Use of LEGO bricks in teaching collaborative problem solving

Collaborative problem solving (CPS) is an important 21st century skill. CPS is important, because both manual and non-manual work are increasingly non-standard, and because of this, the requirements for both problem-solving and collaboration at work are increasing.

In this post, I will take a look at how the use of LEGO and LEGO DUPLO bricks can help children learn collaborative problem-solving skills. One might argue that simply playing with such toys is already excellent practice, but I will demonstrate how formal teaching tasks can also be designed around the use of these tools, which enable systematic practice, and, if desired, assessment.

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Lean and amusement parks: Särkänniemi through kaizen eyes

Lean and amusement parks Särkänniemi through kaizen eyesThere is an unfortunate side effect to being exposed to Lean thinking in large quantities: you begin to see so much waste in processes all around you. It is everywhere, and going Lean could help all these companies. That includes amusement parks!

I visited the Särkänniemi amusement park in Finland with my family today, and this is a tale of what my kaizen eyes (which are by no means perfect) saw on that trip. I will use Legoland Billund as a comparison a fair bit, as I visited that amusement park earlier this year.

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Interlude: Meaningful Follow Fridays

Meaningful Follow FridayI like Follow Friday. It is nice to have some traditions in the constantly changing world of social media, and Follow Friday can sometimes be useful for discovering new people.

However, often it is not. It is in large part dominated by spammers and long lists of people. While I appreciate being mentioned in an #FF list, it is more like a minor compliment than a real suggestion to follow me, as I never bother clicking through all those names to find out more about them and I know most others do not either.

I know this is not brand new information. People have discussed the shortcomings of Follow Fridays almost as soon as the tradition began, and most things have been said multiple times already.

I still want to share the way I use #FF, because I enjoy it when I notice other people using it the same way and often check out people suggested this way:

  1. I always include some comments about the person I recommend.
  2. I only recommend one person or a related group of people each week. On some weeks, I might just skip the #FF entirely.

Here are my latest #FF tweets as a demonstration, and I suppose this promotes these people a little bit more as well:

#FF @torikyes – social media and technology; also infrequent but interesting blogger – ask her to blog more when following! (23 September 2011)

#FF @wittlake – writes about B2B marketing and social media; has a good head on his shoulders. (15 September 2011; I know it’s a Thursday.. Well, I know now that it’s a Thursday)

#FF @markwschaefer – One of the few daily bloggers who produces value on most days. He also practices what he preaches (in Tao of Twitter). (9 September 2011)

#FF @GrahamHill @ireneclng @SteveVargo – all three for their discussions on #SDLogic (2 September 2011)

Photo: Roger Price (cc)

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Interlude: The zombie argument for empowering your employees

Zombie argument for empowering your employeesPeople are a company’s most important asset. This is an often heard phrase, but in order for it to be more than lip service, those people should be empowered to do a good job.

One of the main reasons companies are unwilling to empower their employees to do a good job is fear. What will happen if a well-known expert leaves the company? Will people think less of the company then?

These fears are based on a mistaken premise. Everyone knows that people sometimes change employers. What makes a company look good, is a culture where great people are allowed to do a great job.

Hence, the zombie argument for empowering your employees:

You have these great people working for you, but if you don’t let them work their magic, you could just as well replace them with zombies.

Picture: Sweet Honey Pie (cc)

Interlude: Why would poor grammar make things better?

Why would poor grammar make things better?It is an often repeated mantra in social media that updates and blog posts should include the occasional typo and grammatical errors.

I’m sure they do, even properly edited books do, and I’m not suggesting that everyone needs to hire an editor for their blog.

But still, seriously, come on! Poorly written text is never more pleasant to read than well-written text. Quit praising it already!

I always proofread my blog posts. The results may still vary.

Why would poor grammar make things better?

Photo: Damien Ayers