Polytechnics in Singapore Announce Smart Learning Plans

Ngee Ann Polytechnic unveils high-tech facilities to prepare students for digital futures.

Two Singapore Polytechnics have today unveiled smart learning plans to train students for digital futures. Ngee Ann Polytechnic is building smart learning spaces for its ICT students. Starting in April 2017, 1000 students from the School of Infocomm Technology will be able to learn user experience in a dedicated observation room, tackle cyber threats in a security ops centre, and design and build 3D models and prototypes in a maker zone. “Behind this idea of this smart learning spaces, what we want is to develop the mindset, the culture, and the talent to help us to produce the next generation manpower”, said Ng Poh Oon - Director of the School of Infocomm Technology. The smart learning space will include nine “technology enhanced classrooms”, where students’ attendance will be taken by a facial recognition software. The rooms will also be equipped with sensors that measure factors like temperature, humidity, light and carbon dioxide levels. The school hopes to gain insight from this data to design improved classrooms and teaching activities. Students will also be taking digital notes, and submit these to the school after each lesson. Lecturers will use data analyses on students’ notes to gauge their grasp of the lesson. The tech “helps us to gauge what is the level of understanding, and how much they have they retained and understood from the lesson. So we use that as a means for us to identify students who need more help”, Brendon Lam - Deputy Director of the School of Infocomm Technology - tells GovInsider. The classroom will also have portable seating to improve collaboration among students. “We want to make sure that the classrooms are configurable so that students can engage in more collaborative work”, Ng told GovInsider. The new lecture rooms will have portable desks and chairs, so “teams can be formed quickly and easily”, he said. The school will be recreating a space emulating a real life security centre, and partner with Quann - a local cyber security company - for real security case studies and their expertise. The faculty will work closely with Quann to develop a curriculum that is relevant for its students. “Students can learn from what really happened and how to respond”, Lam said, adding that “they will have a sense of how it feels like” to work in an actual environment. Ngee Ann Polytechnic signed a memorandum with seven industry partners: Autodesk, Microsoft, Quann, SAP, S3 Innovate, ThoughtWorks and V-Key on Tuesday. Further, students taking a module on UI/UX can use a dedicated UX/UI Observation Room, where users’ eye movement can be tracked to test out user experience. “We can observe them by checking their eyeballs, how they move around on the interface, and how they interact with it. From there we make fine tweaks to it, to make the application more usable”, Lam said. Meanwhile, Nanyang Polytechnic announced renewed partnership with Sony to give students access to PlayStation Virtual Reality game development kits for their modules. “Our strong industry partnerships have enabled us to ensure that students receive up-to-date and industry-relevant training”, said Daniel Tan, Director of the School of Interactive & Digital Media, opening access to “the most cutting-edge virtual reality game development kits”. Since 2009, over 150 students have been building game development skills in their games lab, in collaboration with PlayStation. Image shows demonstration of facial recognition software that will be used to track students' attendance. Photo credit: Ngee Ann Polytechnic