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BackPack.NET - Innovative Use of IT in Education

Mrs Tan Ching Yee, Chief Executive Officer Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore  Speech at the Launch of BackPack.NET, The River Valley High Auditorium

Mrs Tan Ching Yee, Chief Executive Officer
Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore 
Speech at the Launch of BackPack.NET, The River Valley High Auditorium
Singapore, 25 October 2003

Mr Tharman Shanmugaratnam, Acting Minister for Education
Ms Ek Soo Ben, Principal of River Valley High School
Mr Andy Zupsic, Managing Director of Microsoft Singapore
Ladies and Gentlemen

  1. I am delighted to be here this morning.

  2. This gathering is like a reunion of sorts for me. As many of you are aware, the Minister is of course the father of MOE's first IT Masterplan in Education. He is instrumental in the success of the plan. And I am privileged to have been part of the MOE team to draw up the second Masterplan, called mp2.

  3. It is therefore no surprise that we are all 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.

  4. Scientific principles come alive when our students have the opportunity to interact with the new knowledge, with the use of technology.

  5. For example, by conducting virtual Physics experiments on centrifugal forces using an interactive multimedia application, students can change various variables and see for themselves how different speeds of acceleration affect the magnitude of the centrifugal force.

  6. The students can then move beyond their initial learning, to learn about related topics. And to develop their own quizzes and case studies.

  7. The scenario which I just painted did happen. The interactive multimedia application was one of many projects that came out of the FastTrack@School programme launched by IDA with the support of MOE in 1999. The programme aimed to help schools leverage on broadband and interactive applications to enhance teaching and learning.

  8. 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 learner-centric learning mode.

  9. The challenge for educators and technology partners is how we turn this promise into reality. I believe Singapore has what it takes to be among the first in the world to do so successfully. Singapore is widely acknowledged to be a leader in the use of IT in education. Our students, parents, teachers, school leaders and policy-makers are IT-savvy. Singapore is also home to all the major global technology partners.

  10. By bringing the key players together in a spirit of innovation and experimentation, we can create something that will be a showcase for others.

  11. BackPack.NET is a strategic collaboration between IDA and Microsoft with the support of the Ministry of Education. River Valley High is the first school to take part in the trial use of Tablet PCs and digital inking technology in a school environment.

  12. The video has provided us with a good overview of some of the possibilities. I am sure there will be more, as we put the new tools in the hands of more than 200 innovative students at River Valley High!

  13. The impact and results from the trials will be collated and shared with the participating schools, ministries and industry partners.

  14. This pilot is 1 of 4 pillars in the BackPack.NET initiative. The other 3 pillars will focus on technology transfer to the community of developers of education applications, education R&D, and the establishment of a "Classroom of the Future" showcase.

  15. Further announcements on these other pillars will be made over the next 6 to 24 months.

  16. In closing, let me reiterate IDA's continued support for the innovative use of IT in education and our commitment to working with strategic partners like Microsoft to bring the benefits of technology to our community.

  17. To the teachers and students of River Valley High, have an exciting learning journey ahead!

  18. Thank you.