With the rising popularity and use of social media and technology among young people in Singapore and other Asian countries, educational institutions are realizing the importance of digital learning. Recent technological innovations have created several new opportunities to teach students.
During the recent International Conference on Teaching and Learning with Technology, experts discussed the need for schools to focus more on digital learning, as opposed to more traditional methods. Acting Education Minister for Schools, Ng Chee Meng spoke extensively on how this focus would allow more creative thinking, collaboration and idea development.
“We will continue to build our educators’ capacity in the appropriate and meaningful use of technology for teaching and learning. Teachers are encouraged to design different learning experiences for their students by harnessing the possibilities from technology,” Meng said. “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.”
By giving the teachers the opportunity to tailor their teaching for each student’s needs, the student is allowed to learn in a way that best suits them.
“The aim is for technology to be seamlessly embedded into the classroom for student-centric learning,” he added. “School leaders are vital in this as they build the culture for meaningful technology in their schools.”
In fact, the Education Ministry and the National Institute of Education has already began creating programs that will help implement these technological innovations into the classroom. One of the most promising programs is eduLab programme.
Besides curriculum programs, educators are also creating unique applications to make learning seem more like a game. For example, wRiteFormula is a successful mobile gaming app that allows students to discover formulas for chemical compounds.
“Chemistry students often struggle with formula writing because it is quite arduous and they often resort to memorising,” said Mr Zachary Kang, a chemistry teacher at Raffles Institution. “So my team and I decided to come up with a mobile app game, so it can help with revision and strengthening of concepts.”
Meng also noted that while the use of technology is important to help students, educators must not forget the core values of education. The students must learn how to use technology responsibly and respectively.
“Even as our students tap into the many possibilities offered in the online space, they need to know and demonstrate behaviour online responsibly,” Meng explained. “Our students also need to be fluent in new media literacies as they navigate the digital world.”
One of the most valuable technological tools being harnessed by educators is social media. In fact, social media usage in Asia Pacific has skyrocketed in recent years. With more than 400 million active Facebook users, the Asia Pacific region accounts for more than 50 percent of the world’s social media users, according to tosocial.com.
This focus shift to digital learning is not just taking place in traditional learning settings. After school tuition programs are sprouting up in the area and the majority of students are taking advantage of the programs. For example, a Tuition Centre in Singapore offers after-school hour classes that offer a strict curriculum. With proven results of raising a student’s performance level, these tuition centers offer a solution to those students that need an extra push of motivation. In fact, several other tuition centers have popped up around the region that use the Singapore syllabus and curriculum.
“We believe that the Singapore syllabus is rigorous and demanding, but that it systematically develops our students’ competencies in the various subject areas,” explains a teacher in one of these centres. “We find that the Singapore syllabuses and learning materials are appealing due to our reputation for high standards of education.”