A group led by Civica has been chosen to develop innovative learning technology for one of the five ‘FutureSchools’ in Singapore, in a $S80 million ($A61.9 million) four-year project .
The project, known as FutureSchools@Singapore, is a joint initiative of the Singapore Ministry of Education, the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore and the information technology industry.
The outcome will take computer-based learning to new levels by utilising a holistic approach that advances existing technologies and combines them into a comprehensive pedagogic system which gives students a more meaningful problem-based learning experience.
Philip Barr, Civica’s Managing Director Library and Learning, says: "The concept is receiving a positive response from educators in Australia, ASEAN and the UK. In Australia we are receiving good feedback at Education Department level and from school principals."
Civica’s R&D input is being shared by teams in the Singapore office and the Melbourne-based headquarters. The Australian team is responsible for core development and system integration, including instructional design, while the Singapore team will share interface development, testing, training and implementation under the direction of the Australian team.
A key element of the new learning technology is Civica’s learner profiling solution that enables adaptive learning and its metadata indexing and retrieval capability.
Initially five Singapore schools have been chosen for the Singapore Education Ministry’s FutureSchools@Singapore programme.
Eventually the programme will extend to up to 15 schools. In addition, the knowledge gained from the FutureSchools can be adapted for future projects and for sharing at various platforms to benefit other schools..
The Civica consortium is working with Jurong Secondary School with a view to commencing introduction of a problem-based, adaptive learning solution in January 2009.
Marc Nolan, Civica’s Executive Director, Strategic Development, says: "Our solution is strongly pedagogy-focused and supports problem-based learning (PBL), as well as authentic learning. This is achieved through processes and tools that support engagement, collaboration and regular assessment at the teacher, peer and individual levels at each point in the PBL cycle.
"In a knowledge society, it is important that students develop skills in information and media literacy, knowledge creation, critical and creative thinking skills, and deeper meta-cognitive skills. Our solution addresses all this."
Civica’s solution is grounded on three building blocks: enriching with Interactive Digital Media (IDM) content; enrolling community participation; and enabling adaptive learning. The solutions are founded largely on an integrated environment that presents multiple representations of ‘the problem’ to students, supports students’ research, and supports an intelligent portfolio of individual students.
Marc Nolan says the solution will liberate students, teachers and parents from traditional education constraints of physical location, classroom design and time. It will give the students life skills that will enable them to excel at university and thrive in the rapidly changing world of the 21st century.
At the start of a school year, a teacher will sit down with each pupil and agree on a learning plan for the whole year. The system provides feedback on assessment and development of capabilities, enabling a teacher to either slow down learning where a pupil is struggling, or accelerate the process for students showing greater capabilities.
Learning will no longer be constrained by location, time or traditional classroom projects. Students might choose to work from home if they are sick, or from other locations if they are working on projects. Input can be via multiple channels including the Internet, libraries, podcasts etc. The system will combine disparate content, enable a student to share it with others, and extract relevant knowledge, so creating new knowledge.
"The underlying principle is constructivist," says Marc Nolan. "Students construct their own knowledge in partnership with other students, teachers or parents, building information on what they need to know. Since the solution is student-centric, the students become masters of information, media and technology, which fosters ingenuity and creativity."
He says students will take to the new technology readily since their high-tech lifestyle already encompasses using the Internet, downloading music, listening to podcasts, and communication by SMS and email. The new solution will apply those skills to pedagogy to enhance the learning outcome in an environment where the sum total of knowledge is doubling every year.
Civica’s solution explained
Seven disparate technologies are being integrated into Civica’s holistic solution:
- Personality, Behavioural, Cognitive and Humanising (PBCH) tool - This learner profiling tool, being developed with its own engine, will draw on data and information from teachers, parents and students to aid adaptive learning. It will provide feedback on a student’s learning process and cognitive development, and humanise interactions with students. The PBCH tool provides input into the artificial intelligence support for MavenWorld and the student’s progress through the PBL/AL learning solution.
- Discovery Journey Learning Management System (LMS) - This supports and manages a student’s progress through a dynamically defined learning methodology that guides the access to contextualised relevant learning resources. It provides an integrating layer of ‘glue’ that allows all relevant functional components to be presented to the learner consistently. When required, it will also integrate with interactive tools for classroom management, collaboration and communication. It will allow parent and public interaction with a school.
- Content Classification Engine with Smart Search - This application supports research and knowledge creation. It allows content from any source to be tagged with metadata to ensure it is relevant and authoritative. It will enable a search engine to formulate sophisticated and PBL appropriate search strategies to aid students in their investigative research. The tool facilitates knowledge creation by the student and school for future use in research while enabling access to a wider range of relevant resources. It is designed to be used in conjunction with Internet search engines to provide a high level of flexibility and control of research and knowledge creation by the student and teachers.
- Maven World - An avatar (called the Maven) can be tailored by each student to suit his or her style and personality. The Maven will support and personalise the research and learning process and provide an engaging and supportive learning environment. Functionalities of the Maven include virtual friends, advisors and tutors.
- 3D Learning Trails - Development of trails anchored in a school’s community will be used in conjunction with Google Earth and, in Singapore, Earth@SG. Students can access the 3D learning content when out on the trail, using mobile devices, and can create new content on the fly. The application also allows data from specific GIS solutions identified and used by the school to be uploaded and reflected into the learning trails in real-time mode.
- BL Content Development - Development and customisation of learning objects, digital content and courseware specific to the school’s PBL cycle needs. Such content are inter- disciplinary and can be used across multiple levels.