Archive for the ‘21st Century Teaching and Learning.’ Category

Producing self-directed learners

Sunday, April 22nd, 2018
Students, rather than educators, are the central figure in self-directed learning. FILE PIC

EDUCATORS in the higher education sector have an important role to play in nurturing self-directed or independent learners.

They must know how to design programmes that promote self-directed learning, while maintaining educator control.

To succeed, they need to devise learning activities and facilitation strategies according to
the learners’ level of self-direction.

I believe instructional design should be intellectually challenging, but within the learners’ zone of proximal development (the difference between what learners can do without help and what they can’t do).

Educators are responsible for matching the instructional design with the learners’ level of self-direction while prepa-
ring them to advance to higher levels.

Educators are also responsible for guiding learners from their preferred and comfortable learning style to a greater self-directed style.

This can be achieved by initiating a challenging and supportive learning context on a gradual basis, without learners feeling discouraged.

It is obvious then that self-directed learning requires a transformation of educators from an authoritative role to a facilitator of learning.

The rationale is that to promote an active learning approach, educators should acknowledge learners as equal learning partners who make decisions about their learning.

The shift from teaching to facilitating means that learners, rather than educators, are the central figure in the learning and teaching process.

This shift, thus, requires educators to empower learners to take responsibility for and control of their learning.

Educators’ role in supporting learners’ direction of learning has provided new insights into our understanding of self-directed learning.

However, not all Malaysian educators have accepted their role as facilitators of learning.

Instead, they remain attached to their traditional roles of knowledge experts, comfortable with one-way knowledge transmission.

While recognising learners’ role in the self-directed learning context, I would like to highlight the need to blend the conventional mode of teaching with contemporary self-directed learning approaches to ensure meaningful learning experiences for learners.

Most importantly, it is suggested that in fostering self-directed learning:

EDUCATORS should establish a positive and collaborative relationship with learners;

EDUCATORS should recognise learning resources and restrictions in the learning context, as this allows for implementation of self-directed learning; and,

UNIVERSITIES should assist educators to plan their teaching strategies by conducting training programmes and encouraging self-development.


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Are educators ready for Education 4.0?

Saturday, April 7th, 2018

CAN digital immigrants teach digital natives? It all depends on whether digital immigrants are able to break through the digital era and adapt to the changing environment.

In a recent high achievers’ workshop which I conducted in the university, I was pleasantly surprised to find that my students were silent during the break between the workshop sessions. Observing them, I noticed that they were all glued to their mobile devices. Is this what technology has brought for our younger generation?

Born in the late ‘60s, I have had the opportunity to be a recipient of technological change and am able to have first-hand account of the evolving technology in my lifetime. I am what people call part of the generation of digital immigrants. In contrast, my students are what are known as digital natives – persons born during the wide spread of technology who are always attached to their digital devices.

Education in the 21st century is all about embracing digital technology. The Government’s aspiration for our future generation is for them to be tech-savvy. This is living with the changing times.

In the near future, according to a survey, some of the jobs today will no longer be relevant. New jobs will emerge and these will most likely be catering to the digital age.

Higher Education Minister Datuk Seri Idris Jusoh recently said that universities have to be prepared to adapt and change their curriculum and delivery so that graduates are able to fill in jobs which are yet to emerge. Technology is moving rapidly and educators have to keep up with this fast pace.

In the Education 4.0 framework, challenges of the fourth Industrial Revolution (IR4.0) are addressed in relation to the Malaysia Education Blueprint for Higher Education 2015-2025.

It is imperative that students are equipped with ICT and collaborative skills and be interested in lifelong learning. They also need to have critical and creative thinking and communicative skills.

Statistics show that the number of unemployed graduates in Malaysia is worrying. There are many possible causes for this. Employers look upon fresh graduates as liabilities who need to be provided with extra training before they can function adequately in their job.

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Enhancing learning process

Sunday, April 1st, 2018

THE 21st century students are individuals who are technologically savvy as they were born and raised in a technological environment.

It is almost impossible to imagine them living without their mobile phones or laptops.

As technology is the way of living in the 21st century, technology should also be a part of the way they learn.

Many software have been created to cater for the technological growth of the hardware industry and the most famous of it all is social networking. Through social networking such as Twitter or Facebook, people who are disconnected in real life could become interconnected online.

The teaching and learning of the 21st century is no longer practical via chalk and talk alone.

Generation Y understands better with technology as they have grown up surrounded by them. Not only does technology make teaching more interesting, it also makes the process easier and more manageable when compared to conventional teaching methodologies.

In language teaching specifically, the essential skill learnt is communication thus language teaching methodology should not only incorporate face-to-face communication but also include virtual communication.

Communication today involves SMS (short messaging system), chatting, e-mails and most popularly, social networking. In this technological age, teachers should tap into the power of communication and incorporate these tools into language teaching.

Language learning is a skill that needs a lot of practice in order to master the language. It has to be read, written, listened and spoken in order to understand and to be understood.

The question, is whether language learning for two hours three times a week at the school or tertiary level, is sufficient to provide practice for these language skills.

For years, teachers and lecturers have been “fighting” against time to ensure that students gain the maximum knowledge out of the limited classroom time. Lesson plans need to be carried out with military precision to ensure that the students gain the most out of the lessons.

However, the bottom line is that teachers need more time in order to teach and students need more time to learn. Extending class time would provide teachers with more time to teach while students would have more time to learn, practice and adapt to the language skills but this may not be possible with the existing language curriculum in both schools and universities.

It is crucial therefore for teachers to determine the type of classroom activities, which can help prepare students to communicate in real life beyond the allotted classroom time. It is a common perception that students would respond better to technologically enhanced teaching methods as they appeal better to them.

Edutainment is a combination of education and entertainment. Edutainment can be defined as entertainment that is intended to be educational. In edutainment, the teaching and learning process is conducted via a medium that both entertains while it educates. Examples of edutainment mediums are television programmes, computer software, songs, audio files, games, video clips, films, shows, etc. As long as it serves its purpose to both educate and entertain the students, it falls in that list.

Apart from edutainment, this form of education is also known as infotainment or entertainment-education.

Everyone enjoys good entertainment and for most people it is addictive. For example, if you enjoy playing games, you will get more and more excited playing the game especially when you are familiar with it. The visuals and audio will attract you to be interested and enjoy the entertainment that you are into.

In contrast, education that merely uses chalk and talk is extremely boring. Edutainment allows the goodness of education to be presented in the form of entertainment. Technologically enhanced learning will not only appeal more to the students of the 21st century but will also provide greater avenues for problem solving and creative thinking. With proper technology training, teachers will be able to merge active learning and teaching. They will be able to understand and appreciate the power of technology better and incorporate technology to enhance their learning process.

In doing so, teachers will be able to relate to the students better as they are no longer “outdated” or “obsolete” when it comes to technology and they would be able to provide an authentic experience through technology for their learners.

Edutainment is a part of today’s education system because it appeals and attracts the students, which in the end, helps engage them into learning.

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Education Exchange celebrates innovation in class

Thursday, March 22nd, 2018
Educators sharing their passion for innovative teaching approaches at Microsoft E2.

IN the era of globalisation and digitalisation, educators bear huge responsibility to deliver new learning experiences and prepare students for the 21st century

Microsoft education vice-president Anthony Salcito said: “What’s happening in the world of education globally today is that policymakers are under pressure to drive economic growth.

“Educators are heroes who are pushing the boundaries of what is possible to transform learning and making a direct impact on the experiences and lifelong skills of students. Teachers’ innovation and expertise is needed now more than ever today.”

He said this at the annual Microsoft Education Exchange (E2) last week in Singapore where 310 creative educators and school leaders from 91 countries gathered for three days to exchange ideas to develop innovative experiences in class.

“It is not only about technology but it is also about how one stretches one’s role as an educator. If you embrace the reality that technology is all around us, you will also embrace your role as an educator is changing and it is not just about delivering content.

“Technology will not diminish the value of teachers but instead leads to more innovative teaching,” he added.

At the opening keynote address of E2, Microsoft Asia corporate external and legal affairs associate general counsel Antony Cook said there is a need to develop a skillset for the demands of the future and education plays a critical role in this endeavour.

He added: “About 26 per cent of jobs will be outsourced or automated but these will be mitigated by 25 per cent growth in new jobs created.

“Sixty-five per cent of children entering primary school today will end up working in jobs that don’t yet exist. We need to change the way we educate and redefine the way we train our current and future workforce.”

Significant economic opportunity for digital technologies is dependent upon broadening information technology skills and knowledge. Although technology is driving creation of value-added jobs, demand for digital skills is outpacing supply.

E2 celebrates the achievements of educators who combine content, pedagogy and technology in exemplary ways to prepare students for success in the digital age.

Four teachers from Malaysia were selected out of 100 to attend E2 this year after submitting their applications to become Microsoft Innovative Educator (MIE) Experts. They are Wan Azrina Muhamad Zuki (from SMK Kubang Kerian, Kelantan), Mohamad Haniff Hasan (SK Jasin, Melaka), Khairul Azlan Mohd Faizul (SK Ulu Daro, Sarawak) and Nur Hayati Shahrome (Maktab Rendah Sains MARA Kuala Kubu Baru).

To be a MIE Expert, teachers submit lessons that are new, innovative and engaging before working on their own professional development at Microsoft Education Community.

During the event, the teachers participated in the Educator Challenge where they worked in teams with teachers from other countries to create a lesson plan template that included computational thinking. Their lessons were judged based on four categories: communication, innovation, collaboration and equity.


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Being human in the 21st century

Tuesday, March 6th, 2018

IN the last several annual meetings of the World Economic Forum, an influential platform for the shaping of the global agenda, one of the biggest questions that has been raised and discussed is about being and staying human in light of emerging trends and technological developments in the 21st century.

It is interesting that despite the world’s sophistication and advances, especially in the West, people still ponder upon these basic questions that had come up as far back as over 2,000 years ago during the time of the ancient Greek philosophers, chiefly Socrates, Plato and Aristotle.

Consider this fact: in 2016, close to US$1.7 trillion was spent worldwide on arms, but a United Nations appeal for funds to support refugees from the Syrian crisis fell short of its target by less than US$1.7bil.

This says a lot about our state of being human.

It was reported in The New York Times on July 12, 2017 that hundreds of millions of people in China have in recent years turned to religions like Taoism, Buddhism, Christianity and Islam, seeking a sense of purpose and an escape from the consumerist culture, recognising that the decadence of human beings has destroyed the environment.

This corroborates the important argument by Syed Muhammad Naquib al-Attas, the contemporary Muslim thinker from Malaysia, that despite the positive contributions of science and technology, the modern man does not understand his true self better, and is unable to attain a state of peace and tranquility within himself and in relation to the others.

In the intellectual tradition of Islam – as represented by luminaries such as Ibn Sina, Al-Ghazali, Ibn ‘Arabi and many others whose insights contemporary Muslims can still benefit from – the understanding of being “human” is not the same as that of the contemporary Western world, which is derived from the Enlightenment.

In the time of philosophers such as Immanuel Kant, Western civilisation started to imply that man does not have a spiritual nature in the “soul”, and thus gradually the conception of being human changed as the idea of the soul was suppressed.

Having evolved over centuries, Western thinking and consciousness have impinged on and surreptitiously infused the Muslims’ thinking and consciousness, causing confusion in how they see the nature of man, which is a key element in the worldview of Islam.

This creates a situation whereby, for instance, a Muslim today may be learned in the modern science of behavioural psychology but completely ignorant about the science of the soul as discussed by the early Muslim luminaries in history who sought to treat psychological problems at its roots.

The nature of man, as understood in Islam, postulates that man is both physical and spiritual – that is, he possesses a soul – and the physical is embedded in and serves the spiritual.

Therefore, a man who is true to his natural inclination (fitrah) will voluntarily limit his material desire through the cultivation of virtues and self-discipline in order to realise his higher and truer spiritual aspirations by which he finds his true self and place in the larger order of creation and being.

This is in contradistinction to the psychological assumption of modern economics that man has “unlimited wants”, which assumes that man is restricted to his physical self and materialistic ambition without deeper spiritual substance and higher transcendent aspiration.

It was for this reason that Abu Bakr Muhammad ibn Zakariyya al- Razi remarked in his al-Tibb al-Ruhani (The Spiritual Physic), “To rein and suppress the passion is an obligation according to every opinion, in the view of every reasoning man, and according to every religion.”

In the past, when the worldview of Islam was intact, the Muslims as exemplified by men and women of spiritual discernment, understood the idea of being human as the subduing the animal aspect of man (nafs al-hayyawwaniyah) with the rational aspect (nafs al-natiqah), through ascending the stations of spiritual perfections to be a man of adab (a good man), that is, a man who knows his place in relation to others and ultimately his Creator.

Such conception of being human in Islam has seen tremendous success in history. It must be allowed to flourish in the 21st century if we wish to see the virtuous circulation of wealth; the harmonious way of living between man and his environment; the development of creative and innovative technologies that are in harmony with man and nature; and most importantly, conviction about man’s purpose and place in this world.

By Muhammad Syafiq Borhannuddin
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f technology, time and the 21st century

Thursday, February 22nd, 2018
Technology and the Internet have altered the way we conduct our lives with computers, smartphones, tablets, and other devices. FILE PIC

ON the night of Dec 31, 1999, the-then newly-connected world worried about the possibility of computers incorrectly resetting and “relocating” us back to the year 1900. It was believed then that year 2000 (Y2k) could potentially bring about the systemic collapse of power lines, energy grids, irrigation, aviation and financial systems, amongst others. The misalignment of technology with the trajectory of time could be disastrous.

Yet, the dawn of the 21st century did not bring any of those. In fact, it heralded a time of promise and discovery. We were on the cusp of yet another revolution. The agricultural, industrial and knowledge revolutions were being replaced by the Internet revolution. And, the key to this revolution was technology. Now, almost two decades later, we witness how technology and the Internet have altered the way we conduct our lives.

In personal spaces, relationships are now formed through distanced, multimodal, multimedium means of communication. Smartphones have brought unimaginable ways of communicating. Artificial intelligence (AI), Big Data, Internet of Things (IoT), among others, have brought unbelievable changes.

In professional spaces, workers are warned that the nature of jobs will alter dramatically. This is because jobs that have been in existence for the last 100 years are now disappearing. Industry 4.0 has become the catchphrase that encompasses the anticipated alterations in workspaces. The skills that were taught in the 20th century schools and universities are argued to have become obsolete. Children born in this millennium require learning experiences that must match the technology of their time. Smartboards have replaced whiteboards; tablets and the styli have replaced paper and pencils. Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCS) have democratised education. Anyone anywhere with a device and connectivity can learn. In fact, anyone anywhere with a device and connectivity can also teach.

Yet, in the rush to hop onto the technology bandwagon, several questions are less often raised. How does this revolution change human culture? How will the habit of talking to a smartphone alter the way young adults form their self-identity and self-confidence? How will the replacement of smartboards and tablets propel children’s educational attainment? Without these questions, there is the tendency to think of technology only in terms of devices (smartphones, computers), software (apps, programmes) and connectivity (wireless technology, cloud computing).

History reveals that “technology” is not a modern, 21st century phenomenon. The term is derived from the 17th century Greek word “tekhnologia” — meaning it refers to the idea of treating something systematically. Interestingly, tekhnologia is derived from the word “tekhna” which means art or craft. Therefore, the accepted wisdom of what technology means lies in how the systematic application of something that has been creatively crafted, has permeated and significantly altered human lives and cultures.

Technology is fundamentally about human culture.

For our hunter-gatherer ancestors, the discovery of fire was the technological revolution of their time. It transformed the way they ate their food, hunted for animals and kept their dwellings safe. Fire reshaped the way they thought about sustaining lives. But fire, if not properly managed, can also destroy. Thus, the technology of their time had to be appropriated with the culture of their community.

When the technology of writing was invented more than 5,000 years ago, human lives were altered by way of intellectual progress. Although Socrates cautioned that writing would cause the destruction of man’s supreme memory, the community then embraced it. Human memory was transformed dramatically, and in its place, remembering past lives and literature were documented.

In the 15th century, when the mechanical movable type printing press was built, mass printing and wide circulation of reading materials became possible across Europe. Therefore, mass literacy was the technology to be reckoned with. The reading culture took hold.

Reading and writing formed the bedrock of modern education systems. Mass education became the lynchpin that shaped and liberated modern civil societies. And that, is the trajectory from which the 21st century was launched.

Thus, when technology is understood as a construct of history, its “vehicle” — fire, writing, books or smartphones — will be seen to account for only one facet of what it actually is. Much more than the vehicle is the multiple ways in which human behaviour and attitudes appropriate, misappropriate, use and abuse the vehicle.

Technology, therefore, should be seen as the systematic application of creative power which impacts lives and reshapes cultures. Parents for example, must be aware that handing a smartphone to their teenager is both beneficial and risky.

Here, the cultural ways with which families form and sustain familial bonds will be tested. New theories in family psychology must be found to face the new challenges. Teachers who shift from face-to-face to online instructional methods must be confident of pedagogical principles which call for a learning culture that is receptive to human emotions, power relations and contextual differences.

As such, technology can only exist when it is appropriated within a cultural milieu. In order to advance technology, therefore, the sociology and psychology of human behaviour must lie at its heart. Negating this may result in the “vehicle” destroying the fabric of human society. Ultimately, the difficult questions would have to be addressed when taking on these new cultural challenges and changes to ensure the sustainability of the human culture across current and future technologies.

By Dr Chong Su Li

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Modern teaching-learning method in classroom through use of smart gadgets

Thursday, January 25th, 2018
The Parent-Teacher Association (Persatuan Ibu Bapa dan Guru (PIBG) of Sekolah Alam Shah head Datuk Seri Reezal Merican Naina Merican pose with students after presenting a Placer-X van and iPads to teachers. Bernama pic
By SUHAILA SHAHRUL ANUAR - January 25, 2018 @ 7:52pm

PUTRAJAYA: The Parent-Teacher Association (Persatuan Ibu Bapa dan Guru (PIBG) of Sekolah Alam Shah here today introduced the ‘iPad Waqaf Project’ to empower 21st century learning method (PAK-21) at the school.

Its PIBG head Datuk Seri Reezal Merican Naina Merican said the initiative would be implemented through ‘Futuristic Classroom Programme’ which was set to benefit some 830 students and 72 teachers at the school.

“PAK-21 is an important element in the Malaysian Education Blueprint (MEB) 2013-2025 in preparing students for challenges of the future including the Fourth Industrial Revolution (Industry 4.0).

“Through this project, each student and teacher will own a tablet and use them during the teaching and learning process in the classroom,” he said.

PAK-21, introduced by the Education Ministry, involved the use of smart gadgets in the classroom. It will also see the use of conventional whiteboard and blackboard replaced with smartboard.

Reezal Merican said through the project students who cannot afford to own a tablet would be given one by the school through contributions by various organisations.

“For those who can afford, we encourage them to contribute more, according to their affordability. We just want each and every student to own a tablet.

“Our concept is ‘no one should be left behind’. For that reason alone, the PIBG will continue to look for funds and contributions including from corporate companies,” he said.

He said this teaching and learning approach would churn out futuristic human capital and elevate the country’s name to higher level.

“This human capital produced in school must grow on par with the development of technology so that no one gets left behind,” he said.


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Classrooms should have CCTVs

Sunday, January 21st, 2018
CCTV cameras can be installed in schools. — File photo

CCTV cameras can be installed in schools. — File photo

THE 21st century classroom should have closed circuit television cameras (CCTVs).

CCTVs are vital devices that need to be installed in every primary and secondary classroom.

The CCTVs will ensure that teaching and learning is maximised in the classroom.

The CCTVs will ensure that teachers enter and leave the classroom according to the time table.

The CCTVs will ensure that teachers teach the lesson and not sit at their table and do their own work .

There have been reports of teachers who give work to their children and then do their own work.

Some teachers have been known to do their tertiary assignments and course work in the classroom.

Some teachers do reports and other school clerical work during lessons in the classroom.

A lesson is usually 30 minutes, 40 minutes, or 60 minutes.

There are some teachers who waste much of the time in the classroom by doing unnecessary work not related to the lesson.

Small children are quite vulnerable to teachers who do not use their teaching time well.

Teachers need to know that the classroom is a divine place where knowledge is imparted to impressionable minds and hearts.

Teachers should leave all their personal and professional problems and anxieties outside the classroom.

Teachers should not enter the classroom with a heavy and burdened heart.

They should leave such baggage outside the classroom.

When they enter the classroom, they should enter with a clear heart and mind to teach the young children. The teachers’ core business is teaching.

The classroom is the teachers’ theatre of dreams.

There are many passionate and dynamic vibrant teachers in schools who go the extra mile to teach children.

They give themselves like a burning candle to illuminate the lives of their charges.

But at the same time there are the deadwood teachers who bring the teaching service a bad name.

Though their numbers are small, installing CCTVs in classrooms will curb abuse and check the teaching and learning experience of children.

The CCTV recordings can be viewed for teacher evaluation.

Classroom observations of a teacher’s lesson by the head teacher, senior assistants and subject panel heads can have its pros and cons.

If the teacher is informed of the observation, the teacher will prepare a wonderful lesson to showcase to the observers.

An impromptu observation can result in authentic, trustworthy and genuine evaluation of a teacher who is hard working.

For a balanced, fair and transparent evaluation of teachers, all classrooms should be equipped with a CCTV which would record the teaching and learning mode in the classroom.

CCTVs in classrooms would not only raise the standard of teaching and learning to a higher level but also solve a lot of disciplinary problems in the classroom.

The teacher’s core business is teaching and that should be the ultimate criterion to determine the teacher’s performance index.

The teacher’s competence and knowledge of the subject matter can be gauged from observing the teacher’s lesson.

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Machines taking over our jobs? Academics weigh in on the issue.

Friday, December 1st, 2017

THE World Economic Forum’s warning that five million jobs could disappear in five years because of advances in technology sounds like robots are taking over the world.

In a report published early 2016, the WEF said that developments in artificial intelligence, robotics and biotechnology would disrupt the business world in a similar way to previous industrial revolutions, with administrative and white collar office jobs most at risk, according to a CNN report.

New skill sets that are relevant in the Fourth Industrial Revolution were explored at the forum, as it looked at how disruptive technology has impacted the higher education industry and traditional fields like law, medicine, science, business, finance, accounting and construction.

The roundtable was attended by Management Development Institute of Singapore (Malaysia campus) CEO Prof Datuk Dr Syed Ahmad Hussein, Newcastle University Medicine Malaysia provost-CEO Prof Roger Barton, University of Reading Malaysia provost Prof Tony Downes, Iskandar Investment Berhad president-CEO Datuk Khairil Anwar Ahmad, University of Southampton Malaysia interim CEO Prof Peter Smith, and Raffles University Iskandar president Prof Dr Graeme Britton. Star Media Group editor-in-chief Datuk Leanne Goh was the moderator.

Disruptive technology is not a new phenomenon, the panellists say. While disruptive technology has brought change, and with it the fear that manual jobs are disappearing, Prof Britton foresees that there will be new opportunities as well.

“When computers came, people said it would run the world and we’d be out of jobs. But computers have created more jobs instead,” he says.

Prof Smith says that quantum computing and quantum technologies will transform what we do in the future, and “we are at an early stage of a revolution to create new companies and new industries.”

The consensus among the roundtable panellists is that adaptability and resilience are key attributes a fresh graduate should possess in order to forge successful careers in a rapidly-changing world where disruptive technology constantly influences how things are done.

“Skills that they use immediately after leaving university may be redundant further down their careers,” says Prof Downes. “What’s essential is for graduates to have an ability to continue to learn. This will be key to their success in the future.”

Because globalisation and technological development are realities of life, Dr Syed Ahmad says “we should not resist or reject them, but manoeuvre around them to get the best advantage.”

Sharing his observations from the construction industry today, Khairil says innovations and technology are being harnessed to address some of the disruptive developments taking place. He cites the shortage of skilled workers which has compelled the industry to automate certain functions and processes, resulting in industrialised building systems that depend less on on-site work.

In the field of medicine, Prof Barton says that it is all digital. “Many will see its impact on medicine as a positive one, for it facilitated quicker and better healthcare. It enables rather than disrupts,” he says.


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Developing human capital for the future workplace

Wednesday, November 29th, 2017
Students attending a lecture at Universiti Malaysia Pahang last year. We must help make science education more interesting, relevant and applicable to our daily lives. FILE PIC

MALAYSIA needs to be prepared for a rapidly changing, increasingly interconnected and technologically rich world where there will be many new opportunities.  There will also be disruption across many industries, demanding greater career flexibility.

We need expertise in various disciplines, particularly science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). More effort is needed to increase the number of researchers, scientists and engineers. In the future, we will have to compete with our brains, and with science.

Promoting STEM education has long been prioritised in Malaysia, beginning in the 1970s with the first national science and technology enrolment policy, which aimed to see 60 per cent of students enrolled in science studies, 40 per cent in arts

Increasingly today, however, Malaysian students opt out of STEM fields at the secondary school and tertiary levels — part of a worrisome global trend.

To overcome this, science teaching must change, with the overall objective of fostering a living science as a dynamic force for societal improvement. Our efforts must be geared towards the creation of a scientific mind. Science teaching has to evolve from its traditional form, where sciences are taught without showing much of its exciting usefulness and practicality in everyday life.

In classrooms, scientific laws are learnt, not discovered; hypotheses are not tested but taught. This does little to develop an attitude for inquiry, adaptability and objective understanding. Students need the ability to critically observe, analyse and draw conclusions on everyday phenomena. We must help make science education more interesting, relevant and applicable to our daily lives.

Graduates must not only be book smart and curious, but have the “soul” or conscience to know right from wrong; they must have the ethics and integrity to pursue science for the betterment of society.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak believes that increasing the number of STEM students should be a “national movement” to ensure our competitiveness in the global arena

Tabling the 2018 Budget recently, he announced RM250 million to set up a STEM centre to develop the latest learning methods to train STEM specialist teachers.

The computer science curriculum module will be enhanced to include coding by primary and secondary school students, and 2,000 classes will be upgraded to 21st century smart classrooms to enhance creative learning and innovative thinking.

The government is also committed to technical and vocational education and training, announcing the TVET Malaysia masterplan, including 100 TVET Excellent Students Scholarships worth RM4.5 million.

Also of note is the bid to support skilled workers in the rail industry. The new  National Rail Centre of Excellence, Malaysia Rail Link Sdn Bhd, in cooperation with higher education institutions, will train 3,000 professionals in the industry.

In 2011, futurist Thomas Frey predicted that 60 per cent of the jobs in the future have not yet been invented.

Among them are drone traffic supervisor, data scientist, avatar designers, 3D printing engineers and autonomous transportation specialist. We need to address the conundrum of how to prepare our young for this

On that point, physician and writer Dr George W. Crane makes this assertion: “There is no future in any jobs, the future lies in the person who holds the job”.

Hence, we can no longer focus on equipping students for specialised careers. Career paths are becoming more flexible and we need to change expectations of what a person’s “career”, or “careers”, will look like. Of course, we need specialists and academics, but businesses need employees with a broad range of skills and experience that can help them to creatively adapt to technology-rich environments. Young people need that range of skills so that they can move between careers.

Graduates of the future should become job creators, rather than job seekers. The world needs new ideas, innovative solutions and visionary leaders who can make them happen.

Today’s most successful entrepreneurs are those who pursue both economic and social values, who create not only wealth but also a wealth of opportunities for others. Entrepreneurship education is a vital part of the overall curriculum.

We also should prepare the education system to support the ongoing re-qualification of the industrial workforce, recognising the need for training to take place in more settings than traditional locations. This support could include providing online-learning platforms and access to free courses at “open” universities, which have no entry requirements, as well as using mobile apps to offer training and access to know-how.


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