Effects of technology on our lives and learning

As we enter the electronic age with the widespread usage of smart phones, tablets and laptops, more learning channels are opened for continuous learning. To a certain extent, these electronic gadgets definitely made learning easier, more engaging and fun. It is simply amazing to see the transformation of these electronic products from their primary function as simple communication tools to include avenues for entertainment, banking, directory and navigation and learning purposes.

The most amazing of all is the Mobile Phone Revolution from the simple handheld telephone that enables one to make calls wherever you are to the sophisticated smart phone that can access the internet and equipped with additional capabilities like Bluetooth, Infra-red and GPS tracking functions. Some smart phones like the Samsung Note can even be used as a eReader to read ebooks on the go! What’s more, with easy access to free videos on YouTube, many people are also using their smart phones to watch movies or attend e-learning courses!

These technical gadgets are slowly but surely taking over yesteryears’ tools of learning such as the dictionary, street directory and translation manual! In some schools in Singapore, the conventional text books are now replaced by tablets like ipad with which more interactive lessons can be conducted both inside and outside the classroom. Schools which had yet to embrace eBooks also introduced e-learning sessions in the classroom to equip their students with basic computer skills and to make the lessons more interesting for them.

In last week’s parliament re-opening speech, the Singapore president, Mr Tony Tan Keng Yam also highlighted that the government will leverage technology to develop sustainable and innovative solutions to improve the lives of Singaporeans. Environment and Water Resources Minister, Mr Vivian Balakrishnan also reiterated that technology will be employed to make Singapore’s public services more responsive and citizen-centric.

The invasion of the smart phone into the lives of our modern city dwellers is taken to another new height with the widespread use of Mobile Banking with the latest break-through enabling people to transfer funds instantly via their mobile phones.

Other aspects of our everyday living being closely intertwined with technology are also on the rise. For example, it is already very common for people to book their movie tickets, air tickets and even medical appointments with their doctors electronically online without leaving the house!

Hence, I believe the quick invasion of technology into our lives will soon render anyone who does not embrace and pick up essential technical skills of digital living quick enough to be a nerd who will be left behind by this growing trend very soon!

Advertisements

Happy to learn VS Learn to be happy

Learning is a crucial part of our life. As no one is born to know everything, there is always things that one has yet to learn at any stage of our life. Hence, adopting the right attitude towards learning and keeping the learning spirit going has surely become essential skills for everyone.

To learn effectively, the learning process has to be spontaneous. Learning cannot be ‘forced’ or done with an ulterior motive in mind against one’s own free will. Should learning take place just to fulfil a pre-set objective (e.g. to pass examinations, to please our parents), it will lose its original meaning especially if the ‘learner’ subsequently ‘unlearn’ the information and have it ‘erased’ from his memory after his ”set objectives” are achieved. Hence, learning must be done in the correct perspective when the learner is in the right mindset, happy mood and adopts the correct attitude in order to achieve the best results.

How then can we deal with an unhappy person who wants to learn how to find happiness? Some critics may raise this controversial issue – Can being happy be learned? If so, how? Try this – Close your eyes, relax and imagine yourself to be a soul free to do anything you want, no responsibilities to shoulder, no worries for the next meal and no boss to answer to………you feel yourself flying up to heaven! – Happiness in its purest sense.

Learning to relax and to let go of worldly wants and unrealistic dreams and aspirations can be a trying process but it has to be done with a sincere heart and genuinely good intentions such as giving without expecting anything in return. Once a person can achieve this stage, he would have found happiness for himself. While this is not an easy process for anyone to achieve at short notice, it is definitely a possible and achievable one.

I personally believe that once a person succeeded in learning to find happiness for himself, his other learning journeys would all be a breeze to him!  And only when a person achieve this stage can he visualise the true meaning of learning and start to learn willingly and spontaneously to add value to his life!

Social and Emotional Learning (SEL)

In my opinion, the first step to learning is to inculcate interest in learning through effective motivation. The question is how can one be motivated to learn? Before we can embark on this motivation expedition, we need to identify the factors that can lead to motivation:

1. Feelings
Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) includes recognizing and understanding emotions, strategies for managing emotions, developing the ability to recognize and understand emotions in others, and strategies for responding to the emotions of others. SEL also includes explicitly teaching and practicing strategies to develop emotional resiliency — the ability to bounce back after adversity. The feelings and emotional mood swings cannot affect one’s motivation to learn.
2. Curiosity
Once people started noticing and naming their emotions, they get curious about them. They will then investigate and explore. It’s not uncommon for people to notice anxiety when talking to another person whom they perceive to be more knowledgeable than themselves.
3. Need to learn
As we grow, we will gradually realise that we need more and more skills to sail through our lives to pass the new hurdles we meet along the way. This will make us realise the need to learn.
4. Interest to learn
Over time, as our life experiences add on and we come into contact with more new things around us, an interest to learn will slowly developed and inspire us to learn more.
5. Consequences/Results of learning
When the ‘Cause and Effect’ syndrome comes into play in some point of our lives and people start to reap some benefits from their previous learning regimes, they will realise the good consequences or results of their learning. Hence, if they love these consequences and wish to continue enjoying them, they will be motivated to continue with their learning journey.

Another important factor of Social and Emotional Learning is the power of Peer Pressure. The sense of belonging to a group is a strong pulling factor to motivate one to learn and stay as a member in the group in whatever accomplishments the group is set to achieve.

The most precious gift of teaching is to inspire a life-long love for learning in the learners. This “love” can only be cultivated by close relationships build up over a substantial period of time through trust between the parties involved.

After all, the human race is a social being of which most if not all of us cannot bear to live alone as a society outcast. Hence, as long as we have the sense of belonging in the community we live in and aspire to adhere to the social norms therein, group conformity will continue to motivate us to learn and advance as earth’s most intelligent being for many more years to come!

Continuous Learning keeps us Relevant to Society

  

Life is never a standstill. The universe, the world, the people around us and even Mother Nature are always moving with the times. As such, Continuous Learning is the only way for us to keep up with the pace of society to remain relevant. I strongly believe that everyone should acquire new knowledge, upgrade their skills and develop new interests in life so as to ignite and reinforce their passion and love for their lives.

Hence, learning is one of the most important activity that gives meaning to our lives and the knowledge gained serve to add value to our lives and spur us to greater heights.

In the May Day message delivered by our Labour Chief, it was also emphasized that continuous learning, training and re-training throughout our working life is essential and crucial to sustain the economic growth of the nation. As far as the workers are concerned, it is a means to ensure continual employment and a weapon to fight structural unemployment by acquiring new skills to meet the changing needs of the ever-evolving economy to stay relevant to society.

Hence, continuous learning beyond our formal school days and first job are of utmost importance to anyone who wants to maintain a ‘foothold’ in society. If one stops learning and allows himself/herself to become obsolete in society, he/she will soon become ‘out of place’ and thus difficult to blend or even survive in the very place where he/she is born and breed.

As such, it is crucial for one to set learning as a compulsory goal in his/her life and adopts the correct learning attitude at all times. In my opinion, the best way to achieve this is to combine learning with one’s favourite activity or pastime so that it can be done seamlessly with our recreation and slowly become a natural part of our way of life. Needless to say, one of the best way to do so is through widespread READING!

Mind the little things in life and the choices we made

All of us only lead our lives once and are responsible for the outcome which is the result of the choices we make for ourselves. Very often, we are easily disheartened by little setbacks we encountered in our life journey and tend to overlook the little things we have done and achieved.

If we recall the things that we have done in the past, we will come to realise that before one big event comes into being, many hundreds and thousands of little things have already happened and some of these small events are actually the catalyst of those big events!

When I look back and reflect on my past actions, I realise that the little things that are happening in my life are actually the ones that contributes to the anticipation, enthusiasm, laughter, sorrow, anger and bewilderment that I have experienced throughout my life! Small memories like how my birthday is celebrated every year, the things I bought with my first pay check, the first word uttered by my son when he was a baby, the most precious gift I have received from my husband and the list goes on…

The problem is that many people treated those little things that happen throughout their lives as part and parcel of life and therefore does not think much of them. They only realise how important and significant these little things are until very much later, some of which cannot be re-enacted.

Hence, it is true that all of us should ‘Count Our Blessings’ as they happen as our life moves on and a collection of these blessings together shall form the “GIST” of our life, the one that makes our life so eventful, meaningful and beautiful.

Hey, everyone, cheer up and cherish every moment you have now before you regret it someday. These will form the fond memories in your mind for which you will enjoy recalling in your twilight years after you retire. The most important of all, of course, is to remember to relive only those positive and happy moments as happiness is a choice!

Take control of your life – Choose wisely and cherish the things you treasure regardless of whether they are big or small. You will come to realise one day when you sit down and look back that it were those life choices that you have made that determine your level of satisfaction, happiness and worthiness of your life!

Productivity VS Quality

Productivity

Productivity is the key to higher economic growth and the path to improving the quality of life, so said the Singapore government. However, before we can talk about ‘Productivity’, we need to address two fundamentals first: 1) How do we measure productivity accurately? and 2) Are there any opportunity costs or conflicting factors involved in the quest to drive up productivity?

To many people, productivity is the efficiency at which work is performed but this measure may not include the effectiveness of the work done.

In the manufacturing sector where the job lines are standard and each process takes the same definite path to complete, technology such as automation and robotics can be employed to boost the output and hence increase productivity. However, should quality control be taken into consideration, real productivity can only be ascertained if all the products produced are of exact specifications.

Conversely, in the service industry, the measure of productivity will include more ‘human factors’ which are difficult to quantify. For example in a Call Centre environment, management often  measure productivity by the number of calls an agent can take per hour, per day or per month and the average length of the call. The quality of the service rendered hence become secondary and may be left out of the statistics as this is difficult to quantify and manual assessment is often very subjective.

For a marketing personnel whose pay is commission-based, his efficiency would be most probably measured in terms of the amount of sales he can generate. If one is lucky to have clinched one multi-million dollar deal, he could still be the top salesperson for that month although he only made one sale. Another salesperson who had clinched many sales contracts with relatively small sales amount, worked doubly or triply hard within the same period of time would not be able to match the former. Do we then consider him to be less productive?

Do you know how the productivity of a sales assistant in a departmental store is measured? Is it based on the number of customers he/she can serve per day, the amount of sales he/she managed to clinch or even the number of compliments/complaints received from the customers he/she has served?

In my opinion, productivity measure has to be a combination of speed and consistency with the expectations of the product end-users. In the manufacturing sector, the products have to be produced within the shortest timeframe in the production process and yet able to meet the quality set by the company and most importantly its final consumers.

As far as the service sector is concerned, productivity is often a “perceived” concept. Someone who ‘rush through’ the service process with a customer to hit a high number in terms of quantity count may well compromised on the quality aspect especially in terms of the ‘human touch’ which is most valued by final consumers. However, the statistics collected would only show the numbers but not the human touch!

Hence, personally, I would consider a service staff as productive if he/she provides the human touch, exercise discretion and humanity when he/she handles customers and yet be able to serve what the customer wants in the shortest possible time.

Health and Wellness

Health is wealth. Without a healthy body, you would not be able to enjoy any of the other luxurious items you may have acquired. Simple pleasures such as savouring all the delicious food you can find and travelling round the world.

Our state of health can be divided into two portions: Physical Health and Mental Health. Having a healthy body with all our body organs functioning well is the state of physical health. A physically healthy person can sit, stand, run, jump and do whatever he/she wants with ease. Mental health, on the other hand refers to the health of our ‘brain’, our ability to think, control our emotions and make reasonable judgements to our everyday encounters. This is sometimes referred to as a state of ‘sound mind’.

With the rising health care costs in Singapore, many people laments that maintaining a healthy body is far more important than ‘pushing’ ourselves to work harder to make more money at the expense of our health by working long hours such as clocking 12 to 15 hours of work per day. Should our health take a turn for the worse due to lack of rest, all the extra money earned will go to feed the doctors and medical workers!

Our mental state of mind is also very crucial as ‘people of unsound mind’ are likely to be regarded as ‘outcasts of society’ and also comes with a hefty medical bill plus the stigma of a ‘mad medical record’. Hence, it is always good to constantly remind ourselves not to be too hard on ourselves, not to worry ourselves sick and keep a distance away from depression.

Maintaining a fit and balanced lifestyle is the key to having a healthy body. Having good nutrition in the food we eat, exercise regularly, rest well, participate actively in community activities are basic pre-requisites to observe.

In terms of mental health, one should always maintain a positive mindset, think positive, stimulate our brain cells by embracing life-long learning. Read extensively and stop worrying.

In my opinion, a person who is both physically and mentally fit and well is also one who has attained the greatest wealth, considering that ‘Health & Wellness’ cannot be measured or bought by dollars and cents.

Bruce up, everyone! Make “Health and Wellness” the top priority of your life by leading a well-balanced, fit and meaningful life with a positive mindset!