NTU wins two UNESCO awards for innovation in education
Nanyang Technological University (NTU) has won two Asia-Pacific awards for innovative approaches in education.
The Wenhui Award, jointly established by the UNESCO Asia-Pacific Programme of Educational Innovation for Development and the National Commission of the People’s Republic of China for UNESCO, recognises projects which emphasise the potential of education and the human innovative spirit to address and resolve pressing issues and problems.
NTU received two Wenhui Award’s Honourable Commendations for Educational Innovation 2013.
Dr Yuhyun Park, Director of Academic Projects at the President’s Office, was commended for her project titled iZ Hero Adventure: Fostering Citizenship in the 21st Century Digital Age. Assistant Professor Nanci Takeyama from the School of Art, Design and Media, was recognised for her project titled From Anthropology to Design – A Heritage Management Project in the New Silk Road.
The innovative educational projects are good examples of two of NTU’s Five Peaks of Excellence – New Media and the New Silk Road. These peaks of excellence are areas of research that NTU aims to make its global mark in. The other three areas are in sustainability, innovation and healthcare.
iZ Hero Adventure: Fostering Citizenship in the 21st Century Digital Age
Dr Park’s project, iZ Hero Adventure, is based on a digital media platform that aims to give children a fun and interactive experience in learning about digital citizenship, moral character and critical thinking.
As an innovative educational entertainment programme with animated characters, iZ HERO (iZ stands for Infollution ZERO) tackles information pollution on the Internet including obscene and violent content, abusive language, sexual predators, cyber bullies, and technology addiction.
This is the iZ Hero project's second recognition by UNESCO. It was awarded the UNESCO Information & Communication Technology Education Prize last year in Paris.
“This award recognises the importance of our pioneering efforts in digital safety education for children and youths. I think there should be more such innovative efforts in educating our young on the dangers of the Internet as the situation is getting increasingly critical globally,” said Dr Park.
“The iZ HERO Project was started to empower children with healthy values such as respect, resilience and empathy using a fun storytelling approach through online games, social networks and interactive exhibitions. We want to empower them to become a good digital citizen rather than scare them off digital devices/media.
“From next year, we will target one infollution project each year. 2014’s target is cyber-bullying and we will run the “HERO Campaign” together with various agencies across some of Southeast Asia countries and Korea, which aims to empower kids to become iZ Heroes who can “zero out” cyber-bullying,” Dr Park said.
From Anthropology to Design – A Heritage Management Project in the New Silk Road.
Asst Prof Takeyama’s project aims to create holistic models for design partnerships with non-profit craft-based communities in Southeast Asia. This is to ensure the creation of crafts and products that preserve cultural integrity, enhance the quality of craftsmanship and consequently, improve the livelihoods of the artisans.
For a start, she had chosen Lao People's Democratic Republic because of its invaluable woven textiles. Her team then started to research the ethnographic documentation of the Laotian culture, which helped to increase understanding and re-interpretation of the living culture of Laotian communities today through its most important symbol, the Cosmic Serpent.
Asst Prof Takeyama said that through workshops and interactions, her team learnt from the Laotian artists in Vientiane what the Cosmic Serpent symbol meant to them. Through their research, they also identified the most important textile patterns of the Cosmic Serpent, which was then used to create three new design collections featuring the Cosmic Serpent motif.
“A key question that arose from the project was how designers can help to bridge the knowledge gap among academics, artisans and communities, and I believe that our work has helped to answer that question,” said the NTU designer, who has been featured in several international design magazines and books.
“This project is a good example of how universities can engage the communities. Moving forward, we have plans to explore this model based on research on meaning, design by making and sharing the outcomes with artisans, which will help instil pride in their culture, improve their skills and foster sustainable livelihoods.”
The finished collections were showcased earlier this year in August in a fundraising exhibition titled “Craft & Design – an initiative for the community”, which was held in Singapore at the Little Drom Store from 30 Aug to 30 Sept.
A design workbook was also produced which allows a wider audience of weavers and the general public to have a better understanding and appreciation of this important aspect of Laotian culture.
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About Nanyang Technological University
A research-intensive public university, Nanyang Technological University (NTU) has 33,500 undergraduate and postgraduate students in the colleges of Engineering, Business, Science, Humanities, Arts, & Social Sciences, and its Interdisciplinary Graduate School. It has a new medical school, the Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine, set up jointly with Imperial College London.
NTU is also home to world-class autonomous institutes – the National Institute of Education, S Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Earth Observatory of Singapore, and Singapore Centre on Environmental Life Sciences Engineering – and various leading research centres such as the Nanyang Environment & Water Research Institute (NEWRI), Energy Research Institute @ NTU (ERI@N) and the Institute on Asian Consumer Insight (ACI).
A fast-growing university with an international outlook, NTU is putting its global stamp on Five Peaks of Excellence: Sustainable Earth, Future Healthcare, New Media, New Silk Road, and Innovation Asia.
Besides the main Yunnan Garden campus, NTU also has a satellite campus in Singapore’s science and tech hub, one-north, and a third campus in Novena, Singapore’s medical district.
For more information, visit www.ntu.edu.sg