#Change11 A story for you – Part II

This is Part 2 of A story for you

I have re-posted Part 1 below:

What is my story? I wasn’t as lucky as Joe, but I know that I could make up one fairy tale story, rather than a real one.  However, I have been offered voluntary redundancy once, so I understand how it feels, to lose one’s job.

Here is The situation: Wonderland-in Blogoland

One Monday evening the following conversation took place over a virtual chat room:

Paul: I don’t feel that I’m really a competent educator.  Sometimes I…

Educator: (Interrupted) You don’t feel competent? What do you mean?

Paul: As I was going to say, sometimes I feel intimidated by my friend and…

Educator: You feel intimated? What’s it? Why didn’t you try this way?.. bla bla bla… I couldn’t believe it! You fail if you are intimidated by other people. You will not be respected in future.  Bla bla bla…

Paul: I am trying to explain this to you – (Paul RAISED his VOICE) it’s because my hands and feet are tied…

Educator: Your hands and feet are tied?  I don’t understand! You mean you can’t control your emotions? May be you are not tough enough in controlling yourself when you are feeling anxious? Aren’t you?

Paul: I don’t think so. Last week, my friend agreed to work with me on a project that needed to be completed on-time, the project X with a Client.  He left work early when I specifically instructed him to finish an important task he was doing before he went home.  The task wasn’t completed, and I was left accountable for the mess he had created…

Educator: (Interrupted…) You felt angry, betrayed, and would obviously have reprimanded him. I’m sure that you would like to scream to express your anger.

Paul: No, actually, I felt disappointed in myself; I was hurt and embarrassed. I shouldn’t have left it like that…

Educator: But aren’t you really angry and just afraid of expressing it?

Paul: I said I wasn’t, and I don’t appreciate being analyzed when I come to you with..

Educator: Are you feeling uncomfortable with my judgment? I am an educator, do trust me….

Paul: I really don’t want to discuss this any more.  You just don’t listen to me!

Educator:  Oh! then…

Does this sound familiar to you? The educator was puzzled a bit on the responses from Paul and tried to figure out the reasons.

If you were the educator, what were the reasons of such poor communication in the chat room?

How would you respond instead?


After the conversation, the educator was puzzled with the responses from Paul.  This is the situation where the educator might have used an improper approach in communicating with Paul.  Based on an analysis of the conversation, the educator realized that the use of reflective listening on Paul was inappropriate. The following is an analysis of some of the possible reasons for poor communication.

1. The educator has misinterpreted some of Paul’s feelings. The educator thought that Paul was feeling angry, betrayed and that he wished to scream as a result of his friend’s behavior, whereas actually he was not feeling that way.  The educator imposed his judgement on Paul – that he was really angry with his friend. Paul was annoyed by the educator’s misinterpretation, which was reflected in his tone of voice.

2. The educator ceased to pay attention to what was being said because he was more concerned with expressing his views such as “You fail if you are intimidated by other people. You will not be respected in future.  Bla bla bla…”

3. The educator has not been empathetic in listening as he said that Paul was afraid of expressing his anger.  He also commented that Paul was not tough enough and this made Paul felt uneasy and dis-empowered.

4. The educator interrupted the conversation. He has asked too many questions at one time.  This reflected the impatience of the educator in listening to Paul.

In summary, the educator has not been effective in listening to Paul in the conversation.  He also realized that he has not been successful in helping Paul to arrive to any solution.   Paul didn’t want to discuss the issue further in the conversation.

Use of appropriate reflective listening

In order to improve the educator’s listening skills and establish a good rapport with Paul, the educator prepared himself and approached Paul again on this issue in the following Monday evening.  The following conversation took place in a private virtual chat/video room:

Educator: Paul, you told me about your work as an educator, would you like to tell me more about it?

Paul: I don’t feel that I’m really a competent educator.  Sometimes I feel intimidated by others and I really don’t have the power I need to exercise my authority.

Educator: You don’t have the power you need?

Paul: That’s right.  I talked to my supervisor once about the situation, but I really didn’t say what I meant.  I think  I was scared he’d get angry.

EducatorYou were afraid of his anger?  Huh?

Paul: Yes, I was, but I’m beginning to realize that if I’m going to resolve my feelings of impotence,  I’ve got to confront the situation directly with him.  If I don’t, I would just keep my feelings inside and could never express it properly.

Educator: How about your colleague who didn’t complete the task as required?  Could you tell me more about it?

Paul: Oh yes, on the week before, one of my colleagues (who is also my friend) left work early when I specifically instructed him to finish a task he was doing before he went home.  The task wasn’t completed, and I was left accountable for the mess he had created.  I was reprimanded by my supervisor.  I confronted my colleague, but I don’t think I really asserted myself enough.

Educator: You must have been very upset.

Paul: I wasn’t just upset, I was also very embarrassed and disappointed in myself.  In fact, I think I could have handled the situation more effectively than I did.

Educator: I see.  Being disappointed in yourself is not a good feeling.

Paul: No, surely not.  I was not quite sure about how to handle the situation; I really felt incompetent.  If a situation like that occurs again next time, I’m going to let people know how I honestly feel instead of avoiding my responsibility.  It’s not easy to do, I understand… I feel better about understanding what I was really feeling, and I’m going to confront the situation again when I return to work.

Educator:  Hmm (nodding his head).  It sounds like you’re more comfortable about it now.  I’m glad you have shared your feelings with me.

Paul: Oh! Yes. Thanks for helping me. You mentioned about assertion in our previous conversation, could you tell me a bit more about it so that I could apply it in this case.

Educator: Well, let’s see…

1.What were the improvements made by the educator in this conversation?

2. If you were the educator, what further improvements would you like to make?

3. Have you got an online experience (such as conversation) where you found you were not being listened to?  How did you feel? What would you recommend in order to improve listening?

Important: I made up this story for learning purpose only, and none of the characters mentioned are real.

Do not use this for submission to any assignments you may be required to do in a course.  If you think the concepts behind are suitable for your course in teaching, please feel free to use it as an example problem of reflective listening.

I will provide an analysis of the improvements made in a future post, if you are interested.  Again, you might have arrived with a much better response to the above case story.

There are more than one right answer to the story!

#Change11 The Lecture and New Initiatives in Online Learning

Further to my post here on New Learning Initiatives and the Future of Education and Learning, I would like to explore more about video lectures.

Here is a standard Lecture http://ocw.mit.edu/courses/mathematics/18-03-differential-equations-spring-2010/video-lectures/lecture-1-the-geometrical-view-of-y-f-x-y/

There are lecture notes http://ocw.mit.edu/courses/mathematics/18-03-differential-equations-spring-2010/lecture-notes/

There are merits in using lecture (video lectures), when content knowledge is required for the subject domain. This is especially the case in more advanced topics in subjects such as Mathematics, Engineering and Science.

May be the MITx would make use of these formats in delivering and transmitting knowledge and information.

Here is Game Theory available from Yale University with all the video lectures.

An exciting initiative in online learning on Game Theory available from Stanford University.

So, there would be a lot of online learning programs including MOOCs available in 2012.

#Change11 Creativity and Connected Learning

I have been thinking about this basic question: How does creativity impact on learning?

In this post on Why Creative Teaching is Essential for the Information Age? http://summify.com/story/TvhSby7XrzJFKqGg/www.good.is/post/why-creative-teaching-is-essential-for-the-information-age/ and this post on Why Making Schools Creative Requires Radical Change http://www.good.is/post/why-making-schools-creative-requires-radical-change/

“Our modern information age needs curious, humble minds—people willing to absorb new knowledge, think critically and put information into context. Abandoning a narrow, one-size-fits-all approach to curriculum standards would help students develop the curiosity they need to become the innovators of the future. That matters more than the ability to recall an answer on the test.”

To what extent is the following true?  I would like to examine the assumptions behind these.  When the dropout rate of students is high, we need to ask: Why did students drop out?

Posts on High School dropouts – here and here.


  • Didn’t like school in general or the school they were attending
  • Were failing, getting poor grades, or couldn’t keep up with school work
  • Didn’t get along with teachers and/or students
  • Had disciplinary problems, were suspended, or expelled
  • Didn’t feel safe in school
  • Got a job, had a family to support, or had trouble managing both school and work
  • Got married, got pregnant, or became a parent
  • Had a drug or alcohol problem

“While there is no single reason that students drop out, research indicates that difficult transitions to high school, deficient basic skills, and a lack of engagement serve as prominent barriers to graduation.

Most dropouts are already on the path to failure in the middle grades and engage in behaviors that strongly correlate to dropping out in high school. Various researchers have identified specific risk factors, such as low attendance or a failing grade, which can identify future dropouts—in some cases as early as sixth grade.

Ninth grade serves as a bottleneck for many students who begin their freshman year only to find that their academic skills are insufficient for high school-level work. Up to 40 percent of ninth grade students in cities with the highest dropout rates repeat ninth grade; only 10 to 15 percent of those repeaters go on to graduate.

Academic success in ninth grade course work is highly predictive of eventual graduation; it is even more telling than demographic characteristics or prior academic achievement.

Unfortunately, many students are not given the extra support they need to successfully make the transition to high school. As a result, over one third of all dropouts are lost in ninth grade.

The six million secondary students who comprise the lowest 25 percent of achievement are twenty times more likely to drop out of high school than students in the top-performing quartile.

Both academic and social engagement are integral components of successfully navigating the education pipeline. Research shows that a lack of student engagement is predictive of dropping out, even after controlling for academic achievement and student background.”

In response to these, what might be the options and possible solutions?

For poorly motivated kids or school dropouts, surely the school environment may not be the best community for them to learn.  However, there are lots of potential for these kids to be connected to others via the community, both inside  and outside school, so they could develop themselves into adult lives.  So why not leveraging the potential of community as part of their classroom activity to re-boost their interests of learning and socializing?

Here in this video:

I re-post part of the transcript as shown on Youtube here:

“We can debate outcomes of engagement all we want, but the thing that’s really important, I think, to have on the public agenda is really the question of ‘Who is getting access to the kinds of experiences that are productive and engaging, and who is not?’ And what are the factors contributing to that?” (3:30)

“I think there’s still a persistent perception among parents and teachers that activities like gaming and social media use are a waste of time and a distraction from learning, rather than something that is inherently a support for productive forms of learning.” (6:25)

“It’s often profoundly uncool to care deeply about something […] kids have mechanisms for hiding these kinds of identities[…] Now, the online world suddenly offers an opportunity for kids to affiliate and connect with others who share these passionate interests in a way that’s not bound by the social status hierarchies of high school.” (12:46)

“Now what was extremely interesting about Clarissa that made her different from […] almost all of the kids who we talked to as part of our study was she was able to take the work she did in the role-playing world and make it visible and consequential, in a positive way, to the adult-facing world.” (15:33)

“We’re doing work right now in trying to develop some alternative assessments, ways of thinking about dispositions, metacognitive capacities, preparation for future learning […] that can really enable us to make an argument why it’s not domain-specific knowledge that we should be looking at as much as an underlying disposition for learning and capacity for future learning that’s the most important outcome.” (22:27)

“Our theory of change, it’s really centered on the fact that–in the best circumstances–new technology can really lower the barriers of access to connected learning experiences. That it can help really connect the dots between these diverse spheres of learning that young people navigate through in their everyday lives.” (27:09)

The connected learning mentioned by Mimi are based on:

-Friendship, Community

-Interests, Affinity

-Reputation, Achievement

She also mentioned about a Theory of Change that is based on the use of technology, with technology affordance, media and community that would:

– lower the barriers towards connection with community and others,

– recognize their achievement of competencies,

– connect the dots, via community,

– navigate the networks, community and webs,

–  negotiate with others, and

– voice their views and opinions.

Further research is required to explore how such connected learning based on informal learning outside school setting be integrated with the school education and learning.

In reflection, this connected learning relates to Connectivism and Connective Knowledge significantly.  Also the concepts of Conversation as part of the pedagogy in Community and Online Learning (see here and here) are not only valid for adult and community learning, but also crucial to K-12 learning, though the degree and depth of conversation among learners may vary, depending on the maturity of the learners, and the context of conversation and discourse.

I reckon creativity is related to connected and connective learning.  If we could help and support our fellow learners and educators in creating a learning environment and ecology via technology and media, then they would feel more comfortable and easy in connecting, conversing, cooperating and collaborating with each others, and be able to exercise their creativity and talents in the engagement, production and sharing of artifacts.  Surely that would lead to networks and communities of learning that could fulfill their life-long and life-wide learning aspirations.

I will continue to explore this in the coming posts.