Guidelines for online courses

I wrote this draft proposal for developing some criteria for online courses a few years back.

Guidelines for Online Courses


New paradigm for the new year

My goal is to help Web 2.0 move away from tiny tweets to slow dialog.

May we use our collective intelligence to engage in meaningful dialog about the complex issues we face.

May we use collective IQ to:

  • improve our capability to portray accurate pictures of our current paradigm
  • to produce a result that is more intelligent than any individual or committee could have developed
  • May we develop a structure that helps level the playing field
  • helps strip the message from the messenger
  • and develop a NEW Robert’s Rules of Order for digital discussion that frees us from GROUP THINK into increase collective IQ


  • improve our collective capability to find effective solutions

My Favorite Bumper Sticker: “Honk the Fibonacci series if you like electronic music”

Dorai Thodla’s delightful blog made my day by destracting me from my mundain chores and leading me into the place where magic meets logic: the Fibonacci series.

What if instead of measuring the value of our lives we measured the quality of our lives. Part of that measurement would have to be the amount of love we gave freely and willingly and second it might be a measure of the time spent contemplating the awesome nature of nature.

Don’t believe everything you think

When you believe something all evidence points to the truth of your point of view. To get people to change their beliefs is very difficult.

When we watch films we “suspend our disbelief.” We don’t sit in the dark theater watching a thriller, animation, or even romantic comedy saying, “That is not possible.” If the movie is engaging we sit back with our $4 popcorn and $3 soda and watch the story unfold. We identify with the characters and are engaged in their plight whether they are a dancing toaster, a super hero, or a mafia don.

So, one technique for getting people to change their belief is to ask them to “suspend their belief” just for a short time, an hour or two, and then have them write down the facts, preferable on manipulabile, like different shaped blocks, and then reconstruct the evidence to prove a different point of view or belief.

It’s probably best to start with something they don’t have a big stake in and then recreate the exercise with something they do have a big stake in. For instance, if you are going to try and have pro-Israeli Jews try understand the Palestinian position or visa-versa, the invasion of Lebanon might not be the best place to start. It’s too raw.

Anyway, at some point, the light bulb has to want to change, so this is best done with people who are serious about solving a particular problem, need to change their attitude, perspective or belief.

This exercise may not make them change a person change their behavior right away but it will often cause them to consider another position. Some ignored the process and continued down their usual path ignoring any deep lessons. The students who gained the most from this process often became quite angry with me as they began to question their beliefs.

As they began to expand their view and expectations about a subject, it caused them to question other areas of their lives and caused a cognitive dissonance and discomfort. The solution they originally had intended suddenly became more complex, more risky, and in all ways, more challenging. Gone was the comfort of the familiar. Suddenly, I had made their task and their life more difficult. Worst of all, I did not provide answers to their questions, but instead, helped them on their path of finding their own solutions.

Over time, as they began to construct something positive in the new paradigm, they sometimes experienced a catharsis and found it life changing. The groups of students who went through it together formed deep bonds that spanned traditional demographic boundaries that normally kept them distant.

One student describes it as: “At school and at work, I looked for new ways to approach problems and solutions… I wanted to view situations from different perspectives…. I am now always looking in different directions and accepting different views.”