September 9, 2010, 2:24 pm
Beijing — Perhaps the most crucial technology at Tsinghua University is the bicycle.
Bikes are everywhere on the campus here, parked by the hundreds outside of classroom buildings, or wheeling along the sidewalks, bike lanes, and streets inside the university’s gates.
When I stopped at lunchtime today to ask a student for directions to the nearest cafeteria, he pointed me off into the distance but then stressed that it was too far to go on foot. So he offered to give me a lift on the back panel of his beat-up old ride.
Along the way, I asked him and his friend, Liu Zheng, about their tech use (naturally). They’re both seniors in the computer-science department hoping to land jobs in Beijing’s booming tech sector after they graduate, and both named Google as their first choice of employers. When asked why, Mr. Zheng said, “it’s open,” by which he meant its policies, not that it would be …
September 8, 2010, 1:00 pm
Beijing—A group of professors and teachers in China is having trouble trading tips for using the Internet for education these days.
They run their online discussion on Google Groups, which is blocked by Chinese nationwide Internet filters.
“It’s really a big problem for us because for our discussions we depend on it,” said Zhuang Xiuli, an instructor of education technology at Beijing Normal University.
The educators are still able to use the Google Group, where they discuss online videos about education and trade tips on teaching with technology, but they have to find the latest way to go around the blockade to do so.
“There’s always some trick,” said Ms. Zhuang, who also writes a blog (in Chinese) about online learning.
Why not just move the group to some similar discussion service in China run by another company? The professor says she has not been able to find one…
September 7, 2010, 5:41 pm
Singapore—During a panel discussion I moderated at Singapore Management University last week, professors working here talked about cultural differences they see compared to institutions in other countries — such as a greater reluctance by students to share drafts of works online.
Check out highlights from the video, below.
Thanks to Michael Netzley, an assistant professor of corporate communication practice, for organizing the thoughtful panel.
September 6, 2010, 9:00 am
Singapore—For some researchers in the Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research & Technology, every Tuesday means another meeting by videoconference. Findings are shared, research procedures are debated, and suggestions for next steps are decided with people who in some cases are known only as an image on a screen.
Maroun Khoury, a postdoctoral associate for the effort, which runs joint research projects between the two locations, recently found out that the giant high-resolution screens in the conference rooms at facilities here and at MIT made him think of his colleagues as TV stars when he finally met them in person.
“It was like meeting celebrities because it was like, ‘I only know you from TV, I know you from the screen,’” he said when I visited the conference room for the lab here, with two giant high-resolution screens on one wall and a small camera mounted between them. One screen is…
September 3, 2010, 1:00 pm
Singapore—Next month a major undergraduate division of the National University of Singapore will ask students to stay out of the classroom for a whole week—and force professors to teach online instead. It’s an unusual drill to prepare for any unexpected campus shutdown, and it was inspired by the SARS outbreaks of 2003 and last year’s concerns about H1N1.
Last week the National University of Singapore staged a series of workshops for the division (the faculty of arts and social sciences) to make sure every professor knows how to use tools that let them teach from home using audio chat, video lectures recorded from their laptops, or other virtual-delivery methods. Later in the semester, other divisions will take their turn switching to online for a week, and most every class at the university will participate sometime this academic year.
Professors have not complained about the…
September 2, 2010, 2:00 pm
Singapore—The cab driver had trouble finding the country’s newest, and most unusual, university. That’s because it isn’t built yet, and so far the founding staff members of Singapore University of Technology and Design, as it is called, manage the campus’s construction from offices in an out-of-the-way language-school building.
The new university’s administrative offices do sport plenty of large banners bearing the institution’s logo, so I was able to spot the school from the street and steer the driver to our destination. I soon learned how proud SUTD’s leaders are of that logo, and what it says about Singapore’s ambitions for the institution.
When I got to the offices I sort of mangled my formal greeting of the university’s associate provost, Pey Kin-Leong. I’m still getting used to the custom here of presenting your business card by holding it with two hands and…
September 1, 2010, 2:31 pm
Singapore – Dozens of freshmen at Singapore Management University spent Wednesday evening learning how to wiki—to use software that lets multiple people write and edit class projects online. Though many said mastering the software would be useful (they’re using the same platform that underpins Wikipedia), some were wary of the collaborative tool, with its public nature and the ability to toss out or revise the work of their classmates.
“It’s dangerous, actually,” said Liu Huan, one of the students, in an interview after the training session. “I can change everything that others have done.”
Why is that so bad? It puts students in the awkward position of having to publically correct a peer, which can cause them to lose face.
“It’s a very Asia context,” said the student sitting next to Ms. Huan, who said her full name is Arathi. “You have to be more aware of others and have a sensitivity…
August 30, 2010, 11:17 am
The best time of day for East Coast scholars to set up a videoconference with researchers in Singapore is 8 a.m. That’s 8 p.m. in the small but hyper-wired island nation — not unreasonably early or late for participants at either end. Both groups might be a bit groggy — one starting its day and the other winding down.
The Internet has become the global campus quad, a virtual green space between various facilities in our increasingly flat world. Scholars can use this online space to maintain connections when they can’t walk over to the distant lab or classroom in person.
American colleges would not be building as many foreign campuses without the knowledge that they could keep them connected to professors and students back home with audio and video links. And joint research projects could not be sustained without the ability to e-mail draft research papers and beam data across oceans….