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This is not going to be a lesson on how to create a Google Form. It is about how to design and use a Google form.

For the impatient, here is the lesson upfront: Design not from a provider’s point of view, but from a seeker’s perspective. The extension to teaching is this: Teach not just to deliver without learner concerns; seek to educate by empathising with the learner.

How did this lesson emerge?

An ex-colleague tweeted an open invitation to attend two talks at my former workplace, NIE. I was excited to attend because:

  • The first talk was by another ex-colleague who had also left NIE for greener pastures overseas. We graduated from the same Ph.D. programme and have not seen each other in years!
  • The second talk is relevant to a group of teachers I am guiding in the area of crafting narrative-driven research reports. Serendipity!

Naturally, I wanted to sign up for both since they were relevant and generously open. However, I stopped — or rather, the Google Form stopped me — when I hit this barrier:

A compulsory option in the Google Form that I did not agree to.

I could not submit the form unless I allowed my personal information to be used beyond contact for the talks.

Now one might argue that organisers are entitled to do this. They might be, even under the current PDPA law, but the consent should be an option instead of a must-have.

The move might be an oversight. But it could also be symptomatic of an authoritative, provider-driven approach, i.e., we provide a service so we tell you what to do or make demands of you.

The alternative approach is also a progressive one. It focuses on the seeker, participant, or learner. I am grateful for the opportunity and am willing to share information logically, but not at the expense of being marketed to. Being empathy-driven takes user privacy, space, and effort into consideration.

The difference in drive and design lies in mindset. In the age of social media, you can still operate in transmission mode, e.g., talking, telling, ordering others, etc. But you will not be as effective as if you are interactive and learn to negotiate.

The same could be said with old-school teaching that is dictated only by blind standards and context-free curriculum. The world is embracing educational experiences that rely on social constructivism, constructionism, and connectivism.

Those might be unexpected lessons from a simple Google Form. I offer my services on educating with learner empathy and perspective. I will not require your email address indefinitely to do so.

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It can be a bit strange walking back into your old place of work. It was for me last week when I visited NIE for two days of intense committee work.

I had not been back for almost 10 months, but things felt familiar. The academic semester was over and the place was pleasantly low traffic. It was wonderful to bump into ex-colleagues and chat with canteen vendors at lunch.

But I could also use the eyes and ears of an outsider and all was not well. For example, I shared yesterday the news of the impending closure of the Classroom of the Future.

I had serious work to do while I was back in NIE. I refused to use the printouts that were prepared without my knowledge. (The work was technology-related and it was certainly not about paper technology.)

One committee member brought his own printouts while the rest of us relied on our devices. I needed wifi to get digital reams from my Dropbox.

That meant requesting for guest access to wifi via an automated service. This was something NIE guests would invariably ask for when they visited the campus. It was and still is a basic need.

It took five hours before the system responded to my request, so I used my phone and my trusty mifi device instead.

As I have written before, you not only need to BYOD, you also need to BYOC [1] [2]. You do this to get things done professionally whether others are going to help or not.

All that said, a five-hour wait is a big step backwards for something as basic as wifi. The hotspots for guests are also limited to certain places in NIE. It did not extend to the meeting room I was in.

I recall stepping into another institute of higher education in 2006 at the invitation of a fellow academic. She asked a question and I replied that I had a resource online that would help.

Thanks to easy access to public wifi that institute had for guests, my sharing went flawlessly. That organization helped itself by helping others.

Later that day in 2006, I met with technical staff who told me that the public wifi was kept securely separate from their corporate wifi. I remember that well because it made a big impression.

I will also remember the five-hour delay for NIE wifi because it seems like a big step backwards. I am as ashamed of this as I am proud of being an ex-staff of the institute. I hope they rectify the situation.

July 31st is my last day as a faculty member of NIE. Before I leave, I have some parting words for members of my work family, the Centre for e-Learning.

You have started experiencing the changes that typically happen with the change in leadership. The pains are normal. Here are three tips to deal with it.

  1. Do not complain. Do something productive about it. Complaining gets you nowhere and demoralizes you and those around you.
  2. Help yourself by helping others. By this I mean two things: Take the perspective of others when you need their help. Then work towards a purpose larger than yourself.
  3. If you must (eventually) leave, do so with no regrets. Do not stay and implement half measures. Know that you have done your best so that you never have to say “I wish I had…”.

P. S. This is not goodbye. I am quite sure that it is more like see you later. 😉

I am happy to announce that the online portion of my flipped classroom course is now ready on iTunes U.

The materials can be accessed on the iOS, Mac, and Windows platforms. For the latter two operating systems, you will need to have iTunes installed in your system.

Those who have watched my five-part YouTube series will find those same videos in the course.

I hesitate to call this a course because what I have designed in an experience. There is an online experience and a face-to-face one.

Here are some expectations I have for my online learners:

  1. The online component focuses on five basic areas of flipped learning (see outline). The content does not have to be consumed in the order listed.
  2. The face-to-face component reinforces what participants learn independently online and focuses on managing groups, levels, and cohorts of classes on flipped journeys. Only participants of MLS126 experience this component.
  3. The blended course has been designed on the basis that it is meaningful and timely questions that drive learning. Therefore, the online component has been design to provide more questions than answers about flipping.
  4. The online-only participant will be expected to be highly independent and self-directed in his/her quest to learn more about flipped learning. This not only puts principles of flipped learning into play, but also models a main way of designing experiences for flipped learning.
  5. There are five short videos (each 3-4 minutes long), one set of curated readings on flipped classrooms, and a course wiki. The online-only participant is free to consume content in any order they wish and has read-only access to the wiki.
  6. While the suggested duration of this experience is five weeks, the online-only participant can gain a basic appreciation of flipped learning in five hours or less. A more driven participant can write a book chapter or literature review in five months or more. The work you set for yourself expands or contracts to fit the time you give it. Choose wisely.
  7. The online-only participant does not have to be a solitary learner. S/He is free to email the facilitator, interact with MLS126 participants via the wiki (function pending), or create a his/her own personal learning network to learn more about flipped classrooms.

For those taking the elective in NIE, I have this to say at our shared wiki space:

The course is designed for middle managers or leaders in schools who already have some experience with flipping and who need to manage teams of flippers.

This is a blended course that has two main components (online and face-to-face) and leverages on several flipped classroom strategies.

The online components provide instructor-scaffolded and self-directed opportunities to learn more about the flipped classroom. The face-to-face components focus more on managing flipped classrooms and provide opportunities for learning that is differentiated, experiential, social, and collaborative in nature.

The most basic flipped classroom approach is the consumption of content and learner-directed research prior to class and online. This course adds two more dimensions to flipped learning that practitioners do not normally consider. These dimensions will be explored and experienced in this course.

Footnote: It is also my birthday today. I hope this course and the experiences I provide for participants is a gift that keeps on giving!

I spent a small part of last Friday reading all of the contributions and comments at one of the NIE confessions on Facebook. It was probably the most popular of the three I could find.

I walked away from the experience with three observations.

The first two were pointed out by participants of the confessions page. First, the use of English was much better than other confessions sites. Second, the page was not as popular as other confessions pages. Both these observations are understandable when you consider the demographics of NIE.

The third thing I noticed was the self-policing that happened in that NIE confessions page. This is a good sign of the power of expression being balanced by social responsibility.

Most administrators and policymakers fear social media because they do not understand it. I hope that they now understand that good things can come going with the flow and even embracing it. Good things like greater transparency, brutal honestly, and professional responsibility.

In a previous entry, I mentioned how CeL was starting a blended learning series of professional development for teacher educators.BLCC

This is the title slide of the first of that series.

Tomorrow I am sharing what I do not usually do (lecture) and how I tried to blend it with more progressive strategies (backchannel, get/give feedback during a lecture).

After my “advertisement” (the WHY), the rest of CeL will show participants HOW to use Web 2.0 or Blackboard tools to try the strategies out.

Next week, CeL will show examples of blended learning strategies in NIE’s collaborative classrooms.

Yesterday, I said TED talks were not lectures. But such talks still put the sage on the stage and there is rarely any meaningful interaction with the audience.

That is why I am looking forward to the Educamp this Friday, 2 Dec, organized by @preetamrai. It will be held in NIE for the first time and is designed along the principles of an unconference.

In theory, this means the event is less conference-style talk and more listen, discuss and argue.

I’ll be there. Will you? Sign up at the main page of the Educamp website.

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