Friday, November 28, 2008

"Moated" Stage

This morning, went to a primary school to meet up a teacher for discussion. While waiting, the courtyard caught my attention.

It's pretty common to find artificial waterfall, ponds in schools nowadays! Yes, usually the ponds are filled with big fat kois! hahaha.... and normally they comes with little bridges that cut across the small, narrow ponds. That sounds familiar? Hahaha... it's really more for aesthetic reasons! The bridges are there for no obvious reasons! Hm... for some, I think also for feng shui?

Well, look at the picture: The stage platform is right at the middle of the pond. Hahaha... inspired by the floating stage/platform at Marina Bay? I wonder. Hey, the landscape resembles that of the castle surrounded by the moat. (Ah! That reminded me of the Tower of London!)

Thought it is a good idea to have an outdoor "stage"- for practical reason... it can cater to outdoor performance/event. At times when want to carry out experiments with the creatures in the water, it offers a wider area for students to carry out experiments, etc.

Something not captured in the picture - ie. opposite the stage are steps which can turn into seats for audience!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Presentation of Microsoft Live@edu on 26 Nov 2008

The following platforms/applications were shared during the presentation: Live@edu, SkyDrive, Roundtable, SilverLight, Virtual Earth, Photosynth, PopFly


(i) Live@edu - is a Learning Management System which offers what many others do. For example, organisation of learning content (created by teachers or students), email alerts, calendars, Blogs, etc. (
  • "Share your Desktop" using ShareView (up to 15 people at the same time) is a unique feature. So far, aware that only Heulab campus comes with similar feature. Nevertheless, heard that Mac could do similar thing!
  • Another attractive feature - OfficeLive Workspace - ie. the MS Office suite is available online - similar to GoogleDocs. It does not require purchase and installation of the client-based software. Cost saving!! Just wondering if the formating remains intact after being up/downloaded - this is an issue with GoogleDocs.
  • One could also compare each others' schedule to arrange for meetings, etc
  • More info on Live@edu can be found in

(ii) SkyDrive (
  • The Google equivalent can be found in GoogleDoc and possibly Picasa (for images).
  • It functions like a virtual drive.
  • Files of any filetype can be uploaded into this space and share selected files to others (with different access rights assigned to it). Moreover, files could be viewed either as public or required sign-in.

(iii) Microsoft Roundtable (
  • It's a 360 degree video-conferencing kit
  • This reminded me of the "Halo" that we saw at HP...
  • Yet see direct application value to Teaching & Learning at this point of time... possibly collaboration... but it would require both parties to have common equipment to 'talk'


(iv) Silverlight (

  • One example showcased was
  • It's a montage made up of many many photos...
  • It's like of ppt that some of us viewed before... the zoom out effect created by plenty of related images!
  • At this moment, could not think of any value for teaching and learning.
(v) Virtual Earth (
  • It's Google equivalent would be GoogleEarth.
  • One interesting feature is, it could provide directions from the "starting" location to the destination.
  • Currently, it seems that the 2D version is available for most places, whereas 3D version is only available for locations in US.
  • For 2D version, it provides 2 different views: aerial and road:

For Teaching & Learning: Thinking aloud... some possible examples...
  • The use of Virtual Earth or GoogleEarth adds authenticity to the subject learning and application.
  • Subjects like Geography and Sciences would find this platform/tool useful.
  • For Maths, for topics like measuration, distance-speed; symmetry (where we could draw patterns from some places!)
  • Rich resources and ideas can found in

(vi) Photosynth (
I am impressed with the intelligence of the application software and its end-product! Can view lots of samples from the homepage.
  • It identifies common "edges" among photos & stitch them together - if could offer not only panoramic view, but also zoom-in-zoom-out view, all depends on how the photos are taken.
  • This reminds me of the good old days when taking a few photos of a scene and patiently trimming and piecing the prints together for a wide-angle view.
  • The website also offers tips how to take photos in order to generate the desired effect:
Dunearn Secondary has gone its virtual tour done using photosynth and it could be viewed at its homepage:

One limitation - to view the end-product, the hardware and the internet browser must be able to support its execution.
  • Despite the fact that my 4-year-old tablet could install the application and I could create the synth very smoothly, I got the following error message when viewing the end-product... (sigh... have to troubleshoot further)

  • One consideration: The intended audience should have their hardware and browser meeting the minimum requirement before they could enjoy the fruits of labour!
Before creating a synth...
  • At its homepage, select Create your Synth > click at Create a synth button.
  • Login using the Windows Live ID. If we do not have one, simply select Get a Windows Live ID and proceed to register.
  • One thing I like: I can register to use my gmail account to login to photosynth! I saves me from creating and having to remember a new userID or password!
  • Next, it will prompt to download and install the application - just follow the instructions and installation will be completed in less than 5 minutes. And we are ready for the fun!
Here are my creations... note that the more photos we feed into the system, the longer time it takes to process... once done, it's online and I could embed it in websites...

1st masterpiece... (with 26 photos): Kwan Yin Temple @ Bugis, Singapore

2nd masterpiece... (with 6 photos): The Stonehenge, England

For Teaching & Learning: Thinking aloud some possible examples...
  • Modeling and representations of perspectives (eg. Art or D&T): Students could present their products from various perspectives - macro & micro views can come in.
  • Writings (aided by visuals) - tapping on the macro and micro views for descriptive writings
  • Visual presentation of a study of the environment (eg. Science & Geography): In the garden, groups of students are assigned to examine living organisms at different locations of the garden. There, they picked out things that they want to examine further, etc... It could be a study of environment (zoom-out) and the living organisms that survive under certain conditions.

(vii) PopFly (
  • This is a game creator... from the demo, it seems easy.
  • No time to explore the game creation.Click HERE to play the familiar Minesweeper game created by other users.
  • We can also create mashup and webpages.
  • It's easy to create a webpage using popfly. Completed a very simple one that took me less than 15 minutes in my first attempt (

Last but not least... we enjoyed some excellent views from Level 22... of course, also not forgetting to capture some things that are desirable but often absent from the usual school setting ^.^

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Swan Song... 18 Nov 2008 @ Yishun Primary

According to Collins English dictionary - Swan Song: Person's last performance before retirement or death. Hahaha... what simple explanation!

Oh yes, sang my swan song on Tuesday... that's the very last workshop for the year, while I'm officially attached to Level 14... or I would say, before I graduate from level 14? Hm... or before I retire from level 14? hahaha..... Hm... another tick on the checklist... hahaha.....

The workshop is on "Weblog for Maths Learning" (Primary) - oh yes, one of my key babies in my stay at ETD... hahaha... so much so that I've been labelled the Blog Queen here... ^.^

In fact, for this workshop, worked with the Maths dept on this 2-Phase PD model which I initiated and tried to promote to schools that asked for Maths workshops this year... It was experimental, I would say, but the idea has been pretty well-bought in - not just with YPS, but also PYSS. I thank the Malek and Lan, the HOD/Maths for both PYSS & YPS being so supportive of this idea!

Through this, I also learn that, for any well-thought through ideas, no matter how well good it is, it only generates buy-in if both parties could see the benefits both could reap from this collaboration both short term and long term - it has to be win-win in order to garner the desired level of commitment; and it should not take too long for both parties to see the win-win... which is the first step to bigger a bigger win!

Well, conducting this workshop is a breeze to me - in terms of delivering the entire workshop - as it's the 6-7th time doing this - each time varied... of course, for YPS, I've also done it differently... in terms of illustrations on the use of the platform for Maths learning.

This is the workshop which I think I modelled very well how the platform could be integrated into Maths activities... and, succinctly pointed out to participants the message I want to convey. Hm... a pad on my shoulder.

Certainly, the hardwork over the months when I collated and followed through implementation helps to build up a database that allows me to use to convince my participants what they learn is practical and has been practised by others in Singapore! Yes, I emphasize Singapore 'cos many a time (even myself), we are not quite convince of the possibility of transferring overseas practices into local context - 'cos our system, curriculum are Uniquely Singapore! Well, by gathering the practitioners' works under one umbrella - hopefully, through sharing... the fire continues...

In fact, it's a 2-way thing... how the workshop goes, how each and everybody feels in a workshop - it's all dependent on each and everyone... the mood they bring along with them that day, their attitude... it influences one another... yes, if we could imagine... it's very magical!

Oh yes, an applause to the participants - you made my day!

Reflection: Workshop on Engaged Learning @ Crescent Girls' School (10 Nov 2008)

This is one of the most taxing workshop since I joined the section - in terms of manpower and time. (What a way to end my term here, I thought!)

It started off as a Planning workshop for the HODs, which we thought it's something we would be able to manage very well with minimal effort, since most of us had conducted the Planning workshop for a few runs (at least, the cluster leaders) over these 2 years... Well, with mp3 already lanched (this August), it also gives us good reason to refocus and repack the materials.

The tricky part was, while we thought the masterplan was launched - yes, while the BIG IDEAS (???!!!), there's still lots of deliberation going on - such as unpacking the key terms and guiding strategies, etc... there were changes!

Of course, while we wanted to meet the request of our client, we are wanted to bring in the updated info, at the same time be weary of interpretation of terms - to avoid confusion subsequently... With all these uncertainty, the workshop was re-positioned to look into one aspect (which is relevant to mp3, but more like re-emphasizing the key focus of mp2) - ENGAGED LEARNING.

The Workshop
Not surprised, that the participants were able to articulate very quickly their idea of engaged learning... yes, all the key principles are there... the next part was really know how to leverage the culture and existing practice to go further...

In fact, at one point of time at the beginning of the session, I wonder... were we, the facilitators, well-equipped and ready for the workshop? (Ha! that's the greatest fear SC has! Right? Yeap, to some extend, her nightmare came true)

Also learnt something that makes this workshop different from others... It's the culture and the readiness of the participants! Yes, to a large extent... when the participants are ready to create that kind of 'challenging' learning experiences of their students - they know that their students are ready - that makes them confident of bringing about changes to the way student.

Take for instance, very often, when we conduct school-based workshops in schools, we were so used to meeting HODs who wanted to introduce changes to the way students learn, yet having to manage the changes in teachers' mindset (er... more of their readiness to accept changes)... hence, often, only small steps at any one time. Of course, the teachers' doubts on the students' readiness... (very often, the reason cited students do not belong to the very smart calibre, they are not familiar with ICT-enabled learning environment) - sometimes, I wonder - who's not ready? Teachers or Students? Of course, the next time they cite is time! Oh yes, that's also my concern when the participant in the workshop made some bold changes in the learning activities. However, the confidence from the participants tells me - yes, it's going to happen.... (Yes, really hope it happens...)

Click HERE for workshop blog

Monday, November 17, 2008

ETD Divisional WorkPlan & Gathering

on 17 November 2008 held at Civil Service Club @ Bukit Batok

This is a whole day event... though the 1st half suppose to deal with the more serious stuff, it was carried out in a lighthearted manner.

The theme is "Back to School" where everyone is given a role to play - The Principal, Vice-Principal, HOD, Teacher, Parent and Student. The fun part was, everybody was suppose to dress according to the role - at least don something that at a look, others could associate one with the role. Well, there are very sporty ones! Yes, that morning, a number were actually in uniforms! School uniform and Scouts uniform! Ha! Really bring us 'back to the school'!

Well, my role was the Parent! hahaha... Parent? What wouid bring with me? The day before,

  • one colleague suggested - wear expensive stuff that Tai-Tai will put on... hahaha... The first person I could think of is LXXX - always spotted the Tai-Tai look - with lips in bright bloody red colour, nicely manicured & painted finger+toe nails, high-heels, sparkling shiny clothes, plus expensive handbag... hahaha... don't believe it? Yes, you could find one at Level 14! No, no!!!! Never, never will I appear in that manner!
  • another colleague suggested - why not assume the role of a less-educated parent who is assumingly unreasonable and rude, and behaves like a gangester. Hahaha... That's asking for the sky! That's not me! First of all, don't even have those costume... next... don't know how to act like one! How to talk like one? Sure fail!
  • Think hard... and eventually, I think I knew what to do... put on an apron! hahaha... That's the easiest - assuming the role of housewife! oh yes, a homemaker! Can be educated, yet because of the lack of exposure to the happenings out there... protective of the child, wanted to give him the best of everything - tuition & tuition... and day-in-day-out lor-lor-saw-saw... hahaha... That's easy, no need to get expensive or gangster-like clothes! The apron cost me less than $3.

While I appreciate the work team has put it to create the necessary atmosphere, one thing which I felt the team could do without is threat - there'll be penalty for those who we don't dress up accordingly to the occasion... On one hand, while it is important to get everyone to participate, on the other hand, it's toying with the "fear" factor - which I detest! You have done yourself a great disfavour! This reminded me about the other Divisional activity - the Amazing Race - yes, similarly, all the teams were threatened the penalty being the last to complete... while we enjoyed the activity, it could be done without such means!

Some key takeaways - about the IT Masterplan...

Looking back... our achievements which include

  • Getting the baseline infrastructure (which is largely mp1)
  • Introducing the Baseline ICT standards to equip pupils with the necessary ICT skills to be ready when they move on to the society (an outcome of the mid-term review of mp2). In fact, coupled with this is the leveling up of teachers' ICT proficiency since mp1. Hence a nationwide levelling up
  • Having 'perks' or 'sparkies' among schools - through programmes/projects like Lead ICT schools, Future Schools - which seems to be making bigger and bigger waves... but such programmes, in particular, Lead ICT schools have already gone through the first round review - some schools may continue with the project, to move on to make greater impact while some may not
  • The devolution of funds - introduced in mp2, has given schools' more autonomy on the planning and use of its resources. Look at it from another angle, schools are entrusted with greater responsibility - to take the $, it comes with more accountability
  • R&D efforts introduced in mp2 have, in a large way (from my perspective) benefitted schools that came on board for pilots! By an large, its findings and outcomes have not really reach the mass yet - it's like the ivory tower that only works with the elites (hahaha...)
  • One area has been much talked about - ICT enhanced pedagogies - yes, still very much talked about - hopefully more could be seen in the next masterplan - not just talking and research and trying out with that handful of schools - also think of the cascading down to the mass... The sad part is, while working very closely with the schools - the more we saw - many of them are still in the mp1 era!

Looking ahead...

  • Pedagogical practices - the sound use of ICT that would be transformed into pedagogical practices
  • ICT to IDM

mp3's vision and goals... Harnessing ICT to Transform Learners for the Future.. what's there... just wait for the key terms to be unpacked - self-directed learning and collaboration. More about mp3.