Critical reflection draft two

I am an Indonesian and was unable to communicate in English when I first started school in Singapore. It had a major impact on my younger self as I had to go through my elementary education in an unfamiliar environment, with people speaking in an alien language. The inability to comprehend the language has left me with no friends and bad grades for my Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE). Fortunately, with the help from my secondary schoolmates and teachers, my grades improved gradually from F9 to C6 and eventually, I managed to obtain a B3 for my ‘O’ level English language.

As a result of attending ES1102, my grammar has improved, as the peer review system has trained me in spotting grammar errors in my classmates’ works. The lessons were also helpful in getting me to notice the common grammar mistakes that almost everyone has been making all the time. Also, I saw an improvement in my pronunciation and this has given me more confidence when speaking in public. However, I feel that my content and vocabulary is still insufficient as I often had to rely on the thesaurus to search for synonyms when writing academic essays. Therefore, I have been setting aside time for the reading of newspapers and literature works in order to expand my vocabulary and increase my general knowledge.

I believe that having a good command of English will assist me in presenting myself when I step into the working society. Being able to speak fluently in a particular language suggests capability which will be an advantage during interviews. It portrays the speaker or writer as an effective communicator, which is an important aspect of the majority of the jobs in the market. Thus, I am glad that the university has given me a chance to build up my portfolio so that I would be better equipped when joining the workforce.

Critical reflection draft one

I am an Indonesian and was unable to communicate in English when I first started school in Singapore. It had a major impact on my younger self as I had to go through my elementary education in an unfamiliar environment, with people speaking in an alien language. The inability to comprehend the language has left me with no friends and bad grades for my Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE). Fortunately, with the help from my secondary schoolmates and teachers, my grades improved gradually from F9 to C6 and eventually, I managed to obtain a B3 for my ‘O’ levels English language.

As a result of taking up ES1102, my grammar has improved, for the peer review system has trained me in spotting grammar errors in my classmates’ works. The lessons were also helpful in getting me to notice the common grammar mistakes that almost everyone has been making all the time. Also, I saw an improvement in my pronunciation and this has given me more confidence when speaking in public. However, I feel that my content and vocabulary is still insufficient as I often had to rely on the thesaurus to search for synonyms when writing academic essays. Therefore, I have been setting aside time for reading of newspapers and literature works in order to expand my vocabulary and increase my general knowledge.

I believe that having a good command of English would assist me in presenting myself when I step into the working society. Being able to speak fluently in a particular language suggests capability and trustworthiness which will be an advantage during interviews. It portrays the speaker or writer as an effective communicator, which is an important aspect of majority of the jobs out in the market. Thus, I am glad that the university has given me a chance to build up my portfolio so that I would be better equipped when joining the workforce.

Digital divide draft three

The digital divide is known as the ‘perceived gap between perceived “information have and have-nots”’. (Cohen, 2007)  It is a term that often relates to the segregation of the higher and lower income groups in terms of the accessibility and knowledge of technological devices. According to a Pew Research Survey, ‘84% of these teachers agree that technology is leading to greater disparities between affluent and disadvantaged schools’. (Barseghian, 2013) Due to this segregation, it has been revealed that technology is the main reason for the widening digital gap in the education sector.

The fact that children from lower income families do not have adequate access to the internet or digital devices is the primary factor for the digital divide.  While it may seem like a norm for students to engage technology for educational purposes, ‘only 18% of the teachers involved in the aforementioned survey say that all, or almost all, of their students have access to the necessary digital tools at home’. (Barseghian, 2013) The remaining students will have to rely on smartphones to get their assignments done. However, the quality of work performed on a smartphone will never be able to match the quality of work that is performed on a personal computer. Furthermore, the ‘rising cost of smartphone data plans is limiting the ability of the low-income students to get online’. (Goodman, 2013) The article ‘Tackling the Digital Divide: Low-Income Students Weigh In’ discusses the contrast between the privileged and underprivileged students and how the poorer juveniles are overlooking beneficial learning resources due to their families’ socio-economic status.  It was also mentioned that ‘the internet is the modern day encyclopedia’ (Schwartz, 2013), a required tool to assist students to better understand and work on their academic projects. Denying the students of such experience just because they are less affluent puts them in a disadvantageous position when faced with working in society later on in their lives. A vicious cycle is therefore formed as there is a greater possibility of underperformance from this group of individuals due to the lack of technological knowledge.

In America, the digital divide is not only the result of the segregation of the higher and lower income groups, but also the discrimination between races. Some schools ‘do not allow students of colour to use mobile devices because they think that those students will not use them in an appropriate way’. (Barseghian, 2013) These students are often stereotyped and denied of the rights of accessing valuable information on the internet. Besides the blatant racism, the growing number of digital illiterates is also contributing to the increasing digital gap. ‘Digital literacy refers to the ability to engage with, read and interpret multi-media as well as the knowledge to evaluate data in ways appropriate to the users’ needs’. (Purposeful Technology, 2007) The current problem lies in the inability of students to manipulate the data retrieved with technology to supplement their educational experience. Thus, it is crucial that these groups of users receive guidance and encouragement to explore so as to create a conducive e-learning environment which is advantageous to all.

With the already widened digital gap, another concern that is mentioned is the over-indulgence in using technology for entertainment purposes amongst the younger generation. According to the article, ‘Wasting time is new divide in Digital Era’, children in poorer families are spending more time compared to those from better-off families in using their gadgets. This issue arises from the ‘inability of parents to restrict and oversee their children’s usage of technological devices’ (Richtel, 2012) and is one of the common reasons that contributes to the digital gap. In a Kaiser Family Foundation study, it was discovered that ‘children of parents with a college degree spend 10 hours a day, whereas children of parents without a college degree spend 11.5 hours per day on multimedia.’ (Richtel, 2012) As the number of digital users increase, the importance of digital know-how increases as well. Therefore, students, parents and teachers should be educated on the potential danger of indulging in the usage of digital devices for entertainment purposes.

As a solution to the inadequate number of digital gadgets, ‘One Laptop Per Child’ (OLPC) has been implemented. This scheme aims to create educational opportunities for the world’s poorest children so that they can be connected to each other and empowered through self-learning. The global non-profitable organisation behind the scheme ensures that students will be able to gain easy access to the platform and make use of the retrieved data for knowledge. Independent learning is largely encouraged, which at the same time conserves teaching resources so that more needy children can be reached. Another solution to this phenomenon will be the appropriate training and imparting of technical skills. Besides helping the underprivileged to acquire the pertinent tool, a group of trainers should be formed with the goal of coaching technological know-hows to the learners as well as their family members. This is so that the productivity and efficiency of the users will be improved, thus reducing the time wasted and narrowing the digital divide.

Personally, I feel that technology is a double-edged sword in which its consequence is largely dependent on the attitude and motivation of its users. The internet is a very effective platform for the sharing of information and the process of learning through technology should not be hindered by factors such as poverty and racism. It may be too soon to conclude that these solutions provided will close up the digital gap. However, technology, if used appropriately, will definitely be advantageous to students in the long run.

Cohen, E. (2007). Broadband Internet access, regulation and policy. New York: Nova Science.

Barseghian, T. (2013, February 28). By the Numbers: Teachers, Tech, and the Digital Divide. Retrieved September 30, 2014, from http://blogs.kqed.org/mindshift/2013/02/by-the-numbers-teachers-tech-and-the-digital-divide/

Richtel, M. (2012, May 29). Wasting Time Is New Divide in Digital Era. Retrieved September 30, 2014, from http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/30/us/new-digital-divide-seen-in-wasting-time-online.html?pagewanted=all&_r=1&

Schwartz, K. (2013, October 9). Tackling the Digital Divide: Low-Income Students Weigh In. Retrieved October 1, 2014, from http://blogs.kqed.org/mindshift/2013/10/tackling-the-digital-divide-low-income-students-weigh-in/

Barseghian, T. (2013, March 13). For Low-Income Kids, Access to Devices Could Be the Equalizer. Retrieved October 1, 2014, from http://blogs.kqed.org/mindshift/2013/03/for-low-income-kids-access-to-devices-could-be-the-equalizer/

Goodman, J. (2013, August 19). The Digital Divide Is Still Leaving Americans Behind. Retrieved October 2, 2014, from http://mashable.com/2013/08/18/digital-divide/

Purposeful Technology. (2007). Creating Digital Citizens –What is Digital Literacy? – Purposeful Technology-Constructing Meaning in 21st Century Schools. Retrieved October 1, 2014, from http://purposefultechnology.weebly.com/creating-digital-citizens—what-is-digital-literacy.html

Digital divide draft one

Digital divide is known as the ‘perceived gap between perceived “information have and have-nots”’. (Cohen, 2007)  It is a term that often relates to the segregation of the higher and lower income groups in terms of the accessibility and knowledge of technological devices. According to a Pew Research Survey, ‘84% of these teachers agrees that technology is leading to greater disparities between affluent and disadvantaged schools’. (Barseghian, 2013) Due to this segregation, it has come to light that technology is the main reason for the widening digital gap in the education sector.

The fact that children from lower income families do not have adequate access to the internet or digital devices was the primary driver for the digital divide.  While it may seem like a norm for students to engage technology for educational purposes, ‘only 18% of the teachers involved in the aforementioned survey say that all, or almost all, of their students have access to the necessary digital tools at home’. (Barseghian, 2013) The remaining students will have to rely on smartphones to get their assignments done. However, the quality of work performed on a smartphone will never be able to match one that is performed on a personal computer. Furthermore, the ‘rising cost of smartphone data plans is limiting the ability of the low-income students to get online’. (Goodman, 2013) The article ‘Tackling the Digital Divide: Low-Income Students Weigh In’ discusses the contrariety between the privileged and underprivileged students and how the poorer juveniles are overlooking beneficial learning resources due to their families’ socio-economic status.  It was also mentioned that ‘the internet is the modern day encyclopedia’ (Schwartz, 2013), a required tool to assist students to better understand and work on their academic projects. Refuting the students of such experience just because they are less affluent puts them in a disadvantageous position when faced with working in the society later on in their lives. A vicious cycle is therefore formed as there is a greater possibility of underperformance from this group of individuals due to the lack of technological knowledge.

In America, the digital divide is not only the result of the segregation of the higher and lower income groups, but also the discrimination between races. Some schools ‘do not allow students of colour to use mobile devices because they think that those students will not use them in an appropriate way’. (Barseghian, 2013) These students are often stereotyped and denied of the rights of accessing valuable information on the internet. Besides the blatant racism, the growing number of digital illiterates is also contributing to the increasing digital gap. ‘Digital literacy refers to the ability to engage with, read and interpret multi-media as well as the knowledge to evaluate data in ways appropriate to the users’ needs’. (Purposeful Technology, 2007) The current problem lies in the inability of students to manipulate the data retrieved with technology to supplement their educational experience. These groups of users should be given guidance and encouraged to explore so as to create a conducive e-learning environment which is advantageous to all.

With the already widened digital gap, another concern that was brought up was the over-indulgence in using technology for entertainment purposes amongst the younger generation. According to the article, ‘Wasting time is new divide in Digital Era’, children in poorer families are spending more time compared to those from better-off families in using their gadgets. This issue arises from the ‘inability of parents to restrict and oversee their children’s usage of technological devices’ (Richtel, 2012) and is one of the common reasons that contributes to the digital gap. In a Kaiser Family Foundation study, it was found out that children of parents with a college degree spends 10 hours a day, whereas children of parents without a college degree spends 11.5 hours per day on multimedia. As the number of digital users increase, the importance of digital know-how increases as well. Students, parents and teachers should be educated on the potential danger of indulging in the usage of digital devices for entertainment purposes. This is so that the productivity and efficiency of the users will be improved, thus reducing the time wasted and narrowing the digital divide.

Personally, I feel that technology is a double-edged sword in which its consequence is largely dependent on the attitude and motive of its users. The internet is a very effective platform for the sharing of information and should be fully utilized for learning. As a solution to the inadequate number of digital gadgets, ‘One Laptop Per Child’ (OLPC) has been implemented. This scheme aims to ‘create educational opportunities for the world’s poorest children’ so that they can be connected to each other and empowered through self-learning. The global non-profitable organisation behind the scheme ensures that students will be able to gain easy access to the platform and make use of the retrieved data for knowledge. It may be too soon to conclude that these solutions provided will close up the digital gap. However, technology, if used appropriately, will definitely be advantageous to the human mankind in the long run.

Citation

Cohen, E. (2007). Broadband Internet access, regulation and policy. New York: Nova Science.

Barseghian, T. (2013, February 28). By the Numbers: Teachers, Tech, and the Digital Divide. Retrieved September 30, 2014, from http://blogs.kqed.org/mindshift/2013/02/by-the-numbers-teachers-tech-and-the-digital-divide/

Richtel, M. (2012, May 29). Wasting Time Is New Divide in Digital Era. Retrieved September 30, 2014, from http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/30/us/new-digital-divide-seen-in-wasting-time-online.html?pagewanted=all&_r=1&

Schwartz, K. (2013, October 9). Tackling the Digital Divide: Low-Income Students Weigh In. Retrieved October 1, 2014, from http://blogs.kqed.org/mindshift/2013/10/tackling-the-digital-divide-low-income-students-weigh-in/

Barseghian, T. (2013, March 13). For Low-Income Kids, Access to Devices Could Be the Equalizer. Retrieved October 1, 2014, from http://blogs.kqed.org/mindshift/2013/03/for-low-income-kids-access-to-devices-could-be-the-equalizer/

Goodman, J. (2013, August 19). The Digital Divide Is Still Leaving Americans Behind. Retrieved October 2, 2014, from http://mashable.com/2013/08/18/digital-divide/

Purposeful Technology. (2007). Creating Digital Citizens –What is Digital Literacy? – Purposeful Technology-Constructing Meaning in 21st Century Schools. Retrieved October 1, 2014, from http://purposefultechnology.weebly.com/creating-digital-citizens—what-is-digital-literacy.html

Reader’s response draft two

The article by Max de Lotbiniere, ‘Malaysia drops English Language teaching’, focuses on the social aspects of the country which triggered the event. It gives a clear overview of the cause and effect of the issue and weighed the consequences of such action. While majority of the Malaysians thought that the education system, which involved the teaching of Maths and Sciences in English Language, was “a chance for Malaysia to follow the footsteps of economically successful countries”, some felt that it was overpowering the Malay culture. Opposition was voiced, building political pressure against the continuation of the educational policy. There is no doubt that the language is an essential tool for communication internationally, relevant especially in a developing country like Malaysia. However, the deteriorating grades of students and insufficient teaching resources have raised much concern amongst the critics.

A good command of the English Language is necessary for students in Singapore and this does not seem to be a hindrance to achieving good grades. Even though statistics have shown that “students who were taught Mathematics and Sciences in English were not performing as well in the National Exams as the previous cohort”, the fault may not lie in the language but rather, in the process of teaching the language. This may be due to factors such as inefficient teaching methods or the lack of encouragement in using the language, which will take time and effort to resolve. In fact, the slight decline in figures was probably only a temporary transition and does not represent the final result of the implementation of the English-medium education policy.

With reference to the educational system in Singapore, where students are expected to be proficient in both the English Language and their Mother Tongue, it is proven that being bilingual is in fact an advantage. The act of learning another language does not imply the negligence of the Mother Tongue. It is an additional tool to express one’s thoughts with and may not necessarily signify the “undermining of one’s culture”.

Besides that, the English Language has been defined as the international language in which most technical terms are expressed in. These terms are of utmost importance when it comes to bridging the global economy. Not being able to convey certain ideas or knowledge in a commonly used language is disadvantageous as translations of technical language may distort its meaning and cause miscommunication amongst speakers. The solution of “teaching English in separate language classes” may seem ideal, but this also implies that students will only be able to read and write in Basic English. This would be of minimal help in circumstances where there is collaboration between local and international companies. Therefore, the importance of English should not be disregarded if Malaysia wishes to achieve economic success.

In conclusion, the article provides a good overview of reasons as to why Malaysia had to phase out the English-medium education policy. However, personally, I feel that the pros of learning the language outweigh its cons and that more consideration has to be made before carrying out this decision. Students, especially those in rural schools, should be encouraged to learn language. Only then, a workforce of proficient English communicators will be formed, and Malaysia will be able to connect with the rest of the world and achieve economic success.

Citation
Lotbinière, M. (2009, July 10). Malaysia drops English language teaching. Retrieved September 1, 2014. http://www.theguardian.com/world/2009/jul/10/malaysia-tefl [online]

Reader’s response draft one

The article by Max de Lotbiniere, ‘Malaysia drops English Language teaching’, focuses on the social and political aspects of the country which triggered the event. It gave a clear overview of the cause and effect of the issue and weighed the consequences of such action. While majority of Malaysians thought that the education system, which involved the teaching of Maths and Sciences in English Language, was “a chance for Malaysia to follow the footsteps of economically successful countries” (Max, 2012), some felt that it was overpowering the Malay culture. Oppositions were voiced, building political pressure against the continuation of the educational policy. It is no doubt that the language is an essential tool for communication internationally, relevant especially in a developing country like Malaysia. However, the deteriorating grades of students and insufficient teaching resources have raised much concern amongst the critics.

Being able to command the English Language is necessary for students in Singapore and this does not seem to be a hindrance to achieving good grades. Even though statistics has shown that “students who were taught Maths and Sciences in English were performing less well in the National Exams compared to the previous cohort”, the fault may not lie in the language but rather, in the process of teaching the language. This may be due to factors such as inefficient teaching methods or the lack of encouragement in using the language, which takes time and effort to resolve. In fact, the slight decline in figures is probably only a temporary transition and does not represent the final result of the implementation of the English-medium education policy.

Cross referencing to the educational system in Singapore, where students are expected to be proficient in both the English Language and their Mother Tongue, it is proven that being bilingual is in fact an advantage. The act of learning another language does not deny the existence of the Mother Tongue language. It is an additional tool to express your thoughts with and may not necessarily signify the “undermining of one’s culture”.

Besides that, the English Language has been defined as the international language in which most technical terms are expressed in. These terms are of utmost crucial when it comes to bridging with the global economy. Not being able to convey certain ideas or knowledge in a commonly used language is disadvantageous as translations of technical language may distort its meaning and cause miscommunication amongst speakers. The solution of “teaching English in separate language classes” may seem ideal, but this also implies that students will only be able to read and write in Basic English. This would be of minimal help in circumstances where there is collaboration between local and international companies. Therefore, the importance of English should not be disregarded if Malaysia wishes to achieve economic success.

In conclusion, the article provides a good overview of reasons as to why Malaysia has to phase out the English-medium education policy. However, personally, I feel that the pros of learning the language outweigh its cons and that more considerations should be made before carrying out this decision.

Citation
Lotbinière, M. (2009, July 10). Malaysia drops English language teaching. Retrieved September 1, 2014. http://www.theguardian.com/world/2009/jul/10/malaysia-tefl [online]