mobile first, a musing

a recent buzz word related to development at work — mobile first, or more specifically mobile first design — is today a key consideration for content providers and technological solution builders as mobile devices are everywhere, and these devices serve as one key source through which we consume contents around us. but, is mobile first the sole consideration, where learning is concerned? well, how about this — if there’s a first, there’s a second? mobile first certainly does not mean mobile #only; so what’s next?

(acknowledgement: (c)联合早报 副刊 Lianhe Zaobao 5th Jun 2019)

any discussion of technology and learning (or ‘digital learning’ some would prefer), it is always #ThinkAffordances — what is your design/objectives of learning, and how can technology (e.g. feature/function/tool/app/platform) enable your desired learning design? those of us who have experienced it would agree with me that chat (aka instant msging; e.g. WhatsApp), and even fb wall post+comments do not quite afford deep discussions that lead to rise-above of ideas. expressing individual’s ideas is easy; but to build on each other’s ideas, extend the ideas, improve on the ideas, counter-propose arguments, provide different perspectives, many of these acts of co-creating a common meaning is lost within the scrolling messages. in short, fb wall post+comments set up do not afford deep (digital) learning, currently.

so, what does? discussion forums (DF) do afford deep learning as described above (of cos, i will propose that knowledge forum (KF) is specially designed for this and is thus good-er). however, DF as we know it traditionally (oh btw, it’s a 20+ yr old technology), does not go well with the idea of mobile first design. the way discussions’ organised on screen traditionally, including threading, quoting, branching off, referencing back to other posts, is difficult to automatically fit on screens while displaying the discussions in way visually good for participants or readers of discussions. DF, in order to become mobile-first needs a rethink of its good old interface.

the term DF still invokes a tool-centric perspective. taking the affordance perspective, we can, and should examine what are the affordances of DF (and even KF) in enabling deep learning, and create them within existing mobile-first friendly solutions. in the process, DF as we have experienced it, may become a past, and it’s perfectly fine from a technological advancement perspective. the affordances of DF lives on.

going back to the fb wall post+comments idea, how can we improve it to afford deep learning per DF? first, we will need to invoke the concept of sub-walls (cf. discussion threads; sub-forums), where there can be more than one walls (cf. fb). and here’s probably a list of ‘requirements’ i would like to see:

  • there can be any number of sub-walls as a learner chooses to maintain.
  • to create a new sub-wall, one can select any existing post from the main wall or any sub-wall (together with existing likes, sharing info and comments), and pipe it into the new sub-wall.
  • each sub-wall has an unique identifier (e.g. a URL) that enables one to link back or to point to it in any post, comment in any (sub-)wall.
  • sub-walls will be arranged in reverse chronological order by default; and so are the posts and comments within.
  • one are allowed to pin any sub-wall, or any post within it, so that it is always on-top.
  • one can create and add a title/topic for each sub-wall to indicate the discourse topic to other participant/viewer.
  • one can define and add tag(s) to a sub-wall to facilitate personal classification, search and retrieval
  • everyone can add comments to any contents within a sub-wall
  • when adding a comment in sub-wall, one can upload images, documents, media, hyperlinks as part of the comment
  • visually, one should be able to easily identify any sub-wall that contains a new activity or reply/ to him/her; the ‘new’-ness visual cue is individualised and user-specific.
  • visually, within a sub-wall, one should see up to 3 levels of hierarchical nesting for comments to a post. this hierarchical view allows one to easily identify the relationship among comments and to focus their attention over selected comment(s) as desired.
  • participants will receive notification of new comment added to a sub-wall to enable them to return to continue the discourse (viewer can choose to follow and be notified too)

to end off, #mobilefirst (design) is not #mobileOnly (design); learning sciences folks can do wonders with computing folks when the two groups pool their brains together (:

to end off x2, finally, may i wish my Muslim friends:

(acknowledgement: creator unknown; as seen shared by darren)

[afternote] a note for self, it took 5 hours for this post to be first mooted in the morning while flipping newspaper, to connecting it with an idea@work, to typing and organising the ideas, to finally publishing it to the www & fb. now, who says learning (online) is fast? not for the slow-leaner-me definitely (:

聊一聊 @LAMPplus

last wednesday morning, i had the opportunity to engage LAMPplus (or LAMP+) participants (budding SHs, LHs, and a few HODs), held at school cluster centre, in discourse. thanks to @淑华 for giving me the opportunity to be involved, and thanks to @珮孜 for co-creating the programme (:

as we had malay and indian friends from the MTL family, i had the opportunity to facilitate 聊聊《华文 · 学习 · 科技》 in English. and naturally, the three keywords of the day were: language · learning · technology/ICT.

here’s the artefact of (learning) discourse:

for the first time, we find 4 languages on the board

while we know it may be difficult to assess the learning of participants, for learning is often time-consuming and metacognitive, it’s interesting for me, as the facilitator of discourse, to have a glimpse of ideas that participants wrote down in their end-of-day feedback (form). here’s the relevant quotes in verbatim:

  • ICT also affords the time and space for students to think and pen down their thoughts (visible thinking)
  • Understanding the concept of affordances and how it contributes to effective use of ICT to enhance, engage and emphasize ownership in the T&L of MTL amongst teachers (skilful design and considerations) and pupils (promote sense making & joy of learning) … The concept of affordance of ICT needs to be clarified and the use of a common language needs to be prevalent.
  • There are many ICT tools that are available.The selection of the appropriate tools should base on its affordances and how it could value add to the students’ learning.
  • ICT lessons should conduct a least once a week or internalize in everyday teaching
  • Affordances of ICT in relation to teacher, students and lesson … (i used to think) 教案is a standard protocol. must follow. (now i think) thinking jostled: 学案 since we are moving towards student-centred. should start thinking to change the protocol? 教案 may not be a standard protocol
  • …it’s not about the tool but there must be an awareness of “affordance” where we have to determine which is the most suitable tool for our students’ learning objectives (i used to think) that the use of ICT is time-consuming and may not be suitable for all my students. (now i think) With more deliberation, we can incorporate the use of ICT into our teaching and students’ learning, without forgetting that “learning” is the ultimate goal

and these are two photos revealing the contexts (:

thanks once again to 珮孜 for the context photos (:

demystifying the learning process

saw this not-too-new 2017 article on mindshift introducing some ideas teachers can help students to see the (true) nature of learning, and help them develop useful habits of learning. these ideas were proposed by Barbara Oakley. ignore the title of the article cos to me, EVERYONE struggles, from time to time, and whether one would like to admit it or not.

some lines, including words from Oakley, in the article that caught my attention:

“…the common experience of students who reread their notes and think they know the material — only to enter a test and find that they cannot retrieve the information. ”

“students tend to equate speed with smarts, Oakley suggests sharing this metaphor: ‘There’s a race car brain and a hiker brain. They both get to the finish line, but not at the same time. The race car brain gets there really fast, but everything goes by in a blur. The hiker brain takes time. It hears birds singing, sees the rabbit trails, feels the leaves. It’s a very different experience and, in some ways, much richer and deeper. You don’t need to be a super swift learner. In fact, sometimes you can learn more deeply by going slowly.'”

“Learning is all about developing strong chains.” (cf. chunks)

“familiar metaphors allow a learner to draw on a concept they have already mastered and apply it to a new situation. Or as Oakley says, metaphors ‘rapidly on-board’ new ideas.”

“…’Pomodoro Technique.’ Developed by Francesco Cirillo, this strategy uses a timer to help the learner work and break at set intervals. First, choose a task to accomplish. Then, set a timer for 25 minutes and work until the timer goes off. At that point, take a five-minute break: stand up, walk around, take a drink of water, etc. After three or four 25-minute intervals, take a longer break (15 – 30 minutes) to recharge. “

“…I would tell students, you don’t just have to be stuck following your passion. You can broaden your passions enormously.”

one idea chunk came to my mind as i read the article: micro-learning. what myth(s) are pple propagating with this term and it’s associated ‘benefits’ for learning i wonder. is learning fast? how often is learning fast?

写在 lesson co-design之后





这两句话对于说话的朋友或许是不经意的,但从教学的角度无疑是另一次evidence of learning,同时也肯定了我和老师们一起学习时所投入的精神是值得的。当然,这一切也不能忘记最关键性的一个人 —— 谢谢玉云无私地带着我让我有机会和老师朋友们一起学习成长 (:

sentence … phrase … word

was browsing the book that i’ve gotten recently, and saw the above/below:

this is one of the making thinking visible strategies to facilitate deeper thinking. shall save it for our future meeting that requires participants’ pre-reading (: