VITAL (Virtual Institute of Training and Learning), an e-learning portal developed by Singapore Computer Systems Limited (SCS) for the Singapore Ministry of Education (MOE), was launched on July 10, 2001 by the Permanent Secretary for Education, Mr Chiang Chie Foo. Some 32,000 staff in MOE will be able to use the VITAL portal to access e-learning packages for their own personal and career development.
VITAL leverages on the use of the Internet to deliver learning resources such as training and professional development courseware. Through this form of technology-enabled distance learning, teachers are no longer bound to the classroom. Instead, they can learn from the comforts of their own home, in their own time, and at a pace suitable for them. While doing so, teachers remain in a tightly-knit network, since they can interact on-line through chat and discussion facilities.
SCS was behind the development of the e-learning portal on two fronts. Its Multimedia & Learning Systems Unit was involved in designing, developing, testing and implementing the e-learning portal. Its business consulting subsidiary, SCS Foresight Pte Ltd, implemented various change management initiatives that will effectively communicate the e-learning messages to every MOE staff.
In developing the portal, focus groups including Vice-Principals, school administrators, operations managers and MOE HQ staff and teachers were involved. Feedback on learning needs and potential issues and concerns were obtained and this was incorporated in the final version.
MOE conducted a pilot run of VITAL involving 24 schools from 2 April to 30 April this year. The official roll-out of VITAL on July 10, 2001 was preceded by a range of communications activities targeted at all teachers to obtain their buy-in.
At the same time, a helpdesk was also set-up to handle hotline enquiries. MOE staff can email, fax or call in with questions on the system, as well as to provide their feedback and comments on how the portal can be further improved.
VITAL was developed using Microsoft technologies, running on Microsoft Windows 2000 Advance Server and SQL Server 2000. To meet the large number of users accessing the system, a web server farm with eight Compaq servers were chosen. As a start, the system hosts content developed within MOE as well as courseware from vendors such as NETg.