Human 2.0 Project

Permanence * Adventure * Culture

Geoff Lawton's Online PDC is starting soon

2014-03-26 00:00:00 Erik Lee

I took Geoff Lawton's first online PDC and was deeply impressed by the content and the effort he put into creating it. I think he's probably doing more than any other human being on Earth to make the world better for the future, so it was with great excitement that I read an email from him inviting alumni from the first PDC to join in on the next one! I spent some time thinking about what I could do to make the experience even better for the next generation of students than it was for me, and I came up with a couple of things.

Study Questions

I've done a lot of studying about how learning works, mostly as preparation for the massive project that this site represents. One of the things I learned is that there is no substitute for getting your hands dirty with some challenging problems if you really want to master something. You have to explore what it means, how it fits together, and where the surprising corners are that don't show up when you're just listening to lectures and watching videos passively. The most effective way to do that is by solving open-ended problems that have some capacity to reveal a surprising result. You can learn a lot as a passive observer, but if you get involved and get some experience, you'll learn orders of magnitude more.

The first thing I'm going to do to help make Geoff's course even more awesome is come up with some good study questions for each unit. These won't be fact-recall kinds of questions, they'll be thinking, problem-solving kinds of questions that force you to investigate places in the idea space that aren't necessarily obvious from a high-level pass. If you go to the trouble to answer them, I guarantee you'll come out with a much deeper understanding of what this is really about and how to apply it in the real world. I don't have a comment system on this site yet, but I'll be posting the questions on Geoff's PDC forum so you can answer and discuss them there.

Visual Aids

There are a few concepts in permaculture that are desperately in need of some good visual aids. Geoff is great with a dry erase board, and I found his drawings to be sufficient for my own understanding with no trouble. However, I'm a very visual thinker with a lot of experience in 3D graphics and mechanical design, so I had an advantage from that. I'm going to make some more visual aids to help in understanding some of these trickier concepts as the course goes on, in the hopes that it'll solidify understanding and maybe even give some insights into potential connections between things that would otherwise be hazy.


The last thing I'm going to do is organize my extensive library of resources so that students who want to dig deeper into particular subjects can have a place to look for reviewed content that's relevant to the topic at hand. I have a gigantic library of books, along with a big collection of links and downloaded content that's all oriented toward some aspect of permaculture or its ties to sciences like ecology, biology, psychology, and sociology. If you want to go deep on something in that realm, I'll try to give you a good starting point.

Why am I doing this?

Geoff didn't ask me to help, and I'm not being paid. I'm doing this because I got tremendous value out of his first online course, and I want to "reinvest the surplus" by helping his next crop of students get even more. Geoff's saving the world, and I'm here to cheer him on and help where I can. For any students of the 2014 (and hopefully beyond) classes, I really hope I can help you squeeze every last drop out of this PDC. You've made a great choice signing up for it.

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