My Passion for Learning & Google Drive

Carl Sagan Quote Learn

Forgive me for prying if I am, but what fuels your obvious passion for learning?

You are not prying. It is an interesting question and one that I am happy to take a stab at. Besides, I asked you to come up with questions that you had. It wouldn’t really be fair of me to NOT answer a question like this. And thank you for saying that my passion for learning is obvious; that is a real compliment.

I think that I have always liked learning but I was always sort of ambivalent about school. When I was younger, I was interested in classical knowledge: science, Shakespeare, classical music, because I wanted to understand why everyone thought those things were important. But I was afraid that if anyone knew that I was interested in those things I’d be FORCED to take a bunch of classes that were difficult and boring. So I snuck into the library in my hometown and read books and listened to recordings in the library study room. I wouldn’t even check these materials out.

As I got older and began to have a wider sets of experiences I discovered that I never tired of learning new things, meeting new people, eating new foods, traveling to new parts of the world, listening to new music etc. Some people want to fill their lives with money or things that money can buy and that is common in our society, but I find that I don’t really care about these things as much as I care about learning and being open to the knowledge that unfolds. Things that money can buy can be replaced, but things that feed our souls and our minds are unique to us.

I would encourage you to keep your curiosity alive by pursuing new interests and learning things. Doing this and being thankful for what you have and what you have learned will bring more happiness than all the wealth or power or status one might accumulate in a lifetime.

Would it be possible to use i cloud storage as oppose to google drive since i only have apple devices?

Of course you can use whatever storage you’d like, but I am going to ask you to create a Google Account for this class. Just so you know, the Google apps work on Apple products as well. I have mine linked with my iPhone so it talks to my calendar and I can view and edit documents on any computer or on my phone. It’s pretty cool.


Important Things to Learn & Handwritten Notes

What is the most important thing you want students to take away from this course ?

The most important thing for students to take away from this course is that they are the ones who are responsible for their learning. They need to follow what is interesting to them and they need to challenge those who would stand in their way. I also want you to be able to monitor and gauge the effectiveness of your behavior. We will do that in a systematic way.

As I have said from day one, this class is about your behavior. If you are aware of your behaviors and you can direct your will to control your behaviors, there will be a good chance for you to accomplish your goals.

Syllabus questions : 1. Will you be grading our notes?

I typically don’t grade notes, but I will want to see them because I want to know how you are organizing your thoughts.

  1. Will we be working in groups often?

If you haven’t noticed the other people in the classroom already, let me be the first to let you know that there are other people besides you and me in there. Okay, I an being sarcastic and I will stop, but I want you to recognize that you are already in groups. I want you to formally work with those people and I will help facilitate that process. You affect the others in the room and they affect you already. We are going to “ride the lightning” on that.

  1. Do you prefer printed or handwritten work ?

That is going to depend. Research shows that it is better to take handwritten notes than it is to make them on a computer, but with tablets and electronic drawing/writing pads, that’s a tougher call. I would say for assignment, think about getting those done on an electronic device unless otherwise instructed.

How to ask better question, divergent thinking and personality inventories

How can one be more inquisitive?

Hang around with some 3-5 year old. Seriously. They want to understand the world around them and they question or mess with everything. Not because they are trying to create trouble, but they want to know, They don’t know NOT to ask questions and they will poke and prod until they get what they want. Once kids get into school, they learn that asking questions makes them a problem for the teachers. They learn that the things they think are important are not the subjects they deal with in school

How can you ask effective questions?

Human beings get better at what they practice. Make lists of questions that you might find interesting. If you can’t think of things that interest you, first check your pulse, then Google lists of questions. Short list from NPR’s Story Corps:

  • Who has been the most important person in your life? Can you tell me about him or her?
  • What was the happiest moment of your life? The saddest?
  • Who has been the biggest influence on your life? What lessons did that person teach you?
  • Who has been the kindest to you in your life?
  • What are the most important lessons you’ve learned in life?
  • What is your earliest memory?
  • What is your favorite memory of me?
  • Are there any funny stories your family tells about you that come to mind?
  • Are there any funny stories or memories or characters from your life that you want to tell me about?
  • What are you proudest of?
  • When in life have you felt most alone?
  • If you could hold on to one memory from your life forever, what would that be?
  • How has your life been different than what you’d imagined?
  • How would you like to be remembered?
  • Do you have any regrets?
  • What does your future hold?
  • What are your hopes for what the future holds for me? For my children?
  • If this was to be our very last conversation, is there anything you’d want to say to me
  • For your great great grandchildren listening to this years from now: is there any wisdom you’d want to pass on to them? What would you want them to know?
  • Is there anything that you’ve never told me but want to tell me now?
  • Is there something about me that you’ve always wanted to know but have never asked?

Is convergent or divergent thinking better?

It depends on the situation. When do you think it would be more appropriate to use convergent and when would you think it might be better to use divergent? (See how I slipped some questions in there?)

Why take a personality inventory?

A personality inventory is one tool we will use to get you thinking about yourself:  your likes, your interests, your values, your personality, your interests.  Sometimes it is hard to see ourselves in meaningful ways. As the Chinese proverb states: The fish is the last to discover water.

First Year Student Questions: Learn without Cheating, Taking Notes, and Types of Thinking

Senecio-1922 Klee

  1. Exactly how are we going to learn how to get correct answers without cheating?

You are going to learn by thinking critically.  I am going to show you the process of how to be curious and skeptical.  I am going to show you how to verify answers you get from sources so that you will know when they are right, or you will at least of good reason to believe that they are right. That’s the thing about cheating; how do you know the answers you have are correct? They might be correct or they might not, but the cheater cannot tell. He/she is only going on faith that this information is correct.

Imagine that you broke into a home in the dark.  You might know that there are some valuables in the house, but unless you know for sure what they are and where they are, you run the risk of getting caught or stealing some worthless object or both. If you knew what you were looking for, you would have a greater chance of success. Heck, you might be smart enough to get your own valuables so you don’t have to steal from someone else.

Questions for the syllabus.

  1. What is the difference between Divergent thinking and Convergent thinking?

Divergent thinking is being able to think in different ways or to think of lots of possible solutions to a problem. Convergent thinking is bringing many ideas together to create, from the best options, a good solution to a problem.  Really great places to learn or work seem to have a nice balance of both things. My opinion.

  1. Do we have to take notes the same way that is shown in the syllabus video, or can we take notes however we like?

You can always use notes in any way you like, but if you only have one way to take notes, there will be some times when that one way is what is called for and another time that it is exactly the wrong thing.  Think of note-taking as a tool. The more kinds you have, the more likely you will be able to complete different jobs. If all you have is a hammer, everything is a nail.

Mentor Interview: Regional Biologist

My name is Santiago Z, I am an Environmental Science technology student, and far more than being an environment student I consider myself an environmental activist because of the help I put into my everyday habits of life, so that my footprint isn’t so much that effective to harm our world’s environment.

My mentor is Mr. Ricardo Zambrano, he is a Regional Biologist for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, he is a wonderful professional who is
perfect for being my mentor because of his experience in the field of the environment and specifically his work with endangered species. Some of Ricardo’s experience is to have worked at the Yellowstone National Park from 1990-1991which I find outstanding, he radio-tracked coyotes and studied their behavior. He also worked as a sea turtle biologist in Mexico’s Yucatan
Peninsula from 1991 to 1994, there he researched and conserved endangered sea turtles.
Currently working with non hunted endangered species he focuses primarily on wildlife ranging from butterflies, birds, mammals, and herpetofauna, he researches, monitors and conserves wildlife. He has Bachelors in biology education from the University of California and a Masters degree in Ecology, Behavior and Evolution from Florida Atlantic University. His internship was studying the behavior of California Sea Lions and as a County Park Ranger. He did many volunteering jobs before he started to earn money in the field, one was as a wildlife rehabilitator in Sea World in Orlando, Florida. Another volunteer job was researching chimpanzees in Africa also using the GIS (Geographic Information System) tool. Below is our conversation about this exciting profession:
What are the biggest challenges that you overcame in this position?
Some of the biggest challenges are definitely first of all the pay range in this field, its not easy to start in this field, and of course having to deal with people that don’t care at all about the environment and its wildlife some of them include politicians and owners of huge companies.Another challenge is trying to convince people of what is right to save wildlife.

What skills do you use every day and how did you acquire them?
Some of the skills that you need for this career is to have good writing skills, good
communication skills, public speaking, knowledge of the habitats and the wildlife species, knowledge of the GIS tool, statistic software, genetics, botany and also recommended to know how to drive 4 wheelers, 4×4 trucks and boats.
What makes for a perfect day in your field/job/profession?
A perfect day in my profession is a day out doing field work, going out to different reserves to research, collect data and help species survive in their habitats.
What keeps you doing this job every day?
Definitely my awareness for the environment and my fight to keep helping to save the endangered species in Florida.
How do you maintain your professional skills or certifications? What professional association do you belong to and how do you interact with them?
This profession, for the most part, does not require certification although the Wildlife Society does have a Certified Biologist program. However, few institutions or employers require that. But in this career it is important to maintain your professional skills by keeping up with current research, techniques, software and hardware. Subscribing to scientific journals or reading the latest scientific literature on the subjects relevant to my work is one way. I will go through some
of the articles to see if there are any new research methods or techniques or equipment useful for that work.

For example, radio-tracking animals has changed quite a bit over the years. It used to be that all radio-tracking was done with VHF transmitter signals (similar to walkie-talkies). Now transmitters use satellite receivers or GPS receivers or even cell phone towers to track wildlife.

I belong to the Waterbird Society, The Wildlife Society, Audubon, and the Sierra Club but there are many more. I attend their conferences or meetings regularly and I am on the Board of Directors for a couple.
How has your opinion of this field changes since you started or since you were a student?
My opinion has not really changed. It is still an exciting field but as I mentioned quite challenging. It has gotten more difficult in one sense since there is always more development/construction but it has also gotten better since more and more people are becoming concerned with the environment.
What led you to pick this field?
I liked working outdoors and working with animals. As a kid my family took us camping a lot and that helped me appreciate nature and wildlife. Growing up in southern California I was able to regularly go to the mountains, beaches, deserts, and forests.

Stay Unpluggable

too much tech

“They say I’m crazy, but it takes all my time.”  — Joe Walsh

For the whole song =====>

Anyone who reads this blog knows that I use and generally like using technology. I think that students can get access to content for research and study.  Heck, I email and upload and blog and text and play games and network with the best of ’em. But lately I have been seeing students and faculty members completely disconnected from the place they are in because they are in the middle of a message or Words with Friends or whatever.

There is a state of being though that results in being completely unplugged.  This state once was a bit easier to reach.  One could sit with a book or a journal or a sketch pad in order to create, think, plan or meditate.  While I know that these things are all still possible and people even claim they can do this with their tech, but I have to say that the mere digital clutter with which we typically surround ourselves creates enough interior noise that it is nearly impossible to shut off. That noise seems to keep a low-boil of stress because it reminds us of what we need to do or who needs dealing with who isn’t near us right now and we end up ignoring the real people and experiences (learning and otherwise) that are in front of us.

off switch

I am going to encourage all of you reading this blog to exercise the off-switch on your technology from time to time. There are lots of ways to do it.  Here are a few of my favorites:

Short time-frame:

  1. Switch your phone off. Push away from your desk.  Take the headphones off and go for a walk in in a park or in the woods. Resist the urge to turn it back on.
  2. Go to the bathroom WITHOUT your phone. I know that sounds weird, but some of you know that it has been a while since you have been alone with your thoughts in the privy.
  3. Make dinner for a friend without having the phone or computer or TV on. Have everyone agree to “switch off” during dinner. Sit through a meal with that person (or group) and talk or sit in silence.
  4. Sit in a room with the lights off. Make sure you are not hungry or sleepy and just sit for 15 or 30 minutes with nothing but your thoughts.
  5. Attend a religious service. like vespers, that uses no technology for worship.

Longer time-frame:

  1. Take a hiking or canoe trip. Go with the intention of leaving your technology off. Cook your own food and plan your days according to a paper map and the weather conditions around you.  (If you have never done this before, maybe you should try it with a professional or a group with a guide).
  2. Spend a few days in a hermitage. Hermits usually don’t have a good reputation in our culture, but throughout time, different cultures and religions have created physical spaces without a lot of stimulation to increase the ability to contemplate. They do exist in these modern times and can be the thing to help you readjust to the pressures of your life simply by taking away stimulation, noise and the calls for your attention.