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Sitting at a lunch table, I listened with intrigue to a very keen business executive from the U.S share his vision for our co-working business expansion into the north eastern U.S. He had contacted me out of the blue. They owned 16 malls he declared and sought out my company after extensive research as the ideal partner. He did his homework as he pulled out a glossy report on us that included a large coloured layout of a premium mall. He pointed to our full coloured Mindshare logo that was situated next to the Apple store as to the proposed location. As founder of Canada's first shopping mall located coworking space, this seemed like a great expansion opportunity into the U.S. That same afternoon, we got word from our mall management that our world was about to change forever--immediate full closure.
This was our World War III. The battle against COVID-19 that continues to linger. I remain hopeful and grateful daily despite what still feels like a bad dream, that will go away sooner than later with the vaccine coming. I always felt grateful for how safe Canada felt, having heard war stories from my immigrant parents growing up. The unknowns resulted in a sense of panic at times early on during the pandemic as we tried to make sense of it at all.
My priorities shifted to family first. Well-being, safety and security ruled the day. And how can I make an impact on my family, community locally and extended work & learning community.
I did a lot of soul searching. It was either fight or flight. I chose the former. It's about courageous leadership, making an impact. We respected the closure rules, however, we managed to re-open and stay open as we were able to demonstrate our support for co-workers who simply could not work at home for a multitude of reasons. Fortunately, our chief medical officer endorsed this request. We advocated for our community members as they had no other option.
On our learning company side of our business, we were inspired to create the Canadian Coalition For Learning at Home (CCFLH) in collaboration with education and EdTech industry partners making available some $50 million in online learning resources to kids across Canada as there was a sudden need for quick access to online resources. And we're not done yet. There's been a call for a national task force on Learning. The notion of Future Proofing education is something we embrace to help mitigate the impact of a future crisis on our country. There are a number of common issues that have plagued education during the pandemic with respect to equity, well-being and stable internet access as a right across Canada. There is much to be learned and gained through a national commission that we are pushing for later this year.
While we're not quite out of the woods yet, there's been many lessons learning and a redefinition of priorities post-pandemic. Family, work-life balance, positive relationships, community impact and a growth mindset helped proved to be the key ingredients to surviving this past year. Oh, and I forgot hope. I believe 'hope' and 'pivot' were the two most extensively used words in my vocabulary this past year.
I hope you find some inspiration from my 5 lessons for the future of work and learning.
It takes a Digital Village to raise a child in the 21st century is one of my signature slogans. Embracing new forms of technology to streamline the work and learning process is no longer an option. It became mission critical and will continue to do so for the balance of 2021. Whether you had to pivot to create an online store, or teach and online course, these new and emerging technologies are here to stay and provide opportunities to stay connected and nurture community. One of our pivots, we created #MindShareTV UnboxingEdTechTV to provide expert insight for education leaders, teacher and parents during these challenging times.
Positivity, Well-being and Growth MindSet. This is a tough one given the challenges many families faced with the losses due to Covid and the economic impact that devastated many families. Every day as a leader I remind myself that I need to remain positive, smile and be the rock in my family and my business. It hasn't been easy. Being surrounded by fellow entrepreneurs and education leaders has been immensely inspiring and motivating. Having mentors and mentees has helped get through the journey this past year. On the well-being front, I am a HUGE proponent of physical activity to keep you sharp and help you sleep at night. While my passion for playing hockey was limited this past year, I did manage to play outdoor hockey at our local park, rollerblade and go for family hikes. Physical fitness was also part of our daily regiment to help cope with the pressures and strike work-life balance.
Cease the Moment to Start a New Business, and Make an Impact. "Never let a good crisis go to waste," Winston Churchill. I started my learning technology business some 20 years ago in a deep recession. I was not daunted by it. I had just wrapped up a stint with Kevin O'Leary's TLC School division in Canada, departing after the famous sale to Mattel. It was an amazing experience. And so was my start-up journey and the ride continues. Lower costs and incentives are abound with generous wage subsidies as well. It's all about solving real problems. Now's your time to pivot. Go for it!
Learn a New Skill. The pandemic provided us with a once in a lifetime opportunity to explore a rethink our 'Why.' It's about making an impact and the best way to do that is to learn a new skill. If you ask successful people what's important, 'time' to do the things you want to do is at the top of the list. Besides brushing up on my technical and podcasting skills, I took time this year to learn to cook more. My favourite cookbook, that I highly recommend, Eat Delicious by Dennis the Prescott. Besides being a good friend's son, Dennis has a fabulous Netflix show, Restaurants on the Edge that I also recommend too!
Be Grateful. Relationships Matter. The Art of Networking in the Digital Age is a book I'll be releasing later this fall. My thesis, it's all about relationships, while leveraging technology to optimize your performance, both personally and professionally. I'm truly grateful for my family and my community locally, friends and colleagues. Staying connected, especially during the pandemic has been critical to maintaining a healthy mindset. I'm known for being a 'connector' and know a lot of people. Yes, I consider myself a 'people person.' However, I really work at staying connected with friends and clients on a daily basis. I make a point of reaching out to a friend or colleague on a daily basis. You have to make a concerted effort.
On this pandemic anniversary weekend, decide to make a positive change in your life and impact those who are most important to you.
In closing, I give a shoutout to my family for their support to do what I do on a daily basis. I wish they would let me cook more! I'm still perfecting my recipes!
Co-incidentally, I did reach to my U.S. colleague on our one-year anniversary to reflect and see how he and his family coped during the pandemic. We are still very much aligned to explore the opportunity for expansion once the borders re-open.
A special shoutout to our frontline workers, our community members, teachers and parents, who have helped keep it all together to sustain work and learning during the most challenging period in modern times. This is what give me great hope, the human spirit that exists within you. Stay safe!
P.S. We are proud partners in the World Education Forum. It's not too late to register! Special Canadian Group Pricing!
Robert Martellacci, M.A. EdTech
President, MindShare Learning Technology™
Chief Digital Publisher, The MindShare Learning Report™
Founder, MindShare Workspace
CEO & Co-founder, C21 Canada™
C21 Canada 10th Anniversary with Robert Martellacci, CEO, C21 Canada and Special guest, Patricia Gartland, Superintendent & CEO, SD43 in Coquitlam, B.C. One-Year Reflection with a Focus on International Education
1. Sikh student celebrated for sparking change in virtual school
cbc.ca: March 3, 2021
A Sikh student from Newmarket is being celebrated for speaking out and sparking change. When 13-year-old Karanveer Singh Anand was creating his avatar for virtual school, he noticed that the head covering he wears wasn’t an option. So he and his teacher tried to find a solution. Talia Ricci tells us what happened next.
3. ‘It would not be far-fetched to say that technology will become a mainstay of the classroom’
edtechnology.co: March 17, 2021
Over the past year, the education sector has been forced to give innovation a chance. As a result, the global education system has undergone a complete transformation.
Change within this space has traditionally been slow. Educational institutions have generally been reluctant to stray from the norm and offer new technologies an opportunity to revolutionise the way we learn. Now, this has all changed.
The coronavirus pandemic upended almost every aspect of school at once. It was not just the move from classrooms to computer screens. It tested basic ideas about instruction, attendance, testing, funding, the role of technology and the human connections that hold it all together.
6. Lab upgrade allows U of T engineers to design 'resilient cities of the future'
educationnewscanada.com, March 12, 2021
An upgraded facility at the University of Toronto's Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering - unlike any other in the world - will let engineers test next-generation infrastructure designed to be resilient in the face of natural disasters, from hurricanes to earthquakes.
7. Three Ways to Achieve Meaningful Online Student Learning
University Affairs: March 9, 2021
I’m flying a jet plane, while repairing it at the same time; at least that’s how I feel with our continual pivot to online course delivery during the pandemic. I’ve been keen to determine how students are experiencing our newly adapted curriculum; to what extent are they meeting course and program objectives by doing the activities and resources that I’ve created or curated for them? In particular, I’d like to know if they’re generating valuable “ah-ha” moments as they navigate through the curriculum versus if they’re stumbling through the content.
8. Graduate student uses technology to support Indigenous language learning
educationnewscanada: March 15, 2021
Like any 21st-century student, she turned to the internet for help. To her surprise, she found very few digital resources for Cree.
"The kind of stuff that is missing is super basic. I was like, 'I know basic programming.' And so that kind of planted the seed," said Lothian.
She would go on to dedicate the remainder of her undergraduate degree to creating tools that support Indigenous language learners. In addition to an app that helps conjugate verbs, she has also created a Space Invaders-inspired game to help learners connect Cree sounds to the written language.
Though Wi-Fi achieved some level of ubiquity years ago, reliable access still remains out of reach for the countless students living in broadband deserts across the nation. It’s a problem made starkly clear over the past year, as the pandemic forced universities and their students to embrace remote learning.
To support teachers structure and deliver home learning for children, we’ve gathered a collection of teacher-created learning resources designed to engage both primary and secondary students and help them learn and study outside of their usual classroom environment.
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The MindShare Learning Report team is made up of the following individuals:
Robert Martellacci, M.A. Ed Tech., Chief Digital Publisher Dr. Karen Grose, MindShare Learning Partner Associate Timothy Gard, B.Ed., OCT, M.A, Chief Learning Strategist Hanan Mousa, Associate Digital Media Specialist
IvanaZelich, Digital Media University Intern MindShare Advisory Board
The MindShare Report is grateful for the guidance and support provided by our esteemed advisory board. Members include:
Lauren Burman, M.B.A., Chief Commercial Officer, Sound Commerce
Kevin Custer, Founding Principal, Arc Capital Development
Chip Fesko, Principal, Chip Fesko & Associates
Ian Fogarty, Educator, Riverview High School | MindShare National Video Challenge Award Winner
Dr. GuyTetrault, Award Winning Sun West School Division, Director & CEO (Retired)
Michael Furdyk, Co-Founder, TakingItGlobal
Dr. Eric Hamilton, Associate Dean of Education, Pepperdine University, Graduate School of Education and Psychology
Maxim Jean-Louis, CEO, Contact North/Contact Nord,
Gary Kern, Principal, St. George's School
Dr. Susanne Lajoie, Professor, Department of Educational and Counselling Psychology, McGill University
David Marsi, Senior Manager Training Initiatives, ScotiaMcLeod
Mirella Rossi, Superintendent of Education, Simcoe Muskoka Catholic District School Board
Sandra Chow, Award Winning Teacher, Toronto District School Board (On Leave serving as a Director of Technology & Instruction at a School in China
Ron Sedran, MD, Equity Capital Markets, Canaccord Adams
About The MindShare Learning Report™Canada's Learning & Technology eMagazine.
Our mission is to provide insight and inspiration to K12 and Post-Secondary education and industry leaders by sharing the latest trends and innovative best practices and success stories in the Canadian education market space and beyond.
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MindShare Learning is Canada’s leading EdTech strategy, news and events media company. We counsel education and technology leaders in understanding the emerging needs of learners to succeed in the 21st Century global knowledge-based digital economy.
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