CLWB Sets Record in Singapore

Wearables Record at the Singapore Science Centre

Working with the Singapore Science Centre and Microsoft Singapore, CLWB has set a new record. On July 30th 180 students from Singapore and Malaysia gathered together to show their technical creativity and to set the record for the “most people wearing programable illuminated t-shirts”. CLWB supplied the kits, the learning content and teacher training. Watch the video below to see the children perform, and CLWB Asia Founder Ian Myles leading the dancing 🙂

The children came up with some great designs –

MoreTshirts

The Singapore Book of Records awarded the Singapore Science Centre with this certificate:

New.Record

A big thanks to all the people at the Singapore Science Centre – Prof Lim Tit Meng, Ei-Leen Tan, Sue Li Chan, Kiruthika Ramanathan, Wulf Hofbauer, Ling Ling Chew, Yingrui Goh, Rachel Chong; from Microsoft Singapore – Puay Ching Chia, Puay San Ng, Shuna Khoo and Gary Lim; and from CLWB Asia, Ian Myles and Arjun Teh.

Putting the “i” into Singapore Schooling

With top rankings in PISA and TIMMS, Singapore is the envy of many schooling systems around the world. Whilst ICT is just one of a range of factors that affect learning outcomes, it is a key tool for meeting at least two of the four key desired outcomes of the Singapore schooling system – for all students to become self-directed and collaborative learners.

Singapore was one of the first countries in the world to have a national strategy for ICT in Schools. A succession of well-planned, funded and executed programmes focussing initially on infrastructure and training, and more recently focussing on self-directed learning – has driven effective use of ICT. For details of Singapore’s main ICT projects, see http://wp.me/P16Iyp-46

A great showcase for the effectiveness of this investment is Crescent Girls’ School, a member of the “Future School” programme, and recently awarded the status of Mentor School by Microsoft. Crescent also hosted the CRADLE conference on 1st – 3rd August.

On the surface, Crescent could be any other Secondary School, but a quick glance at the trophy cabinet next to the reception makes it clear that this school is totally committed to high performance. Crescent’s aim is to be at the forefront of harnessing technology to enhance learning outcomes. ICT is used extensively in both delivery and assessment and the school’s 1300 students each have their own Tablet PC. The goal of using ICT is to give students a degree of choice over what they learn and how they learn.

The students engage in a wide range of activities including 2D, 3D animation and robotics; multimedia production; photo-shooting and editing; and development and use of e-books. Particularly impressive is the use of Tablet PCs’ “inking” features for a range of activities including highly impressive manga artwork.

Crescent is moving towards project based learning with a series of “Integrated Secondary Curricula” programmes.

Virtual Reality is used at the school too. For example, in Geography, students experience immersive content showing erosion in a river – a concept that is much easier to grasp when viewing 3d animated rocks being swept along by the current from the perspective of the river bed.

Particularly impressive at Crescent is the way that teachers engage in the content creation process. For example, a complete suite of applications and content have been developed for the Tablet PC that not only exploits the pen and inking technologies but also address a range of different learning styles.

Taking this process further, teachers specified collaborative games to take advantage of the MultiTouch features in Windows 7 and HueLabs’ “Heumi” multitouch (Surface) devices. This means that students can now engage in a wide range of collaborative learning experiences, such as learning to write Chinese. As impressive as the technology itself is the way in which the room in which the Heumi devices are deployed. Here, in the “iCove”, strong colour coding of the devices and the seating, enable teachers to group learners according to their learning objectives.

More recently the school has introduced a biometric system that not only automatically records the students as present but takes their temperatures as they come into the school in the morning, enabling their health to be monitored.

The infrastructure that sits behind Crescent’s ICT provision is highly impressive. The infrastructure foundation is a Campus-wide wireless network with 100 Mbps Broadband. Tablet PCs are stored in steel lockers, and batteries are charged at charging stations.

Approximately 30 on-premises servers perform a range of essential back-end functions from authentication to content management. The Server infrastructure – based on a Microsoft platform – supports a rich tapestry of capabilities including:

  • i-Connect Learning Space – a role based portal for organising student’s learning and activities
  • Pearson’s Write to Learn – a system that helps “automate” the marking of essays
  • HeuX – Huelabs Classroom Management System – with lesson management, digital book library, real-time Communication and Collaboration include notes-sharing and social media; screen monitoring and broadcasting; Presence awareness; attendance; Video Conferencing
  • i-Media – content management system.
  • Interactive books

These solutions are supported by Windows Server; SQL Server; Microsoft SharePoint Portal Server; System Center; Live Communications Manager; Hyper-V and Live@Edu. Much of the learning that takes place at Crescent happens after school hours, and the Virtual Private Network enables students to have 24×7 access. It’s not uncommon to see the portal being used by students at home at 2.00AM.

Singapore schools benefit from very high quality teachers (only 10% of applicants get admitted into teacher training). This is reflected in the staff at Crescent. Principal, Mrs Eugenia Lim, supported by Chief Technology Architect for Learning, Mr Lee Boon Keng, have a highly structured and team orientated approach, underpinned by a strong focus on continuous professional development.

Every hour, the chimes of Big Ben ring across the school signifying a change of lesson. As with Cornwallis School in Kent in the UK, I was totally inspired by what I saw at Crescent but couldn’t help wondering whether a shift from time-based to a performance-based model would better fit such a technology rich approach to learning. Nonetheless, Crescent’s use of ICT is without doubt world leading.

Whilst Crescent Girls’ School is clearly a leader amongst leaders, it’s far from unique in Singapore in the way in which it innovates with technology. Singapore schools benefit from long term, consistent policy and investment in ICT in schooling. With their structured approaches, strong management and deep understanding of how ICT can make learning more effective, Singapore schools look set to continue to show the world how it’s done.

Fortunately for us all, Crescent Girls’ School are “giving back” by encouraging people to visit the school – both physically and virtually.

Thanks to Eugenia Lim, Lee Boon Keng and all the staff and students at Crescent Girl’s School.

Spotlight on Singapore

Singapore was one of the first countries in the world to have a national strategy to roll out ICT to all schools.  The masterplan was launched in 1997 as part of the Singapore government’s “Thinking Schools, Learning Nation” vision, to prepare students to meet the challenges of the 21st Century.  The first phase was focused setting up the basic infrastructure for schools and training of teachers in the use of ICT.

In 2002, a second masterplan was introduced, this time focussing on bringing about improved learning and increased engagement through the use of ICT.  In 2004 a five year collaboration between MOE and Microsoft began – “Backpack.NET” was designed to enhance students’ learning experience through the use of Tablet PCs, ‘digital ink’ and other emerging technologies.

Materplan 3, launched in 2008, aims to achieve greater engagement of students to encourage more self-directed questioning and learning.

The main programmes in Singapore include:

  • BackPackLIVE!:  After the successful implementation of BackPack.NET, the MoE signed another 4-year of collaboration with Microsoft.  The current phase aims to explore and scale ICT practices among teachers.
  • Heuristics Online Learning Agent (HOLA): This provides students with “virtual buddies”, and promotes self-directed learning via Instant Messaging
  • MyCLOUD: An interactive and virtual platform for Chinese language learning
  • Microsoft School Technology Innovation Centre (STIC): World-class learning laboratory for educational institutions in the Asia Pacific region to enhance their use of ICT
  • Cyber Wellness Student Ambassador programme: To educate students on good netiquette and potential dangers in cyber space 

(Thanks to Horng Shya Chua)