Over the past year, a frantic pace of digital transformation — catalyzed by COVID-19 — reminded us all that a mindset of lifelong learning isn’t just for personal development. It’s a survival requirement.
Singapore was not alone as many of its Asian neighbors faced record unemployment numbers in the aftermath of COVID-19. Educational technology was called upon to offer solutions to upskill and reskill the workforce. Workplace learning, much of it now online, was in desperate need of guidance as new work skills were being defined.
David Yeo is a learning architect. He is also the founder and Chief Executive Officer of Kydon Group, a Singapore-based digital learning solutions provider. Kydon is leading a consortium of partners who won Singapore’s EduTech Alliance challenge to tackle the unemployment issue in the city-state.
The project for the Emerging Stronger Taskforce is called ZilLearn Skills, Singapore’s first digital learning and skills-matching platform built to keep the workforce relevant for the jobs of tomorrow.
With his experience in instructional systems design, David took a different direction from the traditional learning management system (LMS) commonly found in institutional learning.
David is using Kydon’s learning networking disruptor ZilLearn for this initiative. ZilLearn offers content creation tools for educators and institutions to digitize courses into targeted learning channels for mobile learning. AI and big data capabilities will be provided by job market insight generator JobTech to crawl through more than one billion global job descriptions.
In addition to Kydon and JobTech, Singapore’s EduTech Alliance also includes SMU Academy, the professional training arm of the Singapore Management University (SMU); TaF.tc, Singapore’s first Continuing Education & Training (CET) center for the textile and fashion industry; and SkillsFuture SG (SSG), a government agency.
A pandemic driven Industry 4.0 is upon us. If you’re just now seeking future-ready skills, you may feel that you’re struggling to catch up.
Reskilling and upskilling is not only the responsibility of the individual. “Employers must take responsibility and ownership of skills utilization. Companies and employers must be an integral part of this process. Hence the importance of workplace learning,” said Singapore’s Minister for Education Lawrence Wong during remarks at the National University of Singapore.
Editor’s Note: Kydon Group is the parent company of LEARNTech Asia, an independent and impartial news and resources platform for discussion and thought leadership on learning innovation in the Asia-Pacific region.
Our interview with David is the first in a series offering stakeholders of the EduTech Alliance an opportunity to share their thoughts on the future of learning and work.
Below is the full video conversation with David. You can jump to highlights from the interview in the sections below:
How has learning changed?
Learning has gone back to the fundamentals of learning: authentic, experiential, and real. And in doing that, learning has also embraced technology, which is part and parcel of life today.
It is almost impossible to think about education and training without thinking about technology because technology is so much a part of us, a part of our life, whether you are an adult or a child. And because of that, you have to consider technology in learning.
What are the challenges of learning?
The need to embrace technology needs to be quickened. It’s already compressed. The digitalization of knowledge distribution is already happening, even pre-pandemic. The COVID situation has really accelerated the whole process.
The challenge is not technology. The challenge is not the need to go remote. The challenge is trainers and teachers knowing how to do it because it’s not a direct transfer of classroom to online. We cannot take what’s in the PowerPoint and publish it online. We cannot take textbooks and make them into a PDF.
Bringing it online requires a transformation in the way we think about learning. In the way we think about how engagement takes place in the digital world. The retraining of people who do this needs to take place.
For the younger population, especially Generation Z, I’m not as worried about them. The bigger concern will be those who are mid-career because they have to think about upskilling and reskilling. They’ll do a major pivot from experiences and competencies that they are very comfortable with into something new.
In this new world, everybody needs to learn, relearn and relearn. Continuous learning is more than a catchphrase. Continuous learning is a requirement. In fact, it’s a survival requirement.
How must learning content adapt?
Learning content is changing so rapidly that the traditional way of creating content that takes months or years is no longer relevant or enough. We need to be able to create adaptive and quick content that is industry-ready.
While the learning institutions continue to have a role, we need to give the power of content creation to those people to make it available because we’re not just looking at the traditional curriculum that we’re used to.
We’re looking at new industries where knowledge is still emerging and changing rapidly. Therefore our content must change rapidly. ZilLearn has the capability to do that and we want to make that available to all of our institutions, organizations, and enterprises so that we can make content easily accessible.
We’re building ZilLearn to personalize it. There are massive content opportunities available and I’m not talking about courses. This massive content opportunity is that we will make into micro components and micro-courses so that it’s precise to the person. But how to make it precise? How do I make sure that the right person will get the right content at the right time in the right place in the right format?
I think that’s the key to what ZilLearn is trying to achieve. Especially through our platform ZilLearn Skills — creating a personalized learning path based on existing skillsets, and then helping the person discover what’s new futures? You said he or she needs to know in order to upskill according to their current career path, or pivot and change careers.
Learning is not a one-time thing. The learning is continuous. We continuously need to reskill. We continuously need to upskill.
What is EdTech role’s in workplace learning?
One of the things I think will be a big game-changer in the EdTech space is the idea of workplace learning.
Workplace learning, in its traditional thinking, is about bringing institutional learning — the certification and the courses from institutions into the workplace.
But workplace learning is not just about that. Workplace learning is also about learning in the workplace. How do you learn better? How do you gain skills, knowledge, capabilities, competencies on the job through the workplace? I think that’s something that would be a game-changer.
I don’t think we have our hands fully wrapped around it yet. It’s something that I’m very interested in as we do our research and development into how we can create the next milestone. The next big leap in EdTech. Moving it from traditional, institutional learning spaces into an operational workplace learning marketplace.
What do you hope to achieve from the EduTech Alliance?
In being part of the EduTech Alliance, we are building a product. The baseline product is simple enough in the sense that what we’re trying to do is help Singaporeans first and foremost be able to reskill and upskill by knowing themselves, their core capabilities, and by discovering what job opportunities are out there.
And then being able to create a personal learning path by curating all of Singapore and the world’s content to the person so that the person can learn, relearn, to be competent for new jobs or even upskill to existing jobs. That’s the immediate task that we have.
What’s the future of Singapore’s Workforce?
How can we help bring Singapore’s core competencies of education and learning into the region and into the world?
We’ve always had a very good reputation in the way we do education, in the way we are able to score very well in many of the global benchmarks and standards. We have that global trust in the system that we have.
Is it possible to make this something that is a real competitive advantage, not just for Singapore as we build up new economies, but to be able to use EdTech as a new economy to be a competitive advantage for Singapore?
I am hoping that Kydon and ZilLearn can contribute to providing the core platform to massively create, to massively enable, and to massively bring people together.
And these people are not just institutions or corporate partners. These people are also our users who are Singaporeans and our strategic partners in governments and industries.
I welcome everybody to reach out to us. It is a big ambition that we have. But I think this big ambition can be fulfilled if we have partners who are willing to work on this together with us, in a way that has never been done before.
David is also a speaker at our upcoming webinar on Future-proofing your career: Learning in the 21st Century.
Join him and other learning experts to hear discussions on learning and technology, covering the approaches, strategies, and best practices in facilitating formal learning, organizational learning, workplace learning, open learning, and skill-based learning.
Register for a slot today!