Saturday, January 5, 2019

Summer Breezes

The maple leaves across the road
Vaguely resemble your pale fingers
Memories made on the long-haul train journey
Pop up from the diary we wrote together on the park bench
Thinking of you
Always makes my smiles bloom
The warmth of your hug is indelible
Perpetually calming me down when I am nervous

The end of the voyage has now gone by
What I can see now is your shadowy figure
You are holding someone's hands
But they are not mine
Why am I still smiling?

The summer breezes at our city beach
Remind me of all the bliss you've given me
The aroma of your body
Drowns out the smell of the sea
I can still strongly feel your presence
The blistering sunlight
Your sandy cute dimples
I wish I could freeze all those moments and replayed my role in the clips whenever I wanted to

Opening my eyes, I can still see my hopes and dreams
Although your beautiful name is not engraved on them
You don't need to mind me
But I want you to know
If you turn back, you'll surely see me
Because my love for you will never perish

The creation of this poem was inspired by Bai Se Feng Che (白色風車) by Jay Chou.

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Saturday, December 15, 2018

MOOCs

This robotic-feel term is pretty new to the English language and can sound alien to some people, especially those who are not on the stage of education.


What are MOOCs?

First off, let's dissect this coinage. As you might have realized, the word, possessing an -s ending, is actually plural in form. The singular construction, "MOOC", is an acronym of "massive open online course" and pronounced as /mu:k/ (ugh, I love the IPA). Bear in mind that this has nothing to do with an agitated cow. I have always been mind-blown by the astounding advancement of technology and MOOCs are a revolutionary product of this civilization phenomenon.

Just by looking at the individual words themselves, we pretty much can understand what it refers to. Let's work our way backwards. A MOOC is (1) a course that (2) can be taken online, (3) is open to anyone, and (4) can be done by a huge number of people. In other words, as long as there is a decent Internet connection, anyone from anywhere in the world can take a MOOC. This is to speak nothing of the fact that many or most, if not all, MOOCs can be joined for FREE, and that many TOP universities and institutions develop and offer them! Let that sink in for a moment and be mesmerized at how cool it is!

Where can we take MOOCs?


Coursera logo
Downloaded from https://about.coursera.org/press

MOOCs can be taken through a number of providers. The most popular one is probably Coursera, whose partnering institutions include Stanford University, Johns Hopkins University, and Imperial College London. The second most famous is perhaps edX, on which you can attend courses offered by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Harvard University, as well as the University of Oxford. Other prominent names comprise Udemy, Udacity, and FutureLearn.

Another way to answer this question is through phrases such as "from home". Definitely, you can learn about your favorite subjects through MOOCs in your sugary home or at the coziest cafe in town, while taking enjoyment in a cup of Vietnamese coffee or Thai tea. While it is probably best to study on a laptop/desktop, MOOC providers such as Coursera and edX have created mobile apps which you can download so you can take their MOOCs and learn conveniently via your phone.

My experiences with MOOCs

I enrolled in my first MOOC in 2013, thanks to my first brother, who brought it to my attention. To date, I have completed six (6) MOOCs. Here they are in the chronological order I took them:
  1. Dino 101: Dinosaur Paleobiology, offered by the University of Alberta (UoA) (Coursera)
  2. Shaping the Way We Teach English, 1: The Landscape of English Language Teaching, offered by the U.S. Department of State and the University of Oregon (Coursera)
  3. Shaping the Way We Teach English, 2: Paths to Success in ELT, offered by the U.S. Department of State and the University of Oregon (Coursera)
  4. Paleontology: Theropod Dinosaurs and the Origin of Birds, offered by the University of Alberta (UoA) (Coursera)
  5. Teaching Grammar Communicatively, offered by the U.S. Department of State (World Learning, Canvas)
  6. DINOx: Dinosaur Ecosystems, offered by the University of Hong Kong (HKU) (edX)
As you can see, the subjects that I have learned through MOOCs are English and dinosaurology, which are two of my greatest interests – the other being Jay Chou's music. Nevertheless, there are numerous fields of study that you can learn about through MOOCs: business, computer science, music, languages, and copious others.

The activities I did in my MOOCs included watching videos, reading course notes, taking quizzes, doing projects, and participating in discussion forums. Different MOOCs may have different requirements, so you need to read the information carefully. For example, to pass the DINOx: Dinosaur Ecosystems course, I had to take 6 quizzes and achieve an average score of 50 or above, whereas for the Shaping the Way We Teach English course series, I was required to create lesson plans which would later be checked and graded by three random fellow participants.

The MOOCs I took generally lasted for a month or two (4–8 weeks) and the dedicated time I spent on them was, on average, between 2 and 4 hours a week. For me, it wasn't really demanding, but I definitely had to make sacrifices – delaying my book reading being one of them. However, it is ultimately worth the effort I put and the sweat I secreted!

I received certificates for completing all the abovementioned MOOCs (I also acquired a badge for passing the Teaching Grammar Communicatively course – it can be seen on the left-hand section of this blog). This recognition feature is particularly interesting and could help improve your career prospects: Beautify your resume by anchoring your achievements in it and let potential employers admire and be impressed by them. Nonetheless, note that not all MOOCs provide free certificates. For instance, I had to pay 50 USD for my DINOx: Dinosaur Ecosystems certificate but I obtained my Dino 101: Dinosaur Paleobiology and Teaching Grammar Communicatively certificates without any fees. Here are a couple of certificate examples that I have collected:

My Paleontology: Theropod Dinosaurs and the Origin of Birds certificate
Link: https://www.coursera.org/account/accomplishments/records/YJ2RCETAWKM2

My Shaping the Way We Teach English, 2: Paths to Success in ELT certificate

My DINOx:Dinosaur Ecosystems certificate
Link: https://courses.edx.org/certificates/bc84273fdd2d4a978f32ef1b96a72497

On the whole, it has been a great experience to take part in this staggering development in education. I could learn "at" fabulous institutions from abroad, without having to travel to the otherwise unreachable places. Additionally, now there are probably MOOCs offering degrees to their participants as well! Certainly, MOOCs are in vogue and continuing to gain more and more fame as a way of learning. It is very exciting and I cannot wait to see what the future of MOOCs holds.

Have you ever taken MOOCs? If not, would you like to take them? Please share what you think of MOOCs in the comment section below!
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Sunday, December 2, 2018

Quote #53

"To start fathoming how terribly inconsistent English pronunciation (and spelling) is, just look at two basic words: do and go." - Klinsman Hinjaya
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Saturday, October 27, 2018

Quote #52

"Before you create progeny, make sure you know how to educate them properly." - Klinsman Hinjaya
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Monday, October 15, 2018

The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs – Book Review


The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs
by Steve Brusatte

I bet it is not very hard for the majority of people to grasp the content of this book just by scanning its title. The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs by Steve Brusatte is an epically written summary of the amazing history of the dinosaurs, from their modest beginnings in the Triassic supercontinent called Pangea, through their remarkably widespread dominance all across the Earth, to the tragic demise of most of them at the end of the Cretaceous Period, around 66 million years ago. It is probably not easy to crunch over 150 million years of dinosaur existence in the Mesozoic Era into a single book in an organized and comprehensive way, but the author has proven himself by successfully executing this noble, monumental task.

The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs is a thrilling journey both in the present and ancient past. Steve takes readers from place to place on the globe, using his personal experiences and stories to guide the dinosaur-curious minds through the long, wondrous evolutionary tale of our distant reptilian cousins. Along the way, you'll meet many paleontological figures – before reading the book I knew or at least ever heard of many of them and it is nice to have furthered my knowledge of them through the oft witty descriptions given by the author. Steve presents the story in this book with his amazing rhetorical writing skills, producing a fantastic marriage between art and science that keeps the readers riveted along the ride. Throughout the book you will bone-deeply feel his immense passion for dinosaurs, and science more generally, as well as clearly see that Steve is a man of humility – I'd really love to chew the fat with him over a ketoprak dinner in Jakarta, if I have the chance. Tyrannosaurus rex is undoubtedly the most famous non-bird dinosaur and Steve treats us to one chapter fully devoted to the "tyrant lizard king". The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs certainly deserves a place on any dinophile's bookshelf and is too good to be left unread.

The book that you see in the picture above was published by Macmillan (UK version). A U.S. version was released by William Morrow and you can buy it here. You might also want to watch a brief video of Steve talking about the book here.

Have you read The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs? What is your take on this book? Share what you think in the comment section below!
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Saturday, August 4, 2018

Quote #51

"You know that the severity of a situation is insanely alarming when inanity is not seen as inanity anymore, but rather perceived as normal." - Klinsman Hinjaya
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Wednesday, June 27, 2018

The God Delusion – Book Review

The God Delusion
by Richard Dawkins

I don't usually read books centering on non-dinosaurian and non-English topics or subjects. Nevertheless, this book is one of the few which have managed to pass my bookish filter. I was in the midst of immersing myself in a great work by a Canadian dinosaur paleontologist whose initials are S.D.S. when this bestselling book on religion finally landed in my hands – after a couple of weeks of typical pesky waiting for an imported book. At first, I hesitated as to whether to finish the then-being-read book, or grab and devour the newly arrived one. The latter turned out to be the champion of this little battle of thoughts (now that I have completed reading the British author's, I am delightfully back from my short hiatus to the interrupted dinosaurian adventure). Please pardon my inexorably burning fanaticism about the iconic creatures of the past, and here is my take on The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins:

First of all, it is pretty obvious, from the title alone, that this book is concerned with atheism, i.e. the absence/lack of belief in God or deities. What you will encounter is the author's arguments for the godless outlook on life and thoughts that thoroughly explain his stance on religion. One might expect that the pages of this book are peppered with vulgar or foul language such as "fuck religion!" but, on the contrary, you will be surprised by the cordiality (and eloquence) of his writings. It is strongly recommended, especially if you are religious, to get rid of any prejudice towards the contents before you start reading; or otherwise you will fail to grasp what the writer genuinely intends to convey to the reader. As an evolutionary biologist, Dawkins possesses a very scientific framework of thinking: consequently, he examines and discusses the subject on the basis of his expertise. Through reading this book, which is made up of 10 chapters and richly loaded with information (including quotations) from a great many sources, I find it extremely easy to see that Dawkins is indeed a hardcore rationalist. Personally, I think The God Delusion is well worth reading for people of all sorts of (un)belief, who comprise, but are not limited to, theists, agnostics, and even atheists themselves, if they want to gain useful insights into this particular worldview.

Note: Due to some geographical reason, I cannot fully write my review and I'd be very glad to share more of my thoughts on the book when the circumstances make it possible to do so.

Have you read The God Delusion? What is your opinion of this book? Share your thoughts in the comment section below!
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