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Lessons worth sharing

March 19, 2012
Raina Delisle
Tags: newsalumni
Trevor Maber

A diverse international audience of innovators. A single concept of interpersonal awareness. And five minutes to explain it.

Eight years ago, Trevor Maber started learning about leadership concepts at Royal Roads University. Today, he is sharing some of those concepts with a global audience through TED, the popular nonprofit organization dedicated to “ideas worth sharing.”

Maber, an alumnus of the Master of Arts in Leadership and Training program (now the MA in Leadership), gave a talk at last month’s TEDActive conference in Palm Springs, Calif., and also did a voiceover for the new TED-Ed initiative.

The concepts he spoke about at conference and for TED-Ed (the Johari Window and the Ladder of Inference respectively) are both self-awareness tools he was first exposed to while studying at Royal Roads.

The Johari Window is designed to help people understand their own mental instabilities while the Ladder of Inference encourages people to look at how beliefs and understanding lead to meaning and action.

“I’m hoping to create some change and put some ideas out there,” says Maber, an assistant professor in the Edwards School of Business at the University of Saskatchewan. Maber is also a human resources and leadership consultant and a PhD student in human and organizational systems at Fielding Graduate University.

Maber’s challenge at the conference was to describe the Johari Window, “a real foundational point of understanding when it comes to conflict, communication, diversity, decision making and a number of other competencies and skills,” in five minutes and make it relevant to a diverse audience.

At TED conferences, the world’s most fascinating thinkers and doers are challenged to give the talk of their life in 18 minutes or fewer, but the session Maber participated in was limited to five minutes. To accomplish this, he channelled his Royal Roads experience.

“Doing the MA in Leadership and Training really helped me understand how people learn and how to communicate in a very succinct manner so people are able to take away the essence of the message and not get lost in the minutia.”
Maber had practice in delivering a concise account of the Johari Window – to be invited as a presenter, he had to do a one-minute video audition – and his talk was clearly a success. The day after his presentation, he was approached by between 25 and 30 attendees who wanted to discuss the concept with him.

“The main intention I had was to create some awareness, some understanding, but most of all, a bit of curiosity,” Maber says. “It was an opportunity to plant a seed or give people a bit of a taste test and hopefully whet their appetite to do some more investigating, exploring and learning on their own.”

Maber not only inspired his audience, he also impressed the organizers, who asked him to be part of a new TED educational initiative, TED-Ed, which launched last week.

TED-Ed harnesses the talent of the world’s best teachers and visualizers, extending great lessons beyond a single classroom to anyone with Internet access. In the first stage of this initiative, TED-Ed launched a new education channel on YouTube.

It offers up original video content that marries the talent of great teachers with top animators to bring concepts to life in short videos fewer than 10 minutes. While at the TEDActive conference, Maber recorded the voiceover for a lesson on the Ladder of Inference. When the animation is done and the video uploaded, Maber’s lesson has the potential to reach an infinite audience.

“TED-Ed has the potential to take a lesson that might normally reach just 20 students and extend it to the world,” says TED-Ed catalyst Logan Smalley.

“TED’s core mission is to spread ideas,” adds TED curator Chris Anderson. “By turning great lessons into vivid scholastic tools, these TED-Ed videos are designed to catalyze curiosity. We want to show that learning can be thrilling. Because they are only a few minutes long, they can readily be used by teachers during class time. But we also envisage them being viewed by learners of all ages.”

Views of educational content on YouTube doubled in the past year, according to Angela Lin, head of YouTube Education. Schools, parents and lifelong learners are turning to YouTube to help bring topics to life.

Maber is pleased to have the opportunity to share what he’s learned at Royal Roads with a diverse audience in a cutting-edge format and learn from others who are also sharing their knowledge. He’d like to bring another concept to stage, perhaps from his PhD studies, which will likely be tied to organizational context and how to create better, healthier organizations.

“Before I did my MA at Royal Roads, I didn’t really appreciate my potential or the impact that a group of individuals can have,” Maber says. “I’ve developed confidence and the ability to put some ideas out there, plant some seeds and hopefully create some change.”