Tuesday, April 29, 2008

I'd better save this link here, so I can send some of links to a publisher who wants web sites for ESL learners. Curt Bonk and his students are researching on online language learning research, and I want to keep up with them: http://wiki-riki.wikispaces.com/Online+Language+Learning

Web 2.0 Conference--SF 2008

I liked the size of the conference this year, and the best part of this conference is the opportunity to meet ambitious, creative, and bright entrepreneurs who are passionate about their work. I invited several interesting people for ITEC 830 class next semester. They all eager to come to the class and share their expertise in user-interface design.

I saw this year conference is more matured than last year conference based on the topics and products that are presented. Last year, most people were dazzled by the Web 2.0 tools, but this year, I am hearing more people are talking about usability, the value of social-network, consolation of Web 2.0 tools.

Once this semester is over, I will listen to some of the speakers from the conference.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Teens are not using computer as much as we think

According to a study about teens' writing style and computer use, those teens who are blogging tend to write their assignment informal, ignoring grammars and spelling . They also use internet emoticons and slangs in their writing assignment. That I can understand.

Another interesting finding from this study for me is this: "Defying conventional wisdom, the study also found that the generation born digital is shunning computer use for most assignments. About two-thirds of teens said they typically do their school writing by hand. And for personal writing outside school, longhand is even more popular -- the preferred form for nearly three-quarters of teens."

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

For my sister Nancy--I can sing a new song!

Sing a new song

I love to sing. However, I have a hard time carrying a tune. People who listen to me may have to suffer. Nevertheless, I have often sung in church choirs. Most churches are happy to have someone volunteer to sing. When I was a young person, my church was eager to hang on to its youth. This church sponsored a special choir for young people. I remember one time the choir director pointed in my direction and announced that someone was singing off key. But I didn’t think it was me since I could not hear any difference between my tune and the tunes of the people surrounding me.

When I moved to San Francisco, I briefly attended a Korean church. On my second visit I was already wearing a choir robe and singing in their choir. I don’t think that they discovered my singing disability. I think we attended that church about a month before we found an American church where our entire family could worship.

A person in my family, who I will not name, jokingly told me that I sing like a “stuck pig”. I imagine the squealing screams of a pig getting stuck in its throat with a knife. With that image I stopped singing and listened myself singing. Sure enough, I sang out of tune.

When Koreans get together, we take turns singing. When my turn comes, I refuse to sing. One time my friends press me more and more to sing. I didn’t want to be a party pooper, so I made up a tune with words in English. They were impressed and thought I was singing a song that they didn’t know. It was a new song for them. It occurred to me that I can carry a tune, but it must be a tune that no one else knows.

I still can’t carry someone else’s tune, but certainly I can carry my own tune. God has given me a new song. I sing for God and for myself. I am convinced that God is delighted in my off tune singing. Just as I am delighted when I watch kids sing off-tune at a Christmas program, I think God is delighted with my new song, even if it sounds like a stuck pig..

Thursday, April 10, 2008

For a Magazine...

Each semester, I invite one guest speaker from the corporate world to my educational technology classroom. The guest speaker for this semester was the CEO of a social networking company from Silicon Valley. Just like me, this man happened to be a Korean-American. As I introduced him to my class, I joked that he must be making his parents very proud -- referring to his educational achievements with degrees from Harvard and MIT. He smiled and said, “One Korean word I know very well is “Gong-bu-hae” which means, “Study”.

As I was growing up in Korea I heard this word so many times that it was etched into my being. My own children could testify that “study” was the first word they heard in the morning and the last word they heard when they went to bed. I admit that we Korean parents are a bit obsessive in regards to our children’s education. It is in our DNA.

Many Korean parents will tell you that the main reason they came to America was to give their children educational opportunity. This emphasis on learning is deeply rooted in our Confucian culture. A common person could attain a higher social status by passing a highly competitive national examination. That’s why hard work and study is so central to our identity. In fact, if a person passed the examination, his entire family would be raised in status to that of “scholar”, thereby receiving prestige and privilege. Education became their ladder to success.

Many Koreans arrive in this country from a professional class, but because of language and cultural barriers, these first-generation immigrants step down a rung on the ladder. Often, for the sake of their children, they willingly enter the working or labor class. When I came to this country 30 years ago, I had to make my own downward transition. I arrived in America with a degree in English and one year of teaching experience. Yet most people could not understand my English so I felt as if my dream of becoming a teacher vanished before my eyes. I sat through several classes in a community college. Should I become a secretary? I took a typing class but I was not happy. I was good at mathematics. Should I become a bookkeeper? Although I enjoyed solving math problems, reconciling a balance sheet was not for me. What could I do? I stepped up one rung on several ladders, but none seemed to be right for me.

In 1978, I encountered my first desktop computer – a TRS 80 – and immediately recognized it as my ladder to success. I registered for my first computer programming class in 1980 and the rest, as they say, is history. If I had stayed in Korea, I would have been locked outside of this career. It would have been too late for me. I could not have re-started my education and re-invented myself as a professor of Educational Technology. Now I train teachers how to use technology to promote teaching and learning. As I look back, I appreciate so much the American system of adult education. I believe that any motivated person, no matter what age or gender, can achieve success in America with patience and persistence. This is not true in most of the world.

My mother’s mantra was “study hard” and my father’s mantra was “serve the community”. My father told me that the end goal of my education was to make my community a better place. In a sense my father was telling me that the main reason we climb the ladder of success is to help others to accomplish the same thing.

Since 2001, it has been my heart to return to Africa year after year. I have taught Rwandan professors how to integrate technology in their classrooms. I have met hundreds of bright students and teachers in Africa who are hungry for knowledge and thirsty for an opportunity to learn technology. These worthy men and women could really use our help.

I hope that we rise up in every aspect, not just economic power. To those of us who have climbed the ladder, I have a question. What are you doing at the top? Are you resting in your own good fortune, peering down at those beneath you in the world? Or are you using your high perspective to seek out those less fortunate who could benefit from your success.

Scholarship sources:


Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Did you Know?

He is an artist!

I don't wear buttons for my favorite candidate, but I like the designer who create these buttons for political candidates. My artist son needs to pay rent, so he is putting his talent into working to get dimes by selling political merchandise. Daniel Pink is right, he is a proof for MFA replacing MBA. Simon, I hope you will sell millions of them.