Kwan Tuck Soon Friday Follow Twitter Interview Guest

Time for Friday Follow Twitter Interview and my special guest is Kwan Tuck Soon of Rulang Primary School in Singapore. I am glad that Tuck Soon is my guest this week as he is easily one of the most loyal of my Twitter followers. Tuck Soon often retweets my posts and he frequently adds links that I share to his account, The education-singapore Daily. I am always humbled and pleased each time Tuck Soon shares my links and posts. So, let’s begin this week’s interview…

1. Please share a little about yourself with the readers.

Hi John. My name is Kwan Tuck Soon. I’m a Chinese language teacher from Rulang Primary School (Singapore). I’m also the Subject Head ICT and ICT Mentor of the school. I’m passionate about Chinese language and studied Computing in the National University of Singapore. I would say my current job marries my passion and knowledge. During my free time, I enjoy photography and electronic dance music.

2. Describe the role played by social media in education.

Technology has brought about exponential speed at which information spreads. Social networks have revolutionized how people connect and communicate. Social media in education is gaining significant importance as learners become increasingly self-directed and collaborative. Students form their informal learning networks using social media tools.  Despite the fact social media has changed many industries, its potential in primary school education has not been fully realized. Educators, students and parents should be aware of how social media can help learning. Social media should also influence the design and implementation of primary school curriculum and assessment.

3. Tell me about your relationship with social media.

How do you feel about social media? During my university days, I developed strong interest in forming online communities and moderating forums. I still remember I was fascinated by the possibilities of connecting with friends in the first social network I joined – Friendster. Then I started blogging in Chinese language when I joined teaching service, partly because I wanted to polish my writing skills!  I was excited about having my personal publication and connecting with like minded people virtually purposefully.

When I first started teaching, I created class blogs using Blogger and had a lot of fun posting interesting resources to enthuse pupils to learn Chinese language. Gradually I moved on to education social network to encourage more pupil participation. Ning was my first try, then came Edmodo which I really enjoyed using with my classes now. I love the high level of pupil engagement in Edmodo and see great potential in ‘flipping’ the classroom using social media tools.

In terms of professional development, besides the ICT Mentor training provided by the ministry, I actively used Twitter. Frankly my initial intention of using Twitter was to fool around with 140 characters! In an unexpected turn of events, I got to know several awesome overseas educators on Twitter and rest was history. I went on to create the hashtag #edsg and form a list of Singapore-based educators on Twitter as part of my humble efforts to link up educators in Singapore. As of today, Twitter remains as the most important part in my personal learning network.

4. What do you feel are you strengths?

I think one of my greatest strengths is the willingness to try new things without worrying about failures. I must admit I am a geek, hence I’m always looking out for good social media tools which has potential to improve my teaching and help my pupils learn better.

5. What advice do you like to share with people?

I feel that in order for social media to work for education, we must cultivate a sharing culture. To connect and learn means you must first be willing to share. I’m actually a little apprehensive when I first started sharing. However once you overcome the ‘sharing inertia’, you will understand the meaning of famous quote ‘sharing is caring’.

6. Are there any questions you would like to ask?

The big question is, are policy makers, educators, students and parents in Singapore ready to unleash the potential of social media in education? That requires a collective effort from all of the above to align the vision and mission of education.

Thank you Tuck Soon! I think it might be a while before policy makers enable social media to any great extent for use by students in schools. Tools like Posterous for example can be deployed however policy makers may baulk with tools like Facebook given the constantly changing privacy settings and the like. Social media with education in mind should perhaps be the focus at this point in time.

Once again, thank you Tuck Soon, and I look forward to our next connections via Twitter. Readers, remember to add Tuck Soon to your Twitter feed and also check out his blog!

Tuck Soon online:

Twitter: Kwan Tuck Soon @tucksoon
Blog: Education Soon The education-singapore Daily