In 2013, everyone is talking about MOOCs. School of Thinking has been offering and teaching its early version of MOOCs–training hundreds of thousands of students in over 50 countries at a time pro bono publico–since its online establishment in 1995. Our classes were massive. They were open access. They were online. Our training motto was We teach thinking as a skill. Anyone. Anywhere. Anytime.

At that time, most universities and centres of higher learning were offering traditional campus classes and tutorials with qualified professors for groups of around 100 students at a time. SOT changed this model.

The problem with the ancient campus model is that it is not scalable. SOT employed our XIO strategy and started online classes (in those days we called them virtual classes) of ten times the offline number. Thousands! And more.

Previously we even did a printed class in a Readers Digest magazine broadcast of 7 SOT lessons which went to a massive audience of 68 million. As that was in 1983 this audience was not yet socially wired. There was no charge for the lessons.The lessons were free (except for the cost of the magazine). Thought experiment: Imagine what might have happened if this massive RD class could have been online.

At SOT we also developed the first MOOL–massive open online lesson–and you can see an example of a MOOL by clicking here. Note the number of COMMENTS at the end of the lesson.

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-    BOOK –    SCHOOL -   CERTIFICATE

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Since it’s foundation in New York in 1979, School of Thinking has disseminated over a half a billion thinking lessons worldwide. It is not only pro bono publico but also the first and oldest school on the internet and went online in 1995. Today, SOT lessons are still open access and exported, from Australia, to members in more than 51 countries … 24/7/365.

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– How does the School of Thinking model work?

The School of Thinking is free. In every sense of the word. Not only are there no fees for the training we provide but SOT also has an all-inclusive, swinging-door, opt-in/opt-out membership policy. Members come and go as they please. Anyone. Anywhere. Anytime. In 1995 SOT became the first online school on the internet. Our viral training strategy has always been train-the-trainer.  We are the longest-running program in the world and have been training Thinking Instructors continuously since 1980.

– With whom is SOT affiliated?

SOT is free. It is an independent school. And so are the Thinking Instructors. SOT is not beholden to sponsors, government grants nor to fundraisers. We do not have to meet shareholders expectations. There is no cardinal, no censor, no imprimatur to tell us what we can say and what we cannot say. We use Wikipedia as our primary hyperlink resource for trainee due diligence and independent research.
We also use the feedback of our virtual campus to inform our daily publishing effort. As a primary resource for our members SOT provides the coursebook, the lessons and training and the certificate for those who successfully complete the training and we list them on our Roll of Instructors. After that, Thinking Instructors are on their own and free to think for themselves, to experiment and to operate as they please.

As you would expect, SOT is neither traditional nor authoritative and does not seek to dictate a sets of rules for members to follow. The model is darwinian. It is is laissez-faire.

SOT does not offer to provide or manage affiliate programs or online community fora. Thinking Instructors are free to use the SOT tools within their own networks to start, train and lead their own independent groups with families, businesses, schools and communities and according to their own levels of energy and initiative. SOT’s simple and robust design has proved to be a very successful model for long-term survival and with a less-inhibiting, faster and much wider spread of influence.

– How do SOT members stay involved?

Since 1980 we’ve published weekly SOT newsletters as a regular resource. We keep members and instructors supplied with a steady flow of hyperlinked information, research, resources and ideas. Instructors can repeat the training at anytime and also direct their students to SOT for online training 24/7. We have three levels of training. There are SOT members and Instructors in over 50 countries since 1980. They are operating in boardrooms and on the shop floor. They work in universities and classrooms. They are parents, friends, professionals and adolescents. There are now new cohorts of SOT Instructors in China, Italy and Brazil.

– If SOT is independent then who funds SOT?

The SOT Model was created by Dr Michael Hewitt-Gleeson in 1979 and its design has been continuously evolved since then and privately funded by him with proceeds from his publishing, lecturing and consulting activities to business, government and academic institutions. We have maintained our independence for over 30 years and have been able to survive the rapidly changing environment during this time by using this simple but robust train-the-trainer darwinian viral replication model. We will soon evolve into the next 30-year phase, possibly with an IPO and a non-for-profit foundation. We are designing some different options to solve the longevity problem. Stay tuned!  

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The School of Thinking is the only school in the world that utilises the hyperlink to accelerate the teaching of metacognition. It is the largest neuroplastic program in the world for:

  • teaching “thinking skills” and
  • teaching “teaching thinking skills”.

Edward de Bono, when first seeing the SOT model for the dissemination and teaching of thinking skills, described it as “brilliant”.

 

In 2011, more than one million thinking lessons were exported online from Melbourne, Australia to SOT members in the following 46 countries: Australia, United States, United Kingdom, India, Canada, New Zealand, China, Malaysia, Netherlands, Germany, Philippines, Spain, South Africa, Singapore, Ireland, Sweden, Japan, Belgium, Uganda, France, Mexico, Nigeria, Finland, Israel, Korea, Republic of, Norway, Czech Republic, Italy, The Vatican, Egypt, Brazil, Europe, Austria, New Caledonia, United Arab Emirates, Romania, Hungary, Dominican Republic, Cambodia, Luxembourg, Thailand, Macedonia, Cameroon, Azerbaijan, Qatar and The Bahamas.

30 years ago I had an idea. That idea was to start a Learn-To-Think Project to train 300,000 ‘teachers of thinking’ around the world. I shared this idea with Edward de Bono who suggested we call this project the Edward de Bono School of Thinking and so we kicked it off in New York in 1979.

This project was so successful that it has led to the largest program in the world for the teaching of thinking skills in families, classrooms and boardrooms.

Even in China they are now training ‘teachers of thinking’ because they are beginning to realise that China’s greatest asset may be the potential brainpower of its families.

In business in the 80s, CEOs like Jack Welch of GE were among the first to see the value of innovation which could come from the brainpower of GE’s knowledge-workers. Since then, other companies like Apple and Google have followed suit and developed employee brainpower to deliver extra value to their shareholders.

Over the years, this Learn-To-Think Project has published an evolving range of cognitive technologies including CoRT thinking skills, School of Thinking caps, universal brain software (cvs2bvs), English Thinking and the XIO memeplex.

In 1995 I put the School of Thinking (SOT) on the internet. This was the first school on the internet. It was also the first school ever to use hypertexttext with hyperlinks – as a teaching tool. We believe hypertext is one of the cleverest learning tools of the www era.

SOT began to send out millions of pro bono thinking lessons by email to students in over 50 countries worldwide and it still does this every day. Today we charge a modest fee. These brain technologies have reached over 100 million people worldwide since 1979.

In those first days the ethos of the internet was “Information wants to be free!” and SOT became the world’s first pro bono school for teaching thinking to anyone, anywhere and at anytime. As Sir Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the WWW puts it, “The spirit of the internet was not one of patents and royalties but of academic openness”. In 1997 SOT won the coveted ‘Top 5% of the Web Award’.

 

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