Monday, May 29, 2006

Learning Journey to GIC

It was a loud, cheery and smiling voice that greeted me when I stepped into the reception area of the 37th floor... Oops! Is this Singapore? For a moment... hm... there leaves the very very first impression... :D

The Government of Singapore Investment Corporation Pte Ltd. Its name is so confusing... is it owned by the Government? or it's a Private Company? There it came clear at the end of the trip - it's initiated by the Government of Singapore, and it's engaged by the government to manage the country's reserves! It has a strong board include big names like MM Lee, PM Lee, and some cabinet ministers. And... it has one and only one client, that is, the Singapore government!

Some pointers from the various presenters
Analytical & Quantitative Skills
People Skills
Sound Judgement &
Decision making - making decision based on INcomplete set of info; to be
comfortable with uncertainty
Responsibility &
Integrity - stick to the decision, even if it goes wrong
Communication skills - Precision &Clarity

Leardership: Collaboration + Consensus + Cooperation

Components to Global standards:
Policies & Practices - the need to contextualise
Characteristics (the Singaporean experience):
Permissive or Authoritative
Think Agility (learn & Relearn)

Look outwards
Recalibrate all the benchmarks - Performance, Benefits, Pay, etc...
Innovate as one goes along
Adapt, adapt, adapt

Paradigm Shift:
Autonomy vs Governance
Deision Making vs Accountability
Adaptive vs Assertive Leadership
Facilitative vs Authoritative Leadership

Facility Management: Guiding Principles - 3Cs
Cost - cost effective yet meets business needs
Comfortable & Convenience - user experience
Continuity - robust

Importance of Training
Competitive Industry - needs skills to compete against the best
Constant changes - new markets, asset classes, instruments
Organisational coherence & sustainability - corporate values

Focus of Training
Organisational values
Professional skills
Technical & Soft skills
Managerial & leadership development

Training Map:
>> Staff Performance Appraisal
>> Target Setting
>> Staff's Training Roadmap - taking into account: Background (staff training history), Dept's training roadmap, Organisation's Training Roadmap
>> Plan implemented with Training unit
>> Training history updated

Training of the Associates Programme
>> Training on Technical & Soft skills
>> Staff Interaction & Bonding
>> Organisation culture & values
>>>>> classroom lectures & exams
>>>>> Bourse Game (investment games)
>>>>> Rotations to Depts
>>>>> Social events (lunches, BBQ, bowling)

Leadership position...
Personal Effectiveness, Interpersonal Skills and Management Skills
>> Understanding one-self & others
>> Managing your EQ
>> Working in Team & Group Decision making
>> Communication & Conflict Management
>> Gaining Self & Interpersonal Awareness

>>>>> Seeking the GIC Leadership DNA <<<<<

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

IAEA 2006 Conference (22-26 May)

22, 23, 25, 26 May 2006 @ Grand Copthorne Waterfront Hotel, Singapore
IAEA: International Association for Educational Assessment

Refer to:

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Workshop: Writing Papers (17 & 19 May 2006)

4 Key Things:
  1. Content - selection, stress
  2. Organisation & Structure
  3. Language - style, standard English
  4. Format & Presentation


  1. Readers
  2. Purpose
  3. Use
  4. Deadline


Day 1 Discussion Points

p7: Why do we have to write so much, and so well ?

Keypoint at the section: Information + Implication >>> Impression + Influence

(a) why is writing well important to your unit/organisation?

Writing is one of main channel of communication of ideas and proposals, etc to the others. Writing well is a means to communicate the intended message in the way it is intended to be perceived. Hence, being able to put in the necessary information and position it the way it will first bring in the audience's attention and to sustain their interest, and eventually to buy-in, etc... to achieve the objective.

Several considerations:

  • When dealing with complex issues, it is necessary to present clearly because of the implications
  • Write it such that people can understand and get a clear picture
  • Know the intend audience - eg. public - what's close to their heart

(b) Why is writing well so important to you?

  • To get the right message across - in the way it is intended to be.
  • To position the message in a way that the idea, proposal, etc... sells!
  • To express our thoughts, opinions, perceptions, stand, etc... so that (possibly) people know where we are coming from.
  • To be able to influence one's thoughts.
  • >>> It's an exercise - to plan and organise/structure the thoughts

(c) What are the different considerations you bear in mind when you plan and draft your papers?

  • Audience - who's reading? It determines the tone, style, language
  • Key Message - what's exactly the paper about? Its intent
  • Background - related matters; implications
  • Rationale
  • Format
  • Other stakeholders - the likely affected parties

(d) What are the different steps you go through when you have to write a paper?

  • Intent
  • Audience
  • Research
  • Format & approach
  • Draft/Feedback {recursive}

  • Planning ~ 25% of time
  • Drafting ~ 20% of time
  • Vetting ~ 40 - 70% of time
  • Submitting
  • Following through - presentation, lobby for support?

p14: How do you assess what your readers' concerns, preferences, needs and attitudes are?

  • Ask them - what they want to know? (info? concept?) do not tell them what they know
  • Ask them who works closely with them
  • Read what they consider "good" and "bad" writing - reader specific, styles, what moves them?
  • Read what they say and write
  • Read biographical sketches and profiles

Always bear in mind...

  • Be selective, be concise
  • Don't tell someone what you know
  • Tell them what they need to know, what it means and why it matters

Day 2 Useful words

(a) Use short words

  • approximately: about
  • ambiguous: not clear, vague
  • ascertain: confirm, find out
  • currently: now
  • deliberate upon: discuss
  • endeavour: try, do
  • expedite: speed up, hasten
  • fallacious: false, wrong
  • comprehensive: thorough
  • incorporate: include
  • incremental: slow/small increase
  • demonstrate: show
  • utilise: use
  • originate: begin
  • terminate: end, conclude

(b) Use just one word (or two)...

  • by means of: through, by
  • as a consequence of: as a result, therefore
  • for the purpose of: to
  • in accordance with: according, under this section
  • in favour of: for
  • in order to: to
  • in the event that: if
  • on the basis of: base on
  • with a view to: to
  • with respect to: about
  • at a later date: later, by DDMMYYYY
  • during the time that: that

(c) Remove unnecessary words

  • during the period of May-July: from May to July
  • in the Singapore context: in Singapore
  • red in colour: red

(d) Use verbs, adverbs and adjectives instead of nouns

  • of a permanent nature: permanently, fixed
  • come to a decision: decide
  • at a fast pace: quickly
  • had a discussion: discuss
  • the plan's implementation is on: it's implemented on
  • of a vast quantity: many, significant

(e) Other menas for writing simple and short English:

  • do not use too mnay conjunctions
  • use list
  • use annexes
  • use appropriate subheadings
  • use common acryonms
  • use active voice

Friday, May 05, 2006

IAEA 2006 Conference

22, 23, 25, 26 May 2006 @ Grand Copthorne Waterfront Hotel, Singapore
Paper presentation: Assessment using Mobile Phone - An Exploratory Study
by Cheow Cher Wong & Rajenthiran Sellan, SEAB; Lup Yuen Lee, NCS
In this presentation, the presenters shared their attempt to use the mobile phone to conduct testing. The subjects were from a primary school class, who the answered several questions (EL, Grammar) via the phone.

Basically, I think, from this 'experiment', 2 key things were surfaced - logistics and the value-add of technology (in the way it was used) - and these are very real issues that we will face and have to deal with.

The logistics caution us on the possible problems - such as software/application download, compatibility, etc. These are normally issues that are underplayed - though we agree that pedagogy matters most when T&L concerns. On the other hand, it is necessary to channel a reasonable amount of attention to this for the project to succeed or to make it possible to happen. It is not jus the job of TAs. No point invest huge amounts of effort and time, yet yield insignificant benefits (Well, don't get me wrong, I'm not dampering the spirit of experimentation).

Next, from the illustration, I feel that it might not have done justice to the mobile phone technology in assessment. The illustration was not strong enough to show how technology was employed to value-add the learning process. I belief the traditional pen-and-paper technology would have fared far better.

However, one point to note when I saw the similar technology being used in a different way/ context; and I was pretty convinced with its usefulness in the way it was employed. That was during the "Innovationation" exhibition in October this year. It envisioned that, mobile phone technology can be employed to give just-in-time and just-enough information, as well as a short quiz. This was contextualised with the environment.

For instance, there exists a wireless transmission of information (eg. background/history) of the Victoria Theatre. As far as one is nearby, the handphone can be connected to its hub to download and read information about the venue. It also came with a quiz. Hey, the first thing came to my mind was "Learning Journey". That will be interesting, isn't it?

Learning and Community of Practice

by Dr David Hung @ Vista Lab on 4 May 2006
The article:
Learning within the Context of Communities of Practices: A Re-Conceptualization of Tools, Rules and Roles of the Activity System (Hung W. L. David, Singapore and Chen D.-T. Victor, New Zealand)

2 things that I remember...

  • Learning to be: Its final outcome: the acquisition of identity. It's a process when one undergoes the change in behaviour, mindset. A transformation takes place.

  • Learning about: It's about content! It's what that draws people of common interest to come together. It's what the arouses the curiosity in one and lead one to come in, peep, peep, look, look. If "Learning about" does not exist, what will the COP anchor on?

  • ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Some Thoughts after the session @ VISTA Lab...

    Productive failure - it's a dip - a common phenomenon in the course of experimenting, incuburating innovative ideas, ... , leading towards to bigger goal, a long-term goal. Just wonder... how often we recognise them (when we face with) as productive failures? Very often, it'll be stamped or labelled "FAILED" and seal the case? Do we consciously look out for productive failure? Consciously be less judgemental? Can we accept the 'productive failure' and move on from there? Do we give the 'failure' a chance to prove itself? Hm... like what David Hung said, "phenomenon takes time to self-organise".

    Unproductive success - associated to short-term success, however, may not lead to achieving the long-term goal. As such, it will generate more unnecessary/duplicated effort in order to move on to reach the end-point. Yes, I think has something got to do with the 'big picture' thing. If we are able to connect what we're doing to the bigger environment, then perhaps we'll realise that more effort is needed or we'll have to go by a different path to achieve the results of task we're managing, however, giving room for expansion or being prepared to connect to the bigger environment, rather than as a CLOSED task.

    Agree fully with David Hung that "Efficiency" has a very influential role in both - productive failure and unproductive success. Often, we know that productive failure is part and particle of progression and innovation; however, very often, we want control over the course - introduce structures, set deadlines, KPIs, etc... to 'ensure' it 'happens' - and we wanted to do it quickly and systematically, to see the results quickly... yes, "patience" often overlooked or a neglected factor that fails to catch our attention. We forget that time is needed for self-organisation to take place. Agree that time is needed for things to take shape.

  • It's been an interesting comparison of learning and acquisition of knowledge between the past and present - the paradigm shift.

    • In the past, learning is a very individual matter. One possesses the wealth of knowledge in the HEAD. One brings it with him. One owns it.
    • With heightened awareness and the rapid growth of knowledge all over the place... how can one withholds everything in the head? There's where the different individuals come together, to interact, to share. To 'depend' on each other. To tap on each other.
    • Everyone have their own expertise, their own set of knowledge... and one can never hold everything in the world in his head alone... so, why not recognise the fact that the human world is actually a huge human library... and knowledge is indexed within different books (ie. each individual)... when need to, come together to share?
    • Then what's more important now is, knowing where the information or knowledge is, and knowing how to 'retrieve' it - through interaction, through network. Yes, as David Hung has pointed out - Learning is distributed in a community. Yes, there's no end to learning, but it's taking place everywhere, by every individual, focusing on different aspects of learning...

    Social Constructivism:

  • Good thinking is when Interpretation is close to the reality.
  • Seeing the "world" from the "LENS of the Participants"
  • Which PERSPECTIVE tells more TRUTH?
  • A fair bit of time concentrated on "Perspectives" and "Truth". What is truth? Something that is true can be protruded and lose its original meaning, intent.
  • Am still hazy over this... though the arguments sounded very logical when David Hung conveyed... Yes, it's a blur line between reality and illusion. Indeed, Reality can be distorted or misinterpreted whereas with proper 'shaping', illusions can be perceived true! Scary, isn't it?

  • Complexity Theory

  • At one point, the structure of the Education Ministry overseas and Singapore was briefly compared: Some of the Education Ministry overseas are just a body that comprises of several people (a 'thin layer') and therefore it leaves to largely to the district or school to 'self-govern' and therefore given the flexibility of the design of its curriculum, the way it runs the school, etc... whereas Singapore Education Ministry is a huge body where the thining and planning, etc... take place... and eventually most of the time, leaving the schools to come in at the implementation stage - so much so that, the school will wait for the 'big nanny' to say what's next... and even the 'how to do...' - Yes, both have pros and cons.
  • One interesting scenario: What happens if the Singapore Education Ministry turns into a 'thin layer' one day... whereby the full autonomy is given the schools. It's just a body that dishes out guidelines... how will the school react to that?
  • Schools immediately move in to the inequilibrium state? How the school re-organise itself? etc.... but after a while, it will reach a steady state, into the cruising state again... so the key factor to the whole situation - from chaos to settlement - TIME.

  • COP Conclusion:

    • Learning as becoming
    • Emphasis as process
    • Interaction are relational
    • Designing for Social-material infrastructure
    • Facilitating - enculturation
    • Allowing - Emergence

    Click HERE and HERE see some interesting illusions.

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