Covid-19, Technology & Data Protection

Trends and Issues in Education & Learning Technology

(Picture: Schools are are not the only ones going online, even tuition has gone online to survive Covid-19)

Covid-19 has done what most leaders could never do. Turn a nation reluctant to use mobile payment into technology savvy working adults and learners. It must certainly be recognised for single-handedly accelerating Singapore’s education system to one working fully online for more than a week. Whereas many leaders and educational technologist can only dream of a day like this, the past week has seen changes that were remarkable in the public education space.

For example, I am delighted to observe that even my own children’s teachers have become absolutely comfortable checking on their students one by one patiently through Zoom. I was honestly impressed to overhear a teacher (for one of my kids) voice her care through technology right into my living room one morning. We never would have known without Covid-19.

Life will never be the same again after Covid-19. Why should it be? By now educational institutions all over the developed world are either online or shut down. Likewise, for businesses and some of them shutdown for good. For me, it was always clear that any school without a suite of virtual learning campus will face obsolescence now. Unless the school is publicly funded, it will be in the red immediately as national lockdowns also turned off their cash flows.

As the world grapple with business continuity, concerns about security and personal privacy promptly emerged. Within the first few days of national e-learning effort teachers in Singapore reported gate-crashers into their virtual classrooms. In less than two weeks, bad press about stolen passwords involving some by-now super-popular conferencing platforms also made headlines. In all these episodes, the main actors are always thought to be the technology. However, experienced cyber-security experts will be able to attest that the weakest link in any organisation will be humans.

Human errors and habits are the reasons for many of these lapses leading to stolen personal data and breaches. Businesses and schools should not only accelerate their technology strategies to overcome tough times like the impending recession, they should also start to build up their organisational privacy culture and capabilities for their people to feel safe and competent to use technology. How leaders infuse privacy principles into their business strategies will be the next big focus when this Covid-19 crisis is over.

We must realise that virus is not the only thing that affects our lives deeply. Whatever we allow into our backyard, and occasionally unknowingly through the front gate, may turn out to be the agent that would disrupt our business and lives. Preparing our leaders and organisations to handle future threats are as important as thinking about or creating the future.

For more insights and foresights, please contact me at

(Picture 2: Work From Home is now the norm, and probably will remain so for many.)

Gary Tsu (Dr) DBA ACC MEd PGDE(Sec) BSc(Hons)


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