MOE learn­ing por­tal a big step for­ward

Today - - COMMENT & ANALYSIS - DaviD Leo

It is with some ex­cite­ment that I read about the Sin­ga­pore Stu­dent Learn­ing Space (SSLS) de­vel­oped by the Min­istry of Ed­u­ca­tion (MOE). The on­line plat­form will en­able stu­dents to learn and re­vise at their own pace any­where by log­ging in with a user­name and pass­word.

If the noble aim of ed­u­ca­tion is to help ev­ery child de­velop his or her po­ten­tial to its fullest, the por­tal is a step in the right di­rec­tion. Stu­dents do not learn at the same pace. Put­ting a di­verse group of stu­dents through a com­mon pro­gramme and ex­pect­ing the same level of re­sults from ev­ery one of them can lead to a dis­in­cli­na­tion to­wards learn­ing for those who are fall­ing be­hind.

How times have changed. I re­call teach­ing English to a class of Sec­ondary 4 stu­dents with very dif­fer­ent ca­pa­bil­i­ties 40 years ago. You can­not help ev­ery­one, I was told, so fo­cus on the few you think can be saved.

It was harsh re­al­ity in an en­vi­ron­ment ob­sessed with suc­cess. For many of the stu­dents, it would seem help came too late, yet any teacher want­ing to make a dif­fer­ence, no mat­ter how small, should never sub­mit to that be­lief. It would be de­featist, if

Ul­ti­mately, the great­est gift that any teacher can give his or her stu­dents is the mo­ti­va­tion to never stop learn­ing, inside or out­side school.

not un­con­scionable. I de­vised a read­ing box made up of pic­ture sto­ries cut out from dis­carded mag­a­zines, colour-coded and graded for dif­fer­ent lev­els of dif­fi­culty. It was not part of the syl­labus, but a prim­i­tive con­struc­tion be­fore com­put­er­i­sa­tion made an im­pact on our lives.

There were three key el­e­ments in the de­sign. First, to be able to en­gage the stu­dents’ in­ter­est in a cer­tain sub­ject or point of view, and pique their cu­rios­ity so that they will want to ask ques­tions and be mo­ti­vated to want to find out more. This is be­cause en­gage­ment cre­ates a pos­i­tive bias to­wards the con­tent or ma­te­rial be­ing stud­ied.

Sec­ond, to pro­vide a grat­i­fy­ing sense of achieve­ment, which will in turn mo­ti­vate the stu­dents to con­tinue learn­ing. This, in a way, puts want­ing to learn in the hands of the stu­dents in­stead of forc­ing them to learn. Ex­perts have said noth­ing beats self-mo­ti­vated learn­ing. Third, to al­low the stu­dents to progress at their own pace.

DIF­FER­ENT STROKES FOR DIF­FER­ENT FOLKS

Fi­nance Min­is­ter Heng Swee Keat said in 2012, when he was Ed­u­ca­tion Min­is­ter, that “we must be stu­dent­cen­tric in our de­liv­ery ... cre­at­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties for all re­gard­less of their fam­ily back­ground”.

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