Another dot in the blogosphere?

Posts Tagged ‘sharing

One of the initiatives I led when I was a faculty member was using open learning tools and resources.

While administrators of academic institutions lock information down with the help of publishers, I countered with open publishing. While instructors concerned themselves with strict copyright and intellectual property rights, I pushed open source and Creative Commons resources.

I still model this mindset and behaviour by using ImageCodr to embed and attribute CC-licensed images almost every day in this blog. I create and share resources for my talks, workshops, and classes with open and non-expiring tools.

I am not always aware of the reach of these resources because they do not have trackers. However, sometimes I find out via my blog that they are making an impact.

Recently two of my blog reflections received an unusual number of hits. One was Remaking the revised Bloom’s Taxonomy while the other was Dumbfounded (Part 2). Using the WordPress dashboard, I could link the hits to visitors from Cambodia and Egypt respectively.

I was curious as to why, but did not have any answers because the dashboard results were not fine-grained enough.

Thankfully, an educator from Cambodia contacted me to ask for editing rights to my revision of Bloom’s Verb Wheel. She wanted to convert the words to Khmer. As I use that resource actively, I said I could provide a copy as long as the subsequent resources were shared under similar CC licenses.

But I have no idea why so many Egyptians were interested in my critique of a poorly conceived, badly written, and irresponsibly broadcasted programme on Channel News Asia.

The bottomline is this: Those of us in education should share as openly as we can. The people I reached would not have been helped if the resources were not available to them via a quick Google search. We have a responsibility that extends beyond our classrooms and borders.

… why do we not dominate at edtech conferences overseas?

This was one of the questions I asked myself after the seemingly endless ad-tweets for ICTLT.

ICTLT is a locally run and controlled edtech conference that happens every two years. You might say that it is by Singaporeans for Singaporeans to show off Singaporean efforts.

There are invited speakers from elsewhere, of course. No conference worth its salt would ignore the pull of A-list or even minor academic celebrities.

Events like ICTLT are meant to disseminate, inspire, and propagate. There is current or new information to share, people to energise, and propaganda to spread. There is also the overall Singapore brand to sell.

But I return to my original question: If we are that good, why do we not dominate at edtech conferences overseas?

I am not saying that our natively born or locally nurtured professors and experts do not present at all. I am wondering why our reputation does not seem to be matched by our reach.

There are a few usual suspects — you can count them on one hand — who are invited to do keynotes or seminars internationally. But we are not known for our prolific sharing.

Might we be better at quietly implementing and not pronouncing these efforts on the highest stages? Why operate along this false dichotomy when we need to be doing both? After all, if we are rich with information and experience, we should be sharing more openly and frequently instead of keeping this to ourselves.

Are we going to keep hiding behind the excuse that our schools collectively hosts lots of visitors from lands near and far? Visitors from those very same countries do their share of hosting and they dominate the conference floors and stages.

So I still wonder: If we are that good, why do we not dominate at edtech conferences overseas?


Welcome home, brother! by vynsane, on Flickr
Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.0 Generic License   by  vynsane 

STEM, STEAM, coding, maker spaces. If you are an educator, you should be well acquainted with these buzz words.

There is nothing like a good story to make these real. The YouTube video embedded below is a wonderful example of making and coding with LEGO so that kids with physical disabilities have modular artificial limbs.

Video source

All making and coding needs context. If they do not, they will be as empty as current deliver-and-test curricula. So what better context than creating artificial limbs for kids that they can co-design and actually enjoy?

In showing care in context, such projects might also create sustainability. Such limbs must literally grow with the kids, and for some, might grow on them. A few might be inspired enough to also make and code.

So by all means promote coding and making, but do not lose sight of context. That context does not just provide opportunity for authentic problem finding and solving, it might also show care for others and sustain coding and making for the long run.

One of the things that an academic has to do (whether s/he wants to or not) is attend conferences. Conferences are a good way to get a trial paper into a conference-linked journal or a journal proper. It is part of the “publish or perish” adage that academics live by.

Whether academics like to admit it or not, we choose conferences not just as opportunities to network and catch up with friends, but also to travel to cities we have never been to.

Today is the deadline for submission of proposals of one of my favourite conferences. This conference introduced a practitioner track and I was keen on sharing a more elaborate version of my three dimensions of flipped learning. But something stopped me.

Video source

It was not the fact that I will be leaving my job as a university faculty soon. It was more about the fact that most conferences are run more like businesses and cost a lot to attend. I questioned the need to pay airfare, accommodation, and conference fee in order to share something of value that I created that will benefit only a relative few (the few that pay to attend and get the documents).

I did not have to play the usual academic game anymore. I decided that if I am going to share an article, it should benefit those it is meant to reach (practitioners), an in order to do this, I should do it openly.


The final quarter of 2013 is going to be a busy one for me.

I have five speaking engagements (one standard presentation, two panels, two keynotes). Four of the five take place in October!

  • Presentation: Jailbreaking Schooling with Mobile Learning* (MobiLearn Asia 2013)
  • Panel member: How I implement game-based learning (International Symposium on Technology-Enhanced Learning)
  • Panel member: The implications of new technology on education stakeholders (Cambridge Schools Conference)
  • Keynote: Rehash of * for a military audience (shh!)
  • Keynote: Progressive strategies for implementing and sustaining e-learning (International Congress on e-Learning)

Each time, I am going to try something a bit different. But I might leverage on something to backchannel for all.

I also have a book chapter to write and a five-part YouTube series on the Flipped Classroom!

But like a busy bee, I think I will be collecting and bringing pollen to be shared for the greater good. I just hope I do not get stung!

Evolution by vassego, on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 2.0 Generic License  by  vassego 

I read this TED blog entry about Sherry Turkle and found the phrase that titles this blog entry. With a title like that, this might sound like the beginning of a reflection on being open, being connected, or learning socially.

But it is not. Instead, the original blog entry is a cautionary tale on how being connected online does not just change what we do but also changes what we are.

Turkle she fears that people mistake connection with conversation and replace eye contact with smartphone contact. She also worries that this constant connection might impede our ability to self-reflect.

She might be right. But part of me also wonders if we are seeing the evolution of human communication and even the human condition.

This new communication, connection, and condition might sound scary, but perhaps it is just adding variety to the gene pool so that when the environmental conditions change, these “mutants” become the dominant species.

From a teaching and learning perspective, social learning might be about being alone together. The connectedness we have now can lead to very rich interaction and unprecedented access to information.

But all that interaction and information needs to be processed and not all learners know how to do that. Teachers who recognize this need must address that need.

We used to share information because we were merely teachers. We now need to share information management because we are educators. That is our responsibility whether or not someone tells you to or whether or not you are trained to do it.

Finish/Start by I like, on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.0 Generic License  by  I like 

Lots and lots have been said about the quality of Finnish education. I admire what they do and how they do it. I do not envy those who want to try to replicate or borrow ideas for implementation.

I am not going to add much to that conversation either. But I will point out what one Finnish educator said at Mind/Shift:

“You know, one big difference in thinking about education and the whole discourse is that in the U.S. it’s based on a belief in competition,” Sahlberg said. “In my country, we are in education because we believe in cooperation and sharing. Cooperation is a core starting point for growth.”

I think that value system is what allows the Finnish to “finish” first in education. But because they are not in competition with anyone else (except perhaps themselves), they do not ever finish.

What do our teachers and educators believe in?

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