Monday, June 23, 2008

Cooltown? COOL!

The trip reminded me of the "Classroom of the Future (COF)" @ NIE that I visited 2 years ago. (Well, heard there's some revamp... so that it looks more future??? er... or so as to remain futuristic)

Really, for such places - it's really the packaging that counts... and of course, the getting the right 'salesperson' to do the job matters!

Well, according to an article "HP's Cooltown shows how technology works for humans ", Singapore Cooltown is the only cooltown remains worldwide... Wow! Lucky we to have one just at our doorstep, isn't it?

Several observations @ HP Cooltown Innovation Center - a mixture of newer technologies as well as existing technologies...

1. Virtual Tour

  • The tablet screen shows what the user would see as he moves around in the round... it's like: When one wonders in the room (in total darkness), with the device/program, you will not knock onto any objects - it's as good as what you see when the room is lighted up. Hm... equivalent to putting on those glasses/goggles for virtual reality experience.
  • Well, so the concept is not something new... except the fact that it's the first time hearing it uses a digital compass (if I remember the term correctly) instead of tapping on GPS. Oh yes, the user can find his location in the virtual map at one corner of the screen.
  • Of course, the software also allows one to have his imagination runs wild when designing a place... making it so visual and realistic! Hey, it would be nice if we could have something like that to help us designing our learning spaces of the new school campus!
  • One potential is to provide 'experiential learning': At a touch of a button, students can 'shrink' themselves (or their avatar) and be absorbed into a solid ... where they could explore the carbon isotopes - graphite and diamond... where they see & experience how the different structures result in different properties of the various forms.
  • Similarly, they can be shrunk and transported around the human body - to take a good close look at the organs... and to experience how blood flows (pumped in/out of the heart), etc...
  • Another potential for learning - Art/Design-related learning activities! For instance, involving students to design a maze...
  • Hm... both are tapping on the "Honey! I shrink my kids" concept.
  • Alternatively, we can also 'showcase' our future learning spaces during the open house!
2. HP TouchSmart ( and that table!

  • The first impression: Microsoft surface - equivalent, isn't it?
  • Why? Well, microsoft has made a big wave out of it! HP said the technology was developed before microsoft got it out... so... I guess it's due to the differences in the marketing strategies/emphasis of the 2 giants?
  • Well, I was still very excited, got the chance to sit in front of that table... hahaha... it's this novelty thingy in play... if it's going to be more common and accessible... then will be 见怪不怪liao!
  • Of course, the table is just an enlarged version of the PC monitor version...
  • Hm... other peripherals are... wireless mouse, keyboard, printer, etc... ok, ok... these are not new.
  • Potential in T&L? Hm... need to explore further... Perhaps something to do with collaborative tasks? (saw this in one of the advertisements where several children playing jigsaw puzzle... Er... it's a good to have isn't it? "High class Jigsaw Puzzle"?)

3. 2D-turned-3D visual magic!

  • A image printed on a piece of paper, when placed under a camera - the image will be captured and displayed in the computer... however, another dimension is displayed too! The animated visual (which could be a video/animation tagged to certain text) or just a 3rd dimension image 'popping' out!
  • Potential in T&L? Probably our kind of interactive textbook? Perhaps something we can envisage our pupils building up. However, it has to go with a camera, special programme to 'embed' the information (eg. images, videoclips) "onto" the piece of paper!

4. RFID Cafe

  • The first demo was that of the fridge - whereby RFID is used to track the stock of goods. Hey, isn't this something we saw in London last year? (when we put up in the Hilton hotel? or while we were in one of the hotels in Japan 2 years ago?). Yes, was so amazed by the use of technology in these household applicances then! So, no novelty here.
  • Of course, other demonstrations using (passive and active) RFID were pretty interesting :D - that includes the tracking of resources/equipment.
  • And yes, packaging is useful here.... it's well-illustrated with the cafe concept.
  • Potential for T&L? Er...
  • Potential for admin and logistics? Yes, definitely... as mentioned by HP, RFID was developed for logistics management largely. Am amazed! The tiny piece of device can do wonders!
  • Another interesting fact shared was the "injection" of RFID chip into the body - it seems to work wonders! With that chip of the size of a rice gain, it allows one to be 'scanned' for admission to outlets, make payment, etc... Hey, just a wild imagination - what if the burgler 'chop' off one's arm? hahaha... too much movies!

5. Zapcode

  • Another "IN" thing now... zap here, zap there... first heard about it in the learning trail at Sungei Buloh, then they appear more on newspapers, followed by Learn@ this year... and yes, today see a live demo...
  • WOW! There's potential! As seen in the learning trail recently. Yes, the push and pull technology... there's definitely potential for T&L... hm... emerging??? Have to think harder... (innovative use of the tool?)

6. Digital Pen

7. The Halo

  • Really, think this is the highlight, when Iba insisted showing us... hm... the state of art... yes, the first time heard about this in the talk "Tracking the Internet into the 21st Century" by Vinton G Cerf (see HERE).
  • Yeap, it's just video conferencing! But over a private network. And yes, it has overcome the 'lags' and other issues encounter in a typical videoconferencing environment. I think, its selling point is really - "so easy to use" (even by layman).
  • See previous post on this.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Reflection: Workshop on e-Learning for Maths (Primary)

It's been a while... after the last workshop reflection... Guess, it's because certain workshop has been routine-iced already, when it's not just the 2nd run, but the 3rd, 4th, ... run.

The e-Learning workshop is a brand new one! Yes, to the Maths team, and I thought there are several break-throughs... we attempted a few things we had never done before...

It's during the 1st week of the school vacation - and it crashed with a few other major events in education happenings here - Sharing at Teachers' Network, Teachers' Conference, Maths Teachers' Conference and the Library Conference (there could be more!!!). Amazing, isn't it? While there's lots of talk about children having to go back to schools for enrichment and remedial programmes, there're also lots of programmes lined up for teacher educators!!!

The e-Learning module is challenging - it's new to us! Yes, 'new' because the original content has so much meat that not many of us are equipped with the necessary knowledge and skills to deliver. It's too broad... so is its definition... What's e-Learning? To us, to the participants, to the schools... it can be very different. Apart from opening ourselves to a whole new world... we also acquire a set of new skills and immerse (engaged?) in the act of going through it.

Some highlights...

  • Background Bingo - it's a common ice-breaking activity that many of us go through when we attend workshops or training... Some of the subject teams have been faithfully carrying out this activity, I believe. But, the Maths team has not (since I joined the team in Day 1). Just wondering... is it because of the nature of our workshop, we don't see the necessity of doing it. There is little interaction needed apart from the partner beside them (Think-Pair-Share is more often carried out). And of course, most of our workshops are 2 session workshops (ie. 6 hours, including tea breaks!). Time is precious! However, think that it's worth doing if the participants are going to work together for a longer period of time, and having to harness on each other's capability (eg. in this activity, we discover who are the ones who are more familiar with the Web 2.0 tools, people of the different learning style...) Hey, this is pretty obvious in the end product of the first activity :D
  • Name Stickers - did not expect that it can be put to such good use! (so versatile). The basic use is to display their name... then we asked them to indicate their learning style "V", "A", "R", "K" ... that helps them to look for people during the background bingo activity. It also helps them to find the members to form the teams! Oh yes, one thing right... we asked them to write their GMail address on the sticker... then, they simply need to circulate their name sticker when they need to include each other in the contact list. So convenient! Thought it's also a brillant idea, isn't it?
  • Point system & Prizes - yes, it's also the first time we go for such activities! We have never integrated the competition element into our workshops... hahaha... no need, right? Anyway, most of the time, participants will have to deliver certain outputs. However, I agree that the nature of activities in this workshop is pretty different from the past. Lots of collaboration among the members in the team... But I guess the most important thing is, we managed to model one of the strategies to participants that they could employ with the class - how to start off with extrinsic motivators to get pupils to participate in (for instance) discussion forum. It really works!

What could be better...

  • Leveraging on what participants have put on the background bingo. In fact, if we have more time, would be good to customise the 'descriptors' more... that will get them to know each other better.
  • Modeling the facilitation, especially in assessing the inputs, and anticipating 'competition' among participants - which, in fact, will happen among pupils.
  • The last component when participants suppose to come up with a unit plan... we're still quite new to...