EduCampSG – my annual immersion amongst inspiring educators

I spent the afternoon at NIE, soaking in talks at EduCampSG3. Initiated by barcamp veteran @preetamrai, whom I met through Mac Meetups years ago, this is a no-frills conference which people register for through a google form, suggest talk topics using post-its on a wall and Preetam sorts out a schedule. Everyone turns up to talk, listen, discuss and meet people. It’s not complicated!


Momento from EducampSG2

Besides picking up ideas large and small, and crystalising some of your own as you speak and interact, you get to meet enthusiastic people engaged in education. I rushed down to the first educampsg, despite an impossible deadline for marking exam papers (03 Dec 2010; I presented “Using Google Maps and GDocs in the university classroom“). Earlier this year I convinced my department head I had to leave the faculty retreat a day early for the second educampsg2 (21 Apr 2011; I presented “Blogs, Walks & Talks – enhancing communication to promote learning“). This year I broke out of marking quarantine to spend the afternoon listening, and I will pay dearly for this later but its worth it!

The first talk introduced me to Teamie which I will explore with Kenneth later in the month to see if we can experiment with it for LSM1303 Animal Behaviour next semester. He started examining Teamie once I twittered. Might be fun for students and improve project design and awareness of issues. Murray’s talk about having math education catch up with reality identified many areas in parallel with the biologists.

EduCampSG3 Photos « Smarter By Sharing
Murray Bourne decries persistent tedious unreality of math education
in the face of developments like Wolfram Alpha; photo from @preetam

After shaky start, it was fun watching Sham throttle up the geek factor in his discussion about twitter use in schools and wow us. It was fun seeing how well he had embraced the tool and Adrian asked him how much sleep he had. He and @TuckSoon are hoping they’d see more educators converse on #edsg which they started using and were happy to see MOEsg use as well.

About this time I received queries from the Civetgirl about some issues with exam papers which the department’s Task Force had identified, so I was dealing with that. Still I picked up on @ashley‘s empathic “If you can’t reach them, you can’t teach them.” It’s a common refrain by educators deciding to take the plunge into facebook but he and others talked about additional tools and later I heard mention of WoW, Angry Birds and beyond Angrybirds!

EduCampSG3 Photos « Smarter By Sharing
Audience from the two rooms convene in the LT for the “lightning session”;
photo from @preetam

I eventually resolved my exam queries with Civetgirl, who was holding up the fort for me in NUS. Then came the “lightning session” in the cozy LT. At the end of it, a discussion about Service Learning by the ever energetic @seantm stimulated the crowd and just as we got into participative high gear about social issues in Singapore, it was time to give up the premises.

The educampsg3 crowd is a nurturing, enthusiastic one and its great we are a small crowd, it’s quite personal that way. Still, after educampsg2, I felt a few more should come and enjoy this, so I was determined to bring along some of my kakis.

@lekowala and @jocelynsze weren’t passive observers, they spoke! They discussed “Biophilia – Why I abandoned the syllabus and went for a walk” and “What I want to see in A level Biology“. I enjoyed their session, put together in a coherent manner and it stimulated ideas and contemplation which is a great way to prepare for Semester 2. It was relaxing watching them speak and wonderful having Jocelyne handle Q&A solo!

EduCampSG3 Photos « Smarter By Sharing
@jocelynsze speaks while @lekowala ‘relakes’ one corner and I watch
from the audience (cap); photo from @preetam

I am thankful to the crowd who gave Jocelyne a great reception. True educators, they were sincere and enthusiastic about hearing from young ones. My intern now has to field Q & A sessions at my biodiversity talks and deliver a couple of International Coastal Cleanup Singapore marine life talks next year. Yes, now she has even more inflicted on her, on top of all the other projects – but it is important for the intern to suffer. She has been looking too cheerful of late.

We talked to some bright young things, who have just finished ‘A’s – get this, an entrepreneur and his good friend – 18 years old and looking spiffy while Adrian and I looked like sloppy students in comparison. They are way ahead of where we were in terms of exposure of this sort at our age, and this bodes well for the planet.

We returned from educampsg euphoric once again. And I did my miss my social media kakis like @acroamatic, @brainopera, @metacole, @coolinsights, @lucianteo, @leafmonkey, @ramblinglib and @john_larkin

Pity I could not join the folks for dinner again, but at this time of the year, marking beckons. And it’s going to be a long night.

To echo @jaelchng, thanks a lot to @preetamrai, @seantm, @pratimaMajal and @ashley for putting together #educampSG.


You gotta love the NIE/NTU campus!

Raffles Museum Toddycats’ “Wild Carnivores at Geylang East Public Library” Sat 10 Dec 2011

We have been working at this in the midst of exam script marking and processing with Tze Kwan checking in from Australia. A fairly last minute arrangement, but we have a good partner there and we want to give this a shot, to reinitate what we can do with out libraries.

Civetgirls Weiting and Tze Kwan have been leading the Toddycats exhibitions effort and specimen preparation with Kelvin Lim’s support. And they have also been looking into processing manpower recruitment. It has been to see quite a number of NUS undergrads sign up for Raffles Museum Toddycats after I sent out the post-exam activity advert.

It will be good exposure for them and make them much better biologists as they will use their knowledge in a meaningful and holistic way. Just like they keep professors at the university alert with their questions, the public will do the same to them. It also means Toddycats will have enough to entertain every kid who turns up, so Weiting, Tze Kwan and I have pressed on with this somehow.

The “casualty” of this effort was the loss of the exhibition booth at the Sungei Buloh Anniversary Walk as we are too hard-pressed to organise both while we will be away intermittently. Still, in the midst of nature, we can afford to lose the booth and focus on our surroundings instead. My honours students who would traditionally pull their weight for nature conservation by running the exhibition at SBAW are instead giving talks at the library! So I am feeling quite happy about all this.

Our Department of Biological Sciences veteran Yong An Nee has made yet another lovely poster (below) and we feel close to the finish line now! Publicity will be initiated by the library to reach nearby areas and of course we will rely on our natural history network and WIldSingapore. The Geylang East Library is no stranger to nature as it was the Nature Society (Singapore) venue for talks for a very long time.

Toddycats – Wild Carnivores at Geylang East Public Library
Download the poster