More on Microlending

April 6, 2011

I’ve written about microlending before:

because I believe it is a tremendously empowering concept.

That’s why a story like the one in yesterday’s Globe and Mail is particularly upsetting to me. “Nobel laureate loses final appeal to keep job at Grameen microlending bank.”

Here’s a quote from the article which describes Muhammad Yunus as a pioneer of the concept of microlending, now dismissed from his role as managing director:
“Mr. Yunus has said the dismissal was illegal and alleged that the government was trying to take control of his bank, which pioneered the practice of giving tiny loans to alleviate poverty. His work spurred a boom in such lending across the developing world, earning him and the bank the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize..”

Note that other publications are writing about this as well “US and France lament exit of Grameen’s Muhammad Yunus”:

One has to wonder why the Bangladeshi government would want to take this position. Some reasons are given in the articles, but if those reasons are not valid, then the consolation is that hopefully, in this era where, through transparency and the flow of information, more and more people will up find ways to get to the truth and navigate around this kind of centralized control.

After all, decentralization is what microlending (and social media) is all about.


Free Egypt

February 11, 2011

I’m watching images of the crowds cheering “Free Egypt” as they hear that Mubarak has stepped down.

Having read El Baradei’s article in the NY Times this morning (his viewpoint seems very balanced to me) I feel optimistic that the recent communications technologies will continue to give people opportunities and motivation to address imbalances in power.

Here’s a quote:

“young Egyptians, gazing through the windows of the Internet, have gained a keener sense than many of their elders of the freedoms and opportunities they lack. They have found in social media a way to interact and share ideas, bypassing, in virtual space, the restrictions placed on physical freedom of assembly.”

I love his conclusion in this article as well:

“We are at the dawn of a new Egypt. A free and democratic society, at peace with itself and with its neighbors, will be a bulwark of stability in the Middle East and a worthy partner in the international community. The rebirth of Egypt represents the hope of a new era in which Arab society, Muslim culture and the Middle East are no longer viewed through the lens of war and radicalism, but as contributors to the forward march of humanity, modernized by advanced science and technology, enriched by our diversity of art and culture and united by shared universal values.

We have nothing to fear but the shadow of a repressive past.”

Three videos that educators should consider

September 13, 2009

I truly believe that data visualization combined with social networking is going to make a difference in how our world is controlled. More than ever before we can all have informed input.

So…. Here are three videos that I think all educators should consider

And then,

Us Now

May 13, 2009

“Us Now”

This video, freely avaiable at:

has ideas from Tapscott, Leadbeater, Shirky (and more) and it really hits the heart of why I have hope for the future.

I hope that all educators will watch this!

A bit like Shirky’s “Here Comes Everybody”, “Us Now” explores technology’s role in citizen participation — allowing for collaborative concepts to be implemented in ways impossible before.  Zopa is one example –  a social network for finding lenders. And the lenders are just everyday people willing to lend small amounts (really small) for projects they believe in. Rates are negotiated and you might require several lenders but, (sort of like an online dating service) if the match is made, you’ll be able to fund your project. Any project! — it’s borrowing money from people not banks 🙂

“Us Now” has many other examples, from couch surfing to government.

Here’s a quote from the video’s web page

“we have become the authors of our own information and knowledge, sharing what we care about with others rather than merely being swayed by the latest marketing of a product or lifestyle.

Most powerfully, we’ve begun to trust each other again.”

It’s a full-length production (59 min) and it  inspires me to want to do everything possible to educate the next generation to be ready and able to use the potential of citizen participation to its fullest!

Can we model this in K-12 education? in colleges and universities? Can our learning environments be dynamically constructed with our learners and include the greater public to become engaging and collaborative places of ongoing formal and informal personalized learning, preparing citizens for their larger participatory roles in the future?

A challenge, yes — but what amazing rewards if we meet this challenge!