Having fun with Teleprompter at NUS Presentation Space (uTown).

NUS recently concluded its inaugural LifeLong Learning Festival on 21 July 2022. I attended this event virtually as I was looking forward to meeting my new colleagues in person, and the timing for the meeting and sessions clashed. Fortunately, all the sessions were recorded and NUS News shared a wonderful summary “Embracing a mindset of continual learning at the NUS Lifelong Learning Festival 2022”. An unexpected bonus was meeting up with some TTSH ex-colleagues who attended the event in person, and joined me for dinner afterwards at uTown.

Back to the topic of Lifelong learning… Over the weekend, I reflected on how my learning journey has been a roller coaster ride. I had a good mix of fun, sorrow and satisfaction from my days of studying as a primary school student up to a postgraduate level.

I begin my journey back memory lane from primary school where I tended to skive during the early part of the semester, only to pull up my socks and study like a mad man when year end exams were approaching. This strategy worked if you did well in year-end exams because of the high stakes (around 70%) pegged to the final exams. However, this was a terrible way to learn. This method of studying meant that I had to compress many months of study materials at the last minute. It also meant that I simply memorized and regurgitated what I guessed the examiner wanted to see, rather than truly studying for the joy of learning. I continued this foolish habit well into my junior college and even university days.

However, even in hindsight, I still won’t change a thing. I am too much of a sucker for nostalgia. The memories from hanging out with friends, going bowling, playing basketball, skipping classes with friends (you know who you are!), etc. were priceless. It’s a fun, albeit painful memory of how crazy it was to cram all the studies into a super compressed short few weeks at the end of each year.

Usually, one learns from mistakes. Yet amazingly, this habit of procrastinating (from studying) continued right up to university days. It always drags to the point where my grades got so bad that the sh*t was about to hit the fan, that reality smacked me in the face and I began the mad rush of spotting exam questions all over again. I reiterate, this is really not the right way to learn!

As a parent now, I often check on my kids to ensure that they study diligently and consistently so that they do not follow my old bad habits. Sometimes, I overcompensate by thinking of creative ways to make learning fun for them. How many of you have acted as the silly dad who pretended not to understand some of the homework and instead allowed your child to teach it to you? This little role play allows your child to simulate their teacher and reinforces their understanding by mimicking their teachers’ actions. I would later gamify these learning activities to raise the stakes, but that is a story for another blog post.

Personally, the most practical way I learn has always been from doing the job. Back in TTSH, when I started out, I had to gather resources, gain support from clinicians, supervisors, fight for funding to hire interns, recruit interns, train them, convert them into permanent staff, find work/space for them, plan their career progression, gain stakeholder support, navigate through VUCA situations, overcome COVID, etc. 70% of what I learnt was through experience and practice (e.g. projects), 20% through informal learning (e.g. water cooler chats), and only 10% through formal training (e.g. workshops/ seminars). It’s no wonder I have always been a fan of Jane Hart’s 70-20-10 Blended Learning model. Those 16 years were a blast.

Fast forward to present day, I now find myself back at my alma mater and pleasantly surprised at how much fun I am having again simply learning along the job. Through my interactions with my new colleagues (supervisors, peers), NUS faculty, students, teaching assistants, external vendors, etc. I always learn something new. The 70-20-10 rule is still as relevant today.

Having fun with Teleprompter at NUS Presentation Space (uTown).

However, I am pleasantly surprised by how much I am enjoying the remaining 30%. As a NUS staff, there is just a huge buffet of options to pick from. In particular, I love the small, bite-sized activities. If you are a new NUS staff, here are just some of the different NUS learning resources:

  1. Academic Development Management System
  2. CDTL (Teaching Connections Blog, Podcasts)
  3. CIT (DE tools, Guides & Resources)
  4. Data Literacy Programme
  5. Digital Enablement Team (tools, clinic sessions, Bit-Bit!)
  6. Digital Learning (Linkedin-Learning, edX, Coursera, Gartner)
  7. Learning Labs
  8. Libraries (TEL imaginarium, Jumpstart Minis)
  9. NUS Lifelong learning Festival
  10. Skills Transformation Fund

Alternatively, you can check out this “Learning@NUS” Mindmap . I made it to help visualize the different learning resources, and expect it to continue growing. As a starting point, it should be more than enough to get you going.

Those of you who may be younger and still keen to get a double degree or postgraduate degree, by all means go for it. However, if you are getting older (guilty!), engine slower (guilty x2!!) but still keen to learn new skills without heavy investment of time & money (guilty x3!!!), then some of these resources above that offer short online seminars/ workshops or ,micro-credentialing (as recommended by education minister Chan Chun Sing) might be more suited for you. The key strategy is that we need to acquire new skills by learning fast. Hence, having smaller, stackable modules may be more practical as we unlearn and relearn new skills to stay relevant.

Parenthood and being eligible for eldershield has humbled me quite a bit. Now that I am back in NUS, I relish the opportunity to embark on these mini-learning adventures. Thus far, my learning journey at NUS includes working with service providers, NUS faculty/ students and colleagues from CIT & CDTL, shooting 360 videos, using collaborative whiteboarding software, using a teleprompter, to understanding copyright and attribution, etc. My NUS learning journey thus far has just been awesome.

“It’s not how you start, but it’s how you finish.”
– Micheal Phelps

As a Learner, I may have gotten off on the wrong foot but towards the end, I was fortunate to find joy in learning during my postgraduate days and enjoyed 16 fulfilling years in TTSH advocating technology-enhanced learning in a healthcare setting to support the learning culture for TTSH.

Now, back in NUS, I have yet another opportunity to experience the fun in learning and helping others to enhance their learning experience through BL2.0. If I don’t find learning fun, then how do I convince others to get others onboard the blended learning train? 🙂

Benedict Chia

23 July 2022

Life Long Learning at NUS