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The 3 T's of Traveling: Taiwan, Taipei, and Thailand!
Friday, December 22, 2006
Wow, what a past 2 weeks this has been! I think I have crossed all my T's with visits to Taipei and other parts of Taiwan for a week followed by a trip to Thailand for a week.

Part 1: Taiwan. I am just home yesterday (December 21st) at about noon. Many former students met me in Taiwan. Great place! I got picked up at the airport by Victor Tao and his wife, Naoko Kihara. They had studied at Ohio University in Athens back in the 1990s (where they met), so we had many midwest stories to share. Naoko is about to start 2 Ph.D.'s and Victor is finishing his at National Taiwan University in Taipei.

Former IU master's student and now Ph.D., Dr. Jia-ling Lee, arranged for me to speak at Shih-Hsin University the following day. I talked on blended learning. After that, Jia-ling and 2 of her colleagues took me north on the subway to the sea to see on old Spanish fort (Santo Domingo?). That night former IU students (John Li, Mei-yun Tyan, Effie Chen, and Jalin Huang) took me to dinner at the Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall cafe. It was so great to see everyone there! Lucifer Chu from the OOPS project also appeared. Effie then took me to a Chinese play of the Cloud Gate Dance Theater of Taiwan in the halls above--it was a best of the best of different shows. It was wonderful! So stunning, it is hard to describe here. Not sure if I have ever seen anything like it.

The following day, a former master's student from Applied Linguistics at IU, Jessie Chen, and her friend, Yu-Ling, took me to a number of places. After Jessie and I explored Taipei a bit, we went to the north to a seaside area by train and also the night market for dinner in Taipei.

Sunday, I have taken to Hsinshu which is about 1 hour south of the city. My guide was my trip coordinator, Dr. Sindy Peng (and her mother). On that day, I got a tour of a Haika village by former students, Dr. Mei-Ya Liang, and Dr. Ching-Fen Chang, both graduates of language education at IU though they did not know each other. Many xmas gifts where bought there. Dinner was spent with many former students including Ching-Fen and Mei-Ya and their families and also Feng-Kwei Wang and his family, Jiunde Lee (married to Yu - chen Hsu).

On Monday I visited a primary school which focused on creativity, art, and academics. Great place--the principal gave me a wooden Buddhist carving. Then I gave 2 talks at National Chiao Tung University which were attended by many of their students. Also in the audience were Mei-Ya's husband (Chen Chao (Kevin) Tao ), Dr. Chin-Chi Chao, Dr. Jalin Huang, and Dr. Grace Lin from the Univ of Houston (all friends of mine or former students). At the end, they gave me a wonderful gift--a wooden mini-me. Tuesday, I did a workshop for corporate trainers in Taipei on blended learning for the Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI). Feng-Kwei Wang who runs ITRI College and his assistant, Cindy Chen, arranged it. That night Victor and his wife Naoko and Grace Lin from the University of Houston and Lucifer Chu from OOPS (Opensource OpenCourseware Prototype System) met me for dinner. After dinner, we went to the top of Taipei 101--the tallest building in the world. Wednesday I gave a talk on podcasts, wikis, and blogs for a conference of the The Institute for Information Industry (III). This one went really good. In the afternoon, I went back to the Institute of Education, National Chiao Tung University for a talk on my research for Ching-Fen's students and colleague and others.

Dr. Sindy (Hsinyi) Peng and her student, Roy (my interpreter), and Mei-Ya and her daughter, Michelle, and others took me to dinner. Sindy drove me to the airport. She was a major help! She coordinated all the details. I owe her bigtime! Seems she has been reading my research. That makes 19 or 20 people in the Bonk fan club. My mom and my Uncle Art were the first ones in.

Part 2: Thailand. I got to Thailand late that night--to keynote an e-learning conference in Bangkok which started the next day. Had fun there too. Met up with former student Kevin Koury who is now an endowed chair in Pennsylvania. It was great to catch up. Randy Garrison from the University of Calgary was also there to keynote as was Nada Dabbaugh from George Mason University. Thitinun (Ta) Boonseng, a student from the University of Missouri was a big help! Ta made sure all the keynotes had fun. So many pictures taken at this conference! Many volunteers to help make this one run smoothly.

Thailand was simply wonderful. While there, I got to tour Bangkok and a wonderful golden temple. You must see it! Also had a monk attend one of my talks and a former monk show me around Chiang Mai. Got to the international floral festival there as well. Many pics. It was like EPCOT in Orlando--many cultures of the world on display.

And I had my 28th b-day when in Bangkok on the 16th. Many people celebrated my bday with me in Bangkok. Entire conference sang happy bday at the closing ceremony and I got an official watch from the King’s bday. Many bands playing at night—my friend Ta had them sing happy bday to me at each pub we visited. What a good time that was! My final stop was Mahasarakham University for 2 talks on December 20th. They had many educational technology students in the audience.

I just got home at noon on the 21st of December (yesterday). Had to fly from Mahasarakham University (a university NE of Bangkok where I had 2 final talks) to Bangkok and then to LAX and then to Chicago and then to Indy. LAX was a zoo and a 6 hour layover. In LA, I sat next to a woman who sorta snuck onto the plane on standby and she would not get off and so after 45 minutes of officials trying to get her to walk off, they called security to take her off. This caused me to be almost late for my flight from Chicago to Indy. They were calling my name for last call as I ran there from another terminal at O'Hare. One bag made it and one did not. Still waiting--the one I am missing has my xmas gifts bought in Chiang Mai which I saw in LAX so I know it made it to the USA. What a terrible trip home but at least I slept nearly the entire time from Bangkok to LA.

I really enjoyed this trip though I am very tired. Ate too much to keep up my energy! I gained almost 10 pounds. I may go back to Taiwan for Wikimania in August.

Some overall reflections. Let's try for 10...
#1. The Asian culture is very special and helpful. I had more support than any trip I have ever taken. Yes, some of it was from former students but much of it was from people I had never met before in my life. This makes the 24 hours of flying worthwhile perhaps.

#2. I want to continue to learn more about the Buddhist religion. I have been given many books on this religion lately. Perhaps it is a sign. Perhaps Bonk should become a Monk. (Bonk the Monk, who would have thunk?)

#3. Many Asian countries look at e-learning as an area for economic growth and a way to spur educational change. It will be interesting to see which country will be the e-learning leader in 2010--will it be Korea, China, Taiwan, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, or Thailand or someplace else? What will a leader role look like?

#4. Blended learning is a concept that is intriguing in Asia but still remains fuzzy with many misunderstandings. Someone could make money consulting on blended learning in Asia. Where will blended learning make its greatest impact--higher education, K-12 schools, government settings, or corporate training?

#5. Taiwan is posed to take a leadership role in the e-learning space and in educational technology in general. Much interest and momentum. But to date, more talk than action; at least, according to our research on blended learning in corporate training.

#6. The open university of Ramkhamhaeng in Bangkok has more than 600,000 students. When will a university reach over a million students? 2 million? As education opens up for learners in remote and not so remote regions of the world, what will happen? How will this change learning as we know it?

#7. Many universities in Taiwan and Thailand are starting to offer Ph.D.'s in educational technology and learning sciences. How will this impact Ph.D. programs in ed tech, learning sciences, and instructional systems technology in the USA? Will my program be negatively affected? I think the emergence of new universities and program in Taiwan has already impacted my program at IU. Not as many students from there today as we had when I started in 1992.

#8. Despite observations made in #7 above, there continue to be students who approach me about coming to the USA for study either for master's, Ph.D., or a post-doc. I know we cannot handle all of them. How to help all these requests? Humm...

#9. During the conference in Bangkok, many people approached me about keynoting regional and international e-learning conferences they are organizing in such places as the Phiippines, Thailand, Indonesia, and elsewhere that will be held in 2007. It certainly seems to be the hot topic of the year in Asia as it was in the USA 5 years ago. Are they just catching up or is this a new wave of interest? Should I commit to keynoting them since this many not last long or take a pass on them and rest up? Hard to say what to do but I am tired from flying home for 24+ hours so perhaps I just learn to say no more often.

#10. The audiences for my talks vary widely. If a department advertizes the talk to the university, often people from other depts will not attend since they think it does not apply. If the university announces it, the people come from all over the campus. And it might be the same talk. Overall, the audiences have been varied and they have been packing the rooms. Many graduate students have been attending my talks which is good to see. I was fortunate to have nearly every talk go well in Taiwan and Thailand. For this I am highly thankful! May this momentum continue into the new year!!!!!

Bonus observation: Presentations at the e-learning conference in Bangkok from Randy Garrison from the University of Calgary in Canada, Nada Dabbaugh from GMU in the USA, and Dr. Said Hadjerrouit of Agder University College in Norway (as well as my own) indicate that people are increasingly considering the pedagogy behind e-learning. This is an important trend for higher education. Nada, Randy, and Said each are developing pedagogical frameworks for reflecting on e-learning. One might take a look at their work. I wonder if IT people in universities will take notice or continue to simply ask IT questions and look at and promote computer log data for their answers. I also wonder if corporate people will also begin to look at pedagogy and online interaction instead of just seek technology solutions.

God bless everyone this holiday season and into 2007.
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  posted by Curt Bonk @ 4:13 AM   6 comments
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About Me

Name: Curt Bonk
Home: Bloomington, Indiana, United States
About Me: I am a former accountant and CPA and a former educational psychologist. I am now Professor of IST at Indiana University and also adjunct in the School of Informatics. I founded and later sold SurveyShare. As president of CourseShare, LLC, I run around the world training instructors to teach online and give motivational talks about emerging learning technologies. I also write and edit books related to e-learning and blended learning. See bio and vita.

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