During the past three years of the COVID-19 pandemic, Singapore introduced a slew of measures, including mandatory mask-wearing, contact tracing, and restrictions on gathering. John Dowey said: ‘We do not learn from experience, we learn by reflecting on experience.’ Hence my motivation behind my self-reflection on the impact of the pandemic on teaching, learning, and technology adoption.
A. Necessity is the mother of invention
i) Early adoption of Zoom video conferencing
When Singapore introduced the Circuit Breaker between April to June 2020, Zoom online meetings captured the public imagination and became a popular tool. In May 2020 (30 days challenge – Write your Life Story), I offered my first online workshop via Zoom ( A Meaningful Cause during the Circuit Breaker Period). Riding on the wide acceptance of Zoom for online courses, I ran several online workshops through WINGS and NUSS between 2020 and 2021.
ii) Explore the world of Music Video
The National University of Singapore (NUS) Alumni Singalong Group, where I am a member, hosted a regular monthly singalong session. Group singing is a coronavirus super spreader activity. Hence, the group switched to meeting over Zoom. Singing via Zoom video conferencing has many limitations because of the asynchronous nature of background music and audio. To enhance the meeting experience, we uploaded and played pre-recorded (audio or) videos by screen sharing. My video editing skills grew by leaps and bounds as I edited the members’ music recordings as a Music Video for sharing (Celebrating Singapore’s 56th Birthday).
iii) Leveraging my IT knowledge of Visual Design and Music Appreciation
To reduce physical contact, we converted the delivery format of the workshop from onsite face-to-face to virtual. Reduction in work commuting allowed me to free up time to curate and research ideas. I introduced case studies and interactive teaching strategies to make the workshops more engaging and productive. The focus is edutainment, leveraging IT to make visual design and music appreciation fun. I enhanced the following workshop with new content:
- Savouring Life with Music Video (Spice up the Musical Moments of Your Life)
- A Family Memories Keepsake and Digital Journal
- Tell Your Story with Stop Motion (Imagination is More Important than Knowledge?)
- The 3C Series–Be Curious, Creative, and Connected
- Tell your Story in Style with Video Slideshow and Digital Flipbook
B. We cannot direct the winds but we can adjust the sail
i) Introducing Gratitude Journal
In a talk at the NUS Senior Alumni Tea and Chat in Apr 2020, I learned that the suicide rate increased during this period of isolation and loneliness. The gratitude journal is one way to overcome depression by connecting with our strength and joy. I mooted the idea of a Gratitude Journal as the class project for my workshop (An Attitude for Gratitude). I encouraged the class participants to be positive and discover the secret gardens around them. During 2020 and 2021, selected class participants presented their gratitude journals at the Thanksgiving events hosted by the National Unversity of Singapore (NUS) Senior Alumni to an online audience.
ii) Community Building
Conducting workshops at the National University of Singapore (NUS) Society, Family Central, and Society for WINGS enabled me to work with participants of diverse backgrounds. I encouraged creative works from the students and published them on my Facebook Business Page (Let’s Celebrate Singapore’s 57th Birthday!). I am building a community to motivate, connect and share our creative journeys (Building An Active Learning Community of Digital Explorers).
C. No failure but just experience
i) Documenting the highlights of COVID-19
Documentation is an excellent way to record important moments in history. We focused on our positive vibes and the uplifting energy is contagious. We expressed our thoughts and feelings in the music videos and slideshows created. Looking back, we had gone through fear and uncertainty on the personal, economic, and social fronts. The country forged ahead with fortitude. We developed the strength to persevere and be more prepared as a community for future pandemics.
When I did my year-in-review in 2020, 2021, and 2022 (see references below), I did not know if there was light at the end of the tunnel. There was a strange sense of Déjà vu as I kept my faith in the recording. It was a meaningful journey of my life during a unique period when history was being written.
ii) Life Goes on, This Too Shall Pass
The fear of being infected remained, but the psychological issues and poor health of staying in isolation can be costly too. In June 2021, the Singapore government changed its “zero-COVID” approach and instead learned to live with the virus for the long term. In Feb 2022, Singapore gradually eased COVID-19 measures. By Feb 2023, Singapore further relaxed COVID-19 travel curbs and mask rules.
The COVID-19 self-test became the norm. We take responsibility for our hygiene and vaccination to protect ourselves and others. My students are happy to return to the onsite workshop. They prefer social interaction and to clarify with the instructor face-to-face. We continue to take precautions like mask-wearing in class.
In hindsight, I am grateful that the Singapore government has done well in managing the pandemic crisis. They implemented safety nets that prevented much financial hardship and social cost for the residents. To express my gratitude, I would like to give back to society and work on the initiatives I had started as Singapore enters COVID-19 endemic new norm.
- 2020 Year in Review for Orchid Creative
- 2021 Year in Review for Orchid Creative
- 2022 Year in Review for Orchid Creative