The last lecture of Professor Poglia: the world in 6 dimensions

February 24, 2013

Last Thursday Professor Edo Poglia of the University of Lugano gave his Lezione di Commiato, which in English is usually called – with a more engaging title-  The Last Lecture.
In one hour he had the challenging talk of talking us through his life in research, having now reached the retiring age of 70.
The ideas, thoughts, findings and provocative statements flew at a very fast pace throughout the talk, engaging the audience with his pungent humor and clear  evidence based on hard data. The inputs for thoughts were many, intense, dense and surprising. The argumentation was clear and fast paced, so intense to leave at times the audience disconcerted in front of all that knowledge coming to the brain at such a high-speed that it was arduous to absorb.

Hi double background in Engineering and Sociology must have give him the impressively broad view on the different streams of research, which he illustrated through the metaphor of geological faults. He emphasised the need to observe social reality from different angles. For this reason he created a model, a schema of analysis, consisting of six dimensions:
modello-poglia

He has used this schema since the 80s to drive his research, and the findings are impressive.
A summary of his work and of the talk is an impossible task, ranging from education, to migrants, to intercultural communication; I would just like to give a couple of examples.

For instance he investigated the values of students of different cultures and disciplines, to understand if differences in values are given more by culture of origin, or by the discipline.

In the picture below we can see that people belonging to the sector “industry and constructions” compared to the sector “communication and marketing” give very different answers regarding their “proximity” to different cultures. From the radar diagram we can readily see that communication students feel closed to all cultures, and in particular they feel much closer to the European, Anglo-Saxon and French culture.

poglia2

In another studies he compared the attitude of Europeans (in yellow color) and Moroccan (in gray color) students: he found that liberty of expression is more relevant for Europeans, and that politics is not relevant for any of the two cultural groups, and even less for the Europeans.

In addition the will for self-realization (or self fulfilment) is much stronger for Europeans than for Moroccans.

poglia3

In conclusion, the depth and breadth of Prof. Poglia research can be seen as a leading example for young researchers.
The visionary and impressively broad view of research of Professor Emeritus Poglia is certainly an inspiration for all of us.


Teaching on the importance of education at St. John’s School, Vizag

January 16, 2013

teaching-st-john-school-vizag

The importance of education is a relevant topic, especially for the joungest. I’ve been lecturing on the topic at St. John’s school, near Vizag (India) and had a great time interacting with the students. Together we have seen examples of Indian thought leaders and famouse personalities, and have drawn a personal map to success. I was really amazed by the knowledge of English of the students, and even more by their enthusiastic particiaption to the class. Together we have celebrated Pongal, a major Indian festival: the students have performed by dancing and singing, as you can see in the photo.Thanks to the Principal, Mrs Anu and her husban Isaac Bathulla, and to fr. John for the invitation.

stjohn-school-vizag


Khan Academy – educational videos for free

November 13, 2012

The Khan academy is an incredible success story of education through new media.

E-learining has promised to be the solution to a more personalized and affordable education. Yet, computers alone are not the answer.

Salman Khan had this idea back in 2004, creating educational videos for his cousins, and uploading them on youtube. Now the Khan Academy is a non profit organization, supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and other donors, and has over 3500 videos on any topic. But it’s not only about the videos: it is an integrated learning platform for teachers and students. Indeed teachers are assigning the videos as homework, and they are getting the students to do the exrcises in class, so they can coach them one by one. The platform provides exercises for students and track their results and progresses. Teachers can then check the performances of the students and interveen where needed.


Comunicazione e formazione in altre realtà culturali

May 10, 2012

Al convegno “Comunicazione e formazione per il progresso della società contemporanea”, che si terrà l’11 maggio 2012 a Gravedona ed Uniti (Como), organizzato da “Quaderni” (programma del convegno), presenterò alcune riflessioni sul tema”Comunicazione e formazione in altre realtà culturali”.

Presentazione


Women: mapping inequalities

April 25, 2012

Professor Valerie Hudson just published a series of maps of “The worst Places to be a Woman” on Foreign Policy.
Look at Switzerland! Having worked in Equal Opportunities I’m not surprised to see that this very developed country is still having quite a lot of issues with equal opportunities for women. If you check out the full article you can see many other maps of gender inequalities: India and central Africa are always very “dark”, scoring low on all parameters. The scarriest ones are child marriage and maternal mortality. These maps make a good job in making very “visibile” the surprising inequalities that still exist. The map on “Women’s Phisical Security” surprisingly portrays Peru as the black sheep of America.


Communication and Education in Different Cultures

April 13, 2012

On May 11th I will be speaking about “Communication and education in other cultures” (Comunicazione e formazione in altre realtà culturali), with a special focus on India, at the conference  “Comunicazione e formazione per il progresso della società contemporanea”, taking place in Gravedona ed Uniti (Como), organized by the journal “Quaderni” (download the conference program 2012).
The conference includes a social program in the evening of the 11th, and Saturday 12th for the whole day, for visiting Gravedona.

For info and registration: info@mdemmedi.com


Live from ICT Society and Human Beings

July 25, 2011

IADIS international conference ICT, Society and Human Beings 2011 stated Sunday July 24th with a beautiful opening session by the conference co-chairs Diane Whitehouse and Professor Emerita Gunilla Bradley, of the Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm, Sweden.

I noticed with pleasure that Prof. Bradley’s presentation made use of visuals and visual metaphors, like the sunflower to symbolize ICT applications that can grow “to beautiful flowers”:

This is a good connection with my research topic, which is concerned with the use of visual representations for better communicating and engaging the audience. However Gunilla doesn’t need any additional aid for connecting with the audience: she is an explosion of energy, color, positiveness and a role model for all women in academia, especially in IT!

Then the presentation session started with a couple of papers on facebook use (a hot topic!) and a brilliant study on “e-commerce trust beliefs & national culture” by Regina Conolly.

In the afternoon Ashir Ahmed presented an interesting study of BoP, with a model of e-commerce for the unreached community, focusing on Bangladesh. Ana Gonzales provided insights on gender and mobility of ICT professional in Spain. Jorge Franco showed applications of ICT educational tools in primary education in Brazil, including the use of VRML virtual worlds created by the kids, and programming!

In the evening Mauricio Velasquez gave a very informative talk on ICT4D (Information Communication Technology for Development), starting with the definition of development itself, which is not only concerned with economic development but more holistically on human development. He pointed out that the advancement of ICT allows for student-centered learning, however obstacles to the deployment of ICT are not limited to material resources as infrastructure and bandwidth, but also to immaterial obstacles, such as teacher training, the need of defining how to use technology for education (children access to the computers in not enough for appropriate learning).

Finally we had a panel on ICT and Diversity, with insights from every corner of the world, including the role of Social media in the Arab Spring by Alice Robbin and Osama, Puerto Rico Digital Preservation by Sarai Lastra, the difference between digital divide and digital inequality by Margaret Tan, and Moral Landscaping through ICT by Sangeeta Sharma:

Today, Monday July 25th I had the pleasure to chair the first session. Steve Walker of the Open University presented his research on infinite bandwidth, for which he conducted workshops using the “imagine methodology” and rich pictures, which was developed by Bell and Muse in the context of sustainable development:

We concluded the morning with a panel on ICT & human rights, chaired by Olga Werby, who gave a very informative, energetic and visual overview of the topic:


Multiple mice

May 17, 2010

Knowledge visualization gets more interactive when the group participants can share the same screen and nevertheless have their own mouse, as in the picture.

A few software are now allowing this type of interactive collaboration, called multiple mice or single-screen groupware. Wunderworks offers a free download of their software that lets you connect 3 mice, and each will have a different color. It can be used with any software, so I have tested it with a mapping software, and asked 3 students to move objects at the same time. Technically it works very fine, I think the challenge is in the task!!

Microsoft offers the Mouse Mischief, to be used with Powerpoint for educative purposes. It’s free and easy to install. It seems that the target are joung children since the mouse icons are represented by animals. I’m looking forward to test it in class.

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Visual communication across cultures

March 14, 2010

As the (business) world becomes more and more flat (Friedman, 2006, p. 376), visual communication can be particularly helpful for getting a message across various cultures, thanks to its ability to convey a message with
symbols and pictograms that can be – often – universally understood. However, the impact of cultural differences on visualization interpretation is frequently overlooked.

In this presentation I draw an overview of our forthcoming book chapter on the topic of Cross-cultural differences in the reception of visualization. It’s based on a thematic analysis of literature from various fields (Psychology, intercultural studies, business, visual communication) and my experience in Asia during the recent research stay in Singapore (NUS).

I’m currently still working on the topic: your feedback is welcome! :)


Knowledge visualization with a Group Support System

March 10, 2010

This image is the result of using visualization to share knowledge in class.
I’ve used lets-focus, a business mapping software, over a network. Master students were working in groups; each group had a laptop with the (empty) template above – called perspective diagram. They were asked to brainstorm on the topic of Visualization for Presentations: advantages/good practices, disadvantages/problems, issues and open questions.
Then I asked them to send their ideas (icons and text) to my computer through the network. When they sent a contribution it was visualized in real time on my computer, which was connected to the class projector, therefore everyone could see the development of the visualization. Each group was assigned a color, so that the owner of each contribution was identifiable. It also helped to motivate groups to contribute equally (visual pressure). The ideas sent by the students were then commented and placed into the context of the discussed topic and of the course.
The game worked out very nicely, it seems a promising way to enhance teaching. Firstly it lets the students experiment an innovative tool that can be used in organizations for knowledge sharing and brainstorming. Secondly it engages student to participate actively in class, learn from their peers and re-elaborate their knowledge by visualizing it.
The results are very promising, I believe there is a great potential of application for this kind of visual groupware, both in organizations and in education, on which I would like to experiment more in the future!


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