Author Archives: Rachel H Tan

Learning Philosophy 2.0 – Rachel

My initial learning philosophy was: Meaningful application of facts and concepts, formative and summative assessments, collaborative classroom design to facilitate discussion and flipped classroom.

At the end of the class, my learning philosophy has expanded to include the use of Web 2.0 tools such as blogs which allows us to reflect on our learning; use of Diigo for social bookmarking and peer sharing; Google Apps for online collaboration and community of learners; cultivate personal learning networks via Twitter; growing from passive consumers of content to creating content for sharing via YouTube or other similar platforms; organizing artifacts in an e-portfolio as evidence of learning; for f2f classroom learning environment – use of Socrative for interactive lectures. Assessment for learning, as learning, and in learning remains important.


The opportunities for learning new tools was quite a stretch for me but I am really grateful because the knowledge gained is relevant to my current work. I thank Phil and all my classmates for the constructive feedback in this learning process.


Youth Networks & Participatory Culture

The potential of YouTube as a platform to support participatory culture seems great, with 100.9 million unique viewers who watched over 6.3 billion videos (January 2009). According to Clement Chau, teens aged 17-19 represent 17% of the YouTube market. One key element that sets YouTube as a pertinent space for youth activity is that it has low entry requirements and its participatory trajectory is gradual. One of the main categories in the large corpus of user content is how-to videos on a variety of topics, from creating music videos and websites to skateboarding. The how-to video creation represents broadcast mentorship. While this type of mentorship is informal and unregulated, Chau sees that it provides opportunities for youth to take on different responsibilities. As a platform for collaborative work, YouTube is limited.

In comparison to YouTube, I find the Digital Youth Network program more compelling in supporting learning as it employs a variety of online tools and resources to provide an authentic new media learning environment. DYN mentors include professional artists and creators who bring a diverse set of skills into the classroom in afterschool programs. I can appreciate the DYN private social learning network “Remix World” for sharing perspective and dialogue with peers and contribution from mentors to scaffold media critique when I see meaningless quality video clips created in YouTube without learning goals or guidance for the young creators (e.g. FiveAwesomeGuys). However, I can agree with Recuero  the positive impact made by the Brazilian kids who used digital media to teach each other “small steps” on YouTube, with the belief that their contribution matters.

Brennan, et al.’s article on Making projects, Making friends, opened my eyes to the powerful learning opportunities in the participatory space that draws from the best of socializing and creating practices.


Chau, C. (2013). YouTube as a participatory culture. New directions for youth development. Wiley Periodicals Inc, Vol. 2013 Issue 137

Remix World, retrieved from

Recuero, R. (2012). Brazil: Kids Using Digital Media to Teach Each Other, Change Culture.

Week 10 Badges e-Portfolios

In his article, Young addresses many concerns with the concept and implementation of badge systems. From the perspective of managing open learning courses with massive enrolment, I can understand the use of badges by the Khan Academy, MIT OpenCourseWare project, etc., to keep the huge class going. The example of Catherine Lacey (Level 40 Hero on OpenStudy) is an interesting one because this kind of badge acknowledges volunteer hours in a specific context which is meaningful and relevant when she applies for a teaching position.

Fundamentally, badges are all about perception, so it’s difficult to predict whether the key players—employers and job applicants—will click the like button on the concept (Young, 2012)

When we spend money and time to learn and earn a degree it is ultimately for the purpose of showing selected prospective employers that we are capable of adding value to their organization / institution. What better way than to show with an e-portfolio from which they can drill down to details they need as evidence of our capability.

I believe the future of badges and how one shows proof of learning (college diploma or alternative) will be influenced by large employers (federal, state, MNCs). “We have to question the tyranny of the degree,” says David Wiley, and as “hundreds of educational institutions, traditional and non-traditional, have flocked to a $2-million grant program run in coordination with the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, seeking financial support to experiment with the educational-badge platform” – change is inevitable in how we present our credentials.  

Week 8 Learning Formal and Informal

How do experts/expertise look like in the Web 2.0 definition of “knowledge as collective agreement about a description that may combine facts with other dimensions of human experience, such as opinions, values, and spiritual beliefs”?

I think the collective brains in Web 2.0 knowledge definition are people with some knowledge or special skill in a particular field, but who may not have yet achieved a certain rank or authority in that topic. The expertise is developed through peer-review of the published content. I agree with Dede that the validation of expertise may draw on the “education, experience, rhetorical fluency, reputation, or perceived spiritual authority in articulating beliefs, values, and precepts” of the contributors. Additionally, the accuracy of the collective voice would be validated by references to prior or existing research.

Dede rightly suggest that “the contrasts between Classical knowledge and Web 2.0 knowledge are continua rather than dichotomies”  because I think that ongoing research usually serves to ratify past research and are conducted by groups of people who collectively negotiate knowledge base on research findings.

Formal education with better assessment methods, I believe will continue to serve its purpose in preparing people for the workforce, until there is an acceptable way to assess/confirm knowledge gained  through informal education. There are different types and levels of work that education prepares people for. In manpower planning for a (small) country, there has to be a projection of needs, e.g. number of engineers and engineering technicians, doctors and nurses, etc. National curriculum is planned to support that manpower planning. Within K-12 levels, students are streamed according to their aptitude and academic capability. This does not mean that a student who is directed to a vocational curriculum at grade 10 cannot continue learning to post-graduate level. It is possible and it has happened, depending on the motivation of the learner. Conversely, it is possible that some academically strong students may be incompetent in real work situation. Would curriculum redesign help rectify the shortfall? Example, incorporate more problem based learning projects and making it part of the summative assessment?

The connectivist approach to learning is interesting, a good one for self directed learners and those seeking that learning path. With regards to the MOOC phenomenon, we should know that there are two types: xMOOC and cMOOC. In Coursera, Pedagogy, And The Two Faces Of MOOCs, the blogger shows how the Coursera pedagogy for xMOOC is still an instructivist approach, i.e. a classic “sage on the stage” approach but which is one-to-very-many. According to the author,  cMOOC is based on the connectivism-inspired approach, and focus on knowledge creation and generation whereas xMOOCs focus on knowledge duplication.

It is difficult to imagine what education and assessment will look like in the next 10-20 years but we can be sure that key assessment groups (e.g. Cambridge) are looking at how people are learning with Web 2.0 and mobile technologies.

Week 7 Group 3 Learning Networks

Richardson and Mancabelli define learning networks as “the rich set of connections each of us can make to people, in both our online and offline worlds, who can help us with our learning pursuits..” and we all agree. Learning is social, and Karen suggest that the question to ask is – how can we find more formal uses for our informal learning solutions. Rachel noted R&M’s distinction between social networks, viz people we know and interact with (e.g. on Facebook), and that of learning networks (e.g. Twitter) where connections are made with people we don’t already know – strangers we connect with for the key purpose of learning.

On the use of audio and video media to support learning, Eunsung sees an upward trend as these learning objects reflect experiences in authentic situations, compared to text-based learning which is less engaging/alive. Compared to traditional classes she finds that online courses with Web 2.0 affordances and different A/V media provide more peer and instructor interactions which satisfies her learning needs. Similarly, both Karen and Shelby agree that connecting personal learning experiences with relevant media makes learning much more meaningful, hence memorable and powerful. Shelby added that these resources can be used as instructional aids to reteach students who don’t understand the material or who missed a class. They can be used as inspiration, vocabulary building, as a “hook” to a lesson, for comprehension, student projects, etc. Shelby believes that videos can foster student creativity above what text media could.

According to Richardson & Mancabelli, for students to participate fully in the networked spaces (PLNs) they will need new skills and literacies for this 21st century learning environments. Of the six new literacies listed, Eunsung felt that  #3 “designing and sharing information for global communities to meet a variety of purposes” is the most challenging as this skill requires one to have broad/global perspectives and more effort to develop for multiple goals. A case in point, the high quality MOOC courses which are mostly offered by American universities, would require that participants from different cultures learn to assimilate and share ideas, to navigate the LMS technologies, and that the course design serves multiple learning styles for different learning scenarios.

Shelby finds #4 “managing, analyzing, and synthesizing multiple streams of simultaneous information” to be the most challenging as combining various streams of information into one thoughtful and organized whole is a difficult task. She feels that what is learned through this course would help tremendously in mitigating that challenge. “Learning is extremely social as we read, filter, create, and share with one another on an ongoing basis” – Shelby noted that the operative word is filter.

Both Karen and Rachel identified #6 “attending to the ethical responsibilities required by these complex [PLN] environments” as the most challenging. Karen feels strongly that we have to be proactive about anonymity and the problems that a perceived lack of accountability can mean on personal interactions with a global audience.  She argues that if we are going to build PLNs, then there has to be a responsibility of honesty and respect throughout the network. Clearly there needs to be a cultural shift, and we need to be willing to ask hard questions about assumptions that we take for granted. Cyber wellness is an issue that  Singapore schools are addressing. Karen finds the term ‘cyber wellness’ a valuable addition to the concepts of information literacy.

Overall, we appreciate the quality resources provided for this week’s topic on learning networks and the insights gained. From the readings and videos, Shelby found these to be most worthwhile:

  • Understanding the Power of PLNs. Richardson & Mancabelli highlight two  game-changing conditions. With internet access… (1) we now have two billion potential teachers and (2) the sum of human knowledge will be at our fingertips.
  • “Right now, we can be intellectually close to people who are three thousand miles away, while in the same respect, we may be far away from those sitting right next to us”
  • Teaching with Technology Podcast: The Kindergarten Achievement Gap, Creating Video Clips (under Media category), Educating Parents about Digital Communication, and Five Tips for a Class Web Site.


Power of Social Media

The power of personal learning networks (PLNs) is shown in these personal examples, Reflections on Edtech blog and SoMe My Social Media Story, whereby each had a question while preparing for an urgent presentation or research paper. They asked and to their surprise, the Twitter network of people responded to their questions. This is the first time I ‘see’ the power of the PLN. Compelling as it is, I am still uncomfortable about ‘asking’ a network of people I do not know. When I am on duty as a Twitter Ambassador for our department, I sometimes get followers I do not know and become nervous about who is following especially if it is not an organization such as ASCD, Blackboard, Google Apps, etc. Richardson and Mancabelli quoted “To me [Pam Moran], the most powerful aspect of what’s happening right now is this potential for learning that we haven’t even begun to appreciate yet…” in their 2011 book, PLNs: Using the Power of Connections to Transform Education. So what were the fundamental shifts in technology that fuelled this capacity to connect, interact, and learn with others in these new and different ways?

Richardson and Mancabelli cited from Wiley (2008) a summary of six significant shifts that support connection and network building: Analog to digital; Tethered to mobile; Isolated to (decidedly) connected; Generic to personal; Consumption (of information) to creation (of knowledge); and Closed to open systems. These shifts have huge implications for educators, and schools that were built on the assumption that knowledge and teachers are scarce. Bill Sterrett aptly responded “Moran and other tech savvy leaders believe it vital to help our students and staffs use technology effectively– not for technology’s sake but for learning’s sake.” Here is a blog article on 8 Steps of Leading Learning Forward: A Case Study of Pam Moran’s Educational Leadership.

What stood out to me in Danah Boyd’s blog is ‘public-ness’ and the “unexpected and invisible audiences,” as I recall in 2011 when Sunday School for elementary levels were reminded to be very careful if they were using Twitter. At that time there was a case (beyond our shores) whereby a young girl was “followed” by an adult guy from online to physical connection. That intro to social media left a very negative impression on me until my current job exposed me to the educational use of social media. One Singapore example “The lessons of tweeting; learning from social media” as it is used in a ‘future school’.

Cyber wellness is an issue that schools have to address for stakeholders to have a peace of mind in social-media based learning. One of the middle schools (320-strong cohort) in Singapore launched a program to help elementary school children handle online issues. There is also a Cyber Wellness Student Ambassador Programme which trains more than 1,400 students on using information and communications technology positively and responsibly.


Week 6 – Wikis one voice many uses

Using Web 2.0 technologies, knowledge can be shared publicly or privately by way of blogs and wikis for consumption and interaction with published content. Class blogs allow for many authors to share their respective views on the prescribed topics while wikis afford multiple authors and one voice on a main topic. Depending on how it is organized for users, a wiki  might end up looking like a blog with many voices, instead of one. Entries can be archived for both blogs and wikis but the wiki platform is designed for collaborative writing, not so the blog. In using these platforms, organization of content is important in creating the intended learning environment.

A Wiki is different from a blog in that it is set up to contain different pages.  Schweder & Wissick,(2009) suggested many ways a wiki can be used to improve instruction, such as classroom wikis or subject wikis. For support groups in education where the administrative system is left to the respective departments to create, wikis can be used to create knowledge management systems (KMS). In our centre for e-learning (CeL) we have several teams. Each team is required to create  a KMS (one voice for their team) into the main KMS for CeL. When I first joined CeL, the KMS organization was poor, meaning users experienced frustration in locating information. But recently one of the assistant head took time to organize the massive body of information using a free version of mind mapping tool ( in the process of designing the new KMS on Google Sites. This KMS became a model sample which could be showcased during Google Apps training. It was an eye opening experience for many, including some department heads, who attended Learning Week for Non Academic Staff as they could see the potential yield in productivity. Several academic staff joined as they also needed to learn the how to. CeL is planning more Google Edu Apps workshops to address this need for academic staff.

Like Valerie Burton (wiki-centric-learning) we also use the Wiki to serve as an online filing cabinet for handouts in our training. See

One of my work assignment is to create pedagogical tips for Blackboard. I am now thinking of using a wiki to design it with key concepts and short videos from academic staff sharing. Putting this information online will reach a bigger audience.

How are blogs and wikis different in how they shape our learning in this class?

Podcast Interview with Dr Ashley

Dr Ashley is my reporting officer (RO) at the NIE

The 3 main courses that Dr Ashley facilitated are, ICT for pre-service teachers, Edpsy2, and Managing Change with ICT for in-service teachers who are slated to be heads of ICT in schools (using the framework PALS: Planning-Articulating-Leading-Sustaining). Note: This is the class site ( he mentioned in the interview on the question of what changes he made as a result of using Web 2.0 tools

Dr Ashley also offers courses outside the NIE, on social media based learning, video game based learning as well as change management in ICT.

P/S Parts of the podcast (above and pauses) were deleted to reduce the size of the file. Apologies for the large file but I spent over 5 hours downloading converter (m4a to mp3) to open up the audio file in Audacity for editing (had to watch on YouTube ref how to edit….)

Week 5 Blogs and Learning (RT)

According to Rebecca Blood (2002), blogs may be classified as journals, notebooks or filters.

  • journals – record daily life 
  • notebooks – write ideas / thoughts focusing on both personal life and the outside world
  • filters – comment on interesting news

This Web 2.0 tool has application in the educational setting. As Hsu et al (2009) indicated,  researchers are exploring “the potential cognitive and metacognitive effects of incorporating blogs in teaching and learning activities that engage and facilitate meaningful learning.”

When blogging is introduced as a metacognitive activity, my first reaction is – not enjoyable, at least for me. Presented that way to someone who is new to blogging, it becomes a chore and a reminder that I need to polish up on my writing skills. Thanks to the learning design for this course and the resources provided, that baggage is slowly being removed.

I looked at a teacher blog of student’s work: Sheridan School Showcase ( and immediately experience blogging in an educational setting as enjoyable. (I believe I felt that way because I am beginning to enjoy the experience of blogging in this course.) It thought it remarkable that elementary school children are exploring Web 2.0 tools such as Animoto, VoiceThread, etc. – kudos to their teacher(s). This must be such a powerful experience for the children when their work is showcased with affirmative comments from their teacher.

In reflection, I think the soft structure put in place for our course blog has enabled me to enter into blogging and experience, as so many in the class have said, the power of this Web 2.0 tool. I cannot help but compare this experience with that of the discussion forum tool in Blackboard. The organization of content in a blog platform is much easier to read (less fragmented) and I feel it also affects how I write (more fully). I spend more time (than I would for a DF) considering what I will write, scribble the key words or phrases on paper and organize my writing, edit and post into the class blog. Now I can see why my boss who is an avid blogger often thumbs down when I thumbs up on the use of DF. I believe there is still a place for DF where writing is less intense.

In Will Richardson’s blog, he filters and writes comments on things that are happening in education. In his response to Michelle Rhee-Weise’s perception on PD for teachers, he offers another perspective on PD. So, about the characteristics of student and teacher blogs, it seems to me that student blog tends to tell the world about themselves and teacher blogs tend to invite a response to their topics / thoughts (it seems).
Blood, R. (2002). What is a weblog. In R. Blood (Ed.) The Weblog Handbook: Practical advice on creating and maintaining your blog (pp. 1-25). Cambridge, MA: Perseus

P/S I am still editing my podcast to take it down from 35 min. to 15 or less……

Week 4 Educational Applications of Web 2.0 (RT)

The Web 2.0 Technologies table in the Hsu et al. chapter is very helpful for viewing the different levels of cognitive processing possible with the classification of Web 2.0 applications. I agree with and find the prescribed classification useful.

Base on my brief knowledge of tagging as a learning / cognitive activity, I think the use of a location-aware learning app can make ‘tagging’ a knowledge construction activity as Hsu et al suggested:
“Students associated newly learned and existing vocabulary with the animals or plants [objects] they logged, thus tying it to prior knowledge. Since they made the associations themselves, the students thought and made decisions that made sense to them. This personal decision making requires higher levels of processing, thereby promoting deeper understanding, as opposed to being told associations to remember. The process of tagging allowed the students to construct a rough structure for their knowledge base about nature. Students also reflected, compared, and contrasted their tagging with those of others, which helped bring on further learning—by reexamining and reconsidering the appropriateness of their tags and the reasoning behind them.”

Users can save and tag geographical location information, data, photos, and videos onto a map that can be shared with others for review and evaluation. A free iOS app, mGeo, is available here

In this class, the use of Diigo and RSS really stood out for me.

This chapter by Hsu et al offers not only clear explanations of key concepts in Web 2.0 technologies and good examples for application in education, but also recommendations for implementation.

  • As instructional designers are required to promote the use of Web 2.0 tools we need to “become familiar with the technologies and research its use” before we make that recommendation. I plan to explore the use of Edmodo for creating a discussion forum to facilitate learning through peer feedback and compare its affordances with the use of Facebook Page. The DF will be an added feature for the self-paced open course titled “The Heart of Teaching: Philosophical Foundations,” that will be launched in Sep’13 via iTunes U.

  • It is so important to “start small and be realistic.” For the first time in my study life, I had to make a very difficult decision (2008) to withdraw from a class when the professor overwhelmed the students with too many new concepts and recommendation of too many new tools I am very thankful for this course where the instructor walks the talk by introducing carefully selected tools for students to dabble with so that we can have more than just a head knowledge of what Web 2.0 is about

  • When introducing anything new, it is necessary to “provide scaffolding in using the tool.” The only example I can give is with regards to learning in iTunes U. This platform can be very loose in structure, hence to guide learning, a course structure is provided and learners are provided with instructions on how to navigate the course.

  • Table 1 (p.357) is a good reference that can help adopters of Web 2.0 technologies “design the lesson that calls for the appropriate and desired cognitive activities.”

  • As instructional designers we support faculty by creating awareness of Web 2.0 technologies and design workshops to facilitate the use, but truly, it is the faculty who has to “make it a big deal” and increase students’ motivation to use Web 2.0 technologies in learning. But honestly speaking as a student, I find it intimidating to have real audiences from outside of class – hence I could not really start a personal blog as I felt I do not have something worth sharing. I think this fear can be diminished as I become more familiar with the subject matter.