Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Be Patient, Faster Broadband Connections = Better Learning At Schools?

Singapore schools can look forward for a new super fast broadband network.  But can we look beyond the speed?  Is this another example of ‘cheaper, faster and better’ in education?

Earlier this month, the Ministry of Education (MOE) awarded a S$32.6 million contract to SingTel to outfit primary, secondary schools and junior colleges with the Next Generation Nationwide Broadband Network (NGNBN).  (Today, 30 Nov 2011)

The report, as usual, is also followed up by various supporting comments from the schools and all those interviewed are happy to see the benefits of faster broadband connections. 

However, does it really mean students can have a better learning or quality learning at schools when there are less waiting times for their learning information and materials? What will happen to them if they can’t get the high speed they want? Will they find alternative solutions?  

Lack of patience 

Yes. Time is money. Faster speed will get you ahead of others. Does it mean students will lose their patience if the schools can’t fulfil their broadband demand?  Or, is it an excuse for catching with top schools?

Based on the concepts of ‘cheaper, faster and better’, there is a price to pay if our demands are not met. One big price is to file a complaint.  Speed is too slow, memory is not enough, study materials are not available.  Schools, under pressure from students, are also joining the queue to be impatient.   

Schools have to educate our students to be patient, to be understandable and in addition, teach students to find alternative solutions.  Schools are not computer schools but education centres.  Just heard from the BBC, the Spanish schools may have to ration their toilet papers, how will their schools react and teach students the meaning of austerity? 

Yes, be patient when waiting for taxi, even you pay more pay during peak hours, and you may end up even waiting longer time to get a taxi. Same things apply to MRT, bus, even the controversial mother-tongue learning and housing wait. Does the air-conditioning bus interchanges solve the waiting problem? Does the IT for mother-tongue learning solve student’s leaning problem?

There is always a demand-supply problem. There are always some things that technology cannot help to solve.

Deep in our hearts, to be happy we have to move away from the analogy of ‘cheaper, faster and better’. Further to faster broadband connections, schools need to teach students: How to cope with real life situation if there is no faster broadband connection? How to cope with situation outside schools, not all are rich enough to have faster broadband at home?  And be patient and consider the limitations, don’t expect all things are smooth even in a well run country like Singapore.

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