Category Archives: APEC Cyber Academy

Taiwan Trip, Day 6, Tainan, Taichung (Oct. 24, 2008), and Some Final Reflections

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Finally, then, am I finishing my reflections on my trip to Taiwan in October 2008, more than two months after I got back. I hope the wait was worth it ;). For me, the last day of school visits was probably the best of all, although it is difficult to say which school visit was my favorite; they were all that good! On the last day, we visited Chongming Elementary School in Tainan, a school with which I had worked online quite a bit in the APEC Cyber Academy. This school also has a very strong bilingual program, focusing on teaching English, which is one of the reasons why this school does very well in the ACA annual contests.

The visit at Chongming started with the usual welcome by students, accompanied by a display of some great student work:

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This was followed by a few short speeches and the exchanging of gifts. After that, we took a brief tour of the school on the way to the library for a puppet-making workshop. We made lots of new friends here and the event even made the local paper!

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Of course, the most fun part was actually using the puppets in a short play we did outside in a real puppet show!

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Lunch was great, as usual, and students had practiced very hard to explain what all the dishes were made of. There was so much food there, I don’t even think I was able to try one of each!

Our final visit was a brief stop at Taichung Industrial Senior High School, the largest vocational school in Taiwan. While we did see one CAD lab there, I was somewhat surprised to see a lot of classrooms looking like this:

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And that sort of leads me into some final reflections about my trip to Taiwan. After two months I’ve been able to distill the following:

  • The hospitality and generosity of the Taiwanese people is unrivaled, at least in my experiences abroad. We were treated like royalty everywhere we went (and we took lots of group pictures…)
  • Education is extremely important in Taiwan. Lots of money is being invested, teachers are very highly respected, students work hard and seem very motivated to succeed, and local PTAs are strong and very supportive of schools (including financially).
  • I did not see as much educational technology as I thought I would, based on what we worked on in the APEC Cyber Academy. Most computers were located in labs, either for language instruction or typing classes. Not a lot of time and effort seemed to be spent on other things such as Internet research or multimedia. However, I think more of that is coming, and it’ll be interesting to see what the future holds for Taiwan.
  • In contrast, a lot of digital technologies are used in Taiwan, especially mobile phones. I saw kids as young as 8 or 9 with their own phones, using them for texting and voice calls. Email and IM are important too. Outside of school, kids seem to spend more time on the Internet than in school. Just like in the US, technology use in school and outside of school still seem pretty disconnected.
  • Kids work very hard and there is a lot of pressure, many kids told us they go to cram school after their regular day is over, and spend a lot of time in extra-curricular activities such as music lessons or sports (swimming, for example). In fact, some of the kids told me that they did all of their ACA projects outside of the normal school day.
  • Taiwan is extremely crowded and congested (seemed to be more so the case than when I visited Shanghai in 2006). There are people and scooters everywhere, as well as advertising (lots of visual overload).

So there you have it, my final post in a series of reflections on an absolutely amazing trip. The ACA Contest is scheduled to be held again in the Fall 2009, and I’m glad I’ll still be a part of it :). And finally, here are some of the people who made it all happen. I cannot thank them enough…

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L to R: Yi Lung, Dr. Chi-Syan Lin, Chung Chi

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Taiwan Trip, Day 4, Chia-yi (Oct. 22, 2008)

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As quickly as my trip to Taiwan went by, it’s taking me a long time to actually finish writing about it. Day 4 of the trip was Wednesday, and we spent most of the day in Chia-yi. First we visited Lantan Elementary School, where we received another very warm welcome by school officials, teachers, students, and even the deputy mayor! The interesting thing about Lantan is that it has a substantial astronomy program. In fact, the school has its own observatory as well as planetarium. We got to see both facilities, and I have to say that I was very impressed, especially with the fifth graders who showed us how to run the large telescope. Here are a few pictures of our visit:

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Following the tour of the school and various presentations by teachers and students, we spent some time with local teachers and students, mostly playing icebreaker types of games to learn each others’ names. It was actually a very pleasant part of the visit (and of course there was food!).

For lunch we took a quick ride over to one of the other schools in Chia-yi, Min Syong Elementary. Again, we got a tour of the campus, which was large and very well maintained, like all of the other schools we visited during the week. Saw some interesting stuff here, including kickball, and a separate classroom for Scouting!

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And after a delicious lunch (the same that the students ate there that day; much better than the American school lunches), off we were to Tainan!

Taiwan Trip, Day 3, Chia-yi via Beigang (Oct. 21, 2008)

 After we left Lugang we got on our way to Chia-yi, the site of our next school visit. We got there by way of Beigang, the site of a very large Matsu temple. It was too bad the entire temple was covered in corrugated sheet metal and construction materials, but nevertheless we got to see some beautiful stuff in there. A few pictures:

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Once in Chia-yi, we ate dinner in a local joint and walked around in some of the busier shopping streets. Even at night, Taiwanese towns are bustling with life, and definitely an overload on the senses that takes some getting used to:

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Taiwan Trip, Day 3, Lugang and Wenkai Elementary (Oct. 21, 2008)

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The day at Wenkai Elementary turned out to be an extremely busy one. We saw a brief presentation on digital technologies used at the school, and how Wenkai has done quite well with relatively little (Lugang is in a rural county, Changhua, and doesn’t have as many resources for education as some of the more urban areas like Taoyuan County or Tainan). The entire school has 41 computers in one lab, and one computer with Internet connection in each classroom. All of the equipment has been donated. Students in grades 3-6 have one computer class per week (40 minutes), which isn’t much, especially considering that a lot of time is used to teach typing skills, both in English and Chinese (and believe me, typing in Chinese is much more difficult, as individual characters are formed with multiple keystrokes. However, in addition, the school offers workshops for teachers as well as the community. For the latter it is offering basic computer literacy training, and parents are taking advantage of this. Since 1999, the school has won many awards for various contests, including the APEC Cyber Academy.

We saw several musical performances, starting outside at the school gate with a Lion Dance, then a puppet show, Taiwanese traditions (music, theater, calligraphy), learned some calligraphy, learned how to play with tops. Student performers came from five different local schools. We took lots of group pictures as the morning progressed. Then of course, there was lunch…

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Following lunch was a tour of the school, including a visit to the teachers’ office and the computer lab, where we saw a typing skills class. We ended our visit with tea in the principal’s office, and off we went …

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Teachers’ Office

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Taiwan Trip, Day 2, Arrival in Lugang and Wen Kai Elementary (Oct. 20, 2008)

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After leaving Taoyuan County we drove down towards Lugang. On the way we were supposed to stop at a glass museum, which was closed:

 

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Quick thinking by our tour guide had us instead going to an old sugar factory, now turned into a museum (well, part of it is more like your average tourist trap). We explored for a little while and saw some remnants of what used to be a thriving industry:

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After another hour or so on the bus, we arrived for dinner at Lugang Elementary School. According to our translator, we were going to have some Lugang snacks, which ended up being a full dinner consisting of a large rice dumpling (wrapped in a leaf, can’t remember what kind), shrimp ball soup, and noodles. It was simple, but very tasty.

Following dinner we went on a walking tour of Lugang, visiting a variety of Matsu temples, dedicated to the Goddess of the Sea to protect the sailors and fishermen. It was still warm and many people were outside. Here are some pictures of what we saw:

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All in all, this was a very busy day, although little did I know that the days to come would be even busier!

Image Credits: my camera

APEC Cyber Academy 2008 Contest!!

I am still involved in the APEC Cyber Academy project, and it is time for another round of the International Online Contest. We have designed lots of new content, including a module on online safety and online etiquette that all students need to pass before being able to participate in the learning modules. The specifics are described below. We are especially looking for teams from North America and Europe, and hope that you will join us!

APEC Cyber Academy &
APEC International Online Contest

February 17, 2008 ~ April 19, 2008

APEC Cyber Academy (ACA, http://linc.hinet.net/apec/) is an international networked learning environment designed specifically for K-12 students. The primary goal of ACA is to provide learner-centric, collaborative, ICT, and international learning experiences to K-12 students and teachers around the world. Launched in 2002, ACA is currently hosted by the APEC Digital Content Production Center (APEC CPC) under auspices of APEC/EDNET and the Ministry of Education of Chinese Taipei (Taiwan). With its outstanding networked learning environment and high quality digital content, ACA has already attracted many international users. As of April 2007, ACA has over 15,000 registered learners from various corners of the world.

ACA hosts an annual, international, online contest. The nine-week event for 2008 will start on February 17 and end on April 19. The contest is composed of three programs: the International Networked Collaborative Learning Program (NCLP), the International Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Cyber Camp, and the International Journalists. The first two programs, NCLP and ICT Cyber Camp, are associated with team projects and will only accept group entries. In contrast, International Journalists pertains to personal efforts and accepts individual entries only.

For more details about the online contest programs, please visit the APEC Cyber Academy at http://linc.hinet.net/apec/ or e-mail: linc@mail.nutn.edu.tw
 

International Networked Collaborative Learning Program

There are eight independent learning projects in the networked collaborative learning program: (a) Money: Currency, Purchasing Power and Investment, (b) Mallrats, (c) Food Pyramid and Food Labels, (d) Bacteria, Antibiotics and Antibiotic Resistance, (e) A Day in Our School, (f) Newspapers, (g) Holidays and Vacations, and (h) Weather and Natural Disasters. To participate in one of these projects, students need to form teams of 5 to 20, take part in weekly learning activities, complete assignments collaboratively, and communicate with their distant learning partners through ACA’s communication tools.

 

International ICT Cyber Camp

This virtual camping program focuses on learning both ICT and problem-solving skills. Participants need to form teams of 4 students for entering the cyber camp. The ICT Cyber Camp is composed of a sequence of four learning modules, which are Game Tent, Expo, iHunter, and Camp Fire Party. The program is designed with advanced and interactive technologies such as games and 3D virtual learning worlds.

 

International Journalists

Students are welcome to play the role of local correspondents for their classes or schools. After being authorized as a residential journalist by ACA, the qualified journalists are encouraged to try their best with digital storytelling, using technology to tell stories about their local communities respectively.

Evaluation 

For the Networked Collaborative Learning Program and ICT Cyber Camp, the performance of each team will be evaluated based on an evaluation rubric (see Rubric handout). The winning teams will be awarded a group certificate of merit from the Ministry of Education, Taiwan.

The performance of journalists will be evaluated based on its own program rubric. The winning journalists will be awarded a certificate of merit from the Ministry of Education, Taiwan.

And finally…

ACA will host an awards gala and conference for the contest participants in Taiwan around October, 2008. Selected winning teams will be invited to attend the event. Traveling cost will be covered by Ministry of Education for invited overseas team representatives.

Image Credits: APEC (http://linc.hinet.net/apec/)