Change is a part of life…

Change is a part of life…
Flags over Edinburgh Castle
Flags over Edinburgh Castle during the Military Tattoo

It’s been nine long years since I was last in Scotland. Eleven years since I’ve lived here. Time continues and I grow older. I have always known that age is a great leveler in life, changes the playing field, and the participants. Life changes you, changes your point of view on the world and the type of perspective in which you wish to view it.

I can mark the change.  I can’t always articulate the moments, the passages of time, but I am more aware of them now.  I have some understanding.  I experience grief and uncertainty.  The whispers are different.  The voices have changed, and the language even more complex.

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Contemplation

Time affects us all and change is hard to accept, even fathom.  Scotland has changed.  I have changed.  The dynamic nature of life is in constant flux just as in tourism.  Our reasons, our motivations shift and morph with the progression of time.  Innately, the passion I once held for this place has transformed, no tempered.  It is not as mystical as it was nineteen years ago.

So, what does this mean?  What sense of this landscape do I now possess?  What sense of belonging?

The world outside my window has changed.
The world outside my window has changed.

I was an explorer twenty-five years ago to this place, this Scotland. Prior to stepping on its shores, I knew it only from literature, film and TV shows. It held a mystique.  My passion was shrouded in truths and half-truths.  I had a child-like curiosity and consumption.

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Time passes for us all

Seven years of planning, of working hard, and dreaming, my reality changed.  I returned and had the privilege of living in Scotland for seven years.  During that tenure, the world changed drastically.  It continues to change drastically for us all.  Relationships were altered.

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Pondering life on Isle of Lewis

Sometimes, I wonder what I am trying to grasp when I try to piece together the visceral and cerebral.  To understand about this change within my heart and soul.  Do I belong here?  Can I identify with this landscape, this place?  Where on the barometer of life has my sense of self migrated?  Innately, the fields of home have a stronger pull for me, than lands farther away.  I haven’t been the only one that has changed, others have too.  I am pushed to consider others now more than myself.  I am sometimes in limbo, overwhelmed with that responsibility.  Those promises inherent with our relationships have a louder call.  I have reached another milestone, another moment of truth that can’t be ignored.  More of the complex layers have been uncovered, exposed, and choices must consider a new reality.

I never did like change.  Sometimes, it has a hidden, nasty smell.  Something you want to ignore and leave alone.  Let the world go past, without acknowledgement.  Brutal honesty, we all have those moments.  Scotland was that wonderment that I could call my own.  That luxury I could escape to and find myself, find that grounding of strength that seems elusive during questionable moments.  Scotland always made me happy.  Scotland has changed.  It is different.  I’m different.  That is good.

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New boots, new journey

Good in that I can search. The journey is about moving and embracing change, understanding fear, and looking. It’s okay to look, to search out, and find. I may not find exactly what I am looking for or the answers at this moment. Life and travel, tourism is all about experiences.  It is a circle of experiences, just like life.  And change is a part of that circle, and finding yourself during each of those moments.  Another layer of who you are.

New boots, new journey.  More me.

While I wait…

While I wait…
Faith Popcorn's Brain Reserve
Faith Popcorn’s Brain Reserve

Well, while I wait and prepare for a phone interview this morning, I zipped over to Faith Popcorn’s site, Brain Reserve.  I use Popcorn’s site both in my understanding of current trends and issues, as well as within the classroom.  I am all about the future and like the game of anticipation.  I love examining what is trending, what is going to happen, even predict the future, especially with technology.  But to know how technology is going to change or expound our dynamic world, you need to know what is going on out there; how people are changing.  That means trawling for information, dissecting the mass of words and envisioning, visualizing, what is going on.

Faith is predicting that women are on the cusp of cultural authority.  That they are again, stepping out of the shadows and taking the reins of most decision-making.  Hasn’t that always been the case, but were behind the gossamer veil that is the shoulders of most men.  Women were the silent child, eyes narrowed, always looking for the nuances of the world and stepping forward at critical times.  Now, even more so, we are exerting our voice, in better way than the feminist revolution of the late 60’s and 70’s.  We are exerting our brain power.

I agree and disagree with Faith on certain aspects. I know we are on a precipice of change, and we are exerting a great deal of energy fighting against the tide.  I have been at this precipice since 2003 or earlier, looking over into the differing shades of the abyss, or back at those that are behind me.  Technology has been a major player, a companion beside me.  The medium is prompting questions, making suggestions, and gritting its bytes for us to see potential and make the leap.  The early explorers (visions of the Life Cycle) have already leapt out over the edge and are navigating through the next generation.  Those active involvers that are still immersed in old technologies, are feeling the fingers tickling at their psyche’s to ditched the old and return to that fun first stage; throw caution to the wind and fly.  And those reaching the pinnacle and/or stagnating, afraid of what is coming, need to ask the question, that many do not ask themselves, “What are you afraid of?”

This could harken back to self-identity and self-awareness.  That there are those unwilling to even think about the opportunities and possibilities of the future because of the loss of something innate or even traditional.  But what is tradition?  Maybe the definition of tradition, the authentic needs to change.  Maybe it is not about the people, but about the action?  For instance, I had dinner yesterday with my Greek family.  We had a traditional dish of gravy meat and Greek noodles, called Stifado (I think).   The stew, much like my own mother’s ‘golfer’s stew’, had at its bedrock in wine, cinnamon and the cooking process.  I enjoyed it immensely and made sure I thanked the cook, several times.  At the end of the meal we had a traditional talk as the grandkids, nieces and nephew went on their way to play.  At one point, recipes were compared or I should say finished dishes.  What I am getting at, is this is a traditional dish.  Culture exists in its varied forms, and conveyed in different styles.  A simple recipe card passed down from one family to another is a tradition.  We don’t necessarily have to have the same customs present.  The dish is the tradition.  The act of sitting around that table is a tradition.  We don’t lose our identity with change.  As Darwin, expounds, we adapt, we overcome and we persevere.

If we jump off that precipice that is looming on the horizon, that edge that we are inching closer too, what are we afraid of losing, giving up, or see disappear?  Are we not ourselves, made better?  Are we not captains of that adventure, that journey that can control and not, the internal and external forces that push and pull at us?  We cannot be afraid of change.  We may balk at its first steps, but at one point, we need to turn the light on and throw caution to the wind.

 

Addressing technology and education

Addressing technology and education
Technology
Examining technology and innovative culture–close up.

So as I await and prepare for an interview, I am thinking about technology and education. I strive to create within my classroom an innovative culture, where the students utilize several tools, techniques and traditional forms of technology to extend their book learning or foundations. The digital natives of today need to become proficient in collaboration, communication, and critical/creative thinking. I have probably blogged about this before, but I am revisiting this map with this interview in mind, my upcoming conference and several thoughts rolling through my mind.

I spent some time with my co-presenter while attending the National Restaurant Show and we had a rather heated debate about our forthcoming presentation.  He suggested a book to read, Generation on a Tightrope: A portrait of today’s college student.  I purchased the Kindle edition and started to read not soon after.  And I have to admit, given the understanding that it takes such a book at least three years in development and publication…well, I’m not sure…outdated seems the wrong word, insightful, sure; enlightening, no; helpful, jury’s still out.

I knew when I started into a true role as an educator, from my own personal experience within industry, there have always been problems faced by college students.  (I raise my hand with pride here, freely admit to being lumped in with everyone else.) We all need to have the initiative to attain to a higher level of collaboration, especially in such a diverse universe.  My education abroad opened my eyes to the need for understanding diplomacy and culture, even more so than what I thought before.

Communication must be constantly worked and re-engineered to become proficient at all forms.  Especially the written form.  This is has, I should say, been my hardest crux of my time in academic. Motivating my students to tackle writing, and not just writing for the sake of writing.  Critical and creative writing that conveys important thoughts and analysis to those requesting information.  Day two, after going over the syllabus and assignments, I dive into explaining why I do not conform to the tradition modes of multiple choice and true/false tests.  I can hear the groans now.  I simply state, because you will be required, out there in the real world to demonstrate your ability to effectively and efficiently communicate to your bosses about the current state of affairs of the business.  How do I know if you have learned anything unless you communicate through analysis and rigorous dissection of material and application your depth of knowledge and understanding as it applies to the material and your current state of awareness?

Nose dive right into the trenches from that point on.  Sometimes, I wonder if we shouldn’t hang the old traditional form of the syllabus out to dry and utilize some other tool to communicate need, direction, and expectations.  Is there another tool, technique, technology to deliver on the aforementioned areas?  Umm…

I have put forth and discuss my business environment:

A snippet of a bigger picture
Mind-map of business environment, main drivers information, promises, money both tangible and intangible

Proceeded to tell them that analysis, application and adaptation of the dynamic form could answer most of their questions, if they can synthesis each level of the form and evaluate to each guest and business contact point. This form could answer 75%-80% of their essays.

I even take a class period to explain mind mapping and the use of the tool in gaining greater awareness of what they are studying. So, students are one step ahead, or I hope.

Yet, I have to now address the educator. And I am having a hard time reconciling my thoughts to the task at hand. I’ve hit a brick wall, and realize that maybe, instead of examining the digital native, as in Levine and Dean’s book, we should also address one specifically for the educator. Maybe I am barking up the wrong tree. Maybe I am thinking too much. I have to let my thoughts coalesce and incubate for a while.

Mapped out the Dragon Fly Effect for upcoming conference

Mapped out the Dragon Fly Effect for upcoming conference
Dragonfly-Effect-and-the-Four-Pillars-of-Social-Media
Dragonfly-Effect-and-the-Four-Pillars-of-Social-Media

Presenting on multi-media and hyper-media use in the classroom at the Educational Academy at ICHRIE in St. Louis, MO this July and so, as per my usual, had to map out my ideas for creating an innovative culture. This mind map addressed the three prong approach of collaboration, communication and critical/creative thinking.  Wish me luck!

Don’t throw the bath water out just yet…

Don’t throw the bath water out just yet…
Innovative culture part of the bigger mind map
Innovative culture part of the bigger mind map

Signed up for a course in the fall from the free database at Coursera called Creativity, Innovation and Change.  I am a stickler for innovation.  A friend and co-worker commented the other day about my use of mind-mapping that she had never heard of it before I arrived at my current local, job.  I am  not surprised by this, not many do use visual methods to solve problems.  I have always been a visual thinker and my parents can attest to that, having sneaked a box of crayons into my cot when I was a wee lassie and went Picasso all over my sheets.

I am envious, jealous, irritated, frustrated and astounded by the various forms of innovative techniques out there.  Again, choice I think has something to do with it.  I revert back to Marshall Mcluhan and Joseph Campbell when my brain goes into overload and is on the verge of ‘cracking’ as I call it.  That moment where you have a million thoughts going through your head and ‘bam’, like the computer, on overload, freezes and reboots.  I just can’t extract any more information or possible solutions without some means of shut down or stepping away, letting the thoughts incubate.

Maybe I should call it ‘fracking’?  I know the word is used by petroleum engineers to illustrate how water or fluids are forced into fissures in rocks to open them up further to extract oil and natural gas.  But think about it, are we not using innovation to open the cracks in the mind to allow for cognitive and reflective thought to illuminate various answers to problems.  If we want to be proactive in our thoughts about potential problems, would fracking be better term.  Does fracking have to be solely used by engineers?  This harkens back to my students and engaging them with the information that I know is embedded in their minds from four years of university.  How do I tap into those brain cells and open them up so that they can articulate their knowledge?

How do I challenge, push them to their limits to put to the test what they have gained?  I can see it in a few; how some have gone from a limited awareness to a greater awareness and employ that knowledge in written assignments.  But still, I need them to execute that knowledge.  Hence, frustration and irritation in myself.  “God, grant me patience but hurry.”

Another reasons why I have them examine my ‘Big Mind Map‘ and offer up their opinions.  I ask them if they can see the relationships?  Can they see the interplay of subject matter?  How can they use their own creativity to address problems that would slow down or create stagnation within the business environment?  It is not just about book learning, but about them going further, farther in their interpretation and application.  Why I have told them about this free course.

I want to, for a better word, push them over that precipice into a newer realm of thinking.

Podcast: The Business Environment

Podcast:  The Business Environment

Podcast: The Business Envirnoment

The Business Environment Podcast from B. A. Pudliner on Vimeo.

Podcast of lecture on the Business Environment

is a podcast about the business environment that I made back in 2008 for my classes.  To follow along, download the Powerpoint:  Podcast Powerpoint for business environment .

Transcript for Business Environment Podcast

Reflection…short and long-term thinking.

Reflection…short and long-term thinking.
Tourism Business Environment
Tourism Business Environment, depicting the functions of management and innovation

Sometimes, I feel like I’m constantly in the dental chair.  (Nothing against dentists, but it is not my favorite place to be, even with the sonic cleaning tools.)

It is a challenge to engage the students in strategic thinking, to discuss the overall short and long term impacts on a business as well as the industry.  Monday’s are especially hard; hard for anyone including myself.  You just don’t want to think.  But you have to, you have to be on your game, at point from the moment you wake up.

I created these mind maps to help my students understand constructs that I discuss in class, even in other classes they have outside of hospitality.  I’m trying to understand if these maps even work.  I am a visual thinker and I wonder if my students are?  I pose questions, give them case scenarios from experience, trends, ‘in the news’ to try to stimulate their grey matter. For instance, what will happen if there is the slights fraction of change in percentages, money, information and so forth–what happens to the business?  What will happen to the employees?  What will happen to the company?  What will happen to all the stakeholders?  How will revenues and profits suffer?  They need to make the connections to the various contact points and beyond.  And then return.  Common sense stipulates that for every action, there is a reaction which will lead to a result that will lead to another action.  It’s a continuous cycle of events.  Clichés aside we are never off the merry-go-round.

So I was questioning my diagrams.  Asking myself what am I missing?  Where are the gaps?  I ask the students to examine and offer up possible changes.  That happened in Monday’s ethics.  I had the epiphany through their conversations that maybe there is an eleventh principle, responsibility.  This is similar to accountability, concern and respect for others but still has specific connotations that might warrant inclusion.

Still thinking….