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Research university leaders converge on NUS

11 April 2013

Prof Tan sharing about NUS' educational experience

The distinguished participants at the IARU Presidents' meeting at NUS
Technology-enhanced learning and the changing role of Asia in the world were among the topics discussed at this year’s International Alliance of Research Universities (IARU) Presidents’ Meeting on 8 and 9 April, hosted by NUS.

Chaired by the newly elected IARU Chairman, ETH Zurich President Professor Ralph Eichler, the meeting saw the participation of more than 25 Presidents, Vice Chancellors and senior representatives from IARU member universities who deliberated on the strategic directions, provided updates and offered guidance on on-going initiatives of the Alliance.

Sharing about how the University has embraced technology to enhance learning, NUS Deputy President (Academic Affairs) and Provost Professor Tan Eng Chye gave the example of the Integrated Virtual Learning Environment (IVLE) which was rolled out in the mid-1990s.

A learning management system aimed at facilitating and supplementing teaching, IVLE has seen recent innovations such as the development of applications for students by students to cater to their learning needs. Latest applications include useful functions such as a timetable builder called NUS Planner and IVLE Metro, a version of the IVLE for Windows Phone 7.

To further foster creativity, the iCreate Mobility Challenge 2013 allows students to have free rein in creating applications to improve fellow students’ learning experience at the University.

NUS has put in place a new S$5 million “Learning Innovation Fund – Technology” to support three broad thrusts: an annual call for proposals from all schools and faculties at NUS; targeted  redesign of courses with large class sizes; and support for NUS start-ups with novel educational products that can enhance the learning at NUS.

Given the changing role of Asia in the world, Dean of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Policy Professor Kishore Mahbubani offered his views on how this will impact higher education. He opined that it is the responsibility of universities to teach students about perspectives from both the East and West. Students, who will eventually become leaders of tomorrow, are mainly Western-educated and hold few Asian perspectives. Prof Mahbubani has recently published a new book titled The Great Convergence: Asia, the West and the Logic of One World which examines this and other issues.

Incepted in 2005, IARU is an alliance of 10 of the world's leading research universities, namely the Australian National University, ETH Zurich, NUS, Peking University, University of California, Berkeley, University of Cambridge, University of Copenhagen, University of Oxford, the University of Tokyo and Yale University.