Educational technology in schools meant to complement, not dilute, teachers' roles: Sun Xueling

SINGAPORE – The use of education technology in schools aims to complement rather than dilute the role of teachers in helping students learn higher-level skills, said Minister of State for Education Sun Xueling.

Using the example of a learning feedback assistant for learning English, she said it will help students with their spelling and grammar, thus allowing teachers to focus on guiding them on the more complex aspects of language learning.

These include higher -level skills like creative expression, persuasiveness and tone, she added.

Ms Sun was responding in Parliament on Wednesday (Nov 3) to Dr Tan Wu Meng (Jurong GRC), who asked what safeguards are in place to ensure the proposed artificial intelligence marking system for English language assignments does not undermine students’ ability to develop creativity, personality and flair in their work.

In August this year, The Straits Times reported that a new marking system powered by artificial intelligence will be rolled out on school learning portals in two years for upper primary and secondary school students.

This comes about two years after Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat outlined how Singapore’s national artificial intelligence or AI strategy will focus on five key areas, including education.

The other four areas are border security, logistics, healthcare and estate management.

While the Ministry of Education (MOE) is starting with English, it has said educational technology aids for other subjects are on the cards for the future.

Mr Aaron Loh, divisional director at MOE’s educational technology division, told ST at the time: “While the programme will be focused on English Language writing for a start, MOE will consider rolling out similar systems for other subjects at a later stage.”

Ms Sun said the immediate feedback students receive through the automated system can encourage them to be more self-directed in their learning and to work on their basic writing errors.

“These help to strengthen their mastery over the basics of writing, which in turn allows them to devote more effort on more demanding aspects like creative expression.”

She added that the system will give teachers an additional tool to complement their professional practice, enabling them to advance students’ writing skills.

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