Monday, 20 December 2010

Season Greeting

Thursday, 9 December 2010

Graph theory in 4 min.

Friday, 26 November 2010

Creative Learning with Serious Games

The latest issue of International Journal of Emerging Technologies in Learning is on "Creative Learning with Serious Games".

Here are the contents:
Creative Learning with Serious Games (Aristides Protopsaltis, Lucia Pannese, Sonja Hetzner, Dimitra Pappa, Sara De Freitas)

Emotions in Serious Games: From Experience to Assessment (Luigi Anolli, Fabrizia Mantovani, Linda Confalonieri, Antonio Ascolese, L.Peveri)

The Character of Successful Trainings with Serious Games (Till Becker)

Towards a Framework for Learning in the OSMA Serious Game Engine(Tanguy Coenen, Evelyn Cloosen, Veerle Van der Sluys, Frederik Smolders)

Designing Effective Serious Games: Opportunities and Challenges for Research (Francesco Bellotti, Riccardo Berta, Alessandro De Gloria)

The Use of Competition and Creativity as Key Driver to Promote Scientific Culture among Students (Alberto Colorni, Susanna Sancassani, Simona Azzali, Nicola Padovani,
Alessandra Tomasini)

Thursday, 25 November 2010

It took more than courage to drive like this...

Amazing U-turn...

Saturday, 20 November 2010

Green School

A report from ABC (an Australia broadcaster) here.

A talk on TED:

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Free energy

A basic principle in Physics, at least in the realm of our everyday size, energy is conserved. That means that perpetual machine is an impossibility. However, here are two videos on youTube which claims to produce free energy with over millions of views.

Power is not just voltage. Power is voltage times current. By increasing the number of turns in the rotor, we can get a higher induced e.m.f, ie voltage. But once a load is applied, there will be a current and the current will generate a force to oppose the motion and hence stopping the rotor. So far, no one has just demonstrably show a perpetual machine, not to mention extracting additional energy out of the machine.

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Changing Education Paradigms


Monday, 27 September 2010

Creativity - with an evolutionary twists

Why are the most complex organisms on this planet reproduce sexually?

As we move into the era of ideas, we can copy evolution and let ideas to have sex.

The answer is the exchange of ideas. The ability to combine and recombine ideas.

I am presenting two ideas here. Can you let these ideas to have sex and try to produce a child-idea? How these idea sex impact on how we should teach?

Thursday, 23 September 2010

Steven Johnson: Where good ideas come from

Thursday, 9 September 2010

You never know, you can learn something everyday....

What do you do when it is difficult to find a parking lot?

Saturday, 3 July 2010

RSA Animate - The Empathic Civilisation

Thursday, 1 July 2010

Can you erase data on your hard drive using a magnet?

Neodymium Magnets are strong magnets. In an experiment by one of such magnets' seller, we would expect a positive result. Well, K & J Magnetics did an experiment trying to erase the data of a harddisk.

With the hard drive running, we were not able to disrupt the contents of the drive at all. 100% of the files were completely intact and accurate. This result completely surprised us!

My own explanation is that the metal case of the harddisk, being magnetic, acts as a magnetic Faraday cage protecting the media inside the harddisk.

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

Is the day of hand writing over?

People has been twittering for a while now. How about filing in forms on paper? i don't know if it natively supports this, but it would just be a matter of sweeping this device over the form, right?

Monday, 7 June 2010

Data gathering for future argmented reality

This is a crowdsourced project to put old photos or stories overlay on top of google street maps.
Thinks about how awesome this could be in a few years when there’s an augmented reality app for cell phones.- source

Friday, 28 May 2010

Science literacy

Donald Bell at CNet wrote

More-concrete specs are now taking shape, including an ambitiously low power rating of 1 watt per hour (compared with the 5 watts per hour required by the OLPC laptop) [my emphasis]

"Watt" is a power unit. It is defined as 1 Joule per second. Watt per hour means nothing here. From the context, the new XO-3 tablet will consume only 1 watt or 3600J per hour.

As a senior editor at CNET, Bell should have at least an elementary knowledge of science to get the units right.

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

learning Revolution

Thursday, 15 April 2010

Future of ebook reader

If nothing else, this will be a very good ebook reader. The Pixel Qi display is readable under direct sunlight.

Monday, 22 March 2010

Food to life as computer to education

What would be your response when you received a notice from school something similar to the following email?

From: Margaret Bennett
Date: Friday 22 August 2009 3.40pm
To: David Thorne
Subject: computer room

Hello David
I tried to call you but your phone is off. Just letting you know that Seb bought a flash drive to school yesterday and copied a game onto the school computers which is against the school rules and he has been banned from using the computer room for the rest of the term.
Sincerely, Margaret

Here are some responses from the parent, taken out of context and order. You can read the actual transcript here.

I was not aware that my offspring taking software to school was in breach of school rules. Although the game is strategic and public domain, not to mention that it was I who copied and gave it to him, I agree that banning him from access to the computers at school is an appropriate punishment. Especially considering his enthusiasm for the subject.
Also, though physical discipline is not longer administered in the public school system, it would probably be appropriate in this instance if nobody is watching. I know from experience that he can take a punch.
[in next email exchange]
Also, if you happen to see Seb eating anything over the next few weeks, please remove the food from him immediately. He forgot to feed his turtle last week and I feel a month without food will help him understand both the importance of being a responsible pet owner and the effects of malnutrition.
Did the teacher get the message from the parent? Apparent yes,... but...
From: Margaret Bennett
Date: Wednesday 27 August 2009 2.05pm
To: David Thorne
Subject: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: computer room

I have no idea what your point is. I will speak to the principal about the ban but you have to understand that only government approved software is allowed on the computers and Seb knew this rule.

Here is the reply:
From: David Thorne
Date: Wednesday 27 August 2009 2.17pm
To: Margaret Bennett
Subject: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: computer room

Dear Maggie,
I understand the need for conformity. Without a concise set of rules to follow we would probably all have to resort to common sense. Discipline is the key to conformity and it is important that we learn not to question authority at an early age.
Just this week I found a Sue Townsend novel in Seb's bag that I do not believe is on the school approved reading list. Do not concern yourself about it making its way to the school yard though as we attended a community book burning last night. Although one lady tried to ruin the atmosphere with comments regarding Mayan codices and the Alexandrian Libraries, I mentioned to the High Magus that I had overheard her discussing spells to turn the village cow's milk sour and the mob took care of the rest.
Regards, David.

And finally:
From: Margaret Bennett
Date: Thursday 28 August 2009 11.56am
To: David Thorne
Subject: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: computer room

I have spoken to the principal and in this instance we will lift the ban.

Since education has become a public good and most schools are funded from the public purse, the salary of the teachers have fallen to the point that any university entrant applicant would be considered irrational to apply for a place in the education faculty if this is not the last choice. How can we continue our prosperity with the coming under performing citizens?

Saturday, 20 March 2010

Role-based E-learning: A Guide to Designing and Moderating Online Role Plays (Paperback)

A new book on role-based e-learning, from your truely, co-authored with Sandra Wills and Elyssebth Leigh will be available from Amazon from December 2010. From the Introduction:

This book offers an overview of a form of blended e-learning which provides students with authentic learning experiences through role-based activities. It describes a particular approach to learning design that places learners in roles requiring them to collaborate and communicate about actions and decisions within authentic scenarios created in online environments. The chapters offer advice, information and examples for educators moving role play into blended e-learning contexts and to those who are unfamiliar with role play. The book demonstrates in a practical ways how role-based e-learning builds on the pedagogical power of role play in face to face situations and shows how to add value to e-learning via wholly online and/or blended contexts.
Whilst this Introduction defines online role play in contrast to the more familiar mode of face to face role play, Chapter 1 Games, simulations and role plays positions this role-based e-learning alongside recognised learning designs such as problem-based learning and case-based learning and illustrates its connections with other online modes such as simulations and games. In addition it provides a more in-depth look at the educational rationale for role-based e-learning.
The three authors each have over twenty years experience with designing and researching role-based e-learning allowing them to describe examples of how role plays have developed over that period and been adapted as e-learning evolved. Altogether the book offers a comprehensive and non-technical introduction which is heavily informed by practice as well as research.

The book cites twenty-five examples, contributed by a network of international colleagues (listed in Appendix A). Examples cover a range of disciplines including: Education, Engineering, International Relations, Media, Journalism, Public Relations, Communications, Business, Environment, Health, Law, Language, Economics, History, Politics, and Geography. Many of these examples are described individually in Chapter 2 Examples of role-based e-learning to illustrate the possible similarities and differences and to compare the approaches of different role play designers from across the world.

Examples in Chapter 2 are referred to throughout the book and are labelled Example 2.1, Example 2.2 etc. In addition each chapter contains one or two examples relevant to the chapter’s theme and these are labelled according to their chapter number. The full description of Example 3.1 occurs in Chapter 3 but may be referenced in brief elsewhere in the book by citing its label (Example 3.1) in case the reader needs the full description again.

Appendix B contains a set of reflective questions for readers to use in reviewing each chapter. If this book is being used as a textbook in an education or design course, this appendix might lay the groundwork for group work and online discussion between learners. Appendix C describes a free role play available for educators to try with their classes.

A large part of the book is a practical guide to designing online role plays. Quality learning outcomes from this e-learning design depend on practical design choices. These decisions about design are overviewed at the conclusion of Chapter 2 and then described in detail in the next three chapters: Chapter 3 Designing online role plays, Chapter 4 Designing the problem and Chapter 5 Designing the roles and rules.

The design decisions that impact assessment are explored in Chapter 8 Assessing learning in online role play. Not all online role play designs require participants to be assessed however the learning design does provide unique opportunities to integrate powerful and authentic assessment tasks.

Meanwhile design decisions that affect the implementation and running of online role plays are explored in two chapters: Chapter 6 Moderating online role play and Chapter 7 Platforms for online role play.

A significant feature of role-based e-learning is that role play is a co-created learning activity. Once the educator has designed the initial scenario and roles, the remainder of the learning activity is further developed by the participants via typed dialogue in discussion forums. The success of this partnership between the learners and educators depends heavily on the experience and skill of the person running it, in this book called the Moderator.

Although cost-saving is not a primary reason for advocating online role play, co-creation also means that role-based learning can often be a low-cost educational technology, as outlined in Chapter 7, Platforms for online role play. Whilst the pioneering development of online role play has been text-based, and there are many advantages in this, online role play is now poised to engage with the exciting potential of Web 2.0 applications which support easy sharing of user-generated, multimedia content.

Innovation in teaching can be a time-consuming and risky venture therefore Chapter 9 Evaluating and researching online role play provides advice and support to educators needing to know that their design is effective, efficient, and easy to use. Examples and techniques in the chapter provide the evidence base for deciding whether it was worth the time and effort and what aspects could be improved next time.

The book concludes with a look at what impact current trends in e-learning may have on the future for role-based e-learning. While future development will of course be influenced by changes in the type of technology and how we use it, Chapter 10, Future trends for role-based e-learning, also looks at the potential impact of advancements, based on research, in both the way the learner-educator relationship is viewed and the role of educational institutions.

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Converting classroom courses to online

Use a print-based framework for your finished product; however, augment the print-based material with short audio-video tutorials (created with Adobe Captivate) that show students the piece of software in action.

The context of why there is a need to convert from an existing instructor-led course to an online one is unclear, nor is the content and audience. It is very difficult to give a general advise on what is the best approach. However, in a training situation, we are not dealing with people who are 'blank slates". They are not here to "absorb information". "Using printed material and short audio-visual tutorials" is based on an information delivery model which seldom produces lasting changes.

This is a golden opportunity to rethink the kind of training which will produce lasting changes. The key to success in training is to utilise the existing expertise of the "learners" and generate an environment in which the participants can share, learn from each other and the new material to be discovered as they collaboratively work on tasks similar to the target situation when the training is completed. If someone can supply a concert example, I may be able to illustrate what I mean.

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

When data is free...

Friday, 26 February 2010


Here is a little joke which started me thinking...

An older man goes into the Doctor’s surgery.

They always ask at the doctor's reception why you are there, and you have to answer in front of others what's wrong and it can be embarrassing.

There's nothing worse than a Doctor's Receptionist who insists you tell her what is wrong with you, in a room full of other patients. I know most of us have experienced this, and here's how one old guy handled it.

A 75-year-old man walked into a crowded waiting room and approached the desk. The Receptionist said, "Yes sir, what are you seeing the Doctor for today?"

"There's something wrong with my penis," he replied.

The receptionist became irritated and said, "You shouldn't come into a crowded waiting room and say a thing like that."

"Why not, you asked me what was wrong and I just told you," he said.

The Receptionist replied, archly; "Now you've caused some embarrassment in this room full of people. You should have said there is something wrong with your ear or something and then discussed the problem further with the Doctor in private."

The man replied, "And you shouldn't ask people questions - in a roomful of strangers - if the answer could embarrass anyone." The man turned, walked out, waited several minutes, and then re-entered.

The Receptionist smiled smugly and asked, "Yes?"

"There's something wrong with my ear," he stated.

The Receptionist nodded approvingly and smiled, knowing he had taken her advice. "And what is wrong with your ear, Sir?"

"You may not understand this, but I seem to be having a problem peeing out of it!" he replied.

What is wrong here?

Saying the word "penis" in front of strangers? It is just an organ which half of the world population has and most of the other half knows about. What is so embarrassing about it?

Or is it about such question should not be asked in the first place? Why the receptionist needs to know? Assign an appropriate doctor to look after the man?

Or is it about one should not answer a question honestly?

The joke started me thinking ....


Peom by Taylor Mali


In the age of Google, if you don't know something for more than ten minutes it's your own fault. - Unknown

Saturday, 20 February 2010

Science resources

Cassiopeia Project are videos available for science teachers which anyone can use for free.

Dome construction

This can be a very good science/mathematics project

Monday, 8 February 2010

Reflection - Peer Instruction

It has been a few days since I watched the Peer Instuction. The lessons learnt can be summarized below:

1. We should start advocating evidence-based instruction design. This is NOT news, but have educators been serious about evaluating the effectiveness of the learning design based on measurable student achievements?

2. The key to success of the peer instruction is to get the students to discuss with their peers about the answer to questions the lecturer put on. Obviously, the number of questions used per lecture is limited by time and hence directly limit on the coverage of the course.
- The choice is between cover with no understand and small cover but with deep understand.
- The quality of the learning depends on the challenges provided to the students by the questions. This is reflected in the formulation of the questions. Two inputs were used in the question formulation:current students and from previous cohorts' examination answers.

3. In the video, Mazur did not explain the effectiveness of the model answer he gave after the student discussion. I would guess it may be the assuring part for the students, its effect would be more like a re-inforcement than learning.

Areas for online compliment:
I am thinking of making this online in order to scale up and remove the limitation of time which in terms limited the coverage. For discussion, it is best to be done face to face among the students. Here is what I suggest.

Students are asked to form study groups. Study groups will be required to meet regularly with or without the supervision within set time intervals. I suggest initially it is better done in a lecture hall setting for the first meeting - similar or the same as peer instruction as described by Mazur, then the study groups will meet under supervision for the next few times. After that the students should be able to organise a mutually convenient time on their own but within the set time interval.

At a fixed time, the students are asked to read a prescribed text and post questions which they found they have problems. These will be used to formulate the questions to be used in the meetings.

Based on the input from the students and from previous cohorts, questions are formulated and put online at the beginning of the meeting time intervals.

During meetings, all the questions will be presented to the study group (via online web page) and each group can decide on the priority of the questions. This can be done within the first 5 minutes. Then the questions will be presented one by one according to the study group's priority. When a question is presented, each member of the study group must put in an answer independent - via the web page. If all the answers are the same - there is not a lot of disagreement among the member. A model answer is shown for them to check if their reasoning is in line with the expectation. If the answers for the questions are different, there is a valuable learning opportunity. It would be better to let the students spend more time on this question. Again, they are asked to discuss face to face. They should try to arrive at a mutually agreed answer. The agreed answer is then put into the web page. If the agreed answer is correct, the students should be congratulated. If not, the students are given another chance to discuss and find another mutually agreed answer. After the second mutually agreed answer is keyed in, the model answer is shown.

This structure will enable the students to focus on areas which they have problems. The articulation among the students is in accord with Laurillard's conversation model. Time is saved if the problem presented is not a problem for this group of students and allow time to use effectively for those questions with problem of understanding.

In an institutional setting, the study group should meet for a minimum time as prescribed by the course. But if the students are willing to spend more time, they can continue with the rest of the questions.

Thursday, 4 February 2010

Peer Instruction

I have just spent 1:20:00 watching the following youTube. The method is brilliant. It can be used in almost every subject. I don't want to spoil the fun of watching it. If you are really have no time, highlight the white area below the movie, I have a summary there which should take about 10 sec. to read.

The students are asked to read a prescribed text before class. During the class, a problem is presented. The students are to remain silence for about 1 minute to think about the problem. Vote the answer. Discuss with neighbour. Vote again. Lecturer explains the solution. Repeat. The important point about these problems are they focus on conceptual understanding, not "receipt substitution".

The Fringe Benefits of Failure, and the Importance of Imagination

by J.K. Rowling at 2008 Harvard Commencement Meeting
Absolutely inspiring and brilliant. The full text is also available from the link above.

Now, I am not going to stand here and tell you that failure is fun. That period of my life was a dark one, and I had no idea that there was going to be what the press has since represented as a kind of fairy tale resolution. I had no idea then how far the tunnel extended, and for a long time, any light at the end of it was a hope rather than a reality.

So why do I talk about the benefits of failure? Simply because failure meant a stripping away of the inessential. I stopped pretending to myself that I was anything other than what I was, and began to direct all my energy into finishing the only work that mattered to me. Had I really succeeded at anything else, I might never have found the determination to succeed in the one arena I believed I truly belonged. I was set free, because my greatest fear had been realised, and I was still alive, and I still had a daughter whom I adored, and I had an old typewriter and a big idea. And so rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.

I shall never forget the African torture victim, a young man no older than I was at the time, who had become mentally ill after all he had endured in his homeland. He trembled uncontrollably as he spoke into a video camera about the brutality inflicted upon him. He was a foot taller than I was, and seemed as fragile as a child. I was given the job of escorting him back to the Underground Station afterwards, and this man whose life had been shattered by cruelty took my hand with exquisite courtesy, and wished me future happiness.

And as long as I live I shall remember walking along an empty corridor and suddenly hearing, from behind a closed door, a scream of pain and horror such as I have never heard since. The door opened, and the researcher poked out her head and told me to run and make a hot drink for the young man sitting with her. She had just had to give him the news that in retaliation for his own outspokenness against his country’s regime, his mother had been seized and executed.

Monday, 1 February 2010

Oscillating chemical reactions

Belousov-Zhabotinsky reaction

Mercury beating heart

Friday, 29 January 2010

RC star

This is a remote controlled plane made from pieces of garbage. It really flies too.

Why don't school science classes have students designing some of these?

Sunday, 24 January 2010

Now that's is new

CNN 360o video which you can pause, explore then continue.

Any educational use, people?

Monday, 18 January 2010

Bill Clinton speaks at Harvard

Bill Gates Speech at Harvard

Thursday, 14 January 2010

Emergency preparedness

Watch the following video and pay attention to the tone of the pilot.

Imagine you were a passenger sitting on the rear left window seat and saw the puffing flame from the left engine. What would you do?

We were unable to hear the messages the pilot would have given to the passengers. But if you were the pilot, why you could be calm and what would you do?


Thursday, 7 January 2010


Here are two talks from TED on aging. The first one predicts that at a certain point in the future when science is able to repair the damages due to metabolism faster than the generation of these damages, human can live as long as s/he likes.

The second talk looks at areas in the world where there are exceptionally many people over 100 years old. In particular, draws out the nine basic characteristics in these "blue zones" to give us a hint of how we can live longer.

Wednesday, 6 January 2010

The neuron basis of learning

from TED