Published on 06 Mar 2024

Harnessing The Power Of Education Technology

Winner of not one, but two book prizes at the 2023 Teacher’s Investiture Ceremony, Ms Ke Shiyao emerges as an exemplary educator from Bukit View Secondary School.

In an exclusive interview with NIEWS, she unveils the key to effective teaching and talks about her aspiration to integrate artificial intelligence (AI) into education.

Shiyao is a Biology and Lower Secondary Science teacher committed to surpassing expectations. Believing deeply in the unique potential of every student, she strives to nurture personal growth and cultivate a genuine passion for learning. In fact, to make lessons fun and authentic, she often innovates with strategies such as gamification and hands-on experiments to elevate student engagement.

Yet, Shiyao blushes shyly as we congratulated her on the awards — the Justice Choor Singh Book Prize for best performance in the Education Studies component of the Postgraduate Diploma in Education (PGDE), including a distinction in practicum; and the Singapore Teachers’ Union Book Prize for outstanding performance during teaching practicum.

“While the recognition affirms my efforts to hone my teaching practices, witnessing the positive impact on my students was the most heartening. I now feel even more motivated to empower my students to reach their fullest potential,” she told NIEWS.

According to Shiyao, her passion for education started through teaching attachments before and during university. “Interacting with students and guiding them to become better versions of themselves brought me great satisfaction,” she recalled, reflecting on her choice to study at the NIE. The decision proved invaluable in establishing a robust foundation in educational theories and pedagogies. “Besides, I like engaging with like-minded peers, exchanging ideas and innovating teaching practices,” she added.

Shiyao remembers a lesson at the NIE with Associate Professor Tan Aik Ling, where simulation and games were used to illustrate complex biological concepts like adaptation and natural selection. “We had a blast using diverse tools to simulate the beaks of different birds, assessing how well they could pick up objects like toothpicks and marbles. The experience transformed my perspective on effective teaching,” she mused.

Looking further back into her years in school, Shiyao realises that the most impactful learning moments involved hands-on activities and field trips — experiences that went beyond the classroom. “Did you dissect a cockroach in secondary school?” she asked. “Well, I did. Catching the cockroach myself added to the excitement, and I still vividly remember the sheer amount of fats present in my cockroach!” she laughs. This hands-on learning experience left an indelible mark on Shiyao, solidifying her commitment to making her lessons fun and meaningful for her students.

Studying in the UK also provided Shiyao with the chance to immerse in new experiences, such as performing in a musical and riding a horse. These encounters instilled in her the value of embracing student life beyond academic grades. Moreover, she seized the opportunity to interact with friends from diverse countries, expand her global perspective, appreciate different cultures and contemplate Singapore’s global relevance. She was greatly inspired by the openness of her foreign peers to foster a similar culture of curiosity and open-mindedness in her own classroom.

Another unforgettable learning experience would be her traineeship at UNESCO HQ, where Shiyao contributed to the development of the UNESCO Recommendation on the Ethics of AI, and was involved in reviewing Member States’ comments and supporting intergovernmental negotiations. The experience offered important insights into the ethical challenges posed by AI, while exposing her to the intricacies of diplomacy and negotiation.

“It sparked my interest in applying AI to education, which led me to join the AI in Education Chapter at the NIE. In fact, I’d often use my traineeship knowledge to organise webinars and workshops on the use of AI in education, examining ethical challenges specific to the educational context. The effective communication strategies I acquired during my journey have also proven very useful, not only in my role within the AI in Education Chapter, but also in various aspects of life in general,” she said.

When it comes to harnessing the power of education technology in Singapore, Shiyao would like to see more schools looking into the potential of education technology and AI in teaching and learning, as well as initiating a culture of continuous learning among staff. Discussions and lesson studies on integration of education technology and AI into teaching practices could be considered,” she proffered.

At the same time, it is equally important to acknowledge and address the potential risks associated with their use, especially for students. “School could prioritise equipping students with digital literacy skills, ensuring they have the knowledge to navigate digital tools and critically evaluate information. Clear guidelines should also be established to guide the ethical and responsible use of education technology and AI to minimise risks while creating a safe and conducive learning environment,” she added.

Read the original article here

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