Thursday, October 4, 2012

Day 1

The journey was a long one! About 7 hours from Singapore to Narita, followed by another 12 hours to New York. On the other hand, while the unearthly 'reporting time' to the airport could be stressful, the arrival time, I thought was pretty good - around late afternoon when we could rest and get ready for the next couple of days.

It was the first time flying by Delta Airlines. Prior to departure, there were lots of 'preparation' in terms of tuning the mindset - to lower the expectations! Haha... this time, not only from colleagues, but also from brother. Wah! That reminded me of my NIE days when the lecturer kept reminding us of the 'characteristics' our main 'clientele' (i.e. the Normal (Technical) students). Of course, by setting the lowest expectation, one should not get disappointed too badly, and one would also expect 'pleasant' surprises when things turned out better than as expected. So, it's 'playing' with psychology too!

Perhaps because it was more than 20 years since I last travelled to US, and also due to the 911 incident, the check-in process was especially tedious, compared to many other countries (of course, Russia is an exceptional one).

Here's a quick comparison with SQ services, the comfort creature missed:
  • Hot towel (usually given before the flight took off)
  • Orange juice (that was usually given after the flight takes off and has reached a certain altitude) 
  • Air stewardess who are nicely groomed who really look like 'high class' waitress (which many people would describe)
  • Postcards (that I learnt from Aurelius that only SQ has such service... ok, I take for granted about that)
  • Food that are nicely presented and a bigger portion of serving. Of course, ice cream(!) that's available in some of the flights
  • Air stewardess who would appear pretty quickly when the button was pressed! (OK, no one came and the light went off automatically after a while)
Other than that... hm... I think service is still reasonable :)

We arrived in the mid-afternoon.

While the hotel room looked small and congested, actually it added the cosy-touch. Indeed, the location was pretty convenient, where a number of places like the Times Square and the United Nations were within walking distance.

Day 2

The Sunday started 'late' though. We went to the Woodbury premium outlet. This was basically a place where some popular and well-known brands like Coach and Nike are located.

Evening was time to move around the most expensive land on earth, the 5th Avenue, that leads to the non-sleeping Times Square :)

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Day 3

Part 1: School Visit - Academy for Careers in Television & Film
This morning, we visited the Academy for Careers in Television & Film. (URL:
Mark Dunetz, the Principal gave us a good overview on how the school has used the suite of GoogleApps, in particular GoogleSpreadsheet to effectively improve the administrative processes. In fact, some of the work processes he described fit into our context pretty well, and some are in the wishlist that we have build over the past couple of years.

Generous sharing and good learning from this visit.

The school is situated at the Long Island City, in the main land area. The area looked more like a residential and light-industrial area. 

Part 2:
The United Nations (New York) office is actually pretty near to where we stay. So, why not a NE Learning Journey? Unfortunately, it was closed! Haiz...

There are lots of walking... we walked all the way to Times Square to "fulfill" the last commitments of this trip.

Along the way, we passed by another famous landmark in New York, the Grand Central Terminal

Try our video maker at Animoto.

Of course, how could we miss the Apple Store that is 'tastefully' integrated into the building, located at the 2nd floor :)

Thanks to Aurelius' resourcefulness, I also found my 'best buy' (in this trip) @ Best Buy - a Chromebook, which is currently not available in Singapore. It's a "good-to-have" though.
On the other hand, this device also opens up new opportunity to engage myself in the evolving user experience (in terms of technology).

Read more about my thoughts of the Chromebook HERE.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Day 4

Part 1: School Visit - NYC iSchool

This morning, we visited the NYC iSchool which I felt the directions and approach of the school struck close resemblance to SST!

Unlike the previous one, the Principal emphasized largely on the teaching and learning part. We did not hear much about the technology platform. Largely, the approach and thinking behind what the school strives to achieve.

<<Read more at the "Tab">>

Part 2: Visit to the Metropolitan Museum of Art As we had only half a day for the visit, I went for the highlights recommended by the Museum Director, which was featured in the website. This was certainly helpful as the highlights were the ones we should not miss, and true enough, some of these were pretty different from what I saw in other museums (in particular the ones in Europe). Of course, there were things that struck resemblances too!
What looked the same? What's different? Here are some observations:
(a) The Egyptian exhibition - interesting, I did not really find any 'mummy' at the exhibition hall! (or could I have missed it because I only focused on the highlights?) The Egyptian exhibition rooms were always filled with lots of mummies. I remember the one in the British Museum even featured cat mummies! Something unique is the boat sculptures that depicts the 'sending' of the pharaoh to the after-world.
(b) I met "Van Gogh" again! Indeed, the great artist is all over the world.
(c) Sculptures! Sculptures! The incompleteness, the stories, etc were quite similar to that in the European museums, though the collection here is much smaller (I felt).
(d) Something unique which I can't recall seeing in museums were the interior 'structures' which was rare in other museums visited (unless it's those 'onsite' like the Palace Museum in Beijing).
(e) Installations of modern art is something that 'conventional museums' don't include - don't recall seeing something like this in the British Museum or the Lourve. OK, I saw similar thing at the ArtScience Museum at Marina Bay Sands. Coincidently, the Andy Worhal Exhibition was going on then.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Day 5

This is the day... why we are here :)

There are about 60 of us who made up this 14th cohort of Google Certified Teachers, came from more than 10 countries. A majority come from the US, and both Aurelius and I are the sole representatives from Asia! :)

It's a day filled with lots of sharing - both old and new ideas. For old ideas, no harm hearing them again because there's always some depth added to the existing knowledge. For the new ones, certainly, they bring in a lot more excitement and open up new possibilities. OK, to quote what was heard umpteen times (maybe the Americans are basically generous in their words) - "Mind Blowing" is the word to describe some of them.

Well, today I also met up with the team members whom I had my first Hangout with! Hey, you are special because you contributed to my first experience in a new attempt :)

Make your own slideshow with music at Animoto.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Day 6

Part 1: Google Teacher Academy (Day 2)
It is a series of unconference sessions, which is not unfamiliar to us though the way it's approached is slightly different from how we normally approach this in Singapore.

What the Google Team did was:
  • Find out, from the participants what they what to know. This is a bit different from ours - for instance, for every eduCamp, Preetam will invite participants to indicate what they would like to share/ present in the session. I think, for this part, the Google Team already has the team of Lead Learners to run the show and the various aspects of Google Apps are taken care of.

Part 2: City Walk @ World Financial Area 

World Trade Centre Area @ York York on PhotoPeach

The layout of the Financial area is definitely far more confusing than the neatly organised building beyond the southern tip of the city :) What a vast difference! Densely surrounded by skyscrapers could be suffocating, not to mention that it adds more challenges to the navigation. It's like a maze! Indeed, both of us were walking around with our iPhone maps displayed... in search of wall street and the charging bull. Oh yes, we were like the geomancers... haha... ok, I did not use my iPad like what I did in Eastern Europe!

The Story View: Wall Street @ New York on PhotoPeach
The Spiral View: Click at the Play button. remember to turn on the volume of the speaker :) 
Wall Street @ New York on PhotoPeach