Innovative Learning 2020: Candid Q&A with Dr. Gog Soon Joo of SkillsFuture Singapore

January 13, 20178:10 am4379 views

With the world becoming digitised, the learning disciplines have also evolved with time to extend beyond the classroom incorporating new approaches to train and mentor, by tapping on technology, innovation and blending learning.

Through an exclusive interview with Dr. Gog Soon Joo, Chief Research Officer, SkillsFuture Singapore, we at HR in Asia seek to understand new learning trends in the digital age and initiatives implemented by SSG to enhance Singapore’s Continuing Education and Training (CET) system to equip workforce for the challenges of tomorrow. Read on…

  • How can companies accelerate learning in the digital age?

Our world has become increasingly digitised, connected and automated. The transformation and innovation brought about by digitisation has impacted different industries and rapid technological developments have opened up many new opportunities for learning today. The use of technology extends learning beyond the classroom. Companies can enhance their employees’ learning experience by adopting a blended learning approach.

Blended learning is the effective integration of different modes of training, such as classroom-based learning, e-learning and workplace learning that best addresses specific learning outcomes. It also initiates companies to integrate technologies into learning.

Dr. Gog Soon Joo, Chief Research Officer, SkillsFuture Singapore

Dr. Gog Soon Joo, Chief Research Officer, SkillsFuture Singapore

For example, companies can use learning management systems to help facilitate online learning and discussions through webinars, courseware authoring and design, and discussion threads. Blended learning can also enhance corporate training effectiveness, simplify corporate training logistics, and allow employees control over their training and facilitate corporate training feedback.

In addition, it is supported by pedagogically sound instructional design principles. Hence, the adoption of a blended learning approach is timely to help accelerate companies’ response to these technology-driven changes.

Companies can also tap on SkillsFuture programmes and initiatives such as iN.LEARN 2020 for their employees to discover training opportunities to help fulfil their potential and advance in their careers. This ensures that the workforce stays relevant as the companies transform and meet new challenges.

iN.LEARN 2020 is a learning innovation initiative, which drives the use of blended learning in Continuing Education and Training (CET) to meet the dynamic learning needs of companies and individuals. iN.LEARN 2020 also aims to foster closer collaboration among CET partners and practitioners to enhance the quality, accessibility, and effectiveness of learning.

  • What are the steps organisations should take towards planning, designing and implementing an effective mobile learning programme?

There is a need for a fundamental change in organisational mindset towards learning innovation. Learning innovation goes beyond implementing a new system or incorporating a new method in designing programmes. It is not just about digitising existing learning materials or learning practices.

Instead, it is about new ways of thinking and acting. Organisations need to think of ways by which they can use technology to innovate learning experiences. They would then need to act on these innovative measures through a structured change management approach. This will enable a seamless end-to-end learning experience.

Organisations can also participate in various events and capabilities development programmes hosted by iN.LAB to gain insights and experience from other CET stakeholders on their learning innovation journey.

  • What are the initiatives implemented by SSG to enhance Singapore’s Continuing Education and Training (CET) system to equip workforce for the challenges of tomorrow in a competitive economy?

SkillsFuture Singapore (SSG) has launched the Training and Adult Education Sector Transformation Plan (TAESTP) to raise the quality of Training and Adult Education (TAE) in Singapore, and to support the expansion of this sector.

Developed by the TAE Skills Council in consultation with more than 150 professionals in the industry, the TAESTP recognises that TAE Providers and Professionals are critical partners in CET in order to build up a skilled workforce in Singapore. There are seven key recommendations identified under the TAESTP, across three focal areas – Reposition for Growth, Strengthen Enabling Infrastructure, and Address Manpower and Skills Needs.

1. Reposition for Growth

Driven by SkillsFuture, the TAE sector is transforming rapidly. Thus, there is a need for TAE providers to reposition themselves for the growth opportunities available. The development and publication of the industry transformation maps and skills frameworks will enable TAE providers to better understand the needs of the industries they serve.

iN.LEARN 2020 was also launched in 2015 to support innovation in training delivery, as it set out to expand the capacity for learning innovation and to support TAE providers in delivering blended learning.

To strengthen the link between learning and performance, and to increase information transparency across individuals and organisations, SSG will also develop a Training Exchange portal, that will publish training outcomes and quality indicators of individual TAE providers by the end of 2017. This will enable individual learners and enterprises to make informed choices on training.

2. Strengthen Enabling Infrastructure

With the projected expansion of the TAE sector, TAE providers have to become more operationally efficient and continue to improve the training delivery through the use of technology.

One such infrastructure is the National Training Management System. Currently under development, the National Management Training System will help strengthening the training administration in sectors and enable TAE providers to better serve learners. This system is expected to be ready in 2018, and will be made available to interested TAE providers.

3. Address Manpower and Skill Needs

In view of the emerging skills required by the TAE sector, the Training and Adult Education Professional Competency Model (TAEPCM) has also been refreshed in consultation with the industry. First launched in 2012, Version 2 of this TAEPCM includes new skills required by the sector, such as learning and performance consulting, business and entrepreneurship, as well as learning pedagogy innovation.

Through these recommendations, the TAESTP aims to transform the CET sector and support Singaporeans in keeping pace with the changing needs of the economy, while being prepared for the challenges of tomorrow.

See: 5 Easy Hacks to Develop a Culture of Continuous Learning

  • What are the current investments made by employers in Singapore to promote leadership training and career advancement prospects?

Employers are increasingly more aware that the human capital skills play an important role in boosting the companies’ competitive advantage. Thus, many employers are investing in skills development to attract and retain talents.

Training talent can take up a lot of time and resources. There is also the underlying threat that the trained talent could leave after being trained. Therefore, besides investing in skills development, employers are also investing in establishing a Human Resource Management (HRM)/Human Resource Development (HRD) to manage talents.

A robust HRM/HRD would provide sound career progression pathways as well as relevant skill development for the talents. The National HR Professional Certification Framework, which is aimed at enhancing the standard of HR professionals, will also help employers to better support human capital development.

  • Provide details on the SkillsFuture for individuals and those for employers/training partners.

There are a range of SkillsFuture initiatives targeting various segments to best meet their needs. There are many initiatives under the SkillsFuture that enable Singaporeans to deepen their skills, support employers to strengthen their talent pool and to enable training partners to design and deliver quality training that is relevant to the workforce of today.

  • What are the future learning trends, organisations should tap to get the workforce engaged and interested into learning and upskilling talent pool?

One of the future learning trends is definitely leaning towards blended learning. Learning is no longer just formal classroom-based learning, but it should be complemented by online and workplace learning.

Organisations should tap on the iN.LEARN 2020 initiative which drives the use of blended learning in CET to meet the dynamic learning needs of business enterprises and individuals. Through the five-pronged strategies (i.e. People, Ideation, Collaboration, Technology and Intelligence) that drive iN.LEARN 2020, employees can access engaging, good quality courses that cater to their skills and job needs.

Employers can also optimise training efficiencies by bringing training and learning to their workplaces through blended learning. Through this investment in their employees’ development, employers can improve business performance.

  • Share with us details on the INNOVATIVE LEARNING 2020 (IN.LEARN 2020) national project launched in October 2015. How will innovative learning be implemented and what will be the new methods of training imparted as a part of this national exercise?

INNOVATIVE LEARNING 2020 (iN.LEARN 2020) is developed to drive innovation in Continuing Education and Training (CET) through pedagogical innovation so as to meet the dynamic learning needs of enterprises and individuals. Tapping on technology and innovation, iN.LEARN 2020 aims to transform the design, development and delivery of  CET to build a pervasive learning culture that is flexible, just-in-time and relevant to individuals and enterprises.

With learning innovations, learning will seamlessly be integrated between training institutions and workplaces, as well as between knowledge and application to enable individuals and enterprises fulfil their skill needs and build business competitiveness.

At the LearnTech Asia Conference 2016, Dr Gog Soon Joo spoke more about the IN.LEARN 2020 national project initiative in Singapore. A recent news informed that, LEARNTech Asia has been acquired by CloserStill Media for an undisclosed sum.

$27 million has been set aside under iN.LEARN 2020 to build an ecosystem to drive and expand the capacity for learning innovation. It sets out to support Training and Adult Education (TAE) providers in innovative pedagogy, to deliver blended learning and technology-enabled learning.

Image credit:

Image credit:

By 2020, SSG envisages that 75 percent of the full Singapore Workforce Skills Qualifications (WSQ) courses will be delivered via blended learning. And as of September 2016, more than 50 percent of WSQ full qualification programmes have been able to achieve this.

To drive innovative learning, iN.LEARN 2020 is driven by a five-pronged strategy of People, Ideation, Collaboration, Technology and Intelligence, incorporating new methods of training.

1. People

To prepare the TAE sector for blended learning, the institute for Adult Learning (IAL) has revamped the WSQ Advanced Certificate in Training and Assessment, or ACTA, to include an e-portfolio component to introduce technology-enabled CET to adult educators. IAL will continue to expand the range of continuing professional development programmes so as to elevate the capabilities of the CET community in harnessing technologies and innovation.

2. Ideation

In order to build an innovative culture and drive ideation, a collaborative space, iN.LAB, has been set up to facilitate exploration and collaborations. It provides a conducive environment for business enterprises and individuals who have proven or emerging learning innovation, to explore opportunities and share their innovation with the wider CET community, thus allowing participants to gather the current and latest best practices, knowledge and expertise in learning innovations.

There are also grants offered to spur the innovation of ideas. InnovPlus provides prototype development grants to winning entries submitted in response to CET-related challenges faced by the CET community or a specific industry.

The CET Innovation Fund has also been offered to support learning innovations. It supports learning innovation efforts in focal CET areas to address sector-specific, as well as strategic learning design and delivery issues.

3. Collaboration

iN.LAB provides physical space and facilities for use by CET professionals, the industry, government agencies, incubators, design experts and employers to share industry knowledge and best practices, and to forge collaborations.

iN.LAB offers programmes, workshops and clinics to help the CET community strengthen their capabilities and to match relevant industry expertise with CET professionals, and training providers who may need such expertise to catalyse innovation in adult education and training.

4. Technology

iN.LAB is currently piloting a platform known as LearningSpace.SG to identify the capabilities and components of an online learning solution. It should be able to support the national push for technology-enabled CET. The platform serves to address the development, hosting, analytics and marketing needs of developers and training partners.

Through LearningSpace.SG, tools and capacity will be provided for developers and training partners to develop, host and support professional and user-friendly online learning and blended learning delivery scenarios.

Also, it can be used to supplement face-to-face classroom sessions and can also be extended to current and next-generation virtual learning applications and environments, as well as to related technology-enabled learning services. These include native applications for mobile devices and progressive introduction of gamification concepts to support learning.

5. Intelligence

To support learning innovation and experimentation, IAL has also partnered with local and international research institutions to gather intelligence and provide feedback on how we can best harness technology in learning design and delivery, and to fine-tune the solutions that are being implemented.

Since the launch of iN.LEARN 2020 in 2015, almost 4000 training positions have been filled across more than 90 capability development programmes conducted in iN.LAB. These programmes cover different aspects of learning innovations to help the TAE sector adopt e-learning tools and appropriate learning technology, as well as to deliver blended learning.

iN.LAB has also organised InnovPlus, and three winning teams have been awarded prototype development grants of up to $200,000 each to develop their innovative learning solutions. Another $1.5 million has also been committed under the e-learning development grant.

As a key SkillsFuture initiative, iN.LEARN 2020 will continue to boost lifelong learning efforts and make learning more accessible, engaging and effective for individuals and enterprises.

Also read: Understand Collaborative Approach to Learning with Shivanu Shukla of Teamie

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