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Ubiquity University joins AIESEC as International Congress Partner in Cartagena in Colombia July 2017

Ubiquity University joins AIESEC as International Congress Partner in Cartagena in Colombia July 2017
AIESEC's International Team announced a partnership with Ubiquity University, built upon shared principles and values, and with the purpose of developing youth leadership-driven solutions for the world. With this motivation in mind, AIESEC  proudly announced two new organizations joining this crew of purposef...
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Why Ubiquity is more than just another Business.

Why Ubiquity is more than just another Business.
They take your dreams down and stick them in storageYou can have them back son when you've paid off your mortgage and loans"Life's For The Living" by PASSENGER If there is anything humanity needs now, it is for people, in particular our young people, to dream of the future they want and make it happen. At a time where crises s...
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Ubiquity’s Unique Pedagogy

Ubiquity’s Unique Pedagogy

Ubiquity’s Unique Pedagogy

Designed for a whole new kind of world

 

The increasing complexity and speed of change in the world, and the major challenges we face as humanity, call for a new kind of education - one that enables you to develop as a whole person to engage the whole system.

 

Ubiquity’s pedagogy is made up to three major parts: Explore with Study, Equip with Self-mastery and Engage with Impact projects.

 

Explore - relevant and radical study

At Ubiquity you are equipped to play the game to change the game. The study component enables you to critically assess the current mainstream approaches to subjects and explore the leading-edge thinkers and practitioners committed to social innovation.

 

Equip - liberating and disciplined self-mastery

The quality of impact you make in the world is directly related to your inner state. The self-mastery portal supplies you with a diversity of resources to help you develop the many sides of who you are.

 

Engage - collaborative and creative Impact projects

Ultimately it is all about the quality of impact you make in the world. At Ubiquity you do not learn in a vacuum, but have the opportunity to be continually testing your learning and challenging yourself in real-life hands-on change projects.

 

Unlike at any other learning institution we are aware of, these three parts of your learning experiences count equally towards your credentials.

 

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Immersive Virtual Reality: Online Education for the Next Generation

Immersive Virtual Reality: Online Education for the Next Generation

While distance learning has gained popularity over the past decade, it’s still not always the most exhilarating way to study. Although online courses cover cognitive skills just fine, students miss out on an important dimension of learning: engaging other intelligences and more intensive interactivity. In fact, only 4 percent of students who enroll in a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) will actually complete the course. Immersive virtual reality (VR) could radically change that experience.

But as immersive VR begins to establish itself in the education field, these online courses are about to get a serious makeover. Imagine watching an avatar teach your online marketing class, or virtually turning to a classmate participating from China for clarification on how you’ll work together to build a sustainable house in VR to later transfer to the real world. Immersive VR has serious potential to change distance education material for the better. So how will it affect student learning?

The challenges with distance learning

The Bloomberg Recruiter Report indicates that employers want job skills that go beyond cognitive ones. But the skills they most desire — communication, leadership, creative problem solving and strategic thinking skills — are the most difficult to find.

Meanwhile, students are increasingly engaging in online learning — as of 2016, one in four students now take distance learning classes. Students in these classes, however, aren’t able to develop these interpersonal skills as easily. That’s because they need to be developed by engaging in creative experiences, such as leading class discussions or working in groups.

A two-dimensional webpage for an online course can’t come close to replicating the power of an in-person experience. This is where immersive VR training comes in.

Immersive VR for training and education

Imagine you’re a surgeon, and a patient is rushed into your operating room. He’s been in a car crash and it’s your job to make critical decisions to save his life. Your heart races. You need to act fast — well, you need to act fast in this immersive VR app. Created by Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland in conjunction with Immersive VR Education, the app is realistic enough to train medical professionals for real-life hospital situations.

Much of the work being done in the educational immersive VR space is for specific training purposes. It gives users the physical and emotional responses that they would have if they were there in person, helping them to make fewer mistakes on the job because they already recognize the environment.

What’s more, Stanford researchers say VR can actually help cure phobias, making people more confident. If this research is transferred to the education realm, it perhaps means those who engage with VR can become more confident on the job, too.

In addition to medical training, VR apps are used to guide individuals in a range of industries. One app was built to train workers how to safely use high-voltage switching equipment. Other apps by Immerse Learning teach pilots English while they’re in a virtual cockpit for effective communication with air traffic control, or train oil platform staff in lifeboat safety.

Immersive VR for more general distance learning courses isn’t far behind. In April, Project Sansar, a VR creation platform, announced that it would begin taking applications to test out its platform. High Fidelity has also launched a beta version of its open-source VR platform, helping individuals to build their own complex VR experiences.

Even more, Immersive VR for distance learning will be furthered by the development of Facebook’s social VR, which allows avatars to interact in virtual worlds — like a classroom, for example.

Immersive VR will help increase retention among students taking distance learning courses. This is especially true if the VR apps are gamified: Students will be able to actually take part in ancient worlds as opposed to merely looking at 2-D photos of them.

Take Time Machine, for instance. It’s a Jurassic Park-themed app that lets students get up close with dinosaurs to learn about prehistoric creatures and the possibility of human extinction. Google’s virtual reality field trip kit called Expeditions allows teachers to be tour guides for dozens of virtual reality locations — places like Mount Everest and Mars. And although last year the program was only available in selected schools, Google announced this month that it would make the platform available for the general public.

Overall, immersive VR helps users develop emotional, interpersonal, intrapersonal and spatial intelligences, giving them a diversity of skills they may use to engage with other material. And when it comes to job training, immersive VR gives users the opportunity to create more embodied rehearsals for reality — enabling them to test out various strategies and learn from failures — before going out into the real world.

So what steps must be taken for immersive reality to take hold in mainstream education? For one, the technology needs to develop further. And it will, especially with the Project Sansar and High Fidelity open source VR platforms. But from these, a real learning community needs to be created so developers can share and build on their processes.

Additionally, educators need to believe that an experiential learning approach is more effective in developing important interpersonal skills than typical consumer education. And finally, the sector needs funding resources. Investors are putting a lot of money into the VR video game industry (as a whole, it’s expected to generate $5.1 billion for 2016), but they need to look at how the immersive VR technology can be used more productively. And education is a good place to start.

Peter Merry

Peter Merry is the chief innovation officer at Ubiquity University, a new accredited online university that combines learning with social innovation. His experience includes facilitating integral change processes in multinational corporations and government ministries as well as multi-stakeholder initiatives with global stakeholders.

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An Integral Competency Ecology

An Integral Competency Ecology

“What is the most important responsibility of any leader?” It could be one of those tricky interview questions that sets your heart and mind racing. What are they looking for? Is it strategic thinking? Communication? Vision? Decision-making? Managing your subordinates? If you were applying to VISA while Dee Hock was in charge, he would have answered “none of the above”.

Hock, one of the most successful business leaders of our time, making VISA a highly profitable company and a much sought-after place to work while he was in charge, said there was one responsibility that was so important that you should spend fifty percent of your time on it. What single responsibility could ever require that level of resource commitment? His answer? Managing your self.

Wait a minute. Managing my self? What on earth would I do for fifty percent of my time that would count as managing my self? That would be most people’s response – which just goes to show the inadequacy of the education and training we have received so far.

The IBM Global CEO studies over the years have pointed to a set of competencies needed to navigate what they call “hyper-complexity”. What’s hyper-complexity? Not just complex, but hyper-complex! Which basically means we don’t have a clue about the operating reality we are currently attempting to navigate. Those competencies turn out to be things like collaboration, communication, complex problem-solving, creativity and critical thinking – competencies that are not simple skills that you learn at school but that are fundamentally related to your inner qualities and personality traits.

When Jim Collins in Good to Great outlines what is needed to provide the grounding for expansion, it is to “preserve the core”. This is not in essence about organizational structure, it is about deep alignment at the heart of the organization between the people who hold the original impulse and their ability to radiate that feeling out into the rest of the organization. We could say it is about culture and values. These are intangible assets – not stuff you can easily measure or just roll out following some plan you learned at business school. It is about people and relationship. The soft skills are the hardest to work with, as ultimately it comes down to how easily we as individuals can access and empathize with the broad spectrum of human motivations that underlie people’s behaviors and relationships.

What is interesting about the IBM reports is that employers are reporting that they are not getting that set of competencies they so desperately need from our current educational institutions. Current programs are too focused on behavioral skills and seem to lack the ability to enable students to develop character. That’s not surprising, given that interior development is the most complex aspect of learning and probably the area that faculty have the least personal experience in. And if there is any subject you need to be able to talk from embodied experience about, it is personal development.

Governments in Asia are coming to a similar conclusion. Having focused their education and economy primarily on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) development, they are now realizing they need to help students develop more liberal arts qualities, to make for more integrated human beings better equipped to navigate an increasingly complex and unpredictable world.

It is of course not a case of either/or. Ken Wilber, the USA’s most translated philosopher alive today and founder of Integral Theory (disclosure: Ken Wilber is Ubiquity University’s inaugural Chancellor), illustrates the tension we describe above in his elegant four quadrants:

(Source: Evolutionary Leadership, Merry 2009)

Wilber’s quest that lead to the emergence of Integral Theory was to find a framework that enabled us to make space for everything (hence the title of one his 30-plus books A Theory of Everything). It illustrates nicely the challenges described above. The four quadrants are:

  • • the interior of the individual where our experience of the world takes place, where we filter, judge and interpret our reality
  • • the interior of the collective, where we share underlying values and assumptions
  • • the exterior of the individual, where our visible behaviour shows up
  • • the exterior of the collective, where we create the systems and structures that we can see all around us all day

Currently most of our training and education focuses on the exterior (right-hand) quadrants – things we can see and measure. However the kind of competencies and qualities that employers are saying they need now are rooted in the interior (left-hand) quadrants. That means that education and training need to embed the development of “soft” skills at the heart of their programs to be able to provide our organizations with the kind of people who will be equipped to successfully navigate an increasingly turbulent and challenging world.

It is after all from the interior dimensions that all our technology emerges. Before something is built, it has emerged in somebody’s mind (upper-left quadrant) or through a creative interaction amongst colleagues (lower-left quadrant). Currently there is a lot of attention being given to creating the conditions for the emergence of rapidly scalable technology solutions to the world’s biggest problems – and rightly so. However what an integral perspective reminds us of, is that if we pay no attention to the interior dimensions from which these solutions emerge, we are likely to deepen the illusion of separation between inner worlds and outer worlds that is ultimately at the core of our current planetary condition. Then, as Einstein warned us, we will indeed be trying to solve our problems from the same way of thinking that created them.

The opportunity before us is to integrate the development of interior qualities with the development of exterior skills, truly unleashing the full potential of humanity to co-create life-affirming solutions to the massive challenges that lie before us. A good place to start is for educational and training institutes to initiate their instructional design from an integral competence ecology rooted in all the aspects that make us fully human.

Peter Merry is Chief Innovation Officer at Ubiquity University. He is the author of the book Evolutionary Leadership, and the highly-rated online course Transformational Leadership, Strategy and Governance.

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Experiential Learning in VR – Rehearsals for Reality

Experiential Learning in VR – Rehearsals for Reality

You fly into class today – a little late, as usual. You’re confronted by a box full of seemingly random materials and a clock running down from 15 minutes. Standing around the box, you recognize some of your classmates – from India, Australia, Sri Lanka, Lithuania to name a few. Some of their avatars look like their photos, others are way different. Anyway, you realize you just dropped in to an assessment exercise in this leadership and collaboration course. As you approach the team and the box, you notice your heart rate increases on your biofeedback panel – in fact, everyone is running pretty high. Time to take a breath, and dive in.

Iris Leung writes an article in Forbes on 16th June 2016 entitled “Mobile Learning in Asia Set to Soar with More VR and Gamified Apps for Students”.

Michael Meotti, Principal at the Ed Policy group writes a piece on 1st June 2016, emphasizing the importance of experiential learning and the use of virtual environments as a way to increase engagement, retention and impact. Demand and impact are coming together.

For learning to be truly transformational, there is plenty of evidence to demonstrate that it needs to include an experiential dimension, as Kolb’s famous learning cycle illustrated. Moving into the development of online learning clearly presents a challenge to an embodied experiential approach. The two-dimensional web-as-page experience cannot come close to replicating the transformational power of an in-person experience. With the advent of accessible immersive virtual reality however, that possibility draws significantly closer.

Much research has been carried out that demonstrates the transferability of skills and qualities developed in a virtual reality environment to a person’s real life (Bailenson & Blascovitch, 2011). There is also plenty of evidence to show that the brain cannot distinguish between a simulated experience and a spontaneous experience (Northoff 2014). The opportunity then is to take experiential learning design into immersive virtual worlds.

Up until now, most of the virtual campuses in for example Second Life have focused on giving students living at a distance a more interactive social experience and the delivery of lectures in a virtual lecture theatre (where the more progressive programs have used the system’s ability to give everyone a sense that the lecturer is making eye contact with them and that they are seated in the primary location in the room for learning, both of which have been demonstrated to enhance the learner’s ability to learn – Bailenson & Blascovitch (2011)). However this is still using a form of teaching that prioritizes the cognitive intelligence and focuses primarily on developing the student’s ability to recall and understand information, rather than actually apply it.

In order to develop higher-level competencies, the kind called for by 1700 leaders in IBM’s Global CEO Study (e.g. collaboration, creativity, communication, complex problem-solving, critical thinking) and go beyond basic recall and understanding, a more embodied experiential approach is necessary.

This can of course be achieved by engaging in real-life projects, yet not everyone always feels confident (and it is not always safe!) to immediately jump in at the deep end and try something out in real life. Immersive VR gives us the opportunity to create more embodied rehearsals for reality, that enable us to test out various strategies and approaches, learning from our successes and failures, before taking those lessons learned into the real world. Training in immersive VR enhances the possibility that what we have learned goes beyond a purely cognitive intelligence and includes emotional, interpersonal, intrapersonal, spatial and other intelligences, the development of which will stand us in far better stead as we seek to apply our learning (as well as giving learners a diversity of intelligences they can use to engage with the material – Gardner 1983).

Although being able to provide these experiences in a way that is transformational, affordable and globally accessible may be a couple of years away, there are significant signs that the technological conditions to make it possible are improving exponentially and will be with us sooner than most people expect. The addition of this dimension to online learning will enable us to equip students globally with the skills and qualities needed to successfully navigate an increasingly complex and challenging world.

Peter Merry is Chief Innovation Officer at Ubiquity University. He is the author of the book Evolutionary Leadership, and the highly-rated online course Transformational Leadership, Strategy and Governance.

References

Bailenson & Blascovitch (2011). Infinite Reality. New York, Harper Collins

Gardner, H (1983). Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences. New York, Basic Books

Kolb, D (1984). Experiential Learning as the Science of Learning and Development. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall

Leung, I (2016). Mobile Learning in Asia Set to Soar with More VR and Gamified Apps for Students. Accessed from http://www.forbes.com/sites/irisleung/2016/06/16/vr-and-gamified-apps-on-the-horizon-for-mobile-learning-in-asia

Meotti, M (2016). Talent Development and Personalization Central to Long-Term Institutional Success. Accessed from http://evolllution.com/managing-institution/higher_ed_business/talent-development-and-personalization-central-to-long-term-institutional-success/.

Northoff, G (2014). Minding the Brain. London, Palgrave McMillan

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