Empowering teachers, learners

National 3 minutes, 41 seconds


16th International Conference on Education

MINISTER of Education yesterday expressed hopes that the outcome of the 16th International Conference on Education (ICE 2011) would determine areas for further development in design research for the country.

Pehin Orang Kaya Seri Kerna Dato Seri Setia Hj Abu Bakar Hj Apong told this to The Brunei Times on the sidelines of the opening ceremony yesterday, said that it was better to start design research now than later.

"This conference is aimed at empowering teachers and learners with design research skills and provides an avenue for everybody to share action research. We can start design research at a small-scale first, and share the outcomes. From there, we can explore what further development can be taken," he added.

In his speech, Pehin Dato Hj Abu Bakar said the conference was relevant to Brunei as the ministry has embarked on a number of initiatives in their commitment towards attaining excellence in education.

These include the development of 21st century skills through the national curriculum under the National Education System for the 21st Century (SPN21), the training of the nation's teachers for School-based Assessment for Learning (SBAfL), the development of technology mediated teaching and learning through the e-Hijrah project and the proposed establishment of model schools at both primary and secondary levels, he said.

The minister highlighted in each of the above initiatives, design research education has an important role to play.

"This inquiry-based approach carried out in classrooms with and by teachers to improve teaching and learning has the potential of transforming education in powerful ways as it will support the teaching and learning that is ongoing in the various contexts of learning," he said.

Pehin Dato Hj Abu Bakar added through design research projects, communities of educators will actively collaborate and communicate with one another as they work through continuous cycles of design, enactment, strategies and tools for teaching and learning.

Speaking on the implementation of SPN21, the minister was pleased to note that it was "progressing well".

"The challenge for teachers is to help students to develop 21st Century skills that organisations such as the World Bank and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) regard as essential to economic development to all nations. The international education community through its use of the Programme International Student Assessment (Pisa) and similar measures has shown its acceptance of the key role of these 21st Century skills which include creativity, innovation, problem-solving, critical thinking, communication and collaboration," the minister said.

In this regard, Pehin Dato Hj Abu Bakar said design research could offer directions as to how these may be achieved in the classroom, and that the design of learning situations through which such skills can be nurtured as a priority.

Regarding the e-Hijrah Strategy and Blueprint as a roadmap for achieving the country's aspirations of enabling the development of ICT skills and knowledge, the minister said research was needed to support teachers and learners through the design of effective teaching and learning in technology-mediated spaces.

"...our classrooms are transformed with the introduction of new technologies. Design research will contribute to the integration of educational technology in the learning process. Our students expect us to use new media to help them learn," he said.

Learning situations, he added, must therefore accommodate technology by designing it into teaching and learning processes so that education is meaningful and relevant to their lives, for the present and future.

He highlighted that this was where Brunei's model schools will be "exemplary schools", where new designs for learning in state-of-the-art learning spaces can be tried and tested.

The minister told participants of the conference it was a "win-win situation", as both teachers and students would benefit once teachers complete cycles of design, trailing and reflection over the next few days.

"Teachers will benefit as they will develop as professionals, and students will also benefit from effective teaching and enhanced learning," he said.

The conference, themed: "Design Research in Education: Empowering Teachers, Learners and Researchers" is attended by 290 participants from seven countries, including Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Indonesia, Taiwan, Brazil and Botswana from May 23 to 26.

A total of 86 presentation papers will be tabled and three workshops will be held during the conference. UBD said more papers and workshops are expected to be presented at the conference.

The Brunei Times