Monday, November 10

The Learning Innovation Lab (Part 2)

Smart Education: Converging Technology, Pedagogy and Content

"One of the things that really delights me in this field is seeing people who have taken to these new technologies and new approaches achieving genuine success. I've seen it a number of times with colleagues I almost envy, so widespread is their impact and their reach (every time I feel a twang of competitiveness, I remind myself that I already have a great career, I don't need another, so I can celebrate someone else finding success in the marketplace). Anyhow, now I am seeing it again as Zaid Ali Alsagoff gives his first (no doubt of many) keynotes. Zaid joined me for my two-day session in Malaysia earlier this year and was a huge asset as we led a group of educators though numerous web 2.0 technologies. His slide shows and resource lists have been receiving acclaim, and that's what his talk is based on." - Stephen Downes

"ZaidLearn has been an active blogger, focusing on open learning and open tools. Great to see he is giving (has given) his first keynote address to a Malaysian conference. As Stephen Downes states, it’s great to see people achieving genuine success in the pursuit of new tools/approaches in education. Congrats Zaid!" - George Siemens

WOW! Again, WOW! Thanks Stephen Downes, George Siemens, Ismael Peña-López, Clayton Wright, Helge Scherlund, Mohamed Amine Chatti, Dr. Gordon, etc. for the best wishes and for believing that I would do well. I don't know if I want to celebrate or cry, but surely this kind of support and belief in me should boost my confidence and ego (and hits to my blog).

Also, I do hope that Stephen is right that this was my first of many keynotes to come, because...


  • Manage my time (although I finished on time)!
  • Explore all the 100+ slides (Mission Impossible, which I predicted earlier)!
  • Say all the things I wanted to say (Only 45%)!
So, should I have rehearsed more? I suppose. Should I have used a detailed script? No way! I prefer not using a detailed script (beyond the slides), because then I say and learn new things while I am giving the talk (Did I just say that? WOW! Oh, that didn't sound right! Let's try again!). Also, by not using (or following) a detailed script, you have more flexibility to adapt or connect to the mood and learning needs of the audience. In short, I prefer talking rather than reading to the audience. I suppose one can memorize detailed scripts, but unless we can act like movie stars, I am not sure that is the best way to connect with the audience.

Anyway, on a POSITIVE NOTE I believe I managed to connect with many of the participants and smash in a few critical points, especially regarding what kind of learning skills we need to nurture in our students. In addition, I didn't see any one falling asleep during my keynote, which is positive. But then again, I was the first speaker at the whole event, so you would expect people to be fresh and awake. Based on some feedback and comments from others, my keynote was light, entertaining, informative, useful, and inspiring (according to Richard Lowe who missed it, but had been informed so. Well, that is what he told me.).

Interestingly, I signed three (3) autographs after my keynote, which is roughly two (2) more than during my whole failed football (soccer) career. It was rather embarrassing, because my handwriting is really horrible (left-handed squabble), and you would think that even a five year old could come up with a more professionally looking autograph. It was a ‘What, are you kidding me?' kind of experience.

In conclusion, I would say that it could have gone better, but it could also have gone worse. So, Al-Hamdulilla I can sit back and enjoy the memories with a flat 'B'. But, I do hope I will get more chances Insha-Allah in the future (I enjoyed it very much!). Also, I have come to realize that 20-minute presentations are not my cup of tea anymore. Though, I will have to learn how to say what I want within an hour or so, because I doubt I will ever get more than that during future conferences or conventions (Yeah, who wants to listen beyond that anyway?). I just need to be more precise and concise, while I entertain and inspire (I wish!).

Enough about my subjective self-assessment (Me, Myself and I)! Let's talk about...

The great thing about speaking first is that after you are done, you can focus on learning, discussions, and networking without any worries. And that is what I did, from start to finish. There were presentations on educational gaming, pedagogical agents, project-based learning, problem-based learning, 3D animation, ICT training for teachers, smart use of multimedia technology, distance learner’s readiness, Net generation, using drama to teach fasting, and much more. I suppose the presentation that touched me most, was the 'smart use of multimedia technology to highlight the plight of Orang Kanaq - Malaysia's most endangered ethnic group of Orang Asli (YouTube video)'. Let's make a difference!

Though, I would have loved to see more presentations (research) on educational blogging, wikis, social bookmarking, podcasting, virtual worlds, and open educational resources. Hopefully, we will see more of this in the coming years.

I truly enjoyed the other keynote speakers, especially Prof. Richard Lowe’s wonderful talk on educational graphics or graphicacy, and Toh Han-Son (who was nicknamed the handsome Korean) keynote on Google applications for education. He is actually Malaysian (Chinese) as far as I know.

What I liked about Professor Richard Lowe’s keynote was how he simplified the idea on creating pedagogical sound educational graphics. An ideal educational graphic should be easy to understand and stimulating (motivating) to the mind. Interestingly, he reminded us that in a content development team, it is ultimately the Instructional Designer (ID) who is responsible for the pedagogy (instructional design) of the graphics. Sometimes, we take for granted that the subject matter expert (SME) or graphic designer is able to construct an instructionally sound graphic (wishful thinking!). Also, he reminded us that we need to educate students on how to analyze and understand educational graphics (beyond the entertainment value). As we are overwhelmed with graphics, animations, movies and other visuals from an increasingly visual learning world, I suppose we need to eventually include courses (or topics) for students to explore educational graphics, so that they can maximize their learning from them.

Toh Han-Son (Hanson), currently Google’s only consultant in Malaysia gave a mind-awakening presentation about Google applications for education (Gmail Calendar, Calendar, Docs, Sites, etc.), and I was surprised to learn that everything he was offering was totally free (including customization of the Gmail address to the University’s unique address). Microsoft, how do you beat that?

Luckily, I got the chance to chat for more than one hour (after dinner) with Toh Han-Son, and the MBA Graduate from Oxford did not disappoint. I soon realized that this left-handed humble, but eager-to-learn, intelligent, sharp and determined dude is certainly more appropriate for Google than me. No contest! In short, Google got the right man :)

Besides that, I joined Richard Lowe’s short adventure to find a rubber tree and visit the beach in Kuantan. Well, I also had my own agenda, which was to buy some Keropok (dried fish that we fry). Dr. Arif and his wife (Dr. Rosnaini) were the perfect hosts and in the end we found one single rubber tree out there somewhere. I would probably need a GPS for rubber trees to relocate it again. Although, there was no rubber to see, Richard was thrilled anyway. I love his attitude to learn and enjoy these small magical moments.

For me, visiting the beach was certainly the biggest thrill in this short 2-hour learning adventure. I really enjoyed the cows, especially the one that strolled alone on the beach. It looked so relaxed walking by itself on the beach. Actually, everyone looked so relaxed, and no one really seemed to care where that cow was going (everyone was enjoying and minding their own business). I suppose the cow was having its afternoon stroll on the beach. It was both an amazing and weird moment to treasure!

Finally, I was surprised to learn that many were really pleased that a Keynote Speaker would participate from the start to the end of the convention. Believe it or not, I got applause from the remaining participants before the closing ceremony thanks to the entertaining announcer (picture), who brought it up. He (Abdul Aziz) has an amazing ability to create jokes-on-the-fly, and say things that touches both our logic and emotions in a meaningful way.

So, if you are a Keynote speaker and have the time, stay around to learn, discuss and show your support. It means a lot to the organizer and the other participants.

In a nutshell, I learned a lot and made some great connections! Hopefully, they will evolve into dynamic collaborations that will transform the Malaysian learning space over time. Why not?

And again, I would like to thank everyone involved that made the convention and my stay a learning adventure to treasure. Terima Kasih!


Two (2) days after returning from the convention, I got a fuzzy new idea about a ‘Learning Innovation Lab’ that could transform the learning landscape in Malaysia (and beyond) by 2011. I believe this could be the project that could facilitate my second hedgehog goal, which is to do my PhD. I have been searching for a PhD research topic that I would never get bored of, which can be implemented while researching, and would have meaning beyond the 3-5 years it would take to acquire a PhD.

Let’s say it is my second and third hedgehog goal smacked together. So, even if I don’t achieve my PhD for it, this project will have value beyond it.

So, what is the ‘Learning Innovation Lab’? To be honest, it is still in liquid form in my head, but I can tell you that to implement this project I probably don’t need money to invest in software or hardware at least, and it will be influenced by Connectivism (one way or the other). It will utilize a network of existing and future technologies to facilitate a transformational learning space that infuse collaborative learning, thinking, teaching/facilitation, learning tools and open educational resources beyond the course paradigm. The learning networks and nuggets will be fluid and organic, facilitated by passionate learners and educators. The way it is facilitated will be as dynamic as Google’s search algorithms, which practically change every day. In other words, It is always exploring, learning, reflecting, adapting and innovating.

To facilitate disruptive or transformational learning innovations (instead of just incremental ones), this learning innovation lab I predict will be mostly facilitated by dynamic and motivated PhD, Masters and Bachelor students around the country (and perhaps around the world) who are inspired to transform the way we learn and think.

I might be dreaming “Yes, We Can!”, but that is a dream I am not afraid of failing (or spending my research time on). Failure will be one of the key elements that nurture disruptive learning innovations that are necessary to facilitate the impact I am imagining right now. Anyway, my idea is still fluid, and I might even have to change the title, because I noticed (via Google) that a Dr. Redmond has used the term 'Learning Innovation Lab' already (2004). Anyway, the title can easily be changed later if any problems, but the key here is the idea, which is still a work in progress.

I hope to conceptualize the ‘Learning Innovation Lab’ soon, and let’s hope there will eventually be PhD scholarship opportunities to support it. It might sound like many ongoing projects already out there, and it probably is in many ways. As the whole world is engrossed in revamping learning systems, this learning innovation Lab will continuously try to make sense of these initiatives, and will mostly use collective/connective human intelligence to nurture learning environments that not only have substance, but attract those that we struggle to involve and inspire. Now, if we can attract, involve and inspire beyond the already self-motivated/directed learners, I would argue that this future lab is a success. Now, that is a challenge that hopefully leads to a PhD, too!

On Saturday, I will be traveling to Saudi Arabia for another learning adventure (Part 3), and will be taking a one-month break from blogging until 24th December.

Though, I will probably still be updating Zaidlearn’s Delicious learning space, while I am engrossed and busy learning in Saudi Arabia (and conceptualizing the future lab).

Finally, I didn’t get into this education business to have personal glory (although, nice to the ego!), but to play my little role in transforming the way we learn and think, enabling us to fulfill our dreams of facilitating a cleaner (Al-Gore are you reading?) and better world. Whether I can achieve that or anything, God (Allah) only knows :)


Kate Klingensmith said...

Bravo, Zaid! I have been learning from you for a while now - your lists are a great way to explore and get cozy with web 2.0. You put everything into very exciting and accessible terms - I agree that you're going to go very far!

Zaid Ali Alsagoff said...

Hi Kate,

Thanks for the positive feedback :)

It is good to know that you (at least) are benefiting from my little struggles to enlighten the world about web 2.0, free resources and learning :)

Finally, I am happy to learn that you are blogging, too. The best way to get cozy with web 2.0 is simply to do/use it (after you find it) :)

Have a great day learning

Warm Regards,


nadia said...

Dear Zaid,

Your list and work has been useful to many people. I tried to vote on the latest email I got via feed blitz. I wanted to give you five stars but it seems only one was sent. Maybe someone else? or I need to learn more on how to grade.
For your Ph.D. where are you registered and in what faculty? I am wondering who could be your supervisor as this field is new.
Anyway best wishes for all the holidays and hopefully your Umra experience will help you relax and refocus.
Well done and congratulations.

Zaid Ali Alsagoff said...

Dear Nadia,

Thanks for the feedback. As for the voting thingy, please ignore that stuff :)

The FeedBlitz subscription service was only set up to assist readers to get updates on my posts in their e-mail (I hardly ever visit or use it).

Though, if you ask me I would recommend to instead use Google Reader or some other RSS reader tool to subscribe to my blog :)

As for PhD, I have yet to register anywhere yet. Also, I have yet to really conceptualize exactly what I want to do :(

My mind is still very fluid on exactly what I want to research on :(

But, hopefully I will be inspired with the right idea to research for 3 or more years soon :)

Have fun learning :)

Hopefully you have an inspiring and relaxing holiday, too :)

Warm Regards,


tulipsoss said...

Hi Mr Zaid,

I'm a local undergraduate student from a local university (MMU), and I really like your idea with this learning innovation lab. Me and some friends are planning to build something to what you have mentioned.

I believe I have ventured along a similar path and have also created a blog not too long ago to start things going at . Progress has been slow and am on the lookout for more like minded people to build something more concrete together.

Would you like to chat more on this? You can contact me via email at sam [at] or y! tulipsoss

tulipsoss said...

anyway, the very least, i'm interested to help to discuss and maybe help you to figure out something more concrete for ur phd... not sure how far we'd go but i'd like to try

Zaid Ali Alsagoff said...

Hi Sam (I assume that is your name or nickname based on your e-mail address),

Thanks for your two comments. I checked out your site ( It is great to see that you have taken the initiative to connect researchers, learners and explorers to facilitate knowledge sharing and collaborations.

I will buzz you with an e-mail soon.

Thanks for sharing :)

Warm Regards,


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