Archive for the ‘Educational Technologies’ Category

23,873 teachers receive device with data plan

Thursday, April 27th, 2017

KOTA KINABALU: A total of 23,873 teachers from 445 schools in Sabah have received their 2G monthly Individual Data Plan with a ‘Smart Phone Altitude’ device and 4G broadband.

State Education Director Datuk Maimunah Suhaibul said all schools are encouraged to optimize the 1BestariNet usage, especially in the implementation of teaching and learning.

“The first phase of 1BestariNet has ended, and now with the on-going of phase two, the Education Ministry is supplying the State Education Department and Education District Officer with the facility, to be responsible in implementing the distribution to all eight zones involved.

“The distribution starts today (April 25) until April 28, and two teachers from each school were invited to receive the facility,” she said during the first handing over ceremony at SMKA Tun Ahmadshah, Inanam.

Her speech was read by the department’s Head of Information Communication Technology Sector, Ruvia Sylvester.

Maimunah said there are five districts involved in the programme namely Kota Kinabalu (58 schools) Penampang (20 schools), Papar (34 schools), Tuaran (22 schools) and Kota Belud (21 schools).

“With the distribution of the new facility, I am hoping that it will improve the usage of cloud-based virtual learning called Frog VLE through FrogMobile Apps which has been downloaded on the ‘Smart Phone Altitude’

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Evolution of teacher’s role over the years

Thursday, April 27th, 2017

Devices in the classroom allow students to enhance their learning while giving teachers better ways to track individual achievement and personalise lessons. FILE PIC

REMEMBER those thick encyclopedias that adorn our bookshelves? They were once a part of every home that could afford them.

A huge investment for the family home and a vital part of any school library, they were the only way individuals could look up general information before the Internet.

Today, we can access so much content on Google or Wikipedia, using mobile and desk-based devices as tools, similar to what we once did with encyclopedias.

When the Education Ministry announced the plan to allow students to use their electronic devices in the classroom — an attempt to equip students for the demands of the 21st century — it invited more negative feedback rather than a welcomed change.

Judging by public debate and discussion, the reactions presented opinions based on an antiquated model for learning and teaching, suggesting as if very little has changed in a classroom since we last left schools. We picture classrooms where desks are faced forward with the teacher at the front, together with the blackboard and plenty of textbooks, pens and photocopied notes and exercises.

Children now entering schools are digital natives and computer literate. Most can handle a tablet’s touch screen before they even learn how to tie shoelaces.

In the digital world, globalisation and technological changes are having a major impact on what students need to know. We are standing at the threshold of the fourth industrial revolution. Reflecting on this, it is not just about what we know anymore, but what we can do with what we know.

Hence, a wider curriculum is needed, one that focuses on 21st century skills — to be creative, critical and socially skilled to collaborate, communicate and solve problems.

In allowing these devices in the classroom, it is not just about shifting traditional lessons onto screens. It is about allowing students to make use of their devices to enhance their learning while giving teachers better ways to track individual achievement and personalise lessons. ​

For instance, teaching Shakespeare’s Macbeth would previously involve listening to the teacher talk through the themes. This would require intense concentration before writing your analysis. With technology, instead of the teachers doing the talking, the classroom can watch video clips depicting differing interpretations of a scene in Macbeth, using the Internet to research the themes before students present their interpre-tation.

The involvement of students in the learning process is then more compelling, leaving possibilities that allow their minds to wander, which is half of the battle teachers fight every day.

It also means that there is now a new picture of what it means to be an effective teacher for today’s evolving learning needs.

Planning and delivering instruction, assessing student learning and managing the classroom environment are typical of what a teacher does in and outside of the classroom.

In this 21st century’s new perspectives on teaching and learning, it is necessary to open a new window for thinking about how 21st-century skills and standards impact traditional teaching.

Teachers must abandon the mentality that they are only content experts and that their responsibility is to transmit knowledge. To remain effective where the 4Cs (creativity, critical thinking, communication, collaboration) and learning to learn are central.

Teachers must plan to be facilitators who provide scaffolding to support students in developing their own ways of knowing and thinking.

Results of from Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Programme for International Student Assessment show that talented teachers and capable school leaders, even at the most challenging classrooms with social disadvantaged students, are key to challenge students with high standards and excellent teaching.

While teachers and parents favour small classes as crucial for a more personalised education environment, the highest performing systems tend to systematically prioritise the quality of teachers over the size of classes.

The key factor is not the size of the class. It’s the quality of teaching strategies, giving teachers less class time so they can focus on high-quality teaching.

Teachers must have more time to engage students individually, work with parents, work on reviewing lessons, analysing lessons, observing practice and so on. So there’s more emphasis on professional development, particularly for higher order thinking skills. It also means between classes of 30 with less-prepared teachers and classes of 40 with well-prepared teachers, we should go for the latter. Given the choice between a great teacher and a small class, pick the great teacher.


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Teachers urged to adopt ICT in teaching, learning methods

Thursday, April 27th, 2017


Ruvia (second left) presenting the Smartphone and Data plan to an education officer during the ceremony yesterday

KOTA KINABALU: School teachers in the state have been urged to adopt information communication technology (ICT) to enhance teaching and learning for pupils in schools.

State Education director, Datuk Maimunah Suhaibul highlighted the teaching and learning methods needs to evolve with changing of the times and teachers need to learn to apply ICT in the classroom to make learning fun and interesting.

“I am concerned that there are still some of us teachers who still use conventional teaching methods and refuse to take full advantage of ICT facilities provided by the government,” she said.

In her speech at the handover ceremony of Altitude Smartphone and Data Plan for teachers yesterday, Maimunah underlined the government had spent an extensive amount of resources and funds in setting up ICT facilities and infrastructure for education.

The text of her speech was delivered by Ruvia Slyvester, its Chief of Information Management Sector and ICT. During the ceremony, Ruvia also took the opportunity to present smartphones and data plan to district education offices of Kota Kinabalu, Papar, Tuaran, Penampang and Kota Belud.

The initiative is carried out under phase two of the 1BestariNet Service Programme which took place at SMK Tun Ahmad Shah.

Maimunah also noted that JPN Sabah is intensifying efforts in being the catalyst of change in leading advancement of students to achieve excellence.


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Leaping with technology

Sunday, March 26th, 2017
A pupil at SJK(T) Ladang Edinburgh showing Kamalanathan how she uses the Frog VLE to learn.

A pupil at SJK(T) Ladang Edinburgh showing Kamalanathan how she uses the Frog VLE to learn.

SJK (T) Ladang Edinburgh in Kepong, Kuala Lumpur became the first Tamil school in Malaysia to receive YTL Foundation’s Frog Classroom makeover.

The new classroom is equipped with the Frog VLE (Virtual Learning Environment) platform and the programme’s hallmark curved tables, designed to make it easier for pupils to interact with each other and hold group discussions to promote collaborative learning.

The Frog Classroom Programme is an initiative by YTL Foundation in collaboration with FrogAsia, provider of the Frog VLE, under the Education Ministry’s 1BestariNet project.

“This concept is close to my heart because I believe it will bring change in our education system and boost our country’s education landscape,” said Deputy Education Minister Datuk P Kamalanathan during the launch of the classroom.

School headmistress Theresa Ayyakkannu also believes that the Frog programme will improve the quality of education in the country, as it promotes holistic learning beyond the traditional classroom setting.

To observe its effectiveness, Kamalanathan joined an English lesson taught by Salini Armugam, who was discussing folk tales with her pupils. During the lesson, pupils uploaded presentations of selected legends and shared their thoughts about the stories.

“What we witnessed today is how this Frog Classroom can be used as a catalyst for 21st century learning. This afternoon, we had a glimpse of how classroom learning can be further supported through assigned work via the Frog VLE, as well as self-paced practice via quizzes on Frog Play,” said Kamalanathan.

The world of learning continues to evolve rapidly and it is encouraging to see how everyone is playing their part, he added.

He also commended the school’s leadership, teachers and parents for coming together to provide pupils with a learning experience that supports their different needs.

The Frog Classroom, after all, is made possible via a collaboration between different parties. YTL Foundation works together with teachers, parents and students from selected schools to raise the approximately RM9,000 to RM10,000 needed to build a Frog Classroom. In some cases, corporate sponsors chip in by donating funds.

Partnerships between YTL Group and others have enabled YTL Foundation to build 120 Frog Classrooms throughout Malaysia.

Parents also play a role in the Frog VLE programme. They will be given an ID with where they can follow the activities of their children in school, check results, access school reports, and get the latest bulletins from the Education Ministry.

They can also find out about upcoming events and download necessary forms, documents and study material.

The Frog Classroom will not just benefit the 300 pupils of SJK (T) Ladang Edinburgh. Schools with Frog Classrooms are also Frog hubs, where teachers from other schools can meet and share the best ways to utilise technology in teaching and learning.

“They can use the hub for hands-on training, learn about technology, get community support and share lesson plans so they won’t be working in silo,” said YTL Foundation programme manager (corporate and CSR initiative) Alexander Au-Yong Wai Weng.

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Audiobooks see boom in digital age

Monday, February 6th, 2017
Indian visitors listen to audio books at the Delhi World Book fair at Pragati Maidan in New Delhi. — AFP

Indian visitors listen to audio books at the Delhi World Book fair at Pragati Maidan in New Delhi. — AFP

CURLING up with a paperback may be a forgotten luxury for many thanks to today’s busy lifestyles, but listening to a book on the go, while shopping or jogging, is fast becoming the new norm.

Gone are the cumbersome cassette sets that could cost three times as much as an old-fashioned book and often featured only excerpts to cut down on costs.

Now, audiobooks are just a click away and can be uploaded onto a smartphone for the same, if not lower, price as the print edition.Mary Beth Roche, president and publisher of Macmillan Audio, said their reader feedback suggests many use audiobooks as a “multitasking tool,” a way to “consume books when their eyes are busy.”

For others — whose work lives may involve long stretches at the screen — they are a way to unplug.

“It’s sort of nice to sit back, and relax and have a story told to you,” said Roche.

Some 35,574 audiobook titles were released in the United States in 2015, according to the Audio Publishers Association, an eight-fold increase over five years.

That year, sales of books read out loud reached US$1.77bil (RM7.94bil), an annual jump of 20 percent.

According to the Author Earnings website, Amazon largely dominates the market — even more so than for the print book industry — with around 119,000 audiobooks sold per day in January 2016.

At the core of its earnings is industry leader Audible, which Amazon bought in 2008. The tech and retail giant also offers subscription deals, including one book per month for US$14.95 (RM67).

Most major publishers now have dedicated audiobook teams.

A favourite in the car

In the United States, audiobooks have long been serious business — simply because Americans on average spend so much time in their cars.

“What we found out is that’s a way for consumers to make that time in traffic, quality time,” said Roche.

“Even way back when it was the cassette and then the CD, the number one place that people listen is in the car. We do find that a long car trip or a long commute is often what triggers someone to try an audiobook and to experience it for the first time and then they find other places where they can listen.”

When audiobooks became available in digital format, people started using them during other activities — when out shopping or jogging, performing household tasks or crafting.

For thriller author John Hart, gyms and shops are not necessarily the best place to enjoy a book.

“But if it’s a quite contemplative type of environment, driving or working in a quiet manner, it’s probably a great way to experience these books,” he said.

“Driving your car on a long trip, I find for instance an audiobook is every bit as satisfying as sitting in a quiet room and reading and in fact it can even become more so completely immersive. I’d lose myself in the experience.”

The audio rights for Hart’s first book were sold to Recorded Books. After that, his publisher Macmillan sought to retain control of the audiobook as well as the print rights.Anthony Goff, senior vice president at Hachette Book Group, noted that authors today have a much keener interest than before in the audiobook version of their works, sometimes suggesting readers or offering to do the reading themselves.

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Sabah targets 200,000 students for VLE

Wednesday, January 25th, 2017
Maimunah (second left) presenting an award to a recipient at the seminar.

Maimunah (second left) presenting an award to a recipient at the seminar.

KOTA KINABALU: All primary and secondary schools in Sabah are encouraged to use the Frog Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) as a platform for teachers to write and record their Planned Daily Lesson (PDL).

Sabah Education Department (JPN) director, Datuk Maimunah Suhaibul, said that despite having over 1,200 primary and secondary schools, Sabah records only three schools which are currently utilising the VLE, namely SMK Tebobon, SMK Tambulion and SMK Taman Ria.

“I’m sure that more schools are using the VLE, it’s just that we haven’t identified them yet,” she said during a sharing seminar on best e-PDL practices via the VLE.

Maimunah said RM800,000 was previously allocated to print PDL books for the 40,000 teachers in Sabah.

She called upon the academic management sector to monitor and collect data and statistics on the number of schools using the online system to aid e-PDL recording.

In a JPN financial meeting, a new alternative needed to be introduced to continue with the PDL system without such a high cost, she said.

“The RM800,000 is the allocation from our ministry and it can be used to fund other activities, one of the alternatives being using the VLE for PDL.

“The PDL is a must for every teacher who teaches in a classroom, whether it is written, printed, typed and kept in a file or, using the latest means, stored online with the VLE as a platform,” said Maimunah.

In addition, she said, the second phase of the Academic Development Plan by the Ministry of Education targets a nationwide VLE usage of two million students.

“In Sabah, we are targeting 200,000 students and although we have not achieved that target, we will work towards it,” she said.

by Fiqah Roslan.

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Digital literacy, a must for students

Wednesday, December 7th, 2016

AS not everything we read in the Internet can be trusted, we need to verify the contents first before believing or spreading them.

For that reason, future generations need to be equipped with adequate knowledge related to Internet safety, self-image, cyber-bullying, copyright, privacy, and safety in the digital world.

These issues should have a special place in our school curriculum as technology is reshaping education.

Today’s students are increasingly comfortable in an Internet-enabled world. They feel the need to be able to access information anytime and anywhere. This influences the way students learn even as they are constantly texting, tweeting, posting photos, updating their status, or accessing information for their interests.

On the other hand, the widespread use of social media also shapes the way they communicate and share information. Through this platform, students are exposed to both positive and negative content.

These new models of learning should be embraced in the field of education, though teachers need to be aware of challenges in utilising technology to generate greater student engagement.

Teachers’ responsibilities are not only teaching, but also empowering students.

Through media literacy, teachers can encourage students to express their opinions with respect. They need to be taught to probe deeper than most current media sources.

I am of the view that current social media use tends to be more to gossip rather than sharing meaningful information and fostering the collaboration on ideas. It is true that students spend so much time online merely chatting and gossiping.

For that reason, they need to be taught the rights and responsibilities of digital citizens, which is not much different from the physical world. Students need to be good citizens of the digital world, and that includes observing proper etiquette.

Teachers should be role models in developing media literacy. In the 21st century, teachers should be media literate due to the fact that information and communication technology is getting increasingly woven into our daily lives.

Unfortunately, we tend to focus on building the infrastructure without training teachers professionally.


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Making high speed computers

Sunday, November 13th, 2016
Wong with a scanning electron microscope which the researchers use to check the graphene for defects. — ST/ANN

Wong with a scanning electron microscope which the researchers use to check the graphene for defects. — ST/ANN

Scientists find they can potentially convert electrical energy into light energy in order to achieve increased computer speeds.

EVERYONE is taught in school that nothing travels faster than light. But actually, some things do.

The phenomenon, known as the Cherenkov effect, was first observed by Soviet scientists in 1934, but has been familiar only to those who study things like nuclear reactors and cosmic rays.

Now, a team of researchers from the United States, Israel, Croatia and Singapore has found that one can potentially use this principle to make computers one million times faster than they are now.

Led by researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), the team demonstrated that it is possible to exploit the Cherenkov effect to efficiently convert electrical energy into light energy.

The light energy could, with development of additional technology in the future, be used to process data up to a million times faster than the traditional electrons bouncing around in today’s computers.

At the moment, the researchers have only some theoretical calculations to show for their efforts, but the findings have already been published in the journal Nature Communications in June.

“It goes to show how close to the frontier we are. This is a very fundamental effect but nobody has demonstrated it yet,” said Wong Liang Jie, 32, from the Singapore Institute of Manufacturing Technology (SIMTech), who did the calculations.

They were also hampered by real-world constraints.

Lead author Ido Kaminer, a post-doctoral fellow at MIT’s department of physics, said: “The 12-hour time difference is very challenging. It means our (online) meetings typically occur around 10pm for one side and 10am for the other.”

But it has been “a very fruitful collaboration”, as SIMTech contributed unique numerical simulation tools and other necessary expertise, Kaminer added.

Traditionally, for their data-processing tasks, computers depend on transistors that manipulate electrons.

The size of transistors has been halving roughly every two years since the 1960s, allowing ever greater computing power to be packed into a microchip.

However, there is a limit, as the tiny and densely packed transistors are prone to overheating and data errors.

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Blended learning for adult learners

Sunday, November 6th, 2016

THE rise of blended learning in tertiary education, in which face-to-face instruction is complemented by online components, is an acknowledgement of the rise of the non-traditional tertiary student.

While a large segment of blended learning students fall in the K-12 category, adult learners are also taking to “digitally assisted curriculum” which picked up pace in the late 90s, thanks to the internet, and today, mobile technology.

“Blended learning recognises the importance of catering to different students in increasingly different contexts,” says Swinburne University of Technology (Sarawak Campus) deputy vice-chancellor Prof Janet Gregory at the inaugural Victoria-Southeast Asia Higher Education Forum held recently in Kuala Lumpur.

“Online students are busy people. They are not school leavers. They are predominantly adults with jobs, families, commitments and they require flexibility in their part-time learning,” says Online Education Services (OES), Australia director of strategy Dr Kay Lipson, whose centre is a partnership between, Australia’s top job site, and Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne, Australia.

OES launched Swinburne Online in 2011, an online campus which today offers 21 undergraduate and postgraduate university courses and five TAFE courses to over 8,000 students.

Learning is entirely web-based and students are also provided with online support and social spaces to interact and engage with each other for the optimal student experience.

UNITAR International University, for example, rolled out its education management system, UNITAR Education Core (UNIEC), in this fashion. It is a student-centred learning experience where the entire university ecosystem, from the facilities to the faculty and management, serves to support the student Through UNIEC, students can access their enrolment, timetables, exam results, lecture materials and more.

“To deliver a more different and ultimately better student learning experience, we use a lot of technology to engage students in their activities,” says Monash College, Australia associate director E-Learning Dr Kulari Lokege-Dona.

But technology is, by itself, not always the answer to a better student learning experience, as private tertiary institution Kaplan Singapore found to be the case during the implementation of its blended curriculum project.

“There are a lot of considerations. You can’t look at Powerpoint slides on a smartphone on the MRT, for example.

“And it’s hard to blend straight-laced subjects like accounting,” says Kaplan Singapore School of Diploma Studies head

Christopher Harris, who has led such a project for the past four years.

After two blended trial curriculums, it was found that a 75/25 split between the physical and virtual classroom, where modular teaching includes quality video content and interactive activities, led to better pass rates among students.

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The dark side of mobile convenience

Sunday, November 6th, 2016
Safety first: People should never access online banking, their credit card accounts or do transactions using public Wi-Fi or public Internet access.

Safety first: People should never access online banking, their credit card accounts or do transactions using public Wi-Fi or public Internet access.

Mobile devices are now an essential part of everyday life. These days, people do practically everything on their smartphones or tablets.

They book and pay for their flight tickets and hotel rooms using their smartphones. Some shop or order groceries online, pay their bills online and do their online banking all using their smartphones.

And of course there is the usual checking and sending of email, WhatsApp and Snapchat messages, updating their Facebook and Instagram photos, and tweeting.

The list goes on.

But why is it then that despite using their smartphones so much that people give so little thought to cyber security and cyber crime?

CyberSecurity Malaysia CEO Dr Amirudin Abdul Wahab says there is a clear shift from fixed computers to mobile devices.

So the tendency now is for cyber criminals to also make that shift because that is where the money and opportunity lie.

“Hackers will follow the money. There are areas of vulnerability that the cyber criminals have identified. It is a business for them.

“As we move towards more mobility, we have to remember there is also a dark side,” he adds.

Dr Amirudin believes people are more vulnerable on their mobile phones because they tend to put security measures like antivirus programmes on their personal computers (PC) but not on their smartphones.

“When people do online transactions, do they know there are threats out there? Why do they have antivirus on their PC but not on their smartphone? What is the difference?

“And what happens if they don’t have antivirus? It makes it more attractive for cybercriminals to attack,” he warns.

Dr Amirudin says it is also crucial to update the antivirus regularly so that it can scan, detect and remove the latest threats.

All this might seem like “basic knowledge” but he says the level of awareness is low among Malaysians.

“Malaysians see cyber security as something to do with ‘business’. They don’t see how it touches their own lives until they themselves become victims of cyber crime. By then it’s too late.

“People should ready themselves for any possible cyber attack – whether they are going to be attacked or not.”

Dr Amirudin says mobile devices are safe for transactions if “best practices’’ are followed.

First and foremost, he says, people should never access online banking, their credit card accounts or do transactions using public Wi-Fi or public Internet access.

“Even if it is password-protected, it is not safe because it is for public use, hence accessible to hackers.

“There are a lot of tools that can hack into accounts to obtain user names and passwords when you do online transactions using public Wi-Fi.

“Hackers can create ‘honeypot’ Wi-Fi hotspots to attract usage and they would then compromise these devices when people use it.’’

He says it is not a problem if people use public Wi-Fi merely to browse.

“Just don’t do transactions or access sensitive information. Use your mobile data or your own private Wi-Fi connection for that.”


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