Wednesday, 31 August 2005

Using Google Earth in Classroom

If you have installed Google Earth, you can open the placement with Google Earth. It will add 13 places in your "Temporary Places". Clicking each will open with a window with some questions in Dutch. I don't know what are the questions. :-(

Evolution vs "Intelligent Design"

This hoax has been heating up lately in the blogosphere.

On August 19, 2005 Boing Boing put up a $250,000 (later capped at $1 Million) challenge

to pay any individual *$250,000 if they can produce empirical evidence which proves that Jesus is not the son of the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

With a couple of law changes and sues (see here and here), and the endorsement by the President of USA (see news releases from Washington Post, BBC), the debate is really hot. (see New York Times "complete coverage of the evolution debate") By the way, God bless America!

via Boing Boing, here is how Daniel C. Dennett sees the start of the hoax:
"The proponents of intelligent design use an ingenious ploy that works something like this," writes Tufts philosopher Daniel C. Dennett, and author of Darwin's Dangerous Idea. "First you misuse or misdescribe some scientist's work. Then you get an angry rebuttal. Then, instead of dealing forthrightly with the charges levelled, you cite the rebuttal as evidence that there is a "controversy" to teach."

I am not interested in this kind of debate. My point is what should be the position of educators/teachers faced with this problem. Since education can be used as a propaganda instrument, our curriculum has been loaded, increasingly, with social issues, such as sex education, road safety, drugs problems.... Is is a role of the formal education system to deal with such social/political issues while the teachers remain so low in social status, pay peanuts and themselves not fully equipped to deal with such situations?

Tuesday, 30 August 2005

Blogger beware, you may be sued

via Contentious by Amy Gahran: Can Bloggers Be Sued Over Comments? Maybe

In a nutshell, SEO company has filed suit against [Aaron] Wall,[who writes the SEO Book weblog,] claiming that comments posted on Wall’s blog revealed some of their “trade secrets.”

There is a long trace of blogs to read if you are interested. You can start with Intuitive System's SEO Book's Aaron Wall sued over comments on his weblog by Dave Taylor, or follow the suggested reading in Amy's post.

As of today, I am turning off all the comments. If you put in a comment, it will not be shown. So please keep a copy at your own website.

When there is a will, there is a way

via Boing Boing: HOW TO extract video from Yahooligans

This post details how to save a stream-video so that you can play as many times and make as many copies as you like. Just beware of the IP police.

Tags: ,

Monday, 29 August 2005

Yet another "Play and Learn" article

By David Stonehouse (the Age, 27 August, 2005) [my added link]

... But when he expressed frustration at not being able to revive a dilapidated industrial area, the youngster's reply astounded him: "I think you need to lower your industrial tax rates."

Reflecting on that years later, Johnson could not help but think that if his nephew had been in some urban studies class instead, he would have been nodding off. If there was a moment that helped convince him video games can enrich young minds, this was one. "He was learning in spite of himself," [Steven] Johnson says.

Note, I am not against video games. What I am concerned is the wrong cause and effect speculated here. The power described here is NOT because of the game. The power is from the engagement (of the game) and if we can create the same engagement, then we can almost teach anything. The problem with game is that the underlying assumptions does not reflect the real world.

James Paul Gee, a pioneer in video-game research at the University of Wisconsin, says the field is still so new nobody can prove anything. "It shows that games can improve your problem solving. There is well-known research that they improve surgeons' hand-eye co-ordination and skills in surgery," he says.

It is true that the effectiveness of using games is a very young field and we shall benefit with more research. One thing for sure is that there will be more situations in which interacting with the real world will be done via game-like console, e.g. surgery. The future war may be fought with soldiers in front of game-like console pushing buttons.

Elyssebeth Leigh, a senior lecturer at the University of Technology, Sydney, believes in the power of video games, too. She says they teach children how to interact with technology. And they can help children experiment with the world around them in a safe way - and learn about choices, strategy, risks and consequences without leaving the living room.

I would like to correct Elyssebeth's statement to:

Video games can help children experiment with the game world (not the real world around them) in a safe way - and learn about choices, strategy, risks and consequences without leaving the living room.

There is nothing wrong and I encourage children to learn via imagined world or game world. However, better still, we can do that using role play (like Fablusi role play simulation) and simulations where the underlying model and assumptions are made with educational objectives in mind. Direct use of commercial game should NOT be the way to go.

Sunday, 28 August 2005

google fight: Albert Ip Vs Stephen Downes

and the winner is .....

Hey, don't peek. Check it out yourself. Just click on the link :-)


Friday, 26 August 2005

The Map is not the Terrain; the Sim is not the City

by Jamais Cascio (November 22, 2004)

SimCity is often seen as more than a game: SimCity, in all of its versions, shows up in classrooms, research papers, and (rumour has it) planning offices around the country. And that has some troubling implications.

I cannot agree more.

Two points were raised.

First by referring to "Playing With Urban Life: How SimCity Influences Planning Culture" by Daniel G. Lobo and Larry Schooler: [my emphasis]

the player operates in “God Mode,” with absolute power to build, demolish, tax, and spend. Unwieldy growth and megalomaniacal, destructive behaviour are the two poles of city operation and the player’s most likely courses of action. Thus the heart of the game is much less a universal vision of city design than it is a reflection of the most extreme tendencies of development in America, found in the few areas in which one person has total control over a large parcel of land

Second point by Jamais in the concluding paragraph: [my emphasis]

Simulation games like SimCity are valuable because they give a peek at the complex relationships between cause and effect in big systems such as cities. They're a chance to play at the edges of complexity, to see "what happens if I do this?" in both an iterated and replicable fashion. They can be wonderfully seductive digital sirens leading to unexpectedly staying up to 3:30 AM. But to be good educational tools, the models have to be transparent and changeable. We should be able to play with the system itself, not just the system's effects.

In other words, the opaqueness of the game is limiting the use of the game in education environment because the issues the learners want to explore and the underlying model of the situation may not reflect the best practise of the field. Remember, games are designed to be entertaining and its primary goal is NOT to reflect real reality.

Another problem is the implicit build-in "game goal". The game is set with a game goal of maximizing the return to the "god" which leads to "Unwieldy growth and megalomaniacal, destructive behaviour". This is not necessarily the best game goal for providing a balanced education.

As I have commented earlier, we should not be looking at existing commercial games and hope to find some useful things from these games to justify using them in classroom or learning situation. Instead, we should focus our energy in learning the engaging characteristics from the game designers in order to produce better educational software which is engaging. Is our field approaching the problem from the wrong end?

Wednesday, 24 August 2005

The Seven (Eight) Challenges of e-Learning design

by Graham Attwell. See Part 1 and Part 2.

The eight challenges are (See Part 1 for details)

Challenge 1 – basing e-learning on learners own experiences
Challenge 2 – developing a rich and powerful learning environment
Challenge 3 – localizing the programme
Challenge 4 – supporting individual learners
Challenge 5 – developing sustainable and dynamic contents
Challenge 6 – recording, validating and presenting learning
Challenge 7 – developing a community of learners
Challenge 8 – developing programmes capable of flexible modes of delivery

In the second part, Graham answered his challenge. He proposed to use social software (blogs, wiki, tagging) to support a connectivist pedagogy (See Part 2.)

In a more concrete sense, the course would be: (my emphasis.)
Firstly, each student or learner will be given a blog space to record their learning experiences. The blog will also act as a portfolio for their learning (see my earlier blog posts on portfolios), The blogs will support track back and tagging as well as a personal profile.

But of course the learners will need some form of sequenced learning materials as a stimulus for self learning and communication.

That will be provided through an imaginary blog – or rather the real blog of an imaginary learner – herself following a course in self evaluation. Learners will follow the entries of the imaginary learner – Sarah Jones – and will be asked to comment on her experiences and feelings. Their commentary – added as comments on Sarah’s blog will automatically be added ion their own blog – or portfolio.

Well, this is role playing!

However, I would argue that this design has met the "necessary" conditions of a valid design, but lack the "sufficient" conditions to actually make it work.

I don't believe that locking a learner into a room with some books can create any learning. The situation might slightly improve if you let him/her out ONLY IF s/he can answer a few multiple choice questions, but I am doubtful about the retention of the "information" gathered and whether there is any real learning or knowledge growth. (see my distinction between knowledge and information) Collaborative/cooperative learning is the same. A group of learners in a physical room may produce some learning (human is social by nature), but a group of learners on an online asynchronous forum DOES NOT. When time is no longer any pressure, nothing will ever happen.

I would suggest that the design goes to a full role play simulation. Instead of just one "imaginary learner", let develop a scenario with as many roles as needed to cover the stake holder's viewpoints. Give them an "imaginary" social structure, some conflicting views and some supportive views from different "imaginary" friends and foes. Most important of all, throw in a compelling reason to act (see here and here).

Tuesday, 23 August 2005

Invitational Education

Like Tom McHale, I just read about this and in no position to comment.

Invitational Education is a theory of practice that addresses the total educational environment. It is a process for communication caring and appropriate message intended to summon forth the realization of human potential as well for identifying and changing those forces that defeat and destroy potential.

From Birmingham-Southern College: [link]

Invitational Education asserts that every person and everything in and around schools adds to, or subtracts from, the process of being a beneficial presence in the lives of students. Ideally, the factors of people, places, policies, programs and processes should be so intentionally inviting as to create an environment in which every person is cordially summoned to develop intellectually, socially, physically, psychologically, and spiritually.

Four basic assumptions within Invitational Education
  • RESPECT: People are able, valuable, and responsible and should be treated accordingly.

  • TRUST: Education should be a cooperative, collaborative activity. Process is as important as product.

  • OPTIMISM: People possess untapped potential in all areas of worthwhile human endeavour.

  • INTENTIONALITY: Human potential can best be realized by creating and maintaining places, policies, processes and programs specifically designed to invite development, and by people who are intentionally inviting with themselves and others, personally and professionally (“The Five P’s”).

[Should it be 7 P's?]

As I tried to find a little more about it, it seems that the above is cited in almost every website that has linked to "invitational education" and little more can be found. Can someone enlighten me?


A week ago, I wrote about designing real physical space for future. As I was reading Rob Reynolds' article on The Incredible Shrinking LMS -- Or How Learning Will Travel, my thought ran off after reading his view of "home":

I grew up in Texas, spent some quality time in Latin America, went back to Texas for a time, moved to Oklahoma, and have finally started a new stint in Massachusetts. On the one hand, each of those places came to feel like "home." On the other hand, the part of each of them that is home is less about geography and more about experience and memory. While I have always had a "home base," my real concept of home has been expanding my whole life. When you get right down to it, home for me is Texas/Mexico/Argentina/Oklahoma/Massachusetts and every memory, relationship, and story tied up with those places. And because home is the collection of these things and not the physical surroundings in which I live, I always carry it with me. It may be manifested, to some extent, in my house or apartment, in the places I actually live, but it is definitely a "mobile" reality and always has been.

One thing which resonances very strongly with me is his notion of
the understanding of home evolves naturally from house --> house + relationships and experiences -- > relationships + experiences + memories

Closely related is the notion of social situation. American sociologist Ervin Goffman, in his 1959 volume The Presentation of Self in Everyday life unravels the intricacies of social role-playing: he shows how we play different roles in different social situations, and how we are constantly occupied (both consciously and unconsciously) with impression management. Goffman’s (mainly implicit) characterization of the notion of situation — which plays a pivotal role in his analysis—is spatial in nature. That is, Goffman’s situations - such as the home, the workplace or the city-hall — are thought of as physical locations, delimited by physical boundaries such as walls, floors and ceilings. In Joshua Meyrowitz’s No Sense of Place, he asks why should we think of social situations in these terms? Clearly what is essential to the social aspects of a situation are the flows of information, communication and influence among its human participants, not its physical whereabouts. Admittedly, such things as walls and ceilings do help shape the social on goings that take place within them, but only derivatively so, i.e., by their effects on the above mentioned flows. (We usually take such effects for granted, e.g., as when we rely on the walls of out home to provide us privacy.) Thus Meyrowitz’s conclusion is that social situations are best thought of more abstractly, as information systems.

This is the basis of my interaction spaces design in Fablusi role play simulation. I have argued against rendering of interaction spaces here and here. Space, in a sense, is related to the experience and memories more than the physical setting. Space in role play simulation, and indeed any other type of simulation, is already an abstracted notion. The focus has moved away from the "physical"-aspect of the space into the "experience" and "memory"-aspect of space. I argued that it would be a more engaging (and pedagogically effective) space if the space is augmented by player's imagination rather than graphic designer's creativity and with an information flow control system which resembles the social relationship of the participants in the space. Hence Fablusi iSpaces are implemented with very complex "right" management capability. :-)

Monday, 22 August 2005

What Every Game Developer Needs to Know about Story

by John Sutherland

As educator wants to leverage on game's ability to engage players, the game designers are learning to use story and movie script to advance their craft. This article, based on classic story structure put forward by McKee points out that Story is conflict. John continues to dissect a three-act classical story:

  • First, there's a protagonist, a hero.

  • His or her world is thrown out of order by an inciting incident. (Look at the sabotaged dope deal in Grand Theft Auto: Vice City for a good example of this.)

  • A gap opens up between the hero and an orderly life.

  • The hero tries the normal, conservative action to overcome the gap. It fails. The world pushes back too hard.

  • The hero then has to take a risk to overcome the obstacles that are pushing back.

  • Then there is a reversal. Something new happens, or the hero learns something she didn't know before, and the world is out of whack again. A second gap has opened up.

  • The hero has to take a greater risk to overcome the second gap.

  • After overcoming the second gap, there is another reversal, opening a third gap.

  • The hero has to take the greatest risk of all to overcome this gap and get to that object of desire, which is usually an orderly life.

Pulling this story structure back to a learning design for a one person simulation, the hero is naturally the learner. In the opening of the simulation, hence, according to this structure, it is important to have an inciting incident which I have been calling it a compelling reason to act. It is also necessary to establish the gap as expressed in the game goal which is the final object of desire. To bridge the game goal and the initial position, the learner needs to engage in various exploration, investigation and "risk-taking" behaviour. This is the learning we try to embed in the simulation. For dramatic story, there is reversal, for learning simulation, the "reversal" is the result of the mastery of the knowledge and skills that is required to reach the game goal.

Simulators, by themselves, are not interesting nor engaging. A flight simulation is just a flight simulator. We may be interested in it initially due to the novelty factor. Once this has been wear off, there is nothing interesting nor engaging about it. However, by adding elements such as engine failure, bad weather conditions and other inciting incidents, the simulator has become part of a game, an engaging game in which you try to overcome the difficulties of landing with only a single engine or in bad weather. During this process, you learn how to fly the plane with a single engine, how to approach the runway in bad weather and so on.

Friday, 19 August 2005

Learning should be hard fun

by Clark N. Quinn.

In this article, Clark pointed out a number of elements which will lead to engaging experience.

Contextualized – the learning should be in a setting where the learners actions make sense. A story, if you will. Learners learn best when it's in a meaningful context.

Clear Goal – the learner should have an end state that they are motivated to achieve. ... Learners are better able to take action when they have an outcome they know they're trying to achieve.

Appropriate challenge – the level of difficulty has to be beyond the learner's capability, but not so far that the learner can't accomplish the task; learning happens best in the space just beyond the learner's capability where, with some effort and support, they can accomplish the task. Learners learn fastest when the challenge is significant but not impossible.

Anchored – the actions that the learner takes have to have a meaningful effect on the outcome. There can't be meaningless actions by the learner after which the story proceeds, but instead there have to be real consequences in the story line of the actions they take.

Relevant – in addition to the actions taken being meaningful to the story, the story and actions have to be meaningful to the learner. We need stories that appeal to their interests and motivations.

Exploratory – the environment has to have a wide variety of possible choices (or at least a perception of same), and the ability to try different things and explore the internal relationships. Learners learn best when they have to make choices and face the consequences of those choices.

Active manipulation – a related facet is having the learners active in exploring those relationships, and operating on the world in ways that are similar to the way you operate in the real world and that reflect the story setting. Learners learn best when there is minimal overhead between their intentions and the actions taken to achieve them.

Appropriate feedback – the feedback from the world has to come in a way that makes sense in the world. They need to know they've acted, even if they don't immediately get to know the final outcomes of their action.

Attention-getting – the action can't be totally deterministic, there needs to be some randomness and probability. Total determinism isn't desirable. Learners learn best when their attention and curiosity is maintained.

I agree mostly with Clark. There are a few points I would like to clarify in light of the experience of designing role play simulation.

1. Game goals and learning objectives are different. Game goals are the objective of the player as a character in the game world (or simulated world). This is related to the game context. The achievement of some or all game goals, however, will depend on the mastery of the learning objectives embedded in the game.

For solo game, game goal will mostly universal for all the players as the player all assume a role in the game as dictated by the game design. For co-operative/collaborative game (such as role play simulation). it is not possible to have the same game goal for all players. In fact, the difference and contradiction of game goals will need to interesting and engaging play.

2. In solo game, exploration is always limited by the build-in "surprises" and hence sometimes need an element of luck. While we know that we don't need 100% consistent response in order to learn, a consistent response, however, will produce more reinforced learning (at least this is the theory of the behaviouristic paradigm). If we do not need randomness to enhance attention or curiosity in a collaborative role play simulation. There are sufficient exploration to occupy players' attention by interaction between different roles.

Tuesday, 16 August 2005

Invitation to Publish

I have been very critical about experimental studies, e.g. here and here. I don't bother to mention more which pass through my attention daily. [What the heck is the nature of my job?]

I have many huge books on the back bench in my study (which doubles as my office). Many of these I have flipped through only a few pages and never finish. What a waste and what is the use of all these effort?

A & M Publications P/L, hence, is looking for short manuscript (final published book A-5 size of about 100 page) which are intellectually interesting and readable. Due to our limitations, we will only accept proposals in learning, e-learning and related subject domain for the time being. Please contact me off-line.

By the way, we are looking for causal graphic designers and sales executives too. [No need to apply if you don't even bother to find out more about me and how to contact me. :-) ]

Sunday, 14 August 2005

Future learning spaces

The July/August 2005 issue of Educause Review (Vol 40 Number 4) features Learning Space Design. The article I enjoyed most is Future of the Learning Space: Breaking Out of the Box.

With the ubiquitous availability of ICT, information gathering (traditional listening to lectures and taking notes) and information search (library visits) can be done online in quiet comfortable corners. These activities can be done alone or in small group. Today's laptop computers have limited power storage, typically several hours. Most will not last the whole day. Most are not-water proof as well. Hence it would be beneficial to incorporate lots of quiet dry spots with wireless connectivity and power points so that students with wireless notebook can conduct their information-related activities, preferably in real-time with those who prefer to sit in a lecture room/hall.

The greatest value of physical learning spaces is for face to face meetings and work that cannot be done online. Typically, these would involve group activities, experiments and interaction within real situation. The Educause Review covers this aspect very well.

An important aspect of higher education is the induction of the learner into the community of practice of the subject domain. The induction consists of both the formal part (knowledge and practices of the domain) as well as the social connectivity part (knowing who's who in the domain). The learning spaces in a higher education should have appropriate spaces to facilitate the "accidental" meeting of diverse communities, e.g. eating venues, social places and "hang-out areas".

Another interesting topic to explore in terms of the design of learning spaces is the potential and value of creating a physical space which can augment virtual space, or vice versa. The experience cone As we understand more about the value of experience in the learning process, we can predict that more learning experience will be delivered via simulation/role playing. Courtrooms, office, international conference settings and other "typical" spaces can be useful in bringing some of the virtual simulation into a physical space. How valuable and feasible is that remains to be seen. However, it will never be too early to start investigating.

Is Multiple-Column Online Text Better? It Depends!

The conclusion of this article is misleading due to the flaw design of the experiment. First the conclusion (my emphasis):

The purpose of this study was to examine how multiple columns and text justification impact online reading in terms of reading speed, comprehension, and satisfaction of a narrative passage. Results from this study showed that reading speed was significantly faster for two-column full-justified text than for one-column full-justified text. Post-hoc analyses showed that it was the fastest readers that benefited the most from this format.

So, let's get the situation right first. It is for online reading. Next, the conclusion: two-column full-justified text is significantly faster.

My own experience tells me otherwise. In fact, I hate online presentation with multiple columns.

So, where was the flaw of the experiment design. Look at its sample text.

One-Column Full-Justified Condition

Two-Column Full-Justified Condition

The sample text was short, so short that it can be displayed in one screen, hence the experiment result. We know that if the text is longer, we will then need to scroll down to read the rest of column one. After which, we need to scroll up again to the top to read the second column. I don't see any possibility that such a realistic scenario will produce the same result.

Experiment design! Please don't publish any result if the design was flawed. It is wasting everybody's time.

Saturday, 13 August 2005

Knowledge and Information, are they the same?

I have been thinking about this a lot, really a great deal! I don't say I have any answer.

Knowledge* is all the accumulated experience I have since my birth. This is very much which define "me". Some of this knowledge may not be immediately retrievable or may have been lost (hence these will have little utility value); some may better be forgotten, which, unfortunately, I cannot. Of course, most of my knowledge will be called upon when I make any decision in my daily activity.

Information is manifestation of someone's part knowledge. Being an externalisation, information is not necessarily an accurate representation of one's knowledge, nor represents the whole of one's knowledge. However, being externalised, knowledge can be transferred from one place to another and from one time to another and stored externally.

It involves great skills to externalise one's knowledge. Hence, some are greater writer and story teller than others.

[further thinking required: Is factual information a manifestation? For example, the weather man measures and reports the air temperature of the city we live daily. Are these data points his manifestation of his knowledge, given that he does not actually do the measurement himself. He may have just read it off an instrument! There are millions of automatically collected data. Do they represent information as defined as a manifestation?]

The process of "importing" information, among many other activities which may or may not have the same effect, as being part of one's knowledge is called learning.

Social linguists argue that it is the language (natural or symbolic) which forms the building blocks of our mental model (knowledge). Because language is developed (and acquired) socially, we have a common understanding of the language, albeit there may be shades of diferences. Both instructivitic and constructivitic approaches to teaching and learning can produce learning results. Different learning theories deal with different aspects, and with varying degree of emphasis, of the organisation and presentation of information itself (typically the focus of instructional designs) or conditions under which the information "enters" the learner.

Connectivitism deals with an information network and treats both human and databases of information as nodes. Learning is part of a network building process. While this network view of the interconnectedness of information may also be the underlying operative description of our mental process, does an interconnected organisation represent a higher intelligence in which human is the equivalent of a brain cell? Sure, human has been extending our abilities by external means for as long as history can tell. We have been extending our physical strength by external power machinery. Data bank can supplement the potential fuzziness of our memory. By knowing where to get the information to help solve a problem, instead of accessing that information from within, external information network will help us solve more problems better and faster. It does represent a change of the kind of knowledge we would like to be accessible in our operative part. Does that represent a "bigger" or "better" knowledge?

That is my current thinking and I am open to be convinced otherwise.

*I am using the term knowledge very boardly here. At this stage, I am making no attempt to distinguish the more subtle difference between just knowing and wisdom, inspiration or value systems.

Friday, 12 August 2005

The Interface Without The Mouse-Click

via Couros Blog

Don’ provides the interesting experience of a click-less interface.

I always have problem using a touch pad. For my laptop, I prefer the old fashioned thumb-push button. The interface presented by this website is both interesting and quite intuitive. You need to enter the site via a mouse click - the last mouse click. Then you can navigate through different part of the site by moving the mouse, but NOT clicking.

Such an interface would be great appeal for touch screen application in addition to studying GUI design.

Thursday, 11 August 2005

League of Worlds: The International Conference on Exploring Virtuality

More information is now available for the conference to be held in Melbourne November this year. This is the conference mini website direct link.

This year's theme is Playing and Learning in Virtual Environments. Presenters should challenge participants to take a fresh look at the questions that arise when people meet in virtual territories to play, to learn, and to share. Participation is purposely limited and there will be no concurrent sessions. Instead, participants are encouraged to attend each presentation and integrate their own perspectives and expertise into the conversation.

There are still a bit of time left for submitting a paper to the conference.

The planning committee has a surprise to the participants. I believe this will be a cognitively very challenging, but fun conference to participate.

Saturday, 6 August 2005

Teaching Mathematics using origami

I met an old friend (not that she is old, we just have a long acquantance dating back over 20 years) who is teaching mathematics in Melbourne here. She won several teaching awards over the year.

One of the most impressive thing I found is her insight expressed in the following equation:
where S is success, e is effort and t is time.

In plain English, success is the effort in the power time.

Very inspiring.

Friday, 5 August 2005

My recent posts in my other blogs

Here is a list of the post I have written recently that were posted to my other blogs:

Personal Memory Assistant in Learning for 2020

Education is about preparing future citizens. If this is one probable scenario, the big question to me, educationally, is how can we prepare ourselves and our kids for such a world. Estimated time of arrival of this scenario, I would say 2020.

Personal Memory Assistant in Conversation With My Evil Twin:
Trebla: Brother, remember that businesses are greedy. That won't satisfy they appetite! Then businesses will ask for charging content on per-use basis. Every time the PMA captures any content, the user has to pay for it. Every time the PMA replays the content, the user has to pay for it.

Albert: WHAT! Don't you think that kind of law can be passed?

Trebla: 100%. Big businesses have money. Money get people elected. The law will be made in the interest of the these businesses.

Albert: Trebla, you are so negative! There are a huge movement against digital right, e.g. Electronic Frontier Foundation and open source movement. If we don't want to see the scenario you describe, I need to act now to stop IP limitations on content today.

5 Steps for Turning Your Idea Into a Product in Corporate E-Learning
If we see invention as a business, we need to understand that out of a thousand ideas, only a couple are useful and ever fewer which can become a great product. The patenting process is expensive, very expensive indeed. The upfront cost of patenting has to be balanced against the potential additional revenue which can be generated by the patent. We also need to consider the alternative to NOT to patent. Instead of spending your effort and resources in patent process, what is the additional revenue that you can generate using the effort and resources that you intent to put into the patent process.

Learning and development in corporates
in Corporate E-Learning
If people is so important, spending time to choose the right people to fill a managerial role is linked to the success of the corporate. Providing learning and development for people to build the kind of attributes which can energize people is where learning can focus on.

Thursday, 4 August 2005

How you SHOULD use blogs in education

Following the "should not", here is the "should way" of using blogs in education by James Farmer. I echo strongly with James words:

Blogs are by no means the answer to everything, they are very strong alternative communication tools but if you want to build quizzes, run polls, have near-synchronous conversation, do listserv-y kind of discussion or strictly manage just about anything then you’ll probably want to look at another tool.

I would also caution the need of a balance between focussing on skills and concrete content. I am not discounting the importance and value of the ability to learn independently, literacy skills, information processing strategies, thinking skills,..... As a general practitioner in the field, we tend to describe learning situation and strategy in a generic term without reference to any content or specific subject matter.

It is true that information is exploding. Sometimes I question the value of the time and effort that I have put in during my years in learning Physics. By now, I don't think I would be able to derive any of those equations which I have spent so much time to understand and memorize. I don't even able to remember the exact spelling of the names of these equations.

However, is that experience totally wasted? Let's use thinking skill as an example. Learning to think is one thing. Applying the thinking skill in solving problems in a complex situation is quite different. Subject matter presents a complex context to exercise the thinking skill. I have forgotten most of the subject matter in Physics, but my basic training means I can tackle complex situation using mathematical skills when I need to.

Coming back to using blog, or for this matter any tool. Not only we should recognise that none of them is the only tool available, such tool should be used in a meaningful way in the context of some subject matter.

Here is another quote from James:
One of the worst things you can do is mandate posting on particular topics with particularly rigid frequency… you’ll over-assess & kill off exactly what blogs are good for: personal expression & exploration.

Within the context of your subject matter, you must create compelling reasons for the learners to create and maintain a blog. Note, mandating posts as assessment is NOT compelling reason in any stretch of imagination! Create and demonstrate a passion in the subject matter, engage and ensure the students themselves are engaged in constructive discussion with the use of blog in the context of your subject matter.

How to start one? Here is a suggestion.

There are many great insights that are counter-intuitive. These can be used as triggering points for heated discussion, via the blog, may be.

Blog is also well suited as a personal log of the learning journey. If you can show yours and some good examples, students can follow.

We don't want to see yet another teenage-blogger writing about fashion or gossip as part of their learning, do we?