How AI and VR are the new teacher’s assistants

By Sean Nolan

Aaron Loh, Divisional Director, Educational Technology, MOE Singapore shares how technology is letting students and teachers experience a new way of learning. 

Students today may not understand the excitement that came when teachers used to roll a TV into the classroom. Many of us will be able to remember when learning through videos was a rare opportunity.

Modern classrooms have gone one step further, using VR technology to make learning even more immersive. This technology is allowing students to explore far-away places, while AI is being used to chart each student’s learning journey.

Aaron Loh, Divisional Director, Educational Technology, Ministry of Education (MOE) shares how schools are adopting new technologies to expand classrooms beyond four walls.

Redefining the classroom experience 

MOE is supporting schools as they use VR, AR and Mixed Reality to make lessons more immersive, says Loh. Schools have used VR to create virtual field trips, letting students visit historic sites like the Amazon rainforest, one teacher wrote.

VR helps students approach their learning from a new perspective. Immersive technologies help students visualise different concepts, including molecule models and geometric shapes, Loh gives as an example.

Schools are using AI to provide more personalised learning experiences for students. The algorithm can understand a student’s strengths and weaknesses based on how long they spend on a particular task, Today explained.

The AI can then recommend a personalised learning programme based on what the student needs to focus on next, Loh says.
Schools are encouraging students to tinker and experiment with coding, robotics and designing objects digitally. This freedom gives them an outlet for creativity and builds their competency with different tech tools, Loh says.

Another tech innovation that could help schools is automation, which can take over repetitive admin tasks. These can include creating class schedules, processing grades and onboarding new students, wrote Age of Awareness.

Teaching time is at a premium, and administrative tasks cut into the quality time that teachers have with students. Using automation to save a few minutes every lesson can improve student learning in the long run, Skyward explained.

Developing teacher’s capabilities 

While technology can personalise learning and immerse students, there will always be a place for the teacher. MOE is guiding teachers on how to teach with tech.

Teachers can develop their use of technology in the classroom by joining a learning group. These learning groups bring together teachers from different schools to exchange resources, lesson ideas and best practices for digital education.

One of these teacher communities is found on a private Facebook group, where teachers can post ideas and ask questions. “We can share anytime, on any idea that piques our interest. This spontaneity is empowering,” one teacher told the MOE.

Besides being a platform to exchange ideas and resources, the group also provides support. “The encouraging messages from teachers who face the same issues as me keeps me going. I know I am not alone!”, another teacher said.

MOE is providing workshops and online lessons for teachers to develop their competency in handling data. Teachers can learn how to analyse and visualise data to draw insights from collected assessment statistics, Loh shares.
Students with their devices at St Andrew's Secondary School.

MOE has always recognised the value of technology brings to education, Loh emphasises. The launch of Singapore Student Learning Space (SLS) in 2018 was a milestone in the sector’s digital transformation, he identifies.

It offers learning through games, videos, simulations and reading materials, an MOE video explained. Having multiple ways of learning helps students to understand abstract concepts and see patterns in information, Loh highlights.

Technology is changing the landscape of education, providing new ways for students to engage with an immersive learning process. Teachers have also benefited by using technology to conveniently personalise their interactions with students.

Image courtesy of St Andrew's Secondary School Facebook page.