Sunday, March 10, 2013

How devices are making us rethink our seating positions?

Who would have thought that something as simple as just sitting on a chair has evolved over the recent years due to the ubiquitous use of tablets and other similar devices. No longer are chairs being designed just for the desktop or laptop-centric workplace environment. With the recent convergence of other smaller form-factor devices being part of our daily routine, there is a need to rethink our ideas of what a chair should be. This is where I thought the rethinking of the design of the humble chair is a step in the right direction. It just reminded me of a blog post that I did once before, about the need to standardize finger and hand gesturing across all devices, something similar to what signing does for the hearing and/or speech-impaired.

Taken from:

Have a look at a short video:

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Video: Fast Sketch - Landscape Design

Love the landcape and architectural sketches done in this clip. Would love to try out some of his techniques, on a digital platform if possible:

Thursday, March 7, 2013

The idea of faces on objects

Photo by: irfandarian, idphotography 2013
In recent months, I've started to notice faces in some of the objects that I used or passed by daily. No, it is not because I have gone nutty up there, but it seems strange to me that sometimes we can see things that we want to see in all these lifeless things around us.

Or perhaps this is just one of those skeuomorphic tendencies that I have as I delve a little deeper into the subject matter of design. Perhaps replicating a face-like design in some objects would lead to a greater acceptance by its users of the intended objects. Or perhaps, it is part of that grand plan, at the psychological or neural level, to make people happy about using the intended products! Or perhaps, it is just my mind playing face-recognising games on me, on those bored mornings/afternoons/evenings...the reasons I might never clearly know or find out, but one thing I do know is that not all things lends itself well to have a face implanted or imagined on it!

But then again...that's just my opinion.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

When technology stupefies you!

Taken from:
I was driving home the other day and a thought just struck me. If I was caught in a traffic jam but am in a very familiar road situation, would I still need a GPS system to guide me out of the jam? Would I be able to make that dynamic decision to perhaps change my route, that could perhaps save me from being stuck unnecessarily in an avoidable jam?

Perhaps when one talks about such a technology as the GPS system, one can't help but be thankful that such a technology exists, but I do feel that the convenience of having one does stupefies the user a little.  Now let me qualify my statement that no, it doesn't mean that using GPS confines one to a state of stupidity. It is just that the very fact that one knows that one has it, and can depend on it, would lead to a tendency of its users from moving away from thinking through their decisions, and solely based their directional judgements on a machine, which might not be able to perhaps see the jam 200 m ahead of you!

But on the other hand, I do feel that the GPS is a godsend in certain contexts and situations, more so in a situation where you are in an unfamiliar road condition or routes, or you are simply driving through a location that you have been a long while back, but have somewhat changed over the years. I do think that GPS is a good 'friend' to have by your side in such situations, but having them to make that judgements for you when you are on familiar ground, just seems a little 'not using your brain and letting it to rot' kinda of moment for me.

But then again, this is just my personal opinion.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Video: The 3 ways that good design makes you happy #designology

I concur about his idea of how good design makes you happy. But the pragmatist in me would also like to see design that makes the experience of the user using it happy too, rather than just be having that feeling at the visceral levels. On another note, I would love to have that teapot at my place!

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Video: Design is in the Details #designology

"Design doesn't have to be about grand gestures, but can solve small, universal and overlooked problems." Paul Bennett, Chief Creative Officer, IDEO

I love the reframing of a storage system for children.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Hingeless bendable speaker: #MadeWithPaper

A visual of the proposed hingeless, bendable speaker.
Inspired by the need to be simple, the hingeless, bendable speaker idea sketched above works on the idea of simplifying the practise of customising the users' experiences with their current portable speakers. Allowing the speakers to bend at almost all angles for customisability, whilst at the same time, leveraging on a flexible material type that one would use to clip excess wires of extension cords, I thought these ideas could converge to form the above design quite simple. The speaker itself is envisioned to be curved for added acoustics, and aesthetics.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

ForkSpoon+Knife: #MadeWithPaper

Version 1: ForkSpoon combination
Version 2: ForkSpoon+Knife combination
Inspired from my own personal experiences with my children, I think that there is a lot of potential for a combined Fork+Spoon+Knife utility product. With the advent of magnets in a lot more product uses, I thought the use of such adhesive-able element in the above combi would play nicely with making the combination more useful and utilitarian, but at the same time, without sacrificing the simplicity of its function!

Sunday, February 24, 2013

A-Sketch-a-Day 2013: The Paper app project #MadeWithPaper

Screen grab of my Design(ology) page on Facebook,
for my A-Sketch-a-Day (aSkaD2013) project
The screen grab above is taken from my design(ology) Facebook Page as part of my personal+Professional project for 2013, to sketch something...anything, at least once a day. I might have failed on certain days to sketch anything at all, but definitely I've made up for these 'dry' days by sketching things out on my more inspired days.

It has been quite a journey to be disciplined enough to allocate some time to work on these, but I realise that a certain degree of change of mindset would need to happen before I even work on these. It helps that I don't find sketching a chore, in fact I do find sketching these ideas, some random, and some intentional, therapeutic. Strange...yes, but that's how I feel for these sketches.

It would be good to get some comments from people out there regarding what more could I sketch..perhaps a theme, an object....or something that comes to your mind. Would love to hear something from you dear readers.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Google Glass in the classroom...some ideas

I thought it's really cool that Google is working on an experimental project with lots of potential like the  Google Glass, and I am sure it would just be a matter of time, perhaps really soon, before its initial potential could be seen in the classrooms. And perhaps to get the ball rolling, here are my 5 initial thoughts on how it can be used in the classrooms.
  1. Have the Glass networked with one another and the teacher's, and students would then be able to  see a virtual board on their screens, or see the Google Docs that the teacher has opened from his/her shared Google Drive. Very useful when used out of the classrooms, say during field-trips or school outings to locations out of the school premises
  2. Conference calls, hangouts, Skyping using the Glass would be an even better experience with the Glass. Students and teachers could work from different locations, even different countries, and lessons could be done via the video tool. In fact, recording the lessons would be a natural thing to do, followed up by perhaps a review of the lesson/s.
  3. Alternatively, the concept of a Flipped Classroom could be greatly enhanced here. Students would be able to learn content before their lessons, from other sources, and then present them to their classmates during lessons. In fact, why not enable multiple screens to appear on the Glass, so that there could be one-to-many interactions.
  4. Allow the teacher to form groups within the class through linking the Glasses together, and get students to then collaborate on working on a project whilst leveraging on it. It could be a small group of students working on a media coverage of a school event, but being in different locations and reporting in ala a news network, at different times of the event.
  5. Link up the Glass with sketching elements like a stylus, or why not enable the finger/s of the Glass wearer to be the stylus. Students would then work on sketching their ideas, on say, a subject area on coming out with designs to solve a physical problem. If networked, small groups of students would be able to work on these set of sketches concurrently! In fact, if computing power permits, why just work on 2D....let's have 3-dimensionality in these Glasses as well. SketchUp on Glass anyone?
These are just my initial thoughts of the potentials of Glass in classrooms, that I can think of at the moment. There's definitely more ideas out there, on top and above what I've read about in some of the comments and articles. Perhaps the above might work in the first versions...or not. But whatever it is, the Glass would definitely open up newer unimaginable possibilities to the teachers in the classrooms.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Teaching concepts: Eliciting the 4 concepts in 1-point perspective

As part of the professional development (PD) exercise in my current institution, I recently volunteered to be a participant in a PD sharing session on Conceptual Teaching. It definitely is an elucidating session for me, and what I took away from that session is a clearer idea of what concepts are, and how a teacher can deepen the students' learning through the idea of teaching concepts.

Well, certainly teaching concepts in the classrooms is not an easy exercise on its own, as it does require a certain significant degree of preparation and set of examples, and counter-examples, of what concepts are. But what I do appreciate most is the idea that for learning to be really deep and significant, the ability to deepen the students' conceptual understanding, and then perhaps being able to get students to apply and transfer these concepts into other contexts, is THAT thing that would be the epitome of what effective LEARNING is all about. If students do not just merely regurgitate nor memorise, but more importantly, being able to have a deep understanding of the materials being taught, and then, being able to apply them into other contexts, that is perhaps the ideal model of what learning is all about.

I was initially a bit skeptical about how to apply Conceptual Teaching into a topic or into content areas that is primarily skills-centric, but nonetheless, being the adventurous me, I decided to give it a shot! Loo and behold, I did manage to work on developing concepts on what 1-point perspective is all about, or not. Here are the 4 concepts that I've managed to elicit from my interactions from my 2 classes of Year 1's (12-13 year olds). Here are the 4-concepts, taken from the white board.

4 key concepts to define a 1-point perspective drawing, plus an optional
working concept, for my students
What do you think of these 4 concepts? Are these enough to define that a perspective sketch is 1-point, versus one that is not? Let me hear your thoughts.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

iPadifying my classroom: Explain Everything...Part 1

I am currently very actively looking at a model of flipped teaching, and the likes, and am exploring the use of the Explain Everything app on the iPad as a tool that would help me to get to that eventuality in certain aspects or content areas of my lessons.

Screen grab from their web site
It has been a mix of both good and trying experience in using the app so far, but more good has so far come out of my experimentation, rather than the bad. In fact I have just managed to finish working on my second clip in class earlier today, and am definitely looking at a model whereby these recordings could be used again, and even retrieved by the students during their practise or revision sessions later on, or when I am not present for lessons.

In case any of the readers reading this blog have any experience using the app, or are also using the app for their own teaching and learning, please do share with me on some of your thoughts or ideas. We could perhaps learn from each other too. I'm contactable at the usual links that you read off the side of this blog page.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

5 things I like about the Paper app

Screen-grab of the Paper app
I have been using the Paper app by FiftyThree for almost a year now, and I must say it is still one of my favourite sketching tool, no...make it my MOST favourite sketching tool in my iPad. And with my recent upgrade to the Retina display version of the iPad, it has been a godsend too.

Let me just state why it has been my app of choice for most of my sketches:

  1. The look-and-feel: The look-and-feel of the app is shall I say it...just right aesthetically. The team at fiftythree has spent a lot of effort, and indeed being voted as a winner in 2012's Apple Design Award is, I think, one of the more deserving accolade that they should win, perhaps of many more to come. The clean and simple interface just smacks of simplicity and zen-ness, whilst still maintaining a certain level of functionality in giving the users options and choices, to pursue and peruse the app in their own desired way.
  2. Undo: I find the undo concept, akin to the rewinding of a turntable, a very innovative one. Viewing the interview video done with the design team, I can now understand the background behind this unique design. It is indeed an efficient tool for me as a user.
  3. Colour palette: The updated versions launched recently includes a colour palette that enables users to have better and more control over the colour. I thought this is a neat idea, given the fact that I usually use several tones of some hues for some of my sketches.
  4. Sketchbooks: The idea of incorporating 'sketchbooking' elements rather than loose sheets, like some other sketching apps, is also a step in the right direction for me. It helps me to organise my sketches, and allows me to clarify my ideas and thoughts better too. With the added functionality of copying from one page of a book, to another, it makes the experience even better!
  5. Pay for what you use/need: Yes, although the basic edition is free, you can still upgrade, but just pay only for those that you use or need. But if you are like me, just get everything!
I guess there are several more reasons that I can quote, but the above are perhaps the major reasons, not in any particular order, that have made me really love this app.

But I do admit it is not perfect! There are some nice-to-have functions that I wish they could have added on, but alas, that in itself could be one post that I might be doing at another time then. In the meantime, I am just enjoying what they have to offer, and perhaps doing a little more sketching too!

For a look at some of my works, you can Like my page on Facebook, or view my 'A Sketch A Day Project 2013' (Twitter hashtag: #aSkaD2013) HERE, plus my other sketches and contributions. You can also see my works specifically on the Paper app on my Behance page HERE.

Friday, January 25, 2013

5 ideas to improve Edmodo

As I've said in my previous post, I have only been using Edmodo for 4 weeks. These are 5 ideas that I thought would help to make the platform more effective, but then again, these are only ideas from me as a very early adopter, and my teaching and learning workflow could be different from others...or not. So here are my 5 ideas to improve Edmodo:

  1. Show more preview of the attached files: I thought having the ability to show a little more of the attached files is a good idea to have, akin to how one can browse through the pages of a .pdf document in the Finder window on a Mac-based system.
  2. Being able to simultaneously dictate posts: Currently I have to rework on another assignment post if I were to assign the same assignment to different classes, at different times of release. I know that we could just edit the original post, and add in the target groups or classes later on, but I thought being able to do these staggered timings at one go early on, and once only, would be a better and more efficient way of working.
  3. Reorganising small groups: Currently the small groups are pretty much fixed, and when one needs to regroup the class into other variations for a new assignment, the old group would not stay, unless one takes the effort to create a new cluster of small groups! This might make the organisation of the small groups function a little unwieldly, especally over time. I thought it is good to have some form of a memory-system in place, so that for each of the assignment assigned to a batch of smaller groups, the teacher/user can make references to which students are in the particular small groups, for a particular specific assignment. This could also be extended to the Turned-In submissions, as only the particular student who submitted on behalf of the group would have the Turned-In status on. I thought having the status for the rest of the group members at the same time would be a bette means of indication.
  4. Editable grading for students: Something small, but I thought it would be good for teacher/users to be able to edit the listing descriptors whenever they are marking the students' turned in assignments. Descriptors like 'A Rockstar' might be helpful in certain contexts...but might also not be helpful in others. Best if this could be linked to some sort of a user-defined rubrics too.
  5. A much better in-built chatting/private messaging tool: I thought having this tool built in into Edmodo would be helpful, akin to Facebook's Chat and Google+'s Hangout concepts. It would help students to make connections and give feedback more quickly, within the system, rather than having to alternate to another tool to do so.
Disclaimer: Although these are ideas/suggestions from me that I deemed to be non-existent yet, I might be wrong in certain areas, and there might just be turnarounds to the challenges that I face above, that I have not discovered just yet. I would definitely love to hear from any Edmodo users out there, for some of these turnarounds, if any. Or perhaps I might have been doing some aspects wrongly, hence the shortcomings above. But whatever it is, I do hope that some of these improvements are things that could be in the pipeline, and who knows, the list above might just get a little shorter once I am done with it by the end of the year!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

10 things why I like Edmodo

Screenshot of the homepage
I have been using for about 4 weeks now, and I must say it has been a good experience thus far. Here's my 10 reasons why I like to use it for my lessons:

  1. It is similar to Facebook: The fact that the interface and the way it works is similar to Facebook, perhaps the #1 social media tool used by my students, is already a plus point in itself. Students would have a very short learning curve to work their way around the interfaces and being able to 'recognise' the similarities between Facebook and Edmodo.
  2. No ads: At least not now. The fact that there are no ads help teachers like me to focus more on what is the main intent of using Edmodo, that is for teaching and learning. Having no distractions like advertisements, however appropriate (or worse still, inappropriate ones!) is a godsend, as it just looks a little cleaner to me, for my intended tasks.
  3. Closed system: The fact that you can control the level of privacy of your group/class is another tool that is useful. Whilst this is also possible in tools like Facebook and Google+, I thought the fact that the focus of Edmodo, being a tool more for educators, than the former two, just helps to redefine and make the system more exclusive, and thus enhance the closeness (or openness), of it.
  4. Assignments: The ability for the teacher-user to define the assignments and immediately upload the posts, or having them posted in a delayed manner, is a good tool for me, especially when I can key in all the assignments to my classes at one go, but then stagger their uploads/posts onto the main public board, according to the timings that I dictate
  5. Linkage to G-drive: Having the Library function linked to you selected Gmail account, and consequently, the corresponding Google Drive is a good step, as it helps me to just keep track of the single folder or G-drive account that I would need to monitor, for all my lesson materials, that I would want to upload, or refer to.
  6. Ability to monitor students submissions: One of the shortcomings of using other social media tools, is their inability to monitor closely the submissions by students. Hence the ability of Edmodo to give the teacher an overall view of students' submissions, is indeed useful. More so too if you have more than one class/group to teach.
  7. Ability to differentiate instructions through small-grouping: Being able to form smaller groups within the class is another useful my opinion. Teachers like me can better manage their assignments, and shall there be a need to, use differentiated instructions methods to targeted groups, for a more effective learning environment. 
  8. Polls and Quizes: The use of polls and short quizzes, with time limits, is a good tool for one to use, as it helps to complete Edmodo, as a tool for teaching and learning. As of now, I have not use this tools yet, but I thought having them as part of the suite of tools made available to the teacher-user, is indeed something worth exploring, and using, later on.
  9. Commenting on students' submissions: This must be one of the tool that I have been using the most thus far. Especially when one talks about submissions of digital artefacts that are subjective or aesthetics-based in nature. The ability of the teachers to include personalised comments, and suggestions, is really a wonderful one!
  10. Badges as rewards: I guess students are also motivated by some form of rewards, and having this small, but useful feature, is a step in the right direction, towards affirming students works and/or efforts.
And there you go, the 10 things that I like about, not in any particular order. There are still a few more that I might have missed over here, but it is definitely one tool that educators should try to have a go at, even if its not on a 1-to-1 computing classroom model.

Do give me a tinker if you have ideas, or would like to share with me your thoughts on this.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

In search of that perfect stylus

I am currently into sketching, digital sketching to be precise, and am furiously looking out for that perfect stylus for my sketching style and medium. I sketch mostly on my iPad tablet, for digital media, and on any piece of paper, for the more traditional alternative. I am hoping that my recent purchase of a moleskine would help to discipline myself to start to compile all my sketches into one book, but that would be for a post on another day.

Now back to my hunt for that perfect stylus. It hasn't been easy, and like others who also sketch on a digital medium, I have seen my fair share of ones that perform well in certain areas, but still fails miserably in general. My last one was an AlumPen, a Red-Dot Design award winner, and I must say it has not dissapoint, well almost, in enabling me to sketch out my ideas and thoughts.

Until that is...the Bamboo stylus came along. I've just gotten myself the Bamboo stylus solo version, (the duo version comes with a pen, but I don't quite like the dual-functionality of such styluses, but that's just my personal opinion) and I must say it is one of the best so far. Not that it would help me to impove my sketching skills by leaps and bounds, but it definitely has a slightly better feel in my hands. It just feels more balanced in my hands, and lengthwise, it is of the right one for my hand size. The front tip is also of the right degree of softness and sensitivity to the tablet surface, a perennial problem that seems to affect the first generation of styluses in other brands. I hope to be able to sketch more with this Bamboo stylus, and hopefully, get to work on levelling up on my sketches too.

To those still in search of that perfect stylus, if you can, do try a few, and do try the Bamboo too. You never might end up liking it too.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad