The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted Singapore in innumerable ways and taken a huge toll on the lives of everyone. One such industry that has seen the brunt of the pandemic-induced changes is the education sector. With school closures and curriculum interruptions, students that were forced to ebb and flow with the everchanging school cycle have been hit with an academic crisis. However, it’s the psychological crisis students are wading through that needs more attention.

Leaders of the education industry are now confronting the psychological effects students are facing. If these issues are not addressed, academic anxiety brought on by the pandemic is likely to create even more issues concerning student productivity and performance.

We speak to Stanley Han for Koobits about his mission to change educatio

The key to fostering a brighter future is rethinking the approach to learning, particularly through the adoption of emerging learning technology solutions that have the potential to help students regain their sense of power and re-engage in their studies.

Psychological harm brought on by curriculum changes during the pandemic

Students have been through a whirlwind this past school year because of the pandemic. The Singapore education system was forced to bring forth curriculum changes that involved online learning—a necessity during the pandemic. Its school system now plans to continue to utilise online learning when students return to the classroom. This curriculum change is referred to as “blended learning” and combines traditional and online education to create a functional alternative.

Although blended learning has been working relatively well during the last school year, being thrown through the loop of changes has inevitably caused the mental health of many students to have suffered. Due to lesser interactivity and higher isolation, students face lower engagement levels and increased stress. 

A survey by Focus on the Family Singapore found that roughly 70% of students are experiencing academic anxiety. The majority of children going back to school are worried, stressed or feel negative about their ability to perform in their studies. When asked about how they felt about school versus how they felt about the COVID-19 pandemic itself, more students were worried about their level of education and upcoming performance than they were about the worldwide virus spread.

Although exam anxiety is normal, especially for a population of students who care deeply about their studies, the level at which it is felt, and the mental health repercussions that could occur if those worried students were to do poorly could be dire. The pressure students face, combined with the changing curriculum, cannot be overlooked. 

It is time to rethink the approach to learning and pave a road to resilience, to ensure student empowerment. 

Promoting curiosity over conformity

One of the main reasons that students are facing these increasing pressures is their failure to recognise why learning is important. 

The onset of online learning has given students more options than ever to discover learning solutions that suit their needs. However, these initiatives are often missing a critical strategy cited by decades of youth development research: developing curiosity for a child’s learning engagement. In traditional-style learning, curiosity is often the second tier and, in some students, can be stamped out altogether. Notably, research has shown that being curious is one of the most telling markers for the future of a child’s academic engagement and eventual success.

To help progress learning in students with a natural curiosity, it’s vital to prepare a child’s mind to participate in intentional learning. It builds upon skills a student already possesses to set them up for success. If children are primed to be more inclined towards intentional learning, they are less likely to become stressed or overwhelmed with their course content, and instead will be able to have a more positive and confident outlook towards their education. 

How edtech solutions can overcome the problems created by the pandemic

Edtech solutions such as the KooBits platform have the ability to innovate learning methods that are designed for children to learn any time, anywhere. . For instance, KooBits’ latest KooClass programme brings math to life, supporting  children to become curious, independent  learners. KooBits’ step-by-step animated explanations break down math concepts in a way that’s easily visualized and understood by children. The interactive and gamified features help to foster further engagement and deepen their understanding of math concepts and applications.

Each KooClass is bite-sized learning that covers math topics children learn in school. It goes beyond classroom learning, taking math to real-life applications and giving students the chance to get hands-on practice with an interactive segment. Students will also be able to unlock achievements, triggering the reward centre in their brain, thus making learning a rewarding experience students look forward to and enjoy.

There are over 100 hours of immersive educational content and new KooClass continues to get released every week to help guide and motivate children towards independent  learning. Koobits believes in the notion that learning should not be mundane or stressful and strives to promote a culture of curiosity, instead of conformity. Pandemic-induced academic anxiety and other psychological issues that children face because of school shutdowns and changing curriculums can be overcome. Edtech solutions ease this problem and make learning fun, effective and drive curiosity and independent  learning.

This article was contributed by Stanley Han, CEO and Co-Founder of KooBits

About the author

Mr Stanley Han founded KooBits Learning Pte Ltd, a technology spin-off from the National University of Singapore. In 2015, KooBits has successfully clinched the EdTech Excellence Awards at the Bett Asia Leadership Summit in Singapore, which celebrates Asia’s best people and solutions that transform education through technology. In previous years, KooBits has received a 5-star review from global technology review site CNET, as well as the INFOCOMM SINGAPORE AWARDS and the ASIA PACIFIC ICT AWARDS Stanley has over 10 years’ experience working with educators and technologists on interactive digital platforms for children. He was also featured in BusinessWeek’s Asia’s Best Young Entrepreneurs 2008.

Over the years, KooBits has grown its paid user base to more than 150,000 from Singapore and South-East Asia region. KooBits was invested by NUS Technology Holdings Pte Ltd in late 2006, awarded with R&D grant from Media Development Authority of Singapore in 2007, and another grant for the development of new media project in In June 2009, KooBits was invested (Series-A funding) by Accel-X Pte Ltd. Over the years, KooBits has developed products for education and digital publishing. KooBits has won the BETT ASIA EDTECH EXCELLENCE AWARDS, INFOCOMM SINGAPORE AWARDS 2008 and the ASIA PACIFIC ICT AWARDS 2008.