Thursday 5 October 2017

Measuring Impact

Measuring the impact of teaching was a key question buzzing around the board a couple of years ago... here are some thoughts on that, which resurfaced recently at a local EdTech camp.

How does one measure the impact of a meteor at its crash site? Or measure the ripples of a splash? Can it be reproduced? Consider this: when you throw a stone in to calm waters, it makes ripples, and you can easily see the impact of that thrown stone. Throw another stone, while the ripples are in motion, and you don't see the same impact, but a potentially interference of the impacts; throw many stones and it's almost unrecognizable the breadth of that impact.

When it comes to "impact" the notion that I hear more and more often has to do with replicability, in that can the same type of meaningful impact be made across the board. Impact takes on two forms, long or short term, which lead directly to depth or breadth, and converts to immediate results or a sowing of sorts that produces results later down the road.

There are times when impact cannot be seen immediately and won't be recognized for years to come... much is the case in teaching, where I've now seen the impact that I've made in the lives of students I taught in my early years that I have recently bumped in to, and they recall what insights that I as a teacher have brought to them. A life changing impact cannot be measured in the immediate.

A more recent email from a former student exemplifies this:

--- begin email ---

Hi Mr. Chun,

You taught me many years ago, and I will never forget how amazing a teacher you are. You have had a profound impact on my life. I wish I knew a way to express all of my gratitude and appreciation for everything you taught me, more than just the curriculum.

Truly, thank you, for teaching me, and for putting up with me. I enjoyed making calculators on the breadboards and building with the lego robot kits, and I would never have been the programmer I am today without you. I asked a lot of questions, and you always had answers, where others would get tired of me very quickly. I still remember the stories you told of your time before teaching: Crispy Christie and the hot-swappables, Korn's website and the music making your team feel violent.

Because of you, I can confidently tell people that I don't write code in a specific language, I understand the concepts and look up the syntax and I can program in almost any language.

I hope you can keep making an impact on students' lives the way you did with me.

Best wishes and eternal thanks,


--- end email ---

Long term affect is the true measure of impact... can it be quantifiable? sure, but does that really matter? I believe that the quality of the impact is unique and cannot be reproduced, nor should it be... we are individuals, unique and beautiful on our own. I consider it a privilege and an honour that I was able to actually witness this type of impact. I've received letters of thanks in the past from students, but nothing to the degree of this kind of impact years after I've taught a student. It truly encourages me to see that I am and have been doing something right.

There's an illusion of scale, and the notion of scalability, when it comes to reproducing an action which garnered a positive result. Too often we look to replicate a positive impact. Is it possible to encapsulate the environment and all the circumstances in which this student was so positively impacted, and then scale it upwards to a system wide type of teachable strategy? I guess it could be. Is it as rewarding? Possibly. Is it individualized? Not really. I've come to believe teaching has a lot to do with personalization, which relies on engaging the learner.

When one puts this in to perspective of short term versus long term, the short term is really about determining an assessment of the student, whereas the long term is about seeing the fruit. Much like sowing seeds, there's no way to tell immediately whether or not the seed has produced good fruit. It takes time and it might not be something as a teacher that I might not see with the students that pass through. Again, letters like the above are true blessings, and are reminders of why I switched in to this profession of teaching: it's all about impact...I just don't get to see it in all of its beauty; it takes a while for that seed to bear fruit. That process, in my honest opinion, can not be replicated, nor scaled.

The measurement of the impact of good teaching isn't done at the report card stage... it happens much later in life. It's a journey filled with failures, milestones and celebrations, which has lasting effects far in to the future.

Here's to the future of all the students I have the privilege of playing a small role in their journey called life.

Sunday 1 November 2015


Recently I came up with an idea... I hope you're willing to help and support me in going forward with this.
Yes, the hashtag is yet another smashup of words... this time it's crochet, addiction, and charity lumped in to one. As my addiction to crochet continues (and as a lot of people have sent flattering comments on my creations, along with requests for themselves), I've decided to kick this up a notch.

My intention, and hope, is to crochet an item a month, and put it up on an auction site of some sort (we'll start with eBay, since everyone knows that one. Here's the listing:, with the notion that all proceeds from the sale of what I craft will be donated to a charitable cause.

Seeing as I already have a leaning towards something to do with education, and those who aren't privy to such, and with the Syrian refugee issue being a hot item in the news, I've decided to auction off a newly minted Baymax crochet doll for such a not only will you be getting a one of a kind, hand crafted doll by yours truly, you'll also know that all that was given for this will be sent to Save the Children.

As this series of crafted works continue, I hope to donate to various charities and causes, and where possible, I'll craft something that hopefully relates to that kind of charity or cause. Happy bidding!

front view - 26cm tall
back 3/4 view

Monday 22 June 2015

Addiction... in a good way - leading to convergence of education, technology and creativity

Hello, my name is Eugene... and I'm addicted... to crochet.

It all started with my wife, Eleanor, who picked up crochet and knitting... she had high hopes of making a whole bunch of clothes for our kids. She found out that it required a LOT of time, and the repetitive nature was wearing. In addition to that, the notion of designing things in 3 dimensions caused quite a bit of frustration... she turned to me, who loves to build things, and said that I would probably be good at this, as it requires thinking and designing in 3D. No real interest on my part to pick up crochet or knitting.

When I started playing around with the 3D printer, and brought home some things that I created, she mentioned again how it's like crocheting but with melted plastic instead of yarn. Still no real interest in picking up crochet or knitting.

One day, I stumbled across some really cool and cute looking crocheted dolls on the Internet, and the term "amigurumi" (sounds so much cooler than "crochet", but translated from Japanese, it just means "crochet" stuffed toy). I immediately thought of Sack Boy from Little Big Planet and thought, hey, I think I can do that... I need a distraction from the busy-ness of life... so off to YouTube I went, to learn how to crochet.

It's amazing... the world of education has changed.

Initial crochet

So I started with a simple ball... well I guess it wasn't so simple, but after mastering the simple chain stitch, figured I needed to craft this in to something that resembles a 3D shape of some sort.

My first attempt ended up being a doll with an oversized head... I used the green yarn that we had an abundance of (thanks to my wife), and at the end realised that it matched the green of the Google Android.

Second attempt... Sack Boy prototype, but with green yarn (what we had an abundance of)

Sack boy

Now that I was starting to get the hang of this, off to Michaels craft store to buy my own yarn... and in the colours I wanted. My first attempt at Sack Boy had a simple head.

I didn't like it all that much, so pulled the head apart (the beauty and danger of crochet is that when you find the end of the yarn, all that's required is a simple pull and it all falls apart... reusable materials: great, having to recreate something: not so great... but additional attempts nonetheless, which really lends itself to the notion of formative learning leading to mastery)

Redesigned the head as such, and I'm a lot happier... so are the kids... they toss him around the house as if he's being played in the video game but in the real world.

Then came other designs, including: Baymax, Creeper, Power Up Mushroom, Yoda hat,  Optimus Prime hat...

And then "the request"... Minions!

Addiction continues - the Joy of Crochet

I've found that the distraction of crochet and the repetitive nature has really allowed me to push back any immediate problems that I am solving with my development work, which allows my subconscious to work on the solution, which my conscious works through the crochet. It has lead to an efficiency and elegance in my crafting of development work, and also my crocheted creations.

Posting online - social networking

Figured that now that I've gotten somewhat addicted to this new craft, I should share my creations online. The initial responses included "What? you knit?", "Can you make this?", "Here's an idea..." , and then challenges that ensued sparked more ideas (so did the wise-cracks)...that didn't matter... take ownership of it and carry on. Started to design farewell gifts for colleagues that were heading back to the classroom. Today we celebrated +Aimee Ford as she heads back to the school this next school year.

The MakerSpace - Convergence of all things Educational

Again, the world of education has changed... evolved... I see and hear about more and more libraries being converted to MakerSpaces, and I can see why. The library has always been a place to seek knowledge, and learn about something that you didn't know about. Sure the etymology of the word "library" does refer to books and the collection of them, but what was in those books? Tapped knowledge waiting to be untapped yet again by the reader... fast forward to the 21st century... the web is the new hoarder of information. The "space" to try things out lends itself to further education...thus the MakerSpace.

Combining 3D printouts, crochet, and some electronics tinkering with a USB5M (a USB recordable sound board), I thought why not make a tribute to a colleague who's going back to the classroom this next school year. +Scott Monahan has been our Google gooru, and an inspiration for me with respect to blogging and starting this blog. Mix this all together, bake it in thought and collaboration with other team mates, and what's the result? PocketScott.

Here are a few process photos in the creation of PocketScott.

We took audio clips from videos of Scott and embedded them in to the sound board, along with some classics from Star Trek and Star Wars. Thankfully, these parting gifts were well accepted.

Needless to say, I'm addicted to this convergence of disciplines, technology and creativity. I hope this inspires you to go out there and learn something new... you never know, it might grow in to an addiction of sorts... in a good way!

Thursday 23 April 2015

My Philosophy of Education

Teaching... there are those who think that since they've been through the school system, that they can teach in it. Oh how wrong an assumption.

As I switched careers and entered in to teaching full-time, I realised that there was quite the shift from what I remembered what school was like. Mind you, I was looking at school from the perspective of a student, and also as one who's tutored others, as well as taught from that perspective. I came from a rigid mindset of students study and teachers teach, of which teacher's college only began to shift that notion.

With all the talk of a Growth Mindset versus a Fixed Mindset in the schools, I thought I'd share some of my insights on this journey of education that I've embarked upon.

When I started teaching (it feels like such a long time ago, and to be honest it was over a dozen years now as a public school teacher), the notion of assessing students based upon the Achievement Chart categories was new to me. I've gone through education based upon pure summative assessment reporting. When I taught a stint at a School of Continuing Studies at the local University, I was teaching students that also went through that rigour of tests and assignments. It felt easy... then I stepped in to the public school, and quickly realised and experienced a different set of challenges... ones that pushed at and expanded my boundaries. Over the years, I've come to recognize, acknowledge, and even anticipate the shifting ways in which students are engaged and learn. How many of you have learned something new from the Internet? From YouTube?

A well known reference is when Thomas Edison pondered on the future with the emergence of moving pictures, he stated that these would replace text books. For years, this obviously wasn't the case, but with the onset of the Internet, and the copious amount of data being uploaded every minute, students (of all ages) are learning through this medium. Personally, I've learned to crochet through this YouTube postings. A common phrase I've heard these days is it's "no longer about being the sage on the stage, but being a guide on the side"...all the more important, as the plethora of resources on the Internet continues to grow exponentially.

When I was introduced to new methods of assessment, terms like scaffolding and "fish bone" charts were the hype. I didn't like the reference to the use of something "dead" as a basis of setting up and planning a course. Instead, I preferred a living analogy, and likened teaching to that of an orchard of trees.
Here the students of the class are represented by the trees, each of which have their own prior learning experiences (the roots), being tended to by the gardener (the teacher) who assesses formative tasks (the leaves) and the summative tasks (the fruit), leading to the ability to judge a tree by the fruit it bears. I came up with this analogy and diagram back in my first year of teaching...years later, I see a Ministry of Education document arise with the title "Growing Success" with images of plants and the supposition that success must be grown. Looks like I was on the right path back in 2002.

Another analogy I've come up with is the notion that teachers need to shape curriculum to the needs of the students. In this illustration, curriculum is considered to be a cold block of ice, sitting on top of the students that they are to teach, which are represented by a bed of rocks. The solid curriculum easily touches a few students, which represents the fact that some students easily learn with the information presented to them. The role of the teacher here is to "melt" the curriculum, so that it can encompass every student in the classroom. An engaging educator would then bring the curriculum to life by causing motion which then, over time, can transform and shape the rocks (the students) in the classroom. As an educator, I believe we are called to engage students and to see an impact of education on and in them.

Too often I meet people who think that since they've gone through the education system, they can "teach" in the education system. Little do they know how different it is from the teachers' vantage point, and how vastly different the landscape is now, The roles and responsibilities of a teacher have shifted over the years. To be a teacher in this day and age, is to be one that can identify with learners and engage them effectively, to understand that not everyone will learn like they have. Sure there's a need for expertise and experience, which truly enhances the motivation behind the learning, but there's more than just that. Teaching requires passion and the ability to transform concepts in to engaging pedagogy. It is a privilege to be deemed a "teacher" and an honour to be recognized as a "good teacher", one that impacts the community.

To all the "teachers" out there... carry on and be encouraged to challenge yourself and those around you.

More to come.

Thursday 16 April 2015

Etymology of PhilEduPreneur

Here we go... the start of my online blog. My name is Eugene Chun, and I'm an educator, developer, and a designer, all rolled up in one.

Why PhilEduPreneur? It's because I'm a:
  1. Philanthropist at heart. 
  2. Educator by trade. 
  3. Entrepreneur in the making.

It's better than using the acronym PEE (such a "guy" response, no?)

My inspiration comes from my beliefs that our time in this world is for a reason and that we should take every opportunity to make the world a better place. I have seen too many instances of "there's a reason for what happens".

My dedication is to use my God given gifts to their fullest ability. To be the best person that I can be: a loving father, husband, son and citizen. To help others whenever possible and use my talents to provide solutions to problems, and be a part of that solution.

My milestones include working at various tech companies, taking steps of faith, and making a positive impact wherever I can.

My future...uncharted but in a definite direction.

This blog is an invitation to bring you along the journey that I've embarked upon, and is a story of celebration, trials, questions, and hopefully inspirations.

Ready? Set. Go!