Real Life Learning
In OPEDUCA 'Real Life Learning' indicates the learning process outside schools and other institutions, not depending on textbooks or other materials. It's the (natural) learning process that takes place in today's society as natural learning environment.

Real life learning defines almost every activity in OPEDUCA, starting with thematic learning in Flight for Knowledge, over BusinessClass, the Events, OPEDUCA Global and the numerous encounters pupils and students have in their peer-community as well as in the region and beyoud.

Following an important basic principle in OPEDUCA, every real life learning experience is not a 'stand-alone' activity but an integral part of the whole approach and effect.

In OPEDUCA Real Life Learning is not so much about providing means and access to students, as well as enabling them to go out and see, observe, provide, collect and study for themselves.
Notwithstanding the relevance of the subjects thought at school, these remain pocketed in their own domains, only being made alive by the best of teachers that have the ability, often coming from many years long experience, to place what they teach in a relevant context within real life. As real life is a fantastic mixture of all kinds of information, knowledge, circumstances and practices, it is essential for the student to get in touch with that world outside. Although the internet seems to have come as a relief to many, through our lens it is also often an impoverishment. While it grants access to data and images of life, it is not the same for it remains an image and through its time-consuming nature keeps students away from the real world even more.

The world itself, like it has been for hundreds of thousands of years during which mankind developed, should and can be re-established as a rich an unending play- and learning ground for students and all youngsters. The promised effect will work two ways - not only will the application of what is learned give meaning and reason the learning, the other way around what students find in real life will trigger or expand their inquiry based learning in the school-setting.

Also the challenge of having schooling meet up and match with the demands of industry and the world of work at large, can better be addressed if we grand students real life learning experiences. Subjects and courses that at first sight may not captures a students' interest, can be become fascinating and at the least interest and relevant, if a student is granted to see what the issue is all about, where information becomes useful.
Experiencing the world as it is and develops will also contribute to merging together the fragments of information the student has and the knowledge it is producing. Simply observing people working can for example add significantly to the students' career orientation.

Schools should give reason, motivate, stimulate, not lock youngsters away by calling them students. There are numerous efforts to bring students closer to the world through experiences, for example to work at school on problems/challenges handed by industry or to go out and participate in community projects. There certainly have serious value - what we seek in OPEDUCA's Real Life Learning is a step beyond those more organised, sometimes even 'staged', activities and projects that are often also limited in time and degree of exposure.

"Understanding the connection with real life, seeing its applicability in day to day happenings is one of the most important factors in sparking of interest in learning any topic, .... contextual learning is what makes students hooked to learning. Once the interest is sparked off, we are sure the learners will take control of their learning process".

Harish Iyer

No one will protect what they donít care about; and no one will care about what they have never experienced
David Attenborough

Be Neo: Take the red pill

January 30th, 2013

If youre exhausted by being connected 24/7, this message is for you. If worried youll be seen as a slacker if you dont answer every email within 14 minutes, this message is for you. If youre tweeting, liking and pinning multiple times a day because you dont want to miss anything, then my message is definitely for you. (If someone hands you this column, thank them, then read it, even if you have to multi-task to get it done. They care about you.

My message: Who you are being when you connect matters more than (merely) being connected 24/7.

Red or Blue Pill?
Remember the movie The Matrix? (1999). Computer programmer, alias Neo, doubles as a hacker driven to learn the meaning of the Matrix.  Neo meets Morpheus, chooses to take the red (not blue) pill and wakes up in a liquid-filled vessel as part of the human battery making electricity for the machines that are generating the matrix that humans live in and think is real.
Neo joins the rebellion against the machines; dodges bullets by altering time; is killed by Agent Smith (hum…) and brought back to life by Trinitys kiss. Neo, the One as proclaimed by the Oracle, phones the Machines to say he will show humans a world where anythings possible, not just what the matrix allows. Steps out of the phone booth and flies into the sky.  End the movie and begin the audience being plugged into the matrixs matrix, i.e., the sequels.  (Resistance is futile.  Sorry, mixing my movie metaphors.)
Which pill would you swallow?
The choice  and it is a choice  is between the blissful ignorance of illusion (blue) and embracing the sometimes painful truth of reality (red).  Which world will help you lead your team? Contribute to your family? Which reality will support achieving your commitments that really matter, the ones worth pursuing regardless of the outcome?
Recently, I spoke at SIPACON 2012: Always On, Always Connected  New Era of Connectivity.  My communication workshop was entitled: As technology advances, so must your leadership & communication skills.  The attendees were investors, programmers, hardware and software designers, makers of video games, entrepreneurs, inventors of augmented reality and making texting possible for the illiterate. They spoke of terabytes, zettabytes (Google it, I had to) and how 72 hours of media is being uploaded to the internet every minute. Yes, I was addressing the matrix-makers themselves.
As committed and dedicated as they are to building the matrix with their genius that lets us connect to each other around the world, under the sea and over the stars, they readily admitted that their technical expertise doesnt help them when it comes to dealing with people.
While they could create a mobile device that sends your medical history to the ER before you arrive in the ambulance, they did not have a technology that helped them resolve team conflict, grumpy bosses or figuring out the next step in their career.
We talked about how different communication preferences required different approaches if a solid connection was to be made.  For example,
People with a commanding style of decision making (Ill make the decision now!) prefer to hear the bottom line first, then the details.
People with the commanding style can steamroller the collaborative people, negating their valuable insights (Lets gather different views to make the best decision.).
After my presentation, a man waited for the crowd around me to clear. Im more objective and opposite of your outgoing, so its not easy for me to talk to you because youre pretty energetic. But, heres my question. Do I have to be all these styles? Im an entrepreneur and have to get along with lots of different people. How do I do that?
Being the One
In that moment, it was clear to me hed taken the red pill.  Maybe he had to swallow a handful because the crowd didnt clear for a good 20 minutes.  He was willing to be vulnerable with someone he didnt know, and worse, someone who didnt exhibit his preferred style.  He didnt let his preference which includes being guarded and holding back stop him.  His courage demonstrated the power of choosing to risk stepping out of our comfort zone. In that moment, he was Neo, the One, who stands outside the matrix (even though he built some of it) to authentically connect to another person.  Inspiring.  (Come to think of it, Nemo was a bit like that; but there I go again, mixing movie metaphors.)

Camille Smith
Leadership coach for people creating a future of possibility
San Francisco Bay Area