Search Find Learn

Michelle Gallen's e-learning blog.

Why Search Find Learn?

Because I feel that Search, Find, Learn describes how we learn in the 21st century - we Search for what we need to know, we Find it, and we Learn it. This blog explores how technology is helping us do that.

Contributors wanted

Humans have been on a learning journey since the dawn of time. And it's never been so exciting. If you're using technology in an effective, experimental or innovative way, I'd love to hear from you. I can blog about your project/website/idea, or you can contribute a guest post. Send me an email describing what you're up to.

Social Entrepreneurs Ireland

Social Entrepreneurs Ireland recently announced their latest round of awards. These aren't sheeny shiny pieces of glass or metal that sit on your shelf. SEI offer generous cash awards to amazing projects that are making a real difference to people's futures, and Ireland's future.

This year, they awarded over €500,000 to three projects, including singer Frances Black, who set up The RISE Foundation in 2006. It helps families of addicts to understand the nature of the disease of addiction and the profound effects it has on relationships. The Foundation runs therapeutic and education programmes and seeks to tackle the stigma of having a loved one in addiction.

Dara Hogan set up Fledglings Early Years Education & Care after he identified a significant shortage of early year’s education places in Tallaght West. Through a social franchise model Dara has set up 4 sites creating over 150 early years education places and 38 jobs and plans further expansion.

The third award, the Bridge to College (B2C) programme, was created and developed by John Lawlor as he believes that the current education system in Ireland is failing to prepare students for a career in the smart economy. The B2C programme seeks to deliver a dynamic learning experience for young people based on a new model of team-based workshops and technology mediated learning.

Since launching in 2005 Social Entrepreneurs Ireland has made awards to 142 social entrepreneurs, directly investing over €3.47M into supporting exceptional individuals. These in turn have directly helped over 170,000 people and indirectly helped another 300,000 people.

I'm proud to say that Social Entrepreneurs Ireland helped with a Level 1 award back in 2009, and introduced me to a network of inspirational people.

Is your e-learning as attention grabbing as this?

So I don't know how some Cebu Pacific Flight Attendants got permission to demonstrate their in-flight safety demonstration by dancing to Lady Gaga, but it's certainly attention-grabbing. Even worthy of applause. Over 3.6 million people have watched this online in just TWO days. Check it out below.

Now the academic part of my brain is saying to itself, ah now, but really, how EFFECTIVE was that learning? Was retention strong? Were the learning outcomes clearly assessed and measured?

All I can say to that is my learning and retention of in traditional flight safety demonstrations is probably dangerously poor. And that's despite years of repetition. To add insult to injury, I've been bored senseless during these demonstrations.

After watching this video, although I can't tell you which passenger action is a criminal offence, I have a very clear and funny memory of how to DO stuff. That sticks.

NB I would NOT like this type of demonstration on a red-eye flight.

Hack. Create. Teach. Learn. In beautiful Barcelona.

@grahamBM let me know he's off to in early November.

The site blurb explains that 'Mozilla's 2010 Drumbeat Festival will gather teachers, learners and technologists from around the world who are at the heart of this revolution. Join us in Barcelona for three days of making, teaching, hacking, inventing and shaping the future of education and the web.'

Sounds like a great event. Possibly made even better by the fact that is happening right before Drumbeat, on 2-4 November.

The Open Education Conference has been described as “the annual reunion of the open education family.” Apparently, it serves as "the world’s premiere venue for research related to open education, while creating the most friendly and energetic atmosphere you’ll find at any academic conference."

Seems Barcelona's the place to be in early November 2010.

Just released - Buntús Cainte for iPod, iPhone and iPad!

A few weeks ago, I secured the rights to produce a new version of Buntús Cainte, the most popular Irish language course in history. And after a few weeks of very hard work, we’ve launched Buntús Cainte for iPod, iPhone and iPad!

We’ve used some geek magic to insert the English and Irish text right inside the MP3 file. This means you can listen to the audio and read the text right on your iPod or iPhone!

Now there’s no need to carry an Irish language course book with you. Just download the MP3s to your device and you can learn or brush up on your Irish wherever you are, whenever you want. I’m taking Buntús Cainte away with me this weekend on a trip to Fermanagh – I love having the chance to learn and revise my Irish in short bursts no matter where I am. And this is the best way for any language student to make a language stick - a little learning, often.

Check out the course and let me know what you think of it. And feel free to spread the word to friends, colleagues and family too!

We'd originally hoped to sell this course through iTunes, but Apple doesn't allow small independent publishers to publish directly to iTunes. We were required to use a third party publisher. But none of the publishers we could find allowed us to publish MP3s with metadata, such as lyrics. We've used to facilitate sales for now. If anyone knows of a way to distribute content through iTunes via a third party publisher who accepts files with metadata, let me know.

Superman would use Twittelp

@Elena2020 alerted me to this really nice project - twittelp by @Giuliano84. As their website says, if Superman exists he'll be using Twittelp to get real-time updates about people who need help!*

Twittelp is a google maps and twitter mash-up that lets you ask your Twitter followers for help. You can also discover nearby people who need, help and help make a difference.

Twittelp wants to 'spread love and watch it multiply' and their tagline states that 'we can't help everyone, but we can help someone.' Go check them out, and if you can, participate. or follow @TwittelpApp

*What phone would Superman use?

7 Improvisation principles

@triciawang sent me a link to this fantastic blog post by Michelle James, a creativity consultant.

Michelle performs improvisation theatre - each night, she and her colleagues perform an entire theatre piece based on the audience's suggestions. Michelle noticed that some nights the performance was easy and flowed, and other nights it was hard. She became fascinated by what makes improvisation work.

Michelle asks "What creates peak level creativity in our group? What allows a complex, coherent, sense-making structure to emerge from nothing but a simple location? What is the "magic formula" that allows a fully formed, organized play - with believable characters and plot - to emerge before the audience’s (and our own) eyes? And what gets in the way?"

She describes herself as a serious student of improvisation theory. Her post can be found here, and is well worth reading - but for a quick intro I've quoted her 7 basic improvisation principles below, which I think can be applied not just to creative improvisation for theatre, but for many creative team tasks - or even ordinary social interaction.

1. Yes and. Fully accepting the reality that is presenting, and the adding a NEW piece of information - that is what allows it to be adaptive, move forward and stay generative. Each performer (agent) interacts with what is offered and offers a unique contribution.

2. Make everyone else look good. That means you do not have to be defending or justifying yourself or your position - others who will do that for you and you do that for others. Without the burden of defensiveness or competition, everyone is free to create. Complex characters can form that enable unpredictable complex actions and directions to emerge.

3. Be changed by what is said and what happens. At each moment, new information in an invitation for you to have a new reaction, or for your character to experience a new aspect of them. Change inspires new ideas, and that naturally unfolds what's next. You adapt as one structure dissipates and re-organizes into a new structure that expands, yet includes, what was before.

4. Co-create a shared "agenda." This principle involves the recognition that even the best-laid plans are abandoned in the moment, and to serve the reality of what is right there in front of you. You are co-creating the agenda in real-time. In order to keep the play going, you respond to the moment and an "agenda" co-emerges that is more inclusive than anything that could have been planned. It is not consensus, which reduces. It is co-creation, which expands.

5. Mistakes are invitations. In improv, mistakes are embraced – they are the stimulating anomalies that invite the performers into a new level of creativity. By using improv techniques such as justifying any mistake can be transformed into surprising plot point or dialogue that never would have happened in following a conventional pattern. In improv, justifying creates order out of chaos. Mistakes break patterns and allow new ones to emerge.

6. Keep the energy going. No matter what is given, or what happens, you accept it and keep the energy gong. Unlike in everyday life, where people stop to analyze, criticize or negate, in improv you keep moving. A mistake happens - let it go move on. The unexpected emerges - use it to move on. Someone forgot something important - justify it and move on. You’re lost or confused –make something up and trust the process. Just keep moving. The system is not static – it is alive and dynamic.

7. Serve the good of the whole. Always carry the question, "How can I best serve this situation?" and then you have a better sense of when to run in and when to stay back, when to take focus and when to give it, how to best support your fellow performers and how to best support the scene. By focusing away from how you will look into serving the larger good – the aliveness of the system - you have more creative impulses and resources available to you at any moment. And the choices you make are more in alignment with the higher levels of creative integration that form a coherent play.

Using FourSquare for Social Good

What is it?

Some folks say it’s a mobile social network
Some folks say it’s an urban exploration app
Some folks reckon it's a location based social network that incorporates gaming elements.

What Four Square wants:

To connect people with smartphones and money with venues in which they can spend that money.

How FourSquare works

Users share their location with firends by checking in via smartphone or SMS. Users are hooked using gaming elements that reward their check in behaviours - they can win badges, social kudos and real-life discounts. Users can connect their Facebook and Twitter accounts to their FourSquare account.

Foursquare has applications for iPhone, Android, Blackberry, and Windows Mobile

FourSquare’s revenue model
FourSquare may have or will be rolling out three tiers of paid services:
- for small (local) businesses
- for retail chains
- for big marketers.

It's possible Foursquare may offer up analytics packages and deals will be sold against against impressions such as web ads, clicks such as search ads, or cost per check-in.


Current location-based services connect a smartphone carrier with a location. So let’s say I’m in Starbucks on Main Street, Ordinarytown, USA. I can open foursquare app on my phone, check to see if that Starbucks location has been added, if it has, I can check in.

Organisations can exploit this in several ways:
- Attract people to their location
- Get people to promote their location

Users exploit this in several ways:
- Rewarded with real-world product discounts
- digital badges
- social kudos (depends on your social circle!)



Geolocate your headquarters


Workers and volunteers can check in as they arrive – perhaps raising the profile of the particular project they’re working on ‘Just checked into headquarters – picking up some leaflets for our Plant a Tree campaign’


Geolocating your offices may invite guests to drop in or pop by – does your office have the facilities and staff to deal with this? Will every staff member participate? Will this be a shortlived burst of activity?

Geolocate an event

Use geolocation technology to tag an event that’s happening in your area – such as a tree planting.


You can raise awareness of an event.
You can use the technology to invite users to attend as volunteers, audience or donors.


There is a chance that someone who doesn’t have your organisation’s best interests at heart can turn up. Make sure it’s appropriate to broadcast your event to the general public - or even those you think are on your ‘safe’ list.

Attract a corporate donor who will ‘sponsor’ check-ins


A corporate donor can agree to donate a fixed amount for every check-in to your event/headquarters – usually up to a set limit.

E.G. You organise a tree planting in your local park. Create an event and ask everyone who arrives to check-in - for every check-in, a local business offers you $1.


What’s not to like about free money?

Create a treasure hunt

If you’re a large building, such as a museum or a big public space, you can create a series of locations that can be checked into by users in the form of a treasure hunt. Users who visit all locations are rewarded with what you choose.


In early days you can be successful as Brooklyn Museum and garner a lot of press coverage for your event.
Raises the profile of your venue.
Engages users in a new way.


It’s a lot of work. You need significant footfall to make this happen. Nobody might be interested.


Hearing a lot about foursquare and Gowalla? Did you know there’s a Socially-focussed alternative?
CauseWorld is a mobile application that lets you help the world while you shop! By checking in, you earn karmas from our sponsors. Donate those karmas for specific actions to improve the world. Some of the many actions in the CauseMall include donating to classrooms in need, planting a tree, providing a meal for the hungry, or helping an injured animal


Great idea, but needs a lot of users to really work. Should FourSquare or Gowalla become more socially minded, they’ll probably make it easier to use their services for the greater good. And because they’ve got a lot more usage, you’ll probably be able to target a lot more users.


How Non-Profits and Activists Can Leverage Location Based Services

Where are your advocates? Geolocation and your nonprofit

Nonprofits and Foursquare (or Gowalla): ideas and resources

Brooklyn Museum 4square community

Finding value in Foursquare

CauseWorld: Location-Based Cause Marketing

Harvard Schools Cause Marketers on Foursquare

A Foursquare Experiment Gone Right

Foursquare for Charities: Why Location Matters

Foursquare ‘Checkin for Charity’ Hits 135k Checkins, Raises $15k

Guest Post: How Nonprofit Groups Can Benefit from Foursquare

A Foursquare Strategy - CASE STUDY

Non-Profit Uses Foursquare to Raise Environmental Awareness

For Charity: Foursquare Looking For Leaderboard Sponsors

HOW TO: Add Your Nonprofit to Foursquare

What is Cause Marketing?

Maps, Mapping and What's possible

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