Parliament: Lessons become interactive with online portal Student Learning Space, part of MOE's push for digital literacy

Orchid Park Secondary School students using Google Chromebooks as part of a mathematics lesson, taught by teacher Marwin Low (left), on Feb 26, 2020. ST PHOTO: JASON QUAH

SINGAPORE - A large spreadsheet fills the projector screen in the classroom. It contains a list of students' names and a row of coloured boxes in green, yellow and red next to each name.

Called a "heat map", the boxes change colour in real time. It represents students' answers to various questions. Green indicates a right answer, red indicates a wrong one, and yellow could indicate the student was not sure.

The Straits Times observed a mathematics lesson that used this tool at Orchid Park Secondary School on Feb 26, during a media visit to see how the school utilises the Singapore Student Learning Space - an online learning platform with educational tools and resources.

The idea is for teachers to monitor students' progress in real time and identify concepts they are weak in - such as when a large proportion of students are in the red zone.

During the lesson, the teacher took cues from the heat map to move around and help different students during the class.

More schools have adopted the Student Learning Space online learning platform since it was rolled out in 2018 by the Ministry of Education (MOE).

Besides such in-class work, teachers can use the platform to curate resources for students, such as YouTube videos and tutorials, or upload videos and animations that they have filmed or created themselves.

Worksheets, group work and homework assignments - and subsequent feedback from teachers - can also be put online and accessed outside the classroom.

Mr Aaron Loh, MOE's divisional director of educational technology, told ST: "New curriculum resources are continually developed and updated by MOE."

These include videos, animations, simulations, interactive modules and quizzes, he added.

There is also a Student Learning Space Community Gallery that allows teachers to share their lessons with the whole teaching fraternity, "creating a rich pool of teacher-initiated resources that their peers can use and learn from", said Mr Loh.

Orchid Park Secondary's head of information and communications technology Tan Yaw Jin, who is also a Chinese language teacher, said students have become more expressive in their views.

The platform allows students to share their opinions online, with various options. For example, views can be shared anonymously, or students may not be able to read what their classmates have posted until they have posted something of their own.

Said Mr Tan: "They don't have to raise their hands in class to 'speak'. (The anonymous option) also makes them more open to share their views without worrying about embarrassing themselves or sounding superficial."

But teachers can still use these answers for class discussion and get students to speak up in class to build their confidence.

Chemistry teacher Ramesh Ramalingam said teachers have formed groups to work on Student Learning Space lesson plans, where they "test" their lessons on one another before carrying these out in class.

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He said: "When we first started using the Student Learning Space, it was uncomfortable, as with any new system. But it is now part of my arsenal of teaching strategies - the challenge is to deploy it well so students can learn more effectively."

Secondary 2 student Aylaa' Aryna Jumardi, 13, said she has been using the online platform for subjects like social studies. "We learn about things like the history of riots in Singapore. We would watch a video on YouTube and answer a quiz online."

Quizzes could be multiple-choice, open-ended or fill-in-the-blanks, she added.

"I like this way of learning. It is very different from pen-and-paper and it is way more interesting."

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