Archive for the ‘Educational Technologies’ Category

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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Education Strategies Need To See Impact Of Technology To Youths – Sultan Nazrin

Tuesday, October 18th, 2016

News Pic

IPOH, Oct 18 (Bernama) — The Sultan of Perak, Sultan Nazrin Shah urged for greater efforts to be made to develop appropriate education strategies that take into account the impact of technological advances to youths thus ensuring that the future generations continue to flourish.

In addition, His Royal Highness noted that much greater investment must be made into the expansion of alternative employment because youths now faced various challenges especially the shrinking of employment opportunities.

The Sultan noted apart from demographic factors, employment was also under threat from new technology where some futurists believed that current advances in robotics and artificial intelligence would create mass unemployment.

“Machines can now be programmed to conduct tasks that involve mental as well as physical skills and can even be programmed to deliver professional services.

“While the impact of these developments is hard to predict with any certainty, this ‘technological unemployment’ is likely to exacerbate greatly the problems created by the youth bulge,” Sultan Nazrin said in his keynote address when opening the 3rd World Conference on Islamic Thought and Civilisation (WCIT) 2016, here today.

The WCIT 2016 with the theme ‘Future World’, beginning today until Thursday, is a biennial conference addressing contemporary issues and had been organised by the Universiti Sultan Azlan Shah (USAS) since 2012 with participants coming from more than 15 countries.

The Sultan said the development gained, which had benefitted many in past decades, were in danger of being eroded by the sheer weight of numbers as many developing countries experienced a ‘youth bulge’.

“Efforts must be made to protect these gains and promote further development, as we are doing here in Malaysia through Vision 2020, with its focus on strengthening human capital and further expanding the middle class.

“Shrinking in employment opportunities, whether from growing demographic pressures or technological advances, also present a significant set of risks for today’s youth,” Sultan Nazrin said.

The Sultan said youth accounted for around a quarter of the global population, with an estimated 1.8 billion young people between the ages of 10 and 24 and that were disproportionately concentrated in developing countries, where nine out of 10 young people live.


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Affordable 4G services

Friday, September 16th, 2016
The Yes Huddle XS is a pocket-sized mobile 4G hotspot device.

The Yes Huddle XS is a pocket-sized mobile 4G hotspot device.

IT is undeniable that the Internet has become prevalent in today’s community. Everyday tasks such as communicating with friends, family or co-workers, sharing updates on the social media, and entertainment are increasingly done using the Internet.

Along with the mushrooming of mobile smart devices in the Malaysian market, it is no surprise that the nation has reached a tipping point where mobile Internet data has become an irreplaceable convenience for all communication needs.

Yes, the mobile 4G brand under YTL Communications, has always been about providing affordable access to world-class 4G services to all Malaysians since day one.

After all, Internet access should not be a luxury for the privileged few, but should be considered as a necessity for all. And with that aspiration, Yes started its journey as the first in Malaysia to build a nationwide 4G broadband network across the country.

Five and a half years later after its official launch, Yes has come full circle in its 4G journey with the deployment of a 4G LTE (Long Term Evolution) network alongside its existing 4G broadband network.

With two robust 4G networks as its backbone, Yes is in a unique position to provide both high-speed mobile broadband and mobile Internet services to everyone in Malaysia, as well as to create and offer the best value possible for everyone as well.

In addition to Yes’ 85% nationwide population coverage across the country, rural communities now have the same access to high-speed Internet as those in the urban areas, thus effectively helped bridge the country’s urban-rural digital divide.

In line with its vision to drive positive changes at a national level and to create a level playing field, Yes strives to improve the way people in Malaysia live, work, learn and play by offering them the best of both 4G worlds – 4G LTE and 4G Broadband – in one convenient “Double Double” plan. These innovative “Double Data” plans offer not only double the 4G experience, but also double the value and savings.

Those who are constantly out and about can enjoy blazing fast speeds with 4G LTE on their smartphones, and connect up to five other devices or users simultaneously with 4G Broadband via the Yes Huddle XS, a pocket-sized mobile 4G hotspot device.

Likewise, consumers can also enjoy seamless Internet surfing with high-speed 4G Broadband via the Yes Zoom, a 4G gateway device while at home with family members.

Moreover, with Yes’s “Double Double” plans, consumers need not worry about running out of Internet data for their daily online surfing and entertainment.

In comparison with other telcos in Malaysia, Yes undoubtedly offers among the best 4G Internet experience at the most affordable rates.

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Apple makes splash with waterproof iPhones

Thursday, September 8th, 2016
Apple CEO Tim Cook introduces the new iPhone 7 during an event inside Bill Graham Civic Auditorium in San Francisco, California on September 7, 2016. - AFP

Apple CEO Tim Cook introduces the new iPhone 7 during an event inside Bill Graham Civic Auditorium in San Francisco, California on September 7, 2016. – AFP

San Francisco (AFP) – Apple on Wednesday set out to make a splash with new waterproof iPhones, a smartphone game starring Nintendo’s beloved “Mario” and a push on wireless headphones.

The iPhone 7 and larger iPhone 7 Plus, with new camera technology, improved water resistance and other features, were shown off to applause at an Apple media event in San Francisco.

The flagship devices will be sold at roughly the same price as the models they replace, starting at $649 for the iPhone 7 for US customers, with deliveries in 25 countries beginning September 16.

Revered Nintendo game designer Shigeru Miyamoto was a surprise guest at the Apple event, unveiling a new “Super Mario Run” game heading for the iPhone by the year-end holidays.

“We want as many people of all ages to be able to play Super Mario Run,” Miyamoto said.

“We plan to release it at a set price, and then you can play to your heart’s content.” The price was not disclosed.

Apple, Nintendo and game maker Niantic used the event to announce the wildly popular Pokemon Go would be available for Apple Watch users later this month.

Pokemon Go has been downloaded more than 500 million times and billions of kilometers have been walked by players since it was made available free in early July, according to Niantic Labs, which created the game.

- No headphone jacks -

One new iPhone feature — which may ruffle some feathers — is the removal of the headphone jack, requiring audio to be delivered via Apple’s proprietary “lightning” connector or by wireless.

Lightning connectors were designed from the outset to handle high-quality audio, Apple vice president Phil Schiller told the unveiling event, responding to concerns about the jack removal.

“It comes down to one reason: courage, the courage to move on,” Schiller said of the decision to get rid of the traditional headset port.

“Our smartphones are packed with technologies and we all want more, and it is all fighting for space in that same enclosure. Maintaining an old, single-purpose connector just doesn’t make sense.”

Apple “AirPods” wireless ear pieces and adaptors to plug old-fashioned wired headsets into Lightening ports will come with iPhone 7 models, according to Schiller.

- Getting wet -

The new-generation iPhones and Apple Watch boast the ability to get wet without getting ruined.

“The first Apple Watch was splash-proof, the Apple Watch Series 2 is swim-proof,” Apple chief operating officer Jeff Williams said during the presentation.

The new smartphones come with Apple seeking to reverse declines in sales of the iPhone in an increasingly saturated global market, and boost its Apple Watch — in a slump since the enthusiasm of last year’s release wore off.

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