ACLL 2017 paper

the conference proceeding is officially published 2 days ago on the IAFOR repository.

our paper titled: Blended Learning for In-service Teachers’ Professional Development: Lessons from the Experience of a Singaporean Chinese Language Teacher Educator which we wrote about:

(abstract) Traditional face-to-face workshop is a common avenue for the professional development (PD) of in-service teachers. Chinese Language (CL) teachers in Singapore also attend such workshops frequently. Research has however shown that such workshops often failed to establish sustained learning and produce little impact on teachers’ practice, as well as students’ achievement. To address this efficacy issue, a blended learning workshop for CL teachers was designed and conducted. Specifically, this study examined the experience of designing and implementing blended learning as seen through the eyes of a Singaporean teacher educator. This teacher educator had gone from being a participant to becoming an instructor of blended learning workshop. The role switching of the individual in different settings allowed acquisition of deeper insights into blended learning workshop as a PD approach. The considerations of the instructor, and the challenges she faced during design and implementation were described. The significance of this research lies in the lessons from the findings that could be useful for consideration when blended learning teachers’ professional development workshops for better outcomes are to be designed.

the full proceeding PDF can be found here.

the local mirror goes here.

quick post-12470 recap

yesterday was the 3rd and last f2f session for this year’s only run of Clinic 12470. of course, we know one reason behind that is the “17 hours” course time. shorten it to attract pple we gonna try, but 经常吃药的人都知道——苦口良药;if u need to take 2 panadol but took only 1 becos a pill is so hard to swallow, are u going to get well? panadol perhaps, other drugs perhaps not.

anyway, yesterday the following 有缘人 came, 燕玲、常征、兴汉 being course participants; 保勝 who came, chose to audit, but after tea-break came in to join the conversation. and we have 雁妮 and 温韫 auditing the session too. i wonder what are the observers’ thought on the session yesterday. 美琪 was called up to be oral examiner last minute so couldn’t join us; but we have voice-recorded the dialogues for her review (:

comparing the way i go about facilitating the last f2f sessions (this is the 5th time), yesterday’s session was so far the most 淡定。i think i have reached a new level of awareness – 课题在有限的时间是聊不完的。与其求多而点到为止(虽然还是很多点到为止),倒不如更深究一两点(虽然还是有限的深入)。 and so, we basically only focused on the topic of Jigsaw method just before tea at 1550hr. one whole hour deliberating the method and its considerations. how inefficient!!! yes perhaps so, if one were to treat learning in production mode; this type of production line seriously tan-bo-jia (赚没吃)。but there again, education/learning is not a profit/loss business to me. in learning, there’s only gain albeit at slow pace. 只有好和更好 (:

just wanted to take a personal note that it take time to “let go” of the efficiency mode towards teaching — fill up the vessels in participants with as much contents in as little time as possible. the current state of “letting go” took me 2 yrs to reach. 今天讲不完或没聊到,来日方长嘛。迟早会有机会碰到遇到聊起的。

a key enabler of this mindset is perhaps the effect of the course design — the clinic-studio pair. thanks Victor once again for co-creating this design. i have so far treated clinic’s primary purpose as a culture-building-setting-altering time. i take a slow 1.5 mths to get participants to reflect on learning – how they are learning; and how they are getting students to learn. and a safe environment to discuss, think, voice and exchange opinions. a culture of “no right or wrong”. the topic and objectives on paper are always covered during this time, but it’s a secondary concern from my facilitator’s perspective.

the last thing that i want to note down is the Course Feedback form that is in a way not designed with knowledge creation in mind, but more from the perspective of vessel-filling.

for e.g., “I can apply the ideas/knowledge/skills learnt from the course.”

– “CAN APPLY” oversimplifies teaching as a complex entity. this is as if describing downloading an app on an iPad, install, tap and it will execute. are teachers iPads or robots that can be flashed firmware, and begin production straight away? not to mention our course is not designed to “hand out” knowledge (if it can be handed out), nor to prepare knowledge to fill the vessels that come (if knowledge can be poured to fill). it’s about co-creation of knowledge. and we are talking abt 21st century competencies, advancing 21st century teaching and learning. it’s time to revisit the assumption of mass-production mode of learning in this qn.

another e.g., “The presentation was clear.”

– a knowledge creation-backed question should be “the FACILITATION was effective.” Presentation suggests a vessel-filling, sit-copy-receive-and-learn metaphor. it’s again the mass-production assumption of learning behind this qn.

enough said for now. until next time (:

facilitator’s log (12541 primary)

last friday, we held our first session of ICT for SDL and CoL Clinic for primary school teachers (TRAISI code: 12541, or 12541-00003). as the traisi code suggested, this is the 3rd round of primary clinic. the first round was facilitated by dear wu jing cher, and the second round was facilitated by me when wj left for her full-time studies.

this 3rd round of primary clinic returns me to a dual-facilitator role – to facilitate the learning of both teachers who signed up for the course, and the instructor of the course (Wen Yun who joined us to take up the position vacated by WJ). unlike the previous round of handholding, WY is expected to conduct this course without a chance to ‘witness’ nor much time to co-construct the (ideal) conceptions of the course.

as a reminder to self, this blended learning course is designed in attempt to work towards 2 ideals: 1. to find a new approach towards CL teachers’ PD (tying short-term courses, with a larger CoP in the long run); 2. to be a student-centered course situated within a social constructivist paradigm, where learning is facilitated through discourse (both f2f & online).

to facilitate our further conversation, in this log, i would like to capture some observations and thoughts. the ‘source’ of these ideas came from our conversations prior and after the f2f session, and observations during the f2f session).

  • “我是传统的师范毕业生。”
  • – this line came up i think at least 2 or 3 times during our conversations. i am not sure if WY realised she had emphasised this idea many times, but my guess is this is a reflection of an internal struggle with theoretical understanding, and existing practices in teaching. “传统” & “师范” connote a teacher-centered, teacher talk-dominated, learning = passive copying and listening type of teaching. the source of internal struggle probably came from (1) her deep understanding of CSCL principles based on her phd studies, (2) the ideal #2 of this course that demand (1) to be put into practice. this is perhaps a reflection of the saying ‘expoused beliefs is one thing; actual actions is another’.

  • “my beliefs about learning have changed, but i may have difficulty putting it into practice” (approximation, can’t recall exact words)
  • – yes, what i thought of when i heard this is “if action is powered by beliefs, actions thus reflect our beliefs”. if we are unable to do certain thing, is it that our beliefs have not changed to the extent we thought it would have changed? change in beliefs over time will be something useful to track (researcher’s talk) 😛

  • “我从来没有感觉上课那么没底儿。”
  • – what does “底” mean? my guess is fixed structure coupled with fixed load of contents to talk about and pushed into the black boxes of the participants? clinic has a course structure, so structure is not the issue. so we are left with the contents part. following the student-cantered ideal, we will be facilitating discussions and learning in ideas that participants would raise in the course of our interactions. this is really the most unsettling feeling that i get based on my personal experience. some qns that have ever passed through my mind include,

    “what if there’s things that i cannot answer?”;
    “what if participants think badly about this ‘teacher’ who doesn’t appear to know anything becos s/he doesn’t spoon-feed us the textbook defns, and provide us with loads of contents and resources?”;
    “what if there are important ‘learning’ to be taken away but the idea doesn’t surface from the participants at all?”

    for the 1st qn, i convinced myself that no one can truly know everything, but it’s important that we are willing to go and find out things that we don’t know, and know how to go abt finding out what that we needs to find out. and this is an important lesson about ‘learning’ that i want my participants to takeaway, if they takeaway; and i do this by modelling the behaviours (it’s OK to say i don’t know; i demonstrate how i go about finding out abt new things; i demonstrate that learning takes TIME, a forgotten or simply ignored fact in the production mode that we conduct teaching in schools (too little time, too many things to be taught and assessed. 填鸭填鸭再填鸭; stuff, stuff, stuff)

    for the 2nd qn, this is the greatest ‘risk’ that we have to take, especially if participants possess naive personal epistemology, and deeply entrenched in a content-cum-resource loaded expectation of ‘learning’. Victor mentioned he had his fair share of such experience, cos we all need to face the ‘reality’ of SFT. based on my experience so far, i just have to hold on to my beliefs and ideals, and trust that teachers will be able to see and appreciate it at the end of the day. if there are some starfish that i couldn’t move this time, it’s just not enough time i have to engage them. learning takes time; changing of beliefs take even more time i believe (and i think we can find literature to support this, which i haven’t really done so, yet.)

    for the 3rd qn, over the past 3 secondary clinic and 1 primary clinic that i have facilitated, i am not so worried about this anymore. cos if the issue is so important (for e.g., conception of ‘affordance’, TPACK), we will be able to make links to it one way or another. probably that’s why as teachers, we always say teaching is a science, but is also an art. weaving is the ‘art’ part.

below is a record of things that i caught my attention (incl. being shown, being said):

– defining what is ‘e-learning’, and relate it to MOOC
– “ICT=vitamin是相对主流的用法。”
– “这些原则(ref to the 4 interaction guidelines)你的学生也可以用。”
– “我们可以聚焦一些课题来讨论。” (this is not suggested by WY)

a few other notes:
– too little time is left to go through the details of the activities, and check for understanding that participants know what to do where to do when to do what
– there’s a rich repertoire of ideas surfaced by participants that i would use to build on. use them to raise questions to keep them thinking, no answers’ required there and then.

that’s all for now (:

TLCSL 2015 paper

in a few days’ time, the 4th International Conference on the Teaching and Learning of Chinese as a Second Language (TLCSL 2015) with SCCL as main organiser will be held.

Screenshot 2015-09-04 TLCSL 2015


(An Information and Communications Technology (ICT)-based blended learning approach to Singapore Chinese Language teachers’ professional development: A preliminary look at a pilot project; by TAN, Yuh Huann; TAN, Yan Ni; CHOW, Fong Yee)

Screenshot 2015-09-05 18.36.57

feel free to leave your questions and/or comments after reading the paper. we thank you for your time and interest, 谢谢 😉

//update Sep 9, 2015

click here to find the set of presentation slides (:
在此下载报告中所用的简报 (:

// end update

to cite:
Tan, Y.H., Tan, Y.N., & Chow, F.Y. (2015). An information and communications technology (ICT)-based blended learning approach to Singapore Chinese Language teachers’ professional development: A preliminary look at a pilot project. Paper presented at the 4th International Conference on the Teaching and Learning of Chinese as a Second Language, Singapore. Retrieved from

陈育焕、陈雁妮、周凤儿. (2015). 新加坡华文教师基于资讯科技的混成式专业进修方式初探. 第四届华文作为第二语言之教与学国际研讨会,新加坡。下载自

2nd reflection on 12470-00004 facilitation

this week marks the 6th week into our course. next Wed (15/7), we’re meeting up for our last f2f discourse. 好事多磨, the final lesson originally planned for 14/7 crashes with at least 4 participants who are also oral examiners performing their last day of duty for the GCE O-level exams. as such we’ve agreed to shift the date to 15/7, and hopefully more teachers can turn up.

taking a glance at the discussion forum, we are seeing record-low number of participation in the online discussion in the 帖子B posting. only 3 out of 6 expected posts came in. why did this happen? perhaps i wasn’t clear enough in the explanations of the requirements, as such teachers do not know what to do? possible, but i did not receive any clarification email/fb pm/sms/whatsapp, which i should if any of the SDLearner needs help. or, perhaps the course ‘cut across’ june holidays, and other plans take priority? or, any other reason(s)? perhaps my participant friends could let me know 😉

after our 2nd f2f, to date, only 1 帖子C posting came in before school reopens. this morning we see another posting sharing some good work carried out since school reopens for term 3 🙂 so once again, why is the qty so low? it will be interesting to hear the reason(s) too.

a tally of weekly reflection pieces, 4 contributions by 2 participants (out of max. 6 pax). yes, it’s definitely on the low side too. perhaps like what Sean twice mentioned “you made a great assumption that your learners are all highly motivated.” 🙂 yes, i do take that as a basic assumption as i believe that a teacher is a daily role model to our students. if we want our students to love learning, we have to embrace learning ourselves. students don’t just learn the ‘contents’ that we gonna push to them (assuming pushing = learning). there’s more to learning a subject per se 🙂

while planning next week’s meet up, i am toying with an idea of setting aside 15 mins for some personal quiet moment to do a consolidation of the past 6-7 weeks’ experience. will not reveal the title, if there’s one, for now (: