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IDA-Microsoft BackPack.NET - Paving the Way for the Future of Education

The Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore(IDA) and Microsoft Singapore(MS) today announced the launch of the IDA-Microsoft BackPack.NET initiative(BackPack.NET). This initiative, a five-year undertaking, will drive the testing, development, research and showcasing of innovative infocomm technologies in education...

Singapore, 25 October 2003 | For Immediate Release

The Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore(IDA) and Microsoft Singapore(MS) today announced the launch of the IDA-Microsoft BackPack.NET initiative(BackPack.NET). This initiative, a five-year undertaking, will drive the testing, development, research and showcasing of innovative infocomm technologies in education. Up to $20 million will be invested by IDA, Microsoft, industry partners and participating schools, in the programme.

BackPack.NET comprises four pillars: Pilots and Trials; Developer's Community; Education R&D; and Classroom of the Future. It aims to enhance students' learning experience through the use of tablet PCs, 'digital ink' and other emerging infocomm technologies. BackPack.NET will also create a collaborative framework for researchers, industry players and schools to develop software and digital content solutions. This is the first IDA/Microsoft Singapore collaboration in education. The initiative is also part of Microsoft's global Partners in Learning programme.

BackPack.NET was officially launched by Mr. Tharman Shanmugaratnam, Acting Minister for Education. BackPack.NET is complementary to MOE's IT Masterplan II, which focuses on 'engaged learning', and uses technology to customize the learning process to suit the needs and interests of pupils. The Minister later witnessed River Valley High School students using tablet PCs for a variety of uses, including ecology observations around the school's pond, creating digital art in an open-air class, and recording science experiments in a school lab.

IDA Chief Executive Officer, Mrs. Tan Ching Yee, speaking at the launch, said, "We are here to witness the launch of a project that will bring emerging technologies into our schools, to make learning more engaging, more interactive and, hopefully, also a lot more fun. By making learning more engaging and more accessible, IT becomes an indispensable tool in furthering the goals of education. IT holds the promise of enabling the transition from a teacher-centric to student-centric learning mode."

Microsoft Singapore Managing Director, Mr. Andy Zupsic said: "Microsoft is committed to partnering with the government in using Infocomm Technology to enhance the education environment in Singapore. Our commitment starts with the recognition that as a member of the local community, we have a responsibility to help people realize their full potential in an important area like education. This is why we have "Partners in Learning", a worldwide program which addresses each country's education priorities."

"BackPack.NET is our long-term commitment to working with the Singapore government, local schools, educators and industry players to establish a foundation for continued advances in education and learning. More importantly, it is about our joint goals in making schools an innovative learning environment that is imaginative, stimulating and will inspire students to achieve more," commented Mr. Zupsic.

Pilots and Trials - Using Tablet PCs for Science and Digital Art

The BackPack.NET launch coincided with the official launch of Pilots and Trials, the first of four BackPack.NET programme pillars. Pilots and Trials is a two-year project involving three schools. River Valley High is the first school to participate in Pilots and Trials, and initially involves 200 students using 30 tablet PCs in Science and Digital Art classes.

During the Minister's tour, River Valley High School students demonstrated how, with tablet PCs and digital ink technology, students can actively formulate and record their thoughts and ideas in their own handwriting anytime, anywhere. In the Science lab, students conducted a variety of chemistry experiments, noting and sharing their qualitative observations with other students. At the school's eco-pond, students studied the biotic and abiotic factors in a fresh water habitat. They logged the temperature, humidity and light intensity, as well as identifying the vegetation and organisms found in the pond. During the Digital Art demonstration, students drew illustrations and images directly onto the tablet PC screen, using inking technology, and then manipulated the images using computer graphic software.

River Valley High School Principal, Ms Ek Soo Ben noted, "Our students are excited at being involved in this pilot. The tools are new to them but they have already shown an ability to use this technology to support their own learning. By exploring and asking questions, the students are discovering new possibilities each moment. Even the teachers are excited, as they learn together with the students."

In collaboration with IDA, Microsoft Singapore is providing relevant software licenses, training, technical consultancy and development assistance to schools and industry participants.


About Microsoft's Partners in Learning

Microsoft's Partners in Learning program supports a long-term vision for the education marketplace, empowering teachers and students to achieve their fullest potential by providing for comprehensive ICT skills development, locally tailored training for teachers on ICT integration into curriculum and learning, and greater access to the latest computer technologies.

About Microsoft

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq "MSFT") is the worldwide leader in software, services and Internet technologies for personal and business computing. The company offers a wide range of products and services designed to empower people through great software - any time, any place and on any device.

About Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore

The Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA) is a dynamic organisation with an integrated perspective to developing, promoting and regulating info-communications in Singapore. In the fast-changing and converging spheres of telecommunications, information and media technologies, IDA will be the catalyst for change and growth in Singapore's evolution into a vibrant global info-communications technology centre. For more information, visit

For media clarification, please contact:

Mr Patrick Keenan / Ms Cheryl Tan
Mobile: 98220103 / 98441484
Email: /

Ms Ho Hwei Ling
Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore
Mobile: 96718262

Ms Amelia Agrawal
Microsoft Singapore
Mobile: 97543876