Sunday, September 23, 2012

Safety in the Web

This is an article published in 20120923 The Sunday Times Reflect 16.

It's been increasing common that people post their lives (& happenings around them) in the web, in particular, in social media platforms like Facebook and Youtube. It's a place that people share their joy with others, or share some discoveries, etc with others. Of course, there are also people who wish to leverage on this platform to increase their publicity (or network) for various purposes.

In this article, I guess the writer's concern is not unfounded. In fact, the "careless" posting of family videos sometimes can bring about undesirable things and even dangers to the subjects who appear in the clip. There are also instances that kids (or even adults) are stalked.

I think it's important for one to exercise discretion on what's for self and what should be made available to others (a selected group or the public). To address to this, there is an increasing trend that more social media platforms are looking into this area and start providing features to allow one to decide on the visibility of content to selected group of audience. Unfortunately, not all are aware of this; and often, worse off, many are ignorant about the dangers being overly 'exposed'.

In some commonly used platforms:

  • GoogleSites & GoogleDocs (including PICASA albums) - accessibility are managed via the "Shared" features. 
    • Private - only accessible by self
    • Share with selected group of people with varying rights
    • Share with public such that it's searchable, or remain unsearchable (i.e. unlisted)

@PICASA albums (when linked with Google+)

  • Blogger - the administrator could visibility and accessibility at various levels 
    • Selected group of people to be viewers and/or authors (up to 100)
    • Could be open to public to view
    • On top of that we could also decide on the accessibility to "comment" 

  • Youtube - the administrator could visibility and accessibility at various levels 
    • Private - only accessible by self
    • Share with selected group of people with varying rights
    • Share with public such that it's searchable, or remain unsearchable (i.e. unlisted)
    • This also applies to Playlist, too :)

  •  Facebook - For any posts, including video clips and photo albums
    •  In general, we can set the visibility at Friends, Public, or Only Me
    • Apart from that, we can also create lists so that postings are only made viewable to selected group

  • Google+ comes with the "Circles" feature which allows us to create groups of people to share posts with. This concept is similar to the Facebook list (I suppose). Well, I'm still quite new to Google+. I guess there are more to discover :)

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Interesting Feature from Chrome Apps store

This feature was introduced at the "SLAM" session. It's an apps available from the Google Chrome Apps store and it works especially with YouTube. Of course, it works Chrome browser only.

Basically it dims the area of the Youtube page except the video screen. This helps to focus one's attention at the video clip.
When installed, a little light bulb icon will appear at the website address 'bar'.

On clicking at the bulb, the surrounding area of the video clip will be dimmed automatically.
BTW, it only affects the Youtube window.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Mapping of tools to Bloom's Taxonomy

Useful Mapping of tools to Bloom's Taxonomy

The mapping is cool... though it's not new. It suggested the potential how different applications/ tools could be used to facilitate or promote learning at various levels.

On the other hand, it also requires us to learn, deeper, what each stage of the taxonomy mean before we start describing how these applications/ tools are to be brought into the picture.
e.g. in the 1st chart on "Web 2.0 apps", we see "Blogger" is placed at "Evaluating" level. On the other hand, it could also easily land itself at the lowest level if the learner simply use the platform to document learning (minus reflection). Similarly for "Prezi" which is placed at "Creating", again can easily earn a place at the lowest level.

All in all, it depends on how the teacher - how he/ she deploys the tool, as well as how 'deep' he/ she gets the students to use the tool. About from this, it's also how the teacher makes use of the work done (e.g. data collected/ presented in these "end products") to get students to apply the skills or seek deeper understanding (through probing or building on the 'surface' knowledge presented).

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Takeaway: Photo Peach

This is an 'accidental' find when I browse through the resources from the Google Apps for Education Singapore Summit website.

Photo Peach ( - apart being a digital album, it comes with another interesting feature - the Quiz.

Makan @ Russia on PhotoPeach - The Spiral Format

Makan @ Russia on PhotoPeach - The Story Format

Here's an attempt to embed quizzes in the digital presentation.
Pretty easy to do... though the feature is limited :)
It's immediate "marking".

Highlights @ Russia on PhotoPeach

Highlights @ Russia on PhotoPeach

Takeaway from SG GAFE: Youtube Annotation Features

Session: Gettin' Flippy with it: Using YouTube to Support Reverse Instruction by Patrick Green

In this session, several editing features were shared, which includes "Pause" and "Annotation".
While it might be seen as a 'technical' session, actually, if we think deeper, we could make good use of such features to develop our learning resources, or even to scaffold students' learning.

Indeed, the sharing focused on the use of YouTube video clip to support a 'flipped' classroom, where students were to learn the content or gain an overview of the topic prior to attending the lesson in the classroom, which would focus on the application (e.g. discussion of word problems that require students to apply what they learnt in the materials they studied at home).

In fact, one potential opportunity to implement a similar teaching approach is our eLearning week. We could insert pauses and questions in video resources that students have to view by posting questions to them at the appropriate junctures, and inserting pauses that give them "think time".

Here's the sharing by Patrick Green - a demonstration on how to edit, as well as a couple of ideas how these could be incorporated to run learning activities:

Here's something that I've tried (Hands-on).
Features include:
  • Annotation with Title (at the beginning)
  • Annotation using Speech Bubble (that pointed out where the Krelim is)
  • Annotation with a pause (St Basil's Cathedral)
  • A note (which comes with more text)

I've also added background music, which masked the noise in the original clip. This could be easily done by selecting the sound clip available under "audio":

Takeaway from SG GAFE: About Youtube Playlist

"Playlist" - to many is not new. For instance, we could find it in iTunes. Basically, it's a consolidation of items for easy and convenient access.

Nevertheless, I have this habit of not relying on templates or tapping on some of these 'conveniences' that does not really 'cross line' with my daily work. So, to-date, Ive not quite taken advantage of what's available :) Of course, I've also not quite bother to explore something that I think might not be too relevant to my work.

The session at the Singapore Google Summit (sg gafe) - by Patrick Green, "Harnessing the Power of YouTube in Education" been very helpful. It has brought me further, not only to use video clips as a means for teaching and learning, but also realising that "Playlist" could be a good productivity tool - to help us organise our teaching and learning resources - in particular, (in came at the right time) when managing video clips for teaching and learning, as well as to organise the "viva voce" submissions by students.

In fact, it came in a very timely manner, when I am actually organising some of the 'favourited' clips as well as the students' viva voce submissions.

Look! I've just organised my collections of clips - and I love it!
It even allows me to set the privacy to public or private! and it allows me to share "by collection".

One interesting discovery is, we can set the playlist such that it will loop when all the clips in the collection are played. That's nice! (Notice the "Play all" button at the banner?)

On the other hand, I also learnt the difference when running the playlist in the laptop, as well as in the iPhone or iPad. It seems like playlist in the iPhone or iPad devices do not really does not play the next clip in the list automatically. Hm...

Anyway, this is definitely one good takeaway I have from the session.
Perhaps colleagues who are like me who have yet explored this would find this feature very handy :)

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Real World Application of Mathematics!

It was kind of exciting to learn about the pre-GTA activity - the Google Hangout with members in the group assigned. Of course, the excitement came about not only to start meeting people before  physically face-to-face, but also the virtual one, which post to be a more real world 'challenge' as I'm the only one living outside the US timezone!

Of course, MDT is a certainly new jargon to me! Started scratching my head to figure out the time that my US counterparts are trying to indicate. Adding to the complication, I guess is the "Day Time Saving" thing! Good luck to me :)

Found this, which could be pretty handy:

Food for Thought: Quick Snaphots

These were snapshot thoughts I posted in Facebook - about a month apart.
 It's a reflection of assessment... as we got pigeonholed into the everyday routines which is coupled with other external pressures, sometimes we forget the objective and intent of some things we do. Of course, this pressure could be due to an individual's desire to shape or mould some "desired" outcomes, which might be of an individual or the organisation's interest (depending on which perspective we see it).

Ultimately, it goes back to the "why"... why do we assess? 
I think it's only when we are clear about the 'motive' of assessment, then it would only be clear to our 'subjects' (i.e. students) who are going to be assessed by us.

Look inward and ask ourselves - all of us (adults) had worked through so many exams and tests in those years, which was the first 'hurdle' to cross before stepping into our adulthood. Have we wonder why do we have to go through all those exams?

I must admit that I was not very reflective in my younger days. Ok, sometimes I would like to blame it on the system that I was brought up. I knew that I should just follow and it should not go wrong. I did not question. It's been planned. So, don't bother to argue. That was the mentality. Of course, thankful to the maturity developed over the years, and with several good mentors, I grew to become more reflective and started asking questions (within and only heard by myself), though might not voice it out (you know what I mean?).
I guess, that's growing up.

My thinking (in those school days) was just paper chasing... and we simply need that certification fr survival. Looking back, it's sad. Isn't it? I think that comes with the fact that in those good old days, my parents have been enforcing that fact that we have to study hard so that we could secure a job for a better living. Yes, the background and context matters! and it shapes the way I think. Similarly, in school, we seldom heard teachers emphasized the importance of understanding. Instead, it's about passing the tests and exams, and for certain subjects, we knew that the teachers had pinned high hope on some of us being the top performing student in their subject. Hm... think from a more selfish angle, so that they could 'show-off' to their peers that they had developed the top student? Hm... (of course, this thought is one-sided 'cos I've never, and would never had the chance to verify with them).
How often did our teacher got us thinking about the importance of understanding what's thought and the relevance and usefulness of what I were to learn (for the exam?)? Maybe some of the teachers did, but I did not pay attention to it when they emphasized?

I think it was a good start when I was first enrolled into the NIE - my step into the Teacherhood. The model of assessment opened up the idea why students have to be assessed. The objectives, the purpose, the why! This had provided answers to many questions that I had not even asked myself. Nevertheless, all these notions disappeared into the thin air when we were so caught up with the activities in the schools, especially when we had a syllabus to complete given a certain timeframe. There, we were there to assess students for the stake of making sure they learnt what's required in the exam. Hardly, we question again, the ultimate purpose of assessment - though broadly we know it's about their understanding. I believe many of us had not really sit down to think through very deeply when we set the tests and crafting the questions. I think, the thinking bit would come in, however, translating it into action is another story. Because the emphasis has most of the time focus on the what to test... and forget to keep in mind - the learners who would be assessed.