Friday, March 27, 2009

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Deductive & Inductive

Which kind of thinking (and teaching!) do you use more often? In which contexts? How do we develop a better mix?

Guy Kawasaki's Teriyaki Chicken

1-minute videos on cooking - should our Hotel students give this a try? (Go to Start Cooking for more)

A 60-Second Video Tutorial?

The below is a very short video pitching an email management solution. How about something similar to explain college courses?
"If a picture is worth a thousand words, our sixty-second tutorial is worth 10,000." (Sabrina Parson, CEO, Palo Alto Software)

Email Center Pro from Atelier Transfert on Vimeo.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Educating for Character

The Educating for Character Conference in Singapore yielded many worthwhile reminders on the need to have that one simple thing professionals keep forgetting: Have good manners.

Hal Urban's teachings mirror Stephen Covey's (the creator of the 7 Habits) in that he urges us to return to the hard journey of character ethics i.e. success is a function of deep change from the inside-out, not superficial performances (what Covey called 'personality ethics').

Teachers with character will, among other things:
  • start teaching at the classroom door (i.e. they won't wait until they're inside the class to being imparting good character lessons to their students)

  • teach manners, especially the Golden Rule

  • ensure that the atmosphere is rid of "toxic elements" (such as complaining, gossiping, back-stabbing, etc.)

  • help students to own and honor the rules

  • laugh with their students

  • help students set lifetime goals

  • find something to celebrate every day

  • encourage students to write mission-statements

  • improve their teaching (and their role as teachers) every year

Urban reminded his listeners about the important difference between being STRICT and being MEAN.

He also shared some NLP-related techniques in addressing student boredom and dislike for homework and hand-outs. He encourage students, each time they were about to get a hand-out, to exclaim excitedly, "OH, BOY! ANOTHER FANTASTIC HAND-OUT!!". Also, instead of asking, "Do we HAVE to do homework today?", students should say, "Do we GET to do homework today?!"

Delightful quotes from the conference include:
  • "Goals are dreams with deadlines"
  • "The Golden Rule rules"

  • "No discounts - everyone counts"

  • "No one ever went wrong by being polite"

  • "Comfort Zone - NO PARKING"

TLC is glad to champion the cause of character education at KDU, to promote good manners, a healthy social environment (with less complaining!) for an even better and more fulfilling educational milieu in the college.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Tom Peters on Education

Do you agree with Peters? What's good and/or bad about our present ways of education?

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Why Bad Times Nurture New Inventions

What kinds of businesses thrive in recessionary times? How do entrepreneurs get a running start in a recession? The New York Times offers 5 views from:

1. Amar Bhidé, professor of business
2. Scott Reynolds Nelson, history professor
3. Rita Gunther McGrath, professor of management
4. Don Kelly, patent agent
5. Martin Lindstrom, marketing consultant

Stimulus Package for Post-Grad Students

Kian Ming at Education Malaysia blog shares his opinion:

One area affected by the mini-budget or stimulus package that was announced yesterday is postgraduate education in Malaysia. All the details are not out yet but here are some of my preliminary thoughts based on the following Star report.

Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said it would finance tuition fees and research grants up to RM20,000 for every student pursuing a PhD locally and RM10,000 for students pursuing a Master’s programme.

“A total of 500 places at PhD level and 10,000 at Masters level in public universities as well as at Universiti Tenaga Nasional, Multimedia University and Universiti Teknologi Petronas will be offered,” he said.

Higher Education Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Khaled Nordin was happy that the stimulus package took into the consideration the needs and problems faced by fresh graduates during the current economic slowdown.

“Not only are there several schemes for unemployed graduates, the Government is also helping them further their studies by providing financial aid,” he said at the Parliament lobby.

Right off the bat, I want to state that I am not against increasing the number of postgraduate students in Malaysia. In fact, this is probably a necessary step if we want to increase the R&D capacity in our country. But there are a few caveats here, caveats which I have discussed before in previous posts. These include - having a sufficient number of professors who can teach and guide these postgrad students and having a selection process that is rigorous enough such that only well-qualified students are admitted into these postgrad programs.

The remarks of the Higher Education minister do not inspire confidence in me. It seems to me that he sees the increase in the number of postgrad places in our public universities as a way to decrease graduate unemployment. In fact, his remarks seem to imply that these scholarships should be given to unemployed graduates!

In any economic downturn, especially in the US context, a larger number fresh graduates will opt to go to graduate school because the opportunity costs associated with grad school is lower - fewer high paying jobs under current market conditions and so on. But many of these students, especially those who can get into the top graduate programs, would have found a job if they didn't choose to go to grad school albeit one which may not meet their high expectations. These are not students who go to grad school because the alternative would be unemployment.

Perhaps the Higher Education Minister was quoted out of context but it really does seem to me that he doesn't 'get' postgrad degrees. He may really think that it's a good solution to solve unemployment in the country. If these students cannot get a job in the private sector or in government, why not ship them off to do postgrad degrees which we i.e. the taxpayer will foot the bill for?

At least the Education Minister seems to 'get' the picture a little bit better:

Meanwhile, Education Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein said the 1,000 additional posts for graduate teachers, who would be hired on contract, would enable the ministry to address the shortage of teachers in certain sectors.

These teachers will be put to productive use, hopefully, in areas where there are teacher shortages, both geographically as well as by subject. The academic 'bar', so to speak, may not be as high as that needed for a PhD student.

The costs associated with selecting a large group of students who are unsuitable for PhD programs are far greater to the taxpayer as well as in terms of human resource management. There may be high drop out rates, dropping of standards to allow sub-par students to obtain their PhDs, frustrated PhD students who are not well guided by their professors, etc...

1-Minute Pitch for World's Best Job

By now many should've heard of the "Best Job in the World" on the Great Barrier Reef in Australia.

In order to get an interview for this dream gig, participants do not send in a resume and an essay (boring), but instead submit 60-second video presentations explaining who they are why they should be selected. Here are a few samples - should our students be encouraged to do the same?

Bloom's Digital Taxonomy (v3.0)

Check out the third version.

Text & Narration on Screen

Delhi has world's worst air

"...New Delhi has the world’s worst air pollution. But don’t gloat, all you China boosters out there: Beijing is right behind India’s capital at No. 2. And there are four Chinese cities in the top twenty. Five, if you throw in Hong Kong, which ECA puts at No. 10, sandwiched between Guangzhou and Xian.

"Fortunately, there’s some good news for Indians in the new report, since ECA puts Chennai at No. 6 on its list of cities that have made the most progress fighting air pollution in the past five years. Three of the top four on the most-improved list are Asian: Tokyo is No. 1 on that list, Taipei is No. 2 and Seoul is No. 4. (Sydney is No. 3.) Not to minimize the hard work that Japanese, Taiwanese and Koreans have put in to eliminate smog, but it’s no coincidence that they’re doing better at the same time China’s cities are doing worse.

"When you shift most of your low-end manufacturing to another country, chances are good that your air will get cleaner."

Photo Quote

Monday, March 16, 2009

World Competitiveness Scoreboard 2008

Compiled by IMD, a business school based in Lausanne, Switzerland. Guess Malaysia's ranking.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

10 Steps to Better Student Engagement

Tristan de Frondeville shares:

Create an Emotionally Safe Classroom

Students who have been shamed or belittled by the teacher or another student will not effectively engage in challenging tasks. Consider having a rule such as "We do not put others downs, tell others to shut up, or laugh at people." Apply it to yourself as well as your students. This is the foundation of a supportive, collaborative learning environment. To learn and grow, one must take risks, but most people will not take risks in an emotionally unsafe environment.

Create an Intellectually Safe Classroom
Begin every activity with a task that 95 percent of the class can do without your help. Get your students used to the fact that when you say, "Please begin," they should pick up a pencil and start working successfully. This gets everyone on the bus. Then make sure your students know that these initial easy tasks will always be followed by increasingly challenging ones. Create rich and complex tasks so that various students have a chance to excel and take on the role of helping others.

Cultivate Your Engagement Meter
Be acutely aware of when your students are paying strong attention or are deeply engaged in their tasks. Master teachers create an active-learning environment in which students are on task in their thinking and speaking or are collaboratively working close to 100 percent of the time. Such teachers notice and measure not only when students are on task but also the quality of their engagement.

Although it may take years to develop the repertoire of skills and lessons that enable you to permanently create this active-learning environment, you can begin by discerning which activities truly engage your students. The more brutally honest you are with yourself, the faster you will get there.

Create Appropriate Intermediate Steps
The first question I ask educators when I coach them on project learning is how many of their students say, "We can't wait to do another project," versus "Oh, no! Not another project." Teachers tend to get the first response when they scaffold challenging tasks so that all students are successful.

For example, take the typical task of interviewing an adult outside the classroom. Some teachers assign the task on Monday and expect it to be done the following Monday, confident that by including the weekend, they are providing sufficient support. Other teachers realize that finding, cold calling, and interviewing an adult are challenging tasks for most young people, so they create intermediate steps -- such as brainstorming, searching online for phone numbers, crafting high-quality interview questions, and role-playing the interview -- that train all students for success.

Practice Journal or Blog Writing to Communicate with Students
Japanese teachers highly value the last five minutes of class as a time for summarizing, sharing, and reflecting. A nice way to change the pace of your class is to have students write regular reflections on the work they have done. Encourage and focus their writing with a prompt, such as "The Muddiest Point and the Clearest Point: What was most confusing about the work you did today, and what new thing was the most clear?" Use this approach to guide future lessons and activities. Consider writing responses to student journal entries in order to carry on a conversation with students about their work.

Create a Culture of Explanation Instead of a Culture of the Right Answer
You know you have created a rich learning event when all students are engaged in arguing about the best approach to the assignment. When you use questions and problems that allow for multiple strategies to reach a successful outcome, you give students the opportunity to make choices and then compare their approaches. This strategy challenges them to operate at a higher level of thinking than when they can share only the "correct" answer. Avidly collect problems and tasks that have multiple paths to a solution. As a math teacher, I create problems that have a lot of numbers instead of the usual two. For example, I can present this problem:
5 + 13 + 24 - 8 + 47 - 12 + 59 - 31 - 5 + 9 - 46 - 23 + 32 - 60
Then I can say, "There are at least three fundamentally different strategies for doing the following problem. Can you find them all?"

Teach Self-Awareness About Knowledge
All subjects build on prior knowledge and increase in complexity at each successive level of mastery. Effective learning requires that certain skills and processes be available for quick recall. Many students let too much of their knowledge float in a sea of confusion and develop a habit of guessing, sometimes without even knowing that they are guessing.

To help students break this habit, paste the graphic at right next to each question on your assessments. After the students answer a question, have them place an X on the line to represent how sure they are that their answer is correct. This approach encourages them to check their answer and reflect on their confidence level. It is informative when they get it wrong but marked "for sure" or when they do the opposite and mark "confused" yet get the answer right.

Use Questioning Strategies That Make All Students Think and Answer
Pay a visit to many classrooms and you'll see a familiar scene: The teacher asks questions and, always, the same reliable hands raise up. This pattern lends itself to student inattention. Every day, include some questions you require every student to answer. Find a question you know everyone can answer simply, and have the class respond all at once.
You can ask students to put a finger up when they're ready to answer, and once they all do, ask them to whisper the answer at the count of three. They can answer yes, no, or maybe with a thumbs-up, thumbs-down, or thumbs-sideways gesture. That also works for "I agree," "I disagree," or "I'm not sure."

Numerical answers under ten are easy to show with fingers, but don't limit yourself to math questions. For instance, if you're teaching time management, have students let you know what their progress is halfway through the class by putting up one or more fingers to show whether they are one-, two-, or three-quarters done with the assignment, or finished. Do these exercises at least two or three times per class.

Practice Using the Design Process to Increase the Quality of Work
Students in school get used to doing work at a consistent level of quality. Unfortunately, low-performing students get used to doing poor-quality work. To help them break the habit, use a draft-and-revision process.

Many professionals use such a design process to increase the quality of their work. Engineers build prototypes, respond to critical feedback, and refine their design before going into production. Artists make sketches of big works and revise their ideas before creating their final piece. Use the design process to drive your students to produce higher-quality work than they are used to doing when they create only a first effort. Include peer evaluation as part of the feedback they receive.

Market Your Projects
When your students ask, "Why do we need to know this?" you must be ready with the best answer possible. Great projects incorporate authentic tasks that will help students in their lives, jobs, or relationships. Engage students by developing an inventory of big ideas to help you make the connections between your assignments and important life skills, expertise, high-quality work, and craftsmanship. The Partnership for 21st Century Skills provides a good starter list.
Also, search out the powerful processes and ideas experts in your own subject use repeatedly. (In math, for instance, my list includes generalizing and parts and wholes.) Keep a journal of the big ideas you've discovered simply by teaching your subject. By continually referring to these big ideas, you will encourage students to think and act like subject-matter experts and develop skills they will use throughout their lives.

40 Best Photographs from National Geographic (2008)

View more presentations from wolkanca.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Managing the Classroom

View more presentations from Alwyn Lau.

Hi-Tech/High-Touch Classrooms?!

Timed lifts, rotating platforms, underground staff-rooms - check out these fantastic creations from the SLATT participants at TLC 1, and their ideas on the 'ideal classroom' and a few principles/tactics of classroom management.

What do you think? What would be in your ideal class?

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Make me a child again (by Vittachi)

TO: God.
FROM: Nury Vittachi.
Dear Sir or Madam,

I am writing to apply for a new position. I realize you have not advertized any vacancies in the area in which I am interested, but I thought I would write in anticipation of a post becoming available.

The job I want to apply for is “Child”.

I realize that I am a little bit (okay, several decades) past the usual age for this position, but I believe I can be retrained.
Last week, I was crossing a pedestrian walkway with my child when we saw a beggar. I saw a smelly man flouting society’s conventions and speeded up my steps to pass as quickly as possible. My child saw a person in need and gave him a huge smile.

Then we crossed a car park. I saw a patch of dirty ground with oily puddles to be avoided. She saw rainbow-filled pools to be stirred into psychedelic patterns with the toe of her shoe.

Then we passed a group of men digging a large hole in the road. I saw an irritating danger to traverse. She saw a glimpse of the heart and lungs of the city and insisted on stopping to watch for a full eight minutes.

Then we headed to a shopping street for lunch. As a boringly predictable adult, I suggested Starbucks. But she smelled fried noodles and dragged me into a workmen’s cafe where we shared a really tasty meal for less than the price of one designer cappuccino.

Then I scanned the newspaper to look for cinemas, shopping malls or theme parks to visit. She decided “the fun-est thing to do” would be to take a ferry nowhere in particular and then take it straight back to where we started.

So that’s what we did. It WAS fun. And then we headed home.

On our journey, it became clear to me I am not cut out to be an Adult. How could I have got it so wrong? In my teen years, I believed I was born to be one. Not only was I growing taller, but my voice was getting deeper, my skin hairier and my birthdays greater in number. Drifting into Adulthood seemed natural.

However, I now realize this was a gross error. I had not fully considered the consequences.

So I resign from Adulthood with immediate effect. Please find enclosed my car keys, my house keys, my credit cards and my gold membership card to the Old Codgers’ Club.

I will no longer pretend to like subtitled European art house movies. When asked what my all-time favourite movie is, I shall admit to it being The Lion King.

I will no longer buy suits from tailors who offer me a choice of colors limited to grey, grey, grey or grey.

I will no longer pretend to enjoy books which have won the Booker Prize and will re-read The Magician’s Nephew.

I will no longer pretend I like sitting in bars late into the night discussing politics. I will go straight home after work and play Monopoly.

I will no longer eat organic lettuce drizzled with olive oil. I will have Coco Pops for dinner.

Why not join me? You might like it.


Friday, March 6, 2009

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Power-Point Rules

The 10/20/30 rule:

  • No more than 10 Slides
  • No more 20 minutes
  • No smaller than 30pt Font

The 7×7 Rule.

No more than 7 points on a slide
No more than 7 words on a point

Read more from Educational Origami

Three Kinds of Meetings

There are only three kinds of classic meetings (according to Seth Godin):

1. Information. This is a meeting where attendees are informed about what is happening (with or without their blessing). While there may be a facade of conversation, it's primarily designed to inform.

2. Discussion. This is a meeting where the leader actually wants feedback or direction or connections. You can use this meeting to come up with an action plan, or develop a new idea, for example.

3. Permission. This is a meeting where the other side is supposed to say yes but has the power to say no.

PLEASE don't confuse them. Confused meeting types are the number one source of meeting ennui. One source of confusion is that a meeting starts as one sort of meeting and then magically morphs into another kind. The reason this is frightening is that one side or the other might not realize that's actually occurring. If it does, stop and say, "Thanks for the discussion. Let me state what we've just agreed on and then we can go ahead and approve it, okay?"

While I'm at it, let me remind you that there are two kinds of questions.

Questions designed to honestly elicit more information.
Questions designed to demonstrate how much you know or your position on an issue and to put the answerer on the defensive.

There's room for both types of questions, particularly in a team preparing for a presentation or a pitch. Again, don't confuse them. I like to be sure that there's time for the first type, then, once everyone acknowledges that they know what's on the table, open it up for the second, more debate-oriented type of question.

Boys Have Problems Reading?

"(For) boys, sensitivity to the modality of how words are presented means that an extra steps need to be taken to match words that are picked up by listening and words that are read on the printed page. No wonder dyslexia is much more common in boys - the separate system means that the sight and sound of words are learned as distinct processes. As a result, verbal competence may be strong in one domain (oral speech for instance), but be weak in another (reading)."
Read more from the Eide NeuroLearning blog.

What After SPM?

Check out the new blog-project-movement(?):
It does not matter whether you are a scholar with stellar results and a 3-inch thick resume, a typical student who went to a local university after finishing Form 6, or a youth who has to work in the pasar malam at night to foot your technical college fees in the day. It does not matter whether you have chosen the oft-beaten path or the road less travelled. We believe that there every education background offers its own boons and banes. And we believe that there are merits in telling any story.

2 Elements of a Great Presenter

Seth Godin says they are:
1. Respect (from the audience)
2. Love (to the audience)

There are no doubt important evolutionary reasons why this is true, but in my experience, every great presenter earns the respect of the audience (through her appearance, reputation, posture, voice, slides, introduction, etc.) and captures the attention of the audience by sending them love.

Love takes many forms. I love you enough to teach you this. I love you enough to help you. I love you enough to look you in the eye. Or, in the case of rock and roll presentations, I love you enough to want to engage in various acts with you, right now, backstage.

Margaret Thatcher was a great presenter, even though she had none of the glib charisma people expect from someone with that title. That's because people (even those that disagreed with her) respected her before she started, and they understood at every moment that her motivation was to motivate and improve the lives of those she was presenting to.

In the famous interrogation scene in Basic Instinct (link not included so no one yells at me), Sharon Stone does a brilliant presentation. She instantly earns (a sort of) respect from the cops and their undivided attention at the same time. She replaces love with sex, and it works.

Tony Robbins is considered an astounding presenter for a similar reason. His stage presence and reputation and energy and sheer size earn him respect, and his generosity and complete connection with the audience is received by them as love. The result is a connection far bigger than the content alone would account for.

If you have love but no respect, you're a lounge singer. Fail.

If you have respect, but no love, you're like one of the rare self-promotional talks at TED. Fail.

Consider this clip from Patton. In 28 seconds, George C. Scott delivers both.

When you create a presentation, think about what your status will be as you begin the presentation. What can you do to prewire, to earn more respect from the start? How can you be introduced? Lit? Miked? What can you wear? If your reputation doesn't precede you, how do you earn it?

Don't apologize at the beginning of the talk. For anything. Don't hide in the dark. Don't hide behind a wall of bullet points.

And then, as the talk (pitch/presentation/interview) begins, don't focus your energy or concern on yourself. It's not about you. It's about them. The presenter who loves his audience the most, wins.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Continuums of Library Use

Doug Johnson offers some helpful polarities:

How are the ways students are using libraries, especially in the secondary schools, changing?

Accessing electronic/multimedia
Solitary work
Directed use
Information producer
Academic research
Static needs, resources, changing needs, resources, tasks

And how might those changes reflect on library facility design?

Study carrels Study rooms
Tables chairs
Computer labs labs
Reseach stations notebooks
Print shelving and storage Collaborative work spaces
Fixed spaces spaces

What are the changes of library use you see and how do our physical libraries need to change to meeting them?

Monday, March 2, 2009

Nick Morgan's Trust Me

Highly recommended by Pamela Slim (of Escape from Cubicle Nation fame). What caught my attention was the fourth bullet point on what the book covers:
  • Why you do need to practice to appear spontaneous
  • How your brain drives your body language which can make you lose credibility (or gain it) before you even open your mouth
  • The specific steps to build great trust and credibility with your audience
  • Why the "Tell em what you are going to tell em, tell em, tell em what you told em" presentation structure that has been the standard for years is totally wrong. (I gulped a bit on that one, since I used to teach this)
  • How to structure the content of your presentation for maximum impact
  • Where to start if you are considering professional speaking as part of your business model or marketing strategy

Download the podcast?

YouTube's Symphony Orchestra

How do you audition for the YouTube Symphony Orchestra? By submitting a video, of course (read the full new report).

" received more than 3,000 video auditions. The final group of more than 90 musicians were chosen by a combination of online votes from the public and judging by musicians from major orchestras.

"The members of the YouTube Symphony Orchestra will travel to New York from nearly 30 countries for a three-day meeting with San Francisco Symphony music director Michael Tilson Thomas, leading up to the April 15 Carnegie Hall show.

Not Literacy but Literacies

Elona Hartjes counsels us to think of literacy in the plural as a way of helping our students connect their learning with their lives. She quotes Chris Vanellis' work on some important literacies today:
  • computer literacy (using software)
  • web literacy (surfing the internet)
  • digital literacy (cells, email, MSN)
  • visual literacy (graphics, text, TV)
  • auditory literacy (radio, conversing)
  • home literacy (routines, chores)
  • community literacy (bus schedules)
  • social literacy (manners, etiquette)
  • work literacy (procedures, routines)
  • curriculum literacy (school subjects)