Internet Edition

Issue No. 1, March 1997

Information and Educational Technology Developing a strategy for the 21st Century

- by Kelvin Foong and Keson Tan

No longer are national and cultural boundaries barriers to a person seeking knowledge. The globalisation of Internet, specifically the World Wide Web, has opened windows for millions to engage in the global exchange of information. Here at the National University of Singapore (NUS), the Faculty of Dentistry is embarking on an ambitious plan to convert the teaching, research, clinical and administrative areas into an IT exchange that will enhance the information flow process.

Need for a strategy

NUS recognises that rapid and extensive adoption of Information Technology (IT) has not resulted in measurable gains in productivity; that productivity gains are elusive. It attributes the failure "to the lack of a comprehensive re-engineering program needed to transform an organisation for the information age." (NUS Strategic Directions for the 21st Century, pg 30)

Mindful of the challenges and opportunities facing the Faculty in the 21st century, the Faculty's IT committee, led by Dr Keson Tan, analysed the strengths, limitations, opportunities and threats to the successful implementation of a strategic plan. A strategy is to be developed and put in place that rides on the relatively high degree of IT penetration in NUS with the existing NUSNET-II network infrastructure.


The Faculty of Dentistry Strategic Plan on Information and Educational Technology (ET) hopes to integrate both the overall framework of the Faculty of Dentistry's goals and the strategic thrusts and strategies defined in the NUS Information Technology Plan. The plan for IT and ET development is to use IT and ET as an enabler to assist the Faculty achieve its Mission of becoming a leading international dental institution in areas of teaching, research, and clinical care. The strategic thrusts are in the direction of IT infrastructural development and manpower support. For the Faculty to remain relevant in the 21st century, the planned objectives are to:

  1. Develop an information infrastructure that enables the teaching, research and service missions of the Faculty. Students will be able to have convenient access to IT resources, e.g., online databases, online pharmacopoeias, electronic clinical manuals, electronic reference books.

  2. Put in place motivation and support mechanisms to encourage usage of IT resources.

  3. Develop and implement Clinical and academic Support Tools that leverage on Information Technology, e.g., an integrated Clinical Inofrmation System for the Student and staff Clinics.

  4. Encourage new modes of interaction in the teaching / learning process.

  5. Adopt a paperless administrative workflow - in student academic grade tracking as well as student clinical performance tracking.

  6. Put in place mechanisms to fund maintenance and replacement of IT resources (desktop, network and classroom Educational Technology assets) at a shorter life-cycle compared to traditional physical plant.

With the plan in its early developmental stages, the future of the Faculty looks bright in cyberspace. Though this effort is one small step in bringing the IT plan to fruition, it will be one huge stride towards achieving the Faculty's mission "To be a leading international dental institution in teaching, research and clinical care."

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