Senior citizen LOL

I discovered something new today. I mean… yes, I know… I discover something new every day. But today, I discovered something that made my heart fuzzy and my eyes watery. It was so moving that I got back up out of bed, and came back downstairs to type this blog.

I was just about to sleep, when my iPhone pinged. True, I have a bad, bad habit of always checking my email, even in bed, even at 4am. But I am glad I checked it just now. It was my aging mother… who lives on the opposite side of the globe.

My mom lives with my stepdad. My dad died when I was a freshman in college. Nowadays, my mom is often left alone in the house, as my stepdad still travels frequently, as he is super active with charitable organizations, like the Rotary Club and such. So, my mom is really lonely, really bored, and really far, far away from her two kids. Neither my brother nor I live near her. In fact, I only get to see my mom once a year, and sometimes, only every other year, as it is too expensive to fly 10,000 miles too often.

I taught my mom how to use email many years ago. It was a very difficult process, as my mom is techno phobic. Plus, she believes that she is uneducated and incapable of learning. Born during the Southeast Asian Communist Insurgence Era, my mom had a childhood of poverty and short-lived education. Despite being bright with obvious potential, being the eldest sibling, she stopped schooling at an early age in order to work and support her family of 9 siblings. Hence, till today, she staunchly believes she is uneducated and incapable of learning. And, she insists on living up to it every time I try to teach her something new!

Anyway, I did manage to teach her how to email me – a very important skill indeed, when your family is spread out over the four corners of the world.

Recently, my mom learned (all on her own), how to click on links, and be able to read and see pictures on websites, and also watch videos online. Earlier today, she had emailed me, asking how I was, and what I had been up to. You know the typical questions that moms ask to their grown adult kids… “How are you? Haven’t heard from you in a long time. What is new in your life? How’s work?”

Being the lazy I’m-too-busy-to-write daughter that I am, instead of typing up an email to reply to her, I sent her a link to a video of an online panel discussion that I had recently participated in for my research project.

It was a long panel discussion. Slightly over an hour. I figured it would keep my mom busy for an hour watching it! LOL! (Laugh Out Loud) and LOL! (Learn On Line)… Talk about killing two birds with one stone! Clever, eh? Devious, but with good intent. After all, don’t all moms want to see their precious kids do well? I know that is what I do to my kids. When my older son was in High School, the moment his high school yearbook was published, I scanned every page, hoping to see my “baby”. LOL!

Back to the reason I’m writing this blog. After all, my blog theme is:

cropped-i12lolavatar3.jpg I want to Learn On Line.

So, here’s the core of my story…. Read on

As predicted, my mom actually sat through the entire one hour video recording of the panel discussion. Then, she proceeded to email me questions, asking me to decipher the discussion topics. She understood parts of it, but could not make head or tail of some of the references made by the panelists. I thought to myself, of course she would not understand the specific acronyms or terminologies. Even I had to do my homework before the panel discussion, to make sure I was abreast with current issues. But yet, my mom, the lady who insists that she is uneducated and incapable of learning, was suddenly sparked to want to learn about all these new topics

My brain started to race.

I pause here to remind you, that I was still in bed, teeth all brushed and ready to sleep. But I suddenly didn’t feel sleepy anymore. I propped my head up a bit higher on my pillow, and started to type feverishly with two fat thumbs on my tiny iPhone screen, squinting with my already squinty Asian eyes, since I wasn’t wearing my contact lenses.

I re-explained the concepts from the panel discussion to my mom in “normal” English, minus the verbose words that the panelists used. I re-described the same examples, minus the  highfalutin theoretical references. And I summarized the overall objectives of the panel discussion, minus the intermittent off-topic intellectual bantering that all panel discussions tend to fall prey to.

The result? An immediate back and forth email dialog with my mom.

Now remember, my mom lives on the other side of the globe. Hence, noon to her, is midnight to me. But by that time, I was already high on adrenaline and happily answering my mom’s questions.

An important background piece of info: All my life, I have NEVER been close to my mom. We tolerate each other. Love? Yes, of course. What mom doesn’t love her kids, and vice versa. But to engage in an intellectual dialog which revolved around the topic of open online learning? Never before. At least, not by typing with fat fingers on a tiny iPhone screen at 1am in the morning from my bed… This was definitely a first.

We ended the dialog with me promising to email her more video links. She now wants to watch more videos of panel discussions, where education leaders come together to talk about the current trends of education, and specifically the current focus on Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs). Well, I’ll be darned… I would have never guessed that my mom, the lady who believes that she is uneducated and incapable of learning, would be open about learning online, about the topic of open online learning.

So, I guess the moral of the story is:

(1) Senior citizens want to LOL (Learn On Line) too


(2) The desire to understand their adult children’s lives/jobs could be a powerful motivator for elderly learners to want to learn online learning skills.

I wonder how many people take the time to find out if their parents want to LOL?

cropped-i12lolavatar3.jpg I want to Learn On Line



I embarked in a new MOOC this week.

Yes, yes, I know… how MANY can I do before I become MOOCed out?

But this is different.

My virgin MOOC was DNLE, Designing New Learning Environments, by Prof Paul Kim of Stanford University. For that one, I dove in head first, full immersion, beyond the Baptism of Fire cliche. I unabashedly admit, I’m a changed person ever since.

The next 7 MOOCs were… well… some were simply acts of curiosity. After one’s first virgin experience, it’s understandable that one experiences being on the rebound for awhile (grin!). But in all fairness, a couple of those second-wave MOOCs were quite intellectually stimulating, filling in the blanks that my virgin MOOC did not give me. I will give credit to those MOOCs, for having taught me new horizons in this Connectivist (Siemens, 2008) world. I truly enjoyed #EDC-MOOC and #ET-MOOC. I completed all course content and participated in many discussions, although I never did bother to submit any assignments, thus, for the record, I didn’t officially “graduate”.

Nevertheless, I continued my “binge-learning” saga with a third wave of MOOCs, some of which I began mid-way, whenever as-and-when I became aware of them. In this third wave, my objective is not to complete any course, but simply to sample the diversity, and more importantly, to push my own capacity beyond my normal limits.

I simply want to know when I will break.

I recall learning about this method in my instructional methodologies class, years ago, when I went back to grad school to study “education”. Having studied Architecture as an undergraduate, I had never been introduced to the Psychology of Learning before then. So, reading about such techniques, after having worked in the industry for 10-15 years, was quite mind boggling.

Overdose… that’s what I nicknamed the method. The technical term (in education theories) was quite different. The Behaviorists called it “Extinction” (Thorndike, Skinner, et al.).

Regardless of label – “extinction” or “overdose” – I have now signed up for my… let’s see… I think it is MOOC number #12 now. Unfortunately, numbers 9-11 are quite a mystery, as apparently, I signed up months ago, but forgot which email I affiliated it with, so, I totally missed three of them! LOL!

In any case, I am enthusiastic about my MOOC #12, as it is a follow up project from my classmates from DNLE**. I just thought I’d pay tribute to a deserving group of MOOCies, by congratulating them, and posting a blog in their name.

Congratulations to Peace Game Team!

Best wishes in your new MOOC:

**NOTE: DNLE – Designing a New Learning Environment – MOOC by Prof Paul Kim of Stanford University.


I love acronyms…
This is yet another one of my early-morning 5am concoctions…

Democratization Of Internet and Technology-based Worldwide Education, Learning and Literacy a.k.a. DO IT WELL

This blog was triggered by an experience I had yesterday. No, it was not entirely “new”, as I have experienced similar discomfort in my life, many times. When one has a last name that resembles certain ethnic-racial-religious individuals, who are world renowned for acts-of-crime-against-humanity, it is inevitable that one would face all sorts of difficult situations in life.

I recall my first encounter with such situations. It was 1990. A certain country was being invaded by a certain individual, whose last name happened to rhyme with my last name. Needless to say, I experienced the same immature and unfair verbal hazing “game” that I remember enduring way back in elementary school – the type of teasing you get when kids make fun of your name. Only at that point, in 1990, I was not in elementary school, the people who chastised me were not kids, and the topic was not funny.

Yes, I know, everyone gets teased about stuff like that. And we all learn to shrug these things off, and eventually laugh about it, 40+ years down the road.

Or do we?

There was a period of my career as an educator when I was traveling extensively to various countries, including underdeveloped and less-than-stable regions of the world. My passport was quite colorful, filled with entry and exit stamps from all sorts of places, containing records of my movements in all forms of languages. At the time, I thought that was cool – having such a passport. Unfortunately, I learned later, that such records worked against me, as it made it hard for me to gain access to some other countries – those that have beef with certain other countries.

This was my second wake up call. Prejudice goes beyond a namesake. I learned that even governments play the same elementary school “game”.

Then yesterday, I woke up to a message that I received in my email. It was one of those automated G+ notifications that you receive when someone +’s your name into a post. FYI, ever since I began my G+ “binge learning” experiment 8 weeks ago, I have had a steady flow of incoming push-notifications. Although I had already begun to learn how to not let the barrage of incoming email overwhelm me, this particular incoming notification was one that I was not prepared for.

It was a post from an acquaintance (or should I say online-colleague) whom I had read about in one of the many MOOCs that I had participated in the past 9 months. The content was heartfelt, sincere, and full of enthusiasm. My initial reaction was – Wow! Good for this person. What enthusiasm and sincerity this person has for lifelong-learning and self-development. I admired the passion and innocence of the post.

Then, minutes later, I received a follow up email. Someone had reacted to that initial post, and since I was on the list, I had I received a push-notification. An hour later, I received another response-post, and through the day, I saw quite a number of subsequent follow-up messages, circulating in cyberspace. Unfortunately, since I had set my email to auto-receive push-notifications, my poor work-email inbox was inundated with an avalanche that day. This would have been fine if all the posts were “appropriate”, but unfortunately, one of the push-notification emails happened to pop up on my computer screen, right at a time when I was giving a demo at work. Needless to say, it was quite uncomfortable.

You see, the “innocent” post included certain cultural religious content. Based on the language structure and message, I was able to immediately see that English Language and contextual understanding were barriers in this situation. The person posting was from another culture and totally unfamiliar with the “social norms” that dictate what (we in) the Western “developed” world consider to be academically “appropriate”. Having had extensive experience traveling to many regions of similar cultures, I knew that the “innocent” post was truly “innocent”. But I also knew that great damage and potential problems could occur if such “innocent” posts were seen out of context and/or misconstrued.

THIS is the crux of my blog today.

I know… tl:dr… too long, didn’t read.

But for those of you readers who have made it down to this point…

the point that I am trying to make here is…

I realize today, that leveling the playing field in education will take MORE than just pedagogical strategies and instructional design innovation. MOOCs, OERs, social networks, or any other online methods… NONE of this will be successful, unless we find a way to calibrate and bridge the cultural-syntax divide. Great wars have erupted from similar misconceptions. Language and literacy goes BEYOND just communicating an idea. It is amazing, incredible, and dangerous that simple things such as a person’s name, or a cultural greeting, can incite so much prejudice, or be misconstrued as a representation of opposing beliefs.

In conclusion, in my quest to “binge-learn” and “discovery learn” in this new Connectivist (Siemens, 2008) culture, I truly am now truly curious to see how this will all pan out…

and… I sincerely hope that we will DO IT WELL

From Rookie to MOOCie


NOTE: This blog is in response to an earlier post in my G+ space, which was a response to this original article:

Early Days of Videotaped Lectures by Audrey Watters

Quote from original article:
* * *

I watched the videos of “Introduction to Statistics” alone. (Paused, rewound, and replayed.) There was no way for me to stop the lecture to ask the professor a question. There were no office hours. There were no classmates with whom I could study.

But there was the Internet. There was the Web.

Yes, even decades ago there were bulletin boards and forums and chat rooms that (conceivably) I could have turned to for assistance. (“Help! I don’t understand this question about standard deviation!”)

But I didn’t. I watched the videos alone. I struggled. I paused, rewound, and replayed. I learned alone.

* * *

I understand Audrey.

I think, perhaps, not everybody suffers the same inhibitions.

Perhaps, most people don’t.

But I know I did.

I too experienced similar feelings.

I had never participated in online discussions,

even though the technology was available.

That is…

…until I had my first-virgin MOOC experience a few months ago…

I was “awakened” in DNLE, the first MOOC that I ever took…

…and I’ve not been the same since.

* * *

NOTE: short detour to quote an online friend in the same boat who responded to my post – “At first (when I started MOOCing) it felt uncomfortable not knowing what I was doing, but now, I’m beginning to enjoy the daily little discoveries that I encounter”. Her reply – “I agree… I am completely hooked”…

Hence, the term, from Rookie to MOOCie.

* * *

FYI, I have been studying this phenomena for more than a decade now, both formally, as part of my (small & humble) research effort, as well as for my own (personal) inquiry. I believe the answer lies somewhere in between the theories of Learner Readiness (Bruner,1957), Motivation Attribution (Weiner, 1985), Human Needs (Maslow, 1943), and Affordance Theory (Gibson, 1977).

The reason we are recently seeing an increasing number of people voicing such “awakenings” is not necessarily that there has been a rise in such phenomena. These things have been happening since the initial days of Socratic Inquiry, by Socrates himself!

Instead, what we are seeing is, that the same technological advances that are enabling these “awakenings” to occur, is the same technology that is allowing us (the public in general) to be “awakened” ourselves, to be able to SEE that such phenomena exists.

MOOCs and the Connectivist culture that permeates the online world today is definitely a huge part of this hype. However, as many educationists would point out, Connectivism per se is NOT new. The publicity that it has proliferated in recent months, however, IS.

It came with a bang, with the rise of the MOOCs.

And with this publicity, came the avalanche of public blogs and posts, many of which contain personal open declarations of “awakenings”.

The “awakenings” themselves, also, are not new.
The mode and magnitude of public awareness of these “awakenings”, IS.

When I started typing this post, it began as a reply to someone’s post. But as I continued typing, I realized 3 paragraphs in to it, that my reply post had morphed into a mini thesis. (grin!) Anyway, since I was on my iPad, and since I didn’t want to lose this train of thought, I figured I’d just wing it and keep going. I told myself that I should copy paste this post into my blog website later, and that is exactly what I am doing now.


…halfway through the copy-paste process,

I heard that familiar “ding-Ding-pause-DING”.

My iPhone was the first “ding”.

My iPad, next to my iPhone, was the second slightly louder “Ding”.

And my PC desktop, with the pair of Harman-Kardon speakers that I bought at last year’s garage sale for $1, was the loudest third “DING”, which came only after a slight pause.

I always wondered why the iPhone “ding” came first, quickly followed by my iPad “Ding”, and then later the desktop “DING” — which is the only item connected by land-line Ethernet, and yet, it is the slowest DING. I knew the loudness of the DING is due to the speakers being set on high, but the speed of DING-delivery (or lack of speed)? That still baffles me. I should ask my hardware techno-savvy buddies at work.

But I digress… back to my ding-Ding-pause-DING story.

My reply post had received a +1 from someone…yay!

And a quick ding-Ding-pause-DING later, I found out that I also received a nice reply-post…. whippee!

The reply to my reply-post made my day!
The simple thrill of making someone feel enjoyment,
simply because we are stating a self-observation the way we see it,
is a wonderful experience…
…and THAT…
…is the “awakening” that Audrey (in the article), and I, and MANY others _feel_.

THAT is what never existed before the rise of the MOOC…

Some people are lucky to have mentors early in life who gave them a heads up into this Connectivist world… mentors who taught them the art of harnessing-motivation from others around you.

I consider myself lucky too, as I have recently (less than 3 months) met so many amazing people in G+, right after my first-virgin MOOC exposure, all willing to share their experiences, and to give their time and guidance, openly online. Yesterday, someone posted in my G+ space, “I would never have known that you are a (two month) rookie!” in response to a post I made about being the “new kid on the block”. To me, that was like receiving a graduation scroll!!!

And even more amazing (to me), is the fact that I realize that I am not alone, and that I am not the epitome of abnormality. Even though I consider my “awakening” to be a “late-starter”, occurring only after I have gone through more than 25 years of working as an adult, I am amazed that I have also met MANY others who are even OLDER than I am… grandma’s and grandpa’s who have now become invigorated and energized to Learn On Line (my version of “LOL“). And so, whenever I find them, I cheer them on.

So, I dedicate this blog post today, to ALL the “late-bloomers”… to all Rookies who have now become MOOCies 🙂

And I also thank ALL the people who spare their time to +1 and post replies to others. Such kindness in replying to posts, is certainly the reason why there are so many publicly known “awakenings” of recent.

May we all be generous with our +1’s and reply-posts…
…because in this Connectivist world…
…we never know who we might inspire next (wink!).

Emerging patterns

World GDP 2013

People say that innovation often comes from people who can “see” emerging patterns in the context they exist in.

What people do not say is that the voices of those people who “see” such patterns, are often left unheard.


The posting above is NOT my original complete blog. Once again, this morning, I typed a wonderful long blog, but once again, the browser crashed halfway, and unfortunately, I lost my input.

Also, unfortunately, today I am down and out of service. So, I have no energy to re-type my original blog. Thus, what I typed above will have to suffice. Not sure where or how I picked up this germ, as the only people whom I know, who are down with a cold, only have online contact with me. Yet another strange karmic connection.

But I digress.

Back to my blog theme… i12LOL… I want to learn online…

I wonder how many times this iteration must take place before I finally “learn” the root cause of my persistent browser crashes? I wonder how many times I must feel frustration before I “learn” the heuristics to avoid such occurrences?

Yesterday, I shared on G+ a video clip that was forwarded to me by an online MOOC buddy. I will end this blog today with a quote from that video:

Internet is not a technology. It is a philosophy – a philosophy of innovation without asking permission….(of) resilience over strength” (Joichi Ito, 2012)

If the above quote holds true (that my resilience towards my frustrations of browser crashes and silly self inadequacies is more valuable than actual strength), then, I guess I will be alright…