Free Play is the BEST for Learning


A recent study shows that the more time children spend in structured, parent-guided activities, the worse their ability to work productively towards self-directed goals. 

The nationwide Primary School Leaving Examinations (PSLE) had just ended and these kids really deserved a good break from the studying routine. They ought to be given the autonomy to play and relax in the coming school holidays before they face their next hurdle in secondary school. For the next three long months, they can explore their neighbourhoods and discover the mysteries, treasures, and dramas they have to offer. This childhood idyll will hold true for some children, but for other kids, the coming of the holidays signals little more than a seasonal shift from one set of scheduled, adult-supervised lessons and activities to another.

Unscheduled, unsupervised, playtime is one of the most valuable educational opportunities we give our children. It is fertile ground; the place where children strengthen social bonds, build emotional maturity, develop cognitive skills, and shore up their physical health. The value of free play,  daydreaming, risk-taking, and independent discovery are important activities in the development of children’s executive functioning.

Executive function is a broad term for cognitive skills such as organization, long-term planning, self-regulation, task initiation, and the ability to switch between activities. It is a vital part of school preparedness and has long been accepted as a powerful predictor of academic performance and other positive life outcomes such as health and wealth. The focus of this study is “self-directed executive function,” or the ability to generate personal goals and determine how to achieve them on a practical level. The power of self-direction is an underrated and invaluable skill that allows students to act productively in order to achieve their own goals. Children who engage in more free play have more highly developed self-directed executive function.

The authors studied the schedules and play habits of 70 six-year-old children, measuring how much time each of them spent in “less structured,” spontaneous activities such as imaginative play and self-selected reading and “structured” activities organized and supervised by adults, such as lessons, sports practice, community service and homework. They found that children who engage in more free play have more highly developed self-directed executive function. The opposite was also true: The more time kids spent in structured activities, the worse their sense of self-directed control. It’s worth noting that when classifying activities as “less structured” or “structured,” the authors deemed all child-initiated activities as “less-structured,” while all adult-led activities were “structured.”

All of this is in keeping with the findings of Boston College psychology professor Peter Gray, who studies the benefits of play in human development. In his book Free to Learn: Why Unleashing the Instinct to Play Will Make Our Children Happier, More Self-Reliant, and Better Students for Life, he elaborates on how play supports the development of executive function, and particularly self-directed control:

Free play is nature’s means of teaching children that they are not helpless. In play, away from adults, children really do have control and can practice asserting it. In free play, children learn to make their own decisions, solve their own problems, create and abide by rules, and get along with others as equals rather than as obedient or rebellious subordinates.

When we reduce the amount of free playtime in preschools and kindergartens, our children stand to lose more than an opportunity to play house and cops and robbers. Some elementary programs recognize the importance of play and protect its role in preschool and kindergarten.

Montessori schools and Tools of the Mind curricula are designed to capitalize on the benefits of self-directed free play and student-initiated activities. Tools of the Mind programs, for example, place even more importance on developing executive function than on academic skills. In their terminology, “self-regulation” is the key to success both in school and in life:

Kindergarten teachers rank self-regulation as the most important competency for school readiness; at the same time, these teachers report that many of their students come to school with low levels of self-regulation. There is evidence that early self-regulation levels have a stronger association with school readiness than do IQ or entry-level reading or math skills, and they are closely associated with later academic achievement. 

This is not news to most teachers, who, when tasked with educating increasingly crowded classrooms, hope and pray for students with well-developed executive function. The ability to self-direct can spell the difference between an independent student, who can be relied upon to get her work done while chaos reigns around her, and a dependent, aimless student, who is distracted by his classmates and must be guided from one task to the next.

Parents, if you really want to give your kid a head start in the coming school year, relinquish some of that time you have earmarked for lessons or sports camp and let your children play. That’s it. Just play. Grant them time free from your ulterior motives and carefully planned educational outcomes. Let them have dominion over their imaginary kingdoms while their evil dragons, white wizards, marauding armies, and grand battles for supremacy unfurl according to their whims and wills.

This is taken from an article written by Jessica Lahey, a correspondent for The Atlantic and a former English, Latin, and writing teacher. She writes about education and parenting for The New York Times and on her site, Coming of Age in the Middleand is the author of the forthcoming book The Gift of Failure: How the Best Parents Learn to Let Go So Their Children Can Succeed.


Fun Failure: How to Make Learning Irresistible

Failure is a positive act of creativity,” Katie Salen said. Scientists, artists, engineers, and even entrepreneurs know this as adults. But in schools, the notion of failure is complicated.

Salen, executive director of the Institute of Play and founder of Quest to Learn, the first public school based on the principles of game design in the U.S., explained how failure can be a motivating agent for learning in her presentation at SXSW.

Any practice – athletic, artistic, even social – involves repeatedly failing till one gets the experience or activity right. We need to “keep the challenge constant so players are able to fail and try again,” she said. “It’s hard and it leads to something rewarding.”

Game designer Jane McGonigal makes a similar point. She dedicates an entire chapter in her book Reality Is Broken to “fun failure” and why it makes us happy. When we’re playing a well-designed game, failure doesn’t disappoint us. It makes us happy in a very particular way; excited, interested, and most of all optimistic, Salen said. “Fun failure” even makes us more resilient, which keeps us emotionally safe.

But the opposite is true in school, Salen said. School usually gives students one chance to get something right; failing grades work against practice, mastery, and creativity. To keep kids motivated, learning needs to be irresistible, Salen said.

Over the past year, Salen went on a “listening tour,” interviewing game designers at Media Molecule, Valve, and Blizzard Entertainment. Here’s what she learned in terms of gaming principles that can be applied to education:

•Don’t shoot the player while she’s learning. Too much drama, too nerve-wracking or scary an environment makes it hard for participants to learn. Students need space to think, look around, process, and reflect.

•Learning is social. Problem-solving is increasingly collaborative. Salen heard a Media Molecule designer explain how much players’ own interactions, often more than the design, adds to the experience. Players, like students, can bring ideas to the process that designers don’t even think of. Will Wright, designer of The Sims and Spore, says he designs communities, not games. “We need to design a classroom as a community in which the participants’ knowledge is valued and the exchange of their own expertise is valued,” Salen said. “Most challenges in school today only deal with individual problem-solving. Tests don’t reward collaborative problem-solving. Sharing is often seen as cheating,” while collaborating in cross-functional teams is what’s needed more and more in a complex world.

•A strong sense of community creates safety. Open up space for students (players) to interact with one another, a space for which you’ve created 1) a need to know, 2) a need to share what they know, and 3) the infrastructure for that sharing. “Sharing should feel like a gift,” Salen said. Let players/students participate in the designing too. In participatory learning, like open-source code writing, the design keeps getting better.

•Learning that empowers the learner helps make it irresistible. Mark Healey at Little Big Planets told Salen that empowering a player to do something feels like a “force flows through your veins like you can change the world around you.” When we can design learning experiences that feel like that, we make learning irresistible.

The Future of Education

From the cell phone alarm that wakes them to the tablets used to chat with friends and complete homework, today’s students are surrounded by computer technology. It is ubiquitous, and critical to daily routines. Yet few understand how technology works, even as it becomes ever more intrinsic to how we solve business and community challenges.

Today, computer science helps retailers determine how to grow sales, and it ensures that law enforcement officers are in the right places to maintain public safety. It is the foundation for the smart grid, and it fuels personalized medicine initiatives that optimize outcomes and minimize treatment side effects. Computing algorithms help organizations in all industries solve problems in new and more effective ways.

Inseparable From The Future of Education

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, by 2020 there will be 1.4 million new computer science jobs. However, between current professionals and university students, we will only have 400,000 computer scientists trained to fill those roles.

Since it can take as many as 25 years to create a computer scientist, and since computer science skills are becoming increasingly integral for jobs in all industries, this skills gap is on track to emerge as a formidable economic, security, and social justice challenge in the next few years. Teachers, schools, parents, and industry must act on multiple fronts to address student readiness, expand access to computer science curriculum and opportunities, and help foster interest in computer science to ensure that it becomes a core component of every child’s education.

Tackling The Challenges

Even though computer science skills are becoming increasingly important in the competitive global economy, there are some significant roadblocks that prevent schools from incorporating computer science into the curriculum and exposing more students to the subject.

Currently, very few schools make computer science available to students. This lack of course offerings is compounded by the fact that there is a significant lack of teachers who are qualified to engage students in computer science — those who have a deep knowledge of the topic often take jobs in industry — and a lack of student interest in taking these advanced courses, at least partly due to a misconception that computing experts are boring, male, and always in front of their computers.

Overall student engagement numbers are low even relative to other STEM fields, and female and minority students in particular are vastly under-represented in existing computer science courses.

This stunts the expansion of computer science, and prevent students from gaining the basic technology literacy that will be imperative for future workers in all fields. Communities, schools, and industry must work together to integrate computer science in schools from a young age to help both encourage diversity in technology-related fields and ensure that students of all ethnicities, genders, and socioeconomic backgrounds have the opportunity to learn these skills.

5 Steps To Take Action Now

While a comprehensive, long-term plan is needed to incorporate computer science education in all schools and to ensure that students are prepared for the jobs of tomorrow, there are five simple steps that teachers, schools, parents, and industry can take today to integrate computer science into classrooms and begin to overcome the above-mentioned challenges:

1. Professional Development

Teachers can register for online or in-person teacher training courses to learn how to teach a computer science curriculum or integrate basic computer science principles into existing lesson plans.

2. Career Education

Parents, teachers, and schools can educate students about the career opportunities available to those who get computer science degrees. While it could mean working for technology giants like Apple and Oracle, students can also use computer science skills to advance healthcare research or help a non-profit build a case for government funding.

3. Student Incentives

Teachers can offer students extra credit for using free online learning tools to develop basic computer science skills and create a project.

4. Mentor Programs

Industry and schools can formalize a mentorship program that will encourage and support students to learn more about computer science and develop their skills inside and outside the classroom — via after-school programs or co-taught lessons.

5. Coding for Kids

Parents can help kids develop confidence in their problem-solving abilities and explore computer science in action in their lives and communities with age-appropriate coding apps such as Scratch for younger children or MakeGamesWithUs for high school students.

Inseparable From The Future of Our Society

Students, parents, educators, and industry all have a vested interest in better integrating computer science into the K-12 experience. Our economic stability and national security depend on a population with solid computer science skills and coding literacy. As such, the future of education must focus on making computer science an integral part of every child’s education to ensure that students of all genders and backgrounds have a chance to pursue these opportunities.

Motivation: Reflecting On What To Do When It’s Not There

The issue of how to motivate students is an essential one for educators and parents to explore and one that’s core to the success of our children. We all know that if students aren’t motivated, their journeys will be long and hard. As with so much, sometimes if we start with ourselves — with reflecting on our own issues with motivation — we can gain useful insights. I hope to offer some thoughts that may provoke personal reflection and suggest strategies for helping kids to gain motivation.

This blog is inspired by my own lack of motivation right now to write this. This blog is (right now) overdue and I’ve procrastinated long enough. As I lie on my deck this morning contemplating my lack of motivation and mounting guilt that it isn’t done, I start remembering how many times as a student I didn’t want to write something, or how many times as a teacher, I felt no motivation to lesson plan or grade papers. “I’m just not feeling motivated,” I kept thinking, and then a more useful thought came into my mind: “It doesn’t matter. Get it done.”

That’s Lesson Number One that I wish I knew as a student: Sometimes you aren’t going to be motivated but do it anyway — such a simple lesson that has propelled me into action. Maybe motivation is overrated. Maybe in order to be successful we don’t really need a whole lot of it.

Really it’s just a shift in perspective: I’m not feeling motivated to write right now. I’m just returning from vacation where I devoured mystery novels, (I’m halfway through one now and it’s calling to me to finish it), I hiked and hung out with my husband and son, slept a lot, and worked diligently on my “Play PD.” I’ve started a photography course and a sketchbook class and I’m honoring my commitments to myself to play and create and relax. And then there’s this blog — and other things I’ve got to do.

Here’s the shift in perspective: I’m not particularly motivated to write right now, but I am motivated to honour my commitments (such as this blog). I’m motivated to get it done. And when I say that, I feel a little jolt of energy. Let’s do it.

I learned this a long time ago (I just forget it a lot). Some might call what I think I’ve learned “time management,” or “discipline,” or something to do with motivation. I call it, “getting things done.” As a writer, and someone with a full time job and family, I learned that I might not often feel super motivated to write, the muse is often nowhere to be found and sometimes I might even hate writing. But I do it anyway. I show up, close down my Internet browsers (deadly distractions) and I put my fingers on the keys and I write. I also set a timer for 45-minute blocks and during that time I don’t allow myself to get up or do anything other than what I’m supposed to do. After the time is up, I can have a 15-minute break and then I’m on for another 45. That’s how I get things done.

Sometimes I think that in schools we focus too much on building intrinsic motivation for learning, or we’re working too hard at it. Learning is rewarding and we’re all going to feel a certain amount of motivation and reward in different content areas and with different tasks. Sometimes I think it would be useful if teachers helped kids find motivation in getting something done. In balance, of course — I’m vehemently opposed to all learning being about memorization or rote learning or just getting things done. But sometimes you need your students to just write a persuasive essay and maybe it’s not something they really care much about but they could be motivated to just do it. Add it to the list of things they know how to do and that they’ve done. And if they can do it in a reasonable amount of time, and the quality is decent, then that’s fantastic.

Another thing I know about getting things done (Lesson Number Two): They don’t always have to be done really well. I am grateful that I’ve never been plagued by perfectionism. If I’m tasked with doing something for which I struggle to feel motivated then I’m quite satisfied if the outcome is satisfactory or decent. If it’s something I pour my heart and soul into, then I hope the outcome is really good. But I’m the judge of this; I evaluate my own input and product. I don’t get caught up on “Is it perfect?” I ask myself, “Is this good enough, right now, given what you’ve invested?” And usually the answer is “Yes.”  And so, if this blog isn’t amongst the best I’ve ever written, I’m okay with that. Sometimes you just got to get something done.

This is liberating, this idea. You don’t always have to feel inundated with creative juices and motivation. You just have to honour your commitments to yourself and others. Agonizing over what you have to do and how you don’t want to do it and how you just want to wait until you feel motivated is a waste of time and energy. Just do it. Set a timer, think about how great it’ll feel when you’re done, and do it.

And with that, I’m done! And I feel good! And now I can return to my mystery novel and enjoy!

Good and Bad Studying Habits

Studying is the “major pastime” of our youngsters today with its main objective being to learn more about the people, place, systems, surroundings and everything else around us. However, different people can use different ways to study but most importantly all of them do so to achieve the desired outcomes.

Based on my own experience and advice given by professional educators, parents and students, I have compiled the following rules of good and bad studying habits below:


 1. Use recall.

After you read a page, look away and recall the main ideas. Highlight very little, and never highlight anything you haven’t put in your mind first by recalling. Try recalling main ideas when you are walking to class or in a different room from where you originally learned it. An ability to recall – to generate the ideas from inside yourself – is one of the key indicators of good learning.

2. Test yourself.

Test yourself on everything. All the time. Flash cards are your friend.

3. Chunk your problems.

Chunking is understanding and practicing with a problem solution so that it can all come to mind in a flash. After you solve a problem, rehearse it. Make sure you can solve it cold – every step. Pretend it’s a song and learn to play it over and over again in your mind, so the information combines into one smooth chunk you can pull up whenever you want.

4. Space your repetition.

Spread out your learning in any subject a little every day, just like an athlete. Your brain is like a muscle – it can handle only a limited amount of exercise on one subject at a time.

5. Alternate different problem-solving techniques during your practice.

Never practice too long at any one session using only one problem-solving technique – after a while, you are just mimicking what you did on the previous problem. Mix it up and work on different types of problems. This teaches you both how and when to use a technique. (Books generally are not set up this way, so you’ll need to do this on your own.) After every assignment and test, go over your errors, make sure you understand why you made them, and then rework your solutions.

To study most effectively, handwrite (don’t type) a problem on one side of a flash card and the solution on the other. (Handwriting builds stronger neural structures in memory than typing.) You might also photograph the card if you want to load it into a study app on your smartphone. Quiz yourself randomly on different types of problems. Another way to do this is to randomly flip through your book, pick out a problem, and see whether you can solve it cold.

6. Take breaks.

It is common to be unable to solve problems or figure out concepts in math or science the first time you encounter them. This is why a little study every day is much better than a lot of studying all at once. When you get frustrated with a math or science problem, take a break so that another part of your mind can take over and work in the background.

7. Use explanatory questioning and simple analogies.

Whenever you are struggling with a concept, think to yourself, How can I explain this so that a ten-year-old could understand it? Using an analogy really helps, like saying that the flow of electricity is like the flow of water. Don’t just think your explanation – say it out loud or put it in writing. The additional effort of speaking and writing allows you to more deeply encode (that is, convert into neural memory structures) what you are learning.

8. Focus.

Turn off all interrupting beeps and alarms on your phone and computer, and then turn on a timer for twenty-five minutes. Focus intently for those twenty-five minutes and try to work as diligently as you can. After the timer goes off, give yourself a small, fun reward. A few of these sessions in a day can really move your studies forward. Try to set up times and places where studying – not glancing at your computer or phone – is just something you naturally do.

9. Eat your frogs first.

Do the hardest thing earliest in the day, when your mind is still fresh.

10. Make a mental contrast.

Imagine where you’ve come from and contrast that with the dream of where your studies will take you. Post a picture or words in your workspace to remind you of your dream. Look at that when you find your motivation lagging. This work will pay off both for you and those you love!


Avoid these techniques – they can waste your time even while they fool you into thinking you’re learning!

1. Passive rereading – sitting passively and running your eyes back over a page.

Unless you can prove that the material is moving into your brain by recalling the main ideas without looking at the page, rereading is a waste of time.

2. Letting highlights overwhelm you.

Highlighting your text can fool your mind into thinking you are putting something in your brain, when all you’re really doing is moving your hand. A little highlighting here and there is okay – sometimes it can be helpful in flagging important points. But if you are using highlighting as a memory tool, make sure that what you mark is also going into your brain.

3. Merely glancing at a problem’s solution and thinking you know how to do it.

This is one of the worst errors students make while studying. You need to be able to solve a problem step-by-step, without looking at the solution.

4. Waiting until the last minute to study.

Would you cram at the last minute if you were practising for a track meet? Your brain is like a muscle – it can handle only a limited amount of exercise on one subject at a time.

5. Repeatedly solving problems of the same type that you already know how to solve.

If you just sit around solving similar problems during your practice, you’re not actually preparing for a test – it’s like preparing for a big basketball game by just practicing your dribbling.

6. Letting study sessions with friends turn into chat sessions.

Checking your problem solving with friends, and quizzing one another on what you know, can make learning more enjoyable, expose flaws in your thinking and deepen your learning. But if your joint study sessions turn to fun before the work is done, you’re wasting your time and should find another study group.

7. Neglecting to read the textbook before you start working problems.

Would you dive into a pool before you knew how to swim? The textbook is your swimming instructor – it guides you towards the answers. You will flounder and waste your time if you don’t bother to read it. Before you begin to read, however, take a quick glance over the chapter or section to get a sense of what it’s all about.

8. Not checking with your instructors or classmates to clear up points of confusion.

Professors are used to lost students coming in for guidance – it’s our job to help you. The students we worry about are the ones who don’t come in. Don’t be one of those students.

9. Thinking you can learn deeply when you are being constantly distracted.

Every tiny pull toward an instant message or conversation means you have less brain power to devote to learning. Every tug of interrupted attention pulls out tiny neural roots before they can grow.

10. Not getting enough sleep.

Your brain pieces together problem-solving techniques when you sleep, and it also practices and repeats whatever you put in mind before you go to sleep. Prolonged fatigue allows toxins to build up in the brain that disrupt the neural connections you need to think quickly and well. If you don’t get a good sleep before a test, NOTHING ELSE YOU HAVE DONE WILL MATTER.

The eBook Revolution


With the advent of the world wide web and e-learning, traditional printed books are slowly being replaced by eBooks in recent years. Ever since the eBook era started less than a decade ago, its level of popularity and acceptance by people all over the world had grown tremendously. However, while there are still people who prefer conventional printed books to eBooks for various reasons, the role of eBooks will surely move up to complement or even replace some important categories of paperbacks such as dictionaries and directories, just to name a few.

An eBook is an electronic copy of a book. You can start reading an eBook as soon as you’ve paid for it, so there is no waiting for delivery. Moreover, there are plenty of free eBooks available for download from the internet. The greatest advantage of eBooks is its convenience of size and portability; you can store your entire eBook library on a computer, laptop, tablet or any other portable electronic device.

To read an eBook, you need to download a small piece of free software and acquire a simple eBook reader. eBooks come in different formats and each format has its own reader software. The format you select will depend on your operating system (Windows, Mac, etc) and whether you would like to read on a hand held device or on your computer. You can download eBooks to computers, dedicated eBook devices, PDAs and mobile phones. Alternatively, you can also read eBooks online, from any computer, anywhere, without downloading or installing anything.

eBook titles are essentially digital books in the electronic form. Other than being paperless and needs an eBook Reader to read, eBook titles are very much similar to the conventional printed books we used to read since books came into existence. However, it is evident that the entry of eBook titles is slowly threatening the continued existence of printed books.

What are the benefits of reading eBooks?

You can enjoy the following benefits if you choose to read eBook titles over printed books:

1) eBooks are immediate. While you are sitting at home, you can read an intriguing review of a book, one not yet in stores here, and with the click of a button be reading that eBook in an instant.

2) eBooks are incorporeal. While traveling, you can bring along several volumes of eBooks, almost weightless and without volume, thereby enabling you to pack only a carry-on bag with only an eBook Reader and not compromise on your reading pleasures on the trip.

3) Economical – In most cases, eBooks are cheaper than paper books.

4) Instantly available – just download the eBook instead of waiting for “mail” or local release.

5) Convenient – you can load novels onto a portable eBook Reader before you go on a trip.

6) Quick to download – an average novel in its eBook format takes only 3-4 minutes.

7) You can build a whole library of digital eBooks.

8) Users can do research and create or organize content online with eBooks.

9) eBook software is free and easy to download from the internet.

Despite of the above benefits, one has to take note that the reading of eBook titles is only possible with an eBook Reader, eBook Device or computer which is loaded with an eBook Software.

An eBook reader, also called an eBook device or eReader, is a mobile electronic device that is designed primarily for the purpose of reading digital eBook titles and periodicals.

Any device that can display text on a screen may act as an eBook reader, but specialised eBook reader designs may optimise portability, readability (especially in sunlight), and battery life for this purpose. A single eBook reader is capable of holding the digital equivalent of hundreds of printed books with no added bulk or measurable mass.

The main advantages of eBook readers are better readability of their screens, especially in bright sunlight, and longer battery life. This is achieved by using electronic paper technology to display content to ereaders. Commercially sold electronic paper is mostly available in black and white (16 shades of gray). The Sony Librie, released in 2004 and the precursor to the Sony Reader, was the first ebook Reader developed by using electronic paper. The first color in the market is Ectaco jetBook Color, with a 9.7″ screen, though its muted colors have been criticized.

Many eBook readers can use the internet through Wi-Fi and the built-in eBook software sometimes provides a link to a digital OPDS Library or eBook seller, allowing the user to buy, borrow, and receive digital eBook titles free through this library or seller. In this way, the eBook titles owned by the user are managed in the cloud, and the eBook reader is able to download eBooks from any location. An eBook reader may also download eBooks from a computer or read it from a memory card.


With a compatible ebook software, anyone can read or write an ebook! An eBook software is basically a software that facilitates the reading and creation of eBooks. Besides eBooks, users can also create digital scrapbooks, photomontages, brochures, school year books, journals, catalogues, manuals, magazines, cards and more on such eBook platforms.

As nations emphasize the need to sustain the global environment and encourage their people to cut back on paper and ink, and with virtual publication being able to reach anyone from any point in the world, more people are taking their reading interests online by embracing eBooks. Books previously printed on paper are now available in eBook titles and eBook formats on computer screens, eBook Readers, mobile phones and other eBook devices.

One of the greatest benefits brought about by eBook software is the ability for anyone to create professional ebooks without having to fork out thousands of dollars to design and publish a book. People can easily become authors overnight and earn income from selling online eBooks. The wide circulation, availability, and interactivity of eBooks have changed the way traditional print books are consumed by the market.

Having said so much on the advantages of eBooks, there are many reasons why a lot of people still prefer conventional printed books such as the ‘sense of touch’, ‘connectivity to the feel of the book’ and ‘sentimental value it can be attached’ just to name a few. However, whether we like it or not, the eBook revolution is here to stay and as technological advancements move forward, the dominance and importance of eBooks will become stronger as time goes by while that of conventional printed books will slowly but surely decline over time.

As a forward looking life-long learner, I personally advocate the adoption of eBooks early to embrace the technology as we are moving into the digital age with the dominance and extensive usage of smartphones, tablets and laptop computers. As for those printed books that I have collected over the years, I will still treasure them as they can be passed on to future generations as a keepsake in my estate to form part of my legacy.

e-learning initiatives for Lifelong Learning

Life Long Learning

As more people come to realise the importance of lifelong learning and the greater role played by the world wide web on the lives of many, online learning or e-learning is undoubtedly recommended as one of the avenues to prompt more to learn.

In its first foray into e-learning, the Singapore Workforce Development Agency (WDA) will be piloting 40 continuing education courses for adult educators starting from this year.

At the Adult Learning Symposium (ALS)’s opening ceremony, a synopsis of the sci-fi movie ‘Edge of Tomorrow’ was depicted to emphasize the need to learn and to stay ahead of the game. On continuing education and learning, the authorities stressed that as individuals, we grow as people only because we are always learning, and society offers vast opportunities to those who adjust, learn and embrace changes.

One of the key highlights in this year’s ALS is strengthening the CET infrastructure with technology and ensuring that our adult educators are technologically attuned. It cannot be over-emphasized that in the highly connected world we live in today, e-learning will become a staple that underpin our future CET framework.

The online courses introduced could last as short as three hours or as long as a couple of days. Participating trainers can choose from topics such as workplace literacy and instructional methods, all targeted at adult trainers to encourage them to go for continual learning.

The Manpower Ministry (MOM) announced the review of the continual education and training master plan last year and the outcomes are due in the later part of this year. He further emphasized that e-learning will be a key feature in the future continual education system here.

The Institute for Adult Learning under the WDA is setting up an online portal, LearningSpace.SG, for learners to search for and take e-courses developed by Singapore-based training providers. Another initiative in the pipeline is the setting up of an Innovation Lab (iN.LAB) at the Lifelong Learning Institute, for partners and trainers to collaborate and experiment on learning solutions.

Prior to this, the Singapore Workforce Development Agency, WDA, has set up a “Learning Cafe” to promote lifelong learning among Singaporeans.

The “pop-up” cafe, first started in Raffles Place in April 2014, will not only be providing free coffee to walk-in guests, but also offer 17 bite-sized modules for those who’re interested in picking up new skills such as coffee brewing, digital art and customer service.

Passion is all it takes for one to start the initiative. Just a simple thing like drinking coffee which many of us does in our everyone life can be used as a start-up for something one is passionate about. That applies to many things that we do. Like, the learning cafe, it provides a first step for people to be curious, take a look, and realised that actually there are a lot of different things that we can do. This is something that we need to continue doing, whether in the form of learning cafe or other formats.”