Creativity & Multicultural Communication

Aspire to Inspire

By AaronSternDrums

I have created this blog as a launching pad for communication with my course mates in #CMC11.
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Recent Posts

Blog Post: My Mooc Experience #CMC11

I wasn't sure exactly how this class was going to turn out. Having felt lost in the beginning, I chose to go with the flow which allowed me to open up creatively in the course and reflect on all that it was we were learning. This go with the flow attitude brought me to the conclusion that this might be the best way to operate in life when times change and newness rolls it. Without fighting the current, we are free to soar and find our way towards whatever it is we are destined to do. This is a much easier and comforting way to go about life as it throws its twists and turns at you. There has also been a sense of confidence instilled in me from this course. Through creating and sharing my final presentation with the class,  I learned how fear affects us all in so many similar ways. Through sharing with the group on my blog, in discussion posts and on the final project, I've learned that most people have more in common than you would normally think. As a result, I felt freer to be me and can now carry this confidence moving forward. Next time in taking another MOOC, I would try and create my communication circle of people whom I find interesting and whose sharing I appreciate most, a little sooner so that I may get even more out of the learning. It was only by the end of #CMC11 that I found the people whom I enjoyed interacting with most. In conclusion, I've gained a lot of insight, confidence and perspective from this course and look forward to someday MOOCing again in the future. Thanks to all of my classmates for sharing your thoughts and of course to Carol Yeager for wrangling us all in.  This is Aaron "Drum man" Stern signing off from #CMC11...

By AaronSternDrums, Feed:Aspire to Inspire, 2011-12-20T13:44:21Z [Comment]
Blog Post: Creativity in a Group Setting #CMC11

We all have ideas, but all are not always willing to share those ideas especially in a group setting. Whether it be fear of being wrong, looking stupid, feeling not worthy or some other sort of fear, what might be great idea may never see the light of day because of these fears getting in the way. Being vulnerable is certainly uncomfortable, but is necessary in order to break through, grow and evolve as a person.

 It came to my attention yesterday during our live session with Frank Kowalski that people are especially willing to share themselves with a group when they can do so anonymously. This anonymous group setting frees up any connection of ideas to its original owners. This is both good and bad in many ways in that it does allow people to share all of their ideas without fear, but it also prevents people from getting public credit for their ideas should everyone really be into them. Perhaps people not getting credit for their ideas is a good thing though, this way every bodies ego is kept in check. Let's examine how anonymous group collaborations affect creativity by participating in an anonymous group collaboration activity! Feel free to insert your ideas below and get involved.


By AaronSternDrums, Feed:Aspire to Inspire, 2011-12-02T17:59:00Z [Comment]
Blog Post: Lesson Learned #cmc11

With my parents impending divorce when I was 12 years old, I found solace in music. My passion for music and my need to escape reality brought me to the drum set. I found peace in every crash, bang and boom, yearned to keep learning more, saved every penny to continuously add to my arsenal of sick percussive gear whenever I could afford to and I just about salivated at the thought of playing in bands with other musicians some day. It was purely a self-taught passion that required no teacher.

Years later, I'd decided begin teaching drum lessons as a sort of part time gig and I was soon confronted with the feeling that I'm sure every educator feels at one point or another. How do I effectively teach somebody what just comes naturally to me? There is a sense of responsibility to pass along what you know and to do it in such a way that it moves and inspires the learner. This is no easy task.


How does one effectively teach what they know so well? More so, how do they pass along their passion for what they love so that their students feel that same love for what it is they are learning? Perhaps the best way is to not teach at all? Well not really, but give the appearance of mutually sharing information, level the playing field some more blur the lines of teacher and student. Go outside the lesson plan, and allow the lesson to unfold. Put the ball in the student's court and allow them to determine what he or she wants to learn more about.

The Torrance incubation model is just one solution to hopefully help effectively engage students in what they are learning through the use of creative skills. By simply widening the horizons and allowing the student to sort of take the wheel in what they are learning so to speak. This is crossroads that we are at as educators. Sometimes perhaps the best way to teach is from a place of passion. If we love what it is that we are teaching, then the student should at one point or another reciprocate that passion. The energy of excitement when we teach may resonate with the student, so long as it is genuine. Teaching is a life long study that one can always aspire to get better at and the same goes for being a student. I guess the trick is to realize that though we might be teachers, we are just as much students in some regard.


By AaronSternDrums, Feed:Aspire to Inspire, 2011-11-27T16:06:00Z [Comment]
Blog Post: The Video Killed The Radio Star CMC#11

In the spirit of DS106, I have collected some of the most influential radio broadcasts from throughout history that in some way shape or form has altered our culture. The radio waves have provided our world with the ability to communicate worldwide. Nowadays with the expansion of the Internet, anyone can broadcasts themselves through pod casts, online radio stations like ds106 or other online means. Now more than ever we truly have our destinies in our own hands. With the rise of the Internet and other complex technologies, we have more tools and outlets to do what makes us happy and share it with the world. It is through this sharing that we can inspire and connect with others. Sometimes it is nice to connect with complete strangers and to be inspired by them. Hence one of the major points of a MOOC.


By AaronSternDrums, Feed:Aspire to Inspire, 2011-11-18T21:39:47Z [Comment]
Blog Post: The Values that Construct a Cognitive Bias #CMC11

The future is now. We create the world around us based on our pasts and sometimes often live into the same future over and over again because of this. Ever wonder why you might find your self in the same role within a group? Why am I always the follower? Why do I contribute ideas that are not heard? Why don't people believe I'm right? Now the real questions is, are all these feelings the truth or are these just interpretations based on your perception of what is actually the truth? We all have a base set of beliefs that were developed when we were young and were very much influenced by our individual cultures. These are values that we adopt over time, which often define who we are and can sometimes get in our way of evolving. We are owned by these belief systems until we are able to truly distinguish our feelings from the actual truth, which allows us to break free, grow and evolve. These belief systems also develop cognitive bias's within us, which can most certainly affect a creative vision if an individual clings so hard to their own views. With this being said, there are several cognitive biases that I have perceived in myself and in others that bother me most.


It is well established in our culture that you always want to be right and never wrong. It is taught to us at a young age that we need to do our best in order to win. To be correct is to win, but to be incorrect is to lose. It is from these convictions that many biases are born. The confirmation bias shows how someone will find every piece of evidence to support his or her own theories. I catch myself doing this sometimes and see it happening with other people quite often as well. For some reason we cling to our beliefs so much so that we are willing to maneuver and bend information in order to support our case.




Having an optimism bias means that you are overly optimistic in how things are going to turn out in a certain situation. I certainly am guilty of this a lot, but I also think there is a lot in having a more optimistic outlook on life than a pessimisstic view. There must be a middle ground where one can be positive, but within reason.


Finally, the Hind sight bias has someone determine that they knew what the outcome of an event was going to be all along, but of course they wait until the outcome has already happened to say this. This is certainly one bias that bothers me about certain people because it can be completely unconstructive and is driven by ego. There is no need for "I told you so's" in a group setting. It is always better to acknowledge your mistakes and take steps to improve next time. In fact learning from our mistakes is very important in the growth process. There is nothing more humbling than acknowledging where you went wrong and figuring out how you can improve next time.




By AaronSternDrums, Feed:Aspire to Inspire, 2011-11-06T20:27:03Z [Comment]
Blog Post: Fear and Creativity #CMC11

One of the biggest stoppers of creative flow is fear. Whether its financial fear, fear of being embarrassed, fear of looking stupid, fear of failure or any type other type of fear, we allow it to sometimes stop us from doing what comes easiest to us. What if fear isn't real though? What if fear is something we make up ourselves? Someone once told me that true fear comes when you are actually hanging off the edge of a cliff or when you have a loaded gun to your head because these are actual real threats to your life whereas all other kinds of fear are man made.

We must change our relationship with fear to reflect a positive undertone some how. When we fear things, this means its possibly new uncharted territory for us, a space in which we have potential to evolve. So in a sense fear goes extremely well with creativity, so long as you don't let it stop you from being creative. The presence of fear can be the potential for something big in your life. Are you willing to take the risk?


By AaronSternDrums, Feed:Aspire to Inspire, 2011-10-28T16:22:00Z [Comment]
Blog Post: #CMC11 Google Plus Hangout on 10/17/11

We've connected through our Diigo group, collaborated in our weekly blackboard sessions, read each others blogs, shared our personal thoughts and now lets reflect on all things #CMC11 in a Google+ hangout. Let's all try and meet up in a #CMC11 Google+ hangout tomorrow night, Monday the 17th of October at 7 PM (EST). Who's in?

By AaronSternDrums, Feed:Aspire to Inspire, 2011-10-16T20:32:03Z [Comment]
Blog Post: Playing Outside of the Lines #cmc11

I started thinking about how your perception equals your reality. Who wants to live inside the confines of what people say is realistic? I feel as though creativity lives just outside the lines of what is right, possible and so. Throughout history as a society, we have continuously proved ourselves wrong again and again, showing that what we believe is fact one minute, becomes fiction the next. At one point, people were sure the world was flat, that earth was the center of the universe and that the speed of sound could not broken. If it weren't for brave creative thinkers, we would have never gone past these self-imposed boundaries.


In a survival situation, you have to think outside of what is possible in order to live. Now what if your life depended on you being creative? I'm sure most people would be more willing to think outside of the box and figure out a way to survive rather than saying well that's it, I'm dead. I'm not sure why it came to me, but in thinking about creativity, I thought of how to be creative within a survival scenario. I'm a big fan of survival shows, you know the ones where people show you how to live if you are stranded somewhere in the wilderness? You have your set boundaries, your resources are all around you and so how are you going to live? In this clip, we see how to make a fire with a plastic bag and ones own urine. Truly creativity at its fines

Improvisation is a realm in which one must be creative within a short amount of time. No time to mole over whether what they do is right or can it be better, simply just off the cuff. I have a deep appreciation for jazz music in which improvisation is key. For many musicians, improvisation is a life long study in which one can always improve.


It is often the fear of being wrong that can kill creativity, but what if there was no such thing as right and wrong? It is within that space that creativity can flourish. No need to play it safe. Some of the most revolutionary minds of our time including Einstein, John Lennon and Steve Jobs, danced on that edge of what is possible and what is impossible, what makes sense and what doesn't make sense, what can happen and what can't happen. This is a profound place to play in, somewhere between the lines.


"A person needs a little madness, or else they never dare cut the rope and be free."

-Nikos Kazantzakis


By AaronSternDrums, Feed:Aspire to Inspire, 2011-10-14T15:46:14Z [Comment]
Blog Post: Onward and Upward Down Under

I spent my last tour in Australia a miserable human being. I couldn't get over some petty arguments that I had had with my band and I became reclusive. I was jaded. Here I was my first time ever in a place where most people would die to visit and I didn't want to leave my hotel room. I'd rather sulk. It took me a couple of years before I was finally able to gain some perspective. I realized how lucky I truly was to have had what I had had, but in the moment I became too wrapped up in nonsense to realize it. I swore to myself that if I would ever get another opportunity to go back to Australia, I would take full advantage of the opportunity and avenge the blunders of my previous touring experiences there.

Well here I am again and this time I'm ready to experience a new culture and take it all in. I made it a point that as soon as I arrived here that I would take a picture of anything that might be different from that of our culture in the US. I wanted to do this in order to gain some perspective and then display it in the social media realm through my blog. Though some of these may not be very significant, I felt it fun. In looking out for these differences however insignificant they may have been, I found a change in attitude from within. When you become so entrenched in the moment sometimes, you see things and witness things that have been there all along, but you may not have noticed. It's a bigger awareness of the world, an experience of the richness of all that exists on our planet. This was the very opposite mindset of my last trip here. This is what I found:

Of course the first difference I noticed in Australia would have something to do with food. I'm always thinking with my stomach. Burger king is known as Hungry Jacks out here. As the story goes, so I've heard, McDonalds bought the rights to the name "Burger King" out in Australia before Burger King could. They had no choice but to change the name.


Wayne Gretzky on the front of a Gatorade bottle? It's been a while since I've seen one of those around.


Order an iced coffee and get what would appear to be a coffee ice cream sundae in America. This is just one example of how the coffee rules change from place to place. It took me a while to figure out how to order what would be a regular cup of coffee with milk and sugar in the US. In Australia I learned to order a "flat white" with 3 sugars. That was the closest drink to home.


Bike rentals off the street using a credit card? Yes, in Brisbane.


Ketchup in different packet form? Why yes... Tastes great, but it took me a while to figure out how to squeeze it on my chips, not called french fries like in the US, without making a mess.


At my bands final show in Perth, Australia, I found this poster hanging high up on the wall in the venue we were performing at. It was a signed poster of my old band from my previous trip to Australia. This was a moment of realizing that I had come full circle. Hanging like a trophy, I realized I can now look back on that experience and realize all that I had learned in the moments since it had passed and now be thankful for it.


Though I did discover many differences, this place is all too similar to home.


By AaronSternDrums, Feed:Aspire to Inspire, 2011-10-09T13:43:23Z [Comment]
Blog Post: My Personal Learning Environment #CMC11

My personal learning environment exists on the road. When I started life as a touring musician when I was 18, I discovered that that you are thrust into day-to-day situations that most normal people don't have to deal with. . How does one replace the broken leaf spring on their bands trailer that is stuck on the side of the road in Oklahoma city on a Sunday afternoon in November in order to make it to the music venue in time to start the show that night? Or how do you stretch a $15 dollar per Diem to feed yourself for the day? Or how do you deal with a sketchy music promoter who refuses to pay your band its guarantee for the night?  It is due to this consistently inconsistent day-to-day life style that a man of the road learns how to think on his feet and deal with situations that don't occur for many 9-5ers. It's diving into a very vulnerable place in which anything can happen that allows one to grow up quickly in society and learn how to handle stressful situations. You grow up really quick on the road. I've always said its like going into a time warp that ages you and forces a person to mature faster. You also learn that problems are best dealt with without panic. It's all in the way that you handle a situation.

Becoming ok with and learning from failure is one of the biggest lessons one can learn in life. Someone once told me "mistakes are only mistakes if you make that mistake again rather than learning from it the first time around." That sounds a bit confusing, so how about "fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me."

Another main significance of my personal learning environment is that by default, you build a network of friends and contacts with fellow musicians and road warriors. Bonds with other touring bands and musicians are brought about through the unique experiences and opportunities of the road. This network of musical peers that grows with the more you tour becomes an important asset for those who want to make a career in music. Make good friends, stay humble and be the best at what you do and this circle will provide you with opportunities to stay afloat in your career. These opportunities range in the form of a friend taking your band on tour because they like who you are and what you do or it could mean a call for you to fill in as an individual musician for another band in the future. I once received a call while I was home in the summer of 2007 from a friend whose band I had toured with earlier that year. They told me that their drummer had been injured and I was the first person they thought of to fill in for him.  They wanted me to fly out and fill in on drums for their set the next day in Texas and finish out the rest of the tour. I agreed and the next day found myself on stage in front of 15,000 people playing songs for a band that I had not rehearsed with even once. Here is a video of me performing on that tour:

 It is through the many life lessons learned on the road and through the network of friends made out there that I was able to handle that situation and take advantage of an opportunity rather than being too intimidated to take it on. By allowing yourself to be vulnerable one can create fertile ground for a thriving personal learning environment.



By AaronSternDrums, Feed:Aspire to Inspire, 2011-10-07T16:51:01Z [Comment]
Blog Post: I feel very fortunate in my life that I get to do what I love...

I feel very fortunate in my life that I get to do what I love for a living. I've been playing drums for bands and artists since I graduated high school almost 10 years ago and It has given me a chance to travel and experience the world. It was only in the last few years that I began working towards getting my degree while still touring year round. Thankfully I can bring together my day job and my education.

I am now about to embark on a two-week tour of Australia with my band, D.R.U.G.S., to play a handful of dates in cities such as Sydney, Perth, Melbourne and more. It will be interesting to experience the cultural differences from ours in the US. I fully plan on documenting my findings and posting them via my blog so stay tuned for those updates.

Here is one of my bands songs from our self-titled debut record titled "I'm Here to Take the Sky." You can check out more info on D.R.U.G.S. at


By AaronSternDrums, Feed:Aspire to Inspire, 2011-09-21T16:44:00Z [Comment]
Blog Post:  


"Move with the flow. Don't fight the current. Resist nothing. Let life carry you. Don't try to carry it."

Oprah Winfrey


Yes, you have to be a male comfortable enough in his own masculinity in order to quote Oprah on your blog.  The words above couldn't ring more true for me than they do right now. I tend to get a little anxious when I am not in full control of what is happening and when I am feeling lost. From what I've gathered through life experience and what I must continue to remind myself is that it is ok to feel lost sometimes. At first, I was lost in this MOOC and I considered dropping it because I didn't feel as though I could fully wrap my head around exactly what was supposed to happen. No curriculum? No assignments? How does this work? Am I on Ashton Kutchers TV show "Punk'd?"

I'm now comfortable in being lost and as I explore the many resources made available to me in this MOOC, I'm feeling more in the drivers seat. Nothing has helped me more than reading this blog entry by educator Gordon Lockhart titled "Man! This Mooc is Something Else!". This quote sums it all up for me right here and makes things more clear about MOOCing:

 "You don't get it do you? We're all in it together – scores of us from different countries, backgrounds, ages and experience in all types of education. There's little hope of teaching so many people anything very specific, let alone indoctrinating them. It's more of an open friendly forum – up to anyone, including the facilitators to read, study, interact and collaborate with others in any way they find useful. "

It's about making connections and enjoying the ride.


By AaronSternDrums, Feed:Aspire to Inspire, 2011-09-21T16:23:00Z [Comment]
Blog Post: And so it begins...#cmc11

Hello my fellow MOOCers. My name is Aaron Stern and I'm a 27-year-old touring musician whom has decided to go back to school to get my degree while still touring the world with my band D.R.U.G.S. This is my first experience in a MOOC and admittedly, I've felt quite lost as to what exactly it is that I should be doing. Then yesterday I had a small breakthrough in discovering what exactly this course might be all about.

I awoke determined to figure out what the heck I was supposed to do in this class and how was I personally going to make an impact on it. The day began with going over the week one learning materials and shortly after I began reading "Multicultural Experience and Creativity," I had a much better idea of what this course was all about.

This reading explains how exposure to foreign cultures around the world, can help boost creativity in people. Creativity may be defined as "the ability to come up with new ideas that are surprising and yet intelligible, and also valuable in some way."-(Boden 2001) As it turns out, each society creates a basic set of rules and routines that may be unique to that of other cultures. This one way of seeing life can really limit creativity and thinking outside of the box. With exposure to different cultures other than ones own, we can discover new ways of being that can help in creative problem solving.

In particular, it is found that creativity truly flourishes in those who might fully immerse themselves in foreign cultures by say living abroad for a few years or perhaps learning a new language or religion. By having this multicultural experience, one might find new ways of being, acceptance of all differences in other societies and ways to adapt a unique set of practices based on all cultures. All of these traits positively affect creative problem solving by allowing those to think out of the box.

It was only after reading this article that I truly realized the significance of this course was to study how multiculturalism influences creativity and what better way to do it then along side different people around the world and from all walks of life. I am now truly excited for what this course holds for me and especially to learn from those new friends and connections I will make throughout the duration.


By AaronSternDrums, Feed:Aspire to Inspire, 2011-09-15T16:02:00Z [Comment]
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