[Media Coverage] NTU leads inaugural national conference on technology in learning



Nanyang Technological University (NTU) hosted and lead the inaugural Singapore Technology-Enabled Learning Experience (TELE) conference over two days from 16th November 2015.

Over 600 educators from six local universities gathered at NTU to share the latest ideas and solutions on how technology can enhance students’ learning. The six universities were NTU, National University of Singapore (NUS), Singapore Management University (SMU), Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD), Singapore Institute of Technology (SIT) and SIM University (UniSIM).

The key topics and methods of focus included Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), smart classrooms, cloud-based e-learning and innovative learning approaches such as team-based learning, blended learning and learning through gaming.

The Guest-of-Honour was Associate Professor Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim, Parliamentary Secretary for the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Social and Family Development. Professor Ibrahim stated that from his experience in teaching, the three learning needs that require addressing are, “the need to learn at different paces, the need to learn collaboratively and the need to learn with discernment”.

GOH Assoc Prof Faishal Ibrahim deliving his address to 600 educators from six universities
GOH Assoc Prof Faishal Ibrahim delivering his address to 600 educators from six universities

In his welcome address, NTU President Professor Bertil Andersson said, as a forerunner in adopting technology-enabled learning, NTU is honoured to lead this inaugural conference.

He mentioned that three dimensions have driven education over the years: mass printing, computers and the internet. “The 4th dimension where concepts of time and space are abolished with gizmos and gadgets will give rise to a glocal (global + local) generation. A professor does not need to be physically present in class or he could even be virtually present in several classrooms in different parts of the world at the same time via a hologram that projects him in life size.”

To demonstrate that possibility, NTU arranged for Professor Carl Edwin Wieman, 2001 Physics Nobel Prize winner and a reputed education researcher, to give his presentation via an interactive holographic display direct from Stanford University in the United States. Professor Wieman elaborated on the success of scientifically backed teaching practices.

The other two keynote speakers who spoke at NTU were Professor Philip D Long, Associate Vice Provost for Learning Sciences at University of Texas, Austin and Professor John Seely Brown, former Chief Scientist of Xerox Corporation.

Professor Long is known for his work on Massive Online Open Courses (MOOCs) and the design of modern learning environments such as the blended classroom. Professor Brown, an independent Co-Chairman for Deloitte’s Center for the Edge and a visiting scholar and advisor to the Provost at the University of Southern California, has also published various books on research and innovation. He had integrated social sciences and arts into the traditional physics and computer science research during his time at Xerox.

Professor Lee Sing Kong, NTU’s Vice President for Education Strategies, the Chair of the Singapore TELE, said the insights given by the speakers and the participants from this conference are important as they will chart the future of learning in Singapore. He and Professor Andersson both referred to NTU’s Education blueprint aimed at supporting how students learn and providing them with opportunities to develop skills so they can face the challenges of the 21st century with optimism and confidence. This included nurturing the 5Cs: Character, Creativity, Competence, Communication and Civic-mindedness.

Over the past few years, classes at NTU have been moving towards technology-enabled learning (TEL), which uses multimedia components such as 2D/3D animations, simulations, augmented and virtual reality. Just last month, NTU officially opened The Hive, the centrepiece of its new learning pedagogy known as the flipped classroom.

In this new mode of learning, students access course content on digital devices and the face time with professors in class is devoted to team-based learning. NTU has set a target of about 1,500 courses to be redesigned within five years using this new pedagogy, with about $75 million invested in implementing this new approach to learning.

Internationally, NTU has some of the most popular courses hosted on Coursera, one of the world’s leading Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) platforms. These courses have seen a total of 200,000 enrolments worldwide since the first NTU course launched in February 2014.

The Hive building was also the venue for the exhibitions, interactive sessions among the delegates and e-poster presentations over the two days of the TELE conference.

Credit: Photographs by NTU.