Speech By Mr Ng Chee Meng, Acting Minister For Education (Schools), At The 5th International Conference On Teaching And Learning With Technology On Wednesday, 30 March

Published Date: 30 March 2016 12:00 AM

News Speeches

Chairman, Government Parliamentary Committee (Education), Ms Denise Phua

Permanent Secretary (Education), Ms Chan Lai Fung

Permanent Secretary (Education Development), Mr Neo Kian Hong

Director-General of Education, Mr Wong Siew Hoong

Academy of Principal (Singapore), President, Mr Chan Poh Meng

Distinguished Guests

Colleagues

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Good Morning

Introduction

1. I am delighted to be with you for the 5th International Conference on Teaching and Learning with Technology. I would like to warmly welcome all participants, especially our foreign delegates. I hope you will find the conference useful and enjoy your stay in Singapore.

2. I am very pleased to see the animation created by students from Zhenghua Secondary School. The animation shows the possibilities with technology and the resilience of our students in preparing for the future. The work also represents the inventiveness of our students. Even as we teach our students, I think they also have much to offer to us as adults.

3. Singapore is developing towards being a Smart Nation. This will improve the quality of life for individuals and provide business opportunities for enterprises. The Smart Nation vision also encourages a culture of experimentation and people coming together to co-create solutions.

4. In Singapore, the use of technology permeates almost every aspect of our lives. Most of our children are exposed and are comfortable with the use of technology from a very early age.

5. It is therefore important for our Education System to prepare our young to become future-ready and responsible digital learners. Our work in ICT in Education contributes to our whole-of-Singapore journey towards our Smart Nation vision.

Technology at the Fore of Change

6. Technology is at the forefront of change. Technological innovations are driving progress. It is not easy to predict the future. But we can be certain that technology will continue to play a key role in shaping the world we live, play, and learn today, tomorrow and into the far future.

7. The world of tomorrow will look very different from our world today. The theme of the conference, therefore, being Future Ready – Inspire, Connect, Transform, is especially relevant. How do we help our young to become ready for the future? The challenging task therefore for educators is not only to help our students do well in a future, but also to be able to find the compass and the anchor as they prepare for life in a fast-changing and uncertain world. They not only have to obtain the skills, but the foundation of values to anchor them and give them the compass for the way forward. In many of these endeavours, we certainly do not know the future; we can only imagine and have a glimpse of what is to come. That makes the educator’s job doubly difficult and certainly important.

8. The 21st century classroom is a technology enriched learning environment. Our teachers can use technology to design different learning experiences for the students. Technology can support students’ creative and innovative thinking, collaboration and development of ideas. For example, with technology, students can easily access a range of perspectives on a specific issue. This broadens their thinking and allows them to build on good ideas from others and take it further. Technology can also be used to facilitate students’ discussions and keep a record of their views over time. The data can also be analysed to provide prompt and personalised feedback to the students.

9. Given the many new possibilities brought about by the use of technology, our educators need to harness technology meaningfully to prepare our students to become future-ready.

10. We have started on this journey some years ago now. For example, MOE and NIE started the eduLab programme, which was funded by the National Research Foundation, in 2010. The aim of the progamme was to bring together industry, researchers and schools to promote innovations in learning and teaching with technology. I am heartened to note that to date, 44 projects across 111 schools have been implemented.

11. wRriteFormula is one such example. Our Specialists in MOE worked together with teachers across different schools to design an app game, named wRiteFormula, to help students learn chemistry formula and develop 21st Century Competencies in the process.

12. Let’s watch their story.

13. If you are interested to try the game, you can download the app for free on your mobile device.

People at the Heart of Teaching and Learning

14. Despite all that technology has to offer, people remain at the heart of teaching and learning. As such, in our work in ICT in Education, the focus remains soundly on people. We will continue to build our educators’ capacity in the appropriate and meaningful use of technology for teaching and learning.

15. Teachers are encouraged to design different learning experiences for their students by harnessing the possibilities from technology. This helps teachers to design the lessons that are most appropriate for their profile of students. The lessons are also designed to best achieve the learning outcomes in terms of subject mastery and the 21st century competencies.

16. In our midst is an experienced teacher, who despite having established ways of teaching, continues to experiment and innovate with technology so as to do even better. Let me share her encouraging story.

17. Mrs Chek Kin Hoe is an English Language senior teacher from St Andrews Junior School. She has given many years of her life to education and often jokes about her impending retirement.

18. When the school started with a programme for the P3 classes, where students use a personal computer during the lesson, Mrs Chek was approached to join the pilot programme. However she felt that she was not ready and was not good with technology. She politely declined and her students did not participate in the pilot programme.

19. In the year of implementation, she observed that the students from the pilot class benefited much from the use of technology which enhanced the ways of teaching and students’ learning. She felt that her students were losing out in the learning experience.

20. Subsequently in the following year, this very ‘senior’ teacher volunteered to join the programme. Today, Mrs Chek has a class blog and uses her own website to facilitate her students’ learning. She has also since become a mentor to teachers who are also keen to use technology effectively in their classrooms. She is an exemplary example.

21. Many of our teachers are using technology to design meaningful learning experiences for their students. We will continue to build our teachers’ capacity through role-specific training programmes, milestone courses for school leaders and heads of department and networked learning communities across schools.

22. We are also supporting teachers who are keen to push the boundary of teaching and learning with technology. They are our technology- enthusiasts who experiment and trail-blaze new and better ways of teaching and learning with technology.

23. Ms Genevieve and Ms Noorhirdawati, from Princess Elizabeth Primary School, are teachers with 13 and 14 years of experience respectively. Both of them, who are with us today, recognised that providing timely feedback is useful to improve students’ writing.

24. They adopted the use of an automated marking tool which would identify basic language errors of spelling and grammar in their students’ compositions. Students would submit their composition drafts through the automated marking tool. They would then discuss, in pairs, on the feedback provided, and make the corrections on their work.

25. Apart from the timely feedback, students also became more conscious of their language choices in their writing. There were productivity gains as teachers saved time from correcting simple language errors. Instead, they would focus on giving more extensive feedback on the content and style of students’ writing.

26. One student told Ms Genevieve that he was “very happy that he no longer has to receive back a composition full of red markings”. Genevieve and Noorhirdawati will also be sharing their story at a paper session later. Do attend their sessions to learn more.

27. Teachers are not alone in this endeavour. School leaders play a critical role as culture builders. They lead the school, as an ecosystem, to nurture the future-ready learner.

28. We have been supporting our school leaders and teachers in this endeavour. For example, we support our schools to develop plans for technology integration into teaching and learning through the cluster-based School Planning and Instructional Design for Technology in Learning Programme. We help our school leaders to create a vision of quality teaching and learning with technology for the whole school. We also guide heads of department and teachers in the design process for quality learning with technology. The aim is for technology to be seamlessly embedded into the classroom for student-centric learning.

29. School leaders are vital in this as they build the culture for meaningful technology insertion in their schools. Let me share with you how Mdm Haslinda and her team from Tanjong Katong Secondary School do it.

30. From the video, we can see how Mdm Haslinda, a school leader, and her management team set the vision for the use of technology to prepare students to be future ready. They grow the staff competency to use technology effectively and adopt a whole school approach to nurture a culture for meaningful technology use. And as Chinese Philosopher, Lao-Tzu, puts it, “When the best leader’s work is done the people say, ‘We did it ourselves!”

Values at the Core of Education

31. Finally, values remain at the core of all that we do in education. Technology will continue to change and shape our world. While our educators must stay relevant, we cannot afford to chase after every fad and new-fangled trend. Our values are our anchor as we pilot the uncharted waters. Regardless of the shifting landscape brought about by technology or social changes, our values remain enduring and define us. Our values must serve as a compass for our educators and also for our students.

32. Values are at the core of education. Our young must not only become future-ready. They must become responsible digital learners as well. The rules of engagement and the netiquette in the digital world are similar to that of the physical world; but not entirely the same. Even as our students tap into the many possibilities offered in the online space, they need to know and demonstrate responsible behaviour online. Our students also need to be fluent in new media literacies as they navigate the digital world.

33. We recognise that new media literacies extend beyond the use of productivity tools to students’ ability to curate information critically, connect with peers and others in cyberspace and to have the fluency to create digital products to demonstrate learning. These new media literacies are linked to the Communication, Collaboration and Information Skills (CCI), and Critical Inventive Thinking (CIT), which are part of the 21st Century Competencies. A toolkit on these new media literacies with lesson exemplars will be made available to all schools.

34. We will continue to strengthen our cyber wellness education in schools. The key messages in our cyber wellness education will be anchored on our values. The key messages are Respect for Self and Others, Safe and Responsible Use, and lastly, Positive Peer Influence.

35. Our schools have developed many approaches to nurture our students to become responsible digital learners. Cyber Wellness education is a part of the Character and Citizenship Curriculum. However, we recognise that values are more often caught than taught. Peer influence plays a major role in a child’s formative years. This is why peer advocacy is such an important strategy in our cyber wellness education. Our peer advocates, the Cyber Wellness Student Leaders, lead by example and are supported to provide guidance and information to their peers.

36. Let’s watch another video on our efforts to nurture responsible digital learners.

37. Cyber Wellness education is not just the task for MOE alone. Parents play an important role in shaping their children’s values, as well as in guiding their online behaviour, and monitoring their technology use. To support our students at home, we will continue to do more to equip parents with the knowledge and tools to guide their children online. Schools are reaching out to parents actively through talks and workshops and MOE is supporting parents with tips and resources.

Conclusion

38. Over the years, we have laid a strong foundation through our efforts in ICT in Education, and we will continue to deepen and sharpen our work. We recognise that technology is at the fore of change. Our educators must harness the possibilities that it brings to teaching and learning. Nevertheless, the heart of teaching and learning is not just about having more technology in the classroom. Our people – our dedicated teachers and visionary school leaders - are at the heart of effective teaching and learning. We must continue to collaborate with one another, including our overseas friends, in this endeavour. Finally, values remain at the core of education as we nurture our young to become future-ready and responsible digital learners.

39. Indeed, we do not have a roadmap for tomorrow’s landscape. However, our educators can certainly help our young to become future-ready. We can teach our young what we do know today – the knowledge and subject content in our curriculum. We can equip our young with the ability to navigate – the 21st Century Competencies for holistic education. We can imbue in our young an internal compass – the values to know right from wrong and the courage to do what is right.

40. Together, we can all contribute in preparing our young to become future-ready. On this note, I wish you an enriching conference. It is now my pleasure to declare iCTLT 2016 open.

41. Thank you.

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