Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Re-assessing: Purpose of Activities - to open up possibilities

Article:  23 iPad Alternatives to the Book Report

Book Review (or Book Report, in this case) - We'll usually associate it with lines and lines of words. 
Let's re-visit the purpose of the activity: 
- It's about drawing out key ideas from the reading?
- It's about synthesising? 
- It's about developing communication skills?
- It's about cultivating creativity in expression?
... or it's about practising summary skills (which I think that's what the teachers had in mind all this while, especially in my school days)?

With technology use, we could do it differently! and we could definitely do more! So, we really need to be clear of the purpose of the activity, and not be greedy to accomplish too many at one go, else, we may lost sight of what we want to achieve.

The article gives some suggestions how a Book Review could be presented differently. 
Well, this 'model' of thinking is not limited to "Book Review". It could be applied to other contexts too!

Some Thoughts: What to consider for eBook implementation

The article listed 14 things that we should look at before implementing eBooks (schoolwide):

I think, the key considerations before we embark on the project would be 
(1) Purpose - not just for 'convenience', but what else (experience) eBooks can provide that traditional hardcopies can't. At the same time, we also need to know what are the experiences that we'll be omitting when not using the printed version.

(11) Instruction - how would classroom instruction change with the new media. Not so much of how to manage the 'hardware', but what else we could do that previously we can't do with the hardcopies? What are some 'strategies' that works in the past now no longer works. We have to be mindful of these. Else (borrowing an analogy I read from another book, no matter how good and reliable a 'delivery service' is, if fails when there is no recipient to receive the goods.

(12) Roll-out plan - planning is important. More importantly, the need to monitor the implementation and gather feedback from both teachers and students are important so that the process could be refined over time. Else, some sceptical people would take opportunity to pass death sentences to the initiative. 

(13) Professional Development - Do not undermine this, although many a time, those who 'push' for the implementation might "sell" it such that it's idiot-proof, or it's soooo.... simple to use. PD could include the change in mindset and the building of a community to support the change, the change for the a better learning experience for the students, and a better delivery experience for the teachers.  

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Below are the 14 things listed in the article 

1. Purpose
2. Devices/Portal
3. Content Decisions
4. Funding (long term/short term)
5. Pricing
6. Ownership of content
7. Formats
8. Number of circulations
9. Number of access at one time
10. Enhancements
11. Instruction
12. Roll out plan
13. Professional Development
14. Publicize it!

Sunday, October 06, 2013

Technophobe vs Technophile

Source: http://inservice.ascd.org/technology/are-you-a-technophobe-or-a-technophile-in-the-classroom/

According to online Oxford dictionary,
a technophobe is a person who fears, dislikes, or avoids new technology
while 
a technophile a person who is enthusiastic about new technology

The write-up in the above link succinctly highlighted the response/ reaction of each of these people when technology fails to work out at the 'critical moment' that it should prove itself worth the use (in the eyes of the technophobe).

Well, it's about attitude, I think, for a technophobe to acknowledge the fact that technology is here to stay and it's no point trying to prove its 'unworthiness' by all his/her means. Instead, these people should sit down, take a deep breath, and take a good look at what it is and accept that they have no choice, but to be eventually be immersed and embrace it... else, one would be there to wait to be drowned by it.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Online Comments: Kill them or Fix Them?

Source: The Straits Times, 2013, Sep 28 - Opinion A41



When things go wrong, there are 3 possible reactions:
1. Immediate retreat to the previous state
2. Do nothing and believe that things will be alright after a while
3. Respond to fixing it

The article talks about dealing with online comments - in particular the undesirable (or less desirable) ones that would create a negative impact on the original posting.

Quite often, the first reaction would be immediate retreat to our comfort zone, especially when the 'chaos' or difficult situation arises from the introduction of some new elements, especially technology. Indeed, this act of "undo" the most convenient way of eliminating the new problem(s), which is most people would choose.  Back to status quo.
  • If we choose this approach, then we have to ask ourselves, have we done enough -  how deep or thorough have we thought through our implementation plan before we execute it? This is the issue with many - that I have countless encounters. 
  • Because of this 'incompetence', some well-intended plans 'die' because of incompetent implementers who would blame the whole world except themselves when things did not turn out as it should be. They only look at "intent", "plan" and "outcomes" and assume that others will respond (as they had expected) according to what's plan, and therefore not putting enough effort to follow-through and manage the implementation process.
For instance, one wanted to impress others how he/she can use a collaborative tool to do monitoring and improve efficiently. Unfortunately, he/she failed to figure out properly how the technology worked (and in fact, it was not the appropriate choice!) before a massive implementation. As a result, it caused inconveniences (and led to frustrations) to the entire group of personnel involved. At the end of the day, the implementation died and the monitoring discontinued. What's the follow-up? I wonder. What's the 'judgement' passed to the technology (from his/her perspective)? We can guess.

"No reaction" sometimes is the "best" reaction. However, here, "no reaction" does not mean really sitting down there and do nothing. It's more like a delayed "wait-and-see" reaction, with behind-the-scene work carried out along the way. This includes close monitoring and planning for the next step. It should not jump into the conclusion immediately and hence make a judgement.

Respond and "fix it" is to address to the concerns immediately. There are occasions that we have to do this so that prevent the current situation from worsening and further damage to the well-intended plan.

Indeed, the article argues on how the agency could have dealt with such comments.

In fact, looking at online comments, when one is prepared to let others comment online, just wondering how 'prepared' they are in terms of receiving different kinds of comments. Nobody would reject compliments (I'm sure). Neutral comments are fine. How about adverse comments? Are we prepared to 'broadcast' it at our online sites? I wonder. Well, even for adverse comments, are we ready to treat this as an opportunity, 'wait-and-see' and allow the online 'community' to moderate and bring 'justice' to the 'adverse' ones in its natural course? I wonder.



Trust is a many-splendoured thing

Source: The Straits Times, 2013, Sep 28 - Opinion A39



The context of the article is about trust being one key indicator of good governance - when people place trust in the governing party for being competent, honest and benevolent.

On the other hand, it can easily and suitably be re-contextualised at the individual's or organisation's level:
  1. Trust in Competence
  2. Trust in Integrity
  3. Trust in Benevolence
It is not difficult to establish it, indeed. On the contrary, to some, it is challenging!
So, it boils down to the individual.

Competence requires 'track record' to tell/ inform/ convince others that one has it!
It's not just lip-service - of course, those who are good at this act would get buy initially; however, time tells and shows how competent one is! So, to build trust in this, I think 'track record'/ trends helps!

Integrity closely reflects one's values, I think. The thinking behind and the 'how' (in terms of action) demonstrates what one believes in, and one's values. Trust in this implies that one has demonstrated this value in a constant manner!

Benevolence comes with clarity of intent (that is supposed to be good), according to the article. It's about serving others before self. Of course, it's not about serving others blindly; but it is based on values and is about doing good to others in a rightful manner.

It takes time to 'build' trust. It's equivalent to building one's reputation (of course, in a positive manner).
We need to understand that Trust is not a given. Trust has to be earned.
To start it off, we can trust.
To those who receive 'trust, they must bear in mind that Trust must be not taken for granted.
It would be their duty to show that they can truly be trusted or to tell others that they are not trustworthy.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Storm in a Teacup

Reference: The Straits Times (11 September 2013) CATS Recruit C28

A good reminder of how we should channel our energy to our work done...  without bringing about damage to ourselves (that's what I think the advice given are intended for).

The starting paragraph says something that really worth our time to put in some thoughts:
"As a manager, you need to determine what problems exist with your people and whether they warrant your time and energy." I think the second part of the statement is something we pay little attention to we deal with problems...

Several useful questions that worth to think about:
  1. Does a problem exist?
  2. What kind of problem it is?
  3. Whose problem it is? and
  4. What actions should you take?
Well, sometimes, it seems to be a problem, but the problem may lie on ourselves because of our "pre-programmed" views - as the author pointed out. It's our expectations on others, and sometimes this expectation goes beyond the "job-related" expectations. It includes one's values, perceptions, mannerism, etc. of which some could be very personal. So, are we able to isolate these? Of course, it also depends on the 'job' that one is in... if it's a frontline job that requires the person to present him/herself, then it's a different story (but the expectations would have been reflected as part of the job requirements/ expectations)

4 pieces of good advice followed:
  1. Think, don't react
  2. Can you do anything about it?
  3. Is it worth anything about it?
  4. You can't make people what they are not

7 Habits of a Happy Singaporean

Reference: The Straits Times (11 Sep 2013) Opinion A19
 
Rarely, have the opportunity to sit down to read newspapers in a weekday morning with a relaxed mind. Chanced upon this piece of article that I could resonate well... of course, without any doubt, Tommy Koh is a very good writer :)

This morning, he listed down 7 things that make him feel he is a Singaporean.

The very first point he made was, "I am a Singaporean because I was born here, grew up here, went to school here, ..."
Yes, that's me... isn't it? I'm proud to be a 'default' Singaporean - which this size of this category of Singaporeans is shrinking very quickly! We are becoming the 'rare species' on earth soon!

With the new citizens joining the community, of course, we have to see things from a larger perspective, and based on the 'dictionary' definition of the word. As highlighted in Wikipedia, "Possession of citizenship is normally associated with the right to work and live in a country and to participate in political life."

With Singapore so quickly grow into a metropolitan city, it's a melting pot - a place where multicultural, multi-religions can co-exist in peace and harmony - what we've achieved today is not to be taken for granted! If you look at other cities - we must be grateful of the current situation back at home here!

Time for us to look inward and be appreciative to what we have  :)

Well, Tommy Koh has offered great thoughts... and the article is a great start for the day :)

Sunday, June 09, 2013

3-Component Model of Commitment

Source: http://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/three-component-model-commitment.htm

Talk about commitment... Sometimes, we question ourselves, we question our co-workers who choose to leave...

 This is would something interesting to find out... from those who have been with the organisation for a long time... and those who leave the organisation after having stayed with the organisation for a long time too!

extracted from  http://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/three-component-model-commitment.htm


Gandhi - His Trump changed the World Forever

A clip shared by a coursemate

Friday, May 24, 2013

10 Expectations from Students

As I was watching/ listening to the clip, I was, at the same time reflecting on our current practices; but more on what we set off to achieve in the school. 10 "expectations" were highlighted by the author:
1. Relationships 2. Relevance 3. Time 4. Timing 5. Play 6. Practice 7. Choice 8. Authenticity 9. Challenge 10. Application

They sound very familiar to us, especially in those that hook themselves very nicely with the notion of applied learning!

Here are my thoughts:

1. Relationships - This is the most fundamental link that needs to be established between the teacher and the students - of course, at varying degree. It's the relationship when the teacher gets to know the students better, sometimes to address to their emotional needs, learning needs (especially when they face challenges in the way they understand/ receive information), or to recognise and stretch their potential beyond what's planned for in the classroom. It's also through knowing the students that we sharpen our practices and customise the programme for the students so that they can get the most out of it.

2. Relevance - That's what makes learning meaningful. It's not as easy as we thought of. Often, we 'simplify' the "complexity" so much in our attempt to make the connection between what's to be taught to the real world application. It's a good attempt to make students see the relevance of what they learn to them - to address to the question on "why learn this?", "Learn for what?", "Learn for the sake of exam?". Therefore, I think, while we make the attempt to connect, we need to be mindful, and also to inform our students of the complexity that we have 'removed' when presenting the scenario; of course, if possible, stretch their thinking a bit further to see the connection between the intended concept/ content (to be taught) to others that could be currently beyond their syllabus.

3. Time & 4. Timing - It goes back to 'structures'. It's typical that teachers following the scheme of work to manage the pace the class learns. To cater to the individual needs, especially those who progress at a quicker pace, there should be mechanisms in place to allow these kids to "fly". That's where differentiated learning comes in... Definitely not into the route of doing "more of the same"... I suppose... How to challenge these kids deeper, perhaps; yet keeping their interest and enthusiasm there... so that they don't 'drag' their 'feet' into something that make they get bored... The mechanism has to keep in mind on how to keep their fire of passion continues!

5. Play - This goes back to the 'climate' that's created (or developed over time) for the class - a safe and conducive environment that encourages experimentation? that gives the space to make (some) 'silly' mistakes? It addresses to the psycho-social aspect...

6. Practice - It goes back to... practice makes perfect? Hm... not necessary to the extent of perfection (ok, depends on how we define 'perfection'). I think of mastery... hm... actually, at the more 'preliminary' stage is really about consolidation of learning. How often we actually "rushed" through the topics and expect the students to do "more" practice on their own? Hm... If time is not the "limit"/ constraint, it's through practice - when we observe how they pen down their working and the amount of time they take to pen it down on paper that tells us how well and how much they have understood or learnt. Of course, it calls for 'retention' of knowledge and skills at the end of the day.

7. Choice - How often we give students a choice on how they learn the content/ skills? Customisation? Differentiated Learning? Differentiated strategies for individuals... hm... Food for Thought. How skilful are we, as teachers in doing this? How often can we do this? It's no doubt a tall order if we were to do it for every single lesson. So, how do we balance it? Of course, we should try, as far as possible. In fact, through embracing choice, it helps to broaden students' learning - creating opportunity for them to learn from different perspectives, and widen their repertoire of strategies sometimes.

8. Authenticity  - ties back to #2 Relevance!

9. Challenge - Apart from setting tasks to challenge students beyond what's prescribed in the syllabus, I think, it's about attitude. The mindset that the learners need to have; or turn it the other way round, how do we, as educators, inculcate this mindset in the learners to be self-driven and highly motivated, and find/ create opportunities to challenge themselves to go beyond! of course, as educators, we need to have the firm belief that our students can be stretched.

10. Application - It's about applied learning; it's about making connections, seeing relevance and application in authentic context...




Saturday, May 04, 2013

Tech Forum - Insight & Innovation for Technology Leaders @ Chicago

Chanced upon this forum online (from one of those online subscription) with some sessions that are available via LiveStream (Interesting - for those who aren't able to attend 'physically' but still 'participate' online, at least, to 'attend' some of the pre-identified popular sessions.

Here's one of them, on "Collaboration and the Common Core", which is a 'showcase' of how technology is incorporated into the Common Core curriculum delivery 

techlearning on livestream.com. Broadcast Live Free


The first speaker talked about "Infusing the Arts in Common Core with Creativity" by Carol Broos.
Several pieces of students' work were showcased, e.g. the "Whip Your Hair" project, "Wedding" and "Switch 2". These were original students' work which are pretty interesting; unfortunately, because the rationale/ intended curriculum objective of the activity was not shared clearly, then it came as just an "activity" (that's fun for the kids).
Key takeaways come from the last 2 slides on the advice on "Resources" - the emphasis is on creation. Basically, it's about getting children to create their own stuff, of course, that's where the sense of satisfaction comes; I guess, more importantly, it addresses another concern that many educators - Copyright. These are the pointers:
  • Take your own pictures
  • Compose your own music
  • Create your own movie
  • Draw your own logo
The 2nd presentation focused on projects carried out in a 1-to-1 iPad classroom - Language Arts, presented by a teacher and librarian. Though some of these project ideas seemed familiar, but some interesting ideas generated on how these projects were 'showcased' to a larger audience (i.e. student community). I think a couple of these could be interesting for us to try in our classrooms, too!

I like the part where students write and read their own stories to share. Indeed, this is something which I thought of for the MRL programme, where students can pen down reviews of stories they write and share. That would be interesting and more importantly, a good exercise for the students - to be able to summarise their reading succinctly, which requires them to put in practice their writing skills. The 'additional' idea I gathered from this sharing would be the audio part, which would be pretty nice - allowing one to "Listen on the Move".  Cool, isn't it?

The third team started off with the TPACK framework which is the background for the presentation, and served as a guide on how the projects (shared) are designed and executed.
  • The first one basically tapped on web information, although the presenter highlighted that "QR Code" is the technology used. Hm... I don't quite agree that it's the technology, it's not something that refrain from getting students reading "pages of text" that the presenter shared, but it's just a "productivity tool" that allows one to just scan and be brought to the website directly (without having the need to the key in the URL). Hm... it's more like a sharing on how "QR Code" is being used to save time. 
  • A interdisciplinary project - marrying Spanish & Music
  • Technology enriched lesson with language - handling Informational text - in terms of technology used - A mash of GoogleApps to support online collaboration; and activity is designed such that students take the lead in the creation and how to go about demonstrating their ability to bring in a range of tools (appropriate application) in the course of accomplishing the work. Hm... Hazy in terms of the work carried out in the classroom; but I think it's possible. It's "hazy" probably because the presenter has not quite talk about the "how to".






YouTube has displaced TV: Google’s Schmidt (Today, 20130504)

Link: http://www.todayonline.com/tech/youtube-has-displaced-tv-googles-schmidt

Lifted from the article:

“I thought that YouTube was like TV, but it isn’t. I was wrong,” said Mr Robert Kyncl, YouTube’s global head of content. “TV is one-way. YouTube talks back.”



Well, I think the key is WHO is using it, and next, whether the WHO knows HOW to HARNESS the features to bring out its POTENTIAL. I think the last part is the most challenging part, yet, it's where the breakthrough comes into the picture.

Well, I'm not talking about the "creation" aspect. If we were to move into "creation", then definitely "Youtube" will come with so much more features and potential that the TV can't provide.

For one who uses it to substitute a "TV", it's no other than a "TV".
However, for those who have been consciously looking at  features that it comes with, e.g. the feedback channel - there are 2 types now, at least, text and voice! I guess there are more to come. Then it's a matter of whether we have make good use of such features, even in our day-in-day-out activities. 

Back to the fundamental rule of operation - things around us behave in the way we "want" (or "make") them behave. So, it goes back to us... what's our MINDSET and OPENNESS, having the courage to take the 'road that's less travelled'. 

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

Seminar on New Media Literacies conducteed by Dr Sangeet 5 March 2013

Here are some pointers gotten from the segmen

(1) Is preventive measure enough to keep children safe?
  • An example on the accessibility of a site that is biased in its view (hosted by : Stormfront) http://www.martinlutherking.org/
  • The point is, the site is blocked in schools, however kids are able to access it back at home.
  • The key pointer here is, "Blocking" is not a foolproof way... but education is far more important, education to teach students how to assess if information is reliable and valid (i.e. digital literacy)
(2) Facebook
  • Some suggested "banning" Facebook. Where the issue exactly lies? 
  • The platform itself? or the action/ behaviour of the human beings?Sometimes, it could be due to peer pressure in the social network. Now, think about it, "peer pressure" exists even when in face-to-face social network, too!
 (3) UK: anti-bullying week in November 
  • What impression do we have here
(4) eSecurity
  • This is catching more and more attention of the public and the education sector.
(5) Understanding the psych of today's youth...
xilentflex:



Question:
Do we, as adults, have the relevant advice to young people, to engage the young people?

(6) The internet is a self-regulating environment

(7) Other notes:
  • Convergence of Serivces
  • Anytime, anywhere connections
  • Open & Transparent
  • Collaborative network and tools
(8) Terms of Services
  • Instead of going through the pages of "Terms of Service", get students to know what's the purpose of "Terms of Service".
  • Can cite the "Instagram" example to discuss about "Instagram" change of Terms of Service.
  • http://www.theverge.com/2013/2/6/3951050/tracking-terms-of-service-changes-to-catch-the-next-instagram
(9) Net Smart - Cyberculture expect: Howard Rheingold
http://rheingold.com/

  • Mindful use of digital media means - thinking about what we are doing, cultivating an ongoing inner inquiry into how we want to spend out time
  • 5 fundamental digital literacies:
  • Attention - how we can use to focus on the tiny relevant portion of the incoming tsunami of information
  • Participation - quality of participation that empowers the best of hte bloggers, netizens, tweeters, and other online community participants
  • Collaboration - how successful online collaborative enterprises contribute new knowledge to the world in new ways
  • Critical consumption of information (or "crap detection")
  • Network smarts - lesson on network and network building








Sunday, March 03, 2013

Leadership Qualities from

These qualities are a good reminder to stand by - sometimes we forget, sometimes when encountered prolonged challenges, we tend to drift away from them.

In actual fact, it's not just for those in the leadership position, but it's also applicable to everyone, any human being who strives hard to improve oneself personally and professionally.

Source: http://www.cmoe.com/blog/infographic-leadership-qualities.htm



Leadership Qualities
CMOE

Online Resources: Do you take wholesale?

To be in touch with the technology use beyond my "well", I subscribe to several online Ed-Tech communities, magazines & newsletters, of course, there are plenty such resources that are free. Sometimes it can be quite overwhelming, but once in a while, I do come across pretty useful and interesting ones that can be brought back to classrooms. I guess, it's a matter of whether I have enough time to go through them regularly. Ok, the beauty of the entire process is, all these come via email, and without fail, will be delivered to my mailbox. Haha... some may regard these emails as spams! Well, I do, sometimes, when I could not cope with the many emails on hand... especially when there many 'frogs' to deal with.

On the other hand, we have to exercise our own discretion and judgement, to assess the reliability and validity of resources. It's just like, we often 'preach' to students that not all information available online are reliable because anyone can just post any information and share it with others. I think the basic rule is to remember, whatever presented up there are presented from the writer's perspective and could be a result of one's experiences:
  • There could be those with ill-intent to weave up inaccurate information to mislead others
  • There are also ignorant ones who unknowing put up incorrect (or partially incorrect) information. 
  • There are also those who are trying their best and unknown to them, due to their lack the knowledge of a complete picture and therefore mislead readers.
  • etc, etc....
One thing that a responsible digital citizenship does would be assess before 'spreading' the words and application. Important! This is important, because many a time, because of convenience, we click the share or send button before having process the information thoroughly. So, "well thought through" is something less common nowadays, especially when it comes to describing our online activities and behavior.

In fact, this morning came across the following:
Learning Never Stops: Graphing Stories - Using videos to apply math concepts
which leads to this website filled with videos put up by an educator in the school:
http://www.graphingstories.com/
It's a commendable effort.


It's a good collection of video clips that we can use for lessons, especially linking the usefulness of graphing to chart data (hence allowing observations). It even comes with the a 'graph' (embedded in the video clip) that guides students in the graphing. A useful resource.

On the other hand, as I mentioned, resources have to be examined closely... and sometimes there are 'blind spots' (when the intent of doing is not articulated, I supposed).

For instance, the first clip on "Time". What can we plot? See what's embedded in the clip.
Here's a snapshoot... My first reaction is... something is not right about the axes... Or any other thoughts to enlighten my ignorance?


Of course, we don't write-off resources straightaway when there are info that we don't agree on. Resources are 'dead' but it's really up to the user who can tweak it so that it can serve some useful purpose, too....

Look at the clip on "Weight of Stack", there is certainly something that we can bring back to classroom... It's not just about seeing a linear graph by plotting number of cups against the weight... which definitely (should by right) show a linear relationship. If we were to track the weight of the cup using 'continuous' line graph (instead of discrete data). In fact, it lands itself nicely with the topic of force - air resistance, too! Guess what's in my mind :)





Saturday, February 23, 2013

Are we safe (from Meteorites)?

Meteorite? It sounds so distant to us! Many of us heard about meteorite. But what's 'closer' to us are terms like "shooting stars" across the skies where people start making wishes that hopefully would come true! But hardly, we come across "real" news on this hitting the earth, until the recent Meteor strike in Russia, a huge one that's so impactful and caused worldwide attention!


So, what's meteorite? In fact, one of the articles reported the 'difference' in the use of terms like meteorite, meteor, etc. A check at wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meteorite) says...
"A meteorite is a meteoroid (a solid piece of debris from such sources as asteroids or comets) originating in outer space that survives impact with the Earth's surface. A meteorite's size can range from small to extremely large. Most meteorites derive from small astronomical objects called meteoroids, but they are also sometimes produced by impacts of asteroids. When a meteoroid enters the atmosphere, frictional, pressure, and chemical interactions with the atmospheric gasses cause the body to heat up and emit light, thus forming a fireball, also known as a meteor or shooting/falling star."
This is really interesting... the link shows a map that maps out the places on earth that have been hit by meteors. By zooming into the Asia region, actually, it seems like Singapore is pretty "safe" from such 'hits' (of course, that also means people in Singapore would hardly get the chance to make a wish before the shooting star! Haha).

On the other hand, does it also imply the chances of being 'hit' is relative to the size of land that each country has? What do you think?


Sunday, February 03, 2013

Google+ Community for Classroom Learning (Preliminary Thoughts)

Google+ Community, the primary function I can think of is no other than creating a 'live' community where people of some common interest can come together to share and interact (which I think is the primary role/ function when Google rolled out this feature). Hence, we started creating several community to 'contain' interaction that are directed towards a common strand, e.g. Technology Bites @ SST (for teachers).

In the recent Conference in Chiang Mai, I decided to use it differently. The original intent was to create an environment that would excite the Thai Teachers who would be sitting in my Breakout session. However, as I explored, I notice it comes with some powerful features that be employed for other purposes, as I also discovered several 'features' or characteristics that come with Community.

Actually, like it or not, I think, to stretch the use of a platform and being able to implement it successfully, or at least smoothly, it requires one to think through quite thoroughly and hence put it into action systematically.

Here are some things that I think that makes the platform useful, and relevant for the learning or for running of some programmes:

1. Tagging of posts
I like this feature very much, which is absent from "Events" or the general posting in the main G+ page. Main reason is it allows us to tag the post so that we can subsequently filter the posts by topics. For sure, this is one feature that is absent from Facebook (be it main page, created pages or groups).

2. Comments under each post
Well, this feature is also available in Facebook. So, it's not 'unique'.
But this is very useful when discussion is encouraged, especially related to a specific post.
And of course, these comments are posted up as instant as in Facebook.

3.  Photos consolidated within a post
I like this feature. In other words, we can 'contain' a specific event (e.g. a presentation), and at the same time key in relevant comments (e.g. observations, or even questions) to go with the posts and get the readers to comment on this particular posting!

4. Editing feature of the post
Yup, to-date, Facebook allows us to edit the comments we entered in response to a post. However, we are unable to edit the post. So, to 'edit' the post is as good as re-posting the entire post and all the comments that go with the original post would be gone if we decide to replace it with the updated post.





Click HERE to view the Community set up to document the Conference in Chiang Mai, Thailand (24-27 January 2013)

Google+ Photo Albums vs Facebook Albums

Riding on the recent Conference trip to Chiang Mai, I took the opportunity further test out and make comparisons across platforms that I know - Facebook albums and Google+ album, of which the latter is pretty new to me... although I had used PICASA (also under Google) in the past, however, what's in Google+ was something that I had not explored.

I guess, it's because of the settings I did to my mobile devices, where both my iPad and iPhone were installed with the G+ apps, all the photos I took with these 2 devices using the "Camera" apps were automatically uploaded to the "G+ Photos" automatically (at least at the end of the day without me having to 'email'/'upload' manually! Of course, the 'fortunate' thing is, by default, the instant uploads are only visible to myself!

Somethings I like over G+ Photos & Album over Facebook:
  • A photo can appear in more than one album - this is something that I'm still trying to figure out in Facebook
  • Under Instant Upload, the photos are organised by dates, which makes it easier to manage (esp to select)
  • It's easy to move the photos around within the album; of course, this is similar to Facebook's improved features :)
  • We can run slideshow for the photos in the album whereas I think we can't do so in Facebook
Something that we can't do in G+ Photos & Album now but can be done in Facebook
  • tagging location to photos and adding introductory text which is possible in Facebook
Other things that both are comparable: Making comments and tagging of people in the photos

Somehow, I think I am now more incline to use the G+ Photo Album :)


In Google+ Photos,


  • click HERE to view album on the Conference Welcome Dinner
  • click HERE to view album on the night market (below)


In Facebook, click HERE to view album



"Event Blog" vs "Event in G+"

Most of my friends know that I have this habit of creating travelogues to document my trips; and indeed, it's a place where I would occasionally carry out some reflections and learning points. Of course, the travelogue also doubles up as my photo album, which I had given up coming up with hardcopy photo albums since I came back from Bhutan! It's also a means to help me manage my resources - especially space.

I've not moved away from blogging about my travel... On the other hand, each time when I worked on my travelogue, I also see it as an opportunity for me to explore new things, which potentially can be introduced into the classroom.

The introduction of Google+ Events is pretty timely!

The very first attempt using it was a personal exploration trip with some friends:


In fact, for this exploration, I set up a blog to document the trip at the same time:
http://lohky-singapore01.blogspot.sg/

In other words, during this exploration, using the mobile devices (my iPhone and iPad), I uploaded photos and comments simultaneously to both platforms. There's certainly a difference, in terms of the posting experience and what we can view there and then :)
(Note: Downloading the apps for Blogger and G+ into the devices helps! and there's where we experience the 'power' of technology-on-the-move)

Both exploration and experience arose from this trip were good, in particular the use of the G+ Events (I won't say much about blogger because I'm so familiar with it).

Though it was my very first attempt, I discovered the "strength" of this G+ Event feature, compared to others. Of course, I also surfaced some limitations! It is very important for us to "unearth" both pros and cons of a platform so that we would be able to deploy this in the most appropriate situation/ scenario.

I did not really pay attention to what was the original intent (if it exists when Google rolled this out, or its name is already explicit enough?). Nothing beats trying it out personally compared to being invited to use it (in the 2012 July eduCamp@SST event).

AN event can be private or public. The personal trip was therefore pre-set such that it's private and therefore only invitees could access.
(Compare with blog: When we set the blog to private, then only co-authors or selected accounts can view/ edit)

Let me flag out one obvious limitation of both Blogger & G+ Events, especially for those who are pro-Facebook - the location tagging of both apps is very limited, which came as a surprise to many of us because we assumed that all these should be well-linked to the very respectable GoogleMap! No, no... it was a definitely assumption that was not true at all!

One of the primary strengths of G+ Events is being a photo album like what we had for Facebook. It allows us to upload photos almost immediately and line them up nicely, in real time, and at the end of the event, we can choose to view it as a photo album:


Alternatively, we can revert to the view that allows us to refer to some of the conversations entered before/ during/ after the event. The 'conversations' can include hyperlinks to information or resources to that any member of the event posted up.



The features discussed above definitely is absent from Blogger, which has a very different primary function - documentation with text.

Hence, G+ Event is more favorable for event documentation that does not require much text documentation, but relies a lot on pictorial documentation, and it's more for a one-time event. In addition, the advantage of this is allowing multiple contributors to the same album at any one time, as long as these contributors become the member of the event. This is especially when we want to do any photo collage quite insistently. We can run the photos as a slide presentation almost insistently, too :)

One other drawback of G+ Event is about adding captions to the photos. In my last attempt in December 2012, we were unable to add captions via the mobile devices at the point of photo uploading. Instead, we have to browse through the photos and update the captions from the computers.

Here are some Events that I thought we have used the platform well:
When will I choose blog over Google+ Event?
  • When the programme comprises of several events/ modules - because the photos will be lumped together as one album
  • When heavy text documentation is required
  • When there are links or additional information that needs to be made available to the reader at all times (the gadgets in the blog does a great job to serve the purpose)
  • When there is a need to embed several other platforms (not one, two or three, but many) - e.g. GoogleMap, Wallwishers, GoogleForm
  • When we need to embed videos - note "embed" against "link"- we can insert links of video clips and another other thing in events, but not embedding.

Exploration with Google+

One of the biggest achievement in December 2012 was venturing into the Google+ environment/ platform!

It's not that new, after all, if we were to "hear" the GCTs talking about it during the GTANY in October. However, to me, it was... although I first heard about it when the boys introduced it when we ran our eduCamp@SST for educators in July last year.

You see, it's always this "needs-driven" mentally. If there is "no need", one might not even see the need to look at it or be bothered about it. Of course, there are some urgent needs (at the back of my mind) when I made an effort to carry out some systematic exploration. There's a target in my mind :) It's not so much to address my personal curiosity, but it's a professional need. No regrets... after making the first move into to... lots of potential, however again, the degree of potential really depends on the individuals. The more open minded we are, the greater potential we see its uses in education, definitely :)

The backbone environment of Google+ is quite similar to "Facebook" - a social network where one can broadcast to friends. However, it makes a 'conscious' effort to remind one to choose to whom one wants to broadcast the info to.  The circles would automatically appear, unlike Facebook, which appears as a small icon which quite often we might just ignore it unless we make a conscious effort to remind ourselves when posting the comment.

In Facebook: it appears as a small icon before the "Post" button

In Google+: it was obvious, as it appears right above "Share" - the box is huge and we can't miss it!


For posting, of course, Facebook is 'clever' enough to detect the link, etc. and we can click at "Add Photos/ Videos" to add other media. G+ can do the same in detecting the link and providing a preview. The additional feature is, in G+, there are specific buttons for us to add these media too.  (So, to some, it is redundant; anyway, it's a neat way to insert comments that go with this media). One observation when using the G+ apps in iPad, the link that was copied earlier will show up automatically in the G+ posting dialog box that prompts us if we intend to post that link. Clever!

I guess, so far, one difference is capturing the location where the post is put up... when G+ not as "advance" as Facebook yet.

One other thing that I like about G+ is... it's free of advertisements... so, we are save from those embarrassments when inappropriate advertisements showed up when we need to do a demo of the work carried out in Facebook!