Event highlights

The role of design in Smart Education

21 Sep 2017  •  7 min read

In the latest episode of CNA-SIM Foresight on Channel NewsAsia, Executive Director of the DesignSingapore Council (Dsg), Ms Agnes Kwek, was part of the panel talking about Smart Education. As Moderator, Mr Teymoor Nabili explained that “smart education” in this context takes on two meanings. Firstly, it refers to an innovative and thoughtful approach to education. Secondly, it stands for an acronym, which is SMART education, commonly used by the South Koreans when outlining policies relating to Education. SMART is where S stands for self-directive, M for motivate, A for adaptive, R for resource enriched, and T as technology embedded.

(Panelists, from left) Mr Siradej Donavanik, Director of Investment, Dusit International; Ms Ng Wee Wei, Managing Director (Health and Public Service Client Service Group, ASEAN), Accenture; Mr Timothy Chan, Director (Academic Division), SIM Global Education; Ms Agnes Kwek; and Moderator, Teymoor Nabili. Photo: SIM Global Education

With the rise of digital disruption today, what are its impact on businesses, on the government and on families? Here are some of Ms Agnes Kwek’s key takeaways from the show.

Technology is a complete red herring

“Don’t get me wrong, technology is important and it makes our lives better, it creates accessibility and all of that. But, it does not teach us how to think and it does not teach us how to learn. Especially in this age where the job that exists today may not exist in 5 years or even 5 months from now, because of technology. Our role, whether it is in the workforce, or as educators, or as government, is precisely to deliver the ability for people to learn and relearn quickly.”

On the value of the design mind-set

“Design is not just about aesthetics, at a deeper level it is about how things work. But, at the deepest level, it is about how people think. The design mind-set is one that is based on two things, one, it is the process of enquiry. Asking the right questions because you are looking for new opportunities. Asking the questions people have not thought about asking before and trying to understand what really deeply motivates people.”

“Two, it is the process of finding the right answers through fast iterations, experimentations and learning from it. So, especially in this day and age, and I find that education is at that inflection point, if we can equip everybody with this form of learning, and with this value of the design mind-set, then I think we are in a better place.”

We find that all we need to do is to overlay that design process and the steps for them to go through and suddenly, they can go from being a Customer Service Operations Manager to a Service Designer.

On the ambiguity and uncertainty in technology

“Maybe technology can help us gain access to a lot more information but it cannot help us see around corners . It cannot tell us where to create new opportunities for businesses, or for governments and policies. Technology helps you once you have the answers but it does not tell you where the answers are going to be.”

Ms Agnes Kwek. Photo: SIM Global Education

Technology must marry thoughtful design

“The outcomes matter. It cannot just be a solution to a problem. At the DesignSingapore Council, that is what we try to do, we pull together start-ups with the technology and work closely with designers to solve critical issues that people are facing and make life better. It is not technology just for the sake of technology.”

Design thinking in the public services

“Recently, especially in the last five to seven years, what we have seen is the encouragement and growth of a lot of innovation labs in different public sector agencies as well as public sector leaders really encouraging entrepreneurship using different methods like design thinking, data analytics, even behavioural economics to try to find new answers. This is definitely a growing area.”

Singapore has been design-led for a while, we just did not know it

“If you look at our nation’s history, I would like to see it as a design-led history because we came up with solutions to problems that were unheard of. Whether it is our housing policies, our water policies, environmental protection policies, it was all conceived of from here - this little red dot, for the context of this little red dot.”

You never stop learning

“I find that mid-career professionals are some of the most effective designers. They have a long history and knowledge of operations from being on the ground and they know practically what works and what does not. We find that all we need to do is to overlay that design process and the steps for them to go through and suddenly, they can go from being a Customer Service Operations Manager to a Service Designer.”

You can catch repeat telecasts of this episode on Channel NewsAsia on Thu 21 Sep 2017 at 6:00 PM and Fri 22 Sep 2017 at 1:00 PM. You can also watch it online at: http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/livetv


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