SINGAPORE - Two new education portals which aim to get young readers up to date on news as well as introduce them to 21st century technology and competencies were launched by Singapore Press Holdings on Monday (Aug 28).
NewsEd by The Straits Times and ZBSchools.sg by the Chinese Media Group were unveiled at the SPH Education Symposium at Suntec City, the first-ever bilingual symposium catering to teachers and students alike.
The portals, launched under the new SPH Education initiative, customises multimedia for students to learn either in the classroom or at home.
Senior Minister of State for Communications and Information, and Education, Dr Janil Puthucheary, said at the symposium that there was now a greater need for the education sector to help the young process the wide array of information available online.
"We need to develop a new skill in our education space of dealing with this information, in curating it adequately, for them to make sense of it, as they go from primary to secondary school," he said.
"The type of resources that are being launched today are clearly important in helping our children access news, to help our children understand contemporary issues."
NewsEd aims to give students a way to engage with news from The Straits Times while learning English, a framework identified by the Ministry of Education (MOE) that highlights values including civic literacy, critical thinking, and communication.
It features learning activities and students can respond to assignments in real-time by text, videos and photos. It is accessible from desktop browsers as well as Apple and Android mobile devices.
Mr Warren Fernandez, Editor-in-Chief of the English/Malay/Tamil Media Group as well as Editor of The Straits Times said that the portal can help educators shape interesting programmes for their students by drawing on content from The Straits Times and its sister papers: "From North Korea to Donald Trump, the war on diabetes or the coming presidential election, the news of the day offers many interesting stories with lessons to be drawn on how these events are shaped and will shape our lives. There is no better way to generate discussion, arouse a natural curiosity and foster values by discussing the events going on all around you."
All secondary schools can try NewsEd for free until Dec 31, 2017, and current subscribers of ST's school publications IN or Little Red Dot can purchase NewsEd for exclusive rates.
Non-subscribers can subscribe to NewsEd at an special early-bird rate of $24 a year, if ordered before Dec 31. Sign-ups after Dec 31 will be at $40. In both cases, a PDF version of The Straits Times and a digital version of IN can be added on for an additional $6.
ZBSchools.sg offers articles from Chinese student publications Thumbs Up, Thumbs Up Junior, and zbCOMMA. It aims to provide students with a personalised and engaging way of learning Mandarin. The platform caters to each individual's standard of Mandarin by pre-assessing it and subsequently providing recommendations for suitable content.
Both platforms encourage teachers' participation. While NewsEd allows teachers to adapt the learning activities on the site for their students, ZBSchools.sg allows them to track their students' performance.
The symposium on Monday also featured a panel of speakers including Dr Janil, Mr Tan Chin Hwee, a member of SPH's Board of Directors and chief executive officer for Asia Pacific of the Trafigura Group, Mr Pang Choon How, MOE's director of Mother Tongue Languages, and Ms Lee Huay Leng, head of SPH's Chinese Media Group.
The panel discussed the importance of media literacy, how to ensure that students were critically accessing and judging information they receive, and how to promote mother tongue languages in a way that is fun and engaging for students.