Minister: Schools still key even as tech transforms learning

Education Minister Ong Ye Kung throwing a dice as he played a game of snakes and ladders focused on the theme of cyber wellness, created by Ahmad Ibrahim Primary School pupils Austin Kho (left) and Loo You En (second from left), and their teachers. W
Education Minister Ong Ye Kung throwing a dice as he played a game of snakes and ladders focused on the theme of cyber wellness, created by Ahmad Ibrahim Primary School pupils Austin Kho (left) and Loo You En (second from left), and their teachers. With them are MPs Denise Phua (third from left) and Cheng Li Hui.ST PHOTO: GAVIN FOO

Technology can enhance education delivery but schools still play vital role: Ong Ye Kung

While technology may have disrupted many industries including education, schools will remain the mainstay for learning, said Education Minister Ong Ye Kung.

Technology can transform how education is delivered, but schools will remain relevant, he added.

"There is a lot of transmission of values, students learning from each other, from tutors, lecturers, mentors, working in teams. All this cannot be replaced," he told reporters.

He added that the Ministry of Education (MOE) will continue to focus on and support the use of information and communications technology in learning, citing MOE's online platform, the Student Learning Space (SLS). As of yesterday, it has been rolled out to all schools under MOE. The platform allows for customised learning, with interactive features for feedback from teachers and peer collaboration. It also includes videos, games and quizzes to enhance learning.

Mr Ong said the SLS has "tremendous innovation potential".

Speaking at this year's International Conference on Teaching and Learning with Technology, which he opened yesterday, Mr Ong said: "The tool is not to be rolled out uniformly across the system...every school, sometimes every teacher, every department, they are coming up with their own ways to use the tool, laying upon it their own ideas on how to deliver a lesson, how to teach the students."

VALUE THAT SCHOOLS BRING

There is a lot of transmission of values, students learning from each other, from tutors, lecturers, mentors, working in teams. All this cannot be replaced.

EDUCATION MINISTER ONG YE KUNG, on how technology can transform how education is delivered, but schools will remain relevant.

While there has been some discussion about technology having the unintended consequence of worsening social stratification, Mr Ong said it is a social leveller instead.

The SLS will help level the playing field as it gives all students, regardless of school, the same access to quality learning resources. Students can also access MOE resources through computer labs in schools. The platform has the potential for self-directed learning on the students' part, Mr Ong added.

He hopes it will encourage educators to incorporate their own ideas and eventually share them throughout the education system: "Over time, we can have a marketplace of ideas, and the best ideas will be adopted and become the dominant way of delivering certain lessons."

The theme of the sixth biennial conference is Shape The Future, Be A Spark. The two-day conference held at the Resorts World Convention Centre ends today.

More than 1,500 local and overseas practitioners are presenting ideas, insights and practices in leveraging innovation and technology in learning, and also in helping students exercise responsibility and thrive in the digital space. They include speakers from sectors beyond education, such as IT and social and family development.

Yesterday also saw individuals and schools lauded for bringing innovation into the classroom, and in the running of schools.

One of them is Ms Tay Hui Cheng, the mother tongue head of department at St Anthony's Canossian Secondary School. She received MOE's Outstanding Innovator Award last year for her work in developing an app, Chinese-Go, which turns the learning of key vocabulary into a game, to appeal to her tech-savvy upper secondary students.

"This generation is very different. They are digital natives and crave connectivity with their peers. Teaching also needs to evolve to engage them not only in play but also in learning," said Ms Tay.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 01, 2018, with the headline 'Minister: Schools still key even as tech transforms learning'. Print Edition | Subscribe