Learning for the Future


In today’s rapidly changing world, advancement in Science and Technology is quickly making what we learnt in school insufficient to cope with the demands of the modern economy. Only a few decades ago, in addition to acquiring the 3Rs (Reading, wRiting, and aRithmetic), we started acquiring a modicum of computer skills to catch the Third Wave of civilisation – the ‘Knowledge Economy’.

On 7 March 2018, Dr Ronald Ng, a haematologist at Mt. Elizabeth Hospital, Singapore, a mediator, and life-long learner, spoke about how we can keep up with the ever-increasing pace of growth of knowledge and development in technology, and the role Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) can play.

Dr Ng emphasised the importance of computer literacy and going beyond the 3Rs. While new technologies bring about new opportunities, it can also make established occupations and skills obsolete. To keep up, especially with advancements in Artificial Intelligence (AI) and rising life expectancy, it may be necessary to master more than one discipline or at least be able to communicate across disciplines.

To learn authentically (as opposed to merely memorising), he highlighted how experiential learning can lead to a true understanding of concepts. For example children can pick up computational skills through experiential learning. Dr Ng showed how game-like programs like ScratchJr encourage children to learn from their mistakes as they play with the program to pick up the basics of coding.

For adults, Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) present wide-ranging opportunities to learn computational skills. MOOCs have also given learners from under-resourced communities opportunities to bridge knowledge gaps by providing access to learning materials of international standards.

Going beyond platforms like MOOCs, Dr Ng reiterated that what is really important is to have the passion for learning so that we never stop learning. He also encouraged the idea of picking up skills that bring us outside our comfort zone helping us achieve our fullest potential, and to not neglect the liberal arts.

The talk ended with Dr Ng addressing the audience’s questions which included ways of encouraging greater passion for learning, integrating blended learning with MOOCs, and how to make MOOCs more enjoyable.