Microsoft, Singapore Centre for Chinese Language, National Institute of Education and Nan Chiau Primary School collaborate to develop Asia’s first interactive 'Chinese Language ubiquitOUs learning Days'

Microsoft, Singapore Centre for Chinese Language, National Institute of Education and Nan Chiau Primary School collaborate to develop Asia’s first interactive 'Chinese Language ubiquitOUs learning Days'

Thursday, 07 October 2010

MyCLOUD (My Chinese Language ubiquitOUs learning Days) aims to use Microsoft learning language tools to support new generation teaching to make Chinese language easier to learn and use

Nan Chiau Primary School, Singapore Centre for Chinese Language - A Centre of Nanyang Technological University (SCCL), National Institute of Education (NIE) – Learning Sciences Laboratory, Office of Education Research, NIE and Microsoft Singapore, today signed a Memorandum of Intent (MOI) to collaborate and design MyCLOUD (My Chinese Language ubiquitOUs learning Days) - a multi-faceted interactive platform that leverages Microsoft technology and expertise from the educational institutions to enhance the teaching and learning of the Chinese language beyond the four walls of the classrooms. The Chinese name for MyCLOUD (语飞行云) aptly captures the spirit and the key elements of the project – the language, the accessibility through the mobile technology (“moving”), and cloud computing.

This 3-year collaboration will focus on the development and implementation of MyCLOUD to coach students to read Chinese passages, learn Chinese vocabulary and idioms as well as assess their understanding of the language. The alliance brings together experts in their respective fields – Nan Chiau Primary School through the redesign of the curriculum incorporating the use of the solution, SCCL through its curriculum expertise, NIE with its learning sciences and research expertise, and Microsoft with new intellectual property on web-based language-learning tool developed by Microsoft Research Asia in Beijing.

The four-way partnership will result in a new platform based on relevant content and capabilities to enable students to benefit from a rich and interactive learning journey, and integrate real life usage of language into the curriculum. Researchers from NIE and Chinese curriculum experts from SCCL will also study the effectiveness and the pedagogy that accompanies this system.

“Learning mother tongue requires the right motivation. Singapore Hokkien Huay Kuan (SHHK) believes that creating a bilingual Information, Communications and Technology (ICT) infrastructure will not only assist teachers in teaching Chinese Language but also help cultivate students’ interest in learning it. If successful, we hope to make available this platform to more students,” commented Mr Chua Thian Poh, President of Singapore Hokkien Huay Kuan and Chairman of the School Management Committee of its Affiliated Schools.

“This collaboration, a first of its kind in the region, is exciting because of the alignment between the various parties in addressing the need to revitalize the use and interest in the Chinese language amongst our students. This is a key objective in the third masterplan for ICT in education, which aims to improve access to and the use of information and communications technology, to support a new teaching approaches,” commented Dr Wong Lung Hsiang, a Research Scientist from Learning Sciences Laboratory, NIE, Singapore. “This learning model really marries what students encounter in their daily lives with what they have learnt in their Chinese classes, bringing the language to life for them. The use of Microsoft’s mobile and cloud computing technologies makes it easier to customize learning to suit their needs.”

Leveraging Microsoft intellectual property from a new web-based language learning tool developed by Microsoft Research Asia and Windows Mobile platform, MyCLOUD, will be a truly ubiquitous learning solution which students can use at school at home and while on-the go. It aims to further enhance the teaching and learning of the Chinese language in an interactive and engaging manner through:

  • Text to Speech Reading (语音合成器): With Text to Speech technology, students can click on words or sentences and it will be read out to them. This will allow students to practice their oral skills and assist in helping them learn and commit it to memory. Teachers will also be able to upload textbook passages for students to practice with the aim of elevating students’ interest in reading Chinese language books.
  • ”My Mictionary” (词语解释, 例句筛选, 词语搭配 ):  “Mictionary” stands for “Mobile Dictionary” or “Moving Dictionary”. This highly personalized form of e-dictionary will be designed to accompany and support students’ language learning journey. If students have problems recognizing or understanding the meaning of words or idioms, they can click on the word and the dictionary will appear to provide the relevant explanation. Students will also be able to search for appropriate sentences constructed with the relevant vocabulary word or idiom. This will expand their knowledge of vocabulary by splitting the word, and pair it with other words to create a new vocabulary. 
  • Photo vocabulary (照片+造句): Students can use a camera phone or digital camera to take photos in their daily lives that best describe a particular vocabulary or idiom, and then construct a sentence using the same vocabulary/idiom. This will help pupils to learn more effectively by applying what they understand and expand their use of the language. There will be a personalized function where students can click and save any vocabulary or idiom that they learnt for future reference. This function will be integrated into “My Mictionary” so that each entry will contain both “expert” definitions, sentences mined from the web, as well as the students’ own creations of photos and sentences, personalising “My Mictionary”. 

“Leveraging technology, customizing it and having it enrich curriculum is the right way to go. In fact, we believe this will enable students to enjoy learning Chinese language, listen and speak more as well as recognize characters more effectively, and most importantly, allow it to be used naturally in their daily lives,” commented Mr Robin Hu, Chairman of Board of Directors, SCCL.

The programme is expected to be made available to students by July 2011. Nan Chiau Primary is indeed thrilled to be the first primary school in Singapore to participate in this project. A group of our Chinese Language teachers will share their experience and expertise by actively participating in the curriculum re-design, delivery and refinement,” commented Mr Tan Chun Ming, Principal of Nan Chiau Primary School.

Microsoft will not only provide the web-based language learning tool for MyCLOUD, but will also transfer intellectual property owned and developed by Microsoft Research Asia in Beijing to enable local software companies to co-develop the solution for Nan Chiau Primary School. Microsoft Research Asia is one of the research labs in the world, conducting curiosity-driven research in areas such as natural user interfaces, next-generation multimedia, data-intensive computing and search, and online ads.

(Please see more information on this new language learning tool: Stories)

“Leveraging technology to bring a language like Chinese to life enables students to learn at their own pace and in a more engaging, connected way,” commented Ms Jessica Tan, Managing Director of Microsoft Singapore. “We are delighted to have the opportunity to participate in this unique initiative which will see knowledge transfer from Microsoft’s Research laboratories directly to the classroom.  We believe MyCLOUD, which provides the ability for students to learn wherever they are, will put Singapore and Nan Chiau Primary on the world map. This sets the stage to leverage future technologies for new insights, greater connectivity and new ways of expressing ourselves.” 

Microsoft continues to work with the Ministry of Education (MOE), the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA) on the BackPackLive! initiative. This initiative is an expansion of the previous five year IDA-Microsoft BackPack.NET initiative launched in 2003, with a cumulative investment of S$25 million. It focuses on inspiring, exploring and scaling ICT practices among teachers to develop students’ self-directed and collaborative learning capability. This initiative is also part of Microsoft’s global Partners in Learning programme.