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Welcome Address by Prof Cheong Hee Kiat, President, at the ASCILITE International Conference 2019

Welcome Remarks By Professor Cheong Hee Kiat, President, Singapore University Of Social Sciences (SUSS), At The ASCILITE International Conference 2019 On 3 Dec 2019, 9.00am, At SUSS, Performing Arts Theatre (Block D)

Mr Heng Chee How, Deputy Secretary-General, National Trades Union Congress and Senior Minister of State, Ministry of Defence

Dr Dominique Parrish, President of ASCILITE

Colleagues and Partners 

Ladies and Gentlemen;

1. Good morning! A warm welcome to the 36th ASCILITE International Conference 2019! We are glad to bring this eminent event back to a growing teaching community in Singapore and Asia. It has been over two decades since this event was last held in Singapore in 2007, and SUSS is honoured to be host as Ascilite returns to our island state.

2. Themed ‘Personalised Learning. Diverse Goals. One Heart’, this conference heralds the vast digital advancements we are beginning to see invading, disrupting, transforming education – making learning highly dynamic and adaptive to individual learners with varying needs. Today, technology is already bringing exponential learning opportunities - from personalised learning apps, platforms, webinars, online videos, VR-enabled lessons, to even engaging e-tutors to solve assignment problems for students. Anyone with access to the internet can easily search for content or courses online to self-learn and study!  And vices, of courses, like ghost writing of assignments, exam cheating, rampant plagiarism. 

3. But, that’s just technology.  As academics and practitioners who use technology to elevate learning and teaching, we can play an even more significant role in leveraging technology as a powerful tool to better predict and scaffold the learning journey each step of the way, to impact and transform the way knowledge is imparted to, and absorbed by, the future generation with varying needs and life goals. Because technology, great as it is, is but one aspect of providing effective T & L.  It has to be accompanied by sound and appropriate pedagogy as the holistic basis for effective learning.  Technology is changing relentlessly, rapidly; pedagogy is at a much slower pace, needing evidence of efficacy over a period of time, sometimes, years.  The romance with, and wizardly wonders and convenience of, technology can then cause it to lead educational innovation and progress without the undergirding of good pedagogy.

4. I am grateful and heartened to see many of you partnering us in this meaningful cause to push the envelope in the way we design our curriculum, analyse and identify student learning needs, and rethink our teaching pedagogies. We can all look forward to hearing best practices and sharing of the collective knowledge in the next few days of this conference. Indeed, the successful application of technology for T&L in higher ed will require a strong sharing of ideas, tested methods, injection of different cultural/learning perspectives, and so on, among the international community of educators.

SUSS - Raising the Bar for Adaptive Learning

5. A key ingredient to learning for life is catering to, and delivery of, learning that is unique to the individual.  Education will also need to be more accessible, agile, multi-modal and targeted at evolving learning needs. 

6. As a pioneer in blended learning customised for different learning needs, SUSS has been expanding our digital infrastructure to support our learners from all walks of life, with many who are digital natives and who demand online delivery and mobility when they learn. Today, over 60% of our textbooks are digital, complete with online study guides. We are also building a digital library to serve our students anytime, anywhere. The iPad or the mobile phone will contain all the materials and all the digital and knowledge connectivity that a person will need to conduct his learning.  All our programmes will be offered with a heavy online component in the days to come as well. A good portion will be available in a full online mode. We deliver learning on a modular basis, in a full range of sizes that fit into a comprehensive stackable qualification system.  So, someone looking to attain quick knowledge in a specific area can attend a short certificate-based training course with us. Or another who is interested to deepen competencies or acquire new ones to grow in their profession can join our full-scale programmes. We are also constantly reviewing and monitoring our students’ learning and growth through our in-house data analytics unit which provides ongoing updates about student learning progress and areas of improvement for us to quickly close those gaps. 

Accelerating Learning for Diverse Needs

7. This year, the Institute for Adult Learning (IAL) has been integrated with SUSS.  The IAL is a national institute tasked to develop the adult learning space particularly in workplace learning, professionalise the adult teaching community and conduct research in adult learning.  By joining forces, SUSS and IAL will bring to our students and future learners the best practices of applied, continual and flexible learning. At the same time, we are also piloting efforts in the Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) with some organisations in Singapore. RPL will do several things: (1) it will spur adult learning as working professionals can leverage their relevant past work experience towards attaining higher education and upskill themselves; (2) it will validate and inform individuals of the skills and knowhow they already possess; (3) it will boost the confidence of individuals in their work and in progressing in their learning; (4) it will enable companies to better recognise and curate the skill sets in their employees and build capability for future growth.  RPL will be discussed in Ascilite, but will also be covered in the Lifelong Learning Conference that SUSS will be co-hosting after ASCILITE this week.


8. The SUSS’ digital journey to date would not have been possible without the strong support of many of our partners through the years. I’d like to thank them all.  With us today are some of them as well as those who have generously sponsored this conference.  Let me express my gratitude to some of these, including D2L, Canvas, Panopto, Al Media, Echo360. Thank you all for your invaluable contributions!

9. In closing, let me thank all our keynote speakers and presenters. Some have travelled long distances to be with us.  To our foreign participants - while you are here, do enjoy the sights and sounds of Singapore. To everyone, there is also the much anticipated highlight of each ASCILITE conference – the Conference Dinner and Dance!  Don’t give that a miss!  Many thanks to the conference organising team who laboured tirelessly for this conference.  Our deep gratitude to our Guest-of-Honour, Senior Minister of State Heng Chee How for so graciously accepting our invitation to open this event.  Finally, I trust there will be many insightful presentations and learnings, and I wish you a most fruitful time of exchange, conversing and chilling out with one another. 

10. Thank you.

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