In November 2022, we attended the EduTech Asia 2022 Conference at Marina Bay Sands, Singapore. There were plenty of stimulating sessions and keynotes presented by tech giants such as Google, Amazon Web Services and many more. Four of us – Soofrina, Stephanie, Kalphna and Hakimah also had the opportunity to present in the EDUtech ‘Show & Tell’ segment. As one of the major highlights of the conference, the ‘Show & Tell’ presents showcases by educators, tech advocates, coaches and administrators who share their invaluable experiences and innovations with technology.
I. Reflections on Completing Writing Tasks with Dyslexic Learners in an Online Class (Soofrina and Stephanie)
Together with my colleague, Soofrina and I gained the opportunity to present on the topic of “Reflections on Completing Writing Tasks with Dyslexic Learners in an Online Class”. Our presentation focused on how we can use educational technology in our classrooms to aid dyslexic learners with writing assignments. Our team also discussed how we can scaffold and ease the students into the tasks by making use of different websites, apps, platforms, and videos. In addition, we have stressed the importance of preparation in getting the students ready for an online class. This includes ensuring that the teachers arrive prepared to assist them so that their frustration levels are kept to a minimum.
Many MOE teachers were among those in the audience who sat in for our presentation. It was heartwarming to hear them express their gratitude and how they planned to use some of these tools. Some teachers approached us to request additional strategies or accommodations for working with dyslexic students. Some of their questions included things like which font to use and how to reduce reversal errors in their work. An overseas teacher also inquired about online math educational tools that they can use with their students.
II. Digitized Assessments (Kalphna and Hakimah)
Presenting and watching others’ presentations in person after a long time, following the ease of the Covid- 19 restrictions, has been an amazing experience. We discovered new and improved technology and methods that would help us in teaching our students in our classrooms. This time, we have had the opportunity to share about our online Curriculum-based Assessments (CBA).
Most if not all the DAS teachers would be familiar with CBA, which is an internally-developed testing and progress monitoring tool conducted twice yearly with our students. Testing was done manually in the first two years of implementation, and has since been digitized and conducted online with the use of iPads. Our presentation demonstrated how the DAS used to perform student tests before it was digitized, and highlighted the numerous benefits that the online CBA has brought forth particularly in reducing labour, time and resources. The unique test features and functions of the online CBA were also shared with the audience, to proudly display the significant breakthroughs of this system which the DAS has built and designed from scratch.
With the digitized assessments, we have achieved greater accuracy in generating results with the in-built timer for the students’ tests as it substantially reduced human errors. Automated marking and self-directed test components, on the other hand, greatly reduced the time taken for teachers to conduct and mark the tests. All scores are captured in the system and are very easily retrieved or used to generate statistics at the click of a button. Not only that, the online CBA is also seamlessly integrated with the progress report generation feature that automatically collates the students’ scores and eliminates the need for teachers to utilize separate platforms when doing reports.
Lastly, we shared about our future developments for digitized assessments, which include randomised testing (from multiple test sets), testing for listening/reading comprehension as well as including graphs or charts in progress reports. We saw many interested faces and some of them approached us to ask about the system and its technicalities. It was a one-of-a-kind presentation as there were no other presentations or booths of the same topic at the conference.
III. Engaging the Kinesthetic Learner with Technology (Soofrina)
Kinesthetic/tactile learners who are younger prefer to be active in the classroom rather than seated at a desk where they are frequently expected to learn by merely listening and watching. These kids can easily become bored and distracted if they aren’t allowed to be active learners. Because of this, it may be more crucial for parents and educators to concentrate on kinesthetic/tactile learning strategies than it is for visual and auditory learners.
Technology can be very effective at capturing the attention of tactile and kinesthetic learners. It can assist teachers in imparting new ideas and critical thinking abilities to students who require more hands-on learning than other pupils. There are many interactive educational apps available for all learning preferences. The educational apps that involve movement and hand use help kinesthetic and tactile learners remember information.
This was the essence of the presentation and it garnered attention of many conference attendees as this was one of the common discussions when classes had to be held online when the Covid-19 pandemic happened.
Parents and teachers must comprehend what kinesthetic/tactile learners need to succeed in the classroom and find ways to make learning more appealing to them. As more EdTech products are created in 2019 with EdTech being such a big focus of learning, let’s hope they concentrate on software and tools that are as immersive and interactive as possible for the hands-on learner.
To keep younger students fully engaged in “doing and touching” activities in the classroom, this should include activities that involve tapping, swiping, and using the keyboard as much as possible. Additionally, there are more EdTech simulation and exploration tools that let older students experiment and have fun with novel ideas.
Key Discussions, Presentations and Exhibitions
I. Future of AI: Summary of Panel Discussion (Darishna and Nurul Hudaa)
EduTech Asia 2022 also featured some interesting topics for their panel discussion. One that caught our eye was the Future of Artificial Intelligence (AI) Panel discussion. The panellist consists of Sophia Wei (Nanyang Polytechnic Course Manager), Zhan Hao Peh (Dive Analytics CEO and Co-Founder), Zheng Wei Quah (Accredify CEO and Co-Founder) and Kevin Bell (AWS Head of Higher Education and Research).
During the panel discussion, the panel moderator brought up the first topic of discussion about how AI is sometimes viewed by teachers as a potential replacement for their role. Ms Sophia Wei gave her input on this topic; as a Polytechnic course manager herself, she feels that AI can be useful to help teachers minimise the time they spend on administrative tasks that can be streamlined by AIs. Questions like ‘Where can I submit my assignment?, ‘How do I apply for this programme?’ could be taken over by AI bot chats to allow teachers to have more time to lesson plan or interact with students meaningfully. Dive Analytics CEO Mr Zhan also mentioned that current AI developers are also looking into making future AI technology in-tuned towards helping teachers create better lessons and be a tool they can rely on.
Additionally, he mentioned how there is a trend towards incorporating more mental health and wellbeing checks and nuances into the AIs technology in recent years. For instance, when tertiary students log into their school’s online platform, mental health check questions like ‘what is your mood today?’ will pop up and track their moods over a length of time. The AI can also be modified to keep track of class participation trends and inform the welfare officers of the school if students need any help.
All in all, there is a greater shift towards incorporating more assistance to teachers and towards mental health wellbeing in the development of AI.
II. Adoption of AI in Education (Nurul Hudaa)
Singapore has embraced the use of AI in education to improve student engagement and learning outcomes. The main goal is to provide each student with more individualized instruction and assessment. Different students have various learning requirements, aptitudes, and starting points for various subjects. Additionally, they each have different skills and interests. There is a limit to how much teachers can personalize the learning process or offer ongoing, thorough feedback to every student. AI is therefore used to accomplish this.
- Personalized Learning: AI-powered educational tools and platforms provide personalized learning experiences that adapt to each student’s needs and abilities.
- E-Learning: AI-powered e-learning platforms provide students with access to online learning materials and resources, enabling them to study at their own pace and on their own time
- Intelligent Tutoring Systems: AI-powered tutoring systems are being used to provide one-on-one guidance and support to students, helping them to better understand complex concepts.
- Virtual Learning Environments: AI-powered virtual learning environments allow students to interact with simulations and games that provide hands-on learning experiences.
- AI in Assessment: AI is being used to analyze student performance data and provide real-time feedback to teachers and students, helping to inform instruction and improve outcomes.
III. Leveraging on TikTok to Create Student Success (Hakimah)
Randahl Koh, a lecturer in the School of Business and Services ITE Central College, presented to a room jam-packed with audience on the topic of using TikTok. TikTok is a social media platform that is undeniably one of the most popular amongst the younger generation at the moment. It stands out in its main objective which is to create a big impact within a very short time frame (less than a minute, usually!) and has very specific formats as well as trends that only its users could relate to.
Koh shares two inspiring anecdotes from his work with his students in the School of Business and Services. The first is the team of students who named themselves the ‘Fifteenicons’, who leveraged on TikTok as a marketing tool for a business competition. The competition is organized by JA (Junior Achievement), one of the world’s largest non-profit organizations that aims to empower young people with economic success. Up against other international schools and junior colleges, Fifteenicons impressed the panel of international judges with their work and won 2nd runner-up in the JA Company of the Year Program and Competition in 2021. TikTok also served as a common ground and bonding factor for the team that comprised students from very different backgrounds, as working together to create content fostered camaraderie between them.
The next student success was by Hans Nelson, who participated in a friendly video competition with Hong Kong’s Vocational Training Council (VTC). Participants are required to submit videos that depict interesting places & delectable cuisines in both Singapore and Hong Kong. Hans’ submission stood out amongst the rest as he was the only one who created his video following the TikTok format and was awarded the ‘Most Homely Video’ title. His video that showcased the surroundings and nostalgia of Singapore’s last surviving kampong in Lorong Buangkok caught the attention of member of parliament Ng Ling Ling. She expressed her pride in his achievements and shared his video on her Facebook page during National Day in 2021.
Before wrapping up his presentation, Koh shares the various ways educators can leverage TikTok constructively to boost students’ motivation and success. Though the platform may appear frivolous or superficial to some, there are countless opportunities to use it effectively. TikTok can be used to:
- Engage: There is a high level of engagement for students, especially when they are involved in the process of brainstorming for ideas and creating the content themselves. Students can be tasked to create videos in place of written assignments for instance. Teachers are also highly encouraged to join in the fun as it increases student-teacher interaction and relatibility.
- Educate: TikTok can be a resource library for teachers too as plenty of educators are actually already on the platform, sharing useful tips, experiences and materials. Relevant TikTok videos can be created or shared with students when teaching concepts in the classroom.
- Inform: Aside from web pages or print materials which can get rather wordy, TikTok videos can be created to succinctly present bite-sized information about the latest events or courses for your institution. There is also a greater chance that the video can reach out to a much wider audience and will be better able to achieve its aim to promote or raise awareness.
- Entertain: Take the opportunity to get creative and record fun experiences during events such as carnivals, seminars, conferences and many more.
- Inspire: Besides using TikTok for learning, it can also be a tool to reach out to students regarding their mental health. Exam revision tips or self-care tips videos can serve as valuable support for our students especially during the exam period. Student achievements can also be highlighted in TikTok videos and proudly shared on the platform to inspire others.
The ITE College TikTok account is currently run by both staff and students. Check them out at @ITESingapore for their latest updates and posts!
IV. Intel Skills for Innovation (Harvin)
The Intel Skills for Innovation (Intel SFI) initiative provides teachers with the tools they need to incorporate technology into their lessons and prepare students for the workplace of the future.
The Intel SFI implementation framework comprises 3 programmes:
- Professional Development Suite
The Professional Development Suite offers educators more than 80 hours of e-learning and in-person training. Through the courses provided, educators explore methods of integrating technology to teach in both physical and virtual environments. Educators can work at their own pace, choose their starting point, and where available, pursue certification.\
- Starter Pack
The Starter Pack gives educators access to a growing collection of hands-on and technology-based activities. These activities can be incorporated into existing lessons to help build students’ future skills. Starter Pack activities cover more than 140 hours of class time in various subjects. Subjects covered include STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics), Language, and Humanities. These technology-infused activities are aligned to a number of global curriculum standards and are catered to elementary, middle, and high school learners.With a focus on higher-order cognitive skills, these activities emphasise real-world application, showing how technology is used to solve problems. One example of a Starter Pack activity covers the topic of wildlife poaching. The activity involves students using software such as Python and Jupyter Notebook to create a motion detector. This process facilitates their understanding of how motion detectors help wildlife rangers analyse patterns in the timing of poacher intrusions, thereby allowing for resource optimisation in poaching prevention. Other software students may work with in these Starter Pack activities include Excel and GIS (Geographic Information System).
- Planning Toolkit
The Intel SFI Planning Toolkit assists education decision-makers in preparing for change and generating solutions intended to help educators foster resilient learning environments.
All in all, Intel SFI is an exciting initiative that redefines the role of technology in education and prepares students for the future by building their cognitive, technological, and social-emotional skills. Visit https://skillsforinnovation.intel.com/ to find out more!
V. Active Floor (Stephanie)
As our country eased and relaxed the COVID-19 restrictions, our team was fortunate enough to attend the Edutech Asia conference held at Marina Bay Sands, Singapore. The event featured a plethora of presentations and booths. The atmosphere was largely interactive, and there were numerous vendors and people of various profiles with whom you could speak and interact. It was an eye-opening and interesting experience as we learned more about what the other people had to share.
As we explored the booths, I also came across a vendor who had come up with a solution named ‘Active Floor’. It encourages active learning through interactive movements such as jumping and walking around. The device works in such a way that you will first lay a projector screen on the floor. Then, using the projection machine, you will project and adjust the screen size accordingly. The system also comes with learning materials that suit the local context and supports four languages: English, Mandarin, Malay, Tamil. By logging in to their platform, you can gain access to pre-made game templates that you can use to prepare and customize your lesson. After that, you can project it onto the mat and have students learn kinesthetically by walking around or jumping on the mat to answer the questions and play the games.
It was fascinating to see how technology has advanced over the years and how it is permeating the educational scene to improve learning quality. I was glad to be able to see what different vendors had to offer and learn something from the presentations which were also very informative and educational.
VI. Zoala (Kalphna)
Jeff Lee, Zoala’s CEO starts the presentation by recollecting how his goddaughter’s mental health was at risk which inspired him to start the AI-powered mental wellness companion that builds resilience for adolescents.
Zoala is programmed to communicate with teenagers to detect the early signs of declining mental wellness. It provides them support and necessary health to gain back their confidence. They measure teenagers’ mood, personality and positivity captured over a time to access and alert counselors before something happens. Zoala does not replace educators or counselors. It helps to focus on who needs your help so that everyone gets help in time. The additional assistance is provided by physiologists and psychiatrists. Data privacy is their top priority – conversations are never shared, conversation data will be purged, hosted on AWS(highly secured) and they comply with PDPA.
They are set to make a difference in the mental wellness space where mental stressors plague the world as a priority issue today with the aid of AI.
VII. Mote and the Combined Power of Extensions
Google Chrome is the most popular web browser in the world, with over three billion users. What does that entail for educators then? It indicates a wealth of resources that could support teachers in the classroom!
The extensive ecosystem of Google Chrome extensions offers high levels of functionality, including tools to add interactivity to any website or document, arrange your preferred learning resources, enhance students’ writing, and more.
One of the featured extension during the conference was Mote. Mote allows users to add voice notes to Google Suite products such as Google Classroom, Sheets, Docs and Forms. This can be very useful to engage students and users who need audio support. If studenys have their own Mote account, they can add audio files for their teachers, either questions, reflections or even reading practice! Mote is free for use and is seen as a promising tool to accommodate diverse learning needs.
Contributed by DAS Educational Therapists:
Hakimah Nur Diniyah, Kalphna Chandrasegaran, Stephanie Ong, Soofrina Binte Mubarak, Darishnambigai d/o Sinniah, Harvin Kaur Dhillon d/o Baljeet Singh, Nurul Hudaa bt Md Daud