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E-Learning As A Strategic Option For Businesses

Leong Keng Thai, Acting Chief Executive Officer/Director-General (Telecom), IDA Singapore - Opening Address Online Learning 2002 Conference, Suntec Singapore Singapore, 14 May 2002

Leong Keng Thai, Acting Chief Executive Officer/Director-General (Telecom), IDA Singapore - Opening Address
Online Learning 2002 Conference, Suntec Singapore
Singapore, 14 May 2002

Good morning, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Allow me to first congratulate the organisers for putting the Online Learning Conference 2002 together, the second year after a very successful event last year.

The e-learning market in Singapore is a growing industry. Companies, large and small, are seeing continuous training as an important strategy to stay competitive. With Infocomm technology, much of the training and learning can now be efficiently and effectively done online. This is evident in the embracing of e-learning by top companies such as Cisco, IBM, Intel, Microsoft and Sun, to name a few. Also, leading U.S. e-learning companies like NETg and Smartforce, now have presence in Singapore. The performance of our local e-learning companies, like Informatics group's Purple Train, has experienced 197% leap in worldwide sales amounting to S$27.6m. On the whole, according to a research firm, Straits Knowledge, the total spent in Singapore on e-learning last year was some S$270 million.

E-learning is strategic to Singapore and its businesses. IDA recognises the importance of e-learning to build manpower capability, to instil lifelong learning, to bridge the digital divide, and to help Singapore compete in the knowledge-based economy. Our support for e-learning is in 3 key areas: build capability; pilot industry-wide infrastructure; and promote thought leadership.

Let me briefly describe what we have done in these 3 key areas. First, in capability building, through the Strategic Manpower Conversion Programme (e-learning), 100 top-notched instructional designers were trained to support the development of innovative e-learning applications. Second, in Industry-wide infrastructure, 8 industry sectors comprising manufacturing, tourism & hospitality, healthcare, banking & finance, transportation, education, infocomm, and e-Learning have experienced good outcomes from their infrastructure investments. Third, in thought leadership, Singapore's e-Learning Competency Centre (ECC) and e-Learning Chapter were established to drive, and promote the adoption of e-learning standards, best practices and professional development.

Today, I am pleased to unveil 2 new initiatives to further spur e-learning adoption in Singapore. IDA has partnered with 3 local e-learning companies, namely, ICUS, Knowledge Platform, and TTS Asia Learning Solutions, to develop an e-learning navigation course. This course provides guidance to companies to effectively implement e-learning within their organisations. IDA's E-Business Savviness Programme will provide up to 50% support for the course fee. For the second initiative, IDA will host the IMS workshop on e-learning standards in June this year which I believe will be the first in Singapore and in Asia.

I am also pleased to take this opportunity to launch two e-learning industrial safety courses for workers. One is the Oil and Petroleum Industry Safety Course for Supervisors and the other, the Training Course for Safety Committee Members. Jointly developed by Singapore Computer Systems (SCS), and the Occupational Safety and Health (Training & Promotion) Centre of the Ministry of Manpower. More than 100,000 workers from the oil/petrochemical industry and their supporting industries will potentially benefit from these e-learning courses. With these online courses, workers now have the flexibility to learn at their own place and time. E-learning also allows the workers to progress at a pace that is comfortable to them. Learners who prefer a faster pace can run through the course modules in a shorter time, while those who prefer a slower pace may go through the modules numerous times. A feature of such online courses is its ability to simulate high-risk dangerous situations made interactive by illustrations, photography, sound, and quizzes, to help learners grasp critical safety practices unscathed.

Though Singapore's economy has picked up a little, there are still considerable challenges to be overcome on the road to achieving a strong economic growth. IDA will continue to work with other government agencies, the learning institutions and the industry to promote e-learning adoption, build capabilities to innovate, as well as expand infrastructure development programmes. This harmonious and consultative relationship will enable us to confront the global challenges together, and sharpen Singapore's competitiveness as an e-Learning hub.

As the founder of Masie Centre, the international ThinkTank which focuses on learning, training and technology, Elliot Masie puts it: "the 'e' in e-learning should not just stand for electronic'. A learner should have the options of time-shifting, place shifting, granularisation, simulation and community support. The business drivers for e-learning are not necessarily electronic but go to the heart of evolving and increasing the experience level" ... I believe this Online Learning event holds promise of another excellent platform for like-minded e-learning experts to exchange their e-learning experiences. On this note, let me wish you all a fruitful and yet another successful conference.

Thank you.