Building Classrooms for the Asian Century -

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Building Classrooms for the Asian Century

Scaling Up The Best Education With Technology

Technology is often discussed as a panacea for improving education. Occasionally, it is even used as a marketing tool for unscrupulous schools, as though every child having an iPad somehow improves learning automatically. Technology is not the answer to every educational challenge, it’s simply a tool in a wider scholastic toolkit.

No doubt the Singapore curriculum stands above all others in PISA rankings. But success depends heavily on the quality of teachers in the way the curriculum is delivered. Since truly amazing teachers are naturally in short supply, consistency in pedagogy delivery can be aided with blended-learning. Online learning, online homework assignments and video have all become proven catalysts for knowledge transfer, as well as a way to reach younger generations that have always known the smartphone. As we look towards 2020 it’s worth re-evaluating blended learning because these tools have only become more powerful, with new features and benefits. 

Cutting edge technology can also be used to immerse students in an otherwise difficult-to-recreate environment or subject matter. Immersion is all the rage for language learning, and applying this tactic to other areas is worth exploring. At the recent inaugural SIS Technology In Tomorrow’s Classroom: Panel Discussion we saw how Virtual Reality can be applied in medical school to potentially eliminate the need for cadavers for the study of anatomy. Experiential learning has always been held on a pedestal, and rightly so. Therefore, as Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality continue to mature, the onus is on educators to explore and influence the development of these new experiential learning tools. These tools will only be as valuable to the classroom as educators make them.

The technology behind video conferencing has also grown by leaps and bounds, and although it can be frustrating to host a video conference, it has tremendous value in lowering barriers to great teachers and learning. Imagine a physics teacher with a friend that works in a hydroelectric power station. For security or cost reasons a tour or visit may be out of the question, but bringing a specialist like this into the class via live video means students don’t miss out on expert experience and insight. 

An often overlooked video conferencing value for educators is the ability to collaborate without traveling. Teachers and administrators can gather and share ideas, reports and challenges with ease, breaking down barriers sharing knowledge and collaborating. 

As we look towards the future of Asia and grapple with how to best serve students during the 4th Industrial Revolution, we need to remember that we are in a time of great change. This is overlapping with a massive explosion in technological solutions. We can not ignore or depend entirely on technology for the classroom of the future. Rather, we need an iterative process that includes giving room and time for trying new solutions. We may not find the perfect technology all in one place but the journey, and exposing students to the process, will pay dividends.