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Opening Address by RADM(NS) Ronnie Tay, Chief Executive Officer, Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore at ICT2010 Singapore

30 June 2010 - Opening Address by RADM(NS) Ronnie Tay, Chief Executive Officer, Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore at ICT2010 Singapore, SIM Management House 30 June 2010

Opening Address by RADM(NS) Ronnie Tay, Chief Executive Officer, Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore at ICT2010 Singapore, SIM Management House 30 June 2010

Professor Cheong Hee Kiat,
President of UniSIM,
Distinguished Guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen.

1. It is a great pleasure for me to be here today at this opening of the International Conference on ICT in Teaching and Learning 2010 Singapore. It is particularly good to see gathered here such a varied group of professionals dedicated to education, from many countries in the region and beyond.

Adult Education and Technology

2. Today, as challenges of the modern workplace grow and employers call for higher-skilled workers in this knowledge-based economy, continuing education and learning for adult has become even more important. Many adults are engaged in that today in one form or another - in formal certified courses provided by their employers or by industry providers, or informally through mentoring, peer discussions, and more significantly today, self-learning online through resources on the Internet. With their maturity and prior experience, they are probably looking not just for theoretical text-book type knowledge, but more learning from real-life experiences of others, including the application of such knowledge as well as lessons to be learnt from mistakes made. Their busy work schedules, made more challenging with the need to travel for work and in some cases the need to respond to domestic demands of their family responsibilities, mean that they may have to learn away from the classroom, learn while on the move or do catch-up learning. Therefore, educational programmes conducted by institutions will have to be designed and implemented in a way that can meet the needs and profile of adult learners.

3. As we would all agree, information and communication technology or ICT plays a key role in the education of our young in school, and it plays an equally significant role too in adult education. ICT in education involves not only technology of the ICT industry, but also the pedagogical skills of the educators, for the successful development and implementation of educational ICT tools and content. This is an exciting area that is rapidly evolving, involving much experimentation and trials to see what works. For adult learners, given their particular needs and circumstances as I mentioned earlier, ICT would be very helpful. For example, ICT enables collaborative learning among fellow adults and colleagues, remote learning from home or the learner's office, learning on the move while the learner is on the road, and deferred learning when the learner can only learn at a time after a class has been conducted. As an aside, I would also add that, having ICT skills is becoming increasingly relevant to success in many careers, and those who are more adept with ICT will have an advantage over those without such skills. Hence, adult education should provide opportunities for learners to not only harness ICT to enhance their learning experience, but also to enhance the way they communicate and collaborate.

4. There is much scope to explore the innovative use of ICT in adult education, whether in designing a learning structure that is interactive and learner-centred or to facilitate self-learning.

Use of Technology For Learning in Our Schools

5. In that regard, I would like to share some examples of how ICT is being harnessed for teaching and learning in our schools today. IDA has been working closely with the Ministry of Education through our EdVantage programme, which seeks to strategically deploy ICT to provide an enriching, collaborative and learner-centric environment in our schools.

6. One of the initiatives under the EdVantage programme is that of developing games for learning. One such game is named Gut Feel. In this interactive team-based game, pupils have to accomplish scenario-based missions together in order to improve the human digestive system. As the teams compete with one another, they have to demonstrate strong collaboration, collective problem-solving and good decision-making.

7. Under the FutureSchools@Singapore initiative, new learning solutions are being developed in collaboration between our schools and industry. For example, a 3D Interactive Immersive Virtual Reality project in Crescent Girls' School allows students to better understand natural geographical occurrences such as river formation, which are typically difficult to explain using traditional media. Another example of an ICT solution for education is the automated essay marking system, which enables students to instantly gauge the quality of their essays and make improvements to them. The system also captures these improvements for their personal reflection, which is a part of their self-learning.

8. Another solution from the FutureSchools@Singapore initiative is the virtual campus for Hwa Chong Institution to facilitate independent learning and collaborative exploration. The virtual campus enables different groups of learners to conduct research with local and overseas peers as well as expert-mentors in a safe and secure learning environment. Communication tools and collaborative platforms such as online conferencing and real-time application sharing tools help to bring the students together with mentors and peers overseas to form global communities of learners.

9. All these innovative ICT solutions would be equally relevant and useful in adult learning, whether to simulate real-world complex environments, visualise complicated scenarios or facilitate collaborative communities of learners, researchers and industry practitioners. Most of these teaching and learning applications with their rich content including imagery and video also have one thing in common - they require high bandwidth. This requirement will be well met with the deployment of Singapore's Next Generation Nationwide Broadband Network that will be rolled out to all homes, schools and buildings nationwide by mid-2012. This ultra high speed infrastructure that is capable of speeds of up to 1Gbps and beyond will catalyse the development and deployment interactive digital services. Learners can tap on this new digital infrastructure to access rich media content to make learning more interactive, engaging and meaningful.

10. Some of these possibilities in using infocomm for education are demonstrated at IDA's Infocomm Experience Centre at the Esplanade Xchange. Launched just two weeks ago, iExperience, as it's called in short, showcases the possibilities and benefits of Next Generation services to the public and businesses. The range of engaging and interactive exhibits on display relates closely to our daily lives, in the way we live, work, learn and interact. All of you are most welcome to visit iExperience over the next couple of days, and have a closer look at the many possibilities brought about by innovation in infocomm.

Meeting The Needs of Adult Learners Through ICT

11. As we progress in our fast-changing world, it is vital that we continue to nurture adult learners who are able to build on the education they had received in their early formative years in school, to deepen their knowledge through continual learning. With the developments in education in schools over the years, these learners would have benefitted from a learning experience that goes beyond the traditional teacher-directed learning method to a more self-directed and collaborative form of learning. Moreover, having been exposed to the multi-faceted environment of the workplace, they would also be looking for a more varied and sophisticated learning experience.

12. There is much that ICT can offer in this regard. I hope that all participants will take the excellent opportunity offered by this conference to network and exchange ideas on how ICT can play a key role in meeting the needs and aspirations of adult learners.

13. On that note, I wish all participants of ICT2010 a most fruitful and beneficial conference over the next 3 days, as you explore the exciting possibilities of using technology to Empower Learners to Collaborate, Adapt and Improve their Learning.

14. Thank you.