Intro to the site: Educational Technology, why am I so enthusiastic?

The best way to be passionate is to build yourself a stage and share your mind with the world

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Charles Ai

Updated 2018-08-08

A bit of background

It has been more than ten years since I got my BA in telecommunications engineering and five years since I was enrolled in the MALTT programme (Master of the Application of Learning and Teaching Technologies) at the University of Geneva. Interestingly, it was also roughly ten years ago when I bought my first MacBook and five years later when I programmed my first iOS App. While I have never benefited financially from my technological skills by far, being a semi-professional, or more humbly, a passionate amateur, I feel like it was the time to push myself further to the field of technology right from the moment I set foot on North America. And from today, I have finally found a place to externalize my passion by a systemic organization of what I have read, recorded, and ruminated on over the years.

This website was coded by myself without using any WordPress-like framework or templates. Initially, I doubted I could finish such an ambitious project since I hadn't updated my web developing skills for years. What made me persevere was a firm belief that, even at the age of 30+, I should still be able to learn something complicated but practical from scratch. It became a challenge, a gamble, and a tug of war for myself to test my determination to adapt myself to the new world. If I succeeded, I couldn't be more proud of myself and would, by all means, stick to what I have started. And after four months of learning the programming languages and six weeks of onerous building and testing the website, I am happy to see that I have prevailed, at least in the first phase of my crusade. What I should do from today is to add valuable content and resources into the database on a regular basis, and I believe I can do that!

Why does technology matter for education?

To achieve high quality, one must first sharpen his tools. -- Chinese idiom

Technology has never been detached from daily life in human history. Every single small advancement of humanity is based on the accumulation of the improvement of existing tools or the invention of new techniques or equipment. Education, as one of the oldest professions in human history, has heavily relied on the use of technological innovations for millennia. From the stone plates in Babylon and the movable type printing in China to the first use of projectors in the classroom in the early 20th century and the introduction of computer labs in schools in the late 1970s, schools and universities are usually the primary beneficiaries of the state-of-the-art technologies available. 

For educators, we may unanimously believe that the earlier our students are introduced to new tools and techniques, the more creative and innovative they might become, and thus more prone to transfer the new skills into later problem-solving scenarios. That's because technology is not just the extension of our arms and legs, it is the embodiment of some smart minds who were not satisfied with their status quo and were determined to tackle some thorny issues that awaiting better solutions. That said, using technology is communicating with the mind that invented it. The more we use it, the deeper the communication may develop. The better the design, the more we can digest and assimilate from the creativity and intelligence of its makers.

In education, we tend to use technology to facilitate our teaching and learning experience, since adapting ourselves to the new tools and techniques is also a valuable and rewarding process that can potentially enable both learners and teachers to perceive the world from the most creative minds that conceived and crafted these tools in the first place. Learning from others' success is, by all means, an essential skill for personal development.

Educational technology and educational leadership -- my interest

Science and technology are neutral, and they can serve both angels and demons. They will, ultimately, either be harnessed by human beings or overwhelm us if we are not cautious enough, especially in the coming era of Artificial Intelligence and Big Data. Human factors are always decisive in the application of any sort of technology, and the use of advanced technology, such as Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality, computer games, robotics, etc., has raised more concern than ever before. More specifically, those who are reluctant to use "too much" technology in education have most justifiable reasons -- integration issues from teachers, a potential source of distraction for students, questionable cost-effectiveness for schools, and so on so forth. It is unfair to determine or evaluate the implementation of specific technology in a teaching facility where the core concerns (or sometimes worries) of its shareholders are not taken into account. Whichever type of leadership they may practice, any school leader who has a clear vision for the school is supposed to develop reasonable and unique measures to determine which technology to employ, when to deploy, and how to evaluate its effectiveness. 

However, that capability does not come with tangible equipment. It requires the establishment of a reliable system, or at least a robust pipeline of communication and feedback, to unlock the enormous potential of what ED Tech can bring to us. In this regard, I have these questions in mind:

Seeking answers to all those questions kindles my interest. And that is basically what I am trying to cover in this database, in addition to the intro to useful ED Tech per se.

Categories, tags, and advanced search (for better searchability and readability)

To help readers better navigate in this site, I have implemented a three-dimensional searching model with four major categories (may subject to changes in the future), more than 50 preset tags (the number may also grow when necessary), and an advanced search engine based on some key topics (tags). The system is not perfect since the input can only match existing tags, not ANY word in the title or body of the articles. Yet, the advantage is that by clicking any link of tags or categories, the reader can be directed to the list of blogs with the same search entry. I hope this can somehow compensate for the absence of a Google-like search engine. The upgrade of its functionality, however, will always be on my agenda.

In Views & Comments, I would write about my understandings of some ED Tech terms and ideas. But most of the blogs in the category will bear on the tests and comments on ED Tech products that have received some publicity. I will also introduce some articles from other technology websites and copy them here while mentioning its source link and author.

In Guidance & Tutorials, I would share some of my personal favourite ED Tech that has been used for a while. I am trying to add as many video tutorials as possible in the blogs under this category. Particular focus will be given to web-based applications (running online) and iOS, macOS-based apps running on Apple devices.

Tricks & Techniques will include some handy tips for some specific features or functions of popular software or hardware. These tricks are aimed at enhancing our productivity and efficiency and may not necessarily be education-oriented.

People & Stories is the place for me to record some brilliant leaders and practitioners in the world of ED Tech. They might be school admins, passionate ED Tech advocates (like myself :P), designers and developers of popular ED Tech tools, etc. By sharing their stories, I am hoping to add some flavour of humanity into technology, because, as I stated in the previous sections, it is the brilliant and creative minds who are the real heroes for us to pay tribute and learn from, not just their products.


Thank you very much for your reading! Feel free to leave a comment below or send me a message of feedback from here. You can also find the links of my social network at the bottom of the page.


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