Reflections: Session Eleven + Twelve / Last shot out?

Almost forgot to do this but will bash out a quick post as I have my Ed Psych assignment waiting for me.

We’ve come to the end of the ICT course and I will miss it quite a bit as it was one of the few courses in NIE that could engage me fully (and I’m not just talking about the assignments).

The walkabout sessions were very fruitful and I’m glad to have had a chance to partake in our classmates’ projects (as well as their makan 🙂 because their discoveries also opened new doors/made new inroads into education and ICT for me.

For Session 11, Jo-Ann, Frank and Terence’s group as well as Anjali, Andrew and Shah’s group had the most memorable presentations for me, partly because the subject matter they touched on were relevant to my teaching subjects, and partly because they best demonstrated engaged learning using ICT.

Session 12 was when my group had its presentation, and you can view our finished product here. My take-away from our presentation was Dr Tan’s comments about Wordle – in our haste, perhaps we didn’t realise that Wordle itself could be used as a tool for teaching students.

How we could enable this was through running a compiled list of student responses through Wordle and examining which were the keywords that came out the most. From here, students would be able to tell if they were on track or could improve in terms of, say, their character analysis.

(We can’t update our pages anymore, but I thought I’d note this down here, sort of as a means of filing this bit of information away as future reference.)

Anyway… Is this the end then?

Maybe not.

George Eliot wrote in Middlemarch that “Every limit is a beginning as well as an ending” (832). Or if you’d prefer a pop culture reference, Semisonic sings in “Closing Time” that “Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end”.

(Or if you want really mind-boggling stuff: The Smashing Pumpkins “The End is the Beginning is the End”. Is the Beginning? Is the End?! Lol.)

I started this blog earlier saying that I wanted to see what it would grow into, and I think I’m starting to see where it’s headed: like Dr Tan, I think I might want to use this space to blog about education.

I’m not too firm about my decision yet because I’m always worried about the boundaries between what is ‘safe’ and what isn’t, in terms of discussing work and the organisation.

But one thing for sure is this: like most of my life, I always find out what to do as I go along, so if anything, this is the approach I’m going to adopt for now.

With that, it’s goodnight, not goodbye.

Oh wait – I still have an essay to write. Damn. Er, oops, I mean: Yay!

Reflections: Session Ten.

  1. Our group’s mind map on our thoughts and lessons learnt at the COTF.

    (Please click to enlarge.)

  2. How do you think your tutor has attempted to engage you in this course?

    Using the categories listed on the MOE website, I have seen the following emerge from the tutor’s efforts:

    1. Collaboration with others, where one example would be informed group decisions. We had opportunities to share our opinions on classrooms issues (e.g. the latest online poll we just had on the lesson assignment deadline) so that we are involved in structuring our own learning. I think this is important because it gives students a sense of ownership of the lessons, thus motivating them to want to participate more actively in the classroom.
    2. Meaning making with scaffolds, where each subsequent lesson builds on the knowledge gained in the previous one. This course has one of the best-scaffolded lesson structures I have ever had, and I’m not saying this just to polish any apples – I mean it from the bottom of my heart. My experience and realisation of what good scaffolding really means came about during the Individual Essay Assignment. As I was writing the paper, I realised – hey, this essay has been much easier to do compared to the other essays I’ve done before, precisely because we were given prior opportunities to carry out research + knowledge building. What’s more, those opportunities were also part of the evaluation schema, so we were effectively killing two birds with one stone. I’m a big fan of efficacy, so I was really bought over by this concept, and it’s something I aim to carry on doing in the future.
    3. Real world learning contexts, where we are challenged to create lessons using ICT tools that we ourselves find useful, so that we can conduct classes that are meaningful and have an impact on students, in order to enhance their learning.
    4. Evaluating on-going performance, as exemplified by this blog. I am constantly testing out new ideas and questioning old ones in order to push the limits of teaching. As I type this statement, I am forced to consider: are there any limits in the first place, or are said limits set by our own fears?
  3. Which of these strategies might you use in future and why?

    Ideally, I’d like to use all these strategies in the future. However, we don’t live in a perfect world, and changes are bound to occur. So perhaps a more moderate viewpoint might be useful here, one that might state that we carry out each strategy to meet the needs of students, if it is desired that these needs must be met, according to the environments and contexts that both the students and I are located in.

Reflections: Session Nine.

  1. You watched the video on iN2015, read the resources on Second Life and experienced it, and visited the COTF. What sort of impressions, fears, or possibilities crossed your mind?

    If the future is what we have seen in the video on iN2015 and the COTF, then I totally cannot wait for the future to arrive! Lol.

    I’m a person who loves efficiency and efficacy in everyday life, and am always searching for ways to optimise or enhance the way I do things. Both the video and the COTF show the future to be one that is open to multiple possibilities in terms of learning, such as learning about physics through computer gaming or accessing traffic information on the windshield of one’s car.

    By the way, the latter is something I really hope becomes a reality; I was just talking to my friend about it when we were stuck in a traffic jam the other day. My point was that jams were mainly caused by a lack of information about alternatives; if we had information about which roads were blocked and what alternative roads we could to, jams would slowly become things of the past.

    Perhaps this would be a good analogy about education too? As long as people realise that they have alternatives to traditional classroom teaching, information or educational ‘jams’, where teachers feel that they aren’t able to get through to their students, will also be alleviated.

  2. What is learning like in the COTF? What might learning be like in Singapore in 2015?

    Learning in the COTF is really fun! We were able to use UMPCs (I hope I got the term right) to ‘access’ various forms of information and ‘connect’ to students and professors from around the world. It also showed us how we’d be able to create a greater interactive learning platform for students and teachers, as part of the quest to engage ‘Digital Natives’ through new styles of learning.

    A digression here, but I’d like to pose this question to anyone who happens to read this post: do you think of yourself as a Digital Native or a Digital Immigrant? For non-QED522 folk, some background information available here.

    After reading the article, I realised that I may very likely be a Digital Native myself. I grew up using computers – I can remember using QBASIC, Windows 3.1, etc. – and was also a big technology buff – the GP essays I used to do well in were always about technology (a fact that I should have capitalised on but failed to do so… Grrr.) So I guess I’m quite lucky because I was able to straddle both ends of the ‘divide’ – I’m still clued in on how to use traditional or ‘old-school’ methods of teaching/learning, but I’m also able to utilise the tools of the present and the future.

    In any case, I hope to be able to use my knowledge and my position as someone in the middle to reach out to students in the future. I think this is a good segue into the second portion of the question, which is: what might learning in Singapore be like in 2015?

    I don’t doubt that we’d have embraced newer forms of technology, but whether we’d be able to go the whole hog and have our environment structured in the way the environment seems to be structured in the iN2015 video still remains to be determined.

    Nevertheless, I’m sure learning in Singapore in 2015 will still retain some of that spirit as embodied in the video: independent study through leverage on new technologies, greater interaction between learners and even between learners and teachers (for as Prenskey put it, very aptly I must say, “As a result of their experiences Digital Natives crave interactivity — an immediate response to their each and every action”), etc.

  3. How is NIE preparing you for such environments? How might you prepare yourself as a teacher?

    At the moment, it very much feels like QED522 is the only way in which NIE has been preparing us for such environments. As Dr Tan and Vincent noted, other teachers in other modules still aren’t on the boat yet. Some of my friends who are in other QED522 tutorial groups aren’t even aware about educational gaming; when I tell them that we get to experience the Wii in class, they are utterly flabbergasted.

    So I guess NIE could do more in preparing us for such environments. Nevertheless, I’ve never liked being ‘spoonfed’. I’m not saying that I don’t like going for classes, but I don’t believe in taking what the teacher has said in class as the be-all and end-all. Instead, I’d rather take what the teacher has said in class as the point of departure for my own learning.

    In this spirit, I believe that if we were to find ourselves in this current situation, then we’d also have to depend on our own ingenuity to make things happen. Hence, one of the ways in which we might prepare ourselves for future learning environments would simply be to roll up our sleeves and get down and dirty with it – experience the technologies ourselves.

    On that note, I’d like to proudly say that I’ve just downloaded Second Life and have obtained an account for myself. If you see an avatar called Laremy Braveheart running around sans clothing, remember to say hi. I’d like to expound on why my avatar is naked, but duty calls; I have to be off now in order that I can better prepare myself as a teacher for the future. Heh heh heh… 🙂