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.

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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.

News from the Parapsychology MOOC!

Well it’s now the middle of the second week of the Parapsychology and Anomalistic Psychology: Research and Education MOOC. We have 765 registrants from more than 50 countries. They are experiencers, researchers, students, young scientists, interested individuals, retirees, professionals — you name it! We have had four guest speakers so far: Dr. Alejandro Parra from the Instituto Psicología Paranormal in Buenos Aires who talked about clinical and counseling services and research at his Institute, Dr. Daniel Benor, a Canadian psychiatrist who has done many years of research into psychic healing, Dr. Ed May, the past-Director of the US Government’s StarGate (remote viewing) project and a physicist, and Dr. Everton de Oliviera Maraldi, a psychologist from the University of Guaralhos in Brazil, who reported on a survey of mediums, atheists and other individuals with a particular emphasis on dissociation, belief and identity. Tomorrow Dr. Kathy Dalton, a Research Fellow at the Parapsychology Foundation, will be talking about the role of creativity in parapsychological research. Carlos and I have given some talks, my most recent one on the geographical spread of mainly-university based research units as a way to characterize modern parapsychology, and Carlos’ most recent one being an introduction to the field as a whole.

So far so good! The social media teaching platform, WizIQ.com, has turned out to be very robust, although weather impacts local connectivity and sometimes it takes a while to get our speakers and our attendees situated. Tom Hodgers, an ESL teacher born in the UK who has lived and worked in Venezuela for many years, and one of our colleagues in our consulting business as well as a financial support of our teaching project, Natasha Chisdes have worked very hard in the chat list during live classes and on the Course Feed page to answer questions, help resolve problems and otherwise make sure everybody is having a good experience. Another colleague from the ESL teaching world, Nives Torresi, have also been helping out with the chat. And on the first day, Halina Ostankowicz-Bazan, also an ESL teaching world pal, did a lot of facilitating in the chat as well. Now we’re seeing learners helping each other as they get used to the interface and the various fixes for audio or video problems, or just pointing out that there’s a palette of emoticons at the ready.

We’ve had a lot of kind words, and a couple of rants. Most people who have written are thankful for the opportunity to hear the scientific side of the field online, and to be able to ask questions not only of their colleagues in the live classes but of the speakers who are active researchers in the field. Some, who are watching the WizIQ-based recordings, are enjoying the experience, even though the default time for the live classes has not been congenial for them. But some folks are pretty unhappy about the social media part of the experience and find the chat box and the hellos/goodbyes at the beginning/end of the lectures to be unnecessarily distracting. We’re making the effort to edit the recordings and upload videos that focus more tightly on the lectures themselves onto our YouTube channel, but that is slow going. Basically we want everybody to be able to have a way into the experience that fits their preferences and their learning styles, in so far as that’s possible. We’ll get there.

For us, it’s a wonderful opportunity to hear our colleagues speak, watch the enthusiasm of the attendees in the live classes, and enjoy and contribute to the very lively sharing of information and experience on the Course Feed page on WizIQ.com. Our first assignments from the folks who are seeking a Certificate of Completion are excellent, and a fairly good number of folk have taken the brave step of getting a free account, making an avatar, and exploring the alternate discussion venue we have set up in the Virtual World, Second Life. (Here’s the SLURL if you’re interested in checking it out: http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Madhupak/148/83/61)

Because the course materials will be available long after the live portion of classes ends, we urge anyone who is interested to click on “Parapsychology MOOC 2015” above and send me a note, or go directly to WizIQ.com, make a free account, and then come back here and click this direct link to the course: https://www.wiziq.com/course/86144-parapsychology-and-anomalistic-psychology-research-and-education.

It may take a couple of weeks to find a moment to post again here, but in the meantime, Carlos and I are finding this experience very rewarding, exciting, and fun! Come join us!

So that was 8 days ago …

The free open online course, Parapsychology and Anomalistic Psychology: Research and Education is up to 453 registrants in total, 442 are attendees and 11 are the guest speakers who have signed up so far. We’re really excited about how the course has grown, and given that we have about two dozen guest speakers, once they’re set up, we will have over 460.

Lots of folks have been helping out in the publicity department — we think there has got to be folks we don’t even know who are out there spreading the word. So thanks whoever you are!

I have just uploaded a new schedule to the Parapsychology MOOC 2015 page on this website. The new schedule also lists the 12 “Poster Sessions,” that is, PowerPoint presentations that have been designed as stand-alones. You just click and read through the materials that are presented there.

To sign up for the course just click here and set up a free WizIQ account by using your Facebook log-in info or by just entering your email and a new password.

Come join us! (More news soon).

319 Strong and Growing!

So not counting the guest speakers who have yet to get their free WizIQ accounts set up—we’re working on it!—or the guest speakers who are already listed as co-instructors (9 of them including Carlos), we hit 310 participants this morning. The community of learners come from a variety of countries from Argentina to Zambia (including Estonia, Turkey, Cyprus, India, Italy, Spain, Germany, Norway, Finland, Sweden, Brazil, Puerto Rico, Canada, USA, England, Scotland, Ireland, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, South Korea, Russia, Poland, Venezuela, Belgium, France, Greece, Ukraine and Viet Nam—in no particular order and my apologies to anybody I left out).

Obviously not everybody will be able to be together in the live presentations. We have set our default time as 2pm Eastern because it’s good for the Americas and Europe, but we are letting far-flung presenters set the best times for their areas, so there may be times when the folks in Southeast Asia have to watch recordings and other times when the folks in the Americas will have to watch recordings. Personally I like to have my laptop on my knees, a cup of coffee or peppermint tea at hand, and my feet up on the ottoman in front of my favorite comfy chair.

Recordings will also be available on the Parapsychology Online YouTube channel within a week of the live presentation having taken place. And everything from start to finish is free! A new schedule of the presenters, discussion forums, and introductory sessions is going up on the Course Page here on the blog today. We hope to finalize the schedule by next week early, as well as start to add the list of Poster Sessions and other materials.

Come join us! Just send us your email in the contact form on the course page, or go to WizIQ.com, search for “Parapsychology,” and then click the “Enroll” button when you get to the Parapsychology and Anomalistic Psychology: Research and Education “About the Course” page.

See you there!

Parapsychology Foundation is partnering with us on the January 5th-February 14th Online course!

An update on Parapsychology and Anomalistic Psychology: Research and Education:

Lisette Coly, the President of the Parapsychology Foundation, has kindly partnered up with us on the first ever MOOC on Parapsychology and Anomalistic Psychology. This is big news for us and we are so grateful about this! What this means is that the certificates of completion for the course will be issued by the Parapsychology Foundation.

We have also added a new schedule for the course with our Opening and Closing Ceremonies and the 10 lectures that have been confirmed so far and have dates and titles. We are still working on times, although most of them will be shown at 2pm Eastern, and all of them will be recorded and available in the online course room within an hour or so of presentation, and on our YouTube channel, Parapsychology Online, within the week after the presentation first airs on WizIQ.

The Foundation and Jonathan and Natasha Chisdes of Chizfilm.net have supported our organizational work on this free course so far, and we’re very grateful to them. Natasha has been a long-time colleague of ours and the Core Association for our little consulting company, Alvarado, Zingrone & Associates.

For more information about the course, go to the Parapsychology and Anomalistic Psychology tab above and scroll down for the schedule. Enrolling is easy (and free) and all the instructions are on that page. You can also contact us for more information if you need it. Now that our November conference is past, an invitation to view the lectures is also free. Just go to the Parapsychology and Psychology tab above and scroll down to the contact form. Include your email and we’ll send you an invitation to that event so that you can watch the lectures.

Don’t forget to like our Facebook page and subscribe to our Parapsychology Online YouTube channel as well!

New Things on the Horizon

Almost three weeks ago we had our first online conference, Parapsychology and Psychology: Research and Theory. Carlos and I both felt strongly that it was a success thanks to the efforts of our presenters and the extremely insightful questions posed by our attendees. The live lectures were of a high quality and included some very knowledgeable individuals such as the theorists Dr. Patrizio Tressoldi and Dr. Jim Carpenter, active researchers and professors Drs. Alejandro Parra, Christine Simmonds-Moore, and Chris Roe, and clinical psychologist and researcher, Dr. Renaud Evrard. If you click on the page, Parapsychology and Psychology 2014, you can still join the conference by writing us. Once we invite you to the conference, you will have access to the recordings of the live lectures, the PowerPoint presentations and chat logs from the live presentations, and the poster sessions, that were stand alone PowerPoint presentations.

We are currently developing a free online course on the WizIQ.com social media teaching platform called Parapsychology and Anomalistic Psychology: Research and Education. The course begins January 5th, 2015, and 22+ presentations over a five week period. There will be quizzes and activities, readings and stand-alone poster presentations, and ways to earn a certificate. You can go now to the WizIQ system by clicking the link above, set up a free account, and search for “Parapsychology” in courses and you’ll find it. If you enroll now, you can watch the course being built out and begin to talk to like-minded people from all over the world as they sign up. (A tutorial on how to set up a WizIQ account is available on our YouTube Channel, also called Parapsychology Online.) For more information, or to write us about the course, you can also click on the tab, Parapsychology MOOC 2015 above.

We will have more news soon on our activities. Our goal is to provide high quality education in scientific parapsychology and anomalistic psychology with each course centering on a single phenomena or topic, as well as to provide conferences, lectures, and other opportunities for students, researchers, educators and scientists to come together and talk about their work.

Follow this blog, subscribe to the YouTube channel, and search for the Parapsychology Online Facebook page as well. Come join the conversation!