top of page

Updated: Jan 3, 2022

I wouldn't say I like online teaching. Like many others, I love to have genuine interactions with my students. Online instructions bring me out of my comfort zone. I can't see my student's faces to know whether they understand. I can't hear their laugh to tell whether my jokes work. The last part of my semester can be described in one word: dull. To save me from MS Teams fatigues, I revisited my past experience and decided to incorporate Facebook in my lectures.

The use of social media in education is not novel. When I worked as a teaching assistant at Indiana University, I was asked to create a Twitter account for a class. The initial goal is to introduce students to news from pharmaceutical industry. The idea flopped. It was refreshing but did not work. No reply, not retweet, no nothing.

I revisited the idea of using social media while attending PEN last year. Ian Kalman, a Fulbright University professor, introduced the use of social media in the workshop. Ian uses social media as a platform to interact with students. In his arguments, our medium shapes our behavior. The same person will behave differently on various platforms. One can be shy offline but "talkative" online.

"Societies have always been shaped more by the nature of the media by which men communicate than by the content of the communication." -Marshall McLuhan

As Facebook becomes a learning platform, it encourages shy students to voice up. Another benefit is class content shall be archived and revisited later. He allowed us to experiment in PEN and I could not wait to try in my class.

And then I did. Once. I did not like how the class turned out. Students have to switch from blackboard and phone. The method distracted them from the "now" moment. I can't feel their presence in class. Fast forward to 2021, the delta wave forces me to be back with MS Teams. This time social media becomes my savior. After the dull first online session, instead of asking questions and waiting for answers out of desperation, I posted my question on Facebook. This time it works wonders! Given students are already in the online platform, they remained at their digital presence. Facebook is a more social and more relaxing medium to connect. My students become more engaged. Some started to raising voices in lectures as they get to use to raising opinions. I'm saved. Thank you, Mark Zuckerberg.

P.S: Coldplay just released new single. Why don't you give it a try?

95 views4 comments

Updated: Jan 3, 2022

Last month was hectic. I pushed myself by attending 3 course, some side projects on top of my already packed schedule. To my surprise, I was not burn out. All thanks to my new routine!

I and some close friends established our 5 am club. We determined to wake up at 5 am everyday so we can have extra time to read and exercise.Anyone fail doing so will contribute 50,000 VND to our mutual fund. At 5 am, I do a Yoga session and then do some readings. After doing this for a month, I feel alive and enlightened. You should try this out. Overall, last month was productive yet I haven't got time to post anything in this site. Here are some readings, podcasts, and movies I learnt/got inspired from the 3 courses.


First course is Economics of Education. In the course, Nghiem Huynh introduced the use of R. Here are some helpful sources for anyone interested in R.

- Happy Git and GitHub for the use R

- R for Data Science : To analyze data using R

- Comparing tidyverse R to Stata

- Regression, Fire, and Dangerous Things

Another course you can consider twerking your brain :P


The second course is Film Critics. In the effort of widening my knowledge domain, I struggle to comprehend the course's readings. However, if you stretch your brain muscle constantly, things can improve. One movie I watched for the class and really want to share is Farewell my concubine. A beautiful movie given the background of Chinese Culture Revolution.


The third course is German. It is the hardest since I haven't learn anything new language for awhile (after few failed attempts learning French). I found this podcast quite helpful. Basically, to learn new language, we should read, incorporate with learning techniques (active recall), live in the country, and take your time.

And these lessons also from another episode of Education Bookcast:

  1. Mature adults can learn a foreign language well enough through intensive language study to do things in the language (almost) as well as native speakers.

  2. "Language-learning aptitude" varies among individuals and affects their classroom learning success (but at least some aspects of aptitude can be learned).

  3. There is no "one right way" to teach (or learn) languages, nor is there a single "right" syllabus.

  4. Time on task and the intensity of the learning experience appear crucial.

  5. Learners' existing knowledge about *language* affects their learning.

  6. A learner's prior experience with learning (languages or other skills) also affects classroom learning.

  7. The importance of "automaticity" in building learner skill and confidence in speaking and reading a language is more important than has been recognised by the second language acquisition field since the 1980s.

  8. Learners may not learn a linguistic form until they are "ready", but FSI's experience indicates that teachers and a well-designed course can help learners become ready earlier.

  9. A supportive, collaborative, responsive learning environment, with a rich variety of authentic and teacher-made resources, is very important in fostering effective learning.

  10. Conversation, which on the surface appears to be one of the most basic forms of communication, is actually one of the hardest to master.

  11. If a learner has passed a certain threshold of proficiency in a language, then attrition of their knowledge over time is very low. However, below that threshold, learners tend to forget their language relatively quickly with time.

Other honorable mentions are Have a Sip #40 and 021 station and Freakonomic's How to optimize your apology. They remind me to do good things in life, we all need discipline.

And here is the music for the month!

33 views0 comments

Updated: Jan 3, 2022


  • Experimenter (2015) My teacher introduced the movie to me when raising questions on ethics. The movie concerns infamous Stanley Milgram's experiments on obedience to answer why the Nazi can coerce punishment to the Jews

In a psych lab, one man will be called “Learner” and will try to memorize answers to standardized tests. The other man, “Teacher,” will monitor the responses given by "Learner" (who’s out of sight). When the learner gives wrong answers, the "Teacher" gives him a series of increasingly strong electric shocks. The highest degree of punishment was 450V.

The nominal experiment here is a sham. In reality, Learner is not being shocked; an actor, he plays audiotapes of his voice screaming and protesting as the shocks supposedly mount in intensity. The one being tested is Teacher. 65% "Teacher" (26/40) exercised the deadly 450V on "Learner" as instructions:

"He constantly pulled on his earlobe, and twisted his hands. At one point he pushed his fist into his forehead and muttered: "Oh God, let's stop it." And yet he continued to respond to every word of the experimenter, and obeyed to the end."
Why Teachers listen to man in charge instead of the man in pain ?
  • Miracle in Cell No. 7 (2013) This is another movie on ethics. I cried a lot watching this. When an innocent man is mentally challenged, can justice be served to him? The answer in this movie was NO. The police officer who had his daughter die tricked this innocent man to death sentence. Once you see someone in pain, will it make your pain sufferable?



  • Policymaking Is Not a Science (Yet): An excellent discussion on why promising solutions failed to scale up. This also explain why researchers should pay more attention on execution along with solutions.


28 views1 comment
bottom of page