As Singapore's Government identifies the need for the country to be ICT-literate, it has come up with various strategies, policies and initiatives in order to achieve that. Singapore's government has also identified that schools would be their most important starting point. Thus, in order to achieve the ICT dream, MOE has come up with three IT schemes to be carried out in 5-year phases, dubbed the MasterPlans in Education.
2. The Masterplans
A summary of the three Masterplans in Education:
Laying a strong ICT foundation
Deeper integration into Lessons
Transforming the learning environment
-provide all schools with the basic infrastructure
-Baseline ICT Standards set for students to achieve at certain milestones
2.1 MasterPlan I
Masterplan I (dubbed MP1)is the first Masterplan in Education to be carried out. It is a 5-year plan from 1997-2002 by the MOE to integrate ICT into Education. Its main focus was to build strong ICT foundations for the smooth carrying out of the subsequent Masterplans. It also aims to change the mindset of teachers who are reluctant to make the change in teaching style (some felt that there was no need to use ICT, and others thought that ICT would only make their life harder). (1)
2.1.1 Aims of MP1
- To enhance linkages between the school and the world around it
- To encourage creative thinking and lifelong learning
- To encourage innovative processes in education
- To promote administrative and management excellence in our education
By the year 2002:
- provision for continuous training for every teacher in the use of IT in education
- 2:1 teacher-to-notebook computer ratio
- 5:1 students-to-computer ratio
- 30% of the curriculum time to include IT-based teaching and learning
- whole-school networking for every school
- Internet access for every school.
18.104.22.168 FastTrack@School (2)
Some schools which showed a greater amount of readiness to embrace ICT were selected and put under the FastTrack@School initiative by IDA Singapore. FastTrack@School aims to "help schools jumpstart the use of broadband for teaching and learning by accelerating and enhancing the broadband access to schools and to some homes". Under the "adopt-a-school" initiatives, companies like ASKnLearn.com, Double Click and Daiichi Media have partnered a total of 18 schools between them. Also, IDA has also "encouraged schools who are ready to explore other innovativeuses of technology or new technology platforms in teaching and learning" (i.e. usage of wireless LAN). Some schools have also come up with a buddy system for teachers such that teachers have companions to aid each other in ICT knowledge-acquiring and exploring of usages of ICT in teaching.
22.214.171.124 Four key dimensions of MP1
- Curriculum and assessment
- Reduction in curriculum - up to 30%
- Balance between acquisition of factual information and critical and creative application of information
- IT as tools rather than subject of study
- Use IT for 30% of the curriculum time
- Content and Learning resources
- Development of on-line materials
- Courseware development - Mathematics, Social Studies, Mother Tongue.
- Educational Software Procurement Scheme - buying educational CD ROM at a reduced price.
- Physical and Technological Infrastructure
- 2:1 teacher-to-notebook computer ratio,
- 5:1 students-to-computer ratio,
- School-wide networking
- All schools - at least 2 MB ATM links
- Each school - 1 Technology Assistant
- Human Resource Development
- "Fan" approach of training
- 22 (Phase 1) Demonstration schools to integrate IT into curriculum
- About 90 (Phase 2) schools to come on-stream
- About 250 (Phase 3) schools to come on-stream
- Core training for teachers in every school will be completed
- Completed training - Start of Advanced training
- Training of teachers
- Training teachers in integration of ICT into education. Every teacher received 30-42 hours of training.
- School-based training of teachers by Ministry of Education Senior Instructors
- Pre-service teacher training by National Institute of Education
- In-service training by MOE and NIE
2.1.4 Achievements of MP1 (3)
By the end of five years of the first Masterplan in 2002, 363 schools had fundamental building blocks in place to use ICT in the curriculum. More importantly, MOE has achieved a shift in the mindset of teachers and ICT became an accepted tool for teaching and learning.
The Second Information Technology in Education Study (or SITES 2) conducted by the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement (or IEA) in 1999 reflected this paradigm change. It reported that Singapore stood out favourably in terms of the level of teachers' knowledge of ICT-based instructional practice. They had more avenues to develop their ICT skills than their counterparts in most other countries. Singapore principals were very positive towards ICT in schools. They had an attitude score of 90 on a scale of 0 to100. Mental barriers of old mindsets had been successfully breached.
2.2 MasterPlan II
After laying strong foundations such as strong ICT infrastructure and ample training of teachers in ICT, MOE sought to deepen the integration of ICT into daily lessons in schools. The aim was to generate more interactive and engaging usage of ICT in the learning process, going beyond just PowerPoint slides, such as the usage of podcasts to help students practise different language skills, from writing to speaking. As such, the second Masterplan in Education, Masterplan II (MP2), that is to be carried out in a 5-year period (2003 - 2008), was unveiled in July 2002 to achieve these aims.
2.2.1 Aim of MP2 (4)
There are six intended outcomes for mp2. These are:
- Pupils use ICT effectively for active learning
- Connections between curriculum, instruction and assessment are enhanced using ICT
- Teachers use ICT effectively for professional and personal growth
- Schools have the capacity and capability in using ICT for school improvement
- There is active research in ICT in education
- There is an infrastructure that supports widespread and effective use of ICT
2.2.2 Implementation (5)
The key ICT in Education priorities for 2006-2008 are:
- Set baseline ICT standards for pupils' learning experiences to ensure that all schools achieve a baseline level of ICT use.
- Fully support schools that are ready to achieve higher levels of ICT use in education by introducing more recognition schemes and conducting further research on developing and prototyping pedagogical models.
- Develop schools' capacity within the framework of autonomy to take full ownership of their schools' ICT implementation.
- Strengthen the integration of ICT in the curriculum and assessment by focusing on areas of strategic importance and needs and developing partnership models to resource the schools.
126.96.36.199 EdVantage Programme
EdVantage is a flagship programme by IDA with the support of the Ministry of Education (MOE). It is aligned to the MOE's 2nd Masterplan in Education. It aims to use innovative solutions to showcase Singapore as the leader in exploiting infocomm in education. It also aims to help create revenue opportunities and new capabilities for local infocomm enterprises in the education sector. (6)
BackPack.NET is an initiative through a collaboration between IDA Singapore and Microsoft Singapore. Launched in October 2003, this five-year project facilitates the research, development, testing and showcasing of new infocomm technologies to create an eco-system for emerging technologies in education. Innovative educational tools include tablet PCs and digital inking applications. (7)
188.8.131.52 LEAD ICT@School
The LEAD ICT@Schools Scheme recognises and supports schools that are ready to achieve a higher level of ICT use from 2006 to 2008. Schools under the scheme will be supported in experimentation and research to push the innovative use of ICT in teaching and learning. (8)
For more information on LEAD ICT@Schools, go to (http://www3.moe.edu.sg/edumall/rd/lead_it.htm)
Examples of LEAD ICT@Schools:
2.2.3 Achievements of MP2
By setting baseline ICT standards that every student has to achieve at certain milestones of their education (i.e. basic typing skills by Primary 3, application of data for scientific investigation by Secondary 4), MOE ensures that every student will attain certain ICT skills that are neccesary for the 21st century.
Under the recognition schemes, schools have competed to come up with innovative usage of ICT in education and daily curriculum, and from this, the MOE has recognised some schools that have displayed innovative use of ICT and provided them with additional resource to continue with their activities. MOE has also recognised some schools as FutureSchools@Singapore and LEAD ICT@Schools.
Some schools came up with alternative pedagogies such as inquiry-based learning and problem-based learning. Some of the ICT usages include blogs, wikis, podcasts, e-portfolios, animations and video production, in which students displayed and demonstrated what they learnt in class. Class outings had been enriched by mobile learning such as the development of e-trails, use of dataloggers, PDAs and mobile phones.
After going through much training and application of ICT knowledge into teaching, teachers are now capable of producing their own media content. With this, they also went further as to share their expertise and also their digital content with other schools and teachers for the better education. As a result, the West Zone Sharing of Resources Project (WeSHARE) was created in 2006. It enable schools in the west-zone clusters to share their digital resources. The project has now been expanded to every zone as part of the Inter-cluster Sharing of Resources project (iSHARE).
2.3 MasterPlan III
Masterplan III is the third and newest Masterplan in Education, and it is five-year plan to be carried out from 2009 to 2014.
2.3.1 Lessons learnt from MP1 and MP2 (10)
After MP1 and MP2, Singapore has a teaching workforce that sees 30% of its teachers under the age of 30 and are IT-savvy. However, it does not neccessarily means they are being better or more effective teachers. Even though teachers now are more IT-savvy, there still exists a gap between being capable or familiar of using ICT and being able to translate this into effective teaching.
Also, MOE identified the need to seek a balance between centralisation and autonomy. Although autonomy allowed a outburst of innovative ideas for the use of ICT, and each school hurried to come up with their own unique personalised learning systems, it also brought about some degree of inefficiency. For example, it might not be neccessary for each school to buy its own learning management system or manage its own infrastructure.
Masterplan 3 represents a continuum of the vision of Masterplans 1 and 2; to transform the learning environment for students. MOE seeks to achieve greater engagement of students to encourage more self-directed questioning and learning. An interactive environment using all our senses will provide greater clarity and enhance content transmission and retention.
2.3.2 Aims of Mp3 (11)
There are four goals that the MP3 hopes to achieve:
- strengthen competencies for self-directed learning - usage of ICT in order to achieve competencies such as technology literacy, higher-order thinking skills and even life and collaboration skills.
- tailor learning experiences according to the way that each student learns best - use the stronger ability of teachers to recognise how each student learns and where he has difficulty in, and then effectively tailor their teaching to achieve better outcomes.
- encourage students to go deeper and advance their learning - for those who want to go deeper into any subject, ICT is a powerful tool to achieve that. Thus, if we have the abundancy of such tools such as 3-D representations, audio and video, data loggers etc, students will be encouraged to go deeper.
- learn anywhere - the use of ICT allows such mobility and flexibility in learning, freeing it from the physical confine of classrooms and the rigidity of structured curriculum time.
2.3.3 Implementation (12)
In order to achieve the four goals of the MP3, MOE has come up with 4 strategies:
- Strategy 1: Bring ICT into the core of the education process
- integrate ICT during planning and design of lessons plans and work through implementation details of curriculum and assessment.
- For example, visualisation and simulation of scientific phenomena that cannot be seen by the naked eye can help enhance learners' understanding.
- Through the use of individual PDAs, a teacher could ask any question any time during her lesson and get real time feedback of what each student has understood.
- MOE will start piloting the use of ICT in assessment in selected subjects and levels.
- incorporate the use of rich interactive multimedia resources to make the learning of English Language more interesting for students by simulating different environments for students with animated and interactive characters - in a restaurant, cinema, a foreign city, even on a date or in a delivery room.
- incorporate the same format in examinations.
- Strategy 2: Focus on improving the capabilities and skill sets of our teachers
- The basic approach of making every teacher an ICT user is no doubt, correct. MOE will continue to upgrade the capabilities of all teachers. At the same time, to help schools move further up the ICT value chain, MOE feels there is a need to have a cadre of teachers with strong pedagogical grounding as "specialist teachers" in schools to lead the other teachers in the effective integration and infusion of ICT into daily lessons and curriculi.
- Strategy 3: Improve the sharing of best practices and successful innovations
- If one teacher in any school has found an excellent way to harness ICT to improve learning outcomes for any particular subject, then the whole community need not re-invent the wheel. It would save much time and effort for all if that practice is spread and adopted by other teachers and schools. MOE has identified the need to build a stronger nexus between innovation and practice, so that we create a virtuous circle of practice being improved through innovations.
- To facilitate this process, MOE will support the establishment of educational labs, where innovations can be prototyped and tested.These labs can also serve as training grounds for both the "specialist teachers" and the student teachers.
- These Labs will complement the existing LEAD ICT@Schools as well as up to 15 FutureSchools by 2015 in spearheading innovative ICT practices.
- NIE will also be involved in this network.
- Strategy 4: Further build up infrastructure where it is needed to upgrade the technology to maximise the potential of ICT. MOE will do so in phases according to the readiness of the schools and teachers.
- Expects to increase bandwith speed and computing power while costs are expected to decrease
- MOE will study how to increase bandwith speed in order to allow for anywhere anytime learning
- MOE will also study how to put computing power directly into every learner's hands (i.e. PDA, low-cost laptop, etc) for mobile learning
MOE will be working with relevant partners such as the National Institute of Education (NIE) and Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA) and the industry to implement these strategies.
To carry out the strategies of the MP3, IDA and MOE have identified a pioneer batch of 5 schools which have shown high innovation on ICT usage in daily curriculum to spearhead the implementation. These schools are called FutureSchools, under the FutureSchools@Singapore initiative. The government has planned to spend roughly $80 million to fund this project. Four consortia, mainly ST Electronics (Training and Simulation), Singtel, Hewlett Packard, and Civica, have successfully bidded and become the leading consortia that will pair up with these five schools to come up with solutions to develop an interactive, engaging and ICT-infused learning environment for the students. The government plans to develop up to 15 schools by the end of MP3.
In addtion to the five schools, a sixth FutureSchool has been identified. The School of Science and Technology (SST) will be a newly built school for those with a niche in science and technology, much like its counterparts, the School of Art, the Singapore Sports School, as well as NUS High School of Mathematics and Science. MOE will team up with Nanyang Technological University and Ngee Ann Polytechnic to develop the programmes for the SST. SST is expected to receive its first batch of students in Jnauary 2010.
Philip Wong, A. P. (n.d.). ICT in Education in Singapore. Retrived from http://www.kageto.jp/expo/Singapore.ppt
(1)(3)(9)(10)(11)(12) Opening Address by Dr Ng Eng Hen, Minister for Education and Second Minister for Defence, at the International Conference on Teaching and Learning with Technology (iCTLT) at the Suntec Convention Hall. (2008, August 5). Retrieved from http://www.moe.gov.sg/media/speeches/2008/08/05/opening-address-by-dr-ng-eng-h-1.php
(2) Education - Beyond the Classroom. Beyond the Chalkboard. (2001, September 5). Retrieved from IDA Singapore: http://www.ida.gov.sg/News%20and%20Events/20061129165402.aspx?getPagetype=21
(4)(5) Overview of the Masterplan II for ICT in Education . (n.d.). Retrieved from MOE- edu.MALL - Masterplan II: 1105sgict:(6
(6) IDA Singapore - Programmes - EdVantage Programme. (n.d.). Retrieved from IDA Singapore: http://www.ida.gov.sg/Programmes/20061108115819.aspx?getPagetype=34
(7) (n.d.). Retrieved from Infocomm Singapore Portal: http://www.infocommsingapore.sg/industry/index.php/web/ict_landscape/education_learning/
(8) MOE - edu.MALL - Research & Development - LEAD ICT@Schools Scheme. (n.d.). Retrieved from MOE - edu.MALL: http://www3.moe.edu.sg/edumall/rd/lead_it.htm