I attended the Engineering (Tech) Information Session hosted by the Public Service Commission of Singapore at the Matrix Auditorium on 1 June 2018. I volunteered for this event through my teacher and was fortunate enough to be selected to go for it with two other students from ICT. This talk was all about engineering but nonetheless I was eager to attend this talk as it was also focusing on IT related job opportunities in the engineering industries as well.
First and foremost, this talk gave me a better idea of what it is like to work in the public sector in Singapore. Employees from agencies such as PUB, HDB and LTA were there during a panel discussion session to share their experiences in the industry. The knowledge that they shared definitely curbed my false idea that engineering was strictly engineering, the talk broaden my view on the industry and it showed me just how integrated IT actually was in various sectors. At the session, we heard from professional engineers of several engineering clusters:
There was even a Q&A session with the panel where there were several questions regarding IT related even! Some were asking about IT related jobs in companies like PUB and MRT. During the talk they also talked about the PSC Scholarship (Engineering) which aims to recruit and groom students for leadership positions in engineering and technology sections of the Public Service. Students who possess this scholarship would be ‘tied’ to an engineering parent agency and cluster to help deepen their engineering skills early in their career. They would also be offered development programmes, opportunities to work with experts in the field and dedicated mentorship.
After the sharing session, we headed to the booths set up outside the auditorium by agencies such as DSTA, LTA, PUB, SPF and much more! There were people there to answer to our questions and I did check up with some of them about internship opportunities and most of them gave me advise on how to have a higher chance of being selected by their company. It was truly a rewarding opportunity to meet people from these agencies.
Overall, I feel that I have gained a lot of insight about life in the public sector. Being able to give back to the community through our daily jobs wasn’t something that ever came into my mind when I thought about career opportunities related to my course. But after this talk, I came to realize that I can still practice cyber security in the public sector. Since I still haven’t decided exactly what I wanted to do career wise, this talk expanded my choices. I feel that it’s important that I take all the opportunities presented to me to learn more about the various job opportunities that is actually out there to ensure I make an informed career decision in the future. This talk was one way, I managed to increase my knowledge about the industry in Singapore.
I was selected to be part of a group of students from ICT, to conduct a workshop at WorldSkills Singapore (WSS). The workshop was created by Annikken. On Thursday, 28 June 2018, I attended a workshop conducted by Annikken on how to use their software and micro:bit device. Through this workshop, I learnt about block programming on https://makecode.microbit.org/ and how to use the Annikken Andee app to connect to the micro:bit. We learned to create basic widgets like create a button, or make the micro:bit display certain stuff on its LED display and such.
We learnt that Annikken basically enables us to add a mobile functionality to an Arduino. This allows for data to be transmitted between the Arduino Board and the Annikken Andee app. Block programming was very simple as it was just dragging and dropping contents, then modifying certain fields to suit our interest. It was something very easy and simple, yet many of my friends and I realized the many application and uses for the app and device combination. One of the staff there created a game, while this device can also be implanted into remote control cars where we can control the cars using the app in our phones.
On the actual day of WorldSkills Singapore, (the first day), 5 July 2018, I was instructed to assist secondary school students in the learning process about Annikken Andee and the micro:bit. The workshop was conducted by Annikken and we facilitated the workshop by making sure every student there fully understood what was being taught. There were also laptops there for them to actually do the block programming and see the result for themselves. But during the workshops, I realized that the students needed little to no help in following the workshop and even managed to customize some of the widgets to their own liking. This showed us that this workshop was very effective in engaging students into the world of programming. A lot of them had very interesting questions. One even asked me about customizing the blocks to allow a loop function; something that isn’t covered in the workshop. Seeing how interested and curious they were, really made my time there fun.
After the workshops, some students even asked the ICT students regarding their course and how is programming like in poly. Their enthusiasm really amazed all of us.
Overall, I feel that it was a very good experience for me as I managed to learn something new then also be able to teach it to secondary school students and spark their interest in programming. I would definitely consider playing around with my new found knowledge in block programming and Arduino. I personally feel that I have benefitted more from being a volunteer than being a participant. I feel really happy that I had the chance to be part of this event as I am sure that the skills that I acquired here would be of use to me in the future.
1.1 What was your general perception / opinion of the S-L beneficiaries?
Before the S-L, I assumed that the older generation would not be knowledgeable when it comes to technology. Even if they were knowledgeable, it would be very minimal. I also was worried that teaching them how to use mobile devices and applications would not be easy as it might be harder for them to pick up the skill as using the gadgets isn’t an easy task.
My perception was heavily influenced by the people around me. My own parents who aren’t even old to be senior citizens have difficulties using mobile devices at times and come to me or my brother for help. My relatives who belong in the older generation sometime learn how to use their devices from their kids, but they usually forget it within a few days.
There was another side of me that was worried that I wouldn’t be of much help to them due to language barriers. From having experience in attending previous events where I had to help the older generation, I remember majority of them to Chinese or Malay speaking individuals. Because of this, I couldn’t help them as much as I couldn’t communicate with them. Thus, I had a feeling that I wouldn’t be able to have much of an impact on these beneficiaries.
1.2 What are your feelings towards participation in the S-L project?
I actually had mixed feelings about the project. I was a bit worried that this project would not have been a success for me as I had past service learning projects in secondary school where I couldn’t communicate with the elderlies due to language barriers. Because of this, I was very worried.
On the other hand, I was feeling excited as the thought of meeting others and helping them just excited me since I did have quite a few experiences helping people. The thought of being able to improve one’s quality of life just by teaching them how to use technology made me happy that I could have an impact on someone else’s life. Furthermore, it is also a well known fact that helping others usually boosts the mood of the person who is helping them. Thus, I was indeed feeling more excited than worried about this project.
1.3 What are the purposes of the programme?
The purpose of this project was to educate the beneficiaries how to use their mobile gadgets and other tech gadgets such as fitbit, smart watches and such. From teaching them the basic functions of a smart phone like adding contacts, making a call, setting a password to downloading apps and using social media. We also were aimed to teach them about security hazards such as phishing and phone scams.
By teaching them all of these, the beneficiaries would learn to be safer on the internet by practicing safer technology using habits. Furthermore, we can also improve their daily life by helping them infuse their gadgets into their daily routine. Thus this way, they can stay up to date with things around them, be connected with their friends and much more.
Last but not least, through this programme, we also were given the chance to share the knowledge that we gathered in school to the community. This programme aims to show us that this is one way where we can give back to the society by simply sharing our knowledge with the rest.
2.1 After interacting with the S-L beneficiaries, what is your general perception / opinion of the S-L beneficiaries now? Any changes?
It has indeed changed. The beneficiaries who attended the S-L, some of them do spoke English well enough for us to teach and explain about the uses of technology. Furthermore, they were extremely keen learners and were even quick to pick up the skills. Some even took down notes just in case they forget whatever I taught them.
Some even knew the basic functions of the smartphone, to owning accounts on social media platforms and online shopping sites. Some of them did share that their children weren’t the ones who taught them but indeed it was their friends or their friends’ children. Hearing that, made me feel really bad for them that their kids simply got them the smartphones then left it up to them to figure it out. It would have been really helpful for them if their children had sat down with them and taught a few useful features to them.
2.2 What have you done in the orientation/activities?
On my first run, after I was paired up with my beneficiary, she immediately showed me a list of things that she wanted to learn from using social media, to securing her phone and even trusted online shopping apps. I started teaching her the basics of smartphone usage and then cleared some of her misconceptions. She would also usually bring up her how children are really busy with their lives as they are working adults. I listened patiently to all her stories and quite frankly saying, they were a real eye opener. Her children are willing to help her but she feels that she doesn’t want to disturb them thus she came to attend this session to learn more from us instead.
When I proceeded to tell her about phishing and phone scams, she was honestly worried but after teaching her how to prevent herself from being a victim so such scams, she felt happier and immediately took it all down on her notebook for future references.
On the second run, I took up a couple that were very curious to learn about Google accounts and how it works. So, I taught them about Google Drive and other apps work. On the spot, they did create their account and backed up some of their important information. Then, I talked to them about social media (which they were not interested in) and how to protect their personal data. I did help the uncle to clear his phone as he had a few junk application that was taking up space for no reason.
At the end of both runs, I did feel a sense of accomplishment as my beneficiaries thanked me. I felt as though, I did make a difference to someone’s life, no matter how small or great the impact was.
2.3 What have you learned to improve communication with the S-L beneficiaries?
First, I had to speak slow. I am generally someone who speak fast. So, when sharing information to the beneficiaries, I realized that I had to slow down so that they could understand what I am trying to say. At times when I realized that they do not understand what I am saying, I either dew it out on a piece of paper or wrote it down for them so its easier for them. Furthermore, I realized that its easier to teach them when showing the things to them. Like instead of verbally just saying what is a scam, it is better to show samples of it so they can remember and relate to it better.
2.4 What are some of the important lessons that you feel you have learned over your interaction with the S-L beneficiaries?
When my parents or relatives need any help with technology or other related stuff, I must always be willing to help them and not give the excuse that I am busy and such. A lot of these beneficiaries did not have someone to help them at home, that is why they came to the session for help. So other than just helping my own family out, I can attend more of these sessions to help them so that they don’t feel neglected.
2.5 What are your feelings or special experiences gained?
I felt deeply satisfied and happy. My beneficiaries thanked me a lot and even the school for organising this event and being part of it to help these beneficiaries out. I learnt that there are a lot of people out there in Singapore who need our help when it comes to staying updated with technology and I’m grateful that my school provided me with the opportunity to participate in this event twice to help the beneficiaries out.
2.6 What are the observations that can be linked up with your course?
A lot of the beneficiaries were not updated with the risks technology brings about such as invasion of privacy, scams and such. Some do not even know how to set passwords and even if they do set a password, they either forget it eventually or find it very troublesome to constantly key in their passwords.
In my course we learnt that there is more than one way to secure a device and fingerprint is one of them. Unlike passwords, fingerprints are more secure since other people can’t access a beneficiary’s phone with their own fingerprint. Thus, I helped to set up fingerprint scanning in their mobile devices for an easier and safer process of unlocking a phone.
Even then, I realized that fingerprints might be a problem since certain beneficiary have faded fingerprints where due to certain work, their finger “loses the fingerprint”. For people like this, we can either set up facial recognition or they can use pattern unlocking where its easier. Its less safe but it would be easier for the elderly.
These are all things that I learnt in my module under various methods of authentication and my knowledge in that, allowed me to help them out.
2.7 Through your interaction with the beneficiaries, what are some of the social issues that you have observed? Suggest ways on how you and our school are able to help in any of the social issues observed.
A lot of beneficiaries’ children just get them a phone and a sim card without really teaching them how it works and everything. I think this is because, they think that a smartphone is easy to use thus the beneficiaries should have no problem learning it and such. Thus, when the beneficiaries ask their children certain things related to a smartphone, they get annoyed or ask them to figure it out themselves. Having a fear that they are disturbing their children too much, the beneficiaries don’t ask them and just tries to figure it out on their own which usually doesn’t work.
A few ways to solve this issue would be to either have more of this S-L events where students can help them out, have a brochure or an app that teaches them how to use their mobile phones. This way they can learn how to use their phones without having to ask their children.
Or a better idea would be to educate the children to teach their parents and relatives how to use a mobile device instead of just buying one for them. This way, everyone is winning. The children wouldn’t be asked by the beneficiaries as often how to use a phone and the beneficiaries would have all the sufficient knowledge needed.
2.8 What do you think you have done well?
I feel that I have done well in terms of communicating well and answering all of the questions my beneficiaries had. I also managed to teach them all the basic functions of a smartphone and managed to give them additional information about apps that they might need or want to use such as Healthy365 and Spotify.
2.9 What do you think you can improve?
I hope to be more knowledgeable when it comes to Android phones as many of them had phones such as Samsung, Huawei and such and I had to constantly google certain things to help them out. I would also learn to be a bit more patient because at times when they keep repeating the same question again and again, I got annoyed very easily. Since some of them are of old age, I need to be patient and slower with them as they might not be able to retain information like us since we grew up with technology unlike them. Thus, we have an advantage over them. So, I really need to make sure that I be a bit more understanding of their situation as I help them.
2.10 To improve the S-L activities, suggest what other additional knowledge and resources that you think our school or your mentor would be able to support you
I think the school should have provided us with a more in depth analysis of what the beneficiaries want to learn. There could have been a google form or such that they could have penned down their interest and questions. That way, we students could have been even more prepared. It would also be better if we know how many English speaking individuals there are so it is easier for the non-Chinese speaking students to help them.
Because of certain barriers like the above ones, whatever my class prepared for the beneficiaries kind of went to waste as they preferred one-to-one sessions over a group sharing session.
2.11 Suggest way(s) to improve the S-L activities for our School
I feel that there should be more than two sessions for the beneficiaries and it should not be on a weekend since beneficiaries and students might have other involvements on the weekends. Instead, we can have a few sessions on weekends and weekdays to cater to the needs of the beneficiaries. It would also be better that if the same batch of beneficiaries do not attend the same type of event again as they would just be relearning the same content unless they have more questions to ask us.
We can also conduct the S-L in Ngee Ann and send out a nationwide brochure to all CC and such so that we can have one mass S-L and a few smaller scale ones as well. The large scale one can cater to basic functions of smart phones and such.
In conclusion, this project achieved its purpose of teaching the use of smartphones to the beneficiaries and also clarify any doubts that they had. From this activity, I better learnt how to teach the older generation when it comes to technology. My perception of them also changed where I realized that even though they might be slow learners, they are keen learners and love to be taught these kind of things. From this S-L, I feel deeply satisfied and happy that I had the opportunity to help people out to make their lives better