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Two days ago I visited the Apple Genius Bar for the very first time. I arranged all my previous device repairs at Apple partners.

For the last month or so, my MacBook Pro shut down randomly and I traced this to a battery that needed replacing. I visited an Apple partner that offered a replacement that would have cost me an arm (service change) and a leg (battery).

I opted to make another service appointment at the Orchard Road Apple store. This required a longer wait for both the appointment date and repair time — a week each — but this came with an unexpected bonus.

The Apple representative who attended to me discussed my case with a manager and gave me a 50% discount. Instead of paying S$288 for the new battery, I will have to pay S$144.

My teaching semesters are practically over, so I do not mind being without my laptop for a while. If I do, I have a first world problem of deciding between using a spare Chromebook or an iPad.

In a few months time, I have the privilege of resurrecting a short course on inclusive education with ICT.

As I always have my radar on, my feeds produced two resources I might be able to use.

The first is a news article that might reinforce a more progressive view on special needs and inclusive education. But it is locked behind a paywall and all my learners might not have this newspaper subscription.

Video source

The second is a YouTube video that might not have an obvious link to my course. What does a 16-year-old environmental activist and Nobel prize nominee have to do with inclusive education?

After watching the video I found out that Greta Thunberg has Asperger Syndrome. Hers is an example of how everyday technology (e.g., social media) enables identity and passion.

The availability of the video over the news article also illustrates the reach and accessibility of some learning resources over others. Some providers shoot themselves in the foot and disable themselves.

I had to do some serious troubleshooting on my wife’s Macbook Air over the weekend, so I am recording some notes here about:

  • Partitioning an external drive
  • Minimising dongle use
  • Reactivating Microsoft Office


macOS Disk Utility.

To create a two-partition external drive in macOS Mojave, run the Disk Utility:

  1. Set View to Show All Devices (Show Volumes does not allow partitioning)
  2. Select the device at the top level, not at the volume level.
  3. Format the device with the GUID scheme (the other options do not allow mixed partitioning, e.g., one Time Machine, one general storage).
  4. Create two partitions.

The newer Macbook line only has USB-C ports. This can mean investing in several new dongles or a one expensive all-in-one dongle or dock.

But if the only corded peripheral you need is a backup drive, one cheap option is a USB-C to Micro B cable. These can be surprisingly hard to find and range cost anywhere between S$5 and S$40.


After restoring a new laptop from an older one with Time Machine, most applications and their settings will also transfer. One exception is Microsoft Office that needs to be reactivated online.

After several frustrating and time-consuming attempts to reactivate Microsoft Office on the new laptop, I have found this to work:

  1. Visit the Office 365 site and remove the old laptops listed as still having Office installs.
  2. Download the license removal tool.
  3. Install and run the tool.
  4. Restart the computer.
  5. Launch any office application and reactivate the suite with an authorised log in.

I cringed, I screen capped, I posted.

It is easy to judge a newspaper for thinking that dated references are still relevant.

What is not as easy to capture is how some teachers still try to incorporate technology for coolness sake. Their learners cringing is the least of their problems.

The harm is in the technology being used to engage instead of empower; it enhances teaching but does not enable powerful and meaningful learning.

Were the gaming gods smiling on me yesterday?

It was Pokémon Go Community Day yesterday from 3 to 6pm. This overlapped with a class I was facilitating from 1.30 to 5.30pm. I had hoped to participate in the last 30 minutes because I have not missed a single event so far.

Fortunately for me, the event was extended as there were issues in the Asia-Pacific region. So I managed to play after work and managed by usual haul of event shinies (Salamence in this case).

Shiny Bagon to Salamence.

So here is to going with the flow and making the best out of a less than ideal situation.

The issue of optimal class size refuses to go away. This is a good thing because it might just wear the opposition down.

If you play the numbers game and set policy with a spreadsheet from your ivory tower, you will point out that class size does not matter as much as teacher quality.

I do not think that anyone doubts that teacher quality is key. But even the best teachers will not be able to cope with large classes indefinitely.

The number gamers might point out that the quality of the student-teacher interaction is what matters. So will the ones urging for smaller class sizes — this will increase opportunities for such interaction.

I see your quantitative bet and I raise with my qualitative point. In the meantime, our kids deal with the consequences of our gamble.

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This parody Twitter account on what an “ass dean” might say to higher education faculty declared:

The 20+ direct replies so far by educators say otherwise. These educators count themselves in the minority. The majority know no better, fear the unknown or authority, or are resigned to being compliant.

I recall saying the opposite when I was in a similar administrative position in a university. My department tracked LMS usage and it dropped drastically in favour of alternative platforms and tools.

My rationale was simple: Do what is best for our learners, not what is good for blind policy and indiscriminate pockets.

We are not beholden to vendors. We do not serve them; they serve us. We pay a lot of money for their services and if they do not enable the type of experiences our learners need, we need to send vendors a clear message.

Sometimes it is not the fault of vendors. They provide the tools to institutions of higher learning, but administrators pass policies and managers implement them in confusing or convoluted ways.

Faculty feel like they are jumping through hoops and taking winding paths with LMS implementation. If they see how other platforms or tools work better, and if they listen to their learners, they might also respond to the tweet: Yes, we can!


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