Sunday, December 12, 2010

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Monday, November 29, 2010

Monday, November 15, 2010

Monday, October 11, 2010

Lessons Demo (CIDTT): Learning points and alternative pedagogies

'Twas a good session with the CIDTT participants performing their mock lessons. Virtually everyone was comfortable with groupwork, multi-media and the overall trajectory of 'active learning' prized by Cambridge.

Tek Hwa started and presented some tear-jerking stories and videos which showed the importance (and complexity) of proper communication.

Alternative pedagogy: Elicit contributions from participants themselves even when presenting theoretical components. Each time participants provide input by themselves, they learn more.

Maryam then weaved her lesson around the history and phenomenon of Facebook, using it to teach English concepts and words. The lesson demonstrated a creative use of gaming and group discussions, all of which were structured around one core theme.

Alternative pedagogy: The time constraints notwithstanding, perhaps a quick de-briefing explaining to the participants (or getting them to reflect on) the key learning objectives may be a helpful addition. The active learning was tremendous; all the more reason to include a few minutes to 'pull' everything together.

Niloufar then raised everybody's (especially the guys') body temperature with her videos of belly-dancing, outlining the history, styles and techniques of the craft. The dazzling props and group dance (or 'dance')demo added to the necessary levels of wonder and fun to the lesson.

Alternative pedagogy: For an introductory class, it would've been nice to have a brief 'test' on the names of the instruments or rhythms or dancers. This would be a good supplement to the practical hip-shaking.

Azhar demonstrated the use and misuse of logic, his set induction seeking to get the class to recall their own preconceptions about, of all things, his earlier lateness in arriving. He also got the participants to work first on identifying the nature of certain fallacies.

Alternative pedagogies: With a subject like logic, finding myriad of everyday examples should be relatively easy. As such, perhaps the use of the latest news and commentaries on local events (e.g. the words of actual politicians) could spark even greater interest in the topic.
Nicole's Primary School Maths lesson on shapes was livened up by the participants being asked to physically measure objects in the classroom (something I can't recall my teachers ever asking us to do when i was younger). The groupwork and practical element surely more than reinforced the learning objective of measuring perimeters.

Ada's lesson proved that multi-media content can heavily influence any lesson. Her video depicting animated Chinese characters in a dramatic scenery went a long way towards anchoring the characters in participants' minds. Her use of flashcards was also a good simple device to aid recall.

Alternative pedagogies: Perhaps at the start, a short test could be done which chalenged participants to map figures of real-life items to the correct word, thereby igniting their sense of the connections between the two. Also, getting participants actually write out the characters would've been invaluable.

Sin Yee's "market-trading" activity, whilst surely very appropriate for a Negotiation class, was nevertheless fun and helpful in getting linguistic students to learn new words regarding antiques. The concept was about getting participants to learn through the process of engaging in an everyday transaction, in this case buying and selling.

Alternative pedagogies: One simple way of 'forcing' students to take learning-oriented steps is to, say, make it a rule that communication must happen with given words written on the board i.e. participants conducting their trading MUST use certain words (e.g. worth, antique, cost, sell, etc.). This could help a group of English learners 'internalise' the words in question.

Wee then got the participants dancing to music which contained all the words of the lesson itself (e.g. shoulders, head, toes, nose, knees, etc.). One could argue there's almost no better way for children to learn the parts of the body!

Alternative pedagogies: As the participats weren't really children, it was probably not necessary to get participants to write-out the names of the body-parts on sheets of paper. I suspect, though, that a full lesson would've included that and more.

Catherine then continued with the English lesson by playing a game where participants had to find objects skilfully hidden within a picture.

Alternative pedagogies: It's always ideal if the activity was itself inherent to the learning objective i.e. what the students do is more or less similar to what must be learnt. Thus, if the goal was to learn about what a banana or spider was then perhaps a game which challenged participants to list out, say, the key characteristics of fruits or insects would help.

Huey Shee ended the day with an imaginative exercise, requiring participants to close their eyes and visualise their problems being blown away and exploding with balloons.

Alternative pedadogies: Learning about visual imagination is a cutting-edge phenomenon and thus could be supplemented with music or beautiful pictures to first make the point about the capacity of our minds to impact our emotions.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Top Universities in the World? US and UK

The US accounts for 72 of the world's 200 best universities, and 7 of the top 10, according to an international league table published by the Times Higher Education magazine. See the BBC article here


  • 1 - Harvard University
  • 2 - California Institute of Technology
  • 3 - Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • 4 - Stanford University
  • 5 - Princeton University
  • 6 - University of Cambridge
  • 6 - University of Oxford
  • 8 - University of California, Berkeley
  • 9 - Imperial College London
  • 10 - Yale University

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Sugata Mitra: The child-driven education

Sugata Mitra's "Hole in the Wall" experiments have shown that, in the absence of supervision or formal teaching, children can teach themselves and each other, if they're motivated by curiosity and peer interest.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Digital Tools for Learning

--by Jane Hart from the Centre for Learning and Performance Technologies. Accessed at

Teachers, how many of these tools do you use in or out of the classroom?

Can you locate MS PowerPoint in the list? (Hint: it's not in the top 10.)

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Revolutionizing University Education

Here are some provocative thoughts from a professor at Columbia University in New York. Imagine teachers and students collaborating across academic departments and even across higher ed. institutions on problem solving projects. Imagine a curriculum restructured based on vital topics like Mind, Body, Law, Information, Networks, Language, Space, Time, Media, Money, Life and Water. Instead of the traditional academic departments each separately focusing on these topics, mixed classes could collaborate on research and problem solving, each discipline bringing its own perspective. Hmm... I keep hearing the word "collaboration" in education.

Monday, August 23, 2010

The Cult of Done

By Bre Pattis (click on the link for a cute rubrik-cube-filled illustration of this 'manifesto'):
  1. There are three states of being. Not knowing, action and completion.
  2. Accept that everything is a draft. It helps to get it done.
  3. There is no editing stage.
  4. Pretending you know what you're doing is almost the same as knowing what you are doing, so just accept that you know what you're doing even if you don't and do it.
  5. Banish procrastination. If you wait more than a week to get an idea done, abandon it.
  6. The point of being done is not to finish but to get other things done.
  7. Once you're done you can throw it away.
  8. Laugh at perfection. It's boring and keeps you from being done.
  9. People without dirty hands are wrong. Doing something makes you right.
  10. Failure counts as done. So do mistakes.
  11. Destruction is a variant of done.
  12. If you have an idea and publish it on the internet, that counts as a ghost of done.
  13. Done is the engine of more.

Monday, August 16, 2010

What is a Doctorate?

Gizmodo has a provocative article on what exactly a doctorate is.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Wikipedia: Reliable for Research?

See how it's graded for accuracy at the end of the graphic...

Online MBA Rankings
Via: Online MBA Rankings

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Welcome New Students!

Welcome to our August 2010 intake of students! I had the privilege of meeting them in an orientation session and leading them to consider "How Will College Be Different from High School?" To answer the question, they worked in small groups to create some "artwork" with drinking straws, cellophane tape, and paper. Here are the students and their creations symbolizing answers to the question.

Next post: a few PowerPoint slides that summarize their thoughts in words.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Web 2.0 as Catalyst for Rethinking Teaching & Learning

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Messing Around

Last week, TLC team members, Dr Tan Hui Leng (Deputy Principal of KDU), Emily Lim, Alwyn Lau, and Dr Todd Nelson had lunch with the Nelson family -- Todd's lovely wife, Jeni, and two daughters, Abby and Sarah. It was a good come-together at KDU Square. Dr Tan believes that a good team, like a close family, finds time to eat together. (So, KDU staff, remember to use your messing allowance.) As you meet and eat, please share with Dr Tan how you are forging good friendships and relishing great relationships. It is important that we are all happy.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Digital Natives in a New Era: Apartheid or Democracy?

By Laura Czerniewicz, keynote speaker at the recently concluded 5th Int'l Conference on E-Learning:

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

No more final exams at Harvard’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences

OnlineDegrees report:

For the past 70 years Harvard professors have had to get permission if they wanted to “opt out” of assigning a final exam for their course. But starting this fall, professors will need to get approval from the entire faculty if they want to test their students at the end of the semester.

According to the summer edition of Harvard Magazine, the Harvard Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS) voted on this new policy a few months ago. In the article, Diana L. Eck, Wertham, a professor of law and psychiatry in society, claimed that students become “affronted” when they are assigned final exams.

Approximately 23 percent of Harvard’s undergraduate-level courses, and 14 of the 500 graduate-level courses, had a traditional three-hour exam this past spring.

Jay M. Harris, Harvard’s Dean of Undergraduate Education, stated that science courses will still have end-of-the-year-exams, but he predicted that the new policy will soon be applied to other courses as well. He also admitted that since there will be fewer final exams during the month of May, they may also shorten the academic school year by “a few days.”

Experts worry that class attendance will dwindle as students will start to slack off at the end of the semester, while others believe this is simply because professors want a longer summer vacation. Here is an excerpt from the National Review article “Harvard Wimps Out on Testing,” which was written by two Harvard graduates:

“What’s really happening, we sense, is that Harvard is yielding to education’s most primitive temptation: lowering standards and waiving measurements for the sake of convenience…Just imagine: Students will be delighted to forgo finals, and instructors will be thrilled not to have to create or grade them. Everybody finishes the semester earlier. (The last few weeks of class don’t really count when that material won’t be tested!) Yet Harvard’s leaders may eventually have to acknowledge that, with fewer test results, they will know less and less about what students are or are not learning within their hallowed gates.”

Historically, Harvard has always been the “trendsetter” for higher education in America, and experts ponder whether other universities and colleges will adopt this new policy in the future.

Student Council Presentations

Dear Student Council Members,

Congrats again for being part of the SC! (That itself proves you rock!) Had fun with the planning and blain-storming?!

As promised, the slides for Synergy-related themes (which was really Stephen Covey's 6th Habit) are here; the ones for Creativity are below. Do also check out some other stuff.

View more presentations from Alwyn Lau.

Hi, Dr Nelson here. Here is the Prezi on Leadership. Just click play and give it a few seconds to load.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Is Facebook like a country?

The Economist recently ranked Facebook third in size to the population of other countries and asked the question, "What other country-like features does Facebook have?" 

According to the article, Facebook faces challenges similar to that of sovereign states:  like the challenges of governing, protecting privacy, creating currency, guiding economic development, providing services, and pleasing users/citizens.

To bring the comparison up close...  New in office, the prime minister of Britain, David Cameron, turned to Facebook's founder for advice on ways social networks can help governments. No doubt Cameron and Zuckerberg have a few things in common as leaders. Specifically, as The Economist noted, they both know now how it feels to be responsible for and accountable to many millions of people -- people who expect things from them, even though in most cases they will never shake their hands.

Zuckerberg aims to have eventually a billion users on Facebook. Can we imagine the economic impact of this social networking revolution, when Facebook is the size of China and India? How about the educational possibilities?

Monday, July 19, 2010

Growth and Change through College Years (Rita Landino)

Intellectual and social stimulation from the college setting can mix with the normal developmental patterns of becoming an adult in American society to produce profound changes in young people. Most parents expect their young adult children to change when they go to college, yet some parents are not prepared for the magnitude of those changes. To tell the truth, young adults themselves are not always ready for the changes that college can produce in them either.

These changes can be better understood when seen through a framework or theory of psychosocial development. One such theory was developed by Arthur Chickering in 1969 and described in his bookEducation and Identity. Although Chickering’s theory was based upon the experiences of college students in the 1960s, this theory has stood the test of time. As a matter of fact, it was adapted and expanded to include women and African-Americans by Marilu McEwen and colleagues in 1996.
The Seven Tasks of College Student Development

The first task or vector of college student development is developing competence. Although intellectual competence is of primary importance in college, this vector includes physical and interpersonal competence as well. The student who attends college seeking only credentials for entry into the work world is sometimes surprised to find that his or her intellectual interests and valued friendships change as a result of his or her personal development through the college years.

The second vector, managing emotions, is one of the most difficult to master. Moving from adolescence to adulthood means learning how to manage emotions like anger and sexual desire. The young person who attempts to control these emotions by “stuffing” them finds they can emerge with more force at a later time.

Becoming autonomous is the third vector. Being able to take care of oneself, both emotionally and practically, is critically important to growing up and becoming independent from one’s family of origin.

Chickering’s fourth vector, establishing identity, is central to his framework. The age-old question — who am I? — is asked and answered many times during a lifetime. Yet, that question has exquisite urgency and poignancy during the college years. This vector is especially problematic for women and ethnic minorities who may feel invisible in our society or have multiple roles to play in different situations, according to McEwen and colleagues.

The fifth vector is freeing interpersonal relationships. This process involves three steps. First, one moves from valuing relationships based on need (dependence) to valuing individual differences in people. Next, the person learns how to negotiate those differences in relationships.Finally, the young person begins to understand the need for interdependence and seeks mutual benefit from relationships.

Both students and parents alike believe that one of the most critical change areas for a college student is found in the sixth vector — clarifying purposes. The young person identifies her or his career and life goals and, hopefully, makes appropriate choices to achieve those goals.

The last vector is developing integrity or wholeness. This level of maturity does not come easily. Once achieved, however, the young adult is able to live with those uncertainties that exist in the adult world. In addition, he or she adapts society’s rules so they become personally meaningful.

Most often, the young adult develops along each of these seven vectors simultaneously. For some individuals, certain tasks within the developmental framework assume higher priority and must be addressed in advance of other tasks. For example, a woman may need to free herself from dependent relationships before she can clarify her purpose, set personal and career goals, and establish her own identity.

More recently, McEwen and colleagues have suggested two additional vectors not part of Chickering’s original theory. These vectors are interacting with the dominant culture; and developing spirituality.

Both of these tasks have become more significant in a young person’s development as our market-based culture threatens to turn us into mere consumers (“we are what we buy”). At the same time — and possibly in response to being defined by what we consume — we need to experience ourselves as spiritual beings, in touch with our spiritual centers and possessing inner peace.

Personal growth and interpersonal skills development are as much a part of the college experience as intellectual advancement and the mastery of work-related skills. By applying this framework to the student’s chosen pathway through the college years, both the student and his or her parents may be able to make more sense of this turbulent time in life and recognize it to be part of a process that will result in a consolidated sense of self with which to face the post-college period.

Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Vuvuzela : 20 Interesting Things

A little tongue-in-cheek, Kristian Walsh explores these 20 'facts' about that oh-so-irritating horn:

1. Despite its clear links to South Africa and the fact that most South African fans have a horn tied around their neck, the vuvuzela originated in Mexico.

2. The vuvuzela, which is now made solely of plastic, used to be made out of tin.

3. ... this occured because the tin vuvuzela was banned from football stadiums. It was regarded as a dangerous weapon - physcially dangerous as opposed to mentally, presumably.

4. ... all of this is according to Freddie Maake, South African club team Kaiser Chief's version of John Portsmouth, who claims to have invented the vuvuzela by adapting an aluminium version as early as 1965 from a bicycle horn.

5. The aforementioned Makke produced an album called Vuvuzela Cellular. The vuvuzela featured heavily and it was ten tracks long. None of the tracks are currently in the UK Top 40.

6. The worries about the vuvuzela's noise seem to be well justified. A stadium full of vuvuzelas can hit up to 130 decibels - a chainsaw can only reach a meagre 100.

7. Hearing damage can occur in less than 15 minutes.

8. The average cost of one from a street vendor is £2, although no doubt there will be some BOGOF (blow one, get one free) deals this summer.

9. Broadcasters wanted it banned as there were fears it would harrass armchair fans across the globe, but another loud and annoying instrument jumped to its defence: "That is what African and South Africa football is all about - noise, excitement, dancing, shouting and enjoyment," said the Fifa president, Sepp Blatter.

10. A vuvuzela is not just for life, or just for South Africa - it can also irritate the neighbours on these shores. They can be bought on Amazon.

11. ITV voiced their concerns regarding the England game over the weekend: “We have the ability to adjust sound levels to ensure there is the right balance of crowd and pitch atmosphere and the commentary. We’re not going to cut out the crowd sound completely as it is an important part of the atmosphere." Perhaps ITV should have focused on not putting advertisements on-screen during moments football fans have anticipating for years, instead.

12. Not only can it cause violent urges from usually rational people, it can spread colds and flu.

13. South African Itumeleng Khune loves them and doesn't think there's enough.

14. Vuvuzelas can be used as a beer funnel or makeshift goalposts.

15. If the thought of a 'normal' sized vuvuzela makes you shudder, grab a stiff drink as you contemplate the world's biggest vuvuzela in Cape Town which measures over 35 metres long.

16. Even football teams have tried to get the instrument banned, as there are worries coaches cannot communicate with players enough. The French national squad have petitioned to have every seat installed with them, so they can't hear Raymond Domenech.

17. Also known as "lepatata", which is its Setswana name.

18. Neil van Schalkwyk - the man who is essentially credited with the vuvuzela - says the vuvuzela industry is worth 50 million rand (£44 million) in South Africa and Europe. It's a small price for being the most hated man in football.

19. It has produced such masterpieces as this.

20. No matter what you think of the vuvuzela, at least it's not as annoying as the England band.

Friday, June 25, 2010

7 Habits of Highly IN-Effective People

Dan Ariely shares:

1) Procrastination. Joys untold attend this particular bad habit. And it’s one people indulge in all the time, exercise, projects at work, calling the family, doing paperwork, and so on. Each time we face a decision between completing a slightly annoying task now and putting it off for later, battle for self-control ensues. If we surrender, procrastination wins.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with delaying unpleasant tasks at work from time to time in order to watch a (crucial) football game at the pub with friends. But, the problem is that as we get close to our deadline we start thinking differently about the whole decision. As we stay up all night to finish a task on time we start wondering what were we thinking when we succumbed to the temptation of the football game, and why didn’t we start on the task a week earlier. Moreover, as with all habits one procrastination leads to another and soon we get used to watching deadlines as they zoom by.

2) The planning fallacy. This is more or less what it sounds like; it’s our tendency to vastly underestimate the amount of time we’ll require to complete a task. This hardly needs illustration, but for the sake of clarity, recall the last time you delegated time to a complex task. Cleaning your flat from top to bottom (couldn’t take more than two hours right? Wrong.); finishing the paper or project at hand (who knew the people in department X could be so impossibly slow?). The problem is that even if we try to plan for delays, we can’t imagine them all. What if the person you’re working out a deal with gets hospitalized? What if an important document gets deleted or lost? There are infinite possible delays (procrastination of course being one of them), and because there are so many, we end up not taking them into account.

3) Texting while driving. Let me start by saying that in my class of 200 Master’s students, 197 admitted not only to doing this regularly, but also to having made driving mistakes while doing so. Also, one of the three abstainers in the class was physically blind, so we should not really count him as a saint, and who knows maybe the other two were liars. Texting while driving is clearly very stupid. If we were not intimately familiar with our own Texting behavior, we might think that it’s insane to think that anyone would knowingly increase their chances of dying 10 fold rather than waiting a few minutes to check email, but this is the reality. Moreover, the issue here is not just Texting, it is much more general than this particular bad habit. The basic issue has to do with succumbing to short-term desires and foregoing long-term benefits. Across many areas in our life, when temptation strikes we very often succumb to it (think about your commitment to always wearing a condom when you are not aroused and when you are). And we do this over and over and over.

4) Checking email too much. If it seems that there’s too much about email on this list, I assure you, there isn’t. Checking email is addictive in the same way gambling is. You see, years back the famous psychologist B.F. Skinner discovered that rats would work much harder if the rewards were unpredictable (rather than a treat every 5 times they pressed a bar, one would come after 4, then 13, etc). This is the same as email, most of it is junk, but every so often, it’s fantastic: an email from the woman you’ve been chasing for instance. So we distract ourselves from work by constantly checking and checking and waiting to hit the email jackpot. And to be perfectly honest, I’ve checked my email at least 30 times since starting writing this article.

5) Relativity in salary. The fatter a sea lion is, the more sea lionesses he has in his harem. He doesn’t need to be immense, just slightly bigger than the others (too fat and he won’t make it out of the water). As it turns out, it’s the same for salaries; we don’t figure out how much we need to be satisfied, we just want to make more than the people around us. More than our co-workers, more than our neighbors, and more than our wife’s sister’s husband. The first sad thing about our desire to compare is that our happiness depends less on us, and more on the people around us. The second sad thing is that we often make decisions that make it harder for us to be happy with our comparisons: Would you prefer to get a 50,000 pound salary where salaries range from 40,000-50,000 or a 55,000 pound salary where they’re between 55,000-65,000? If you’re like almost everyone, you’d realize that you would be happier with the 50,000 pound salary, but you would pick the 55,000.

6) Overoptimism. Everyone, except for the very depressed, overestimates their chances when it comes to good things like getting a raise, not getting a divorce, parking illegally without getting a ticket. It’s natural—no one gets married thinking “I am so going to be divorced in 4 years”, and yet a large number of people end up getting divorced. Like other bad habits, overoptimism is not all bad. It helps us take risks like opening a business (even though the vast majority fail) or working to develop new medicines (which take many years and usually don’t pan out). Ironically overoptimism often tends to work out well for society (new restaurants, cures for disease) while endangering the individuals who take them (financial ruin, stress-induced insanity). Sadly we are often overoptimistic – my most recent example of this was just a few hours ago when I sat down to write an essay entitled: “The 7 Habits Of Highly Ineffective People.” If I only didn’t go out last night…..

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Another Kind of Internship

If someone peers closely enough into my career, they'll notice an awkward 6-month gap from Jan to June 2002. This was when I was working three days a week at Connectif Commerce - and the remaining two? I was at Malaysian Care's Prison, Drugs & AIDS Division.

This was six months of:
  • walking around the back-alleys of Kuala Lumpur buildings and one or two abandoned buildings, handing out food (usually bread) and flyers to drug addicts (we even 'threw' bread down into hole in response to a voice which came out from there)
  • going to drug rehab centers to hold fellowship-meetings with inmates (the best part was the huge buckets of KFC and/or curry chicken rice we'd also host)
  • scooping rice and vegetables for the soup-kitchens (except I don't think they called it that) which were usually held in one of those streets next to the Klang Bus Stand, then listening to the participants talk about their (usually broken) lives; I can recall at least two stories - one by an addict also stricken with polio and now confined to a wheel-chair, he told me was a musician and composed songs; another by a guy whose wife left him because he couldn't keep away from drugs.
  • eaves-dropping on Bible studies held for rehabilitating drug addicts at M.Care's many rehab houses (along Old Klang Road)

As with every volunteer, I had my fair share of, well, fear the first time I walked into rehab center; the first time my mentor, Steve, drove our van barely 4 feet next to some dudes sniffing glue from a spoon; the first time I stood next to a HIV-positive lady (with open sores) next to the soya-bean drink vendor; the first time I walked into a rundown old house taken over by displaced addicts.

This was more than seven years ago.

Colleges may wish to consider sending their students for 'internships' at institutions like Malaysian Care, CREST, CES, HISTeam etc. No it may not exactly be 'related' to the course, but (not unlike Seth Godin's post on 'free work') students will:
  • learn how to serve and give of themselves (minus the selfish financial calculations)
  • lead projects (trust me, if you prove yourself willing and able to champion an event or proposal, you'll get to do it)
  • learn patience of the highest kind (because the pay-off is not more money but a trusting heart)
  • apply their course skills in the most diverse/awkward of settings (e.g. in prison)
  • gain valuable experience of the kind not quite available selling one's services for a pittance in the corporate world
Best of all, heart work is internalised and (hopefully) brought forth into the world, both before and after the handshakes and photographs at the graduation ceremony.

Thursday, June 3, 2010


A one-stop campus from which online learners can easily explore the universe of free online courses delivered by any combination of text, audio, video and other media. Check it out.

The Adams Theory of Content Value

"I predict that the profession known as "author" will be retired to history in my lifetime, like blacksmith and cowboy. In the future, everyone will be a writer, and some will be better and more prolific than others. But no one will pay to read what anyone else creates. People might someday write entire books - and good ones - for the benefit of their own publicity, such as to promote themselves as consultants, lecturers, or the like. But no one born today is the next multi-best-selling author. That job won't exist.

As an author, my knee-jerk reaction is to assume that the media content of the future will suck because there will be no true professionals producing it. But I think suckiness is solved by better search capabilities. Somewhere out in the big old world are artists who are more talented than we can imagine, and willing to create content for free, for a variety of reasons. And so, as our ability to search for media content improves, the economic value of that content will approach zero."

Read the full article from Scott Adams, creator of Dilbert.

16 Questions for Free Agents

Posed by Seth Godin:
  • Who are you trying to please?
  • Are you trying to make a living, make a difference, or leave a legacy?
  • How will the world be different when you've succeeded?
  • Is it more important to add new customers or to increase your interactions with existing ones?
  • Do you want a team? How big? (I know, that's two questions)
  • Would you rather have an open-ended project that's never done, or one where you hit natural end points? (How high is high enough?)
  • Are you prepared to actively sell your stuff, or are you expecting that buyers will walk in the door and ask for it?
  • Which: to invent a category or to be just like Bob/Sue, but better?
  • If you take someone else's investment, are you prepared to sell out to pay it back?
  • Are you done personally growing, or is this project going to force you to change and develop yourself?
  • Choose: teach and lead and challenge your customers, or do what they ask...
  • How long can you wait before it feels as though you're succeeding?
  • Is perfect important? (Do you feel the need to fail privately, not in public?)
  • Do you want your customers to know each other (a tribe) or is it better they be anonymous and separate?
  • How close to failure, wipe out and humiliation are you willing to fly? (And while we're on the topic, how open to criticism are you willing to be?)
  • What does busy look like?

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Learning about Trust from SRM Covey

Drs Nelson, Tan, and de Lara with Stephen M.R. Covey, author of The Speed of Trust and CEO of CoveyLink Worldwide. Covey conducted a half-day seminar in KL recently, co-sponsored by Paramount Corp. We considered together how the ability to inspire and extend trust is the number one competency required of leaders in today's networked organizations.

Key Idea: Trust is not only a social virtue, but an economic driver. In any organization, when trust goes up, costs go down, and productivity goes up. Conversely, when trust goes down, costs go up, and productivity goes down. Trust levels also affect market and brand reputation.

Personal Questions: In your organization, whom do you trust? And most importantly for leaders, who trusts you?

Find out more at The Speed of Trust.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Why Traditional Books Will Eventually Die

Michale Hyatt believes that books are inefficient and thus the death of books is inevitable - do you agree?

Monday, May 17, 2010

10 Management Practices To Avoid

Read the full article from BusinessWeek. The list of practices as follows:
  1. Forced ranking
  2. Front-loaded recruiting systems
  3. Overdone policy manuals
  4. Social media thought police
  5. Rules that force employees to lie
  6. Theft of miles
  7. Jack-booted layoffs
  8. 360-degree feedback programs
  9. Mandatory performance review bell-curves
  10. Timekeeping courtesy of Henry Ford

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

An Appeal to Students (from Su Ann)

Words of wisdom from a Malaysian student, Su-Ann, studying in New York. Her take on the Malaysian school system (in particular clubs and societies) can be summarised in her plea below:

"Don't be another me, who did a lot of boring things and was so disenchanted with school that i didnt even want to try to do much else. dont be another first-class student, who thinks that they’re smarter than everyone else because they are in 5 Anggerik or 5 Sains 1. Dont be another last-class student, who gives up because of how far goals are inadvertently placed from them. just be someone who knows what’s good, and then go out there and get it."

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

World's Most Beautiful Libraries

Majlis Guru-Guru Cemerlang Workshop (25/3/10)

On March 25th, TLC facilitated a workshop with 50 teachers from the Majlis Guru-Guru Cemerlang Wilayah Persukutuan. It was a time of fun, interaction and learning devoted towards enhancing and enriching the educational experiences of our students.

The teachers started off with an activity which made the point that our physiological and emotional are largely (if we believe so) within our control. This helps us to observe and manage the states of our students to ensure optimum learning during class.

This was followed by interactive lessons on public speaking, doing set inductions (starting a lesson creatively) and learner-centered pedagogy. The teachers showed their creativity and determination in producing sparkling posters presenting why and how learner-centered education can be achieved.

Overall, 'twas a wonderful day. Congratulations to everybody for being a great sport! Check out their gorgeous master-pieces below (smile):


Plagiarism Facts

Did you know that....
  • 80% of college students admit to cheating at least once?
  • 52% of 1,800 students at nine state universities had copied several sentences from a website without citation?
  • More than two-thirds of 2,100 students from 21 campuses copied or plagiarized work done by another student?
  • 15% of high school students admit to obtaining a paper from a term paper mill or website?
  • 50% of high-school students surveyed by Rutgers University see nothing wrong with cheating?
  • 90% of students believe that cheaters are either never caught or have never been appropriately disciplined?
For more information, check out this webpage by SR Education Group.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Village Connections

Check out a new site called Village Connections, "a place where people are invited to share their thinking about ground-up development in an interdependent world. Like a village square, it is a place to meet, talk, exchange views and concerns, including with academics and policy makers."

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Web 2.0 Marketing for Educational Institutions - What Should Happen Before

In considering an e-marketing strategy oriented around Web 2.0 technologies for educational institutions, it’s best - in line with the theme of Seth Godin's Meatball Sundaes - to go back to the overall ‘structures’ and ‘culture’ of the organisation and work from there to the gadgets and tools (e.g. blogs, twitter, facebook, the works). The spirit of a visionally transformed corpus must come first, then the flesh of technology will follow.

It would help to use Godin’s principles cum questions for Disney (see p.223-6 at the end of the book) :

1. Direct communication between producers and consumers – after students fill up the forms or make an enquiry or initiate the ‘first contact’ with XYZ College, do they hear from it again in a way which isn’t intrusive and which in fact brings delight? Do these potential and on-going clients receive anticipated, personal and relevant messages (a Godin mantra)? And, of course, do they receive it in the medium they prefer (e.g. some may not like email)

2. Direct communication between consumers and consumers - the New Marketing is consumer-driven i.e. ultimately the students are the Marketing Department because their Word-of-Mouth is more powerful than all the brochures and flyers. What is XYZ doing to encourage student reviews, student influence, student sharing? This goes beyond ‘friend2friend’ promotions and must go deeper to ‘unofficial sharing’ (see no. 3 below)

3. Amplification of the voice of the consumer and independent authorities – how much does XYZ respect the influence and voice of everyone who visits our sites, of our students, our partners, our clients, etc.? Does XYZ ‘host’ any platform or space as a way of allowing and encouraging peer reviews of educational products? Is XYZ seen to ‘amplify’ the voice of the average man on the Web?

4. Stories spread, not facts – what’s the ‘story’ of XYZ's next educational offering? What’s the ‘story’ of its new lecturers, its next events, its latest branch? What will people be spreading after they attend or are exposed to its latest function, PR event, communique, etc.? (Note: here is where YouTube, Facebook and Blogs could be most effective, because every upload is a potential story – colleges need to give people a reason to include it into their RSS feeds)

5. Extremely short attention spans – how is XYZ tackling the fact that students and consumers nowadays have extremely short attention spans? (Tip: send shorter and more frequent messages instead of longer and less frequent ones); this is also where content must always catchy, helpful and worth remembering! Again, people need a reason to ‘come back’

6. Tuning in to ‘spare time’ – why would the average student want to think about XYZ college in his/her spare time? What would make the college attractive/engaging enough for young adults to want to make room in their minds for XYZ marketing/community material after classes?

7. The Long Tail (mass customization/diversity) – what is XYZ doing about the customization of education? Instead of giving ‘fixed’ educational offerings to students, can they be allowed to choose what and how they wish to study? Can XYZ raise the level of student-selection and student-design of programs?

8. Google and Search Engine – apart from manipulating search engines such that XYZ ‘shows up’ more often, can the college offer great experiences which many students will talk, blog and/or leave updates about thus leading to more serach-result pages with XYZ at the top? What can the college do to encourage more people to hyper-link to the college’s website or blogs? (Tip: provide online education!)

9. Triumph of the Big Ideas – what redefinition or reinvention or re-conceptualisation is XYZ pioneering? Is XYZ known as an innovator, constantly coming up with new products to get people talking?

10. Shifts in Scarcity and Abundance – what is so rare that people intuitively value (e.g. clean open and creative space)? What’s so abundant that people hardly bother anymore (e.g. classes!)? How does XYZ College stack up in the abundance/scarcity ratio and is it focusing on improving this ratio?

Godin’s point is that unless the above are dealt with effectively, unless the ‘spirit’ of the organisation has changed, simply adding more gadgets or Web 2.0 tools may be nothing more than a fa├žade (which people can very easily ignore anyway). So it’s best to get the substance and culture right – the technology will take care of itself.

The substance is key; the gadgets merely the key-chain.