Sunday, January 23, 2011

Hunting for tablets in Singapore

Back in Singapore for almost two weeks to do some work with the Institute of Adult Learning. This is the 3rd time I am in Singapore within 7 month. It’s the most visits I have made to Singapore since I left over 30 years ago. Apart from the interesting work at the IAL, who are charged with setting up and developing post-compulsory education or continuing education and training (CET), it is a good opportunity for me to hone specific skill sets including navigating one’s way through crowded streets and shops and catch up with the latest food trends (the local master hawker  awards were announced), local politics (Prime Minister Mentor Lee Kwan Yew’s third book, based on interviews with the local papers’ journalists released) and catch up with some of the rellies.

As usual, there was the opportunity to check out the latest tech offerings. The local papers now contains many advertisements for tablets. With the Samsung Galaxy Tablet being offered by various telcos at around Singapore, starting from $250 with 2 year plans. Also the Viewpad 7(S$749) and the Viewpad 10 (S$899) from Viewsonic is offered either with Android or Windows 7. At Funan IT Mall, several shops now sell tablets, with the Archos 7 (around S$500) and Archos 10 (S$600 thereabouts) the most prevalent. Had a play with the Archos and it has a responsive touch screen and runs on Android. Also tried out the Samsung Galaxy (almos S1000) and the Viewsonic (windows version not very user friendly on a touch screen).  Lots of ipads about starting at S$748 for the 16G with WIFI. The Archos will be worth a closer look at to experiment with the Android OS.

Over the weekend, had time to spent a good afternoon at the large Japanese bookstore, Kinokuniya, which is a book lovers haven. I could have spent a couple of days there :) I usually try to make at least a brief visit as the shop has several shelves devoted to Asian fiction writers who write in English or there are translated works. Bought a few interesting offerings to add to the ‘books to be read after thesis completed’ box. Also noticed the many books on the effect of social networking including – Facebook Effect by David Kirkpatrick, Facebook Era by Clara Shih, the Social Factor by Marie Azua and more internet centric ones like Future Minds by Richard Watson, Socialnomics by Eric qualman, Groundswell by Charlene Li and Josh Bennett and a follow up book on the wiki phenomenon – Macrowikinomics by Don Tapscott and Anthony Williams.
The noticeable thing about Singapore is how go-getting most people are. The mostly young staff at the IAL are all passionate about their roles, generally tech savvy and keen to learn better ways to provide a more learner-centric curriculum to adult students.  It will be interesting to work on future projects to explore strategies for introducing student-led learning into a culture which has been traditionally content-focused, exam-orientated and teacher-centric. This is not only for the teachers but also for the students, many of whom would have not experienced formalized opportunities to set up their own personal learning environments.

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