Speaking as the Guest of Honour at Gnowbe’s 3rd anniversary party; Ms Low Yen Ling (Parliamentary Secretary for the Education and Trade & Industry Ministries) asked attendants “do you bring your phone to the toilet?” The overwhelming majority; young and less young, raised their hands.
(Ms Low Yen Ling; Parliamentary Secretary for the Education and Trade & Industry Ministries)
Constantly in our hands, smartphones have more processing power than all of NASA combined when man first walked on the moon. The resulting mobility we wield is incredible and has been harnessed by Gnowbe to foster an on-the-go social learning culture.
Besides the smartphone revolution, key educational themes were discussed during the party attended by Dr CJ Meadows (Professor & Director of Innovation & Insights Centre, SP Jain), Polytechnics in Singapore and other leaders in education. I will discuss the themes in this article.
Promoting a culture of life-long learning
Ms Low says that every government in the world faces the challenge of narrowing the skills gap. The Singaporean workforce is in a race to upgrade, with 24% of work activities forecasted to be displaced by 2030 according to a study by McKinsey & Company. However, traditional upgrading takes time and Singaporeans are notoriously busy; with almost 10% of respondents in a Families for Life Council survey saying that they spent 6 hours or less with family per week due to work.
(Source: Families for Life)
Upgrading thus needs to be reformed to enable flexible integration into the modern lifestyle. With Gnowbe this is possible since each Mobile Micro-Learning Course (MLC) is structured into 10-20 lessons, taking only 15 minutes a day.
Aside from time, it can feel like a drag to sit down and study alone, especially after a long day of work. Remedying these weaknesses in traditional learning, MLCs are gamified and collaborative; making the 15 minutes something for learners to look forward to in their daily schedule.
(Source: E-learning Industry)
Improving Access to Higher Education
At last year’s Lifelong Learning Festival, Education Minister Ong Ye Kung unveiled the SkillsFuture Series which would launch more than 400 bite-sized courses offered primarily by Institutes of Higher Learning (IHLs). Every course would have 3 levels, with each level taking around 3 days of training. By 2020, this initiative is expected to benefit around 50,000 people annually.
Moving in the same direction, Gnowbe is offering their platform to IHLs to bring courses online. For example, TP has launched over 60 MLCs on the Gnowbe platform and learners may earn certificates and exemptions from diploma programs upon completion of the MLCs.
(April 2018 launch of MLCs in the first collaboration between Gnowbe and TP. Photo Credits to The Straits Times: Kevin Lim)
As the world’s first and largest mobile content library, Gnowbe is providing wider access to higher education in a kaleidoscope of fields for anyone with a smartphone and a passion to learn.
(Source: World Economic Forum)
Gnowbe’s role in the Future of Education
Gnowbe founder So-Young Kang said that Gnowbe’s objective is not to replace face-to-face but to serve as a highly interactive social platform for all people to learn valuable skills and knowledge on-the-go “10-15 minutes a day”.
(Ms So-Young Kang; Founder of Gnowbe)
This makes Gnowbe a form of infrastructure for educators to build on. Therefore the potential to change the world with this platform is limited only by the imagination of the educators that design the MLCs. Recognising the importance of educators, Gnowbe offers comprehensive training and support to them. In just 3 years, Gnowbe has become so successful that teachers are being trained without direct contact from Gnowbe; teachers who had been trained previously have trained others who then train others and so forth; sparking a “Gnowbe-fy” revolution in the teaching community.
When I asked if we can live in a world where online certificates hold the same weight as conventional ones, Ms Low said that education is not a paper-chase, but a means of acquiring skills and knowledge; which are ultimately what employers seek. As a platform enabling “learning by doing” Gnowbe is moving in the right direction as this approach enables greater absorption and application; with around 75% of learners saying they are more confident to apply their knowledge.
In the age of hunter-gatherers, people needed knowledge on nature as well as skills in using tools. Living and learning were inseparable; people gained skills through self-directed play and exploration. However with the advent of agriculture, demand for unskilled repetitive work forced this learning approach to be substituted with chalk-and-talk. Now that we are in the creative age where robots are expected to take over unskilled work, Dr CJ Meadows says that skills are once again of core importance and we must return to the culture where living and learning are integrated. Education does not need a head or tail end; but instead should enable people to discover and create together. This is exactly what Gnowbe is cultivating and we can expect to see many more exciting developments from them.
(Dr CJ Meadows; Professor & Director of Innovation & Insights Centre, SP Jain)