Looking for a Global Reach for the Upcoming OBE Course

Hi Folks:

We’ve decided that for our upcoming OBE course (scroll down for information on the post below or by clicking the course tab on the navigation bar), we’re going to offer two of everything. We had so many folks from all over the world in our recent MOOC (ParaMOOC2015, more information on the tab in the navigation bar) that we felt we needed to make sure the live portions of the upcoming fee-based course are scheduled in such a way as to accommodate learners from around the globe.

Our class lectures for the OBE course (starts the week of March 9th) will be scheduled at 2pm Eastern and at 7:30pm Eastern on four Tuesdays, starting with Tuesday, March 10th. Each lecture will be 90 minutes long to accommodate post-class discussion time, and will be on the same topic. So same speaker (either Carlos or I), same PowerPoint, but two live lectures on “Lecture Day.”

We’re still canvassing the folks who have indicated that they want to sign up to discover whether Thursday or Saturday would be better for two live discussion forums (and if the class is interested, with a Second Life open house in between). If you are interested in the course and have a preference leave us a comment or click on the registration page listed above.

More news soon!

Best from both of us!

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The Upcoming Course on Out-of-Body Experience Research

Starting on March 9th, 2015, Carlos and I are offering a private, fee-based four-week course called Mind without a Body: Exploring Out-of-Body Experiences. Carlos will be giving most, if not all, of the substantive lectures although OBE apparitions is one of my favorite topics, so we will see. I will be handling the course facilitation, doing some tutorials for learners new to the WizIQ social media platform, and handling WizIQ-based discussion forums.

The course will be pitched at a high level like our recent ParaMOOC2015, the massively (okay only 850 or so …) open online course. Our goal with our teaching business is to provide resources for learners who want to come into contact with the best of the research. Unlike ParaMOOC2015 the new course is the first of a series of single phenomena-, institution-, approach-, individual-focused learning opportunities we are planning to offer over the next many years. We hope having a single goal for each course will not only let us get into the details, but also give the learners a chance to read more and discuss more on a single subject.

These short courses are fee-based because we hope to be able to support ourselves in the future on our teaching and research activities and get a bit farther away from the publishing and editorial work we have been doing to supplement our incomes over the majority of our life together.  The courses are also affordable, though, because it is really important to us that as many people as possible who want to take part can afford to do so. By keeping prices low on individual courses and conferences, and offering free lectures and an annual MOOC, we hope to balance our two goals in such a way as to be is good for folks who are interested, good for us, and good for the field as well.

We have always loved to learn. Alvarado is always reading something new and I am always watching something new being addicted to online courses on WizIQ and Cousera, not to mention on YouTube (CrashCourse comes to mind …). And we have come to agree with our teaching online mentors and colleagues that teaching is learning: How much we have learned from the folks who inhabited our on-site and online classrooms over the years! But we especially like to give back to younger colleagues and folks who are new to scientific parapsychology and anomalistic psychology.

Carlos S. Alvarado and Nancy L. Zingrone in 1983

Carlos S. Alvarado and Nancy L. Zingrone in 1983

Giving back now is paying the debt we owe to all the people who helped us when we were first starting out. As undergraduates in our separate cities, Carlos had a Professor at the University of Puerto Rico and I had a Professor at Mundelein College in Chicago who were both interested in the scientific side of the field. They shared their libraries, their interests, held courses and otherwise opened up an area of study to supplement our love of psychology. Both had a healthy skepticism and an interest in the scientific method. And both felt that taking what seemed to be psychic experiences seriously enough to conduct research was a totally legitimate undertaking. Provided, of course, they both warned, that you allowed yourself to be led by the data even if results wandered away from your favorite theories or hopes.

So whatever we do now, and what we hope to do in the future, will be following in those specific footsteps as well as those of other mentors and friends, paying it forward.

If you’re interested in out-of-body experiences and would like to learn more about the course, just click on Exploring OBEs here or on the menu above and read more.

As the first ever Parapsychology MOOC winds down …

This has been an extraordinary six weeks for my husband and I. In a small cabin in the woods, with a terrible internet connection just a tad above the minimum requirements to run a course on the social media teaching platform, www.WizIQ.com, we were able to pull in more than two dozen of our colleagues and friends to help us present to what is at the moment 846 enrollees recent interdisciplinary research into a variety of exceptional experiences and seemingly paranormal phenomena. Our way was paved financially by the donations of three of those friends and the willingness of Lisette Coly, President of the Parapsychology Foundation, to let us use time she was paying for to organize, facilitate and manage the course.

The experience was extraordinary not only because of the hard work of the speakers and our course team members (and check out Carlos’ blog where the names of all the speakers and members of the course team, and their contributions are honored) but because a core group of learners followed along with us on the journey, attending lectures in real-time and viewing them later, taking quizzes, attending discussion forums on WizIQ and in Second Life, and writing reflections, essays, and endless threads of discussion. Their contribution — from more than 50 countries on the face of the earth — made this journey even better than we could ever have imagined.

The Not Quite So Closing Ceremonies Live Broadcast on a Computer and a Device on the Other Side of the Globe from Us

The Not Quite So Closing Ceremonies Live Broadcast on a Computer and a Device on the Other Side of the Globe from Us

We are proud of all our participants because of their willingness to give of themselves for free, and proud of ourselves, as members of the unfortunately ever-growing phalanx of under-employed, financially strapped US citizens who struggle every day to continue to provide service to their family, friends and colleagues. It’s down to WizIQ.com and its affordability and the generosity of its learning networks and support staff, as well as to the folks who helped support our efforts, that this was possible at all.  And we just want to thank everybody!

We also felt blessed because some of our past teaching partners, now no longer in our orbit, had rejected to one extent or another the core philosophy of the course we put on: that there are people out there who are very interested in the best research and theory the field of parapsychology has to offer; and that those people are looking for the best references as well as for an open environment to discuss and criticize and otherwise engage with people who have similar and differing experiences and points of view. Unlike the teaching network on WizIQ and all over our field as well, the folks we used to partner with felt strongly that the more watered down the information, the better for the learner, the more control over the learner’s interactions with each other, the better the learning environment and so on. For us that philosophy was too constraining, and the day we finally decided to disconnect and head out on our own turned out to be a very good day. Scary, but a prelude to the best six weeks of our lives.

We’ve learned largely from our teaching networks on WizIQ and in Second Life that what many adult learners want is an environment full of options, where they can pick and choose what they’re ready for, where they can stretch and challenge themselves, and stretch and challenge the experts who present the live classes. We’ve learned that adult learners are fully capable of deciding for themselves what they need, and how they want to learn. We have felt strongly that our jobs as organizers and facilitators is to give the folks who sign up those opportunities by designing flexibility into a course with high quality content. Trusting the new learning networks that formed in our MOOC to use and amplify what’s on offer was a design choice that paid us all back many times over.

The other belief of ours that was reinforced by the experience of the Parapsychology MOOC 2015 was an expected one: that generosity of heart and a commitment to open and affordable learning (speaking of upcoming plans for new courses and conferences) is the way to go. While accreditation and certification is with us in a world focused on proof of knowledge and ability, sometimes the best way to go is to care enough to share, to build opportunities that feed people’s heads without emptying their pockets.

All in all an amazing experience. What’s next in the short term is to continue to support the learners who are working their way through the materials, to plan some affordable fee-based single topic courses on phenomena in the field, and get the edited versions of the substantive talks up on our YouTube Channel, also called Parapsychology Online. Oh, and start getting caught up on our hours for the Parapsychology Foundation and our other part-time editing, writing, translation, and teaching jobs.

A hearty thanks to everybody involved! Look for the complete schedule and direct links to the recordings under the Parapsychology MOOC 2015 tab on this site.