Q&A with Fun Man Fung: ALSET’s Chemistry Instructor Extraordinaire

Fun Man Fung is an Instructor with the Department of Chemistry and a member of ALSET’s Core Faculty. We recently sat down for a chat with Fun Man to explore his interests in education technology and innovative pedagogy.

Tell us a bit about yourself and how you ended up working with ALSET.

Ever since I was young, I loved science and technology. I was raised in Singapore and did my undergraduate studies here at NUS, where I majored in Chemistry. After doing a master’s in Industrial Chemistry in Munich, I decided to return to NUS and pursue a career in education. I’m on the “educator track”, which means that my primary focus is on teaching and academic mentorship. I’m also currently finalizing my PhD in Chemistry, so it’s a busy time for me!

When I first heard about ALSET, I was attracted by the idea of working on novel educational technologies. Many of these technologies have amazing potential to make education systems more powerful and effective, but we still need good research to ensure that we’re using the right technologies in the right ways. ALSET will be supporting research like this, and also running programs to make sure that the latest research has broad impact in the NUS community. From the beginning of my teaching career, I’ve shared this mission, so ALSET is a great fit for me.

What kinds of educational technologies excite you most, and which technologies are you currently using in your own classrooms?  

I’m a big believer in the power of blended learning. As connected devices proliferate and digital media becomes a more central part of everyone’s life, teachers have new opportunities to deliver educational content in more compelling and impactful ways. For example, many educators are increasingly putting lecture content online and using class time for interactive exercises, an approach known as the “flipped classroom.” This allows students to engage with lecture content at their own pace, and saves precious class time for questions, conversations, and hands-on experiments.

Blended learning programs often make use of online videos, and I’ve long had an interest in video production techniques for online lectures. For example, I recently started experimenting with an exciting technology called the Lightboard, a new kind of whiteboard that allows teachers to draw out diagrams and lecture notes while standing behind a transparent screen. This allows teachers to face students and maintain constant eye contact as they write, which makes the resulting videos much more engaging. I recently published a paper in the American Journal of Chemical Education on my experience using it in one of my classes last year, and the initial results were very positive.

As the lead of the Faculty of Science Laboratory-Video IT Taskforce, I’m also currently experimenting with video production techniques that use 360-video, drones, and even virtual reality. This week, I’ll be presenting on these approaches at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok. Going to events and visiting other schools to share insights from my work allows me to learn more about how other educators are working with these kinds of technologies.

What other initiatives are you working on with ALSET?  

At the beginning of the next semester, I’ll be teaching an elective course called Learning to Learn, which will explore tried-and-true strategies for being a successful student. The class will take a blended learning approach, including a series of online instructional videos that students can watch at their own pace and schedule. The class will initially be available to transfer students who are coming to NUS from the local polytechnics, but ALSET plans to roll out other courses next year. We will be announcing more details in the coming weeks, but in the meantime, interested students and faculty are welcome to contact me with any questions.

To learn more about Fun Man’s work, follow him on his Facebook page.

Founded in 2016, ALSET’s mission is improve education through the application of learning science and education technology. The Institute conducts original research on learning science, technology, and pedagogy; promotes novel and entrepreneurial projects that improve learning outcomes; and works to ensure that the latest research and learning technologies have broad impact, both at NUS and also in the broader education community.