Thursday, 29 September 2005

Rollyo - your personal search engine

According to the website, rollyo allows you to create a search to sites which you already know and trust. Basically, rollyo enables a user to pick the sites that the user wants to search.

I have created a rollyo search here in this blog. On the right column, there is a text area just under "Search my blogs". If you type in a search term and click [go], rollyo will produce a result based on seaching my blogs only.

This can be very useful for creating customised "resources" in education sites for the minors. At the moment, rollyo limits the number of sites to be searched to 25. This is probably not enough.


North South East and West

Leigh Blackall quoted a Google Chinese to English translation of the blog by Yoa Zhou. Let me try a human translation.

The blog title consists of two phrases: Freedom and being oneself.

Hi, lucky to meet you here. What a chance!,

An educational movement using Podcast.

A crash of civilisaton is being acted out in Iraq, what a human tragedy! East and West requires more exchange, so is North and South. Let podcast and RSS lead us towards freedom.

(Looks like a slogan, but this will do for the time being. May change it in the future.)

The mistakes in Google's translation is in this sentence: "Broadcasts the guest educates the movement":

  • "broadcasts the guest" is the reverse translation of "podcast". (Obviously podcast is a new term from the West. When it was translated back from Chinese into English, it became this funny form.)

  • "Educational (adjective) Movement (noun)" was incorrectly translated as "educates the movement". Here, the characters for "educate" should be used as adjective to describe the movement which follows. But the Google translator treated them as verb and hence became "educates" (the verb) the movement (the object)"

  • The rest of the translation is quite understandable!

    Wednesday, 28 September 2005

    CSS Swag: Multi-Column Lists

    via Stephen Downes' OLDaily

    The methods suggested in the "A List Apart" article are not very good. I like none of them. Here is a better one from Check out the Test Case 6 which is what the "A List Apart" article is trying to achieve.

    There is no clumsy and additional mark-ups needed for the list to work. Just link the javascript and the css.

    Sunday, 18 September 2005

    Who is the mother of success?

    My best friends, Kin and Kit are staying with me in the last few days.

    Kit was a awarding winning teachers. She won numerous teaching awards in teaching Chinese in Australia and in Hong Kong. Kin just obtained his PhD. In fact they arrived immediately after the graduation ceremony.

    Both Kin and Kit have just retired. Kin and I are working on an interesting project which will be revealed later when ready. Kit is working on a book project with the other award winning teacher Betty I mentioned some weeks back.

    Our dinner conversation somehow wandered into asking what makes someone successful.

    I always thought that it was failure because there is Chinese saying that "failure is the mother of success". Is that only a Chinese saying, any equivalent in other languages/cultures?

    Kit said in her farewell speech delivered to her students a month back that in fact success is the mother of success. Small success gives us the motivation to continue to work and work harder, which leads to more success. The trick is to create small success to begin with and build on the sucesses.

    It makes a lot of sense.

    Many entrepreneur texts suggest people to think "big" and be pesistent. Venture capitalist wants the entrepreneur to stay focus and works on the single project whicih the capitalist supports. This last point I think is a bit selfish. While VC spreads their investment in multiple ventures, why do they want the entrepreneur to put all his eggs in a basket?

    I think both of these suggestions are against the human nature. At least they are not the way I work.

    I am motivated by success. It does not matter it is small or large. Success bleeds success.

    I have been and still am working on multiple projects. Yes, I am spreading myself too thinly in some cases. However, many a time, the thinking that I put in one project produces new insight in other projects. I just need to have more time and more people helping me. Up to now, the major problem I have with my projects are that they are mostly solo projects. I changed that couple of years back and things are moving on nicely. There are still some projects I am still the sole owner. I need to clear them either by finishing them or by inviting people to join me to share the load and of course the fruit of success, if any. For the following two solo projects, I am now seeking interested partners: - an online data collection platform, and - a CD-based mechanism for delivering SCORM-compliant courses.

    Contact me offline if you are interested.

    Friday, 16 September 2005

    "Freedom to leave"

    by Stephen Downes and various Blog authors including Derek Morrison and Christopher D. Sessums.

    I was not at ALT-C in Manchester and I have not had the fortune to hear Stephen directly. Because of some hicups, the audio was not available too. So I have to make do with Stephen's powerpoint slides and the comments made by other bloggers.

    Quoting from Stephen's slide directly:

    In my view, the question of collaboration is a question of governance
    Are you free to leave?

    [next slide]
    The Lecture…
    May be the form that (counterintuitively) offers maximal freedom to the audience
    And hence, may be favoured by learning professionals (at least in their own learning) because it preserves this degree of freedom

    Stephen raised a very interesting and important point in our process of understanding what is collaboration (not only collaborative learning).

    Are we collaborating if I can join the work/discussion when I like and just walk away even without letting the other members know? (Indeed, is there a definition of the membership?) What will be the consequence on a collaborative activity given the presence of this form of "freedom"?

    I question whether it is an issue of governance or an issue of mutual commitment to a mutually agreed objective or an issue of sharing of responsibility and task.

    Closely linked to this question is the size of the "membership" participating in the collaborative effort and the scope of the collaborative effort.

    On small scale, when the objective is clearly defined (and possibility also with a further constraint of delivering the objective within a fixed time frame), the mutual commitment to the tasks and the delivering of the responsibility will mean the "freedom to leave" is not an desirable option.

    On the other hand, consider wikipedia as collaborative effort. One can put in a comment, change a few words of an article, write a paragraph or two, contribute a whole article or actually "runs" the project. Whether you are "free to leave" depends on the amount of responsibility you have committed to. In general, it is easy to leave a project if you have little responsibility or there are duplicated people taking up the task. It would not be socially acceptable if you leave an effort when you are carrying a huge responsibility on which the success of the project depends.

    In collaborative learning, it is a collorary to conclude that you have greater learning effectiveness with greater participation.

    I suppose a keen learner will not leave an interesting lecture, even when he has the freedom to do so.

    Should we instead focus also on making sure the learning process (whether it is collaborative or not) is interesting, engaging and rewarding so that "free to leave", even when given, will not need to be exercised?

    Thursday, 8 September 2005

    Another way of looking at instructional design

    by Jay Cross via OLDaily

    If you don't have time to read anything else, don't read the rest of this post. Go and read the post itself.

    Here are some highlight of the main ideas I resonate well with the article.

    They [ADDIE instructional design model] box the design process into steps and deal with them one at a time. There’s no unity, nothing working together here. You finish one step and go on to the next. Like behaviorist psychology, there’s no emotion. People’s feelings count for nothing. It’s as if the workers being trained are robots or zombies. And what about the impact of what’s outside of the flowchart? These models don’t map to reality.


    As a landscape designer, my goal is to conceptualize a harmonious, unified, pleasing garden that makes the most of the site at hand. As an enlightened instructional designer, my goal is to create a learning environment that advances the organization’s mission by nurturing the growth of its people.


    In a knowledge economy, learning and work are one and the same. Here’s Peter Henschel again, saying “By sheer force of habit, we often substitute training for real learning. Managers often think training leads to learning or, worse, that training is learning. But people do not really learn with classroom models of training that happen episodically. These models are only part of the picture. Asking for more training is definitely not enough—it isn’t even close.”

    Sunday, 4 September 2005

    Economists lead the way in showing what’s wrong with college teaching.

    by Lanny Arvan via XplanaZine

    The idea that trained professionals in the field don’t know the fundamentals of the principles course is scary, but I’m guessing it is not that uncommon and I’m guessing it happens in disciplines other than economics. Look at me. I never took that principles course where opportunity cost is taught and I never took the intermediate course where presumably the opportunity cost idea is amplified and used extensively. And while I think my graduate education was excellent, it really helped me to think seriously about economic models, the language and technique that were used from the get go was meant for insiders in the field.

    Lanny has articulated a typical problem about the industrial model of education when everything was designed in locked step. At certain time of the day, at certain year level, you are taught a particular principle. If, for whatever reason, you missed this lesson, that will be missed forever.

    Communication barrier

    This is a conversation between a user and computer support:

    [User]: Hello, computer support?
    [Support]: Yup.
    [User]: I have a problem with my printer. It's jamming paper.
    [Support]: OK, what type of printer was that?
    [User]: an HP laserjet printer.
    [Support]: and the problem?
    [User]: paper jam.
    [Support]: Can you open the door and clear the paper path?
    [User]: It's the mouse. It is stopping everything?
    [Support]: {..???} Is the cursor frozen?
    [User]: {...???} No, it is not related to the screen. It is the mouse.
    [Support]: {@#$% ... ???} Can you move the mouse?
    [User]: I dare not touch it. It seems still alive.
    [Support]: {@#$% ... ???} ... and ?
    [User]: it is stuck there
    [Support]: mouse? are we talking about the printer?
    [User]: yes, but the mouse is stuck... it won't move...can't...jammed
    [Support]:what mouse?
    [User]: the mouse in the printer
    [Support]:I mean physically go to the printer and open it
    [User]: I did
    [Support]:do you see the paper?
    [User]: no,... it's a laserjet .... I'm afraid to restart because I might damage the mouse
    [Support]: ahhhhhh.. you should still be able to open the printer box and see the paper jammed somewhere
    [Support]: no point in restarting without clearing the paper first
    [User]: I don't see any paper jammed
    [Support]: can you see the full path of where the paper should go?
    [User]: no. I just see the mouse

    What is happening here? If you have not figured that out, take a look at this photo. (ps I got this photo from a friend. If anyone knows the source, please let me know.)

    Context is everything.

    Thursday, 1 September 2005

    Starting Conversations

    by Will Richardson via XplanaZine

    The post started by looking at the two sides of wiki and blogs:

    the other half of the equation, the consumption of blog and wiki and podcast content by students and teachers.

    The discussion obviously led to the validity and accuracy of wiki and blogs. Yes, students produced wiki and blogs are not necessarily the best sources of information.

    On another note, I believe we should think outside the box when thinking about the use of wiki and blogs in classrooms. I believe we need not (should not ???) think in terms of information production and consumption (too much an information transfer type pedagogy). We can think of wiki as a collaborative environment for students to co-author an article. We can think of blogs as a mean for students to negotiate a common understanding of the subject matter. We should focus more on using the technology to support the learning process rather than using wiki and/or blogs to record the outcome of the learning. To this effect, we may state clearly to the students at the beginning of the term that whatever wiki or blogs which are created during the course will be deleted at the end of the term. Learning involves experimenting and taking risks. We don't want the writing that we left during our learning process to daunt us in years to come. We can also keep the wikispace and blogosphere slightly cleaner.

    Effects of video game violence

    by Dave Munger of Cognitive Daily

    In the last two days, Dave looked at two studies related to effect of violent video game on human attitude and behaviour. See Critiquing the video game violence studies and More on video game violence. In both situations, he went back to the original papers, looked at the data and noted carefully the conditions under which the data were collected. Here is his conclusion: [my emphasis]

    Does Williams and Scoric’s data undermine that of Gentile et al., discussed yesterday? The two studies hardly intersect. The average age of Gentile et al.’s population was 13; Williams and Scoric’s was 27. Gentile et al. used participants’ own ratings to determine how “violent” the games they played actually were; Williams and Scoric preselected a game they had arbitrarily determined to be violent. Gentile et al.’s most significant result was a correlation of exposure to video game violence with physical fights; Williams and Scoric didn’t ask their participants about physical fights at all.
    psychologists have a hard enough time figuring out how people react to different colored squares. Understanding a complex social phenomenon like video games is not going to be a simple task, and making public policy based on that understanding will be even more difficult. Perhaps the best we can hope is for policy-makers — and the general public — (not to mention science writers) to understand that we’re dealing with a limited set of data, and to not put too much faith in any single study.

    I think Dave's comment applies to educator's use of game as a teaching strategy. The data is just not enough to draw any conclusion yet. I still prefer to learn from the game designers rather than blindly use commercial games in our classrooms.