Singapore Bus Tour 2013

Since we were starting a 1:1 Program in school, we were invited by Apple Education South Asia to join a Singapore Bus Tour last week. During a “Bus Tour”, administrators and decision makers in schools who are starting to implement a 1:1 program visit schools who are already implementing it to learn from their experiences.

A 1:1 Program refers to 1 Learning Device (iPad, Tablet, iPod, Macbook, Laptop) to 1 Student.

During this particular tour from August 19-20, 2013, participants come from all over South Asia: Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia and Philippines.

Here is a simple summary of our visit to different Singapore Schools:

Anglo-Christian School (Barker Rd.)

The group of 110 participants were divided into three smaller groups. Each group has its own itinerary, but there are venues where everyone gathers in one place. In my group/bus, ACS is our first stop.
In a nutshell:
1:1 Program                                         1 Macbook : 1 Student
Curriculum Framework                   Project-based, Collaborative Learning
1:1 Users                                               Sec 1 and Sec 2 (Grade 7 and 8 PH Standards)
Who buys units                                  Parents buy for their children
Bandwidth                                           100 MBPS/300 students
Classroom Setup                               LCD Projector, Speakers, Charging station
Security                                                 CCTV in all classrooms, Lockers outside classrooms
Software                                               Google Docs
Tech Support                                      In-house servicing (done only during recess or after school)
Teacher Training                                1 ICT Mentor per Level
Challenges                                           Teacher training
  • Infrastructure must be up and running
  • Devices are not paperweights; learning devices should engage students in learning
  • It is important that teachers believe strongly in the system (Why before the how)
  • Cyberwellness should be discussed with the students (e.g. cyberbullying, responsible use of technology)
  • Technology is an enhancer for academic learning

Apple Education South Asia Office

After ACS Barker, we passed by the Apple office for a quick snack and orientation on the role of learning devices inside the classroom. Of course, examples used were Apple products, but I would like to reiterate that this is true for all OS, but perhaps not as equally good.

Main points:
  • Allot 10%-15% of budget for professional development because learning devices are nothing without great pedagogical training
  • Learning has become more fun with the 1:1 program
  • SAMR and TPCK Models of learning with technology
  • Learning has become more student centered.
  • Student motivation to learn also increased

De La Salle Zobel Experience, Br. Dennis Magbanua FSC, Apple Distinguished Educator

During our visit at the Apple office, Br. Dennis Magbanua FSC, former president of De La Salle Zobel (DLSZ), now the President of De La Salle College of St. Benilde, also an Apple Distinguished Educator (ADE), gave a brief description of the back-end experiences of implementing the 1:1 program in DLSZ.
  • Long term goals of 1:1 Program: Creative thinking, self-direct learning and mastery
  • Short term goals of 1:1 Program: Excel in academics
  • Responsible use of the mobile learning device (MLD) – should focus on the word “learning” in the term “learning device”
  • Strong home-school collaboration is needed for the program to work
  • Sooner or later, the place of the teacher will now be at the back of the classroom
  • The school uses less mobile management apps, but more home-school collaboration
  • The pilot phase of the program is “exploration” of the MLD as a learning tool
  • Challenges: Teacher training, home-school collaboration

Nanyang Girls School, Nanhua Primary School

After lunch, we proceeded to the Marina Barrage. We had a quick tour there and learned about how Singapore copes with the lack of fresh water. They are able to build technology to filtrate salt water to fresh water, and created a basin for rain water (which they emphasize as free fresh water) for distribution in Singapore. Aside from that, we had a great view of the Marina from the roof deck of the Barrage.
After the tour, we proceeded to a lecture room where all three groups gathered to listen to representatives from two other Singapore schools implementing the 1:1 program: Nanyang Girls School and Nanhua Primary School.

Nanyang Girls School, Mark Shone, ADE

Mark Shone, ADE, spoke to us about the principles behind the implementation of the 1:1 Program in Nanyang Girls school. Here are the highlights of his talk.
  • It’s not anymore Generation X, Y, or even Z, it’s now Generation IT
  • Technology is not anymore confined to just the Computer Laboratories, but is not brought into each classroom with the 1:1 program
  • iPad apps are very intuitive. There is no need to spend time to teach students how to use the app. Student learn already how to use them.
  • Students do become addicted to using the device. This is where home-school collaboration plays a big role in making the program successful.
  • Yes, students can become distracted using the learning device (because it is engaging); however, we have to remember that with or without it, distraction is a reality.
  • Some problems that we encounter is conflict with traditional exams and assessment forms.
  • Using learning devices will force the teacher to change how you teach, i.e., to teach more by talking less
Matthew, Music Teacher. Some tips and experiences.
  • Using the Garage Band app to make music.
  • Students post their work on wikis, and classmates are able to critique work
  • Rule: Critique your own work first before critiquing others’.
Mark, Physics Teacher. Some tips and experiences.
  • You can actually use Keynote for students to fill in the blanks by asking them to download your Keynote and answers can be clicked and dragged to the blanks, or they simply add words in the presentation
  • Students use clinometer to measure angle of the rocket launch, and use a motion analysis app to make a velocity time graph
  • Teachers can also record their lesson and upload it online and ask students to download re-learn the lesson
  • The problem is not the device (being distracting and addictive), but it is the users. Thus, we need to train the users to use the LD’s responsibly

Nanhua Primary School, Thomas

  • Technology is nothing without good pedagogy
  • Innovator of “A Classroom of Possibilities”
  • Technology can be used as a collaborative tool
  • With the 1:1 program, each student has a voice
  • “The fishbowl” environment/effect: When someone is looking at you, you do your best. Same when you publish your work online making your work available for others’ critiquing.

School of Science and Technology (SST)

The Vice President, Mrs. Chew Wai Lee, introduced us to the concept school they call School of Science and Technology.
  • The 1:1 program is not just about developing ICT or using the latest in ICT, but also about pedagogical training since teachers come in the school with different pedagogical styles.
  • Curriculum Framework: Applied Learning Approach. Engaging students in a 1:1 platform. “Student-fronted” curriculum. Students are self-directed, self-motivated learners guided by their teachers (who act as mentors).
  • Students receive guidance in using the learning devices.
  • Learning is dynamic. With the gadget, information is already at our fingertips. What teachers need to know now is to teach the students at the conceptual level (enduring understanding).
  • “Disciplinarity”: How each department/field sees the world is different. A maths person will see the world differently from a humanities person. How powerful our students will be if we teach them how to see the world from several point views.
  • Collaboration requires real knowledge on how to collaborate. This has to be taught.
  • Real-world context has to be used for “enduring understanding”
  • “Applied learning” is not the same as vocation training. Applied learning refers to the following facets: active, relevant, authentic, community-focused, integrated, learner-centered, and process-focused.
  • School leaders do not have to be ICT experts. The role of school leaders is to support. You have to be able to say that ICT is non-negotiable, then set up structure and processes to enable the teachers to do what they need to do.
  • Teachers are resistant to technology not because they don’t want it, but they just have not seen what it can do.
  • ICT is useless if you don’t have mastery and pedagogical knowledge.
  • Challenge-based learning.

Mr. Johari, Math teacher

  • In Math, drills are still important.
  • With the device, or students being online, each student has a voice. Students can ask questions, and give their opinion.
  • Math should be contextualized. Teacher must be able to put the formulae into real world (accessible world) situations. For example, you present to the students the idea that the ground has to be level. Then you ask, “But how do you ensure that the ground is level, and not hilly?” Just with this question, students are challenged to think logically and apply mathematical assumptions into real world situations.
  • Teachers start with pedagogy. Teachers make a decision that the lesson has to be collaborative. From the choice of pedagogy, the teacher decides what devices, software is needed to work collaboratively. In collaborative learning, peer assessment is a component.
  • Technology is just a vehicle from point A to point B. Pedagogy is the driver.
  • Since each student now has a voice, collaborative outputs is the key to grading easily.
  • With 1:1 program, teachers can now focus more on individual learners’ problems in understanding the concept.
  • Important: The device is not the students’ but the parents’. The parents have to take charge in monitoring and restricting the use of the learning device.
In a nutshell:
1:1 Program                                         1 Macbook : 1 Student
Curriculum Framework                   Challenge-based, Applied Learning Approach, Collaborative Learning
1:1 Users                                               All levels
Who buys units                                  Parents buy for their children
Bandwidth                                           Unknown
Classroom Setup                               LCD Projector, Speakers
Security                                                 Lockers outside classrooms
Software                                               Google Docs
Tech Support                                      In-house servicing for a fee
Teacher Training                                Regular subject meetings to share and plan lessons
Challenges                                           Teacher training

Edgefield Secondary School

The last school we visited is the Edgefield Secondary School. This school specializes on implementing a Challenge-based Learning approach.
Highlights of the school:
Students schedule includes a period dedicated only to Challenge-based Learning class. Almost allotting a UbD class as a separate and autonomous class.
Closely engaging with Apple Education Singapore for teacher training courses
CBL helps the students focus on universal challenges with local solutions.
CBL requires students to do something rather than just learn about something. 
Edgefield also compared Project-based Learning with Challenge-based learning:
Project-based Learning
Learning focused on expected outcomes
Problem-oriented, sometimes simulated
Limited access to information with technology
Activities and solutions may be somewhat scripted
Not easily scalable
Solution shared locally
Challenge-based Learning
Learning focused on Student-designed questions and solutions
Authentic, Real-world problems
Teacher as collaborator
24/7 access to tools, experts, and resources with technology
Created and open-ended activities and solutions
Scalable to a broader context the following school year
Solution published online (global access) and put into action
In a nutshell:
1:1 Program   1 Macbook : 1 Student
Curriculum Framework     Challenge-based Learning Framework, 5 Minds of the Future
1:1 Users Year 1 and Year 2 
Who buys units   Parents buy for their children
Bandwidth 100 MBPS/300 students
Classroom Setup   LCD Projector, Speakers
Security     Lockers outside classrooms (for securing units during recess and lunch)
Software   Google Docs, Wikis, iLife Suite, iWork, Logic Mills
Tech Support Unknown
Teacher Training Regular subject meetings to share and plan lessons
Challenges   Teacher training


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