Press Release No. 16/02


Who would have thought quails' eggs, baby carrots and coffee powder would adequately illustrate how differently people cope with adversity? Well, for Ms Carena Chor Phui Ling who teaches employability and life skills in ITE, there can be no better example! Her creative and lively lessons draw students to her classes like bees to honey.

Then, there is Ms Beatrice Tan Li Khoon, an entrepreneur turned teacher, whose 'business' plan is to touch the lives of students and to turn shy and self-conscious 17-year olds into confident, poised 'entrepreneurs'. She saw the fruition of her plan when a group of her students from the Entrepreneurship Club presented their business plans in a youth entrepreneurship competition and emerged top five in the nation-wide contest.

Gordon Seow Seng Loi sees a direct correlation between achievements in CCA and academic results. This spurs him to spend most of his free time guiding students to excel in externally-organised competitions and, on weekends, organise robotic competitions so that students can have fun whilst learning new technologies.

A champion of the virtual classroom is what Ruhazat bin Adnan must be. His on-line technical lessons are such a hit that students can't wait for the next new topic to be posted on-line.

And to cap it off, there is the teacher who adds MAGIC to the classroom. How else to encourage creativity and innovation if one is not? Tay Khee Wee sets out to show students that a creative and innovative mindset is everyone's birthright. He sets the example by tweaking technology in interesting ways so that teaching and learning can be fun, rewarding and …magical.

2 These teachers, together with 4 other colleagues will be honoured in a Ceremony on Saturday 31 August 2002 for their outstanding contributions to the teaching profession. The 9 recipients of the ITE Best Teacher Award 2002 are:

2.1 Ms Carena Chor Phui Ling (Excellence in Teaching);
2.2 Philip Tan Boo Hock (Excellence in Teaching);
2.3 Ms Beatrice Tan Li Khoon (Excellence in Teaching);
2.4 Ms Ler Ai Choo (Caring for Students' Well-Being);
2.5 Gordon Seow Seng Loi (Co-Curricular Activities Contributions);
2.6 Ms Eunice Chua Lay Tin (Instructional Materials Development);
2.7 Ruhazat bin Adnan (Instructional Materials Development);
2.8 Tay Khee Wee (Innovation in Teaching and Learning); and
2.9 Cheong Fook Loy (Innovation).

Profiles of the teachers are at Annex A.

3 Many successful ITE graduates have attributed their success to their teachers - the unsung heroes of ITE. First started in 1994, the ITE Teacher Award is an annual award given to outstanding ITE teachers who have made significant contributions to the teaching profession and the development and care of their students.

4 Members of the media are cordially invited to interview the recipients of the ITE Best Teacher Award recipients. For more information and arrangements, please contact Ms Liang Hwee Ming, Head/Media Relations, or Ms Tham Mei Leng, Head/Board & International Relations, on Tel: 67720805 or 67720744.

Released on: 28 August 2002

Annex A


Name : Ms Carena Chor Phui Ling

Department/Campus : Academic Studies, ITE West (Dover)

Award : Excellence in Teaching

Contact No : 7770889 Ext: 873

Of Quails' Eggs, Baby Carrots and Coffee Powder…

"You're just like my mum....except she doesn't play the way you do."

This statement, told to Ms Carena Chor by one of her students, aptly describes the kind of teacher Carena is. For she is fun loving and highly creative during her Academic Studies lessons. And, at the same time, she shows motherly care and concern for her students, which draws them to her.

Students at Carena's class at ITE West (Dover) have learnt to expect the unexpected whenever they step into class. For the strangest objects have turned up there - whistles, bottle caps, soccer cards, hot water flasks, quails' eggs, baby carrots and coffee powder - just to name a few.

"It is not easy to get and sustain students' attention, so I often rely on 'props'," said Carena. "For example, to get students to pay attention in class, I use whistles, or any of my National Day items which make noise. It is very effective."

Carena also uses her 'props' to illustrate what she wants to teach. She said: "For example, during a module on Personal Effectiveness, I poured hot water into flasks containing quails' eggs, baby carrots and coffee powder. The idea was to illustrate how different people coped with adversity. Some people 'crumble and dissolve' during adversity, as shown by coffee powder. Others 'grow weaker' like baby carrots which soften with hot water. But there are yet others who 'harden and become tougher', just like quails' eggs."

Besides interesting illustrations, Carena also believes in experiential learning. Students in her Personal Effectiveness and Communication Modules have opportunities to participate actively in classroom learning. They play word games and even fill in lyrics of songs.

Said Mohamed Fedlie bin Mohamed Nor, first-year student at ITE West (Dover): "Madam Chor's lessons are lively and interesting. We are involved in discussions and games. We even take over the teacher's role sometimes because she wants us to learn better. In class, we can be expressive and she welcomes our views. In fact, time flies during her lessons. We enjoy them so much that we wish the lessons could just go on and on."

Carena often tells personal stories, to illustrate her point. "I tell them my own personal experiences with life. Also, I've got an eighteen-year-old son, so I would tell them stories about him." These stories struck a chord with the students, who would listen raptly.

Carena feels that a good teacher is one who "mustn't dread walking into a class." "Even when I feel down or tired, I don't transfer my feelings to my students. That's why I always project myself as being on top of the world when I enter a class."

Name : Philip Tan Boo Hock

Course/Campus : Mechanical & Electrical Engineering Design,
ITE East (Tampines)

Award : Excellence in Teaching

Contact No : 96617411

Dedicated Teacher Brings Out the Best in His Students

Teach Calculus at breakfast time? Why not! Philip Tan, a Mechanical & Electrical Engineering Design (MEED) Training Officer, would spend several of his Saturdays at the Burger King restaurant at Liat Towers or Raffles City, teaching Calculus to small groups.

"I offered to teach my students in a fast-food restaurant. Somehow, this idea appealed to them very much. The students asked many questions and absorbed concepts far better in this informal environment. I'm proud to say that a high 95 per cent of them passed the subject," said Philip.

Such is the dedication of Philip, who is concerned for his students' academic results, as well as their well-being.

In class, he ensures that his students have a good grasp of his lessons. "I try to give my students as much hands-on and practical experience as possible. For example, during the subject of Electrical Drafting and Design, I brought students on a campus tour to see the actual installation in the campus. I also brought actual electrical drawings for them to view, so that they get an idea of what 'real-life' MEED work is about," he said.

In 2001, Philip formed the MEED Club. "I wanted this to be a club for MEED students to get together and develop strong bonds. I encouraged my students to organise social and community activities in this club," explained Philip.

It was through this club that students who show leadership potential blossom. One of these students was Lin Yifang, currently a second-year Ngee Ann Polytechnic student. Recalled Yifang: "I used to be a very shy and reserved girl. But when
Mr Tan became my form teacher during my second year, all this changed. He appointed me Vice-President of the MEED Club and gave me areas of responsibilities. I began to organise many of the club activities. Through his guidance, I even gained courage to give numerous talks to large groups - something I never imagined I would dare to do! " Quiet Yifang became one of the top MEED students in her course and even obtained the Lee Kuan Yew Model Student Award before she graduated in May 2002.

Besides Yifang, Philip has groomed a number of students with good potential and a number of these students went on to win awards at ITE and beyond. Recalled engineer Tan Teck Chuan, who graduated in 1989: "Mr Philip Tan is a lecturer who has demonstrated great enthusiasm. Many past graduates, including myself, have developed our academic interest, thanks to his continual encouragement. With him as our strong supporter, we were encouraged to demonstrate the 'never-give-up' spirit found in us ITE students. " Inspired by Philip and other ITE teachers, Teck Chuan furthered his studies and obtained First-class Honours at Cardiff University, U.K, 1995.

In terms of professional development, Philip's forte is in AutoCADD software. He has a strong interest in this area and would attend seminars to update himself on the latest in AutoCADD. He has mentored staff from his department and conducted seminars and workshops on the latest CAD updates. He also markets and teaches customised AutoCADD classes to public members.

Name : Beatrice Tan Li Khoon

Course/Campus : Office Skills, ITE West (Clementi)

Award : Excellence in Teaching

Contact No : 96755112

"Every Student Has a Story to Tell…

When she joined ITE four years ago, she wanted to make a significant impact on the Business Studies students.

Said Beatrice Tan, Training Officer in Nitec Office Skills: "Being in the teaching profession is indeed a calling. I felt the calling to teach in ITE because I felt that the students there tend to be less privileged than others in the education system. Hence, they need us more. I want to be a teacher who can make an impact on my students. "

She added: "The students I teach are very sincere. Every one of them has a story to tell, and it is my job to find out what that story is and how to guide them from there. I try to impart life skills to them and also give them encouragement and motivation to go further in life. "

She has, indeed, made her impression on her young charges. ITE graduate Eirinta bte Mat Nawi remembers Beatrice well. She said: "Ms Tan taught us Business English. Although some of us struggled with the subject, she never gave up on us. She taught us the very basics and slowly built up our foundation. She was friendly and approachable and we really liked her. "

Eirinta pointed out that it was thanks to Beatrice's encouragement that she has progressed in her studies. "She would always motivate me to go further, " recalled Eirinta who took up a Higher Nitec Accounting course before she entered Ngee Ann Polytechnic to do Accountancy.

A former entrepreneur, Beatrice injects interest into her lessons by providing her students with real-life anecdotes and useful tips about setting up their own businesses.

"I used to run enrichment classes for children. Now, as a teacher of the Entrepreneurship module of the course, I tell my students how I ran my business and what were some of the 'hardships' I endured. I also explained to them that having the right attitude is all-important. As a businessman, you have to be very customer-oriented, treat your customers well and know that every customer matters," she said.

As the teacher in charge of the newly-set up Entrepreneurship Club, Beatrice hopes to cultivate a spirit of enterprise in her students. "I want to nurture an entrepreneurial spirit. We have exciting plans for the club, including our first attempts to run our own businesses here in campus," she said.

Her greatest joy comes from seeing the average students develop to their full potential, with the right guidance. "I remembered this particular group of students who were very shy. Yet they were able to take part in a nation-wide business competition and compete among those in the Polytechnics and Junior Colleges. During the competition, they had to present their business ideas to large audiences. I watched them become more and more confident and self-assured. They emerged among the top five groups in the competition. I was very proud of them."

Name : Ms Ler Ai Choo

Course/Campus : Nursing, ITE East (Bishan)

Award : Caring for Students' Well-Being

Contact No : 92169823 (Pager)

Winning Students Over with Heart Work

For Alice Theng Mee Choo, first-year Nursing student at ITE East (Bishan), her form-teacher, Ms Ler Ai Choo, Training Officer/Nursing/ITE East (Bishan), is someone with a heart of gold. "I'm a mature student, but Ms Ler has won my heart over as one who is dedicated to her profession. In class, she is firm but humorous, and outside class, she is our mother and our friend." Her students pour accolades on her excellent teaching skills and dedication, but what won their hearts was the way she cares for them.

Said Edgar Tan Chih Hsueh, also a first-year Nursing student, "Ms Ler is like a mother to us. She goes on the extra mile for us all the time. Whether it is in the preparation she puts into the Biology lessons, or in the way she cares for us. She goes beyond her job scope." Edgar must know, for his grades in Biology which was taught by Ms Ler, has improved from borderline pass to 'A'.

"I see every student as a starfish to be saved, and I want to save as many as I can," said the sprightly mother of a grown-up daughter. "For me, I know that if their emotional needs are met, academic performance will follow. So, I take good care of them. I talk to them like they are my children, and they know they can approach me, no matter how serious or private their problems". And many students have taken her words seriously: they'd wait for her after class; others would call her on her handphone. No wonder then, a normal day for this nurse educator, which begins at 7:30 am, would not end till 8:00 pm almost every night.

Her dedication has led her to visit students' homes after school, to talk to parents to discuss their children's performance, at her own time. In class, she shares with students her own life and experiences to give depth on issues which affect them or patients whom they would be dealing with. "It gives me great pleasure to see my students completing the Nursing course successfully. For me, it's like I've contributed back to society. I tell every student, to have high expectations of themselves and to be proud of who they are. In service, they should put themselves in others' shoes so that they will bring pride to the profession."

In the same way, this nurse educator who has been training student nurses for the past16 years has not lost that fiery commitment she carries with her when she first joined the profession. Of her commitment to students and their well-being, she says, "Use your heart to guide them. You won't go wrong with that."
Name : Gordon Seow Seng Loi

Campus/Course : Mechatronics, ITE West (Dover)

Award : CCA Contributions

Contact No : 96413503

The Competition Expert

He works quietly behind the scenes, guiding his students and helping them to excel in external competitions. He spends long hours and laboured through many weekends organising robotic competitions of his own.

Gordon Seow Seng Loi, a Mechatronics Training Officer at ITE West (Dover), does this enthusiastically and with a great sense of pride.

Organising robotic competitions is what Gordon excels in. These competitions, conducted during special occasions like Open Houses, are invaluable for drawing crowds to ITE campuses. The competitions help to generate fun and excitement among ITE and secondary school students.

"I search websites for new ideas on robotic competitions organised by other countries, like Japan. I then adapt these ideas and tailor them to competitions which will suit the level of ITE and secondary school students," he explained.

Gordon supervises the competition from the start to the finish. He will plan the logistics of the competitions, run the actual competitions and do the follow-up work, such as the announcement of results.

The competitions he organises include the Auto-Guided Vehicle Challenge, Track Runner Competition, Tape Guided Robot Competition and Obstacle Avoidance Robot Competition. These competitions require participants to use simple programming to enable robots to travel along a path, either on a track or in maze.

Mr Lim Peng Koon, a Design & Technology teacher from Teck Whye Secondary, had students who participated in Gordon's competitions for the past three years. He recalled: "Mr Gordon Seow is an excellent organiser. He is very responsible and would call up my colleagues without fail before the competitions to check if they have any queries. During the competitions, we could see him in the thick of things, making sure that each aspect of the competition runs smoothly. And he is very patient and most pleasant to work with. "

Gordon also plays an important part in motivating his students to do well in external competitions. These competitions include the Singapore Robotic Games, Singapore River Raft Race and Dominoes Competition organised by Mediaworks. Much of his free time is spent helping students to work on their competition projects.

"My greatest satisfaction is to see the pride and joy in my students' faces when they represent ITE in competitions, or help me out when I organise events. These activities have helped them to develop their confidence, self-esteem and a sense of pride in ITE. In fact, the students who do well in CCAs also tend to improve on their grades, because they feel motivated to excel, not just in their CCAs, but their studies as well."

Name : Eunice Chua Lay Tin

Course/Campus : Accounting, ITE West (Clementi)

Award : Instructional Materials Development

Contact : Currently pursuing a degree programme in Australia,
Eunice is available for e-mail interviews at the
following e-mail address : Lay.Chua@student.gu.edu.au

Undaunted by Setbacks to Achieve Dream of Developing New Courseware

It all started with a dream - to develop useful online lessons for her Accounting students.

Within two years, Eunice Chua Lay Tin has achieved more than she could imagine - not only has she successfully developed innovative online courseware packages, she also created a virtual learning community filled with useful resources for ITE teachers. A commendable achievement, indeed, for this Training Officer from ITE West (Clementi) with virtually no programming background.

Eunice, who is currently doing a three-year Bachelor of Multimedia programme at Griffith University, wrote in an email interview: "My greatest joy was at the final moment, when I saw my dream turned into a reality - the feeling was simply beyond description."

She started her first project on courseware development on 'Costing Module I - Introduction to Costing' in July 2000. Her learning package - which involves a setting up of a virtual factory based on Costing Practical Case Studies to provide the learners a realistic learning context - took Eunice eight months to complete. Developing this courseware package from scratch was no easy task. Eunice pored over the Internet for hours, searching for information to include in her virtual factory. She also needed to hone her IT skills. "There were times of discouragement, frustration and doubts. I'm glad I didn't give up," she said. Undaunted, she pressed on.

The final product was well worth the effort. "The students indicated that the package is interesting and it challenged them to exercise their thinking, communication and collaboration skills. Through the process of being engaged in the various learning activities, they gained a better understanding of the business operations of a manufacturing concern," wrote Eunice.

The project was subsequently presented at the Asian Media Information & Communication Centre (AMIC) Regional Conference on "eLearning - The Future of Education" in September 2001. Eunice received positive feedback from conference participants.

Encouraged by the success of her first online project, Eunice developed another module - Material Costing - Inventory Control - which was an extension of the virtual factory concept. She has also inspired other colleagues to follow in her footsteps.

As the Chairperson of the eLearning community at ITE West (Clementi), Eunice spearheaded several IT initiatives in the campus. One of these was the creation of a virtual eLearning community, which was set up in July 2001 to provide staff with resources for teaching and learning. "The virtual eLearning community became a platform for me to share with my colleagues the available online resources on eLearning. I hope it could inspire more staff to adopt more innovative teaching methods, " she wrote.

When the eTutor Learning System started in 2002, Eunice was able to help her colleagues from Clementi campus adapt quickly to this new mode of learning. "I saw myself as the facilitator, providing directions, encouragement, guidance and technical support," she recalled.

Name : Ruhazat bin Adnan

Course/Campus : Mechatronics, ITE East (Tampines)

Award : Instructional Materials Development

Contact No : 96412535

Developing Enriching Courseware Which Students Love

"Sir, will your next lesson be as interesting as the one we just had?" asked a student of Ruhazat bin Adnan after a lively Industrial Robotics lesson.

This is a typical remark which Ruhazat, a Mechatronics Training Officer from ITE East (Tampines), comes across during his classes. For his students love the online courseware that he has developed. They enjoy its animation features, interesting graphics, self-assessment features and even multi-level games which Ruhazat has specially designed for his students to help them understand their subject matter better.

Ruhazat's journey in online courseware development began in 1998, when he, together with two other ITE East (Tampines) teachers, pioneered the 'Campus Online' project. This new project aims to develop web-based learning materials for students. Students use the courseware to supplement classroom teaching, and also as a means for them to revise their work.

Ever since then, Ruhazat has become a champion for online learning in ITE. He has since developed about 30 curriculum hours of courseware in the Industrial Robotics module at the Higher Nitec level. He also developed an eLearning courseware package for the Flexible Manufacturing System module using Authorware and Dreamweaver software.

"Web-based learning is ideal for ITE students, who are IT-savvy. The lessons are self-paced and students can revise them many times over. Lessons are also enriching, as we can include additional resources not found in textbooks, for students who want to learn more," said Ruhazat.

His courseware was carefully developed based on the constructive feedback from his students. "Each time I develop a new topic, I will try it out on my students and get their feedback," he said.

Ruhazat constantly keeps himself updated on the latest in instructional technology. He has attended a five-week course in Instructional Technology at the University of Minnesota - Crookston, USA, in 2001. He also took up an eight-month distance learning courses in Instructional Technology from the same university and has completed the course in February 2002.

He hopes to encourage more of his colleagues to use online learning as a new educational tool. "I hope that my colleagues and friends will be able to shift from traditional classroom teaching, to learning in the virtual classroom," he said. He has conducted a number of sharing sessions with his fellow colleagues on IT Animation and Web-Page Development.

Name : Tay Khee Wee

Course/Campus : Mechatronics, ITE West (Dover)

Award : Innovation in Teaching and Learning

Contact No : 98503123

Magic in the Classroom

"I think about how I can teach a topic or module more effectively wherever I am. Whether it is waiting at the bus stop, or just looking out at the rain, I never stop to observe, to marvel, or to let my imagination run. In my mind, I'd always be toggling questions like: How can I teach this well? How can I make it more interesting or, perhaps, simplify it for my students?"

And if you do have a chance to look at the basket of projects he has developed over the years, you would notice that they are not merely innovative teaching aids, but also gadgets and software he has developed to make lessons more interesting or lively. Amongst them: software for electronic score boards, 'quick pick' for quizzes and even an electronic timer for classroom games. "Our mind works in mysterious ways. Our creativity and quest for knowledge are stimulated by different experiences. I hope, by providing students with a creative environment, I'd be able to light that spark of creativity in them, too, " he said.

Not surprisingly, his students have also come up with a number of quality projects short-listed for internal and external awards. Amongst them include projects using SMS technology to control home automation or to initiate rescue operations in emergency. Others include a SOS Wand, which uses simple theory and circuitry to create SOS messages with a single row of LED emitters.

And to 'Professor Tay', as he is fondly known to staff and students in ITE West (Dover), how else can one encourage innovation than by being innovative yourself? Among the many innovative teaching aids he has developed, is the modular auto-guided intelligent car he developed for teaching complex engineering concepts in Mechatronics engineering. Aptly named MAGIC, this easy-to-build vehicle enables students to focus on learning one aspect of engineering theory at a time, while being able to see the vehicle moving and functioning.

"Unlike conventional teaching methods where all topics have to be taught before students put a project together, with this particular aid, by concentrating, for example, on how micro-processor programming is done, students get the thrill of having the whole picture while focusing on one part of the vehicle. This, I found, encourages students to be curious about other areas of knowledge involved as well." The project and its concept paper titled "An Innovation in Project-Centred Learning" was presented at the Innovation 2002 Forum organised by the League in Innovation for Community Colleges, USA, in March this year.

Winning the ITE Best Teacher Award a second time, the first being in 1997, in Instructional Media Development, did not cause him to rest on his laurels. In fact, it has spurred him onto greater heights. "Winning the Award in 1997 told me that Management recognises the work I did, but it also meant I cannot stop improving to bring honour to the organisation. "

Name : Cheong Fook Loy

Course /Campus : Mechanical Engineering, ITE West (Dover)

Award : Innovation

Contact No : 96030962 (pager)

Iron Sharpens Iron

How would you like to have a utility meter that not only tells you how much your electrical bill will be for the month, but will announce the amount as well? Well, if that is what you need, then, welcome to TUMM; a battery-operated talking meter that consists simply of an LCD display, a speaker, an optical sensor and a chip. Developed by Mr Cheong Fook Loy, Training Officer/Mechanical Engineering/ITE West (Dover) and his students, the Talking Utilities Meter Meter (TUMM) was awarded a Merit Award in a nation-wide contest organised by Microchip Technology and Temasek Polytechnic.

While TUMM is fascinating, this is but one of the many award-winning innovative projects Fook Loy, winner of this year's ITE Teacher Award 2002 for Innovation, has developed in recent years. Other award-winning ideas that brought honour to ITE include the Intelligent Piggy Bank - a charity box intelligent enough to "sing, see and talk", Intelligent Charity Box and even a Wonder Hanger. By encouraging his students to apply their knowledge in creative but practical ways, Fook Loy has managed to successfully combine his love for teaching with his love of technical project work.

Said Fook Loy: "I find satisfaction in solving technical problems. I think about how to improve on projects wherever I go. How to make it interesting - both for myself and for my students." His latest project : a Multi-Purpose Vision Inspection WorkStation is a teaching aid he spent one year building with 3 students. "With this WorkStation, I hope to enhance the teaching of the Quality Engineering specialisation we have in Mechanical Engineering. This project has won the ITE Alumni Outstanding Student Project Award. "

In his usual humble and unassuming manner, Fook Loy would always credit his students and colleagues for the awards which he together with his students have won over the last 3 years. These include a Silver Award in the prestigious Tan Kah Kee Young Inventors' Award (Open Section) in 2000 for the Intelligent Charity Box and a Spirit of Young Enterprise Award for the Intelligent Piggy Bank.

For the teacher who, in the early years had found teaching ITE students tough, he has today found a niche in his career. "I believe iron sharpens iron. Just as I have the knowledge to share with students, they have ideas I'd never have thought about. For me, I'd do anything I can to help them so that students can experience success; and, if by any chance we win an award, that to me, is bonus. "