Perspective Taking

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Last year when I was lectured by M about social learning, he introduced me the concept of perspective taking. That is to learn from taking perspectives from others. Nice idea, I thought.

This summer, I sat in a lecture to use MOOC course to teach international journalism. Students are from two countries at war and they need to work together for writing news together. This way, the students are encouraged institutionally to reflect how each side interpret the same event.

cat looking mirrorFor what is happening now in Hong Kong, I felt the urgency to use such education concept to show people the power of perspective taking. I have been reading social media posts from both sides. To be honest, there is a huge inconsistency so huge that it is shocking. I have been emphasising both sides are people, human like me and you. I agree that this is a complex situation but there must be common ground to be found.

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My first editing work

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I took my first (free) editing project. My mission was to convert a video record of a two hour lecture on psychology into an online course ‘due to my experience in MOOCs’.

cat editingI spent four hours watching the video twice. It was a really engaging session for those who attended the lecture in person. The speaker cracked a few jokes and organised quite a few fun games. At the same time I am pretty sure no one in front of the computer can sit through this for the whole two hours so I needed to make a decision what to keep and what to cut.

I decided to select around seven sessions which mostly last for 5 minutes each. Each 5 minute session shall include a concept new to us, a concept we can easily apply in our day to day situation. And I decided to put a question – type title for each session: Why people usually cover their nose when they lie? Would you sit on my lap? What do you talk about with a stranger, love, sex, music or sports?

My next step is to connect these sessions in a logical way. This is a fun project I received.

A picture is more than a thousand of words

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I have long been aware of the power of illustrating ideas with pictures. My recent experience just reinforced my belief.

grandpa' soupI sat in a lecture last weekend how to guide children to read picture books. The lecturer showed us a few amazing books such as Grandpa’s Soup by Eiko Kadono, Tico and the Golden Wings by Leo Lionni. The process of her illustrating details of the book and asking us questions is a process of us gaining greater understanding of the books and the ideas behind. Tico

When we begin our great journey using videos to teach, maybe we can consider the power of many other formats to represent ideas also such as pictures.

A new world for a new day

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Luck did not visit me too often recently. After having network problems, working with some rude people, I found my wallet gone in a raining morning. Yesterday was quite a bad day.

This morning I woke up with an email in my mailbox. Learners of ‘Exploring English’ MOOC course setup a social media page to share photos of their hometown. View of mountains from a North Italy house window, a natural lake in Yangon, garden in a German neighbourhood, seaside from Brittany. It was simple breathtaking. Looking at the beautiful tapestry of how learners present their home with pride, I totally forgot the tiny problems I  had.

ChristinaCatAndMiceOnFlyingCarpetAnimatedByHeatherGillI took the subway to go to a reading club event afterward. My mind was still wholly occupied by these postcard quality photos around the world. Compared to the open education initiative started ten years ago, this time the online education is so differently. Students took their own initiatives to come up with really beautiful creations. Internet has unlocked a very very powerful force – a force by millions of learners to create and share.

Yesterday I lost my wallet, my bank cards and ID cards all gone. But as my close friend rightly said – It is just a matter of time and process to get everything back. I walked out of the subway train and felt I was stepping into a new world, leaving my worries in that passing train compartment, light-hearted again.

Would Youtube model work for education?

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Coursera announced its transformation into an on-demand learning platform. The idea is that when people want to learn something, they can log onto the education version of Youtube, where plenty of learning videos and in-video quiz are available any time.

Would this Youtube model work for education? Personally I love the idea of having a digital archive of learning materials, because I am hopelessly nerdy and I work in MOOC space. But for the majority of us, between consuming a funny cat video and consuming a lecture after dinner, which one do you choose?

We pay Netflix to watch TV shows online. We pay Youtube to watch movies online. (at least I did, one of my lowest point in life). Would we be equally attempted to pay to be taught online?

In the future, I hope the answer is yes and I know this will come from a limited percentage of the population. Learning takes heavier brain load, needs certain dedication and discipline, requires thinking to internalise information which hopefully changes our thinking paradigm if we allow ourselves some thinking and reflection time. It is hard and does not come naturally. We are humans, we are born to be lazy, undisciplined (at lease my nature says so).cat chips

Therefore there is still a lot of work to be done to create an environment where people consumer learning content as happily as they do with junk food and gossip newspaper.

Doraemon’s Magic Pocket

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My good friend is pregnant and asked me how to spend her leisure time. My ex-colleague wanted to learn more about consumer psychology and behaviour. My cousin wants to switch his career into smart system in house decoration.

DoraemonWhat do I suggest? Take a MOOC course and learn about it. MOOC has become my Doraemon’s magic pocket. You have a question, check my MOOC pocket and find what suits you best.

My wish list is to tell everybody about it so that they have the tool to tackle their daily problems and objectives. My second wish list is to truly have the courses needed for them so they can find really valuable knowledge to be equipped at a relatively affordable expenses.

Sooner or later, every one will be a Doraemon itself!

Can videos replace textbooks?

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I used to read hardcopy books. Then I switched to ebooks. Since I discovered tablet application to download videos, I started to do most of my learning by watching videos downloaded. 

It is super convenient, I can do it any time anywhere. (Recently I spent quite some time in hospital. While my mother was receiving her drip dIffusion, I was sitting next to her listening to videos about online learning). It is also a great way to use my ears more than to use my eyes. My eyesights got worse facing computer screen for long so it is good for a change.

cat-using-ipad-jpgWould videos replace textbooks? Maybe not now as there are still some drawbacks using videos as a tool to absorb information. As a user, I also started to write a few things I wish were there to support my audio learning. 

I wish there is a tool for me to take notes and form a mind map when listening to these videos. Many times I felt really enlightened and wish I had a pen to sketch it down, to represent my learning in a larger knowledge map.

I could not focus on a video more than 20 minutes even though I am really interested in the subject. Some of the videos about MOOCs are recordings of conferences and span 80 minutes. I admired the conference audience sitting in the room for so long without a break. I myself, as someone watching it from my tablet, can never last longer than 20 minutes. I wish these videos were shorter, modularised and indexed. 

I also wish there was a search function for these videos. Just as there is a search function for ebooks so I can quickly jump to the chapter I am particularly keen to read. 

Hope some entrepreneurial minds spot the opportunities here and make a go!