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Ian O'Byrne

Do stuff. Be clenched, curious. Not waiting for inspiration's shove or society's kiss on your forehead. Pay attention. It's all about paying attention. Attention is vitality. It connects you with others. It makes you eager. Stay eager. - Susan Sontag In issue of TL;DR - #persistence


Ian O'Byrne

Exercise on learning from the view from above

On the final day of Stoic Week 2016, we are asked to consider our relationships with others and society in general. The handbook and daily prompts for the week are available here.

The reflection for this day is from Meditations, 2.3 from Marcus Aurelius:

The works of the gods are full of providence. The works of Fortune are not independent of Nature or the spinning and weaving together of the threads governed by Providence. All things flow from that world: and further factors are necessity and the benefit of the whole universe, of which you are a part. Now every part of nature benefits from that which is brought by the nature of the Whole and all which preserves that nature: and the order of the universe is preserved equally by the changes in the elements and changes in their compounds.

In this I believe that Marcus Aurelius is reminding us of our connection to nature, but also identifying a possibility for us to not be over attached to perspectives and actions outside of our own.

As indicated in previous posts, we have a lot that we can learn from our partners, friends, and colleagues. We can also learn from nature and our environment. The challenge is that we need to focus on our own goals and direction in life while striving for a life filled with virtue.

To remain focused on events in your locus of control, the following activity known as "the view from above" is recommended. This is a guided meditation that is aimed at focusing on the bigger picture in life and understanding your role in the world.

The audio recording above is a recording from Donald Robertson. Alternatively, you can read the script for the guided meditation here. Alternatively you can review the following video here.

Ian O'Byrne

Using Logic Models to Organize Grant Proposals

3 min read

In the development of grant proposals, it can sometimes be a challenge to mix what you'd like to do, what you need to do, and what you'll actually be funded to do.

At some point in the grant writing process, I find it is a helpful task to create a logic model to use as an organizer of your ideas.

On a new document, I first write the title, goal, and objectives of the grant. As a reminder, a goal is a broad statement of what you wish to accomplish. Goals are broad, general, abstract, and do not need to be measurable. Objectives are individual, granular steps toward accomplishing the goal. Objectives are precise, observable, measurable, and concrete.

After writing the goal and objectives, I then develop a logic model to organize the proposal.

A logic model includes five parts:

  • Current Situation: What is the current situation, problem, and environment in which you are proposing to work? You need to identify the good, bad, and ugly in this description.
  • Resources: What current resources do you have at your disposal that will support your work in the proposal? What resources are you requesting as part of the grant proposal that will support your work in the proposal?
  • Project Activities: What will you (and participants) do as part of the grant? Include everything.
  • Outcomes: What products or consequences do you expect at the conclusion of the project as a result of project activities?
  • Impacts: What change or overall effect will last long after your grant has concluded?

I write all of the elements of the logic model on a white board or chart paper and write/discuss/revise over a period of time. An example of a recent planning session is below.

Once you have some agreement, the logic model moves to a digital space for further revision and use in planning and writing. Using Google Drawings in a Google Doc makes this super easy. A digital example of the info from the white board above is included below.

You then need to identify "flow" or order of actions across the logic model. In this you add arrows to show how activities lead to outcomes and ultimately to impacts. If you do not show a progression or connection across the need to create a space for this in your model, or remove it. An example of the logic model with the arrows included is available below.

As you write and revise your proposal narrative, use the logic model as a guide to organize your thinking. You may choose to have a critical friend review the grant proposal using your logic model to ensure that everything connects to what you've written. If possible...have an outside evalautor create a logic model from your proposal narrative to see if if it connects.

Ian O'Byrne

January 27, 2016

2 min read

Listened to the Tim Ferriss interview this morning with Luis von Ahn and was struck by numerous things. 

von Ahn was discussing the business model for Duolingo and indicated that they started with a model in which people could use the app/platform for free, but they would have people volunteer to translate documents/blog posts from English to their primary language and then sell this work to other companies looking for translation. They ultimately decided to leave this model as it was a "race to the bottom" in the translation business. 

One of the two business models they have moved to included having users test through and earn a certificate after completing the activities in the Duolingo system. Apparently the TOEFL is the standard test for English language proficiency around the globe. It's expensive ($200 to $300), but it's also not accessible for many people. They need to travel to sites around the globe to take the test. In some parts of the globe this might mean travel using various means costing much more than the test itself. The time is also a factor as it might take at least a day just to get to the spot for the test. This test is needed as it's a requirement by schools and businesses for individuals that want to enter the US for work/education.

Duolingo entered this market by offering the "certificate" at the end of their program to indicate that users had completed the work, and now posessed a certificate/credential indicating mastery. They're testing/researching this internally, and now externally at several schools in the US to see if it is a valid substitute for the TOEFL.

In thinking about potential business models for the "one side project" work, I'm thinking about possible opportunities to offer a certificate or credential. Need to investigate if this is something I can offer on my own...or need to partner up with a school...or if thinking about it as a credential/certificate it too short-sighted. Perhaps a connection with the idea of the ledger from my other side project.

One thing that is for sure...the target of my classes project is international students. International learners from Pre-K up through higher ed will need this learning. If I attract US learners...that's good, but I think there is a bigger market out there.