learn what vs. how to learn

during last week’s meeting, some discussions on course offerings for teachers based on what they need took place. having read this article on a History professor reflecting on whether the teaching of history should focus on content (“历史学什么”), or should it be how to learn history (“历史怎么学”), i can’t help but to analyse the discourse through the above lens.

(personally) sadly, the perspective taken still adopted an empty-container-to-be-filled metaphor. for example, if teachers have needs in grammar knowledge, we should conduct course(s) to fill the container(s) with the needed knowledge. there’s no right or wrong since different learning theories may apply, but the perspective taken would affect the way a course is designed. how different would it be if the “enabling teachers on how to learn” perspective is adopted instead?

we always say teachers teach the way they are taught (citation needed), or teachers teach the way they learnt (citation needed). if teachers are not allowed to become self-directed learner, but instead the assumption is empty vessels to be filled, how could s/he teaches his/her students to be a true self-directed, lifelong learner of the 21st century?

in this internet/knowledge age, there’s no lack of contents especially online. but the skill of understanding/applying/synthesising & creating new knowledge based on what turns up from the internet is what our students should be empowered with. but if a teacher does not learn this way, will s/he believe that learning takes place as such, and in turn design his/her learning activities where students learn ‘how-tos’ instead of downloading of (overloaded) data? there’s no lack of literature on how teachers’ beliefs affect his/her teaching.

NE Show (11/7) - fireworks #5
NE Show (11/7) – fireworks #5

asus n61jq windows 10 upgrade display fail

if you are here reading this post, most likely you have tried upgrading your good 5-year old asus N61 to windows 10, and was treated with a BLACK DARK BLANK screen? the problem is we are now using a generic AMD-ATI driver instead of an ASUS customised one.

the generic driver is indeed working. the “trick” is to up your display brightness (Fn+F6), and you should find your LCD suddenly comes on!

2015-08-06 15.54.24

took me 2 roll back to Windows 7 and reinstallation of Windows 10 in one day to confirm the above. happy windows 10-ing (:

a quote from accenture ceo’s interview

last week, accenture hits headline as the company is going to do away (90%) of their existing performance review processes. in short, accenture is going stop comparing one person with another (thus enables ranking), but to review a person as a person, on his/her job.

this morning, i saw a transcript of an interview with Pierre Nanterme, the accenture CEO who made this bold move. just to quote a para that i think works for me at least as an employee:

“What I learned is that leadership is about letting it go. Trust people. The art of leadership is not to spend your time measuring, evaluating. It’s all about selecting the person. And if you believe you selected the right person, then you give that person the freedom, the authority, the delegation to innovate and to lead with some very simple measure.”

i have many bosses to thank for doing the above despite the fact that we were all involved in a system that accenture decided to do away with (:

tool – pear deck

pear deck is an interactive presentation tool. it’s essentially ppt+socrative. a few things to note:

1. the free acct only allows importing up to 5 slides
2. can’t see how presentations can be exported in the free acct (not sure abt paid acct)
3. supports unicode
4. the paid/premium educator acct costs USD11.99/mth, or USD8.33×12/yr

a quick overview:

flipped teaching sharing – recap and thoughts

had the chance to attend a 学思达翻转教学讲座 held at pei chun 培群小学 yesterday. 总算有机会一睹叶丙成老师的个人风采。
as i have heard how impressed some teachers were in the sessions they’ve attended last year, i thought it’ll be good for me to do a recap of what i heard. cos as effective presenter/teacher, we do update/morph our sharing content from time to time.

for a start, the title of the talk may be misleading for audience who has prior knowledge of flipped learning, or flipped classroom. as an audience, the workshop appears to be 学思达教学讲座。the “翻转” part appears to adopt a different set of ideals from this.

as i have not had the chance to step into a taiwan classroom, the beginning part of the talk lent me a quick overview of taiwan’s classrooms. i was quite surprised to hear that an extremely high % of classroom adopts highly teacher-centered approach from a pedagogical perspective. if so, the 学思达 approach would definitely be refreshing from a student’s perspective, as they now had chance to engage in active participation, instead of listening and falling asleep.

two basic arguments for engaging students’ in activities and reducing listening were presented: 1. the Learning Pyramid, 2. speed of reading outstrips speed of narration (thus listening) by a few folds. however, it is interesting to note that the National Training Laboratories, commonly credited as the source, refuted claim that the diagram was from them (ref 1, ref 2). and of course, we could always find arguments against the learning pyramid too.

the underlying philosophy of 学思达 approach remains as the teacher is the expert, the know-all. as a result, lesson preparation for 学思达 approach is highly taxing on the teacher (but not impossible even for a 1-man team as 叶丙成老师 has proven). this may be partly due to the fact that 学思达 approach believes that the teacher has to source as much relevant/useful information for students as possible so that their classroom activities would be meaningful.

学思达 approach engages students’ in active participation through discussions to find answers, and later to engage in competitive presentations. marks, assigned to groups, are used as the primary motivator. #iwonder how would things turn out if marks, as an emphasis due to the competitive element, are later removed. perhaps it could still work cos in 3-6 mths’ time, students should be attracted by the learning from the highly engaging lessons.

there is a brief recap of the history of flipped classrooms, how Khan Academy comes about, and how Taiwan, following Khan’s footsteps, have adopted the ideas 2 years ago. but it is not obvious to me how this part is linked, or relevant to 学思达 approach. for the after-class component in “翻转”, 学思达 does not advocate the use of videos; it probably falls back to the textbooks(?), and the highly detailed and customised 讲义 created by the teacher.

学思达 is good if your classroom/teaching meets the following criteria:
1. you used mainly teacher-centered (i speak, u listen; i ask, u answer; otherwise quiet) pedagogy.
2. your students are mainly motivated by marks (not learning, yet.)
3. you would like to explore more grouping strategies (beyond think-pair-share, convenient grouping)

学思达 probably wont be too attractive to you if:
1. you are comfortable and effective in facilitating group work/cooperative learning/collaborative learning
2. you want to shift away from spoon-feeding your students (not necessarily just in class)
3. you want students to be(come) the creator/curator of knowledge

will need to find time to look at the books, and return to update more ideas later (:
2015-07-14-xuesida