E-learning 3.0: Identity (Vahid in a concept map)

(part of my reflections on week 4 #el30 The E-Learning 3.0 MOOC from Stephen Downes)

My identity

Vahid Masrour’s concept map
Higher resolution version

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: 

World Citizen

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.

Social development

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.


7 thoughts on “E-learning 3.0: Identity (Vahid in a concept map)

  1. Thanks for this interesting post. I am struck by the fact that you have labelled the links in your graph. I know that this is common practice for concept maps. I have noticed that many of the other identity graphs have not labelled (explained) the links, even though the link must have a meaning. Do you have any thoughts about this?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m not sure whether this is a standard in concept maps, but it’s standard in CMAP Tools: every relationship is expected to be described by some qualifier. So maybe some design tools are more conducive to having the links labeled and some aren’t? Personally, while i appreciate the efforts that go into having 1-word boxes, i think that being a bit more descriptive can be helpful to the readers.


  2. Inspiring focus areas, Vadim. I especially like how your faith is so closely integrated with all areas of your life. The Bahá’i view on humanity and science seems much more open and tolerant than the position of other monotheist faiths.

    I wonder, are you thinking of building a link between the “tech” side and “social development” of your graph at some point? Or have you done so before?

    This is a question I’m thinking about a lot these days. In many ways, while technology has improved the lives of billions of people over the past two centuries, I think it has also enslaved us to some extent: for instance, ceaseless technological innovation (and the consumption of gadgets) is part and parcel of the destructive pursuit of economic growth; as I think you allude to, IT and computers are also being used actively by private or public interests against the rest of mankind, etc.

    Hopefully we’ll be able to phase into a more healthy relationship to technology in the future. For instance, relying on “low-tech” that works and improves the lives of the many, more than on “high-tech” based on the extraction of precious minerals, programmed obsolescence, for the benefit of the few… and so on!
    (one website I like to read on these issues: https://www.notechmagazine.com)

    Curious to know your thoughts on this.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thank you for your kind comment, Dorian.

    Regarding linking tech and social development, at this point in my life i have focused on trying to see how education (which i conceptualize as the aspect of social development i have chosen as my field of action) can be enhanced or furthered by tech. This is where i link social development with tech in my life.

    I value greatly how science/tech has impacted positively humankind’s life, as you can see in this presentation: https://www.slideshare.net/vahidm/economa-del-futuro-y-prosperidad-de-la-humanidad (slides 9-14). There is no question that human intellectual activity has enabled a great deal of progress.

    However, there is also no doubt that the economic system that we are living in is skewed beyond repair. Tech that serves the interests of the few over the needs of the many is not what humankind needs.

    Regarding low-tech, i am interested by Pablo Servigne’s collapsology research, and the implications it brings regarding the uses and choices of tech. However, i have to say i can’t imagine a scenario where education would be improved by the absence of the Internet. And i’m pretty sure that fiber optic networks don’t qualify as “low tech”. Clearly, technological choices must be made with all of humanity’s well-being in mind (and necessarily in coherence with the Earth we live in), and that the technological choices that aren’t consistent with those safeguards must be taken off the market.

    The discussion then focuses on 2 questions, in my mind:
    * What are the underlying assumptions we need to change to make the economic system work for all of humanity? and
    * Where will we -collectively- find the inspiration to make the changes that we know are needed? (considering that rational proofs have only taken so far)

    As you can probably guess, i think that the Bahá’í Faith can help with both these questions. How valuable can religion be to power those changes? Please check https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DwD4VhSOoos (i hope you speak French?) at 29″.


    1. Hi Vahid,
      Interesting that you mention collapsology – I am also beginning to investigate this field these days, notably through the work of Joseph Tainter (he sums up his research quite well in his many YouTube videos: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G0R09YzyuCI) and Dmitry Orlov (https://cluborlov.blogspot.com/p/the-five-stages-of-collapse.html)… Jared Diamond’s book on the same topic was also enlightening. Although these authors tend to focus more on the political and historical context in which such events may take place than on the practicalities of “rebuilding” or even preparing, technologically, for such a possibility.

      I agree that connectivity is perhaps one of the most precious assets mankind has gained from the point of view of mutual education and communication. However, it needn’t remain under the shape of the internet as we know it: projects such as Secure Scuttlebutt (https://www.scuttlebutt.nz/) or wireless mesh networks (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wireless_mesh_network) could form the backbone of radically distributed and decentralized networks, without needing fiber optic cables. (one such network, although small, exists in Athens where I live – http://www.awmn.gr/content.php?r=122-WiND-Project)

      So low-tech solutions, if cleverly integrated, could play an interesting role in bringing together education, social wellbeing, and communication – I think.

      Your question on “underlying assumptions”, as well as Servigne and Blamont’s opinions on the role of “ways of seeing” the world, connect quite well with the deep investigative work realized by Jeremy Lent on this topic in his book “The Patterning Instinct”. (I wrote a review of it recently, if you’re interested: https://www.lowimpact.org/western-mindset-source-problems) In this work, Lent clearly points out what are the most problematic mental/psychological/mythical frameworks that Western society has inherited, especially from monotheism. Chief among them would be the metaphor of “nature as a machine”, or as “a thing to conquer”…

      As Blamont points out, religions are quite good at federating people around certain ideas. I wonder, though, if using these bureaucracies and power structures would not end up, necessarily, “corrupting” the message. I suppose if the Baha’i faith is structured in less authoritarian and rigid ways than the Catholic church, for instance, maybe the risk would be lower?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks once again for your thoughtful comment. I appreciate the references you are providing me with re. collapsology.
        I’m not sure whether mesh networks qualify as “low tech” (because i don’t know enough about low tech), and it makes me wonder if low tech can be compatible with worldwide standards (which in my mind are an absolute necessity). I guess i need to learn a lot more on the topic, so thanks again for the references.
        I am surprised also by the idea that monotheism would be a source for the mental model of exploitation of nature, since, in the Bahá’í interpretation at least, but i think it is shared in different traditions, “nature” is the “creation”, and that the human being has a responsibility to the “Creator” to -at the very least- act respectfully towards it. I tend to assign more the devouring of natural resources mental model to materialism, where nature has no value other than economic (and unbelievably short-term at that).
        I can’t help but share a pointedly critical view at what humanity has suffered under “organized religion” and its historical varied forms of corruption.


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