On April 16th, 2021, the New Education Webinar Series of the National Institute of Education in Singapore welcomed panelists for an in-depth discussion on how information and communications technology (ICT) informs the new education normal. Synthesizing 126 locally-funded school-based projects, panelists presented current trends and future recommendations for ICTs in education. In this article, we explore such promising findings and concrete steps under the framework of the OMO learning approach, a revolutionary learning ecosystem that will likely define post-pandemic education.
The Integration of ICT Signals the Future of Education
“An ICT integration with curriculums can be a catalyst transforming the classroom. With ICTs integrated in the curriculums, new pedagogies or approaches to learning can be realized with ICT affordances.” Kicking off a 50-minute panel discussion, Dr. Peter Seow, research scientist at the Office of Education Research, portrays ICTs as an innovative and necessary force in the field of education.
Positive feedback from educators and students in Singapore to the use of ICTs in the classroom corroborates the success story of OMO education, a technology-enabled and seamlessly hybrid learning ecosystem that promotes interactions and engagement, in post-pandemic China. Despite the large number of ICTs for education on today’s market, crucial components of OMO education closely align with and can directly benefit from the findings based on local Singaporean studies.
Effective Learning Outcomes Back the Use of ICTs in the Classroom
In Singapore, students highlight new and innovative possibilities in the classroom afforded by diverse ICTs. Researchers report that through multimedia means, students enjoy expanded learning spaces and can work intuitively to connect out-of-school experiences with classroom content. More importantly, long-term observation shows that ICTs lead to improved communication skills, a more authentic inquiry process, and better problem-solving skills. However, only mindfully designed educational ICTs can achieve more effective learning outcomes. In particular, OMO learning was designed based on similar philosophies, where flexible learning access and classroom communication are facilitated by advanced infrastructure.
On the other hand, panelists characterize the employment of ICTs as a learning experience for teachers as well. Wong Lung Hsiang, senior research scientist at the Office of Education Research, theorizes that teachers have improved TPACK skills – a combination of technological, pedagogical, and content knowledge. Interviewed by international researchers about their everyday use of OMO in college classes, teachers of China also convey that the adoption of advanced technologies in educational settings pushes them to develop new in-class activities as well as become more proficient in digital means.
Researchers Foreground Concrete Recommendations for ICTs in Education
Seeing that OMO education constructs a new ecosystem with great potential, support from all fronts will be critical for the long-term development of the approach. Currently, practices of OMO for students largely coincide with recommendations from researchers. For instance, students in a setting of OMO education are encouraged to interact and enabled to contribute to the database of learning materials. In addition, panelists suggest that the incorporation of social media in the classroom can be a great way to boost engagement as long as a guide for responsible social networking activities is in place.
As one can imagine, even with a system as intuitive as OMO, teachers will be bearing the brunt for delivering a smooth transition without affecting the quality of classes. As a result, scholars stress the importance of more systematic efforts to empower educators in the process. For instance, instead of leaving the task to individual teachers, schools can establish consistency within its system, hold discussions between schools, and assign every teacher a mentor.
“The way of learning has changed. The context of learning has expanded,” Dr. Wu Longkai, research scientist at the Office of Education Research, describes a future of education with the incorporation of ICTs. With the support of international research, OMO learning, the next major technological and pedagogical transformation in the realm of education, is on its way to becoming an increasingly well-supported ecosystem with the potential for wider applications.
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