiences at the conference at a later date.


Easy-peasy baking

Holy crap, did you hear that Google Reader is shutting down?? I am in shock and terribly sad about it. The only only good news is that it will clear my RSS-feed slate, as I probably won’t export willy-nilly. But that sounds like a tremendously boring time-suck. (When I first lost an AOL email account back in the 90’s, I stopped saving addresses into my address book. And when I lost my first computer in the 00’s, I stopped keeping bookmarks on any of my browsers.)

I’m drowning my sorrows in beer bread, buttery buttery beer bread:


And while I had the oven on, and had already heated our little apartment beyond its capacity on a hot afternoon, I made Maple Olive Oil Granola as well to replenish our stock:


Seriously, this granola is the best thing ever: I often give it as a gift to friends, and they concur — they always ask me for the recipe.

This is my favorite kind of baking: mix all ingredients in one big bowl and put in oven.

The beer bread tastes like the honey biscuits from Church’s Fried Chicken. The new secret to baking: pour gobs of melted butter over anything before you stick it in the oven.

I have all sorts of other serious stuff I should be posting about instead (Service Design Jam and SXSWedu), but I sort of knew they would be procrasti-posts:

“…the blog tends to fall into two categories : 1) LOOK WHAT I DID and 2) HERE’S HOW I FEEL. the look what i did ones are the only ones that cause me panic when i put them on my to-do list and then don’t DO them.” ~Amanda Palmer

Jill Bolte Taylor’s Stoke of Insight

This TED talk by Jill Bolte Taylor did not go where I thought it would.

But it encapsulates my current struggle with “balance” — Who are you? Moment to moment? The left hemisphere’s “I am” separate individual or the right hemisphere’s “We are one” the life-force power of the universe?

Which do you choose? And when?

“I believe the more time we spend choosing to run the deep inner-peace circuitry of our right hemispheres, the more peace we will project into the world, and the more peaceful our world will be.”

I crave stillness, silence, and unplugging with the force of my right hemisphere. But the professional “I-ness” of my left hemisphere has kicked into hyper-drive over the past couple months and wants me to go go go!

So I “procrastinate” each morning, as my hemispheres duke it out leaving me in a fog. Until I succumb to both: until I sit still to meditate and until I get down to business by crossing something off my to-do list.

How might I navigate this better? How might I embrace this duality instead of fighting it every single day?

[via Amanda Palmer, who recently gave a TED talk on the power of asking]