Sunday, May 26, 2013

Teach and Learn Online : Virtual Pisara

There's a new way to teach or learn online, and thats This system is based on our eLearning platform, Virtual Campus. 

It's where teachers and students can interact in a safe social environment. 

Teachers can create classes, upload content and sell their services online to students who are looking for tutors, or just a little homework help. There are a lot of tools that we have integrated to make learning social and more interactive.. At the same time, fun! 

Please visit if you have the chance, especially if you are a teacher or a student.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Learning is Social: Emergence of Collaborative Education

Knowledge, almost always, begins with a basic question, an inquiry, a problem or an idea - and when we seek the answers, we gain it. It's kind of like a little seed, and what I see inside this little seed is a potential for creation, innovation and evolution; to grow into a majestic tree of knowing, attaching its branches infinitely to other trees. According to Vygotsky's 1978 Social Contructivism theory, knowledge is contructed by being in contact with existing knowledge developed by experiences of other people. It says the learning is an active, social process -  achieving maximum learning through interactions of different human potentials, experiences, strengths and skills. Since knowledge is a product of our human nature, therefore further knowledge is constructed by means of our social nature and actions.

Somehow, it's similar to the way we bring in and share knowledge these days, whether trivial or relevant (trivial in most cases), through influential and addictive social networks such as Facebook or Twitter. Let's look at Facebook. Since we all know that you, me, the rest of the planet, and more recently my cool grandmother, are already on it. We have the latest "news" delivered conveniently each day to our social "walls" in the form of short status updates, photos, videos or links, in real time, posted by friends or people we didn't even know but they're part of our network anyways. By also sharing this information, we make it very convenient to others as well - and so on and so forth. Why, these days, students even get information faster than the average teacher who does not log on to his Facebook account as often. 

Instant notifications make information even more convenient. And to top it all, as if we are not already pampered crazy, Facebook uses a hidden algorithm to make sure what we see on our walls are the ones we are actively participating in, and how relevant the information and friend is to us. It gets even crazier. Even as personal as the perfectly cooked sunny side-up that we devoured for breakfast becomes public news, attaching professional looking photos or videos captured by our latest web-enabled devices. Actually, most of the time, everything you see on Facebook is about our perfectly Photo-shopped lives, duckface and all. I mean - for something so open and public, we wouldn't want to show the negative side of our lives, would we? So I guess you shouldn't believe everything you read or see on Facebook. I am therefore aware of the danger of a non-truth becoming a truth - just because a particular post garnerd thousands of "likes", "shares" and comments from self-proclaimed users. 

There's more. We have unknowingly grown accustomed to just being able to digest little bite-sized information instead of reading long, verbose texts. In fact, one of the most used online communication tool now is the social wall of Facebook, with email and blogging trailing behind.  By scanning our walls for hours in a day with ninja eye skills, and quickly selecting like a robot what we want to spend our time on, we are able to retain personally interesting data in our heads, probably sharing it with people on our network as well. Our discrimating brains decide on what to read based on several factors - such as the number of comments from the community, number of "likes", who shared the information, how interesting the photo or video thumbnail is, whether I was tagged or not, and how relevant it is to my current life situation. Also, the more I read the comments, the more I learn about the topic, and the more I find it compelling to contribute as well - if I can relate to it. Sometimes, I see hightened emotions and tones coming from the comments, because of disagreements. This just means that communication between humans is somehow getting more and more likened to brick and mortar, face-to-face conversations.

Let's talk about relevance and context. Do you know notice how our eyes quickly choose content on our social walls, despite the thousands of wall posts that appear each day. We may choose based on the number of likes, number of comments, who shared the information, how interesting the thumbnail is whether it's a photo or video, or how relevant it is to our lives such as health or inspirational posts. If it affects me or other people, I actually put my comments or share my two cents worth. Those posts that we really don't care to look at, we just ignore. I have come to realize that the information that we digest during the day retains in my mind more when it is relevant to me, the more it is taken into content, and the more I can participate in a particular conversation, the more I can learn about something. However, I would like to point out the danger of what I call "distorted universal truths". So many rumors, untruths and lies spread on Facebook, because sometimes, people perceive information as a universal truth, based on the number of likes, shares, comments and how credible the sharer of the information is. Of course, the danger of this, is a corruption of knowledge, because there is actually really no one we can rely on to correct this, other than other users online.

I'm always thinking how this generation's online behavior can help in education. I'm not an educator, nor am I person with any type of degree in education. However, I've been intensely studying and experimenting on eLearning for a few years now through our different failed and successful attempts at creating online learning environments, both for public and private schools, as well as corporate organizations.

Social Learning starts with a basic idea, that is formed by an initiator. An initiator can be a teacher that lifts an essential block of text from a book, or a student who just saw something interesting on TV. We are all initiators, because we all have stories to tell. If an initiator throws a textbook at a student, and tells him to read it for next day's class, chances are, with today's kids' attention spans, it will be less effective. So in social learning, the teacher chooses an "essential text" or "learning block" from the textbook, and grow the discussion from there through conversation, showing of preference, collaboration - and all these things, will be synthesized by the intiator. until the entire idea of a chapter or a lesson is fully covered. The role of the teacher in this aspect, has changed dramatically. Instead of becoming the only source of information, he or she has to manage now the wealth of information and experiences coming from all the participants. The question is, how can they be trained so that they can keep up with the "speed of thought"?

Initiation - The Initiator is the one with the basic idea, and initiates a social learning object. A status post, a video, a photo, file upload, or link sharing demostrates a person who can initiate any particular thought. 

Conversation - reflection, opinion, feedback and contribution of a user within a particular learning object. This can be in the form of comments. This allows users to become "experts" themselves based on their own experience, and share with other participants. Each one becomes a mentor and a student. 

Preference - Rating the basic idea allows the intiator to know the general view of the learners

Collaboration - discussion in real time about the basic idea, using collaborative tools that allow simulation of face to face engagements.

Following - Saving the activity for future review

Sharing - revealing it to others, and making it convenient for others to find relevant information

Synthesis - a summary or rationalization of the learning object, including its conversations, preferences and collaborations. The initiator brings everything into context, which is very important in learning. This is important, because in social networks such as Facebook, there is no one to synthesize the information. Sometimes, a thousand likes or a thousand comments may dangerously turn that information into a distored universal truth. 

The more I think about it, the more it makes sense, that today's social applications can be powerful tools in education, not only because of it's convenience in sharing information, but because behavior of online users has to be taken into consideration. It makes sense, that learning is no longer about absorbing knowledge from a single source of information such as a teacher or a video-based material, but a convergence of our experiences and expertise, because of our social nature and culture, providing there is a mentor that synthesizes this information to prevent distorted truths.

This generation's social networks and collaborative tools have achieved this in the social context, how can we achieve this in the context of education?

Jason dela Rosa, Virtual Campus

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

A Clean Slate

I just started using this word processor application on the Mac called WriteRoom (actual screenshot of my screen above). This cool app transforms your desktop into a clean slate, and all you see are your words - nothing else. No icons, no buttons, no distractions. I've started focusing on apps that get things done simply and quickly.

Do we sometimes need to clear the clutter, and focus on what really matters?

Just like this app, turn your life into a clean slate - a blank wall full of untapped potential. Create.

The screenshot and a link to WriteRoom is below :

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Formula of Life

Next year, I might put the cliche goal "conquering the world" on stand by, and just focus on being contented.

Believe me, it may seem easier to do, but actually it's not.

It's actually more complicated to simplify life. Found the perfect irony.

How often do we struggle to delete unnecessary files from our hard drive just so we can clean it up? Does our home get filled up with so much useless junk because we can't seem to let go of stuff, even if at the back of our heads, we know we have to get rid of them?

As I wrote this entry, I thought of creating a formula that could guide me forming the way I live next year. The goal is to be contented and have peace of mind. And in the most mathematical and simple way I can put it:

Contentment = Life MINUS unnecessary things PLUS things that matter MULTIPLIED by God. DIVIDE everything by people you love.

I made a little graphic of it below for everyone to share, if they find it useful as a guide.

MINUS all the things that puts a weight on your shoulder including negative people, stressful work, unnecessary material desires. Remove envy because it will just cause anxiety. Cut down and simplify pursuit of success that won't matter anyway in the future. This doesn't mean that you will completely remove your work - just learn to balance. Live an abundant, simple life.

PLUS all the things that matter such as family, prayer, time, and spiritual works. Meditate on what matters most in your life, and focus on them - because in the end, this is what makes you happy and contented.

MULTIPLY everything with trust in God, and do faithful works all the time. Put in more time for collecting spiritual treasures. Read the Bible. In turn, He will MULTIPLY your blessings tenfold. Trust in God that everything will fall into place perfectly. MULTIPLY his disciples by talking to people about God.

DIVIDE your blessings and love for everyone.  Forgive people. Help people in need. Teach this concept to your children. Share.

Have a great 2013 everyone.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

The End is Near...But Apparently Not This Year.

Dec. 21, 2012...the date that, supposedly, was the date that we would all witness great fireballs hurling from the thundering sky, or devastating intensity 9.5 earthquakes that would topple down everything standing on Earth coupled with kilometer high tsunamis. Thousands of people, I read, prepared Apocalypse shelters, ransacked grocery stores, and probably even spent all their money. Many people even renewed their faiths. 

Well, at least in our part of the world, that didn't happen. On Dec 22, 2012, I still woke up to a world where I would still go to the office after the holidays, where I still battle with trying to lose holiday weight from overeating, and laboriously deal with the busyness of life. Yes, our delicate, fragile mortal lives would still go on indefinitely. 

Despite convincing Youtube videos (the "Gangnam Style" prophecy) and Facebook doomsday posts, I could say I was pretty confident that the world wasn't going to end that day. 

But the truth is, it COULD have happened that day. 

The thing is, it has been foretold.

In Matthew 24: 3, Jesus' disciples asked Jesus what the signs will be:

While he was sitting upon the Mount of Olives, the disciples approached him privately, saying: “Tell us, When will these things be, and what will be the sign of your presence and of the conclusion of the system of things?”

..And Jesus went on to say,

And in answer Jesus said to them: “Look out that nobody misleads ​YOU; for many will come on the basis of my name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will mislead many. YOU​ are going to hear of wars and reports of wars; see that ​YOU​ are not terrified. For these things must take place, but the end is not yet.
“For nation will rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be food shortages and earthquakes in one place after another. All these things are a beginning of pangs of distress.
“Then people will deliver ​YOU​ up to tribulation and will kill ​YOU, and ​YOU​ will be objects of hatred by all the nations on account of my name. Then, also, many will be stumbled and will betray one another and will hate one another. And many false prophets will arise and mislead many; and because of the increasing of lawlessness the love of the greater number will cool off. But he that has endured to the end is the one that will be saved. And this good news of the kingdom will be preached in all the inhabited earth for a witness to all the nations; and then the end will come.

And we cannot deny that these things are happening in our world. Recent wars, violence, earthquakes and food shortages are happening almost all at once, everywhere in the world. Some people would say, well it's because we have the Internet, and information travels faster now, so the number of disasters or disastrous events in the world didn't really increase. Although it's true that we hear about these things faster these days because of social media, but if you look around you - just within your family, the environment around you, your neighborhood, your circle of friends and colleagues - has morality really changed for the better, or worse? Yes, these are signs that indeed, the end is coming. But this is not supposed to be something to be scared about - because of God's promise - that He will change everything from this wicked system of things - to a place where there is no more sickness, hatred, war, famine, and death. 

The prophecy can be found at Revelation 21:1 - 

And I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the former heaven and the former earth had passed away, and the sea is no more. I saw also the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God and prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. With that I heard a loud voice from the throne say: “Look! The tent of God is with mankind, and he will reside with them, and they will be his peoples. And God himself will be with them.And he will wipe out every tear from their eyes, and death will be no more, neither will mourning nor outcry nor pain be anymore. The former things have passed away."

Are you ready for this marvelous and awesome event?

I'm not talking about creating those bomb shelters under your homes, or stockpiling Twinkies that could last more than a year. I'm talking about being ready in the spiritual sense, because at least in my opinion, matters more than anything before the end of our physical world. Check out the Bible scripture below:

Luke 21: 34 - 36 But pay attention to yourselves that ​YOUR​ hearts never become weighed down with overeating and heavy drinking and anxieties of life, and suddenly that day be instantly upon ​YOU as a snare. For it will come in upon all those dwelling upon the face of all the earth. Keep awake, then, all the time making supplication that ​YOU​ may succeed in escaping all these things that are destined to occur, and in standing before the Son of man.”

I believe, that we must always be ready, whether it's Dec. 20, 2012 - or any day of the coming years, whatever human prophets, priests or pastors are saying.
1 Thessalonians 5:2 says, "For YOU yourselves know quite well that Jehovah’s day is coming exactly as a thief in the night." 

We will not know the exact day. Do not believe in what you hear on the Internet, on social networks - even if they sound convincing. No man can know when the day will come. But it will come for sure. Don't be afraid. If you look at the scripture from the Gospel of Luke above, it says there what we should do. Do not get weighed down by the anxieties of life - which means don't focus on material things, success and things of this world. You cannot bring this to wherever we are going. Don't get me wrong - God wants us to live good, abundant lives. Being rich is a good thing. But don't let it take away your time from Him. Don't let it become the focus of your life.

Simplify our lives, and get rid of envy, meaningless fleshly desires and immorality in our lives. 

And it goes on to say "Keep Awake, then all the time making supplication..". 

Keeping awake means several things. When we are awake in this world, what do we usually do? We think about things, we learn new things, we do things, we communicate with people.

That's exactly what God wants us to do. Keeping awake means to think about God, learn or take in knowledge about God, do and obey God's will, and talk to other people about God. Breathe in God's Word, and live it. Not only live it, but tell other people about it, so that they may also know what matters most in life. Give other people encouragement through the social networks, instead of instilling fear.  This is what matters. And "all the time making supplication" means we must always pray to God for endurance. Pray to God incessantly that He will give you spiritual and physical endurance during these hard catastrophic times - and we will survive, and God will deliver his promise by giving us a new world, where there will be no more pain and suffering. Yes, the "end of the world" is not so scary after all, if we know we are ready for it. Trust me, living simpler lives with God as the center, makes our time here in this world better and happier as we wait.

So are you ready?

Psalm 37:29 The righteous themselves will possess the earth, And they will reside forever upon it.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The Life Apocalypse

[around midnight. a few thoughts before shut down.]

You get to this certain point in your life when you realize that there are only a few essential things which makes you feel "uncomplicated" and "blissful" - and in parallel, there are things you need to eliminate in order to get to that positive state of mind the fastest way possible. 

And I am, undoubtedly, at this stage. 

It's not an easy task - in fact, it's rather apocalyptic.  From a launchpad of an old system of things - and propel myself to a new one. Long years of society-prescribed ambition, worldly desires, and peer expectations have turned me into what I am today. It is, in reality, just human, to want to accumulate wealth and recognition. But we can't bring these to our graves. In the ideal world, we have to spend as much time doing what we love, also spend this time with loved ones, and spend more time doing God's work. Storing spiritual treasures than riches. 

The desire to simplify my life and remove all the metaphoric clutter seems to be stronger for me now. Maybe it comes with age - or perhaps some divine intervention. It makes perfect sense, and the benefits seem to be much greater. More time enjoyed with the family, more time getting in touch with my spirituality, and removing stress that affects my total well-being, both physically and mentally.

Now there are only two major decisions to make: Identify the essentials, and eliminate the non-essentials. Then of course, hold on to the essentials as best as I can, without going back into the habit of the non-essentials. Time is really of the essence, the universe's greatest commodity. You can't bring it back. So I have to commit precious time only to things that have the greatest value in my life. Remove all negative, weighty thoughts, and just pray incessantly when I need encouragement.  Defocus from possessions. Reduce the number of worldly goals I have to the essential minimum, and increase spiritual goals to the maximum. It doesn't mean God doesn't want us to be financially blessed. It's good to be financially free.  But the more you want, the more you will need. The more you need, the more you will be in the vicious cycle of it all.  Balance is the key.

[sounds like I was giving myself advice]

Besides the loving support of my wife and family, there's absolutely one thing that will make this transition easy, and it's focusing on God's Word.

I find that being in God's presence through prayer and study makes simplifying my life a whole lot easier. Why do we need to get weighed down and discouraged by the anxieties of life, when He promised us that if we just keep seeking the Kingdom of God, all of the things will be added unto us?

So hence, my real life really begins.

(Luke 21:34-35) . . .“But pay attention to yourselves that YOUR hearts never become weighed down with overeating and heavy drinking and anxieties of life, and suddenly that day be instantly upon YOU 35 as a snare. . . .

Keep your eye simple. (Matthew 6:22, 23)

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Blog Reboot

As the year comes to a close, a blog reboot comes to order.
New fonts, a new title, new colors..signifying new plans and ideas - for the businesses, the family and the life.

I'm starting right with a fresh perspective in life, and focusing on what really matters most. A new home, a new spiritual and prayerful mindset, and an appreciation of the good, simple things in life. A life reboot in a manner of speaking.

Here's to the journey. To Life.