Bringing virtual reality into the classroom
Imagine a near limitless canvas on which to create.
Over the past two months, that is what about 40 students from Woodlands Ring Secondary School have been doing - through Virtual Reality (VR).
A conversation with a friend and a visit to a VR arcade with some students inspired Ms Deborah Ong, who teaches art and English literature, to introduce the medium to her classroom.
Now instead of just painting and drawing on flat paper, her students can create art in 3D.
Ms Ong is one of the exhibitors at this year's International Conference on Teaching and Learning with Technology (iCTLT), which ends today.
Over 1,500 participants will share about harnessing technology for 21st century learning.
Minister for Education Ong Ye Kung, the guest of honour at yesterday's opening ceremony, said education is being disrupted by technology.
Even so, schools will still be the mainstay in the future.
"There is a lot of transmission of values, students learning from each other, from tutors, from lecturers, from mentors, working in teams. All this cannot be replaced."
Instead, Mr Ong said, it is the delivery of education that can and will change.
Using the Singapore Student Learning Space (SLS) as an example, Mr Ong said that the newly launched online learning platform, has "tremendous innovation potential".
"It is just like any computer or IT platform upon which every educator, every principal, every school for that matter, students, they can build upon it to incorporate their own ideas," he said.
To help her students, who struggled with Chinese vocabulary and sentence structure, Madam Tay Hui Cheng from St Anthony's Canossian Secondary School decided to develop Chinese Go!, an educational mobile game.
Using a $50,000 grant from the eduLab programme, an initiative to develop information and communication technology (ICT) innovations at schools, she worked with a vendor on the app, designing and fine-tuning it with feedback from students and colleagues.
Launched in the past year, the game, like Pokemon Go, allows students to earn points by learning words and phrases and completing quizzes, which allows their creatures to climb leaderboards and compete against peers.
"This generation learns very differently," said Madam Tay, who received the Ministry of Education's Outstanding Innovator Award for 2017 at the conference yesterday.
"Their attention span is shorter and they are so exposed to new technology. They crave connectivity online and connectivity with their peers," she said.
Also supported by an eduLab grant and her school, which allocated space to house four VR sets, Ms Ong now has trouble getting her students away from the controllers.
"The students really enjoy it. They like moving around, they like trying out something new and because it is so immersive, they are engaged very easily," Ms Ong said.