Archive for the ‘Educational Technologies’ Category

Blended learning models

Monday, February 26th, 2018

TEACHERS say they are willing to increase using online learning platforms if the content was more aligned towards preparing students for examinations.

According to a study done by the Clayton Christensen Institute for Disruptive Innovation, in the United States, which featured Malaysia as one of its case studies, teachers need the content to match what will be tested in national examinations.

The study, called “Blended Beyond Borders: A Scan of Blended Learning Obstacles and Opportunities in Brazil, Malaysia and South Africa”, focused on how a small sample of brick-and-mortar schools in these countries used online learning to deliver content in novel, more flexible ways.

Christensen Institute director of education research Julia Freeland Fisher says discussions during the school visits – for the study – showed that teachers were still looking for better content to make meaningful use of blended learning, especially for core subjects.

“Any teacher with a 1BestariNet Yes ID can upload their lesson sites to a nationwide repository and share it with teachers across Malaysia, allowing for the pooling of resources and the sharing of ideas and material,” she says, adding that the content is filtered by the Education Ministry to ensure quality.

“Teachers can also use the available content and format them in a way that emulates or support students in preparation for examinations.

“To date there are over 37,000 teacher-created sites covering all national school subjects.”

Yeoh also says that new and relevant content are continuously added regularly and that textbooks and revision books are available on the FrogStore for free.

She adds that there are currently more than 400 textbooks on the VLE and that FrogAsia has partnered with publishers like Penerbitan Pelangi Sdn Bhd and Oxford Fajar Sdn Bhd to provide content aligned with our national syllabus.

“One of our content partners, EduNation, also produces free tutoring videos that are in line with our national syllabus,” she adds.

Another point raised in the report is the use of blended learning models in the classroom.

Blended learning differs from learning in a tech-rich environment, says Freeland Fisher.

She explains that blended learning is a formal education programme where a student learns, partially or fully, through online learning with the student having some form of control over the time, place, path and maybe the pace they learn something.

Data from online learning can also be used to inform and drive a student’s offline learning pathway.

If it was just a tech-rich learning experience, she says technology is present in the classroom but the teacher is still in complete control of the learning experience.

“Students are using the internet to do research, maybe they’re typing their homework on documents and emailing it to their teacher,” she says.

However, the report points out that blended models should not do away with teachers or teacher-led lectures, small group lessons or face-to-face teaching. Rather, blended models offer a new way to teach in classrooms and schools whereby students may interact with content and teachers in a new way.

Freeland Fisher adds that teachers have said that “The facilities and infrastructure are the most difficult part of having a blended programme. The Internet isn’t always reliable, the classroom we use for the computer lab is very small and the all the computers besides the Chromebooks are old and secondhand.”

According to the survey, an overwhelming 77% said Internet connectivity in schools was a pain point when it comes to using technology.

More than half the respondents (55%) believe they needed more professional development in order to incorporate blended-learning into the classroom, says Freeland Fisher.

Yeoh points out that teachers are actively encouraged to take part in the many teacher training programmes such as the Education Ministry Coach Programme, Hubs Programme and Frog Teacher Advocate Programme.

The Hub is a central space established in existing schools, public spaces and buildings, teachers in nearby locations can gather to teach, learn and collaborate with other teachers to improve teaching and learning outcomes using the Frog VLE.

Capitalising on artificial intelligence

Sunday, February 25th, 2018

SHAQIB Shaik is a software engineer at Microsoft. He is blind. His artificial intelligence (AI)-driven mobile phone that he helped develop, is able to read out loud a menu sheet as it hovers over the menu. His AI-powered sunglasses, another of his invention, enables him to receive an audio commentary of the scenes observed through the glasses.

We have AI helping Indonesia map out flood-prone areas even as AI helps the UAE to predict inclement sand storms. AI helped Mexico City map out its hitherto uncharted web of bus routes. Watson, the IBM’s supercomputer, helps diagnose and prescribe treatment for cancer at an accuracy unbeaten by human minds. Driverless cars will be soon be a reality, if not already. AI has integrated every aspect of an enterprise’s value chain. Welcome to the world of artificial intelligence!

AI, augmented reality, quantum computing, big data analytics and the Internet of Things will bring extraordinary benefits to those who harness them. In five years, digital products will comprise half of Southeast Asia’s output as against their current minuscule contribution of six per cent. This is emblematic of the speed of digital transformation that is sweeping across the globe in the ever-evolving industrial revolution that has swept the world since the first in the late 18th century.

From smart manufacturing in the United States and Japan, to China’s vision of becoming the innovation centre of AI by 2030, and India’s goal of becoming a global scientific power by 2022, countries around the world are rushing to embrace this inexorable march of Industry 4.0. Malaysia, too, has joined in on the bandwagon, but, much more can be done.

Our businesses must embrace digital transformation if they are to remain relevant in this fast-paced globalised markets. Going digital will enable companies to reduce costs. As much as 4 per cent per year cost-savings can be secured as digital technology increases operational efficiency. Better profit margins, customer loyalty and development of new products are the other benefits from going digital. Is it any wonder then that Amazon deploys over 40,000 robots in its warehouses compared to a very small number five years ago?

Workers at a furniture manufacturing company. Going digital can help increase efficiency and companies can save costs as much as four per cent per year. PIC BY SYARAFIQ ABD SAMAD

The 2018 Microsoft Asia Digital Transformation Study estimates that over the next three years Malaysia would post at least a 20 per cent increase in benefits from digital transformation. Here are some strategies that government and businesses can execute to ensure that leap in benefits.

First, the government must upgrade the digital ecosystem by creating a conducive environment for innovation and digitisation. Legislation fit for the digital world must be enacted. The ecosystem upgrade must make available venture capital and incubators for entrepreneurs. The 2017 Survey by UK’s Cable Co. ranked Malaysia 63rd among 189 countries for broadband speed. This calls for an upgrade of the telecommunications infrastructure.

Partnerships forged between the government, industry, universities and technology suppliers will further strengthen the digital architecture. Germany, for example, establishes new bodies and partnerships to support its digital economy. MDEC should help small medium enterprises (SMEs) and start-ups to use digital technology to solve their business problems. Even better if SMEs enter into joint-ventures or partnerships with technology companies.

Advanced countries including China spend at least 2 per cent of their gross domestic product to fund research and development. China provides support for robotics companies. We should double our research and development expenditures to the levels spent by advanced countries.

Second, develop future-ready skills. The government should redesign the education system to produce a future-ready workforce. Skills in critical thinking, complex problem-solving and creativity will fetch a high premium in 4IR. The integrated teaching of science, technology, engineering and mathematics should be vigorously pursued to fuel innovation. Schools should have inexpensive access to technology and learning tools to develop skills in digital technology. As in Germany and Switzerland, technical and vocational training should be reoriented to imparting skills in digital technology.

Third, businesses should create a digital culture and structure that eliminate silos for greater agility and collaboration within and without. They must have a dedicated unit to drive the digitalisation processes. Businesses should align their structure, resources, strategy and metrics in their transformation drive. And, they should attract and retain key digital talent for that purpose.

Fourth, organisations should build data management systems to utilise the mountains of data generated within and by customers. Data analysis will offer insights and patterns for the development of new products.

Fifth, go for an incremental approach. Easy, quick wins from adopting digital technology will snowball into a bigger digital transformation.


Read more @

Robots, unemployment and immigrants

Sunday, February 25th, 2018

AMAZON has recently introduced Amazon Go, a shop where the customer enters, chooses a product from the shelves, charges the price on a magnetic card and swipes it on the way out, transferring the charge to the customer’s bank account . No queues, no cashiers, fast and easy, and the first shop in Seattle has been a roaring success.

Putting products back on the shelves will soon be fully automated, with robots doing the work previously done by humans. Floor cleaning is already done by a robot, and the aim is to have a fully automated shop, where no human can make mistakes, fall ill, go on strike, take holidays or bring their personal problems to work

The US petrol industry calculates that the staff required at each well will be reduced from 20 to five within three years. Also within three years it is expected that small hotels will have a fully automated reception – guests arrive, swipe their credit card and a machine supplies the room.

We are already accustomed to automated telephone for bookings and reservations, and we ourselves now do tasks at an airport which were previously done by clerks, such as checking in.

In the United States, according to the ABI Research company, the number of industrial robots will jump nearly 300 per cent in less than a decade. The National Economic Research Bureau has reported that for every industrial robot introduced into the workforce, six jobs are eliminated.

In May 2016, the World Bank’s Digital Dividend Report, calculated that replacing low-skilled workers with robots in developing countries would affect two-thirds of jobs.

Today, automation already accounts already for 17 per cent of production and services. It will account for 40 per cent within 15 years, according to World Bank projections.

All this opens up another crucial issue. Labour was once considered an important cost factor in production, and it was the extent to which workers had rights to the resulting benefits that sparked the creation of trade unions, the modern Left and the adoption of universal values such as social justice, transparency and participation, which were the basis of modern international relations.

The relationship between machines and distribution of the benefits of production has inspired several thinkers, philosophers and economists over the last centuries. It was generally assumed that a time would come in which machines would eventually do all production and humankind would be free of work, maintained from the profits generated by machines.

Humanoid robots; the real threat to employment for the large majority of citizens, comes from robotisation file pic

This was, of course, more a dream than a political theory. Yet today, all managers of artificial intelligence and robotic production argue that the superior productivity of robots will reduce costs, thereby enabling greater consumption of goods and services, and this will generate new jobs, easily absorbing those displaced by machines.

Given that the new economy is an intelligence economy based on technical knowledge, people have a future if they are able to adapt to that kind of society, and the new generations are much more attuned to this. But what will a taxi driver who has had no technical education do to recycle himself?

The statistics show that today, when people lose their jobs at a certain age, any new job they may find will almost always be for a lower remuneration. So, robotisation will affect the lower middle class above all, and a new generational divide will be created.

Migration has become a major theme in elections. Trump was elected on a strong anti-immigrant platform, which continues in his administration. Governments in Hungary, Austria, Poland, Czech Republic and Slovakia are based on refusal of immigrants. All over Europe, from the Nordic countries to France, Netherlands and Germany, anti-immigrant feelings are conditioning governments.

The fear is that immigrants are stealing jobs and resources from citizens in the countries in which they live. However, statistics from the European Union tell us otherwise. The number of non-EU citizens living in Europe (some for a long time) is now 35 million, of whom about eight million are Africans, and seven million Arabs out of a total of 400 million. Those figures also include illegal immigrants.

All statistics show that more than 97 per cent of immigrants are totally integrated, that they pay on average more taxes than locals (of course, they worry about their future) and to date those who do not have a job are about 2.3 million people who are still awaiting a decision on their juridical status.

There is not a single study claiming that immigrants have taken the jobs of Europeans in any significant way. It was the same story with the entry of woman into the labour market. An increasing proportion of women have joined the labour force over the last 30 years, but these increases have not coincided with falling employment rates for men. A study on Brexit demonstrated that immigrants had helped to increase GDP, and that the increase in productivity meant a global increase in employment. But we have reached a point where nobody listens any longer to facts, unless they are convenient.

It is clear that the real threat to employment for the large majority of citizens comes from robotisation, not immigration. No employed person has been fired to be replaced by an immigrant, unless we talk of non-qualified jobs that Europeans do not want in any case.


Read more @

Engaging education resource

Sunday, February 4th, 2018
Students from SMK Bukit Tinggi having fun with the newspapers through the NiE activities in class.

Students from SMK Bukit Tinggi having fun with the newspapers through the NiE activities in class.

Alternative language resource that keeps students interested.

THE newspapers have piqued students’ interest from day one, as English teacher Mohd Farouk Shah Harun recalled.

“Even when I first gave them the newspapers, they were already quite excited.

“I found out that, for most of them, it was actually their first time holding and flipping through a newspaper,” said the teacher from SMK Bukit Tinggi, Klang, Selangor.

Having attended one of the 12 Newspaper-in-Education (NiE) workshops by The Starlast year, he said that all English teachers should participate in the workshops conducted, as he learnt valuable teaching tools from the session.

From February to August 2017, the workshops were held in collaboration with the Institute of Teacher Education, international languages campus (IPGKBA), Kuala Lumpur, to mark Star-NiE’s 20th anniversary. Four-hundred-and-seventy Primary and Secondary school teachers in the Klang Valley attended the workshops conducted by The Star freelance Star-NiE consultant trainer Lucille Dass.

The sessions equipped teachers with techniques of using the newspaper as a language resource in the classroom. The workshops were also complemented with a talk by IPGKBA lecturer Manoharan Nalliah.

Mohd Farouk said that many questions ran through his mind when he first used NiE in his class lesson.

He found himself asking: “How would the students respond? Would the class be noisy? Will I achieve the lesson objectives?”

He was surprised by the positive outcome. The most notable difference Mohd Farouk noticed when he used the newspaper in class was the level of participation.

“The students were really active and they were engaged in the activities.”

He said that while there were challenges when implementing NiE, it’s a matter of fine-tuning, adapting and changing whenever necessary.

“Nevertheless, NiE is indeed a useful tool and a beneficial resource for me and, I’m sure, for all teachers too.”

SMK Bukit Tinggi student Chua E Heng, 16, said that the NiE activities were simply interesting, and beneficial to boot.

“When using the newspaper in class, we definitely get to improve on our writing skills. This is because there are a lot of new words you can learn from the newspaper; there are countless words to learn when it comes to English Language,” he said.

Schoolmate Ngan Khai Ern, 16, said the NiE pullout features topics that interest her and her classmates. “My friends and I have so much fun during NiE sessions. At the same time, we are also more focused on the lesson. We learn things in a fun way!”

“I hope that teachers include more activities like these as they are enjoyable and interesting,” she added.

As for Karthega Shammugam, 16, she enjoys the interactive nature of the activities.

“I can talk to my friends and share ideas. We end up laughing a lot!”

“Apart from that, I also get to see how English is actually used in the real world context. The activities are fun, therefore it increases my interest in learning. Teachers should use NiE in the classroom. It’ll make the class more lively.”

Nur Sofea Iwani Nor Halim, 16, admitted that she barely reads the news but NiE encouraged her to so. “NiE has opened my eyes to many interesting issues out there. The newspaper expands on general knowledge as it gives details on current happenings, but the textbook only provides what students need to know for their examination.”

“In a way, the newspaper makes me want to read and learn more. On top of that, I have so much fun doing newspaper activities as I get to do it with friends,” she said.

Happy to see his students having fun during class lessons, Mohd Farouk said that teachers should empower students so that they can direct their own learning.

“You’ll be surprised at how much they can actually learn!”

His shout-out to fellow teachers: “It’s time to get out of our comfort zone and create something new and effective for our language classes. Remember, language is meant to be fun!”

Read more @

Matching IoT with ethics

Friday, February 2nd, 2018
The emergence of the Internet of Things has passed its infancy stage. NYT P

THE Internet of Things (IoT) is about a synergy between devices and people. It aids lives, businesses and education by leveraging the network of communication, which is done by the Internet.

At the very basic, the understanding of IoT involves deriving information as it lets users collect a wealth of data from the Internet. As for its application, the emergence of IoT has passed its infancy stage, as the profound social impact is a testament of its benefits. In the examples below, certain trends, figures and the application of IoT have proved its increasing significance in society.

Last year, the time that people spent on using apps globally hit 1.6 trillion hours. That figure will be staggering in future as the connection of devices with the Internet is inevitable.

Affirming this point, app analytics company (Flurry) found that the average time spent per day on mobile devices is two hours 38 minutes. The most significant revelation was that 80 per cent of mobile device users spent their time in apps, while the remaining 20 per cent in website browsing.

In the healthcare sector, the recent news on Malaysia’s first Artificial Intelligence (AI) stethoscope (Stethee) is absolutely cutting edge. Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah, the health director-general, said he device allows users to listen to heart and lung with detailed analysis.

Amplified with the geotagging system, Stethee provides insight into problem areas and locations, and environmental data for healthcare professionals to do analysis. Moreover, this sophisticated device will empower remote and rural healthcare with precise detection of heart and lung diseases

In education, the disruptive technology enhances and replaces existing methods of research in higher-learning institutions. Technology bodes well with social scientists — in sociology, anthropology, and psychology — as they are intrigued by big data.

As a result, the power of big data has transformed the way social scientists distill raw data, i.e. information that has not been processed for use.

Then, data collection used to be interviews, focusing on group discussions to get insights from research participants.

Now, social scientists deal with equally large amounts of data from mixed sources (unstructured texts from social media, pictures, emails, news feeds and text colours). For the analysis of the big data today, the process of deriving high-quality information with “text mining software” helps researchers to understand colour, texture and text.

The text mining analytics tool helps researchers to discover patterns, themes and concepts, with an emphasis on statistical approaches. This unique rise of big data and IoT technologies (cloud computing, data analytics, natural language processing, text and data mining) are useful to improve research quality. Furthermore, it encourages a digital research culture.

No doubt, the enthusiasm in IoT, which today’s society has embraced, is a living testimony of its widespread success. But, the euphoria should not outpace ethics as it holds a prominent place in this brave new world.

With ethics, the question that follows is how to bring out the best in IoT.

Social scientists and healthcare professionals can obviously embrace big data to make their research and analysis more reliable, credible and scalable. But, they also have to think about privacy — what is private and what is not.

For example, the geotagging system allows professionals to track specific locations from a device, but, when it comes to privacy, some data has to be encrypted and a person’s privacy should be maintained.

Although the use of educational apps and other smart forms of technology will enhance the learning experience, the concern is that it will only become an amazing experience for students if they are accelerating new ideas, solutions and issues.

Chief executive officer Satya Nadella of Microsoft said: “We don’t celebrate technology for technology’s sake; we celebrate how others harness the power of technology to go out and change the world.”

For teachers, their role is to facilitate students to benefit from e-learning resources, assist the process of doing assignments, and explain the ethics regarding tasks completion (for instance, citing resources to avoid plagiarism).

n addition, teachers must also empower students by taking them on field visits, so they can learn hands on. It is the practice that makes ethics prevail.


Read more @

Modern teaching-learning method in classroom through use of smart gadgets

Thursday, January 25th, 2018
The Parent-Teacher Association (Persatuan Ibu Bapa dan Guru (PIBG) of Sekolah Alam Shah head Datuk Seri Reezal Merican Naina Merican pose with students after presenting a Placer-X van and iPads to teachers. Bernama pic
By SUHAILA SHAHRUL ANUAR - January 25, 2018 @ 7:52pm

PUTRAJAYA: The Parent-Teacher Association (Persatuan Ibu Bapa dan Guru (PIBG) of Sekolah Alam Shah here today introduced the ‘iPad Waqaf Project’ to empower 21st century learning method (PAK-21) at the school.

Its PIBG head Datuk Seri Reezal Merican Naina Merican said the initiative would be implemented through ‘Futuristic Classroom Programme’ which was set to benefit some 830 students and 72 teachers at the school.

“PAK-21 is an important element in the Malaysian Education Blueprint (MEB) 2013-2025 in preparing students for challenges of the future including the Fourth Industrial Revolution (Industry 4.0).

“Through this project, each student and teacher will own a tablet and use them during the teaching and learning process in the classroom,” he said.

PAK-21, introduced by the Education Ministry, involved the use of smart gadgets in the classroom. It will also see the use of conventional whiteboard and blackboard replaced with smartboard.

Reezal Merican said through the project students who cannot afford to own a tablet would be given one by the school through contributions by various organisations.

“For those who can afford, we encourage them to contribute more, according to their affordability. We just want each and every student to own a tablet.

“Our concept is ‘no one should be left behind’. For that reason alone, the PIBG will continue to look for funds and contributions including from corporate companies,” he said.

He said this teaching and learning approach would churn out futuristic human capital and elevate the country’s name to higher level.

“This human capital produced in school must grow on par with the development of technology so that no one gets left behind,” he said.


Read more @

Smart Campus Towards ‘Smart Economy’ – Idris Jusoh

Thursday, January 25th, 2018

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 22 (Bernama) — The smart campus or digital campus to be implemented at public universities nationwide by the end of the year will open a new chapter and create a ’smart economy’ concept, according to Higher Education Minister Datuk Seri Idris Jusoh.

He said the smart campus which would use technology application for every transaction was one of the ministry’s measures towards the Fourth Industrial Revolution (Industry 4.0).

“It will bring a concept of ’smart economy’ to the country. The technology application will start from the campus; I believe it will be expanded to the people,” he said after launching the Cashless Campus @UiTM here today.

Also present were Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM) Vice Chancellor Prof Emeritus Datuk Dr Hassan Said, UiTM Board of Directors chairman Tan Sri Ir Ahmad Zaidee Laidin and Axiata Group chief executive officer Tan Sri Jamaludin Ibrahim.

Idris said he was confident that the digital campus would also be implemented at private institutions of higher learning.

“It is the trend; we cannot restrict what is happening. In China, you use application even when borrowing a bicycle, cashless,” he said.

With the implementation of the smart campus, all public universities would be using Quick Response Code (QR Code) in their administrations and access to university facilities which included using electronic wallet and no longer cash or card transactions for purchases, registrations and book loans.

Meanwhile, Dr Hassan said UiTM had become the biggest cashless campus in the country by using the electronic wallet (e-Dompet) application Boost at all its 35 campuses nationwide.

“The e-Dompet application offered by Axiata Digital will benefit UiTM’s population of more than 20,000.

“All transactions at shops in the campuses will use the application for simple purchases, cash loans, purchase of learning equipment and food and drinks at a cheaper price,” he said.


Read more @

Keeping pace with technological literacies

Saturday, December 9th, 2017
Do you understand all that your handphone can do?
By EMILLIO DANIEL - December 6, 2017 @ 11:38am

THE Oxford English Dictionary defines literacy in its extended use as the ability to “read” a specified subject or medium.

Normally we think of a literate community as in a state of being able to read and write with language, and has the ability to communicate. The first writing systems dated back to 3200 BC in ancient Mesopotamia, and with 21st century advancements, what is considered the norm of literacy has changed.

Today, we need to consider technological literacy as part of the fundamentals of survival in this new world. The Colorado Department of Education defines technological literacy as the ability to appropriately select and responsibly use technology. Students, who have attained technological literacy, are able to problem-solve, communicate, locate, use and synthesise information found using technology, and develop skills necessary to function in the 21st century.

The Department of Statistics Malaysia stated that in 2015, the percentage of individuals in the country aged 15 years old and above who used the Internet was at 71 per cent after a 14.1 per cent increase compared to 2013. Following that trend, as of 2015, 97.5 per cent of individuals in the nation are reported to have access to mobile phones. The digital age we are now a part of means that most Malaysians have a computer in our pockets most of the time. But do we understand the technology we use daily?

Let us assume you’re trying to buy a laptop for a college student. Go to a computer store and look at the specifications for laptops. You see terms such as DDR3 RAM, SSD versus HDD and Gigahertz clocking speeds, and a plethora of brand names. If you do not understand these terms and how each affects the build of a computer then it is time to look them up.

I do not mean that we need detailed understanding of technology on par with a computer scientist. But we must have enough knowledge regarding the technology we use daily to make informed decisions when faced with its use.

In every college classroom, most students have a laptop to type in notes and the working environment they’ll be entering soon is very reliant on the use of technology. We are getting increasingly dependent on technology but we cannot go back to the literacy of reading and writing as our standard. There is much more to it than typing words with a keyboard and reading from a screen. Issues arise such as online security, getting overcharged by stores because one does not understand the goods on sale, not knowing the data still stored in phones when reselling them and the ability to spot spam.

One of the key points to keep in mind when discussing the issue of literacy regarding technology is to realise that it is not a singular-based issue. At a TedTalk in 2012, Dr Doug Belshaw, a researcher and analyst at JISC Advance, clarified that we should be thinking in the plural, as in “digital literacies”, because the issue is context-dependent. We cannot simplify it by creating a generalised framework for educating people on the use of technology; technology is far too nuanced for that. We must think of technology as having multiple facets and tackle it in such a way.

From the Colorado Department of Education definition of technological literacy, it is evident that it relies heavily on separate aspects of technological literacies. To solve a problem using technology, the first thing is to look it up online in a search engine. Where does one find the related error messages or the possible hardware and software functions that relate to the problem?

On the matter of communication, being literate in the Internet’s own highly context-based use of images can come into play. It may seem trite but memes have become an important part of the online diction; being able to read between the lines of this vernacular can be daunting to those unfamiliar with it, and can create misunderstanding between an older family member and a younger one on social media platforms.

Functioning in the 21st century with the use of technology (a matter I deem the most important aspect of technological literacies) requires a broad overarching understanding regarding technology. Technology plays a part as a medium in everything from voter information, identification numbers and shopping to informing your boss that you may not be able to come in to work.

To draw all this closer to the daily lives of a tertiary student, let’s take another look at the fact that most college students are reliant on a laptop in class. Almost every class has the basic requirement of an essay or research paper as part of its syllabus. Formatting digital-based papers using MLA or APA styles can be confusing to the uninitiated and formatting itself takes a hefty chunk within grading rubrics. Missing out on a good grade just because one does not know how to format a paper due to lack of technological literacy should not be a problem in this day and age.

While technological literacies are an issue that can be overcome with education, we need to emphasise the need for proper teachers. A paper published by the College of Information Technology at the University of Dubai in 2007 stated: “Instructors are feeling increasing pressure to use IT, but they commonly face several obstacles when attempting to use technological teaching techniques. Institutions of higher education must strategically develop IT integration plans that help overcome these obstacles, addressing the needs of diverse pedagogical agendas and multiple levels of comfort with technology. Barriers can make technology use frustrating for the technologically perceptive, let alone the many teachers who may be somewhat techno-phobic.”

Educational institutions must ensure their educators are adequately equipped mentally in addition to having the right equipment for creating a conducive environment for learning to use technology properly.

There are far too many aspects of technological literacies to cover here and every country including Malaysia must take measures to prepare future generations for the inevitable when technology will be so integral to society that everything may be handled in some way using digital technology.

If we do not put a foot in the door now, we may find ourselves completely segregated from humanity itself in terms of progress. It is not just the responsibility of educators but us, as learners, to make sure we are well-equipped in this matter.


Read more @

How evil is technology?

Wednesday, November 29th, 2017
Online is a place for human contact, but not intimacy. Online is a place for information, but not reflection. It gives you the first stereotypical thought about a person or a situation. FILE PIC

NOT long ago, tech was the coolest industry. Everybody wanted to work at Google, Facebook and Apple. But, over the past year, the mood has shifted.

Some now believe tech is like the tobacco industry — corporations that make billions of dollars peddling a destructive addiction. Some believe it is like the NFL — something millions of people love, but which everybody knows leaves a trail of human wreckage in its wake.

Surely the people in tech — who generally want to make the world a better place — don’t want to go down this road. It will be interesting to see if they can take the actions necessary to prevent their companies from becoming social pariahs.

There are three main critiques of big tech.

The first is that it is destroying the young. Social media promises an end to loneliness, but actually produces an increase in solitude and an intense awareness of social exclusion. Texting and other technologies give you more control over your social interactions, but also lead to thinner interactions and less real engagement with the world.

As Jean Twenge has demonstrated in her books and essay, since the spread of the smartphone, teens are much less likely to hang out with friends, they are less likely to date, they are less likely to work.

Eighth-graders who spend 10 or more hours a week on social media are 56 per cent more likely to say they are unhappy than those who spend less time. Eighth-graders who are heavy users of social media increase their risk of depression by 27 per cent.

Teens who spend three or more hours a day on electronic devices are 35 per cent more likely to have a risk factor for suicide, like making a plan for how to do it. Girls, especially hard hit, have experienced a 50 per cent rise in depressive symptoms.

The second critique of the tech industry is that it is causing this addiction on purpose, to make money. Tech companies understand what causes dopamine surges in the brain and they lace their products with “hijacking techniques” that lure us in and create “compulsion loops”.

Snapchat has Snapstreak, which rewards friends who snap each other every day, thus encouraging addictive behaviour. News feeds are structured as “bottomless bowls” so that one page view leads down to another and another and so on forever. Most social media sites create irregularly timed rewards; you have to check your device compulsively because you never know when a burst of social affirmation from a Facebook “like” may come.

The third critique is that Apple, Amazon, Google and Facebook are near monopolies that use their market power to invade the private lives of their users and impose unfair conditions on content creators and smaller competitors. The political assault on this front is gaining steam. The left is attacking tech companies because they are mammoth corporations; the right is attacking them because they are culturally progressive.

Tech will have few defenders on the national scene.

Obviously, the smart play would be for the tech industry to get out in front and clean up its own pollution. There are activists like Tristan Harris of Time Well Spent, who is trying to move the tech world in the right direction. There are even some good engineering responses. I use an app called Moment to track and control my phone usage.

The big breakthrough will come when tech executives clearly acknowledge the central truth: Their technologies are extremely useful for the tasks and pleasures that require shallower forms of consciousness, but they often crowd out and destroy the deeper forms of consciousness people need to thrive.

Online is a place for human contact, but not intimacy. Online is a place for information, but not reflection. It gives you the first stereotypical thought about a person or a situation, but it’s hard to carve out time and space for the third, 15th and 43rd thought.

Online is a place for exploration, but discourages cohesion. It grabs control of your attention and scatters it across a vast range of diverting things. But, we are happiest when we have brought our lives to a point, when we have focused attention, and will, on one thing, wholeheartedly with all our might.

Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel wrote that we take a break from the distractions of the world not as a rest to give us more strength to dive back in, but as the climax of living. “The seventh day is a palace in time, which we build. It is made of soul, joy and reticence,” he said. By cutting off work and technology, we enter a different state of consciousness, a different dimension of time and a different atmosphere, a “mine where the spirit’s precious metal can be found”.

Imagine, if instead of claiming to offer us the best things in life, tech merely sees itself as providing efficiency devices. Its innovations can save us time on lower-level tasks, so we can get offline and then experience the best things in life.

By David Brooks.

Read more @

How much screen time should we allow children?

Wednesday, November 29th, 2017
KUALA LUMPUR 20 Septenber 2013. Mendidik anak-anak dari kecil untuk kejayaan di masa depan.-

THE school holiday is here again! I’m sure you will agree with me that school holidays are the best times of a student’s life. It’s a welcome breather — a break from the monotony of having to wake up early in the morning and prepare for school.

School holidays offer the opportunity for more family time and for parents to improve their communication and relationship with their children. Most parents I know have plans with their children — for a family vacation or other recreational activities.

All these are expected to bring the family closer together and should have a positive impact on the children’s well being.

In this digital age, there are also parents who believe that technology and gadgets are essential for a child’s development. That these devices are a good companion and teacher. Thus, they feel it is all right to allow their children almost unlimited screen time, as long as everyone is happy.

Screen time refers to any activity done in front of a screen, be it a television, computer, smartphone or tablet. It is a sedentary activity that requires very little energy or movement.

But, how much screen time is okay? And how much is too much?

Used wisely and in moderation, screen time offers a lot of benefits to viewers, in particular, the youth. Studies have shown that playing video games can boost their motor skills and other elements like problem-solving skills and memory boost. Other research has documented, qualitatively, that video games promote social interaction and friendships. The children make friends with other gamers, both in person and online. They talk about their games with one another, teach one another strategies and often play together, either in the same room or online.

But, it becomes bad when children use it excessively or they are exposed to screen time too early.

A study in South Korea has reported a delay in language-learning among children aged 24 to 30 months with time spent in front of a TV. Another study in Thailand reported children from 6 to 18 months who are exposed to the TV showed emotional reactivity, aggression and externalisation behaviours.

Dr Daniel Fung, chairman of the medical board at the Institute of Mental Health in Singapore said: “Too much screen time takes young children away from real human interaction. This can lead to impaired social learning and damage their  emotional development.”

Canadian addiction expert and author of Glow Kids: How Screen Addiction Is Hijacking Our Kids Dr Nicholas Kardaras said there were over two hundred peer reviewed studies that correlate excessive screen time to everything from ADHD (attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder) and depression, to anxiety and psychotic-like symptoms.

As with other technology usage, screen time is a double-edged sword. It’s bad when used excessively. I’m a firm believer that technology is good for everyone, including children. It is only bad when their screen time is not properly managed and disrupts eating and sleeping patterns, causes obesity and eroding social skills.

Perhaps, this school holiday is a good time to get our children to put away those gadgets and enjoy the world outside. While our weather may be humid and hot, the evenings are still great for a visit to the park for a walk. Let’s find alternatives to screen time for our children, such as building Lego blocks, solving puzzles, colouring, assembling car toys and dressing up dolls. Or, having family board games and hide and seek. The most important thing is to spend quality time with the family.


Read more @