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 β€” 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… πŸ™‚

Reflections: Session Eight.

In the same vein as the previous post, this post will concentrate on the activities carried out in Session Eight, in order to sum up what we learnt during that session so as to segue into the next post (and allow me to finally catch up with the few weeks of blogging that I missed!).

This session saw us wrap up the section on peer demos, a part of this course that I quite enjoyed because it allowed everyone to share a bit of what they knew about ICT and its usage in educational pedagogy.

The second half of the session saw us venture into the world of Second Life. (SL) I say “venture” because I’ve never experienced it, although I had heard about SL. before our experience in class. Perhaps the impetus to find out what it was about was never really there, largely because of often derisive comments made by other people such as ‘Why don’t you just concentrate on your First Life?’ So I guess another thing I appreciate about this course is how it acts as a somewhat neutral platform to introduce new aspects of the Web to us, which means that we have a bigger ‘basket’ of tools to pick and choose from in our future roles as teachers.

Anyway, we have been tasked with the following assignment, which is to select, embed, and critique an online video on the educational possibilities of SL in our course blog. This is the video that I have selected:

I thought this video was very well-produced, though the narration could’ve been improved on. Nevertheless, it was the content that struck me, because it opened up many more possibilities for SL to be used in the classroom. A few of the topics which were discussed in the video had already been highlighted in class by Dr Tan, namely:

  • the idea of helping to broaden your students’ education by ‘bringing’ your students on visits to places like the Sistine Chapel in a virtual fashion, as the cost involved in physically going there would be prohibitive, and
  • allowing your students to ‘explore’ the places/things that they are studying in class e.g. the inside of a computer so as to literally provide a more holistic perspective to their education.

The educational possibility of SL which the video discussed and which I found most relevant was the idea of role-play and drama in SL. I have been and will be using these two approaches in my teaching, due to my interest in these two approaches, and also because of the nature of my Curriculum Studies subjects – English Literature and English Language.

I’m glad I watched the video because it started me thinking about one possible application of this approach to teaching in schools – one of the complaints students always have is about the accessibility of the text they have to study. YouTube is already able to bridge that gap through the use of user-created videos such as this one on “Dulce Et Decorum Est” by Wilfred Owen:

After watching the first video on SL embedded above, I started to think: what if SL could take this one step further, and allow students to ‘role-play’ the poem itself? We could recreate the World War I environment in SL, and get students to change the clothing of their avatars to that of World War I soldier uniforms. We could allow students to take part in a mock battle where bullets flew, mortars pounded down on the soldiers, mustard gas was released, etc. It is a scenario that is very much in line with the atmosphere and narrative of the poem, but at the same time, a situation which we definitely would not want to be involved in in real life. SL would thus make it more feasible for us to carry out the above-mentioned simulation as a means of helping the students ‘get into’ the text.

As good as this might sound, I must state a few possible caveats to this: scripting is definitely going to be a problem (it will take me a while to learn how to script in SL, seeing how long it took me to learn rudimentary CSS). Also, who is going to pay for the land to carry out the scripting? I’m not trying to be a naysayer here, but these are possible issues that we must consider at the same time as we think about educational possibilities for students.

Nevertheless, I’m a firm believer in working through problems step by step, and I’m sure these issues can be resolved one step at a time. In any case, SL itself is still developing, still maturing, so we’ll all have time to sort out these kinks as we also evolve in our journey as teachers.

(For my own use in future – links that I found with possible educational value but didn’t manage to add into this post because of time/space constraints: