World-First BackPack.NET Centre to Impact the Future of Education in Singapore

Continuing its tradition of innovation in education, Singapore is once again demonstrating regional and global leadership with today's official opening of Backpack.NET centre. The dedicated centre, a world-first, has been ...

Singapore, March 2,2005 | Press Release

Continuing its tradition of innovation in education, Singapore is once again demonstrating regional and global leadership with today's official opening of Backpack.NET centre. The dedicated centre, a world-first, has been specifically designed to showcase and prepare teachers, educators, students and policy makers on how technology will influence pedagogical methods and improve the learning environment for future generations of students in Singapore schools and beyond. Titled BackPack.NET Centre, it forms the next two pillars of the BackPack.NET initiative - a strategic collaboration between Infocomm Development Authority (IDA) and Microsoft to facilitate the research, development, testing and showcasing of innovative Infocomm technologies for use in education.

Officially opening the BackPack.NET Centre today was Minister for Education, Mr Tharman Shanmugaratnam.

BackPack.NET Centre, situated at National Institute of Education (NIE), is a significant milestone for Infocomm technology in Singapore as it will showcase and demonstrate various technologies in education that will impact the future of learning, as well as act as a focal point for industry partners to exchange ideas with academics. In addition, it provides the ideal platform for partners of BackPack.NET, the developers', to market their capabilities and solutions to local and foreign education decision makers, helping them to drive innovation and grow revenue.

Said Mr Chan Yeng Kit, CEO, IDA at the launch today: "Through BackPack.NET Centre, IDA hopes to provide opportunities for the local Infocomm industry to reinforce the high-tech nature of Singapore through software and digital content innovation for use in education. Already, we are witnessing regional interest with executives from the Korean, Malaysian and Indonesian education sectors flying in especially for the launch to learn more about how technology will impact the learning environment in the future."

Reinforcing Singapore's position as a member of the world's Top Seven Intelligent Communities 20051, BackPack.NET Centre will help support NIE's curriculum whereby undergraduate and postgraduate students and teachers will be exposed to new technology and how it can influence pedagogical methods in the future.

Speaking at today's launch, Associate Professor Philip Wong, Ph.D, Divisional Director, Academic Computing and Information Services, NIE said: "BackPack.NET Centre will help to communicate and demonstrate the role of technology in the future of education. Over the next five to ten years we will witness a dramatic change in the culture of the classroom to support and motivate independent learning and thinking among students and teachers through use of innovative technology in the education system."

For instance, the Bio Genetic Laboratory scenario showcases learning-based technology such as RFID for easy retrieval of up-to-date data within the learning context; System Modeling Tools to engage pupils in investigative learning; Digital Geography text books where the entire book content is digitized coming alive with multi-media and collaboration applications, and also resource links to relevant websites; and Telecommunications enabling instant connection to any individual from around the world aiding cognitive modeling of an expert in the area that pupils wish to explore, in this instance a Scientist from U.S.A.

Of further interest, Microsoft chose Singapore as the first country in the world to set up the BackPack.NET programme.

At today's event, Ms Gerri Elliott, Corporate Vice President, Worldwide Public Sector, Microsoft said: "Microsoft's commitment to education and lifelong learning starts with a promise to provide the best learning technologies via research and partnerships with the government. We chose Singapore as the first country in the world to set up and implement the BackPack.NET programme because of the nations high tech nature and commitment to work with partners to leverage Infocomm technologies as the key enabler, bringing schools and the education sector into the exciting new era of digital learning and teaching."

Classroom of the Future, and Education Research and Development pillars BackPack.NET Centre comprises two of the four BackPack.NET pillars - Classroom of the Future, and Education Research and Development.

Classroom of the Future consists of five different learning scenarios each demonstrating and testing technologies for use in the learning of tomorrow's students. It introduces the concept of virtual classrooms whereby students learn and communicate with fellow pupils, teachers and experts anywhere anytime, creating a highly interactive learning environment.

BackPack.NET Centre supports the Education Research and Development of emerging technologies in education, showcasing new technologies so as to inspire students, educators and education solutions providers based in Singapore and beyond. Both NIE and the Ministry of Education will use the centre to research and test new pedagogies for use of technology in education. For instance, the Centre is researching and testing a Composition Automated Testing System whereby teachers can evaluate the students' written proficiency in Chinese language.

BackPack.NET update
BackPack.NET, which launched its first pillar, Pilots and Trials, in October 2003 at River Valley High School, has already seen early signs of success. It has rolled out to a further three Pilots and Trials schools, Monks Hill Secondary School, Crescent Girls' School and with Catholic High School being the latest school partaking in the programme rolling out to the majority of students in Secondary 2.

After six months, preliminary findings from Crescent Girls' School (CGS), which became the first school in the world where an entire cohort, is using individual tablet PCs for all lessons and learning has indicated that the technology has opened up new possibilities and dimensions in the student's learning experience. For example the digital textbooks and instant accessibility to multimedia online resources has enabled students to be more engaged in their learning through visually stimulating and interactive content. The majority of students indicated that the use of these mobile learning technologies has facilitated independent learning and made schoolwork more interesting. Teachers found the transition to using tablet PCs for teaching to be smooth. As students became independent learners teachers felt that their role had evolved toward the facilitation of knowledge building and creation

The second pillar, Developers' Community, which coincided with the launch at CGS in July 2004 has witnessed strong industry interest in developing education applications. Selected applications and services have since been commercialized and distributed to schools in Singapore and received interest from markets including Brunei, Malaysia and Indonesia.

COTF Live! was also made possible with: content and application support provided by Heuristix Lab Pte Ltd, Marshall Cavendish International (S) Pte Ltd and Popular e-Learning Holdings Pte Ltd; hardware support provided by Intel Technology Asia Pte Ltd, Fujitsu PC Asia Pacific Pte Ltd, Fujitsu General (Asia) Pte Ltd and J Nissi International Pte Ltd; and professional services by Nanyang Polytechnic.

About IDA
The Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA) is committed to growing Singapore into a dynamic global infocomm hub. IDA uses an integrated approach to developing info-communications in Singapore. This involves nurturing a competitive telecoms market as well as a conducive business environment with programmes and schemes for both local and international companies.For more information, visit

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 the National Institute of Education (NIE)
The National Institute of Education (NIE) is an institute of the Nanyang Technological University (NTU), Singapore. NIE provides all levels of teacher education, ranging from initial teacher training programmes to further teacher training for serving teachers, departmental heads, vice-principals and principals. It also offers postgraduate programmes which lead to the award of higher degrees in Arts, Education, Physical Education and Science. Other specialised programmes which train pre-school and kindergarten teachers, teachers of special schools and staff of institutes of higher learning are also conducted by NIE.

As the national teacher training institute in Singapore, NIE is critical in transforming the teacher training system to meet changing needs of the education system. It also plays an important role in providing educational research and consultancy services to the Ministry of Education and schools. In line with the mission of the Ministry, which is to mould the future of our nation, NIE's vision is to be An Institute of Distinction. For more information, please visit

For more information, please contact:
Sarah Counsell / Gwendolyn Cheong
Mobile: 9021 1284 / 9845 7695

Ms Constance Tan
Mobile: 9276 6200

1 The Intelligent Community Forum's (ICF) releases an annual list of the world's Top Seven Intelligent Communities. ICF is a special interest group within the World Teleport Association that focuses on the uses of broadband technology for economic development by communities large and small in both the developed and developing world. More information is available at