Friday, November 30, 2007

Vivocity Self-Discovery Trip (30 November 2007)

  1. an inward journey to find our inner self
  2. time-out to reflect upon the year so that we may appreciate what and who we are, our purpose in the whole scheme of things and what we are going to do about it
In the "task sheet":
  • 3 things I observe
  • 2 things I learnt about myself
  • What am I going to do about it?

The last time being sent to a departmental store, IKEA trip several years' ago was part of the school's programme on Innovative Protocol. For that, there's a very simple mission to accomplish - observe and direct the ideas for improvement and innovation in the school. So, it was very focused! And of course, the big group moved together, it's just like the school excursion. There can also learn from the "seasoned" housewives tips in keeping the house.

This time, found it a bit more challenging... hahaha... based on the title: Self-Discovery... hahaha... YES & NO. All the while, it's easy to do something for something/someone... how often for self? Hm... This is same as easy to point out to others what's right, what's wrong... but not easy to point out to ourselves... blindspot comes in... Of course, another difference is, I "set-off" on my own - as needed to tidy up some work before the 'exile'... hahaha... Indeed, this is just like I went on a solo trip (overseas) when I have to plan what to do, and how to do... :D

Armed with the camera and map... I started my exploration...

To answer to the questions in the Task Sheet...

3 things I observe:
  • (i) Space! Big yet small - There's so much space in Vivocity - it's huge (supposedly to be one of the biggest mall in Singapore)... however, it's small enough for people to bump into each other... eg. I left office much later, but bumped into Sally and Syafeena after my lunch at Food Republic and I bump into Soh Tin at the MRT station!
  • Learning Point: The world is really really small! The probability of meeting people we know is high - Given the amount of space, the variety of shopping experiences the mall can offer. A point to note: This is unlike conferences or events that we attended, where people from the same field came together.
  • (ii) Revolution of the Old concepts. There are 2 instances:
  • At Food Republic - what caught my attention was not just the deco,but the push-cart sales! The dim-sum trolley that goes round like the Chinese yam-cha restaurant. Hey, this happened in the food court??? Normally we only see push carts ferrying used receptacles... Moreover, it has extended beyond dim-sum, but also cold drinks and tissues, etc... So enterprising - bringing service to the 'doorstep'! This indirectly creates another opportunity to draw $ from the consumers!
  • Learning Point: Ideas are never too old... it's a matter how we package them, in the way receptive to the audience. For example, the dim-sum trolley was there for don't know how many years... but all the while is confined to the restaurant. So, why not food court? Next, apart from dim-sum, what else will consumers in the food court need or like to have? Just look around... In fact, this idea of bringing service to the doorstep reminds me of another old practice - In those days where I stayed at the 12-floor flat at Lavender Street. Every evening, one middle-age woman would carry 2 baskets of bread and walked from one level to another to sell bread - Ah... the familiar "ro---ti---"
  • At the outdoor playground - hm... should I say, the roof-top playground? Remember the familiar see-saw? The typical idea is, it's a wooden plank with its centre mounted on a pivot. This one bands in an arc! Can't believe my eyes! but it works exactly the same as a see-saw! Another amazing thing saw in the playground was the pony that is manually powered! What? Manually powered yet children love it? Look at it carefully, to get the 'animal' moving, the child has to step and push the foot-paddle... hm... in a way, they 'participated' in getting the animal react. Compared to those musical ponies, it certainly adds some degree of authencity.

  • Learning Point: Catch up with time to remain current. Old ideas can be good for current application... but to be packaged so that it can blend in with time. To do that, think out-of-the-box. There's where innovation and creativity come in. The old see-saw has been there for years... its concept never change - rectangular piece mounted at the centre, there it goes up and down, but the material that made the see-saw has improved over years (or shall I say, it has 'upgraded' from wood to ...). However, that's still the old piece of 'toy'. Using the same concept, but package it differently... it's entirely new! I believe it's not called the see-saw anymore. Similarly, the pony that goes round!
  • (iii) Service: Found this 'map' at the 'entrance' of food republic. First time I saw such artwork for a food court. I would draw a parallel to the menu that's normally placed at the door of any restaurant, so that potential customers have browse through before they decide to walk in or not. Good idea! It provides an overview of what it offers, saving our time to walk-and-see :D
  • Learning Point: Make information easily accessible for people (customers in this case). Adopt existing practices (which I believe it's from the information directory that most of the malls have) and enhance the visual. This is appealing. It reminds me of maps of places of interest!

2 things I learnt about myself:

  • Doing the same thing, Having a different personal response: Slowing down the pace and taking time to look around, I connected what I'm doing to what I did in the good old days; but now have a different feel of it:
  • Visiting the Bookshop. It's the first time I go to "PageOne". The feel and look - like Kinokoniya - comes with a classy artistic look-and-feel. The steps, the wood, the colour. What a contrast to bookshops I knew of about 30 years ago. That reminded me of those primary school days that I liked to spend time in the bookshop near the market, reading chinese stories books. Haha... since then was already reading Chinese books... er... they're simply more appealing. Bookshops have evolved over the years. Then came EPD bookshop at Bedok Interchange in my secondary school days... and slowely venture to the town area - MPH - no, it was not that common yet, but the one at Stamford Road... and eventually bookshops like POPULAR, TIMES, BORDERS, etc... The experience was really different - the range of titles bookshops carry, the deco of the shop, etc... The experience has changed. Just wondering... Has the consumer changed the way the business run or is it the way businesses are run nowadays (becoming more competitive) has changed the way consumers shop and raise consumers' expectations? I notice my habit, my intent (to visit bookshops) have changed over the years... When young, it's the 'love' to read that brought me to the bookshops... then it was the range of stationery that drew me there... yes, simply amazed by the range... they're so cute!!! Now, it's the "needs" - to be equipped with the necessary info (especially when making overseas trips) and to get in touch with what's hot in the field.
  • The way I shop. Discovered the $2 shop DAISO... attractive! It sells the Japanese goodies. In the younger days, will certainly get something - it's cheap, isn't it? So, why not? OK, that was the mentality. Now, would think again... do I really need that? and well, when I need, I can simply drop by to get again... Of course, I don't practise this when overseas since I don't go back to the same place (that often). I now think twice before spending money, but it's differentiated shopping practice!
  • Taking Photos. I like to take photos of surroundings around me. However, I notice one thing - I'm more at ease doing this while I was overseas! Hm... Subconsciously, the 'non-local' hat helps to bring out my inner-self and it enables me to do what I wish to do... Oops!
What am I going to do about it:

  • No ideas are too old! With a creative and innovative mind, it can be relevant. Do not discard old practices totally. A different package can help :D
  • Borrow ideas that may not be directly to the field we work in.

What I got for myself...

  • I had a good meal... the food wasn't that fanastic... but the observations made in the food court that brought about new ideas :D Oh yes, it's the first time I bother to keep the receipts - discover anything? There're consistencies and inconsistencies though under the same management. Spot that?

  • I got myself a pair of shoes! Yes, for my trip to Switzerland. Thanks to the advice of colleagues around the lunch table the day before. It's the first time I shop at Timberland - it's known for the apparels it carried - for outdoor activities. I ordered the pair at Vivocity branch (since it did not have my size) and collected the pair from the Centrepoint branch in the same evening. Well, with a 30% discount followed by another 15% discount, I'm happy :D

Click HERE for more photos.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Learning & Reflections @ 4th ICET (21-22 Nov 2007)

Official website: Home Page, Programme
Conference Blog:


Into the Learning...

1. Keynote Address 1: Preparing Students for the Digital Age (by RADM (NS) Ronnie Tay, IDA)

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2. Keynote Address 2: Immersive, Collaborative Simulations and Neomillenial Learning Styles: Implications for Education (by Prof Christopher Dede, Harvard's School of Graduate Education, USA)

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3. Keynote Address 3: 2020 Vision of Future Learning

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4. IDA Track 2A: Serious Games for Learning - Industry Sharing on Development of Games for Learning (Siddharth Jain, Playware Studios Asia, S'pore)

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5. Specialty Track 6A: 1-to1 computing - (i) Strategies in Adopting 1-to-1 computing: Our Experience in Crescent Girls' School (ii) Case Examples of Lessons Taught in a 1-to-1 Computing Environment (by Crescent Girls' School)

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6. Specialty Track 6A: 1-to1 computing - (iii) Collaboration and Management Tools to Support 1-to-1 Computing (by Lim Soon Jin, HeuLab Pte Ltd)

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7. Keynote Address 4: Emerging Trends in Interactive Digital Media and their Impact on Education (by AP Leong Mun Kew, Institute of Infocomm Research, S'pore)

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8. Gaming Session: Active Learning through Gaming (by AP Angelican Khoo, NIE S'pore)

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9. IDA Track 2C: iLAB2015 - Sharing by FutureLab's "Teachers as Innovators" Project

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10. IDA Track 2C: iLAB2015 - Sharing on iLAB2015 Initiative in Singapore

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11. Researcher Track 1D: The 3Cs in Educational Technology: Connect, Communicate and Collaborate (by Dr Manu Kapur, NIE S'pore)

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12. Researcher Track 1D: Wikis ,Blogs, Aggregrators and Office 2.0 - Democratizing the Student Learning Process (by Mike Leishman, Newsman College, Perth)

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Exhibition by Schools

  • A total of 8 primary and 2 secondary Schools showcased their projects in the exhibition. Visited the booths of the following schools:
  • St Anthony's Primary School showcased the use of the interactive and graphic tablets for learning activities. It makes bringing technology into the classroom so much easily done.
  • What's used: Not tablet PCs, but tablet boards that are light and smooth, and no screen to get scratched! There are 2 types of tablets involved: one for teachers, which as similar to that of the tablet PC. The other one for pupils is just a scribbling pad, that pupils 'write' on it with a stylus. They can easily 'erase' what they wrote by 'rubbing' the screen with the other end of the stylus, just like they use the pencil.
  • In groups, pupils discuss and input their responses, which will be immediately displayed on the projected screen. Other groups could respond by scribbling their inputs on the graphic tablet issued to the group.
  • Teacher can also provide feedback from the interactive tablet.
  • In Hougang Primary, a group of chinese teachers developed a software to help pupils to learn chinese idioms.
  • How different it is compared to the normal learning? Shared by the pupils, idioms are usually illustrated with ancient stories (that they can't quite relate to). So, teachers get pupils to contribute their stories (based on their observations and encounters). These are translated into sentences where pupils attempt "fill in the blank" exercises.
  • Another "innovative" idea is playing the "Hide-and-Match" game. The 4 characters in the idiom is broken into 2 parts and pupils are to match the 2 cards to form the correct idiom.
  • Click HERE to see photos


This year, ICET took place at Republic Polytechnic @ Woodlands.

  • The organisers were pretty thoughtful, arranging the shuttle service to ferry participants from the MRT station to the polytechnic. AFI: It would certainly be better if there were signs at the pick-up station... though there were a few huge buses waiting there, could not see any sign indicating they were heading for RP. Also, there weren't any signage leading to the shuttle serivce pick-up point at RP.
  • Food, food, food... AFI: It's the first time there's not enough food!
  • Conference package: Except the few notes pages that come together with the programme, there wasn't any written papers! AFI: Paper not enough!
  • Something new: Conference blog & sms service to send questions to keynote speakers. Have gone to the conference blog several times, does not seem popular with the participants. Hm... the intent is not clear, probably... as a platform for participants to ask further questions? to clarify further?
  • Don't recall any feedback form issued together with the conference package... or seeing any links in the official website pertaining to feedback... Just wonder... no inputs implies no improvement needed? Then no channel for inputs implies the confidence in the execution of processes relating to the event?

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Be a Cyber Savvy Parent: Stay Safe Online Seminar (17 Nov 2007, Saturday)

This afternoon, attended the seminar on Be a Cyber Savvy Parent: Stay Safe Online . Came across this from the newspapers... Though it happens in the 'unearthy' weekend afternoon... Overall, it was time well-spent - a solid 3 hours and have learnt some useful information, that I thought would be very beneficial to us, when we talk about the use of Internet and Education. This is especially so when Cyberwellness has become a hot topic in the recent weeks.

Who were the Participants? Parents and children! It's a pretty interesting encounter - first time attending workshop with young children. In fact, a couple of children, probably at upper primary - were so fluent in explaining some of the jargons - eg. avartar and trojan horses... that's really impressed me :D

The "flip" side of this is, to many of our teachers, especially those who have been in service for more than 10 years and are alien to the gaming world, they will be fearful to find such children in class. It was pretty obvious since the Baseline ICT Standards rolled out. Let alone the use of technology, many are concern over the "ICT" skills involved. What? The ICT skills involved? Are they exposed and should have been using them since the 1st Masterplan? Surprisingly, many teachers are still at 'entry level' despite we have 'sparkling' practices surfaced from schools... So now, what's more with all the strange things happening in the internet, and the kind of children we are teaching... who are breeded in such strange environment, and bring along with them strange behaviour and ways of thinking! They are not as forgiving as adults (I believe, inferring from how they are brought up nowadays and what I saw with my own eyes)... hence the interaction has to be different now... and unfortunately, it's the teachers who have to change to suit the current situation!

The seminar is jointly organised by HIP, Internet Industry Association of Singapore (iias) and Microsoft. There were several presentations in this seminar. Key points learnt from the presentations include:

(i) Making Cyberspace Safe for Our Children (Jeff Bullwinkel, Microsoft)

  • Changes brought about by the Internet: (i) The way communication takes place has changed, be it with family, friends or colleagues. (ii) The way we access to information, not just the way, and also the mode of information and the way we receive the information. Here, this information, of course, refers to movie, music that comes in the form of digital copies available via the network. (iii) Of course, internet has also become a means to learn, meet people and explore... it has widen the range and in fact, it offers a variety within the virtual world.
  • Parental Controls via Application Software: Discovered something new - that Windows Vista offers: It comes with parental controls that allows control and monitoring of activities on the computers. Well, prior to the seeing what Vista offers, am aware there are such softwares available to serve the same purpose. But, what I like is, it is so integrated - all comes in one, and more importantly, it looks user-friendly! The visual representation - a chart that looks like timetable is easy to read. Moreover, the admin can also set time limits and application restrictions.
  • Importance to raise awareness of Online Security: To tackle the threats to PC security are viruses/worms, trojan horses and spyware, suggestions steps to protect computer includes (i) Turn on the internet firewall (ii) Keep the OS up-to-date (iii) Install and maintain antivirus software and anti-spyware. This is linked to one article read recently that most people have the anti-virus software installed, however, less than 50% of these users renew and keep the software up-to-date.
  • Like the way some jargons are explained: (i) Internet Firewall - like a moat around a castle, creating a barrier between the computer and the internet. (ii) Antivirus software - like flu shots (and therefore it has to be kept up-to-date) (iii) Anti-spyware - is the computer defender that to prevent undesired surfers to lurk in to steal information.
  • 4 threats to personal online safety includes: Spams, Phishing, Hoaxes, Identify Thefts. (i) Spams are undesired email and messages that many of us encountered. This can be quite easily resolved by setting the email configuration. (ii) Phishing recently stirred up some ho-ha... several cases of were reported. Through email, victims click at the given websites to input confidential data such as userID and password. The targets were mainly banks, that include (DBS & HSBC). (iii) Hoaxes normally come in the form of email - to trick people into giving them money. In fact, just a couple of days ago, it was reported in the papers how people were tricked into giving money. Well, I think the key to all these problems is "GREED". It's really amazing that people are wiling to "give a little" for the sake of "bigger harvest". (iv) Identity Theft - a crime whereby one steals one's personal info and use it for some unlawful purpose.
  • Useful websites

(ii) An Introduction to Copyright (Koh Chia Ling, ATMD)

  • This segment is the vague-est amongst all... all because it concerns law... and therefore the lawyer has also been very careful in giving the pointers and advice...
  • 2 rules of the thumb before downloading and using any materials (especially from the internet): (i) Always read the terms and conditions - check and check.... (ii) if the T&C are not available from the site, the safest way is to write in to seek permission... of course, like what he said, if it's available in one website, it's sure available somewhere else... so, need not to stick to one!
  • That reminds me of one question from a principal last year - when we record a TV broadcast, is it alright to screen it for use. A similar question was brought up by one parent, who did volunteer work with the school, asking if it is alright to use a copy of book bought by the school, scan it so that it could be projected out for reading activity. I was surprise when Koh mentioned that the 'treatment of the case' would be different when he is not a member of the institution (ie. under MOE).
  • On the other hand, I believe that this is also one of the biggest concern of teachers back in the school!
  • The 10% guide was reinforced. However, another term comes in - ie. whether the 10% belongs to the substantial portion or not. OK, this is really vague and requires in-depth analysis - of course, it comes with the "subjective" element!
  • One point to note - the same guide applies to electronic books, too!
  • Another point to note: Although we might have paid for a CD... however, we have only paide for the licence to view and listen, but not for distribution.

(iii) Online Distribution of Music (Leong May-Seey, IFPI) (IFPI: International Federation of the Phonographic Industry)

  • This is an area of growing concern... it has also made Headlines on the papers - probably the first known case was Napster ... and the recent hoo-ha case where one ISP was asked to release info of users who downloaded files in bulk for legal action.
  • The presentation also shed light on P2P - which is very much heard of, but don't know what it is all about. This is really one of the key takeaways!
  • Leong shared a list of more common software that's meant for P2P distribution... what an eye-opener! It's amazing to hear how the "distribution methods" have evolved over time!
  • From the most primitive method - direct link from the Internet website, to FTP (that the more techno-savvy ones use)...
  • Then it moves on to Peer-to-Peer (P2P), through a 3rd party environment/software. If I interpret correctly (from the brochure), it's a software to be installed in the local system and open door (by creating a folder that can be 'shared out') to others to get stuff that's meant for sharing.
  • The scary part is, in one application, Bit Torrent, the downloader automatically becomes an uploader (ie. the distributor)
  • Peer2Mail is something new to me - shall I say it's a 'creative' way to 'harness' what email offers? By tapping on the huge email space, files were uploaded in the email space for others to download... well... with the userID adn password circulated via the discussion forum, etc. Brilliant, isn't it?
  • However, the more scary thing yet to come! There are software that requires the user to share a certain amount of information (eg. 1 GB)) and there were instances that children would upload the entire "C" drive in exchange of the files they want. Scary, right?
  • The most scary part was, lots of confidential information such as tax payers' returns, and even passwords were uploaded!!!
  • Leong also shared some licensed digital sites in Singapore:
  • 2 Useful guides: (i) Copyright & Security Guide for Schools and Universities (ii) Copyright & Security Guide for Companies & Governments

(iv) E Commerce Security (Kenneth Yuen)

  • Kenneth has shed some light on security of e-Commerce, which I thought he provided very useful information to teachers, especially those who teach Computer Applications.
  • Have heard much about eBay. However, the impression is really a "2nd hand store" where one can aunction stuff there - it's a place to sell and buy. Not it never occur to me that there are more behind these.... first of all, it's no longer a place that just sell 2nd hand stuff, but also new things! Then, there's this team of people behind the transaction that can do follow-up.
  • Some concerns on the use of e-Commerce include (i) Credit card info (ii) Quality of goods (iii) Goods not delivered.
  • Interesting, e-Commernce has not really picked up in Asia yet.
  • PayPal is something new to me - that does not require the consumer to enter credit card information.
  • Advice before making any transaction includes (i) check if there's any security system in use by the website (ii) Refund policy (iii) Purchase policy

(v) Mobile Connected Safe (can't remember name of presenter, iCell)


Sunday, November 04, 2007

Coping with the Game Anxiety

If not because of the new workshop module, "Games for Learning", it would not have 're-open' the can of 'worms' and extended the 'status-quo' perspectives.

Online Games? In the first place, doesn't sound exciting or 'attractive' to me... Still can remember my very own facial expression when was assigned to do this module
  • Games??? Oh no!!! They sound alien to me!
  • Chiam!!! Start from ground zero again???
  • Hey, lots of catch-up to do...
  • all those terms - IVE, MULE, etc... Oh no!!!!!

Yes, truly, my exposure to games is really limited.... never cross my mind that games to be labelled as 'lame' or not... Especially when people around keep saying "those games are so lame". It keeps ringing at my ears and generating anxiety... Please stop it, especially in front of an 'antique' trying to catch up! I thought! It doesn't help telling me that the games are lame while I've not gotten enough exposure to the "lame" type of games! I need to bridge the gap!!!! Help!!!

I guess part of the anxiety was formed by doses of 'hearsays' like "the design of the game does not really support Maths learning, they are strategic games... there's little potential, etc...." So, I can see how "influential" are hearsays... especially when barricades are "self"-built, even before we decide to step out to explore... Lesson learn here... Since hearsays are so influential in one's perceptions, it's important on what kind of 'hearsays' 'float' in the air - positive or negative ones!

Well, well, well... must confess... after a while of "looking" and "seeking"... thought it was not that difficult after all... still can survive :D On the other hand, scoping is also very very important.

On one hand, we see that immersive games took the world into a new game era... certainly conventional games available in the internet is nowhere near... but I think it's really up to us, or I would say, for us to open up our minds not to forget and appreciate what's there and see how we can use them, too... (in the first place, we have not even really tap on their potential to the fullest) so, it's unfair to brush them aside though they are 'lame'. One thing learnt, through repeated observations over different things, it's good to give room for new perspectives to things that we thought they only worked in ways we saw in the past... Look at the MS tools... we knew them for a long long time, we knew how they can be used at work, but we also discover new ways to use our old time tool! So... 事是无绝对!

During the lunch break at Yishun Safra, it was the first time I saw with my own eyes how the multi-player game worked. It was so amazing!!! Each avatar represents a player and they all come together to interact and work and even challenge each other. In fact, it's exciting to roam from one station to another to see what's happening in the computer screen.... That's the first time encounter...

Saturday, November 03, 2007

ETD Day... 2007, 2 November

... about the afternoon segment...

It's really an afternoon spent leaving work behind the mind... er... occasionally keep in mind but put it across in the satirical way! We were engaged (or should I say, absorbed) in the activity... Personally not because it's interesting... they were simply... the emcee? Have seen better ones... Okay, anyone who fronted the show in the morning could do a better job - a pad on the Wil-kie's and Richard's shoulders :D

Yes, it started off with 'most boring' item of any team building activity - Have a Group Name, Give a Group Slogon and a Group Motto.

What did we come up with?

  • Group Name: SCS It's really up to individual's interpretation... or in fact, it reflects the state of mind of the interpreter, right? Some positive ones include Sure Cans, Sure Can Suvive! Of course pessimistic thoughts also includes... Well, well, well... we can't control one's thinking... So, it's up to one's state of mind :D
  • Group Motto: No Eat, No Sleep, All Work. Hahaha... at crucial periods... that happens! Interpret further - Eat also think of work... (so can't eat properly)... Sleep also think of work... (so can't sleep properly... oh yes!!! Nightmares!!!)... So??? It's all work lor!!!
  • Group Slogon: Tough times don't last, PD does! This was tweaked from "Tough times don't last, baseline does!" hahaha... very interesting way of talking the happenings in the section now... at least, this will continue for the next couple of years!

Well, well, well... what else could better connect us than the above? The games include

  • Transferring a 4 items - a pail, a wire-bracket, a tennis ball and a cone, one at a time, from one end to another... so, it's about team work...
  • Forming shapes (rectangle, 5-pointed star) using a string... so it tested our spatial visualisation and imagination and logical thinking, too!!!
  • The massive activity was the one where it tried to communicate the importance of clear communication. How it works:
  • 2 members to leave the room first, they'll have to following "unsaid" instructions to carry out a number of actions. After they leave the room...
  • 2 members will be briefed by the organiser the series of actions the first 2 members suppose to do. They were to return to the table and brief the rest of the members. After which, they are not allowed to talk.
  • First: Collect the cone and leave it on the table. Next collect the Pail and the Wire-bracket and bring them to the front of the stage. Thirdly, bring the wire-bracket to the table, exchange with the cone and leave it at the stage. Bring the pail (from the front of the stage) to the other end of the room and leave it there. Return to the front of the stage, hold the hand of a member and do a tour. Hold hands and go to the stage. The end.
  • One more activity whereby instructions were given to 2 members. They were to convey the message in a non-written language way on the series of tasks of carry out.

One part of the programme is on Destress... well, there came the 'guru' to lead the group to go through a series of exercises - such as taking deep breaths, "imagination", raising the legs, the arms, etc...

Well, good effort for the organiser to bring in this component. However, did we really benefit from it? For a while, just wondering, should we listen or should we follow and do along? For a while, I thought it was along the line of what's roll-out during the Teachers' mass lecture - ERP (Exercise Regularly Period)... Just wondering... something that's created... with much $$ and effort put in... it was launched during the lecture... and what's next? die a natural death??? Just wonder...