News & insights

  • 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.

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    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.

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    Quote 1
    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.

    Quote 2

    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.


    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

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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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  • The balance between hard and soft skills in Education

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

    Mario Herrera, an expert in children’s education who has been working with Pearson and authoring scores of English language learning books, emphasized in his presentations that a great and effective learning process is a result of the balance between hard skills and soft skills.

    Would you like to learn more? Watch the video below.


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  • Disrupting Education Systems to Develop a New Generation of Problem Solvers

    Technology has revolutionised the world. With automation, artificial intelligence and digital technology pervades our everyday lives, the key question to ask is: How do we prepare our learners for a future world governed by technology? At Pearson’s conference on “Growing Global Education Now!” held at Kuala Lumpur in October, educators from across South and Southeast Asia heard from global education consultant, Mr. Charles Leadbeater, how to lead the way into a global learning movement.

    Mr Charles Leadbeater

    Learning to be better humans

    “The future is going to be vastly different from what we have now. We will see traditional jobs undergoing a radical upheaval in the next 10 years. Some jobs are slowly disappearing while others will require different types of skills or processes to work with technology,” Leadbeater explains.

    He expounds on the danger in our education systems where young people are taught to learn by routine, where they follow instructions and process information, then regurgitate the knowledge in examinations in order to get the grades required.

    “That is going to leave young people in the dead end because, in the future, any activity which requires the processing of lots of data will see robots and artificial intelligence outperforming humans. What we have to do is to develop young people who will be better humans,” he theorizes.

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    The future comes with no instruction manual

    Leadbeater states that if education is going to prepare learners for the future, it needs to shift from a model of “following instructions” to one of “solving problems”.

    In conducting the research for his book, The Problem Solvers, Leadbeater visited innovative and progressive schools all over the world who have applied unique models of teaching and learning. While their curriculums are dissimilar to one another, he found one common thread among them: dynamic education which incorporates exposure to the real world while also developing the holistic aspects of each learner.

    “Preparing young people to be creative problem solvers requires a combination of old and new methodologies. The most impressive schools that I go to are a mixture of the very new -- progressive techniques and digital technologies -- and the very old -- methodologies to build character, personal strengths, entrepreneurship and outward learning,” he says.

    However, he warns educators against the common trap of falling prey to false dichotomies that divide between knowledge and skills, theory and action, traditional and progressive or digital and real-world learning.

    The dynamics of learning

    Leadbeater explains that dynamic learning is an experience of a structured, yet active kind of learning that gives learners the experience that they take into the world. “My hypothesis of dynamic learning is that it has four critical elements. Young people should be equipped with a combination of knowledge, personal strengths, social skills and a capacity for agency. When you go to good schools and you see good teachers, what they’re doing is designing and orchestrating the dynamic combinations of these four ingredients,” he informs.


    Firstly, knowledge, which forms the foundation of learning. The journey into knowledge starts with the basic skills of literacy and numeracy, moves on to the knowledge of core content and even further into higher-order concepts and thinking skills to challenge, question and adapt existing knowledge.

    Leadbeater states that while the basic building blocks of knowledge help learners to know about the world around them, it is more crucial to have a theory of knowledge. He emphasised that it is the ability to discern, analyse, research, think critically and combine different disciplines of knowledge that becomes the basis for creative problem-solving.

    The second element acknowledges that education needs to be a personal journey of growth and discovery. This focuses on developing personal attributes of character that will count later on in life.


    “Qualities such as growth, resilience, persistence and purpose are just as important as knowledge if young people want to thrive and succeed in the real world. Not only do they need to learn how to be resilient and adaptive, but they will also need to have a clear sense of purpose, to know the difference they want to make and the value they want to add to the world,” Leadbeater shares.

    The third element covers social skills where learners are encouraged to deepen their relationships with other people by learning how to connect, communicate and collaborate in order to achieve things together.

    This involves methods which facilitate collaboration between learners, such as getting them to work together in groups on a certain project or problem. The process would involve dialogue and discussion, as well as tapping on the diverse skills and outlooks of the different members of the group. This is where the skills of collaboration come in handy, something which cannot be effectively taught in the classroom.


    The last element, agency, is the route to take action, primarily to make a contribution to the world by helping other people. Agency is the true test of learning, where learners turn knowledge and ideas into action in order to make a difference to the world. The way that this can be done is by incorporating projects like making things, running a business or serving the community.

    “In order to get the students to be really interested, find something real that matters to them. The need for learning is stronger if it makes a difference to someone else. For example, one of the schools I visited in Spain asked students to build houses for refugees. They were able to take responsibility for their own learning and integrating knowledge from multiple disciplines such as science, economics, geography, language and technology,” Leadbeater says.

    study butterflies

    Making the shift

    In introducing these four elements of dynamic learning, how can they be effectively applied in schools to create a more dynamic education system? Leadbeater explains that it would require the combination of dynamic teachers, dynamic curricula and dynamic methods of assessment.

    “Several countries like Canada, Australia, Singapore and Hong Kong have already led the way in developing hybrid curricula which foster a mix of skills. More critically, we need to shift the focus of assessments on knowledge to an assessment of skills that students need to acquire to succeed. Dynamic learning requires dynamic forms of assessment which involve both formative and summative, online and in action, in the exam hall and in the real world,” he shares.

    To overcome the challenge of implementing this on a larger scale, Leadbeater urges educators to be an active participant of this global learning movement.

    He concludes by saying, “Education is not just about gaining knowledge and getting the grades. It is about building young people who can make a difference for our world. We must prepare them for an uncertain future, which is open and full of possibilities but also facing deep and urgent challenges that need to be addressed. We want to create a generation of problem solvers who excel at being human and come with the human capacity to care, to empathise and to create.”

    To continue the conversation on Dynamic Learning please join the International Schools Community. If you would like further information on qualifications resources to support your classroom please visit us here.


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  • Teaching and Learning in the 21st Century


    Teaching learning

    Modern measures of language ability focus on performance, which, according to Philip Warwick, is good news for digital residents because learning a language can improve attention spans and executive function—two cognitive functions being negatively affected by our addiction to our devices.

    To study butterflies you can catch one and carry it home in alcohol, and then affix it to a board and examine it with a magnifying glass. Or you can spend time in the butterfly’s habitat watching it and understanding it.

    Teaching learning illustration

    Modern ideas about learning languages effectively tip towards the latter. Two related measures of performance, Pearson’s Global Scale of English (GSE) and the Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR), both focus on what you can do in a language—the butterfly as a living thing in its environment—and not the intricacies of a language like its grammatical rules—the study of the butterfly through a magnifying glass. That’s not to say rules are unimportant. It’s just that rules underpin the ability to do things in a language and that’s become the focus.

    People who study butterflies are called “lepidopterists.” You wouldn’t teach that word to elementary students; maybe not even to advanced students. However, you might teach the word “lepidopterists” to a higher-level science or a CLIL class...or if you were teaching English to a class of zoologists.

    So, added to the idea of the primacy of performance—because learning a language is skills-based—is also the idea of teaching students by identifying their needs. This means moving from a “synthetic” approach,

    that’s linear, to an analytic approach, that looks to make the learning fit students’ requirements. This shift means teachers teach students using materials...instead of using materials to teach students.



    In 1969, a British study set out to understand how long secondary school students could pay attention for in class. After visiting 250 secondary schools, the team decided that the teenagers’ attention spans were around fourteen-and-a-half-minutes long. When they conducted a further study in 1998, teenagers’ attention spans had fallen dramatically—to under five minutes. Although the survey team ran out of funding, there’s evidence that attention spans are even shorter today.

    In 2001, Dan Prensky famously wrote that we were either digital natives—teens and millennials born into the digital era; or digital immigrants people born before the digital era and who were struggling, to various degrees, to adapt to the changes. Now, it’s widely accepted that we’re all digital residents switching constantly between devices and filling downtime with screen time.

    The effects have been measured in another study, this one conducted in 2015 by Microsoft Corp. They found that people lose focus after around eight seconds. That study placed humans a little behind goldfish who are thought to be able to pay attention for a second or two longer, on average. Popular culture seems to be shifting to accommodate these changes: Instagram stories flash past in a couple of seconds; in May this year the musician Tierra Whack released an album that had fifteen tracks but that only lasted fifteen minutes; advertisers are being forced to make an impact in just six seconds—known as “the six” in modern industry parlance.


    Authentic Learning

    Nurturing the brain’s air traffic control system

    The set of mental skills called executive function is like “the air traffic control system at a busy airport.” It can be broken down into three basic dimensions. Our working memory is the cognitive function that allows us to temporarily hold information and retrieve it for immediate use. Working memory has also been connected with decision-making, behavior, and reasoning. Inhibitory control is an individual’s ability to resist natural or habitual impulses. And cognitive flexibility is the capacity to switch gears and adjust to changing demands, priorities, or perspectives.

    Although humans aren’t born with these skills, they are developed by engaging in meaningful social interactions and “activities that draw on self-regulatory skills” throughout childhood, adolescence, and into even adulthood. There are concerns that the development of these skills is being inhibited by “smartphone-related habits.” Harvard University have even issued an activities guide, “Enhancing and Practicing Executive Function Skills with Children from Infancy to Adolescence,” with ways to actively develop cognitive function with toddlers, children, and adolescents.

    In their parenting resource, Harvard recommend hide-and-seek games and imitation games for 6- to 18-month olds. But by ages 3-5, one way they recommend to develop executive function is through “bilingual storytelling,” as, according to Harvard, “it has been found that bilingual children of many ages have better executive function skills than monolingual children.”


    study butterflies

    The importance of performance and teaching the class not the course

    Lots of ideas around teaching a language exist along a continuum. At one end, for example, might be accuracy and at the other end fluency. At one end there might be teacher-centered approaches, at the other student-centered classrooms. As these are continuum, depending on the class, the approach may swing slightly, and so a beginner class might necessitate a more teacher-centered approach.

    As resources like Harvard’s point to the importance of learning languages, and modern assessments, like the CEFR and Pearson’s GSE, focus on performance—what you can do in a language, not what you know about the language—the role of the language teacher has been validated. And a teacher who is student-centred, and allows learners lots of chances to talk in a program of study that’s tailored to their needs is likely to be successful. After all, a great teacher does all the work outside of the class and allows students to do all the work inside the class.

    Winnie has also noticed that her staff are less observant than before, perhaps because of their over-reliance on technology. “People are so focused on the screen they don’t realize what’s happening around them. There are times I want them to drop their devices and just be present and aware of what is happening,” she says.

    For more information and resources to support 21st Century teaching, please visit us at


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  • Skills For Employability In Vietnam: Three Industry Experts On The Past, Present, And Future Of Work




    quote bubble

    Fears about technology displacing jobs are unfounded. Historically technology has created more jobs than it has erased. Clearly, there’s a complex interplay of factors, such as the way climate change is creating jobs in “green” industries. However, it’s also obvious that the skills we need to be a success are changing. Here, three industry experts from Asia talk about the shifting professional landscape in Vietnam.


    Economically, Vietnam is booming. A combination of political stability and nourishing trade deals have helped make the southeast Asian country a bright spot in the region. Another driver of growth is Vietnam’s youthful population. The average age is 35 and over half of the people of around 95 million are below 34-years-old. But as the economy grows companies are becoming more discerning about who they hire. Added to that the pool of prospective candidates has evolved. Often, the aspiration for young people in Vietnam was to live and work overseas—in countries like America, the UK, and Australia. But increasingly, young Vietnamese are looking to study and work overseas but then return home to help develop their own communities.


    A broad range of skills

    “We no longer look for staff with a very specialised skill set. Instead, we’re looking for employees who have a broad range of applicable skills,” Alan Malcolm begins. Currently Pearson’s head of Asia, Alan has worked in the education sector for almost 20 years progressing from sales director for Japan six years ago to head of sales and marketing for Asia to his current post as regional head. He admits that “companies might need one or two specialists across the region,” but key to employability is “flexibility.”


    Alan is also seeing the need for skills like problem-solving and critical thinking. “People with those skills are the ones who are currently fulfilling the majority of the roles for us in Vietnam and across the region,” he explains. And active listening, particularly for sales teams, is more important than ever according to Alan. “Active listening—being able to show people that you’re listening to them—is really important, particularly in client-facing businesses. If you can show you’re engaged you’ll build a much deeper relationship,” Pearson’s head of Asia adds.

    Authentic Learning


    Beyond the CV

    For Huynh Thi Cao Thi, a well-written CV merely gives a candidate the chance for an interview. She is the human resources director of FPT Retail. The company employs over 4,000 staff in Vietnam at their retail stores where they sell a broad range of devices from laptops to mobile phones. In her role, Huynh Thi Cao Thi engages with two kinds of prospective employees: salespeople for their stores and administrative staff who support their sales teams.

    “Of course, a CV is still important, it’s the first thing we use to screen candidates but in an interview, I’m really looking for three things—self-confidence, good communication skills, and a positive attitude,” she explains.

    Another focus of the training programs developed by Huynh Thi Cao Thi is time management. “That’s the focus of one of the key courses our training centers deliver,” FPT Retail’s director of human resources explains. “Perhaps our staff have never been instructed in this before, but arranging their schedule and being able to meet deadlines is crucial,” she adds.


    Learn and relearn

    Learn and relearn

    Winnie Lam agrees. She also looks for good time management skills and flexibility in her team members but, she feels, it’s not just new hires and graduates who need to develop their skills. She thinks even experienced staff need a regular refresher. Winnie is the chief operating officer for Colliers International Vietnam. She has acted on the board of CanCham Vietnam, for the Canadian chamber of commerce, and for the Hong Kong Business Association in Vietnam, as well as being the director for the TMF Group and AB Horizon Vietnam.

    Winnie sees that a fixed skill set is liable to outdate a prospective candidate’s opportunities for success in the job market quicker than ever. “There are a lot of new titles and obviously lots of new functions that people are performing,” Winnie muses, “so even experienced people like me need to learn and relearn otherwise we won’t be able to access new positions simply because things are being done so differently.”

    Winnie has also noticed that her staff are less observant than before, perhaps because of their over-reliance on technology. “People are so focused on the screen they don’t realize what’s happening around them. There are times I want them to drop their devices and just be present and aware of what is happening,” she says.


    Colliers International Vietnam are also committed to training staff to develop their soft skills while encouraging self-study in hard skills. “We want our staff to seek out learning in hard skills themselves. But we actively train soft skills because I think our staff need a model that we can expose them to because they need to understand clearly what soft skills should look like,” Winnie Lam adds. “I think soft skills trump hard skills now and in the future,” she smiles finally. For more information on Future Skills please visit Skilling Up for 2020: A View from Asia.

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