C. Frank Starmer
Emeritus Professor of Computer Science, Duke University (1997-present)

Address:
2781 Golf Lake Drive
Plant City, Florida 33566
email: frank.starmer at gmail dot com


Frank and 4JFC

With my colleagues in the field: Joseph Koh, Joanna Yeo, James Koh and Chris Ang

I've retired but I had one of the biggest adventure of my life: the opportunity to build a learning enterprise from the ground up. This was an opportunity to put a bit of life into Gene Stead's (my first boss at Duke, Chairman of Medicine) dreams: From Stead To Singapore: Building a new way to learn (Indexed voice annotated video). The Singapore venture was also an opportunity to out-Duke Duke. We started our out-Dukeing Duke by recognizing that lecture-based curricula do not prepare a student for life after school. Since all our students have completed undergraduate school, they already know now to learn via the lecture-based delivery model of the curriculum. To take our students to the next level, learning on their own or with colleagues, they must develop new skills - that of being comfortable with their uncertainties as well as knowing how to approach uncertainties.

Assisting the transition, we focused on strategies to awaken childish curiosity about everything. This radically differs from lecture-driving learning, in that uncertainties are resolved via memorization and curiosity is often suppressed by peers or faculty. Addressing uncertainties, whether in the classroom or at the bedside requires curiosity, good problem solving and critical thinking skills. These skills form part of the foundation of our program.

The Duke-NUS Medical School has no formal lectures. Sandy Cook engineered our team-based learning (TeamLEAD), learning from each other. Deciding what content to master was biased toward what we use 80% of the time in order to minimize exposure to the forgetting process. We added search skills to the list of core competencies that one must master. Our goal was to exchange learning soon-forgotten concepts for curiosity-driven learning. Our delivery of learning resources was via USB disk, to reduce dependence on the Internet. Our learning resources consisted of video, powerpoint presentations, voice annotated powerpoints (video play lists) and pdf documents. We enabled students to build a personalized learning-flow, playlists of resources they harvest from our libraries as well as from the Internet. The new Duke-NUS Medical School is a great laboratory for exploring learning as imparted by my dad and Gene Stead.

Now with retirement, I am fully engaged in chasing curiosity with friends and family and subjecting myself to weekly (sometimes daily) spider therapy sessions, a well known remedy for Singapore's too-many-people. Spider therapy transcripts are available in my photo essays, where I reveal what others frequently do not see (because they have not enabled their curious eyes and learned to focus their curiosity).

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

C. Frank Starmer