My grandpa’s Near death experience

Advanced manual storytelling 02

My grandpa was a very timid guy. When he was about 25 year old, right after he got married with my grandma, his father sent him to the army, to train him to become a stronger and better man. After he joined the Chinese red army, he was assigned to serve at Vietnam war. He served in the army for about one year, got involved with small and big warfare with American army. everything is going intense, many of his fellowmen died in the field. One day, his company of troop got involved fighting with American army in a highland occupation in a village. American army threw bombs one by one from the air, my grandpa hided himself in a deep ditch with three of his fellowmen. He didn’t know how many bombs were thrown from the above. He was too afraid to move himself. Suddenly, one bomb landed right in front of the ditch he stayed in. he saw blood coming out of his fellow soldiers’ heads, arms and legs. He cannot feel his own body and he cannot move himself at all. The air was filled with strong smell of rotting flesh. He thought he was going to die soon.


His mind is flying away from his body, flying higher and higher. His mind is watching him from the above. His body is down there surrounded by hundreds of his fellow dead soldiers. His mind seems to be functioning in a hyper-lucid fashion. He feels fully alive, everything happened to him in his 25-year-life come back to his mind in a reverse chronological order. A timid guy was sent to the red army by his dad; his beautiful daughter was born in a hot summer; he was dating a woman sitting under a big tree and chatting; he was dating another woman under the same big tree and chatting; he went to a high school and being shy back in the classroom, staying quiet all the time…


As the life occasions go back to his mind, his attention is drawn to a black hole; he found himself moving through this black hole-without a body but with a strong sense of motion, this blackness is gradually becoming black a tunnel. As he approaches the end of the tunnel, he becomes aware of a pinpoint of light. This light quickly grows bigger and brighter and becomes more effulgent. It is an extremely brilliant light-golden white-but it absolutely does not hurt his eyes at all. As he moves closer to the light, he feels a sense of pure love, penetrating to the very core of his being. He is in total immersion in this light. All time stops; this timid soldier feel he is home again in the light.


In the midst of the timeless love, my grandpa becomes aware of a kind of presence. It is not a person, but it is a being of some kind. the presence informs you that you must make a decision whether to remain in the black tunnel or to go back to his body surrounded by his dead fellow soldiers. He does not want to go back to the dead body, he wants to stay in the love, seeing his life occasions simultaneously with those sharp images, everything that has ever happened to him in his life. There is no sense of judgment of himself. As this patterned fabric of your life unravels before you, he grasps the essential meaning of his life and he feels this true self, who does not care about how other people see him, either a shy guy or a timid soldier.


Suddenly his body and mind come together, to the real world. The reality is he was still alive, surrounded by dead bodies. The American airforce flied away. At the end of the day, all soldier bodies were shipped to another area. My grandpa pretended as a dead soldier and stayed with the cluster of bodies overnight. In the next morning, he ran away as fast as he could from the deadly quiet village and got his way back home.


He realized this is the most profound thing that has ever happened to him. He feels he started to understand his life, life will never again be the same. He wished he could talk to somebody about it, but who could understand, it was hard for a shy guy to find words adequate to describe it. But, I, as his granddaughter who was born 30 years later, feel his sensation when he was dying two years ago. I wasn’t with him physically, but mentally I have a feeling of extreme peace, pure silence and tremendous well-being.









A dance I cannot say no to

Advanced speech manual- humorous speech 04

Anna is a 30 white girl with brown long curling hair and rock-hard abs, arms and legs which appear to go on forever. She glides across the floor and lifts a hand up to the pole. Walking slowly around the pole, Anna then brings both feet off the floor, straightens her legs, points her toes, and spins gracefully through the air, her brown long hair flowing behind her. Bringing both feet back to the floor, she rises slowly back to standing, her hips and chest out, both her fancy bikini, beautiful face, both her arms and legs sparkle under the spotlight.

Anna then invites us to try the same move on the pole. As the song blasts out, I hold the pole tightly, I lift my feet off the floor, and try to spin with the strength of my arms, if I have, my palms are sweaty, knees weak, arms are heavy, there are friction on my thighs already. I am so nervous but on the surface, I look calm and ready to rock the whole move. I jump down the pole, and I hold it again, jumping up, and squeeze my legs on the pole, try to spin my body, this is my sequence, but my thighs bruise, my knees slam into the floor causing even more bruise of my knees, and my ego.

As a second round came, Anna wiggle her hips, walking seductively around the pole putting her long brown hair on one side of her shoulder, touch through her hair and smoothly runs her hands down over her chest and down to inner thigh. And then give a sexy look to herself through the front mirror. Oh that second move, I guess, is not that hard for me, at least not that hard for my arms and thighs. She then invites us to combine the first spinning move with the second sexy move together, with our own creativity. She said whatever you feel comfortable with, go for it! But I am not that comfortable with the spinning move, for the seductive move part, I am okay with it. I tried the same move as Anna did, at the end of my move, I looked at myself through the mirror, I was not stripping at that moment, but I felt some stripping part from my inside. I not only realized I have never worked on some parts of my body, but also realized I have never brought out some part of my inner self.

That was my fist try of pole dancing in my life, I was desperate to learn how to do it after that try. When I talk to people I do pole dancing, there is always a kind of laughter, or a joke. But for me, Physically, pole dancing is a form of dance or fitness exercise. It demands upon your body in ways that you never imagine. People are doing things that considered as workout when you are doing them on the ground. But you are doing them up on the air, suspending your weight, holding yourself up there and spinning you body like you are on the ground. Your whole body is engaged, your legs, your arms, your core. After the first class, every tiny part of my body, even those parts I cannot name, those parts I don’t even know I have, ache. They are like ache forever.

Pole dancing of course, it is feminine. the female body, in that form, doing those specific positions, spinning in the air, wear very less clothing, because you cannot wear long pants and sleeves to get hold on the pole, sometimes high heels, you cannot say that it is not erotic. but think about it, a bellarine is doing the same thing as a pole dancer, they are moving their body, opening up their legs, spring and spin on their legs. there is even a pole involved, the difference is that the pole is horizontal. Whether you are trying it for fitness or you’re attracted to the sexy side of pole dancing, the beauty of it is that you can take from what you want.

Pole dancing could be a very empowering movement for me. We do not need to dance naked on the pole, but we, both males and females, can live naked in our passion, naked in our power, naked in our heart. This “naked” against to the “twisting and hiding” on the inside. It is against others’ judgmental thoughts or your self-criticism brought on by a society that curbs the enthusiasm, the truth, the value for life. I am concluding my talk with my friend cassie’s remark, when you girls or guys do pole dancing, you are gonna definitely attract more people. If so! Great! I have found a new motivation for pole dancing. But I am actually concluding it with Erin Hanson’s poetry to all of you: “there is freedom waiting for you, on the breezes of the sky, and you ask “what if I fall?” oh but my darling, what if you fly?“

AECT 2016


LT students present at annual AECT convention

I and Jennifer Englund, LT PhD students, presented at the October 2016 Association for Educational Communications and Technology (AECT) International Convention in Las Vegas, Nevada. The annual event draws over 1,000 educators, graduate students, and industry professionals whose activities are directed toward improving instruction through technology.

I presented a research paper co-authored with Dr. Scharber, titled “Examining an Instructor’s Online Interaction and Participation in a Ning Online Discussion Forum”, in 2016 AECT International Convention in Las Vegas, NV. The interactive slides of this paper can be found at:

Jennifer, I, and two other AECT PhD students presented as panelists in a moderated panel session entitled “Debating an increase in ALT-AC positions in the university and their impact on AECT student lives.” The session sought to offer facts, myths, and personal experiences about alternative academic positions and engage participants in discussion about how graduate students are navigating the changing hiring and career landscape in higher education.

use Meerkat-ED to do social network analysis and discourse analysis

Meerkat-ED is a software designed by Dr. Reihaneh Rabbany 

Meerkat-ED can be used to analyze two kinds of networks: participants’ interaction network and the network of terms they have used in their interactions.
I applied a small portion of my data in this tool, here is the process:
  • transfer your data into .txt file, if you don’t use Moodle, please refer to samplefile.txt for format. The online course I am studying was not based on Moodle, so I manually transferred a very small portion of my data into the right format
  • open the txt file in Meerkat-ED, two networks (i.e., interaction network and term network) were automatically generated

in the interaction network, you can change time frame at the bottom to demonstrate network during different duration


Figure 1. Student interaction network

in the term network, you can click student’s name at the right top window, to show terms this student used


Figure 2. Term network

  • you can click analyze-content analysis-topic clustering to show topic communities.


Like KBDex, Meerkat-ED is a useful tool to analyze online collaborative learning. One strength Meerkat-ED has is you can set different text analysis methods, and different types of words, e.g., noun or verb. One thing Meerkat-ED is different form KBDex is that, you cannot choose specific words in Meerkat-ED. In addition, you should also pay attention to data clean process before you import your data into Meerkat-ED.  You might need to make noun words consistent throughout your data file. For example, I should have changed all “communities” to “community”, or “questions” to “question”. This part can be tricky.
Another creative use of Meerkat-ED and KBDex is that you can use them to visually demonstrate content or discourse analysis results. For instance, if you have coded discussions based on some coding scheme, you have got codes for each analysis unit. Then you can use Meerkat-ED and KBDex to show the networks of codes (where links represent co-occurrence of codes in the same sentence), rather than the networks of words, phrases of the discussion content itself. This might be an interesting way to demonstrate content or discourse analysis result. Widely-used ways to demonstrate content or discourse analysis results are “code and count” table, pie/bar charts, or sequential/path analysis. The function of network of terms supported by Meerkat-ED can create new visualizations for researchers.
Overall, Meerkat-ED is a solid tool to do data mining in online collaborative learning.
If you are interested in applying this tool in your reserach, please refer to more info:
Rabbany, R., Takaffoli, M., & Zaïane, O. R. (2011). Analyzing participation of students in online courses using social network analysis techniques. In Proceedings of educational data mining.
Rabbany, R., Elatia, S., Takaffoli, M., & Zaïane, O. R. (2013). Collaborative learning of students in online discussion forums: A social network analysis perspective. In Educational data mining (pp. 441-466). Springer International Publishing

use interactive Shiny app to demonstrate your research analysis result

Shiny app is created by R studio. It can be used in creative ways to demonstrate your research results if you use R to analyze your data. Your shiny app includes server.R and ui.R. The R code that you used to run your data, can be embedded in server.R file. It may create plots, tables, network graphs, etc. You can design and program your user interface in different format, like checkbox, buttons, radio buttons, sliders, text input, etc.

Here is an example I played with on a recent study my advisor has worked on – a gender analysis of female scholars in six educational technology journals from 2004-2015.

  • used navbarPage to demonstrate two pages for including different info
  • used select box for users to select the journal
  • used tabPanel to demonstrate two different formats of barplots (created through ggplot2 in R)


copyright of the data demonstrated in this shiny app belongs to the research team, please do not use the data without permit


Many fancy examples can be found here in shiny gallery and user showcase, where you might find some inspirations. Really, it is not that hard to learn, even you don’t have any programming background, and don’t know any programming languages.

In addition, shiny app can be embedded within R presentation, to make presentation more interactive.

use KBDex in online collaborative learning research

A Japanese research & software team developed an analytical software called KBDeX, to visualize network structures of discourse based on two-mode words*discourse units. This software is basically a discourse analysis tool, based on the relation between words and discourse units. For a researcher in the collaborative online learning research field, you can select words and demonstrate the relations of words, based on your interest. This can help demonstrate students’ knowledge construction/creation. It demonstrates words/discourses relations in the network format; in addition, it can demonstrate the temporal development process of networks. This is a big strength of this discourse analysis tool. Yet it should be noted that it is not primarily based on the relations between students; rather, it is based on the co-occurence of words in discourse units. Although, student interaction network can be demonstrated, in terms of the common words they have used in the discourse.
Here I want to demonstrate a demo from a part of my dissertation data. I would probably consider to use this tool in my dissertation.
  • First, I dragged a portion of online discussion data from the data I collected for my dissertation and transferred them to the format as shown by KBDex dataset. In my data, each discourse unit represents a comment.
  • I added one feature to assign students to two different groups (see figure 1); a group of students got involved within a discussion in the thread.
  • Then I ran the data of group 2 in the main windows (see figure 2).
Figure 1. Groups
KBDex platform has four windows: (1) The discourse viewer which shows an overview of the discourse and selected word (top left window), (2) the network structure of students (top right window), (3) the network structure of discourse units (bottom left window), and (4) the network structure of selected words (bottom right window).

Figure 2. Main windows

An important note I have gained from this trail is that it is very important to consider what words you choose from the student discussion content. Words can represent students’ inquiry process; but it cannot represent the whole inquiry process. We, as researchers, might carry our understanding of the inquiry process based on the choice of words; yet, it cannot fully represent students’ cognitive inquiry process. For example, from the bottom left window of figure 2, we can see that some comments are isolated with the core cluster, which means that there are no common words within these comments. But, of course, students made inquiry in these comments, they just did not use the words we have chosen. Therefore, it’s important to pay attention to the word choosing process, and to describe why you choose some words other than other words. And it’s important to acknowledge the inquiry process within isolated discourse units.

Something to consider before you start KBDex analysis:

  • clean your data, make sure the words you chose are consistent throughout the dataset
  • consider how to use the group function, it does not necessarily need to be a traditional group as we talk in education. Like in my study, a group is assigned to students who got involved in interacting with each other in a discussion thread. The discussion thread is divided into several groups depending on the interaction
  • time in your data, since KBDex can demonstrate temporality of networks, namely the evolution of networks

Finally, like Meerkat-ED, the function of network of selected words provided by KBDex can be used to demonstrate content/discourse analysis result.

If you are interested in using KBDex in your online collaborative learning research, here are some seminal work done by the research and software develop team:

Matsuzaw, Y., Oshima, J., Oshima, R., Niihara, Y., & Sakai, S. (2011). KBDeX: A platform for exploring discourse in collaborative learning. Procedia-Social and Behavioral Sciences, 26, 198-207.

Matsuzawa, Y., Oshima, J., Oshima, R., & Sakai, S. (2012). Learners’ use of SNA-based discourse analysis as a self-assessment tool for collaboration.International Journal of Organisational Design and Engineering2(4), 362-379.

Oshima, J., Oshima, R., & Matsuzawa, Y. (2012). Knowledge Building Discourse Explorer: a social network analysis application for knowledge building discourse. Educational technology research and development60(5), 903-921.

what I have learned from one-year leadership experience

This year, one thing that I have taken to push myself out of my comfort zone, is, taking some leadership roles. I have taken the student leadership role in both the university level and the departmental level. There has been many tough moments, yet making the long story short, here are something I have learned from my peers and myself.

  1. always give people credits first, particularly when you are going to propose some critical suggestions.
  2. give people some time to better functioning. Do not just follow your first impression. For example I am a very hardworking and fast-working person; yet I’d better not to expect others do things in the similar way as I do, they have their own pace and style.
  3. understand your role and responsibility at the first place, and always do your job. do not make random commitment to other people in the group.
  4. do not take criticism personally; it is for the work you have done, not for you as a person.
  5. talk to people if you feel hurt or ignored, but do not struggle with nonsense. do what you can do and move forward.
  6. only apologize for what you have done that might hurt others. do not expect other people behaves in the same way as I do.
  7. in addition to achieving goals, pay attention to the group development as a whole.