Digitalisation of our economy and society is transforming the way people live, work, and learn. In responding to this disruptive change, people will need to learn how to adapt to the changing demands digitalisation brings. In this context, many countries, including Singapore, have implemented strategies and policies to facilitate access to and provide opportunities for learning throughout life.

Coupled with these provisions and changes, the strategic importance of adult learning to the national agenda of inclusive growth and maximising individual potential is also essential for the nation in meeting the challenge of change. In July 2019, the Singapore National Research Foundation (NRF) and SkillsFuture Singapore (SSG) established a Taskforce, led by IAL's Executive Director, Prof Lee Wing On. The Taskforce comprises 14 representatives from NRF, SSG, the Ministry of Education (MOE), the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR), as well as the six Autonomous Universities in Singapore, to provide leadership and stewardship to shape and identify key research topics and agenda for the future of adult learning research. 

This effort seeks to chart the next phase of Adult Learning research for Singapore, in addition to ongoing efforts in this area at IAL, as supported by SSG’s Workforce Development Applied Research Fund (WDARF) and with NRF’s initiative on the Science of Learning.


Preliminary Consultative Papers


The Preliminary Consultative Papers outline the approaches taken by each Subgroup addressing each theme, and are put together after a robust process of deliberation and engagement. The Taskforce seeks to invite the research community to provide their views and comments on the Preliminary Consultative Papers, particularly on the strengths and gaps of the research agenda, and on the strategies to support the translation of the proposed area into policy and practice. These views and comments will further strengthen the proposed research areas in the final submission. All views are welcome and will be given proper consideration.

If you would like to provide your views and comments on our consultation, please register an account here on our Slack platform. 

For existing users with a FoALR Slack account, please sign in to


About the Symposium

To ensure that our agenda is underpinned by an in-depth understanding of the international developments and current key trends and issues, a group of overseas and local researchers were invited to join us in a 2-day symposium on 14 and 15 November 2019 to discuss the following areas:

i.      The Future of Human Capabilities in the Digital Economy and Society

ii.     Learning Cultures x Smart Cities

iii.    Towards a Science of Adult Learning

iv.    Innovative Technologies for Adult Learning Research


Geoffrey Cohen is Professor of Psychology at Graduate School of Education, Department of Psychology, Stanford University. Much of his research examines processes related to identity maintenance and their implications for social problems. One primary aim of his research is the development of theory-driven, rigorously tested intervention strategies that further our understanding of the processes underpinning social problems and that offer solutions to alleviate them. Two key questions lie at the core of his research: “Given that a problem exists, what are its underlying processes?” And, “Once identified, how can these processes be overcome?” One reason for this interest in intervention is his belief that a useful way to understand psychological processes and social systems is to try to change them. He is also interested in how and when seemingly brief interventions, attuned to underlying psychological processes, produce large and long-lasting psychological and behavioural change.

The methods that his lab uses include laboratory experiments, longitudinal studies, content analyses, and randomized field experiments. One specific area of research addresses the effects of group identity on achievement, with a focus on under-performance and racial and gender achievement gaps. Additional research programs address hiring discrimination, the psychology of closed-mindedness and inter-group conflict, and psychological processes underlying anti-social and health-risk behaviour.


Synopsis for “A Key to Unlocking Educational Potential”

The social psychological approach focuses on the power of the social situation and the way that it is interpreted or subjectively construed by the people in it.  Applied to education, it asserts that we should focus on the feelings that situations created in learners' minds and, more specifically, the degree to which they support or thwart their sense of belonging there. This talk will address social psychological processes shaping learner success and concrete, science-backed strategies for unleashing learners' potential and creating learning contexts where all feel they belong.

Prof George Siemens is a Professor of Psychology at the University of Texas Arlington and he leads the development of the Center for Change and Complexity in Learning (C3L) at the University of South Australia. He is the founding President of the Society for Learning Analytics Research. In 2008, he pioneered the first massive open online course (MOOC). He is an eminent scholar on technology, networks, analytics, and how human and artificial cognition impact knowledge development and society, who has delivered keynote addresses in more than 35 countries on the influence of technology and media on education, organizations, and society. His work has been profiled in provincial, national, and international newspapers (including NY Times), radio, and television. He has served as PI or Co-PI on grants from NSF, SSHRC (Canada), Intel, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Boeing, and the Soros Foundation. He has advised government agencies in Australia, European Union, Canada and United States, as well as numerous international universities, on digital learning and utilizing learning analytics for assessing and evaluating productivity gains in the education sector and improving learner results.


Synopsis for “Sensemaking and Culture: Ways of Being in a World of AI”

Today's complex global business environment requires individuals to continually advance their knowledge. Entire companies, even industry, can change in the span of a few short years. To stay competitive organizations and individuals need to rethink their knowledge infrastructure and increase their engagement with learning sciences researchers. Given the forecast growth of AI, concerns arise in terms of which types of cognitive work should be done by machines and which should be done by humans. How do people best learn in times of uncertainty? For researchers, there are many insights from fields of learning sciences and learning analytics that can provide initial guidance. The current research landscape, however, is incomplete. Significant questions remain around the role and impact of innovative technologies in supporting adults in lifelong learning and in reskilling to acquire new competencies due to automation. This presentation will review the growing influence of AI in knowledge processes and suggest the critical research areas needed at the intersection of human and artificial cognition.

Kwan Min LEE (Ph.D., Stanford) is the inaugural Korea Foundation Professor in CKS and New Media, and the Director of UX (User Experience) Lab at the Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information at Nanyang Technological University (NTU). Previously, Lee was the founding director of Interaction Science Research Center and the founding WCU (World Class University) Professor of the Department of Interaction Science at Sungkyunkwan University (SKKU), S. Korea. Lee also directed Samsung Electronics’ User Experience (UX) Group and the Creative Lab (C-Lab) as one of the youngest vice presidents in the Samsung corporate history. At Samsung, Lee led developments of new products and services for its visual display (VD) division through: user experience (UX) planning and strategy, open innovations and outside partnerships, and internal incubations of creative projects at C-Lab. Prior to SKKU and Samsung, Lee had taught at the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism at the University of Southern California (USC) for 12 years. At USC, Lee was one of the youngest tenured professors. Lee specializes in UX (User Experience) research and design, social and psychological effects of ICT, and human machine interaction.

His research findings have been covered by Washington Post, BBC News, USA Today, and other major news agencies. Lee’s research funding exceeds 12 million US dollars. His research has been supported by the National Science Foundation (USA), the Annenberg Foundation, the Ministry of Education, Science, and Technology (S. Korea), Samsung Electronics, and Hyundai Motors. Lee holds multiple international (USA, EU, and S. Korea) patents in smart display interfaces, remote controller, gesture control, and multi-media production.


Synopsis for “Experiences of Human-Machine Interaction, Explicated”

In this talk, Prof Lee will explicate the nature of human machine interaction with a special focus on the meaning of virtuality in social interaction with machines. Two characteristics of virtuality (Para-authenticity vs. Artificiality) and three domains of human experiences (physical, social, and self) will be provided to explain the concept of social presence which is at the center of human-machine interaction. The presentation will explain fundamental mechanisms through which technology users can feel social presence during their interaction with machines. Lastly, the presentation will detail three ways of creating strong social presence in human machine interaction. Implications for future adult learning mediated/created by machines will be discussed as a conclusion.

Michael Thomas is a professor of cognitive neuroscience at Birkbeck, University of London. He has been Director of the University of London Centre for Educational Neuroscience since 2010 ( This cross-institutional research centre aims to advance translational research between neuroscience and education, and develop practical applications within education. In 2003, Michael established the Developmental Neurocognition Laboratory within Birkbeck’s world-leading Centre for Brain and Cognitive Development. He is author of over 120 scientific papers, books, and chapters. The focus of his laboratory is the use of multi-disciplinary methods to understand the brain and cognitive bases of cognitive variability, including intelligence and developmental disorders. Within educational neuroscience, his work includes understanding the role of inhibitory control in children's science and math learning; investigating the influence of cell phone use on adolescent brain development; linking findings on sensitive periods in brain development to their educational implications; and building links between genetics, environment and education in children’s developmental outcomes. Michael is a Chartered Psychologist, Fellow of the British Psychological Society, Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, and Fellow of the Association for Psychological Science.


Synopsis of “The Educational Neuroscience of Adult Learners: Lessons from Adult Literacy Acquisition”

The presentation will describe the dialogue through which neuroscience can offer insights to education with respect to neural mechanism of learning. In a lifespan perspective, change in the plasticity of these neural mechanisms may alter the nature of learning from childhood to adulthood. In a recent collaboration between the University of London Centre for Educational Neuroscience and the World Bank, we considered the cognitive neuroscience evidence with respect to adult learning in literacy programs in the developing world. The presentation will describe the lessons from the project for adult learning more broadly, as well as areas where there is still insufficient research evidence, particularly concerning the level of practice adults require to reach automaticity in a new skill compared to children, and the ultimate level of proficiency that can be achieved beginning at different ages.

Dr Nancy Law is a professor in the Faculty of Education at the University of Hong Kong. She served as the Founding Director for the Centre for Information Technology in Education (CITE) for 15 years from 1998. She also led the Science of Learning Strategic Research Theme at the University of Hong Kong (2013-2017). She is a Fellow of the International Society of the Learning Sciences. She is known globally as a learning scientist with a strong record and expertise in the integration of digital technology in learning and teaching to promote student-centred pedagogical innovations. She received a Humanities and Social Sciences Prestigious Fellowship Scheme Award by the HKSAR Research Grants Council in 2014 in recognition of her research in scalability of technology-enhanced learning innovations.

She is currently spearheading large projects to implement and refine multilevel network models of innovation as sociotechnical co-evolution. Under her leadership, an interdisciplinary team of researchers from the University of Hong Kong and the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology was awarded a 5-year Theme-based Research Scheme funded project on Learning and Assessment for Digital Citizenship in 2016. She has served on policy advisory boards/working groups related to ICT in education for the University of Hong Kong, the Hong Kong SAR government and other community, government groups and institutions. She has also been contributing as expert consultant to the European Commission, UNESCO and OECD on technology-enhanced learning.  She is associate editor for the International Journal of Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning and the Nature Research Journal on Science of Learning.


Synopsis for “In Search of Well-Being: Humans with Advanced Augmented Capabilities in a Super-Connected World”

It is generally acknowledged that technological developments and human knowledge have been advancing in exponential rates. We are already living augmented lives in that we are reliant on the mobile and wearable devices for many aspects of our everyday activities, for work, learning, socializing, entertainment, health monitoring, etc. Many of these advanced technology products that were unimaginable a decade ago for the general public have now become very accessible in terms of cost, ease of use, channels of purchase and information. Such rapid advances come as a result of the super-connectivity that human society has never been exposed to until the recent decades, and this super-connectivity is also increasing at exponential rates.

For a long time, national and supranational policy discourse related to technological advances (and the knowledge age) have mainly focused on economic competition, the need for building the necessary human resource capacity, and technological business infrastructures. However, the biggest impending challenge to any country or system may not be the speed of uptake or creative applications of the technology, but whether we are able to anticipate the implications of super-augmented and super-connected humans at the societal level. Super-connectivity has its advantages but may also bring uncontrollable disruptions that may threaten the fundamental values and well-being of our society. In this talk, the presentation will detail a complex system model to explore possible futures of a society of super-connected, super-augmented citizens, and how different sociotechnical infrastructures and strategies may affect the course of these futures.

Professor Wu Feng helms the Graduate School of Education, Business-Education Research Centre of Peking University as the Director, and is also active as the Chairman of Human Resources Education Committee of Chinese Adult Education Association. His research areas include e-learning, human resource development and lifelong education. He has published three monographs, translated four books from English to Chinese, and edit four books. He has hosted two national social science research programs, and hosted over 30 other programs. He has published over 70 articles in journals such as Chinese Social Science, Educational Research, Peking University Journal, HRDI and so on. He has won several prizes such as the first-level research prize of Peking University, the Teacher Award of Peking University. He has hosted MOOC named Learning Engineering and Management, which have 20,000 online students, and the MOOC has won the prize of Chinese National Online Course approved by Chinese Ministry of Education.


Synopsis for “The Role and Contributions of Corporate Universities and Organisational Learning”

This presentation will discuss the role and contributions of corporate universities and organizational learning vis-à-vis cities, cultures, and digitalization.

Dr Allison Friederichs is the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and an associate teaching professor at the University of Denver’s University College.

In the academic sector, Allison serves as a curriculum design consultant, and she delivers keynote presentations and workshops on topics around brain-based teaching and curriculum development. Allison also provides train-the-trainer facilitation to private-sector companies, government agencies, and non-profit organizations. And her work has been published in academic and trade publications, including UPCEA’s Unbound and ATD Magazine.

Allison is a professor for The Great Courses and Audible, currently working on courses in the areas of business writing and consulting.


Synopsis for "Neuroandragogy and Social Ecology"

In her presentation, Dr Friederichs will explore the theoretical foundations of the current state of andragogy, including connections among some of the major theories undergirding social learning and current neuroscientific evidence about how the adult brain learns. She will discuss the role of social learning for adults and suggest three conditions that are necessary for ensuring learning is taking place when teaching, including methods for creating these conditions.

Dr Carlo Giovannella is the President, Association for Smart Learning Ecosystems and Regional Development Professor, Multimodal Interfaces and Systems & Learning Technologies, University of Rome Tor Vergata. Having graduated in Physics, Dr Carlo can be considered a "Designer for the experience” mainly focused on smart communities, social innovation and technology enhanced education (TEE), that he covers at 360°: visions, processes, methods, tools ad environments. He is also an expert in interaction design, computer-mediated communication, design and management of processes, process and product innovation. Since 2015, has been elected President of the ASLERD (Association for Smart Learning Ecosystems and Regional Development). 


Synopsis for “Getting Smart in People Centred Territories: Frameworks of Reference”

By macro-investigating the nature of a city/territory, we try to understand the reasons why it may become an attractive singularity of the history or, in other words, to make emerge a framework that defines its level of smartness: the people centered ASLERD pyramid of wellbeing.

Such generalized framework, applicable to all ecosystems including the learning ones, allows for a bottom-up evaluation of the ecosystem smartness.

The bottom-up monitoring of the smartness can be considered also as the first step to co-design the process toward its continuous growth and implies the development of adequate competences among the citizens; and, thus, the definition of a competences framework together with a possible endorsed open badge certification scheme.

Design for "people centered" smart cities/territories implies also the understanding of the meaningfulness of human experiences and requires the definition of a third framework: the experiential one, to be used as guideline also for a technology enhanced design for the experience.

The effects produced by the use of the above interconnected frameworks can be enhanced by triggering learning and behaviours through fun and gamification, by the spreading of an "affording" data literacy, by the engine of the forth helix (the social sharing) that can be also strategically stimulated (e.g. by means of hacktowns) and may lead also to people in place centered and meaningful touristic experiences.

Associate Professor Liaw Sok Ying, is a registered nurse, an Associate Professor and the Director of Education at the Alice Lee Centre for Nursing Studies (ALCNS), National University of Singapore (NUS). She has been involved in a number of educational initiatives at ALCNS, including the development and implementation of simulation-based interprofessional education and virtual interprofessional simulation. She was one of the inaugural members of the NUS interprofessional education committee to promote interprofessional learning among dental, medical, nursing, pharmacy and medical social work healthcare students.


Synopsis for “VR Use in Nursing”

An interdisciplinary team comprising educators, content experts from different healthcare fields, educational researchers and computer technologist came together to design and build scenarios in a 3-D virtual reality to provide interprofessional team training on team-based patient care delivery. This virtual learning was undertaken by students from six healthcare courses (medicine, nursing, pharmacy physiotherapy, occupational therapy and social work) and from three Singapore educational institutions. The opportunities for the healthcare students in Singapore to engage in team-based patient care delivery could develop their 21st century competencies on communication and collaboration skills. These skills are essential for them to be able to work together with mutual understanding and respect in sharing responsibilities and making decision with one another to provide optimal patient care.

Olga Strietska-Ilina is a Senior Skills and Employability Specialist at the International Labour Organisation (ILO) in Geneva, Switzerland. She is a Team Leader of the work area ‘Skills Strategies for Future Labour Markets’, focusing on anticipating skills needs for the Future of Work, skills for trade and economic diversification, skills for environmental sustainability and climate action, and skills for technological change and digitalisation.

Before 2008, Olga worked on skills forecasting for the European Centre for Development of Vocational Training (Cedefop). Earlier on, she was Head of the Czech National Observatory of Employment and Training and taught International Relations at the Central European University (CEU).

Olga holds post-graduate degrees in Economic and Social Sciences from the University of Manchester, Society and Politics from the CEU, and History and Ethnography from the Moscow State University named after Lomonosov.

She has published extensively on future skills, education, training, and broader social and cultural issues. She is an author of many policy papers discussed at the G20 and BRICS ministerial meetings. She is the main author and editor of several books, including “Skills and Jobs Mismatches in Low- and Middle-Income Countries” (ILO, 2019), “Skills for a Greener Future” (ILO, 2019), “Skills Needs Anticipation Systems and Approaches” (ILO, OECD et al, 2017), “Parallel Cultures” (Routledge, 2017 2nd edition) and “A Clash of Transitions: Towards a Learning Society” (Peter Lang Publishing 2007).


Synopsis of “Skills for Thriving in a Digital World”

Technological, climate, work organisation change will disrupt the demand for skills. Digitalisation and robotisation affect the composition of tasks and skills in all economic sectors. Even with overall positive net employment effect, technological change will impact all levels of skills. The disadvantages that low-skilled workers currently face on the labour market are likely to be exacerbated.

Digital skills alongside other technical skills can spur productivity and innovation, particularly in STEM occupations. In addition to high skills, specific vocational education skills will be required to deploy, operate and maintain new technologies. In order to facilitate resilience to change and the adaptive capacity to continually improve skills over the life cycle, these technical skills will need to be complemented by a range of non-cognitive social and behavioural skills. The appropriate combination of technical and core work skills will provide workers with sound future employment prospects, as they will be able to move easily between jobs.

The future of work will require a two-fold adjustment of the skills development systems. First, these systems will need to deliver the foundational skills that allow people to embrace changing technological opportunities and prepare them for further learning. And second, they will need to facilitate dynamic learning over the life cycle to ensure that people keep pace with digitalization and other factors of change. Investing in people’s capabilities was identified as a key pillar of a human-centred agenda proposed by the Global Commission on the Future of Work.  Policy innovation in governance and funding will be a key determinant of success in the implementation of lifelong learning.

Rebekah is Associate Professor and Director of the Teaching & Learning Centre at the Singapore University of Social Sciences (SUSS). She leads the Centre in areas of academic development of lecturers, academic support for learners, and Scholarship of Teaching & Learning. Her research interests include professional identities, teacher learning and technology-enabled pedagogy; areas in which her research grant awards and publications are based on. Her other awards include the Hewlett Packard Innovation in IT in Education, Dean’s commendation for research award, and the teaching excellence award 2011 & 2013. She has served as consultant to both local schools and international bodies, such as the Commonwealth of Learning, and more recently Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Organization, Southeast Asian Regional Centre for Graduate Study & Research in Agriculture (SEAMEO SERCA) in areas of professional development and technology-enabled learning.

Rebekah is co-presenting the paper “Unpacking Adult Learning: Potential of Visualization Systems” with Assoc Prof Sourav S Bhowmick.

Dr Rabindra Ratan is an Associate Professor and AT&T Scholar at Michigan State University’s Department of Media and Information. He is also an affiliated faculty member of the MSU Center for Gender in a Global Context, the MSU Department of Psychology, and the MSU College of Education’s program in Educational Psychology and Educational Technology. Ratan received his Ph.D. from USC’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, his M.A. in Communication from Stanford University, and his B.A. in Science, Technology and Society, also from Stanford University.

Dr Ratan conducts research on the effects of human-technology interaction, examining how media technologies (e.g., avatars, agents, automobiles) influence meaningful outcomes (e.g., persuasion, education, health/safety).  He has authored over 25 peer-reviewed articles in publication venues such as Media Psychology, the Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, Communication Research, Computers in Human Behavior, Games and Culture, The Information Society, Sex Roles, Body Image, PsychNology, New Media & Society, CSCW, and HICSS.

Dr Ratan loves teaching, especially large classes, where he tries to make the discussion engaging and interactive for as many students as possible. He has received multiple teaching awards, including the 2017 MSU Teacher Scholar Award and 2015 MSU AT&T Instructional Technology Award, and he was also a 2014-2015 MSU Lilly Teaching Fellow. He experiments with new technologies and teaching approaches, including rapping and riding a skateboard in class to keep students' attention.


Synopsis of “Experiences of Human-Machine Interaction, Applied”

Following Dr Lee’s explication of the theoretical foundations underpinning our current understanding of human-machine interaction, Dr Ratan will apply some of these concepts within the context of adult learning. In particular, this talk will focus on the potential of video games, avatars, and agents/AI to promote learning outcomes. Dr Ratan will talk about the differences between serious games (e.g., games designed to teach specific concepts) and entertainment games, which also tend to have notable learning outcomes. He will then describe how avatars – people’s mediated self-representations –can be designed to influence users’ behaviours in ways that are undetected yet enhance creativity and learning. Then he will explain how humanlike characters driven by AI – such as pedagogical agents – can be designed to transform social interaction in ways that increase acceptance, liking and persuasion, thereby enhancing learning. Finally, he will describe how these three topics (games, avatars and agents) can be connected through gamification to improve adult learning/collaboration in Singapore. The fundamental takeaway from this talk is that virtual experiences must be developed through interdisciplinary collaborations with designers trained in media effects research (not just engineers). Good engineering requires good design, good design requires good theory, and good theory requires scientific research.

Sourav S Bhowmick is an Associate Professor in the School of Computer Science and Engineering (SCSE), Nanyang Technological University. He leads the data management research group (DANTe) in SCSE. His research areas include data management, human-data interaction, data analytics, computational social science and network biology. He has published more than 90 papers in top-tier venues such as VLDB, SIGMOD, WWW, SIGIR, ACM MM, Bioinformatics, Biophysical Journal, and VLDB Journal. He has received Best Paper Awards at ACM CIKM 2004 and ACM BCB 2011 for papers related to evolution mining and biological network summarization, respectively. His work on inuence maximization was nominated for the best paper award in ACM SIGMOD 2015. Sourav regularly serves as a reviewer for data management, data mining, and bioinformatics conferences (e.g., SIGMOD, VLDB) and journals (e.g., TODS, VLDB Journal, Bioinformatics). He has served as a program chair/co-chair, keynote and tutorial speaker for several international conferences and workshops. Sourav is a co-recipient of the VLDB Service Award in 2018 from the VLDB Endowment for his contribution in designing an e_cient PVLDB proceedings management framework. Recently, he has co-authored books on \Summarizing Biological Networks" and \Human Interaction with Graphs", which are published by Springer-Verlag (May 2017) and Morgan & Claypool (August 2018) publishers, respectively. He cannot resist the temptation of wasting his time by tinkering with paints and brushes.


Synopsis of “Unpacking Adult Learning: Potential of Visualization Systems”

With more than a billion users, YouTube is one of the most used video-sharing sites in the world. It has become a widely popular educational resource for both formal and informal learning. A recent Training and Adult Education (TAE) Landscape Survey conducted by IAL concluded that about 60% of adult educators used recorded video of training activities, contents, such as YouTube in their training related work. A YouTube video has primarily two components: the video content and discussions associated with the video. In particular, the insights gained from the discussions associated with a YouTube video can be invaluable for learning. In this talk, we present a novel end-to-end visualization system called KANDINSKY to support multi-faceted visualization of discussions associated with a YouTube post. In Kandinsky, the social discussion landscape is visualized using a collection of colorful circles and concentric circles, which are inspired from the famous abstract arts called \Squares with Concentric Circles" and \Several Circles" by Russian painter Wassily Kandinsky (1866-1944). KANDINSKY can serve as a platform for online learning by facilitating not only understanding of discussions associated with a video but also comprehending behaviours of learners participating in the discussions.

Following the novel visualization KANDINSKY offers, this talk explores the types of online data in adult learning and education where KANDINSKY can potentially be applied. The study of adult learning is often based on the precepts of adults needing to know, adults having more varied experiences to share, adults having task-centric orientation to learning, and adults being more responsive to internal motivators (Knowles, 1989, 1990). To advance our understanding of these precepts, large-scale online data in the form of open-ended end-of-course feedback and adult learning needs have been collected and analysed. In this talk, we present the basis of these two types of online data, and our findings that reveal nuances to the precepts advocated by Knowles. We further posit that visualization systems such as KANDINSKY can help educators to more efficiently understand the needs of adult learners and learning such that interventions can be developed in a more-timely manner.

Dr Tan Ern Ser is Associate Professor, Department of Sociology; Academic Convener, Singapore Studies, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences; and Academic Adviser, Social Lab, Institute of Policy Studies, at the National University of Singapore.  He received his PhD in Sociology from Cornell University, USA.  He is author of “Does Class Matter?” (2004) and “Class and Social Orientations” (2015).  He is also Adviser for Socioeconomic Research and Chairman, Research Advisory Panel, HDB.  He was appointed a Justice of the Peace in 2013.


Synopsis for “Adult Learning: Different but not Unequal”

The presentation will focus on the sociocultural context of adult learning in Singapore. The presentation will share some of the key findings of a 2008 survey comparing the then future seniors, seniors, and older seniors in Singapore. While the data are somewhat dated, they could be used to distil some possible hypotheses for future research on adult learning in Singapore. Specifically, the survey dealt with the learning strategies of adults, among other topics. It asked, for instance, whether adult learners prefer to read instruction manuals or have someone knowledgeable coach them. To bring the audience to the present, the presentation will detail some observations on the learning pattern of young adults as related to the culture of learning in Singapore, and its possible implications for skills upgrading and retraining in Singapore.

Dr Tan Seng Chee is an Associate Professor with the Learning Sciences & Technologies academic group, National Institute of Education (NIE), Nanyang Technological University (NTU). He obtained his BSc (Hons) from the National University of Singapore in 1989 under the sponsorship of PSC Local Merit Scholarship. He completed his Master’s in Education from the National Institute of Education in 1997 and his Ph.D. (Instructional Systems) from the Pennsylvania State University in 2000 under the NTU Overseas Graduate Scholarship. He has been working on integrating technologies into education in different positions, as an assistant director in the Ministry of Education, as the Head of the Learning Sciences & Technologies academic group, and as Acting co-director of the Centre for Research & Development in Learning at NTU. His research interests include Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning, knowledge building, and the use of technologies in education. His recent publications include “Knowledge Creation in Education” and “Pushing the frontier: A cohesive system-wide approach to integrating ICT into education”.


Synopsis for “Dialogic Instructions Supported by Technologies”

This short presentation aims to illustrate how learning, innovation, and technology are considered holistically by foregrounding learning in the design and use of technology for learning. This case study was conducted with a group of 14 students who registered for a Master’s level course in NIE. Unlike a monologic lecture delivery method, the dialogic approach engages students in collaborative meaning-making and empowers the students with shared control over the key aspects of classroom discourse. It is also informed by learning as knowledge creation where knowledge artefacts (e.g., students’ notes) mediate learning and capture students’ ideas in the making. Once the instructional and learning approach is decided, various technologies were used to support this approach, including the use of spreadsheet to help visualize maps of inquiry, Knowledge Forum to support collaborative meaning-making, and concept mapping to encourage individual meaning-making. Learning analytics was used to provide feedback to the students. The students took some time to adapt to this mode of learning but many of them saw the benefits eventually. Students’ views about learning also changed at the end of the course.


Symposium Highlights


View the symposium proceedings on 14 and 15 November 2019 here


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