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Photo: Jessie Quek
At the recent "ASEAN Economic Community Post-2015 Agenda: Challenges for Integration" policy dialogue, opening speaker Naoyuki Yoshino, Dean of the Asian Development Bank Institute, noted that "while ASEAN education systems are generally sound, overall standards and capabilities need to be greatly improved". One key aspect of this would be the integration of technology into education, as research has shown that this can significantly improve learning outcomes. This is especially important in emerging regions such as Southeast Asia (SEA), where implementation of the latest technologies would allow them to ensure that their education systems, students and future workforce are future-ready. The same technologies which are transforming businesses around the region — cloud computing and mobile devices — could do the same for the education sector.
Device mobility is taking students places
Students are no longer physically bound to traditional classrooms. Self-directed learning, access to digital educational materials on portable devices such as laptops and tablets, and communication technologies such as instant messaging and videos now operate in tandem. These allow students to learn and work on the go, granting a variety of learning possibilities such as collaborating with other students on projects that take them outside the classroom; or choosing optimal environments for learning to suit each student's preferences. The physical burdens placed upon students through the need to carry massive textbooks have also been lifted, as they are quickly being replaced by e-textbooks and other digital materials hosted on lightweight devices — or, in a growing number of cases, accessed on the cloud.
Mobility also helps students to make the most of their time. The ability to peruse materials or do homework while they're on the go is especially valuable to students in emerging countries, where public transport systems are often underdeveloped and highly congested. As such, newer innovations such as multi-mode devices — which can be used in any situation or environment — are especially useful to students, along with devices that emphasise large battery capacities.
Education is being elevated by cloud computing
Cloud computing, as mentioned before, can ensure students have easy access to all documents, textbooks, notes, and other digital materials on the go, as and when they are made available by educators. This simplifies education by reducing clutter and streamlining the delivery of educational materials.
Rich media, videos, online tools and access to specialists from around the world are now indispensable in contemporary education, and cloud computing has increased and simplified access to these things. Having said that, they also require a great deal of data bandwidth, which used to require colleges to build prohibitively expensive server networks for their own use. Cloud service providers have virtually little need for such physical hardware investments, since the necessary hardware foundations are built by the service providers. Another benefit for schools is that cloud helps to streamline administrative tasks by enabling teaching and administrative staff to work together seamlessly, reducing redundancies in administrative work.
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