Friday, June 12, 2015

Adobe Slate - Photo Display

Came across the review of the Adobe Slate in an online magazine.
I was drawn to its simplicity... and its clean look-and-feel.

The apps is free, though registration with Adobe is required.
Downloaded the apps - and did the following creation quickly.

My 1st creation involved only putting up photos in a grid and adding captions to it.
It's hassle-free navigation. The only limitation (I notice) is the layout - way the photos could be displayed. We are unable to edit the 'default' grid setting though we can re-order the photos to give the most desirable layout in the default grid
  • Click HERE to view my first creation
Here's the 2nd creation, using the glideshow effect. It's pretty interesting and refreshing, to see such effect in the website. Nevertheless, I notice that it would work better with landscape type of photos the upper half of the portraits uploaded were somehow hidden.
  • Click HERE to view the creation using GlideShow

Upon completion, here are the various options available for posting.
Of course, if we do not want to share it in any social media platforms like Facebook or Tweeter, the work is still published in the Adobe Slate website :)

Tuesday, June 09, 2015

True Blue Productions by HCI

Redesigning Pedagogy International Conference 2015 @ NIE Singapore

Title: True Blue Productions - A Student-centric approach to harnessing the power of Digital Media in Values Education (shared by HCI teachers, ProEd consortium)

This is one of those presentations that I find the ideas are more adaptable and is certainly an area that we can work on easily, given the current school context.

What the consortium does was to produce short films/ video clips that highlights messages/ key ideas of values education. Broadly, its productions are categorised as:

I think it's a clever way to leverage on the existing environment and culture to produce resources that not only serves as convincing case studies (where students spoke from their own experiences and reflections for various purposes), but it can also double up as another means to brand the school, as its own students and alumni would be the best spokepersons.

Videos are several categories were shared, and I think these are do-able at our end...

Category 1: Related to character building and demonstration of good values (好人好事)
Here, students talked about little good deeds that they did (and surfaced by others). This was coupled by reflection, where the student discussed how he challenged the norm. Indeed, as mentioned by the presenter, such presentation could be used as learning resources to prompt students to think deeper and reflect on their own behaviour and values.

To me, I think a more valuable message to send across to the student community is, small acts of kindness or thoughtfulness make a difference and they can do it, especially the example comes from their very own community. The influence would certainly be greater compared to cases that took place in other very different cultural/ social contexts. In fact, this is also a means to develop or create the culture of care and kindness within the community.


Category 2: I Did it!

I quite like this idea about getting students who share how they overcome challenges and make good progress in their work - in the example shared, is about the academic performance. More importantly, I think most of these cases are able to identify and pin point on the cause of their pitfalls, and how these have affected/ worked against what they intend to (when they first enrolled to the course).

In fact, there were students who might not have done well, however, through great support and self-resilience, they managed to develop good habits and cultivate self-disciplines. These are good examples to showcase to acknowledge their good effort and getting them to encourage the rest who think the 'change' (improvement) is impossible. Nothing could speak louder than these examples around them (真人真事).

Certainly, this should not just limit to academic performance, but could also be extended to sports and skills, etc.

Perhaps, we could even consider our alumni :)

True Blue Production in Facebook

An Amazing Vocabulary tool: Lingro


Here's another interesting online application that I think is very useful... an online dictionary that makes checking extremely easy, especially when there are lots of technical or unfamiliar terms.

What we need to do is to submit the URL to the site. The application would 'overlay' the 'dictionary' on the text such that one can simply click at the word to display the explanation. Of course, one needs to decipher which is the most relevant/ appropriate explanation, accordingly to the context.

Here's a sample:

Simple feature, Many applications: "Thinglink" for Learning


Chanced upon this online application in an article. The application enables one to put in multiple tags (text and URLs) on images and video clips in a hassle-free manner.

The application is clean. It does not come with very complicated features. I guess, the owner of the application is very focused - the primary objective is to allow tagging visuals/ media. It is very easy to use, with clear navigation. I attempted to create 2 samples, and being a first-time user, each took me less than 3 minutes to create. Of course, this is done in a 'free education version'. 

More importantly, it has great potential to be used in classroom - to deliver (by teacher) and to create (by students).

Here's the Interactive Image I created:

Indeed, there are lots of potential of this application across many subjects, in particular those that heavy rely on visuals. A few that I could think of...
  • Language or Mother Tongue, where students are required to draw out key 'ideas' embedded in pictures and more often than not, to make inference. Tagging text and questions in these visuals would provide scaffolds to students when this type of 'assessment' is first introduced; similarly, tagging could be used to guide the weaker students.
  • Any subject that where visuals are available/ used. For example
    • an image of the landscape where students are to learn/ describe the land forms 
    • an image that depicts a scene (e.g. in history or literature) through the facial expressions and body language of various characters in the scene
    • an image of a science experiment set-up where students are required to name the parts or be lead to describe the processes involved in the entire experiment
    • an image that illustrates the working or steps of a proof where the tags get students to make connections to the concepts applied/ considerations to take into account
    • ....
  • In fact, visuals can go beyond drawings/ images. It could even be passages (that are converted to image) where questions could be asked to trigger deeper thinking. The text can also come in the form of further elaboration of selected words to broaden the understanding of the word in the context applied.

Click HERE to view the video where text can be tagged to the clip (at specific location & time)

Well, from the potential listed under "images", I think one finds it even easier and more straightforward on how tagging could be used in the video clips to scaffold students' learning. Certainly, this feature would be, in particular useful when designing materials for flipped learning.

Monday, June 08, 2015

Seeing = Believing?

Here's another instance when we need to note - how often do we react impulsively, especially if it's linked to something closest to our heart, before we pause, think and clarify?

Click HERE to read the article.

I guess, it's quite common for us to see and believe our eyes, especially when it is something that matters to us, especially when it's against our belief, values and practices. With technology that is so easily accessible and so quickly to spread the word, it creates even greater impact than before. Hence, being able to keep cool and ask the right questions to clarify in a timely manner is very important.

One important lesson to learn here is not to jump into conclusion before having a full picture of the matter. And, never undermine the power of social media. There goes the old saying... Never judge a book by its cover. To adapt for today's context: Never judge an act by the image.

Testing our "Eye-Power"

When I underwent training as a teacher (more than 20 years ago), I recall one of the compulsory modules was about the use of media for teaching and learning. In those days, LCD projector was a rare and novel equipment in the classroom. We would probably see it only once in a blue moon in a more state-of-the-art Lecture Theatre.

A guideline on the use of the transparencies was not more than 8 lines per transparency and the font should be big and clear so that audience can read from far. Well, as transparencies grew obsolete (and today, I guess it's good for the museum), the same guideline should still apply to today's technology as the mode and means and purpose remain relevant.

Nevertheless, increasingly, we notice that more and more people either ignored or are ignorant of this guideline, and started to squeeze as much as possible into a single slide. Sometimes, I wonder if these presenters who packed so much stuff in a single slide had put in enough of thoughts for the audience, and how the audience would receive the info; or the slides are more for their presentation convenience?

So, the key point is - what is the purpose of the slides?
- To communicate the messages to the audience effectively OR
- For the convenience of the presenter to refer and talk?

The above instance (photo) is the more recently encounter in an auditorium, where the presenter was to present some findings to an audience in an auditorium that can sit more than 1000 people. Just wonder if the presenter had over-estimated the size of the projector and think all the smaller text would be 'enlarged' to the desired size? or he/ she was limited by the number of slides that he/ she could put in the presentation?

In fact, such issue has become more and more common in classrooms too. Often, we can find fellow colleagues packed so much things in a slide which, obviously only those seated within the first 10 metres could read. So, how effective are the information being communicated?

Let's revisit the slides after putting them up and ask ourselves, would the slides prepared serve its intended purpose before we put it to use :)

Well, a friend actually humorously suggested to get this equipment to aid reading in such a situation: