It is a pleasure to be writing to you this week as, despite it being a shorter week than normal due to the public holiday, we have seen our students engage in a variety of positively challenging and rewarding experiences ranging from sports to off campus field trips and activities supported by our links to SuperCamps. Also, a large number of our secondary staff have undertaken professional skills training with Cambridge International Examinations (CIE), our IGCSE organisation, held at Garden International School geared to ensuring that we offer the highest standards of quality in this key aspect of our operations. 

As TIS Puchong continues to grow and develop its quality further, one aspect that is very topical in all schools across the world is that of mobile devices. Should we allow them? Should we ban them? How can we manage them? Are they a blessing or a curse? From an educational, learning perspective anything that allows interaction, access to information, processing and sharing of data and ideas is something that merits close scrutiny. The problem that mobile technologies offer schools is one of history and timing! According to Moore’s Law, the number of transistors in a dense integrated circuit doubles about every two years. From this, it is accepted that the power of information processing capabilities doubles commensurate with the number of transistors. In other words, the power of technology devices is growing at a very rapid rate.  

Conversely, the world education systems whether Malaysian, British, Australian or Singaporean, do not conform to this law. For some, it is incredulous that students are still sitting written examinations with assessment systems being very much skewed towards recall based learning. Such learning, whilst having a place in education and in life, is very much the stuff of manufacturing, production line thinking rather than the information rich meta age that our current children are moving towards and moving within. With that in mind, how then should we as a school tackle mobile devices? The challenge is matching a world of instant and improving data access and processing capability with an education system that is developing at a much slower speed; a classic rabbit and hare story! As a school, our challenge is to ensure that these two aspects of life work together as closely as possible to complement each other rather than result in off task, non - learning experiences by students and, indeed, adults. As humans, our processing power is also limited! In 1988, John Sweller published his research into Cognitive Load Theory. “"Cognitive load" relates to the amount of information that working memory can hold at one time. Sweller said that, since working memory has a limited capacity, instructional methods should avoid overloading it with additional activities that don't directly contribute to learning.”

His theory is broadly accepted by the educational community at all levels and offers us a basis from which to tackle mobile device use at school. In simple terms, if we allow unregulated use of mobile technologies, we will be allowing learning to take place at a lower level than one that is optimum.  In response, planned use of technology can serve to enhance learning by easing and enhancing the cognitive load referred to by Sweller. To that end, TIS Puchong are currently formulating plans for the positive regulation and use of mobile technology on campus so as to enhance its positive use but restrict uses that threaten learning or child safety. I look forward to sharing further developments with you. Ahead of this, I would value your comments and perspectives as parents regarding mobile devices in schools. If you would to share them, please contact my PA, Ms. Jodie Ho who will be happy to pass on your thoughts, experiences and ideas. These can then be used for policy making and for positively tackling the question of how best to manage and optimize the technologies that continue to surround us.

Wishing you a positive and restful weekend.
Best wishes
David Flint 斐迪偉
Principal of Taylor’s International School Puchong