Mrs Tan Ching Yee, Chief Executive Officer Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore Speech - Launch of m-learning @ Crescent, Crescent Girls' School

Mrs Tan Ching Yee, Chief Executive Officer
Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore
Speech - Launch of m-learning @ Crescent, Crescent Girls' School
Singapore, 31 July 2004

Mr Tharman Shanmugaratnam,
Acting Minister for Education

Mr Andy Zupsic,
Managing Director,
Microsoft Singapore

Mrs Lee Bee Yann,
Crescent Girls' School

Friends and Partners,

1. I am delighted to join you this morning for the launch of the m-learning @ Crescent, a project supported by the BackPack.NET initiative.

2. Before I saw the video, I was intending to give you an update on the BackPack.NET initiative, but the video has already provided a comprehensive update. I think I will save you the trouble of listening to me. I will just pick out a few key points.

3. As many of you would know, Minister went to River Valley High to launch the BackPack.NET initiative and we did what we call the first pillar - the Pilots and Trials pillar.

4. And since then, two more schools have joined us - Monk's Hill Secondary and Crescent Girls' School.

5. Crescent is doing so in a very big way, because it is the first school in Singapore and perhaps amongst the few in the world, where an entire cohort will use tablet PCs for everyday lessons. All 355 Secondary one students participating in the programme will be using their individual tablet PCs and have access to tablet PCs based digital inking applications and digital textbooks. The digital curriculum is also supported by wireless infrastructure, within the school's ground, to enable mobility for learning beyond the classroom.

6. It is also here at Crescent Girls' that we will see the fruits of the second pillar - the Developers' Community.  This pillar is important to us because it builds a healthy virtual cycle of growth and adoption. By having the technology use by more independent software vendors to develop applications, we will encourage more adoption and encourage technology partners to further improve their offerings, and the cycle goes on.

7. We are grateful to Microsoft for helping our local developers' communities acquire new technologies, strategise business plans and develop new markets and products.

8. You would have learnt from the video that we have more good things coming along both in the R&D side and also in the launch of the Classroom of the Future showcase hosted by National Institute of Education. Please watch this space sometime in the fourth quarter. We hope to be able to show you the Classroom of the Future.

9. Now many people have asked if it is worthwhile to use technologies in education because it seems more expensive, more cumbersome and so on.

10. This morning's demonstration and short tour of what Crescent has done, gave me great confidence that we are on the right track. Let me share with you a few personal observations.

11. Firstly, technology does not take away the essence of education, it enhances it. Mr Josef Tan, in his geography lesson earlier, was able to explain to his class that while it is ok to get the answer right, and perhaps be the first to get the answer right, it is more important not to lose sight of the important lessons - like you don't travel up the river in a straight line. You actually follow the course of the river, go with the flow and reach the bridge in the old-fashioned way.

12. The second lesson I learnt today is that age is no barrier. Mrs Goh who is 60 years old, as told by the Principal (and I hope she doesn't mind), is a good example of a teacher who has continued to learn and innovate along with advances in technology. And I heard Mrs Lee said that Mr Josef Tan is a one year old teacher. It just shows you that technology knows no age barrier.

13. And lastly, when we saw the orchid hybridisation lesson, it brought home to me very clearly that technology can help us bridge artificial demarcation between subjects. We were talking about science, when we predict what the hybrid looks like. You need to have a certain amount of scientific knowledge, at the same time, the girls were taught aesthetic - what looks good, what feels good and what will be a credit to the school when they celebrate the school's 50th Anniversary. I think these fine examples are the best testimony that technology does enhance education.

14. It takes dedicated people with vision and dedication to make it work. I am very happy that Crescent Girls' School has shown the way. Congratulations! I hope there will be many great things to come.

15. Thank you very much.