Links from today’s calmingtech class

Fresh from Wisdom 2.0, these are links we referenced in class (examples of calming technologies):

Sherry Turkle, on questions we are not asking.Exellent. Watch Wisdom 2.0 2013 on @livestream:…

— Michelle M. Bloom (@AllThingsBloom)

February 23, 2013
(Sherry Turkle’s talk, a highlight at Wisdom 2.0) (they will come talk in class) - viral app maker Alex Tew’s latest project (he’ll also come to class) - powered by bLife, content by Oprah - GPS for the Soul - HuffingtonPost, HeartMath, bLife

AffectAura from MSR


Interesting paper from MSR in Redmond looking at monitoring emotional states to enable reflection over relatively long periods of time (i.e., weeks).

d.compress Winter 2013 started today

We will have almost double the amount of students this year compared to last year. The syllabus is available on the course site:

This is going to be fun :)

d.compress: Designing Calm (Winter 2012-2013,


Advertisement for the Winter 2013 class, courtesy of TA Cindy and our teaching team.

*One week away* Conversations on Compassion with Lisa Kristine, humanitarian photographer

The latest CCARE email shows the relevant Stanford courses and d.compress is listed there.

————— Forwarded message —————

Guided Knowledge Transfer (GroK-X)

Grok: (1) Understand (something) intuitively or by empathy; (2)Empathize or communicate sympathetically; establish a rapport.

For the past couple years I’ve been experimenting with using guided meditation as a medium for teaching students and designers. That is, I’ve found that students are able to learn effectively when the mental model is described clearly and slowly, while minimizing cognitive, emotional, and sociocultural distractions.

We’ve seen that the optimal means of reducing distraction in a classroom is to sit and close one’s eyes in a room where others are known to be doing the same. When I conduct a Grok-X session, I also close my eyes at the front of the class (i.e., not walking around in a manner that can seem threatening or draw attention; not watching them).  It is crucial that teacher is (appropriately) seen as a guide, not an authority figure to be feared.  In this way I am then able to guide the student’s own creation of a mental model that resembles my own - while also ensuring the possibility exists for students to manipulate, add to, or subtract (or even destroy) that model in their own minds.

Grok-X has been described as “class lecture meets guided meditation”.

From the instructor’s perspective, it also requires a very calm mind - to be able to describe insights in a manner that can be constructed in the student’s own mind - rather than simply memorized.

I’ve been recently referring to this process as “Guided Knowledge Transfer” (Grok-X for short) and plan to continue experimenting with it in more detail in our Winter 2013 course, d.compress: Designing Calm (blog).

I’ve been inspired by work on Contemplative Pedagogy at Vanderbilt, which “involves teaching methods designed to cultivate deepened awareness, concentration, and insight" except that Grok-X is meant for transmitting subject-specific content, not deepening general awareness.

One of the tenants of Grok-X is context. I.e., laying down the context for each ‘layer’ of understanding the instructor wishes to communicate is very important. Context can be construed as specifiying the assumptions we are making, the societal, emotional, scientific, or sociocultural contextual cues that are necessary to understand in order for the content to result in a clear mental image and/or emotion.

When the learner’s eyes are closed, their expeirence is of a different matter than if their eyes are open. Visual images, scenes, animations, sounds, and a constellation of emotions and impulses can be inwardly ‘observed’. This is what the instructor is working with. The instructor aims to create in their own mind the conditions for clear observation of the content - then describe this in such a way so as to allow the learner to create this setting in their own mind.

Ultimately, the instructor must have a ‘clear head’ if they wish to instill clear-headedness in their students, especially about a new content area. This requires the instructor to not necessarily teach things they know intellectually to be true/relevant but to have such an intuitive grasp of the content that they can describe relevant but non-obvious contextual factors.

How is Grok-X related to calming technology? The state and quality of the body-mind is very important when considering how readily a learner is able to create the inner circumstances that allow for “clear-headed” learning.

Review article: how mobiles can support in-person therapy


d.compress: Designing Calm (Winter 2012-2013,


Course application ready for Winter 2012-2013

Stanford grad and undergrad students wishing to enroll in d.compress this year can apply now:

Interesting new paper on calm+feedback


From our friend Erik Peper at UCSF.