How to get the most out of study?

Useful videos presented by Dr Stephen Chew.

Here are part 3 and 4:

Here is my reflection on How to achieve results through study and learning.

My reflection on: How to achieve results through Study and Learning?

I would like to reflect on my experience in achieving results in this paper.

I have always admired people who are highly intelligent and wise.  These people could think analytically, critically, recall matters easily.  They are always prepared to accept challenges and changes.

I have always wished that I could master the best way to achieve, whether it is an academic result or a career goal.  With trial and error, I have acquired some skills and techniques in achieving results, and I would like to share them with you.


First, what would you like to achieve? Once you have written down your wishes, they could become the goals that you would like to achieve.  If you have a number of wishes or goals, would you consider prioritizing them in order?  Consider using some subjective or objective criteria in the prioritization process, depending on what you think are most appropriate.  This may be difficult, but try to make it as simple as possible at the start.  That is, you just list these goals in order of its importance and urgency.  The most urgent and important goals should be considered first.

An example may be as follows:

Goal 1

To achieve a high distinction (>85 marks) in three academic subjects: Psychology, Engineering Mathematics, and Science.

Goal 2

To reduce weight by ten percent within 6 months (i.e. from 75 kg to 67.5 kg).

When writing down the goals, you need to state them out in specific terms. Avoid writing vague or overly ambitious goals because you may find yourself having difficulty in achieving them.  At the start, you may like to try some easy to achieve goals.  This would give you confidence and a feeling of success.  Once you have achieved the easier goals, you could try writing out more challenging goals, which could reinforce your determination to achieve and a way to improve.  You need to pay caution to the establishment of these goals, because very often we might have goals set up which are beyond our control, or that there are many environmental factors, which could affect the progress that we could hardly achieve.  In these cases, it would be wise to revise the goals whenever we feel necessary.


Once you have the wishes, or goals, you must have a way of achieving these goals.  You may achieve these goals by using strategies and methods.  The strategies laid out the approach you could adopt in achieving your goals.

Example: The goal is to achieve high distinction (above 85%) in Engineering Mathematics.


– Analyze procedures in arriving to solutions.

– Review techniques in solving problems.

– Apply techniques to different situations.

After devising the strategies, you need to consider the methods to use.  It is important to devise the most effective and efficient methods associated with the strategies. Consider the 5 Ws and 1 H, that is: What? When? Where? Why? Who? and How? relating to the method.

Method Example:

To complete exercises on a daily basis: (40 problems in text) within the allocated time for each exercise and to achieve an average of 95%  for the exercises.

To complete past tests within the allocated time and to achieve an average of 95% with standard deviation of 2% allowable.  This must be achieved 2 weeks before the examination.


After you have designed the way to achieve results, perhaps the most difficult part of the course of study is the will.  This means whether you have got the desire to achieve the results through the strategies and methods that you have developed.  This may also be your passion towards learning.

For every learning task or activity that you have developed, there are four main elements that you need to ensure to accomplish the task:  Concentration, Diligence, Think (critical thinking, reflection, analysis and synthesis), and Review.

Concentration – this refers to a deep concentration (or focus) on a particular task or activity that you are working on.

Example 1: If you are working on a research project, you are likely to plan, do, check and act  This involves planning your work, organizing the information, resources or artifacts that you have collected or curated. You would then analyze the details and synthesize the information or resources as necessary. After a critical review, you would then present it in accordance to the need of your target reader.  This requires a systematic approach in research writing, because you have to put it in a proper format that aligns with your readers’ needs.  You would need to focus on the main points and avoid deviating from them.  You must avoid jumping steps, as this might upset your logical thinking. So, concentration here refers to a single mind when doing a particular task.

Example 2: Suppose you are a medical practitioner and are performing a surgical operation.  You must concentrate while performing your surgery and avoid any thinking that are unrelated to the surgery.  This is critical as the life of the patient depends on how you perform!  In this way, you would concentrate to complete the operation.

If you can keep this in mind in your study, then you are placing good emphasis in concentration (with a sense of focus), and success is not far from reach.

Diligence – this is one of the most critical factors in achievement.  I won’t over emphasize the importance of diligence.  Based on my experience diligence could contribute to the achievement of results.  Though sometimes diligence might not always give you the results that you want, due to numerous reasons, one should never forget that without diligence, achievement would be based on ‘luck’, and ‘luck’ could come and go unplanned, and thus is unpredictable.

Think – this refers to critical thinking and critical reflection, and our ability to analyze and synthesize the matters you have learnt, and Metacognition – thinking how to think and learning how to learn.  Critical thinking and personal reflection through thinking aloud could be effective ways to challenging your assumptions, shifting your lens and frame of reference, and viewing things, incidences, other’s perspectives and experiences from different angles. Through analysis and synthesis, you could better understand the parts of the system and thus could more thoroughly devise better ways in achieving results.  This depends on your skills, experience and habits.

Review – this is one of the most important parts of the learning process.  By reviewing your goals, strategies, methods and way of thinking and reflection, you could better understand your strengths and weaknesses (or areas of development) so that you could develop goals which might be more appropriate and strategies and methods which are pragmatic in achieving the goals and results.

Remember that we cannot change the past, and what has happened belongs to the past.  We could “manage” the present, and develop ourselves in response to future challenges – by proper planning, execution and review of the tasks, activities or projects.

Success comes not through luck, but hard work, perseverance and failures.  Failure is the mother of success.  If you have never tried, you would never fail.  If you have never failed, you might not have tried hard enough, as success coming up too easily means that there are always more challenging goals for you to try, in order to learn.

This summarizes how I had learnt at that time – back in the 90s.  How do I learn now? See my coming posts :)

Picture: Google image

How about your story of Learning? Can’t wait to hear and learn!



If open courses close minds, what will come next to MOOCs?

Would open courses close minds?  Thanks to Nellie for posting the link. Here is my response to the post as shared on FB:

Would this depend on which types of MOOCs that we are referring to? As Nellie said: “I’ve been taking and giving my own MOOCs since 2007. Informal education seems to scare a lot of universities so much so that they started a new kind of MOOC to ensure that they stay in control. Well, let them keep trying, but informal education and open courses is the future.”

Even the communities and networks here are all open, adaptive & dynamic in opening up conversation, Socratic dialogues, open sharing & creative collaboration or cooperation. There are now seamless connections which would help in cultivating a multicultural awareness and appreciation, far beyond the “knowledge” or information transmission model of online education.

Such tapestry of knowledge networks (cMOOCs – which intertwined to some extent with other xMOOCs and university courses) could be one of the most “disruptive” innovation ever “revolution” both top down and bottom up.  I don’t know how scary it could be for any educators, but haven’t we learnt about the precedence – through the lens of the past two decades? We have all witnessed the impact of those technologies on nearly all “businesses” – like printing, news & journalism, music and entertainment, videos and DVDs, photography,  etc. where they have all been disrupted to some extent by emerging technology – internet, new ICT etc.

Education is just the next on the list, and it happens that MOOCs have since then become the next “invention” since the printing press and mass lecture etc. to again disrupt the whole business.  What is the next big surprise?  Super MOOCs over MOOCs (c & x & ??? MOOCs) where they all inter-mingle to become the next breed of MMOOC – MEGA MASSIVE OPEN ONLINE COURSE.

Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats of MOOCs

As shared in my own posts, I am totally with many who see xMOOCs rich in content, information. Some mentioned that MOOCs are like e-textbook, others remarked that they are the best ever revolutionary or transformational “innovation” we have ever had. For me, I have participated in MOOCs since 2008, and have since then looked into c and x MOOCs and am interested in their development.

One of the beauties with MOOCs is the diversity of opinions, where people are encouraged to raise their points (or arguments), and followed by critiques (collective inquiry). It is not about challenging the authority, though sometimes that sounds antithetical to the authoritarian teaching approach.

As envisioned by most MOOCs (xMOOCs and cMOOCs), it is about democratization of Higher Education (HE) and that HE is a basic human rights. That’s what we all agreed. The challenge is: to what extent are we able to translate these in the MOOCs? What are the merits and demerits of MOOCs under an institutional framework? What are the opportunities and threats with MOOCs?

How could we further improve MOOCs? How to overcome those challenges (including both those views on the impacts of MOOCs – loss of jobs, pedagogical issues, marketization, privatization, monetization, openness, and issues like plagiarism, low completion rates, lack of opportunities of interaction and engagement with professors, trolling, assessment challenges (with auto grading & peer assessment) etc.)

What are the strengths, weaknesses (challenges and issues), opportunities, threats (SWOT) of MOOCs?

1. What are the strengths of MOOCs?

It is usual to have high praises on MOOCs, like this review of Coursera MOOC and this on what were learnt from teaching MOOC.  Major benefits of offering MOOCs include: education access, experimentation and branding extension.

2. What are those weaknesses (challenges and issue)s?

Whilst most universities are looking for best practice on online learning, what might have been missed is that the fusing of social network with the university course do pose lots of challenges and issues that most “positive evaluations on MOOCs have missed”.

Ignatia provides a summary of the findings from MOOCs, based on the full report.

Trolling and irrational behavior in MOOCs

The New Yorker magazine famously printed this caption in the early nineties to draw attention to the anonymity available on the Internet. Unfortunately, a small fraction of MOOC students take advantage of anonymity to engage in antisocial or antagonistic behavior on the forums, towards either their fellow students or the course staff. We found that these perpetrators were cowards hiding behind an anonymous throwaway email address. Up to a certain point you can instruct your community TAs to shut down destructive threads, but if the behavior persists, see if you can have the students expelled from the course. Don’t let their behavior get you down, and don’t let it sour the experience for the vast majority of students who are diligent and appreciative of your work!

It seems that such small fraction of MOOC students are hijacking the xMOOC, and behave in a rather irrational manner is the case in the MOOC.

Hasn’t this happened in cMOOC? Yes, that has happened in cMOOC.  Would this sort of behavior repeat in other MOOCs?  How have MOOC providers and professors managed those “misbehaved students” and conflicting situations?

Differences in opinions in MOOCs

In this harvardx-and-edx-online-learning-update, there were some interesting findings worthy of reflection.

Conflicts with institution mission and faculty’s autonomy and teaching

Clayton has provided an overview on some of the conflicts involved in the introduction of MOOCs into the institutions.  This was exacerbated in the two scenarios:

What should be the theory behind MOOCs?

As Clayton Christensen mentions here, most academics are looking for data for analysis before they would make recommendations for further action in the introduction of innovation.  The first cMOOCs were run based exactly on Theory (Connectivism as a new and emerging learning theory, as proposed by George Siemens and Stephen Downes).  The xMOOCs were again run based on the Theory of Instructivism where Mastery Learning and Video based learning (coupled with flipped classroom) would work

Here is how a cMOOC work.

3. What are the opportunities of MOOCs?

Opportunity 1

To shift the education and business model from the notion that a professor lectures students, to a more collaborative, interactive model where global network of practice and community of practice emerges.

Opportunity 2

To shift the pedagogy from teacher-centric design in an online education, to a cooperative and collaborative teacher-learners centric design, with an ultimate pedagogy to support human beings and a transformative pedagogy.

Opportunity 3

To innovate based on technology and media affordance – The use of different media also allows for more individualization and personalization of the learning, better suiting learners with different learning styles and needs.

Opportunity 4

To re-bundle the value propositions from non-credit to credit bearing courses, with degree granting from institutions.  This would also challenge institutions to re-think about their roles in the Higher Education ecology.

4. What are the threats of MOOCs?

Are MOOCs viewed as disruptive innovation to Higher Education?

Is MOOC a threat to quality education, especially at public universities? When MOOCs reach a critical mass, where students would accept and prefer to learn through the free open course, rather than going to pay for a course, then it is/could be.

How is quality defined? It is defined by users, students, not just by the education providers, MOOCs providers, employers alone. So, if you are to define quality education, we need to consider the different dimensions as “defined” and perceived by the “consumer”. That also makes MOOCs sound like disruptive innovation, as it could “easily” replace any courses by the super-rock-star professors who could afford to spend hundred hours in delivering their videos, and that they have established their reputation in the HE for decades. Would this be a competition between education chains, professors, etc.?

Business Model
“There is no standard business model for how MOOCs will generate revenue. Venture capital and philanthropy have funded platform providers such as Coursera and edX. Currently, institutions and MOOC platform providers each bear their own costs and split any future revenue.”

Unless a business model of MOOCs is fully developed with a demonstrated positive net gains in “profits” and revenues, MOOCs could still be viewed as an extension to the mainstream courses only.  Higher Education Institutions would still doubt about their sustainability in terms of cost effectiveness when running MOOCs and their impact on their long term business goals, and objectives and their growth with MOOCs.

What are your views on these?

Life Long Learning and MOOCs

See this research in the 90s Problem based and self-directed education on lifelong learning

In the MU curriculum students learn through inquiry to set clear learning objectives from the study of health care problems and from early contact with patients. Students must identify areas of deficiency in their own performance, find appropriate educational resources, critically appraise these resources, evaluate personal learning progress and apply newly acquired knowledge and skills in solving patient problems.

Yes, we all are involved in lifelong learning, and many of us would like to use problem based and self-directed education programs (offered by others) or self-directed, self-paced learning programs (i.e. we developed them for ourselves) to keep up with the knowledge advancement and technological changes.

In this social software for life-long learning:

effective and efficient learning need to be individualized – personalized and adapted to the learner’s preferences, acquired competences, and evolving knowledge, as well as to the current context. Adaptive learning systems keep the information about the user in the learner model and based on it they provide certain adaptation effects. Based on the information about the learner and the current context an appropriate educational method should be chosen, which uses suitable learning activities that reference proper learning materials.  This process is usually accompanied by selection of adequate tutors and co-learners.

This reinforces the importance of personalized and adaptive learning, in the case of life-long learning.

We could all be learning as Ana and Carol mentioned, with various options, and paces, based on our own needs, or changes required in our organisation or environment.

The questions are: How far is such lifelong learning already embedded in an organizational culture? What sort of culture would nurture one’s lifelong learning? Is MOOC a way to complement and supplement such lifelong learning? In what way does it impact on our learning?


What is the driver of these MOOCs movement?  I have shared this in previous post – MISSION, MOOCS AND MONEY.

I see MOOCs as a transition towards opening up Higher Education to different parties – and some may call it fragmentation, whilst others would call it as transformation and disruptive innovation.

The response to these changes seem to lie with FIGHT, DEVELOP or FLIGHT responses, with opponents of MOOCs fighting hard to sustain certain traditional values, and proponents claiming glory towards marketization and transformation, with democratization of Higher Education.

Jonathan says in this post on moocs could be disastrous for students and professors:

Somewhere right now, private companies, university administrators, and/or politicians are already planning an all-MOOC future for most of tomorrow’s college students. Unlike today’s MOOC participants, these future students will have to pay for access to them.

Not too many people might have predicted and thought about the impact of xMOOCs on HE institutions, faculty, professors, learners and community at large. We need debates, discourses, voices of both pro and anti MOOCs to gain a better understanding of their concerns or interests, and what may be some of the better options to overcome those challenges and “wicked problems” faced by Higher Education institutions.

There is now a trend that MOOCs would move on, when all the big 3 players (edX, Coursera, and Udacity) and many other players in other parts of the world (UK, Australia, Europe, Japan, Asia) continue to offer taster MOOCs or experimental MOOCs to test the waters, or that MOOCs providers and HE institutions to reap as much as possible (global students, money, market share etc.) using this golden opportunity.

There are set-backs such as the recent report on San Jose State University Puts MOOC on hold, also shared here.  We need more data to understand the problem and how MOOCs might solve the problem.

Many educators and professors are obviously concerned about their job security and long term prosperity.  Tamar reports in this post: “Most faculty objections arise out of concerns about how online courses impinge on the professor-student relationship — and how they may lead to the privatization of public universities, and the loss of faculty jobs.”

However, this is not just because of MOOCs, but rather systemic and pedagogical issues, where hundred years of traditional model of HE has been challenged by the professors and xMOOCs pioneers themselves. This may be once in a life-time or century opportunity for all stakeholders concerned, including MOOCs, HE institutions, professors, educators, learners, and others like businesses, venture capital firms and investors, philanthropists etc. to exercise their “power”, control over education and learning. Would those win take all?

How would our Higher Education Institutions, faculty, professors and educators and MOOC providers adapt and change in response to these huge flux in the ecology?

Here is my share where I conceive MOOC as an adaptive system and network ecology to the future of Higher Education.

MOOC or not?  That is not A SIMPLE question, BUT THE QUESTION that every Higher Education Institution must answer in the near future.  There is simply no return!

Would the traditional model of education with MASS LECTURES WITH FEW HUNDREDS OF STUDENTS SURVIVE? May be, but may be not with the revolution and tsunami of MOOCs.

What would you see might be the future of Higher Education?