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Is Singapore the next frontier for edtech?

The future of Singapore means a vibrant and resilient economy filled with new growth sectors, corporate innovations and jobs, and skills for the future. Getting citizens skills-ready is more crucial than ever before to realize the first ever Smart Nation vision.

Education is a starting point in preparing for the economy of the future, yet more work needs to be done in the sector to meet changing needs.

Fortunately, as innovative technology creates waves across various sectors globally, the topic of education technology (edtech) to enable tailored and personalized learning is gaining mass awareness.

Asia is seen as the next frontier in edtech. The industry is projected to grow by 8 percent to US$252 billion by 2020 in the global market.

Asia as the next frontier

One reason for edtech’s success in Asia can be attributed to culture. According to the 2016 Global EdTech Report, the commitment to education is strong in this region and is reflected by the increasing amounts spent on securing quality education. The report revealed that in 2012, the percentage of family income spent on education was 13 times more than what was spent in 1985.

On the professional front, there is also a shift towards vocational training for unique skills that match specific industries. In 2016, the importance of education and the strong appetite to spend for it is still present.

The 2016 HSBC survey shows that a majority of Singaporean parents are even willing to go into debt to fund their children’s education.

Another contributing factor is mobile proliferation. Many Asian markets are mobile-first and this offers unique opportunities for educational learning, which includes gaming and adaptive learning.

Taking advantage of this window of opportunity, more startups are dabbling in the education space in Bash (Build Amazing Startups Here)–Singapore’s largest integrated startup space.

Examples of local edtech startups that graduated from Bash’s accelerator programs include: Miao, Imagin8ors, and Snapask

The building blocks of edtech in Singapore

Shifting from textbook learning

However, to embrace innovation in this space and truly benefit from it, there has to be an attitude shift towards the cultivation of adaptive learning.

To keep up with change, the next generation of Singapore youth needs to develop an ability to identify issues by asking the right questions, the flexibility to acquire skills, and implement solutions to tackle problems.

By shifting away from traditional classrooms and pure textbook learning, the next generation will have more opportunities to develop soft skills, adapt to change, and create innovative solutions.

Take Miao for example. Miao was founded by fresh graduates who saw the demand for faster, more accessible, and cheaper ways for student learning.

The app allows students to look up their questions by snapping a photo with their mobile devices. The app then provides results of the best solutions and similar questions for practice. Their algorithm combines machine learning and natural language processing, which are components of artificial intelligence.

Flexible learning environments

As an international data and analytics hub, Singapore is embracing a data-driven education strategy to explore personalised learning.

With the use of analytics, schools are able to make data-driven decisions and tailor their program to nurture Singaporean students to their fullest potential. This also enables a flexible learning environment, which allows schools to achieve higher levels of engagement with students who already lead an infocomm-integrated lifestyle.

For instance, initiatives such as IMDA’s Lab on Wheels and Code for Fun programs promote interest in technology amongst the youth by engaging them in experiential activities: coding games, robotics, and 3D technology.

By incorporating technology into education from an early stage, the next generation of learners are better equipped with essential skills required in the global, digital workplace of the future.

Edtech can serve as an enabling tool in advancing education efforts and unlocking potential in students. With a strong infocomm structure and a mobile-first strategy, Singapore presents strong potential for innovative edtech solutions.

However, to ensure continued growth, current attitudes towards education should first shift away from traditional classroom learning to embrace the challenges and changes that edtech will bring.

This article by Dr Alex Lin originally appeared on Tech in Asia, a Burn Media publishing partner.

Feature image: Nicola Sap De Mitri via Tech in Asia.

Author Bio

Tech In Asia
Tech in Asia is an online technology news startup based in Asia, with team members all across the region. As a crew of journalists and bloggers with a passion for new ways of delivering the news, we’ve bonded together under one goal – to create a great Asia-focused tech... More

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