News & insights

  • Is Technology the Future of Education?

    Living in a world that is continuously changing, we need to evolve and keep finding new ways to learn. By understanding what motivates and engages students, we can create more advanced digital and collaborative learning processes which prepare them for success in the future.

    At Pearson’s recent Open Ideas Forum held at the British Chamber of Commerce, our Efficacy and Research Manager, Ms Goh Lih Ing, was joined by key university educationalists in Singapore to discuss 'Learning Technologies as the Future of Learning’.

    Student learning in higher education is impacted by several factors, the most critical being student engagement. It is deemed more important than graduate outcomes, recruitment and talent attraction, retention and learning analytics. So finding ways to boost student engagement is welcomed by those teaching at university level.

    Nowadays, with technology used in every aspect of people’s lives, it seems logical for it to be part of education. From online degrees to AI and smart devices, people see the future of learning made easier and more engaging with technology. Although many people expect digital and virtual learning to be the new normal in the next decade, is this likely?

    Dr Ho Shen Yong, Associate Dean (Academic), College of Science of School of Physical and Mathematical Sciences at National Technological University, uses technology to help in his lectures. He teaches a large class of students with very diverse backgrounds and knowledge bases, within a limited time scale - many of whom have not studied physics at A level. With traditional lecturing methods too restrictive for his needs, he sees the solution to his challenges as technology. Implementing these relevant learning technologies provide him with more possibilities for manoeuvre and enhancing effectiveness.

    Dr Ho Shen Yong, Associate Dean (Academic), College of Science of School of Physical and Mathematical Sciences at National Technological University, uses technology to help in his lectures. He teaches a large class of students with very diverse backgrounds and knowledge bases, within a limited time scale - many of whom have not studied physics at A level. With traditional lecturing methods too restrictive for his needs, he sees the solution to his challenges as technology. Implementing these relevant learning technologies provide him with more possibilities for manoeuvre and enhancing effectiveness.

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    Using technology, he constructs challenges and asks questions to his vast class during lecture sessions, requesting them to reply in real-time online. It enables him, and every student, to instantly see each answer on the main screen. At a glance, commonalities, and misconceptions are easily identified and immediate feedback provided within a few minutes, instead of days later and out of context. Dr Ho can also quickly gauge if he is teaching effectively and at the right pace, and provide explanations and answers in the exact moment they’re required.

    With his students eager to use learning technologies and enjoying this form of participative learning, it’s proving a successful tool. However, as effective as this use of technology is, it cannot replace every aspect of teaching. Individual face- to- face time and tutorial activities outside of lectures are still essential, to allow students to ask their own questions and interact one-on-one with the lecturer.

    Another example of technology-assisted learning is the Accounting Challenge App (ACE) created by Dr Seow Poh Sun, Associate Professor of Accounting (Education) and Associate Dean (Teaching and Curriculum) of the School of Accountancy at Singapore Management University. Free to download, this app provides a proactive mobile learning platform. Dr Seow launched the app in 2013 to enhance accountancy learning outside of the classroom. Designed to engage students through mobile gameplay, it asks randomised questions with points awarded for correct answers. Able to review questions and answers, and a leader board to create a competitive angle, it is a useful supplementary learning tool for students. With it being both fun and convenient, students can play whenever and wherever it suits. The interactive format retains student engagement, challenges them to think quickly and facilitates knowledge Retention.

    The ACE app is an innovative and effective way to improve student engagement and enhance learning, but there are challenges and issues. Firstly, it requires support and funding from management. There are also ongoing issues with keeping the target audience interested by updating information and ensuring the learning objectives of their accounting course are still being met. General maintenance, scalability, security, software updates and internet connection challenges are also factors that need to be considered.

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    DIY education is another area where technology could be a viable option. With ready access to technology and a changing global economy, people are taking matters into their own hands. The problem with DIY learning is that often students may not be self-aware enough to know what they need to learn or what their required objectives are. They may lack fundamental skills and knowledge to complete DIY learning. Pedagogical intent and design still have to come from the educator who has a set of clear learning objectives. A student may have a very distinct goal, but if it's not defined and content is not available online, then using technology is ineffectual.

    There are other scenarios where technology learning will not necessarily solve a learning issue, for example, mastering how to play an instrument via digital means - but maybe in the future VR will change this? There are also elements of learning that require interaction with fellow classmates, which technology cannot necessarily achieve. This is where customisation is required, so students get the right technology in the right format.

    Measuring success of learning technology is also tricky as it depends whether you measure perspective or measured outcomes. If there is no clarity of purpose, then you may not collect the right data. And if that data is not collated and organised in a way that you can see or interpret the results clearly, it is useless.

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    Passionate and dedicated educators constantly strive to help students understand concepts and ideas by explaining them in the most effective way; with the more motivated likely to explore more creative and technological options to do this. However, many educators are unsure about technology and how to implement it; and with no best approach or one size fits all solution, there is often confusion about its use and scalability. They need training and information to prepare them, enable them to upskill and subsequently shift their mindset.

    Whatever our background, we must ensure that we are not just using technology for the sake of it. There are instances where technology is a cost-effective way to teach and reproduce real-life scenarios. Also, in terms of augmenting learning experiences, it is an excellent tool in terms of engagement, teaching, and delivering appropriate content. When used in the right way, we can make learning and teaching better and ensure good education takes place beyond disciplinary boundaries.

    Whether the new normal is technology-led or not is yet to be decided but we do know it needs to be adequately constructed and requires ongoing shaping. When we begin to see learning technology as an extension of present teaching and learning experiences, then we can certainly see a valuable place for it in university education.

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  • English speakers get jobs, English proficiency attracts 21st century careers

    Which would you prefer?

    When you get a job, you get a paycheck. When you have a career, you get a series of employment opportunities, specializations, perhaps even renown. And yes, a series of bigger and bigger paychecks as you progress.

    And it can all happen because, like many Filipinos, you can speak English.

    Mark Flores

    Mark Flores, Business Development Manager, Pearson Philippines

     

    There are many articles on job-related mental health issues around the web. The area this article is qualified in is, to help soothe the pain points of employability and life opportunities, 21 st century Skills Qualifications.

    But because of the demands of the 21st century workplace, simply speaking English may no longer be enough to land you a job, much less a career. Just because you speak English doesn’t necessarily mean you are proficient in English. With organizations today demanding a high degree of competency or mastery of the English language, lacking this skill may affect your hireability by today’s globalized employer.

    At Pearson’s first-ever Learning Symposium in the Philippines, Ms. Shama Siddiqui, Senior Training Manager at TDS Global Solutions said “Having a workforce that is proficient in English is no longer a luxury, it is now a necessity. Apart from technical skills, it is needed in the workplace – a workplace that is expanding as globalization and technological innovation accelerates.”

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    Ms. Siddiqui further elaborates, “Business success depends on how well we do in our language competency. Why? Quite simply, companies are talking to people across the globe. It’s transcending boundaries of geography. Global expansion, productivity enhancement, workforce streamlining, efficiency improvement, employee retention -- all happen through conversations and dialogue. Through all of these, English proficiency impacts the profitability of the Organization.”

     

     

    But you may ask, why the need for proficiencies and skills qualifications in English all of a sudden? We’ve gotten this far without them in the past

    It’s because English proficiency is at the very foundation upon which all the 21 st century competencies like critical thinking, creativity, problem solving, and collaboration rest on. And it’s those competencies that companies demand today.

    As Ms. Siddiqui learned from employers, “The more a person progresses in their career, they will need to engage in more and more conversations that will revolve around decision-making independently. Not being able to do so critically limits the progress of the business and that person’s own progress.”

    Pearson Asia’s Head of Qualifications and Assessment Stuart Connor explained, “English supports employability skills. When you look at those soft skills, like cultural awareness, critical thinking, and learning agility -- they funnel through English. The process of language acquisition, of learning a language and interacting with other human beings in a second or third language, actually facilitates development of these other skills. English runs as sort of a glue or DNA through all of this.”

     

    But wait, aren’t Filipinos known for speaking English?

    Ms. Siddiqui gave us the current data: “What we see not only in the Philippines but across the globe in most offshoring locations is that English is at an average level compared to what organizations need. On a global English proficiency study, using a scoring range from 0 to 90 (90 being the highest), The Philippines is somewhere at 59, with average scores of 58-68 for basic conversational skills; and just 53 for writing skills.”

     

    What does this mean for employability in the new competitive market?

    Mr. Paul Ryan Paez, Project Manager at ADEC Innovations Outsourcing and Workforce Solutions, shared his experience from the IT and BPO industries at the symposium.

    “Out of 500 graduates, only 8 were hired. And with the high standards demanded by BPO’s, only 1 out of 11 get hired, despite their proficiencies. A contributing factor is that employees only start to learn English after they graduate. ”

    A shot of caffeine to the popular notion that if you can speak English, you can easily get a job.

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    As to the population and proficiency of English speakers, Mr. Paez continued, “Only 20% of the entire population are English majors. From that, less than 50% of those English major applicants that we interview and test, do not make it. While English is spoken as a first language in key cities like Metro Manila, in the provinces, it’s taught as a second language with few opportunities to practice. And as with any skill, it atrophies when not exercised.”

     

    So how can Filipinos, from the cities to the provinces, be proficient in English now?

    Speaking on The Power of English Assessments, Ms. Shama Siddiqui recommended a simple yet significant step towards certifications: Automated testing.

    “All you need is an internet connection, and you can take English assessments on your desktop, laptop or mobile devices. A.I. based, using waveform and spectral analysis -- they are unbiased, accurate, far less prone to errors versus human testers, with results produced in as little as 3-5 Minutes.”

    Pearson’s courses and assessments are not only convenient. They are a badge of skills certifications sought-after by employers globally. Not only do they help you land a job, it equips you with qualifications to progress in your career and beyond. For more information on Pearson Assessments such as Versant, PTE General and PTE Academic follow this link.

    Don’t forget that you’ll be working in a 21st century workplace. How you articulate your ideas to someone halfway round the world (who may be more if not as proficient in English as you are) could be critical in your career. But with the solid foundation of English Proficiency as your core, you’ll have a head-start.

    Take it from Stuart Connor. “English is the key ingredient for a successful career. English enables communication and teamwork as a necessary factor for teams to function effectively. And if you’re certified as English Proficient, you’re more likely to be employed. You’ll have more opportunities to unlock, to progress. English is something we’re passionate about, something we’re proud of. And we’ve been involved in helping people to learn English for 269 years.”

    Learn more here.

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  • Make your own way to the 21st century workplace

    The thing about improving unemployment rates is that it’s no fun if you’re the one unemployed, whether you’re in the Philippines or elsewhere.

    But maybe you did find a job, just not the kind that translates into a career. Maybe you don’t even like that job. Maybe you can’t quit, as it’s the only thing your diploma qualifies you for. And you’re the breadwinner of the family. Windows of opportunity slam shut. Cue the “I’m trapped!” nightmares, the misery, the stress, the gateways to depression.

    There are many articles on job-related mental health issues around the web. The area this article is qualified in is, to help soothe the pain points of employability and life opportunities, 21 st century Skills Qualifications.

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    How can Skills Qualifications help me? They can be your passport to a wider range of career opportunities and upward mobility than your average diploma does.

    Recently, Pearson held its first symposium in the Philippines, focusing on How to Bridge the Skills Gap— referring to the disconnect that occurs when educational institutions do not produce graduates with the skills employers actually need.

    At the event, Pearson UK Industry Relations and Partnerships Manager, Tony Chapman shared, “Our goal is employability and progression, not just in the workplace, but for life. Pearson LCCI Qualifications are created with employers, for employers. They tell us what’s missing in their companies, and our courses produce skill-focused graduates who can fill those roles and apply those skills from the first day on the job. ”

    The acceleration of technological innovations and the need for globalization has created pain points for employers too. The more the business landscape (more like globalscape now) changes, the need for new specializations, new skill-sets, and new ways of thinking increases.

    Companies today can’t fill those needs. But their need is your opportunity. And they have many needs.

    As Mr. Chapman says: “A lot of industries are crying out for detailed, technical skills, regardless of the business sector.”

    Fortunately for you, Pearson LCCI has a wide range of skills qualifications that those industries are crying out for: Financial & Quantitative Literacy, Business Management, Data Science, Digital Marketing – just to name a few.

    Moreover, you can choose to instill in yourself the bedrock on which all 21 st century skills rest on: English Proficiency. Subscribing to the misconception “hey, you speak English, so you must be good in English” -- may just leave you disadvantaged in the new global workplace. After all, how well can you articulate your ideas to clients in 3 continents right now, accurately, concisely, and clearly – especially to someone who speaks English as a second or third language?

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    As elaborated at the symposium by Mr. Stuart Connor, the Head of Qualifications & Assessments at Pearson, “Adaptability. Cultural awareness. Decision making. Learning agility. Collaboration. Communication. Critical thinking. and English proficiency supports all these 21st century skills. Skills that make you employable.”

    But where’s your proof?

    “98% of our bachelor program students find employment within 6 to 12 months after graduation, or have started their own businesses.” said Caroline Mediodia, Programme Leader Head of Southville International School.

    “Pearson changes its curricula regularly to address the needs of the industry,'' she continues. “A mapping of the transferable employability and study skills have also evolved, and now include cognitive, interpersonal and intrapersonal skills.”

    Skills Qualifications make transitions smoother -- should you decide to change careers, either by circumstance (“Yes this merger means, you’re fired”) or by choice (“my boss is slow to change/keeps promoting his family members and secretary over me”).

    Mr. Chapman said it better. “People no longer have one job for their whole life. They’re moving around, taking on new challenges. Skills Qualifications allow them to do that. Just study for 3 months and you’re ready for a new challenge. It’s a competitive market, but employers will pay you more because you have the training and applicable skills to do that job better.”

    It’s a new workplace out there. Two generations ahead from what your parents imagined. A workplace where automation and artificial intelligence replaces humans. A workplace that calls for new skills and episodic careers, if you are to thrive.

    With Pearson LCCI Qualifications, always learning, means always opening opportunities for yourself in the 21 st century.

    So, what career would you like to have today?

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  • Bridge your skills gap, Build your career

    So what is the skills gap? Let’s put it this way: Let’s say you’ve just graduated. You’ve got your diploma, and pretty pumped to get that first job. Maybe you’ve even decided where to treat your parents with your first paycheck. So you send out your resume to all those bigtime multinational companies and wait for the calls that’ll drain your phone’s battery. But no calls come. You follow up. Maybe the employer replies: “Sorry, we’re looking for a particular skill set.”

    Now let’s say, you’re one of the lucky ones few who do get hired. Only to realize on the very first day, “Wait, I don’t have the skills for this post! They didn’t teach me the skills to do this job! How long till I get fired?”

    When educators do not produce students with the focused skills sets demanded by the modern workplace, there arises a skills gap.

    “Oh no! What have I done!? All those years. The money. Wasted?”

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    First, don’t panic. It narrows the mind, not the skills gap. Second, it’s not your fault. While you were studying to get that degree, the business landscape changed at an ultra-fast pace due to technological innovations and globalization. Even now as you’re reading this, that change is accelerating.

    At Pearson Asia’s first- ever learning symposium in the Philippines, Stuart Connor, Head of Qualifications and Assessments stated: “The pace of change is increasing so fast. But in the educational space, it’s not changing as fast.”

    Speaking on the Global Employment Landscape, Mr. Connor repeated what industries are saying to educators. “You’re sending us fundamentally unemployable graduates. We’re having trouble sourcing graduates with key skills. Digital literacy, numeracy, core competencies. Not to mention 21 st century skills like adaptability, creativity, critical thinking.”

    Stuart Connor

    Stuart Connor, Head of Qualifications & Assessments

    And that’s at the current rate. Mr. Connor expressed concern for their futures. “If we’re not preparing students adequately for the skills that they’ll need to adapt to an unfathomable, unimaginable future, what will it mean for these kids who are going through this now?”

    At the same event, Paul Ryan Paez—Project Manager at ADEC Innovations quoted the futurist Ray Kurzweil: “We will see 20,000 years of progress in this century.”

    Can you imagine the number of skill-sets that will be demanded by the emerging industries at that rate of progress? And the number of candidates that won’t get hired?

    Mr. Paul Paez added: “The lack of proficiencies harm growth for business. When you look for an instructional designer or an E-learning expert, how and where do you find them? Multimedia arts? Education? IT? Currently, there is no instructional design course in the Philippines.”

    As in many places in the globe, The Filipino’s behavioral norms towards education haven’t kept up with the pace either. Parents have the best intentions, but maybe not the most updated ones.

    “The mindset of parents is, all my kid needs is a diploma to be a skilled worker.” observed Mark Flores, Pearson Asia’s Country Business Manager, Philippines. “Employers are desperately looking for the proper job candidates. And most importantly, the learners and their parents themselves are not seeing the whole value of skill qualifications.”

    As you might’ve observed, the curricula linked to those diplomas tend to be outpaced by the demands of the 21 st century workplace. The demands render those diplomas as generalized theory, as opposed to specific, applicable skills that today’s employers need.

    “Oh no! Am I going to end up as a barista?” you may be thinking. Well, there’s nothing wrong with being a barista. It’s honest work and a craft. But, if you’re a barista who’s also taking skills qualification courses, you’ll be opening up more career opportunities than there are frap flavours. Yup, this is where we segue into how Pearson can bridge the skills gap in the Philippines, so it’s not all doom and gloom.

    Pearson collaborates with employers who tell them what skills they need now and in the future. Courses and suites are then created and updated as the global business landscape changes.

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    These courses, which could be as short as 3 months, equip you with ready-to-apply focused skills and core competencies. From financial and quantitative literacy to data science, as well as the 21 st century skills we talked about earlier. All the good stuff that makes you work- ready from Day One at the office—which could be sooner than you think. Pearson LCCI graduates tend to get hired within 6 months. Employability is their core competency, after all.

    With skills qualifications, there’s reason to hope that skills-gaps and unemployment won’t be generational. Especially when educational institutions grasp their Value.

    “If we include skills qualifications in our curriculum, as part of our examinations, the employment rate increases for millions of Filipinos,” says Dr. Amalia G. Dela Cruz, Dean College of Business Administration, HRM and Tourism, University of Luzon.

    If you’re anything like the person at the start of this article, you’re not responsible for the skills gap. But you can take responsibility for your own future. Bridge your own skills-gap. Update yourself. Get skill-qualified. Become an in-demand, indispensable part of the new global Workplace.

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  • Can Your Employees Survive and Thrive in the 21st Century?

    With 21st century technology rapidly evolving, we are under immense pressure to keep up with the times. To do that, we need to constantly make the right calls. But do we have the critical thinking ability to make those important and informed decisions?

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  • Understanding learner competencies through the Global Scale of English (GSE)

    As a teacher at a language school, one of my key interests is monitoring and understanding the journey of my students’ language progress. Sometimes, it can be a little disheartening realising that perhaps my best efforts are still not enough to help students who may not be responding to the coursework. I believe that as a teacher, there must be something I can improve on which can help all my students achieve maximum progress.

    Recently, I attended a session held by Pearson on The Global Scale of English. This session discusses The Global Scale of English (GSE), a standard to measure learner’s English competencies, and the GSE Teacher Toolkit. Below, I will tell you what I’ve gained from the session.

     

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    What is GSE?

    The Global Scale of English, or GSE for short, is a measurement that helps teachers to measure the competencies of English learners. The GSE’s development has been based on the CEFR model. CEFR (Common European Framework of Reference) has been widely used by teachers, students, schools, and publishers to standardise language competency. It can be broken down into three groups of basic users (A), independent users (B), and proficient users (C), with two levels for each ‘user group’. CEFR contains a number of ‘can-do statements’. Each level in CEFR has its own ‘can- do statements’ which learners need to achieve in order to move to the higher level.

    Below is CEFR levels and their labels:

    CEFR Levels

    *source: https://www.english.com/blog/addressing-the-missing-levels-with-gse/

    Within schools, learners have a certain amount of time to complete a course and achieve ‘can-do statements’ of a CEFR level. As every learner’s ability and progress in learning is unique, not all learners progress at the same pace. Progress takes time, and each learner needs their own individual time to attain a certain level of competency.

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    In the long run, this creates a problem.

    A learner who has studied English for a long time may be assumed to belong to a particular level of CEFR (let’s say B1), but there is possibility that the learner belongs to between A2 and B1 instead. However, since the learner is placed in a B1 class, he or she needs to keep up with B1-level expectations. This can lead to difficulties for the learner in reaching maximum progress and obtaining a satisfactory learning result at the end of an English program. Up to this point, I can very much relate this scenario with some of my students.

    GSE aims to fill the gap. By quantifying each level of CEFR, GSE gives a more accurate manner of predicting learner’s competency in CEFR model. By having accurate knowledge of learner’s competency, teachers can be more precise in planning their lesson. Therefore, maximum progress of all students can take place.

    Below is a comparison between CEFR and GSE:

    GSE Tabel

    The above presents the GSE measuring table of proficiency in all language skills and levels based on the CEFR model. As we can see, there is a wide range between some CEFR levels (A2 to B1, B1 to B2, B2 to C1). Hence, a class of A2, for example, consists of learners with competency score 30 (near A1) to 42 (almost B1). GSE helps teachers in identifying the minimum and maximum point of learners’ competency, so that they can plan lessons in which no learner is left behind.

     

    Working with GSE

    A teacher who is planning a lesson to suit their student’s competency may consult GSE learning objectives by visiting GSE Teacher Toolkit page, https://www.english.com/gse/teacher-toolkit/user/lo . There is a GSE/CEFR scale, where buttons can be moved horizontally based on the score range intended.

    For example, if you have a class with A2 level, you can drag the left button on the scale to the minimum A2 score (30) and drag the right button to the maximum A2 score (42). See the picture below for an example:

    Conference

     

    On the left side there is a box to choose learner type and skill. For example if we chose to combine ‘adult learners’ and ‘reading’, by clicking the ‘show results’ you will get 22 learning objectives based on order of GSE scores.

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    Besides learning objectives, GSE Teacher Toolkit also provides Grammar and Vocabulary sections.

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    In the Grammar section, GSE Teacher Toolkit provides downloadable activities based on the chosen grammar category.

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    In the Vocabulary section, GSE Teacher Toolkit provides pronunciation with American and British accents, definitions, as well as collocation.

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    All the above facilities are easily accessed and free to use. These conveniences do not only save teacher’s time and energy, but most importantly they help teachers prepare the right course materials so that their learners get opportunities to reach maximum progress.

     

    Conclusion

    The Global Scale of English (GSE) provides at least four advantages for both teachers and learners:

    • Teacher obtain a better understanding of students’ individual competency. Therefore, they can prepare and adapt the right course materials in order to suit students’ needs.

    • The GSE Teacher Toolkit makes lesson planning simple, accurate, and easy to use.

    • Learners are given more opportunities to achieve maximum progress in learning English.

    • Recognised globally, GSE helps students to gain confidence in their language ability and competency acceptance.

    To learn more about the GSE Teacher’s Toolkit, please visit here.

     

    BIODATA

    WINDA HAPSARI is an English teacher and teacher educator at LIA Language School, Indonesia. She has been working with a variety of learners for about two decades. She earned her master’s degree in educational psychology from Universitas Indonesia. Besides teaching, she also conducts classroom / educational research and publishes some of her works. Her recent article, which she co- authored with a colleague, titled Teaching Reading to Encourage Critical Thinking and Collaborative Work is published by Springer in early 2018. Her interest includes areas of teacher professional development, teaching language skills, and motivation.

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  • Will Artificial Intelligence Become Pearson's Competitive Advantage in Language Testing?

    Artificial intelligence (AI) is no longer limited to science fiction novels and the imagination. As we take steps closer to a full integration of AI and processing of information it can seem unsettling not knowing how it will affect the education realm itself. How will we approach something as complex and “human” as language testing using AI? Will the emergence of AI be a positive or negative influence on the way we approach it, and will it allow us to refine the testing process itself? Pearson’s very own Director of Academic Standards and Measurement Dr Rose Clesham discussed these questions and more recently at events in Singapore.

    AI Language testing

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    Dr Chlesham’s presentation entitled ‘Artificial Intelligence: Changing the Face of Formative and Summative Assessment’ outlines how computer-based tests such as the PTE Academic are at the forefront of harnessing the transformational power of AI in language assessments.

    The event, organised by PTE Academic at the Hilton Hotel, was well attended by clients and stakeholders from universities, colleges, language schools and education agents. Presenting as a keynote speaker, Dr Clesham explores new insights and revelations on the power and potential of AI to positively influence the way language assessment is conducted. She believes in the potential for AI to improve and refine the way language assessment is conducted globally.

    When discussing AI and its integration with education, many would be unsure of its suitability with language testing due to its complexity. Dr. Clesham, whose area of research is learning assessment, revealed to the conference that she too was initially in this line of thought. After all, AI is still not considered to be a genuine replacement for human intellect, how would a computer be able to gauge and assess the nuances and rhythm of human language?

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    Dr Clesham says that her views shifted as she engaged with AI and studied the applications. It was found that it was the complexity of language testing that made it a perfect fit for an AI to work with. For high stakes language testing on a global scale, there is a need for efficient, secure, and fair testing conditions which also adhere to a golden standard. Computer based tests that are facilitated through AI technology allows for these strict standards to be met, and provide every test taker to undergo the same experience.

    These issues can be avoided utilising AI. We rely on computers to perform routine tasks as they don’t get bored, they make fewer mistakes, and they are unbiased and unswayed by emotion or prejudice. By allowing AI to filter out the potential for human error we can provide more accurate test results, and in turn we can monitor the AI’s ability to give fair assessments.

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    Dr Clesham’s presentation was met with ripples of recognition and relatability throughout the presentation. One of these powerful ‘Ah-Ha’ moments came with the presentation of a side-by-side comparison of a proficient vs. non proficient speaker. The visualisation of sound wave measurements, and the explanation of the algorithm measuring fluency, accent, errors, and WPM, elicited nods of recognition and understanding from the crowd.

    Using PTE as an example, she stresses the importance of validating the AI marking engines by correlating and training them with massive inputs from expert markers. PTE Academic uses human markers as a safety net in the process; when the AI is presented with unrecognisable speaking or writing then the material referred to this safety net. This ensures that the test taker’s results are fair and balanced, and also helps to educate, validate and improve the AI marking system. In other words, if the AI is unable to process the information then expert markers step in to educate the AI.

    For those amongst the audience concerned with their roles being replaced by AI, Dr Clesham offered this advice:

    In other words, we must embrace AI and view it as a tool that will enable educators and testing to reach their full potential.

    After the talk, there was an interactive session where attendees were able to express their perspective on what they saw as either the strengths or drawbacks in using AI for language testing. The Q&A session during this time produced some useful insights, and some of the preconceptions and enduring notions that will need to be overcome in educating the market moving forward.

    We thank Dr Rose Clesham for giving us the opportunity to understand and explore this new era of education and the developments in the future for language testing.

    Written By: Gordon Vanstone, Client Relations Manager, PTE Academic

    If you would like to know more about PTE Academic please visit this site or contact me directly at gordon.vanstone@pearson.com

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  • Learning Technologies as the Future of Learning: Understand, Implementation and Evaluate

    With the global work environment rapidly changing, the future of learning is having to adapt. In today’s world, to maintain a healthy career, we need to adopt a lifelong approach to education that is more flexible and dynamic, with equitable systems of preparation. And within this, technology plays a part.

    Sape Conference

    At SAPE’s (Singapore Association For Private Education) annual conference on “The Future of Learning” conference held at James Cook University in October, Singapore’s educators heard from Efficacy and Research Manager, Ms. Goh Lih Ing, on the role of learning technologies in the future of learning.

    Sape Conference

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    However, merely adopting technological pedagogies into the classroom without proper understanding, implementation and evaluation, will not work. Over the next three to five years, as the future of employment unfolds, it will become increasingly evident that solely relying on technology will not make students more employable; it’s what makes them human that will sustain them throughout their career. Therefore, before introducing any new technological learnings, we need to identify why they are required in the first place and what problems exist that need solving? There is little point in merely introducing technology without a clear understanding of what and how it will help: it needs to be combined with critical thinking to comprehend the issue in hand and, more importantly, collaboration, so the best solution is introduced.

    Collaboration is the cornerstone of technology implementation; it helps shift the education playing field from an instructor-led classroom style to a more dynamic and personalised work-based system, relevant for tomorrow’s workforce. We cannot be lone rangers and do everything ourselves, collaboration is a fundamental aspect of teaching, along with industry experience, experiential learning, problem-solving and working in teams.

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    Over the last ten years, there have been increasing studies highlighting the validity of technology-enhanced pedagogies. However, with mixed results from different deployment of technology in the classroom, how do we find the appropriate learning technologies that consistently produce positive outcomes? And how are those conclusions defined? Before any technology is introduced, there needs to be an appreciation that learning is complex and non-linear; learning objectives may not necessarily be hierarchical or sequential. For example, higher order thinking skills are unattainable without fundamental domain knowledge; thinking skills’ development is impossible without the foundational skills of a chosen discipline, at the same time rote learning is not enough on its own. For technology to play an important role in the classroom, there needs to be adequate understanding of how learning occurs and how technology can enhance this learning. Unless we possess a fundamental grasp of what the chosen technology can offer, the performance gaps it seeks to close or bridge and its overall purpose and goals - it’s worthless. Going forward, as educators, we need a clear direction and a systemic conception of learning technology.

     

    Collaboration is the key to effective implementation

    Success in the classroom is developed may be likened to an invisible triangle which links our interaction with the content and the student. If there is no engagement, there is no attention. If there is no attention, any instruction is futile, regardless of whether technology has been employed or not. Therefore, when introducing any new technological pedagogies, it’s not just about technical specifications but ensuring that every part of the “triangle” – the content, the instructor and the student is supported with an effective ecosystem along the innovation journey.

    To do this, there needs to open discussions with each and every stakeholder. Although this is a challenging process, it’s necessary as it involves the dynamics and interplay of skills and knowledge. Without collaboration and agreed set of goals, stakeholder buy-in is also impossible. If there is a lack of belief among stakeholders that the product will solve their specific issue or reach their intended goal, it will be rendered useless – otherwise known as a white elephant.

     

    The key factors that affect data

    We can’t know if using technology in the classroom will actually help, unless there is a mechanism that facilitates the process of extracting data that help us understand technology’s impact and whether it’s making a positive difference. A mid to long term goal for using technology means that we may not expect immediate results, hence the need to attend to the leading indicators in the interim, and to be aware that some key factors can create disparate results. For example, when the same product is used by different people, differing outcomes are likely to occur. Also, with many conclusions based on prior knowledge and the actions of students and educators, results are never immediate, they take time. Therefore, when using any new technological methods, a sufficient test period needs to be in place. Although this can often be a slow process, the good news is that with success relying on collaboration and buy-in across the whole team, time is a crucial factor that can frequently provide this. Allowing for more time also delivers the opportunity to implement any necessary changes if early experiences with complex technology have highlighted issues.

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    Technology alone is not the answer

    With a greater emphasis on learner-centred education in today’s classroom, we need to ensure that students remain interested and engaged. This means that the success of any new technology requires more than just the software, it must expand beyond this and enable learners to experience a broader education which supports a more fulfilling life; one that includes more options and choice and is able to cater to the changing needs throughout a person’s career.

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    However, despite the shifting of roles and occupations in the work environment, it is interesting to know that core values don’t change. Everyone has the opportunity to learn distinct skills and knowledge that are essential at every juncture of their career to remain relevant. With technology perceived as the enabler for learners to learn better, faster or deeper, such that they can pursue a rewarding life and career, more learning options derived from technology will assist in catering to a student’s shifting needs during each phase of their lives.

    Indeed, technology has become an essential aspect of education, but for it to be successful, it needs effective planning, followed by cooperative implementation and clear evaluation. Technology must be used to enliven learning, enhance student outcomes and make education practices more efficient. With this in mind, the future of learning will include technology within the instructional system, but it will not be a learning intervention by itself.

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  • Australian Government renews PTE Academic endorsement

    The Department of Home Affairs today renewed its endorsement of the Pearson Test of English Academic in supporting the Australian visa programme.

    “PTE Academic was first approved to support Australian visa applications in 2014 and has quickly become the test of choice for Australian student and migration visa applicants”, Pearson Australia, Managing Director, Mr David Barnett said.

    “The Department of Home Affairs has now ensured that PTE Academic will continue to be available to individuals applying for an Australian visa or permanent resident outcome.”

    With 50%+ growth in the numbers of people registering to take PTE Academic in recent years Pearson has now opened 5 new Pearson Professional Centres in Melbourne, Sydney, Adelaide, Brisbane and Perth. Pearson has also expanded its network of partner test centres this year to offer testing on campus at the University of Queensland, UNSW, and the Gordon Institute of TAFE in Geelong. These highly secure test centres utilise state-of-the-art security measures including biometric data collection to ensure the security of the testing process.

    The Adelaide test centre was officially opened in October and attended by Minister for Trade and Investment Senator Simon Birmingham and South Australia’s Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment David Ridgeway MLC, where they were able to view a demonstration of the Pearson Test of English (PTE-Academic) test and an interactive tour of the new state-of-the-art centre.

    The guests tried their hand at the listening and speaking sections of the test with a few questions similar to those the test takers experience.

    “PTE Academic is based on the real-life English skills people need to live and work in Australia, making it the smart choice for work or study abroad,” Mr Barnett said.

    “The test was created in response to demand for a more accurate, objective, secure and relevant test of English and all 100% computer based.

    “Pearson’s innovative test design, use of automated scoring technology, and secure and easy-to-use test centres makes applying for local universities, job opportunities and further study as simple as possible for test-takers of all ages.

    “PTE Academic is the leading computer-based test of English for study abroad and immigration, because we can deliver test results typically within days, in comparison to other English language tests which provide results in a timeframe of 2-3 weeks.”

    With over 270 test centres around the globe the PTE Academic test centre network continues to grow. For more information about PTE Academic, go to https://pearsonpte.com/the-test/.

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  • See the highlights of Pearson Day Indonesia 2018

    “Pearson Day 2018 – What Makes A Learning Process Great?” held in various cities including the country’s capital Jakarta. The event was attended by 250 educators, showing enthusiasm and shared hope for better education.

    Find out what attendees learned as a result of attending Pearson Day Indonesia 2018.

    Watch the video below to see the highlights.

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