Dr Tay Lee Yong Addresses Master Teachers on the “Use of Technology in Schools – Looking Backward to go Forward, Is it a Déjà vu?”

Dr Tay Lee Yong Addresses Master Teachers on the “Use of Technology in Schools – Looking Backward to go Forward, Is it a Déjà vu?”

Tuesday, 04 September 2018

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Dr Tay Lee Yong addressing Master Teachers

Dr Tay Lee Yong was invited to speak to about 100 Principal Master and Master Teachers at the 3rd Master Teachers’ Networking Meeting at the Umar Pulavar Tamil Language Centre on 23 August 2018. 

Currently seconded to NIE as a teaching fellow at the Office of Education Research, Dr Tay was a former Dean - Development, Research and Technology with Beacon Primary School, FutureSchools@SG as well as the recipient of the prestigious President’s Award for Teachers in 2015.

In addition to these accolades and experiences, Dr Tay was also engaged based on his rich and diverse experiences as an educator and researcher, as well as his familiarity with both core and non-core subjects. 

The Analogy of the Peacock Feather

Focus on the eye of the peacock feather - the opportunities for tomorrow.

Preceding Dr Tay’s talk, Mrs Chua-Lim Yen Ching, Deputy Director-General of Education at the Ministry of Education, encouraged the teaching community with an analogy of the peacock feather.

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Mrs Chua-Lim Yen Ching, Dr Tay and the Peacock Feather

With the assistance of Dr Tay, Mrs Chua demonstrated that a peacock feather can be balanced for a prolonged period of time if one focused on the eye of the peacock feather (see image of Mrs Chua-Lim Yen Ching, Dr Tay and the Peacock Feather) instead of the feather’s downward tip.

This analogy translated to how we must always look to the opportunities of tomorrow, and not be weighed down by the problems of today.

Three Types of Barriers

In his talk, Dr Tay explained that there were three types of barriers to ICT use and integration in the educational setting. The barriers are described below:

First order barriers (Ertmer, 1999)

First order barriers are issues pertaining to access to and institutional support for technology. This may include infrastructural and institutional support for the use of the technology.

Second order barriers (Ertmer, 1999)

Second order barriers pertain to teachers’ beliefs on how ICT should or could be used in teaching and learning. This may include pedagogical beliefs, technological beliefs and a willingness to change.

Third order barriers (Tsai and Chai, 2012)

Third order barriers refer to the lack of design thinking in teachers. The proposition is that the application of design thinking in ICT use and integration would greatly improve circumstances.

Table 1: First, second and third order barriers (Ertmer 1999; Tsai and Chai, 2012)

Trends in ICT use and Integration

Dr Tay shared a few trends he observed in his years of experience in ICT use and integration:

  1. Looking Backward to go Forward

    As there is not always a standard model for ICT innovation, it can sometimes feel to educators during the period of implementation as if they are “groping in the dark”. Being cognisant of this helps us develop a more realistic expectation in our progress of ICT implementation.

  2. LThe Value of Significant but Less Visible Work

    For ICT innovation to work, it often requires what Dr Tay described as “significant but less visible work”. These pieces of less visible work included professional development for teachers, facilitating mindset shifts in staff, ensuring the availability and reliability of technical support, creating storage space for computing devices and network etc.

  3. Comfort and Technology Usage 

    Users tend to take on new technology only when the level of comfort is high. As technology is constantly changing, it is inevitable for teachers to feel ‘uncomfortable’ when using ICT in their lessons.

Dr Tay encouraged the teaching community to continually take a proactive and optimistic approach towards the future of ICT use and integration while recognizing the barriers and trends. The awareness of potential barriers to ICT use and integration helps us take a practical approach towards constraints.

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Dr Tay Lee Yong sharing his experiences with about 100 Principal Master Teachers and Master Teacher

Last but not least, Dr Tay highlighted the importance of school leadership in setting  expectations towards the use of ICT.

To illustrate his point, Dr Tay shared his experience at Beacon Primary School. The expectation set by school principal Miss Lim Boon Cheng was that technology might fail in the initial instances

and work only in successive trials. This managing of expectations helped the Beacon Primary school community to increase their resilience towards ICT breakdowns, and to embrace the use of ICT despite the breakdowns.