Friday, July 13, 2007

Post-talk reflections: MOE ExCEL FEST 2007, 13 July 2007

"Describe how Chicken tastes like," I asked a teacher in the audience. Guess what she said? Read the rest of the post.

If you're a teacher from my talk at the ExCEL FEST this afternoon, welcome! Here's the post with the links I covered in the talk.

Please feel free to post your questions, honest critique, suggestions in this post.

There was perhaps 50 to 80 teachers in the room. I wasn't sure. I didn't have time to count or take a picture. I arrived at the venue five minutes before the talk was to start. Way too close for comfort. Didn't have time to check my slides, so good thing I'd rehearsed it in my head on the way there.

There was a traffic jam along the road outside the school. The taxi driver was wondering what could be causing the jam, as usually around that time that stretch of road would be pretty clear. It turned out it was the hundreds of teachers who were making their way to the ExCEL FEST in coaches and other vehicles!

What was new to them
Almost everyone in the audience have not heard of or I suggested they visit those sites, as a way to spot blog posts by Singaporeans. They didn't know about SlideShare. I'm sure some of them would be trying it out soon.

Using YouTube videos
A handful of teachers were already using YouTube videos to incorporate into their lessons. But they were hampered by the lack of bandwidth in the MOE network. Maybe they could try what I did, in the next para.

The wireless connectivity failed. I couldn't give the teachers a 'live' demo of things like Flickr, Technorati, and SlideShare. Luckily I was still able to show them the YouTube videos. Prior to talk, I let the YouTube videos load completely in the browser. Then I left the browser open and shutdown my laptop in hibernation mode. When I reached the venue, I fired up the laptop and was able to run the YouTube videos without being connected to the Internet.

Thanks to people like Hazman, Kevin, Kenneth and Jude, who left comments in the earlier post, I was able to introduce the teachers to more useful sites.

New Media Tastes like Chicken
And I especially appreciated this comment from Jude, which gave me a great opening line to the talk. He wrote that he "would be careful about the term New Media"; that it's like saying "it tastes like chicken".

So in opening the talk, I asked a teacher to explain to the audience "what Chicken tastes like". She made a valiant attempt but had to acknowledge that she's describing texture but not the taste.

I used that to hammer home the point that trying to understand new media without actually trying it out, was like trying to experience what Chicken tastes like without eating one. BTW, for her effort, the teacher received a commemorative book published by the NLB, titled "Celebrating Libraries". Enjoy!

Challenges in New Media (for teachers)
I outlined these challenges that I thought teachers would face:
  1. Understanding what is New Media [To me, it's about the engagement and social networking aspect]
  2. Lack of time [I suggested they outsource it to their students. E.g. If they wish to start a blog for the class, appoint a Class Blogger, Class Videographer, Class Photographer. Rotate these appointments. Set some Dos and Don'ts. Get the class to write their own Class Blogging Policy]
  3. Not knowing where to begin [So I narrowed down the services to those that would be immediately applicable and most practical for a school teacher in Singapore. See this list here. I also told them to ASK a librarian, heh.]
  4. Online theft and infringement [My advice was to adopt what they say about investing in the stock market: Post things which you can afford to lose!]
  5. Unwittingly infringing copyright [This was more insidious because students are often the culprits without realising it. The teachers recognised that students often liked to incorporate music into their videos, not realising that they have infringed on copyright. I didn't have time to elaborate on copyright, but I pointed them to Creative Commons as a source of where they could get content legitimately, for free.]
  6. What goes up, Stays up [This was about the challenge of educating students of the dangers of exposing themselves online, without due consideration for the future. I suggested they show these two excellent 'Think Before You Post' videos - Everybody knows your name and Online Photos.]
  7. Teacher as Target [This issue was about students blogging or taking videos of teachers, for the purpose of embarrassing or ridiculing the teacher. I said I don't have answers to offer, but I showed them this video about Associate Professor Lalit Goel of NTU. It's a hoot! I suggested that the only way to cope with this issue was to learn how to roll with the punches.]
  8. How to sustain [I quoted the advice from Naked Conversations - Passion and Authority: choose something you love, and what you know.]
  9. How to engage effectively [My take was to start by reading and viewing what's out there. It's OK to start as a passive user. But one should then proceed to leave comments and engage in conversations. After that, progress to being a producer. Social Media is about social networks, which I think it's ultimately about practicing the art of conversations]

My concluding remarks was that the issue of "No Time" was very real. But there are ways to get around lack of time. The real question was whether it's worth spending time on whatever New Media initiative proposed.

So I left them with this: You decide if you want to taste the actual chicken, or let others describe it for you.


  1. Didn't realise you were speaking at my Alma Mater! Sounds like you covered quite a bit. Right on about tasting that chicken ... it's soup for the New Media soul.

  2. That is good to hear the information benefit and aid your presentation a lot. And, I am glad to hear that.

    Cheers, I got to program and customised this Metalib system now :(

  3. Dude, I have post on your newly create blog course, anyway, i just repost here, to as a follow up.

    You might want to add in these links.

    Free Edublogs - Widely used edublog by teachers. -

    Classblogmeister - Widely used free edublog for students and teachers. -

    EduSpaces - Social networking site for educators which includes blogs. Formerly Elgg. -

    Learning Through Weblogs - academic blog by Claude Gagné, Ryerson University, Toronto. -

    "Sorry for the late info, I just remember this ..."


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