(part of my reflections on week 4 #el30 The E-Learning 3.0 MOOC from Stephen Downes)
I’ve tried my best to reflect my identity on the previous graph. Over the past couple of decades, i’ve made a few mindmaps, (google “Vahid Masrour mindmap”), one particular series of mindmaps even earning me a mention on Cathy Davidson’s book. However, Stephen Downes’s instructions that we shouldn’t appear at the center of the graph challenged me to go for a concept map instead of a regular mindmap.
The difference between a mindmap and a concept map is that a mindmap usually extends branches from a central concept, whereas a concept map allows for the exploration of different concepts in a map, with no need for a central concept.
Alrighty then, i dropped MindManager (which is great for mindmaps) for CMAP tools (which does concept maps very well). It had been a while since i had downloaded and booted up CMAP, and… they’ve had no update since 2017. But it still works quite well (and is still freeware!).
Based on the conditions of the task, i then went on reflecting on the key topics that stimulate my intellectual -not necessarily academic- activity, identifying 4 key themes:
One key concept that comes straight from my life’s experiences and that is perhaps more personal than the others is the notion of “world citizenship”. Nourished by the “The Earth is but one country and mankind its citizens.” slogan, this is something i’ve discussed and presented about (example 1, and more recently 2). This part of my identity also comes from the amalgamation of experiences that “life” has given me: a mixed racial+cultural heritage, opportunities to live in different countries, and the hunger for more experiences like these.
At our home, we got our first computer in the very early 80s. I became an “enthusiast” immediately. When connecting to the Internet in the mid-90s in Chile, i (thought i) realized its potential as a mechanism for worldwide communication. (Its’ value as a spying mechanism would take a few more years, but that’s another discussion, i think). I still read pc hardware reviews like they really mean something, and i went as far as taking a course on how to build a pc (i might be wrong, but i think that was even before Youtube got started). In a previous job, i sold and managed projects that delivered supply chain automation systems (you know warehouses management systems, complete with barcode readers and so on).
So yeah, i’m a tech pusher.
I’m less innocent now about what tech choices mean for humanity’s life, but i still think that tech, as a practical application of science, does play a role in the present and future of civilization. It’s just that private interests (including government interests) should take a step back to the well-being of all, and that progress should include ethical and ecological consequences in the equations that define our choices.
I believe that my engagement with this area of my life is due to my exposure to and engagement with different segments of society in South America, from the wealthy to the indigenous people, and the accompanying variations of economic conditions that define aspects of their material lives. It is also connected to the key concept of service to mankind, which comes from my religious convictions: We (humanity) are clearly at a stage where our collective actions and choices have a determining effect on the social and ecological environment we live in. One way to direct my capabilities and sphere of influence that articulates this is taking action in the field of education. It probably also doesn’t hurt that i’m the son of an educator.
As you can see in the bottom of the graphic, one way i’ve found to fusion my enthusiasm for tech and passion for education has been to invest my time and developing my capabilities in the field of edtech. The idea that edtech can influence the future of education (increasing availability, increasing opportunities for the “bottom of the pyramid”, increasing quality, updating contents, developing capabilities, improving impact, and so many more ways) is a proposition which i find highly valuable.
The 3 concepts (world citizenship, social development, and tech) are all derived from a key concept in my identity: my religious affiliation to the Bahá’í Faith.
World citizenship is presented in the Bahá’u’lláh’s Writings in phrases such as “Let your vision be world embracing…“, and the already mentioned “The Earth is but one country, and mankind its citizens“.
Social development can be found in statements such as “All human beings, have been created to carry forward an ever-advancing civilization.”. (see 1)
Tech might seem remote from religion, except that, in the Bahá’í Faith, Science and Religion are seen as two forces that propel humanity’s progress. Both are seen as necessary (and compared to the wings of a bird). While tech is a quite limited scope for science, it’s one i’ve held fast to, and enjoy learning about.
[I realize that some readers would very much want to see a discussion on the definition of “religion” here, but this is not the goal of this post.]
These parts of my identity has lead me to choices in term of countries where i’ve gone to and live in (and my relative rootlessness, or at least my alternative experience with roots), spouse choice, on how to raise my son, and so on. These concepts have also modulated my job searches, my volunteer activities, and the use of my free time.
So there you have it, a short concept map to my identity.