Archive for the ‘Educational Technologies’ Category

Use Of ICT Devices Not Throughout Classroom Session In Schools – Mahdzir

Saturday, August 12th, 2017

BUKIT KAYU HITAM, Aug 10 (Bernama)–Education Minister Datuk Seri Mahdzir Khalid has stressed that the teaching and learning process in the school classroom will go on as usual although students are allowed to bring along their ICT devices like tablets and netbooks to school from next year.

Mahdzir said allowing students to bring along these devices would just be a supplementary measure for students to do reference work during the teaching-learning process in an interactive way, and not using the devices all the time.

“I wish to emphasise that it is not the Education Ministry’s intention that students must learn through these devices, No. The teaching-learning process in school will go on as what it is currently. (The devices are) just an additional means of learning for those students who bring the devices to school.

“And it’s usage is not from 7.45am until 2pm. Perhaps for two hours but and we have finalised this yet, whether two or three hours and at which time (these devices can be used) ,” he said after opening the 5th Kedah Scouts Jamboree and International Brotherhood 2017, here, last night.

Mahdzir was recently quoted as saying that the ruling and circular on the use and type of ICT devices allowed for students to bring to school were being drawn by his ministry.

Earlier, on April 18, Mahdzir announced the proposal to allow students to bring ICT devices to school where their usage would be to ease the teaching-learning process in the classroom, according to the time and subjects determined by the ministry.

However, he said, the ministry so far would only allow such devices (tablets, notebooks) and not the mobile phone, to be brought along to school by students.

Mahdzir said usage of ICT devices had been allowed since quite a while back for high-performing fully residential schools, and international and private schools.


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Parents: Lift ban on phones if laptops and tablets are allowed.

Thursday, August 10th, 2017

PETALING JAYA: Parents want mobile phones to be allowed in schools because many laptops and tablets have similar functions anyway.

Melaka Action Group for Parents in Education chairman Mak Chee Kin said it would be difficult for teachers to impose a selective ruling because the line between phones and devices such as tablets was becoming increasingly blurred.

“I find this (exclusion of phones) silly! Will teachers have to check before classes that the device isn’t a phone?” he asked.

On the Internet infrastructure available in schools, which would be necessary for devices that needed WiFi or other network facilities to go online, Mak said not allowing phones would put even more pressure on schools’ broadband capacity.

“How about the Internet connection? Even now, teachers are fighting for broadband. It will become even more pressing once students need the Internet as part of their lessons,” he said in response to Education Minister Datuk Seri Mah­d­zir Khalid’s announcement that students will be allowed to bring mobile devices such as laptops and tablets to school, but not mobile phones.

Parent Action Group for Educa­tion Malaysia chairman Datin Noor Azimah Abdul Rahim said disallowing phones was irrelevant because many other devices now had apps that gave them similar functions.

She said international schools already allowed their students to use phones in class, though most were kept too busy with schoolwork to spend time on their phones.

She added that it came down to engaging students, not restricting some devices over others. But some teachers said they would prefer if students were only limited to bringing laptops or notebooks to class.

One teacher said that unlike laptops, mobile phones and tablets could easily be hidden from view.

“When they open the laptop, we can see what the students are doing,” he said.

He added that it was easier to prevent students from accessing undesirable sites as they would be limited by the school’s Internet connectivity.
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Classroom studies to go digital

Thursday, August 10th, 2017

PETALING JAYA: Teachers will soon be telling their students to put away their books and take out their electronic devices in classrooms.

Education Minister Datuk Seri Mahdzir Khalid said students in the country’s 10,000 schools would be allowed to bring certain mobile devices to class, starting early next year.

Current policy prohibits students from bringing electronic devices to school.

However, Mahdzir said mobile phones would not be allowed as students were to concentrate on studying, not chatting with their friends, in class.

Mahdzir added that phones were more distracting compared to devices that depended on WiFi or a local area network to connect to the Internet.

“You can access more things with a handphone,” he told reporters at Institut Aminuddin Baki yesterday.

He also said there will be a time limit on the usage of electronic devices depending on the subject being taught.

“We are in the final stages of draf­ting the guidelines on this,” he said.

In April, the ministry mooted a policy to allow primary and secondary school students to bring electronic gadgets to class to help with the learning process, in line with the digital age.

Mahdzir cited similar policies adopted in South Korea, Japan and Singapore, but said the ministry had not decided what kind of gadgets would be allowed yet. It was also mulling the question of pricing, as some students might not be able to afford the devices.

The ministry would also look at broadband speeds in schools, factoring in rural and remote Internet access as well.

Deputy Education Minister Datuk Chong Sin Woon said the ministry encouraged students to use electronic devices such as tablets for studying and learning.

Students could download homework or find information, he said, but mobile phones did not make the cut as they were not considered important learning tools.

“The ministry has no intention of allowing mobile phones in the classroom for the time being,” he said.

However, the policy would be monitored and fine-tuned as needed, he added.

Parents’ groups responded positively to the announcement, although several concerns were raised about affordability and the exclusion of mobile phones.

Parent Action Group for Education Malaysia chairman Datin Noor Azimah Abdul Rahim said not all parents could afford such devices, so the Government should find ways to make sure that no child was left without a device.

by Qishin Tariq, Rebecca Rajaendram, and Lee Chonghui
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Test shows no rural-urban gap in computational thinking.

Saturday, July 29th, 2017

CYBERJAYA: Pupils in rural schools perform just as well as their urban counterparts when it comes to computational thinking.

According to the digital competency standards test administered by the Malaysian Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC), there was no rural-urban gap, or even a gender gap, when it came to digital competency.

“Initially, you can say the rural pupils are not on a level playing field,” said MDEC vice-president for talent and digital entrepreneurship Sumitra Nair.

“But we found out that they actually catch on very quickly.”

The test was conducted after the new curriculum, which embeds computational thinking and computer science modules, was introduced in 25 schools in 2015.

“It will continue to be administered in batches after the curriculum is expanded to all schools this year,” Sumitra said.

She explained that the test was created to evaluate pupils in three domains: technology, cognitive and digital citizenship.

“The first one involves operations such as save, copy and paste.

Way of the future: Sumitra showing the computational thinking and computer science modules for coding that will be introduced into the national school syllabus.

Way of the future: Sumitra showing the computational thinking and computer science modules for coding that will be introduced into the national school syllabus.

“The second one is on problem solving.

“The third one is on doing the right things online – ethically, safely and responsibly.

“For example, crediting the source when you do a search; how to determine what is a credible source; when you share your information with others, and when you do not,” she said.

Sumitra said there was no major negative feedback since the curriculum was rolled out to all primary schools seven months ago.

“We have to adapt as we go along. As we learn what works and what doesn’t, we have to keep fixing it.

“What is most important is the commitment.

“The goal is to ensure our future generation is ready for the future workforce,” she said.

Sumitra added that apart from jobs in the ICT industry, doctors and even engineers would soon need to have advanced computational thinking skills.

“It is not going to be a silver bullet that will solve everything, but I think we have to make a start, and that is the important thing,” she said.
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Killing instead of saving?

Sunday, June 4th, 2017
Security threat: A TSA official removing a laptop from a bag at Terminal 4 of JFK airport in New York City. — REUTERS

Security threat: A TSA official removing a laptop from a bag at Terminal 4 of JFK airport in New York City. — REUTERS

THE laptop ban is coming. Can anyone doubt it?

Already, US President Donald Trump’s administration has imposed a laptop ban on flights arriving in the United States from 10 airports in eight Middle Eastern countries. Not only must laptops be checked in, so must any computing device larger than a mobile phone. Next, Washington is expected to broaden the ban to include flights from Europe.

Although the US Department of Homeland Security refuses to specify why the ban is necessary – it’s classified intel, you know – intelligence sources have told The New York Times and others that Islamic State terrorists now have explosives that can be hidden inside laptop batteries, and that can’t be detected by the X-ray machines deployed by the US Transportation Security Administration (TSA) at passenger security checkpoints.

Apparently, the US government’s view – though, again, no one is saying – is that it’s more difficult for terrorists to set off a laptop bomb in the cargo hold than in the cabin, where they can manually detonate it. Plus, the theory goes, a laptop bomb in the cargo hold would need to be rigged with a timer, which could be more easily detected by scanners.

Even putting aside the most obvious flaw in this logic – that checked bags are scanned randomly rather than comprehensively – the ban has so many problems, and raises so many questions, that it is hard to know where to start.

Why does Homeland Security assume that laptop bombs will only be smuggled onto international flights, not domestic American ones? Why can’t it just insist that people go through airport security with their laptops turned on, so that TSA agents can see that they are computers, not bombs?

But there is one question that looms above all the others, or at least it should: Will a laptop ban actually increase the odds of an airplane exploding – not because of terrorism but because of the lithium- ion batteries that power modern computers?

Although this can’t be said with 100% certainly, the answer appears to be: yes.

Lithium-ion batteries are not benign devices; that’s well known among computer engineers and aviation experts. The liquid inside the batteries is flammable, and a short circuit can cause a fire. On rare occasion, the short circuit is the result of faulty design, as with a smartphone that was ultimately banned from flights and recalled by the company recently.

But sometimes it happens because a device is jostled or overheats. According to the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), there have been 160 “incidents” involving lithium-ion batteries in cargo holds since 1991.

In 2010 and again in 2011, cargo planes carrying pallets of the batteries caught fire and crashed. And last January, the FAA issued a warning about transporting batteries in the cargo hold, noting that “a lithium battery fire could lead to a catastrophic explosion”.

When a laptop in the passenger cabin spews smoke or bursts into flame – it’s happened some 19 times over the last five years, according to Christine Negroni, Forbes magazine’s aviation blogger – it is quickly noticed and extinguished. But a fire in the cargo hold won’t be noticed, and experts say that the heat from such a fire quickly grows too high to be extinguished by the fire containment equipment in the hold.

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The fuzzy logic of cyberspace

Saturday, June 3rd, 2017

LAST week, the Institute of Strategic and International Studies Malaysia convened the 31st Asia-Pacific Roundtable (APR), which was attended by approximately 260 local and international policy-watchers of the region.

As it has for decades, the APR deliberated in comprehensive fashion a number of strategic issues confronting the security of the region.

One of those discussions centred around emerging tensions in cyberspace between the private sector, on the one hand, and governments, on the other; the former, with its prioritisation of privacy and trust to catalyse technological innovation in order to capture an ever-growing market share, and the latter, focused on preempting, preventing, and defending against threats to national security.

Anchored by a majority panel of private sector players, it was an unconventional session that captured participants’ attention (at least that of those who remained) for its currency and complexity. Participants stayed either because they actually understood the issues being discussed, or out of a desire to understand the fuzzy logic of cyberspace.

“Cyber” has become one of those buzzwords that people “get”, yet don’t really get. We understand how pervasive the cyber domain has become, given how much of our lives is spent on it, yet we do not fully comprehend the networks, systems, infrastructure, and above all, trust that underpin it.

We transact in cyberspace, yet we do not always grasp how the security of our data lies first and foremost with us. We realise how vulnerable we are in cyberspace, given how much of ourselves we divulge in it, yet we overlook just how much of our identity can be pieced together with enough motivation.

We entrust our data to the companies that store and transfer them, yet we are caught unawares when governments exploit vulnerabilities to mine that data for national security purposes.

Cyberspace and cyber security, therefore, are ethereal notions that we have come to accept in our lexicon, but have not yet begun to assume responsibility for or assign accountability to.

In large part, this is because unlike the natural domains of air, land, sea and space, the infrastructure of cyberspace — from fibre-optic cables to servers that maintain “clouds” — is man-made and, therefore, shared and governed by multiple stakeholders.

The private sector builds, owns, and maintains much of the physical infrastructure, or hardware, of cyberspace. Large technological multinational companies (MNCs) also provide the software that make up the soft underbelly of this super structure — from desktop programmes to mobile applications.

The size, revenue and influence of some of these giant MNCs dwarf smaller nation-states and economies. They operate across jurisdictions but have to comply with local regulations.

This means that they serve not only individual clients, but also governments that may have very different — and occasionally, conflicting — interests in using or leveraging the same products and services offered.

Companies that profit off cyberspace understand that trust in open, distributed programmes, networks and systems is key to making it all work.

Individual end-users expect that the information they send on invisible networks will be routed to and received by intended recipients in whole, rather than in part.

Until recently, as exposed by the Snowden leaks, there was also a certain naiveté that the privacy of this information would not be deliberately or accidentally compromised by the technology companies transmitting this information through the different states they operate in.

To say that borders do not exist in cyberspace is misleading. Data servers, for one, are physically located within a country’s borders and protection of that data is subjected to laws governing that state.

Additionally, as with the Apple vs Federal Bureau of Investigation case last year, a nation’s laws on free speech and privacy may determine the extent to which technology companies can guarantee data encryption.

They may also inadvertently afford mass murderers, terrorists, gang-bangers, and paedophiles, to paraphrase former FBI director James Comey, the opportunity to exploit encryption in the name of free speech.

What can be hard-hittingly borderless, however, is the impact of a government’s interface with technological companies.

This was most recently demonstrated by the scale and spread of the ransomware WannaCry, which affected more than 10 nations as well as their critical national infrastructure, like the United Kingdom’s National Health Service.

Although chiefly a criminal campaign despite rumoured links to a nation-state, WannaCry was drawn from — and its effects exacerbated by — a Microsoft vulnerability that had initially and allegedly been part of the United States’ National Security Agency’s offensive cyber arsenal.

This stockpiling by governments of what are called zero-day vulnerabilities, or programmatic flaws that are left undisclosed to be exploited to attack users, infrastructure, even countries, is shining new light on old frictions between technology companies and nation-states.

WannaCry showed that when giants collide in cyberspace, individuals end up paying in real life.

There are other important, strategic implications to be drawn from these unfolding developments, including how nation-states should behave with each other in cyberspace, what role the private sector should have in that debate, and whether a nuclear deterrence-like concept could work in cyberspace.


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We need technology but at what cost?

Wednesday, May 31st, 2017

THE recent WannaCry ransomware attack left the world in a frantic mode. The worldwide massive cyberattack on computers running Microsoft Windows operating system reportedly struck more than 200,000 computers in 150 countries. Russia and the United Kingdom were said to be among the worst-hit.

Cybersecurity firm experts are warning that it can only get worse before it gets better because society has become more reliant on technology than ever before.

Ransomware is a malicious software that locks up victims’ data in electronic gadgets such as computers, tablets or smartphones and threatens to expose the data or delete it until a ransom is paid. It is basically a denial-of-access cyberattack that prevents us from accessing our data.

While there are many forms of ransomware out there, WannaCry is perhaps the most dangerous yet. System analysts traced the root of the ransomware to a Microsoft security patch released in March, so those who had updated their systems with the patch were more likely to be victims of WannaCry. However, it doesn’t stop there because many are still at risk and it’s only a matter of time for WannaCry to spread through the email chain.

Today, it seems that the world is no longer safe anywhere. Real world or virtual, we are just as vulnerable when it comes to safety. Technology has opened up an infinitude Catch-22 situation that we are unable to resolve. We need technology and we definitely cannot live without it but at what cost?

We are indeed held ransom by technology as we continue to become more dependent on it. With the Internet of Things (IoT), the reliance on technology can only increase in the future. We live and breathe technology every second of the day. Even when we sleep, technology in IoT dominates our time. IoT, the next stage of evolution in consumer products, is connectedness. It affects every item, from the toothbrush to the fridge, and the television to the camera that uses wireless protocols to connect.

Though we now think we are protected by fingerprint readers, these are also prone to cyberattacks. If you think your fingerprint is unique, think again. Masterprints, digitally altered fingerprints that work like a master key, have been discovered by researchers for New York University’s Tandon School of Engineering. With these masterprints, one can unlock up to 40 per cent of smartphones.

Ransomware is not the only nasty bug on the list. We have experienced trojans, malwares, worms and more in various stages over the years, all created by hackers. As technology evolves, so do these bugs. While we think that these mostly target governments and corporations, think again because any one of us is just as susceptible to hackers. Depending on the intentions of hackers, some may not even want anything in return… just the satisfaction of creating disruption or chaos in people’s lives.

If you are infected by ransomware or malware, the first thing you should do is disconnect your computer from the Internet so it does not infect others. Most of these attacks rely on your connection to spread, so disconnect to end it before it goes viral. Report the crime to law enforcement or cybersecurity experts. Even if you pay the hackers, there’s no guarantee they will unlock or restore your access to your data.


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All Govt schools to have high-speed Internet by next year.

Saturday, May 27th, 2017
Service rewarded: Mahdzir (second from left) giving the Tokoh Guru Negeri Kelantan 2017 Award to Ghazali. — Bernama

Service rewarded: Mahdzir (second from left) giving the Tokoh Guru Negeri Kelantan 2017 Award to Ghazali. — Bernama

TANAH MERAH: All government schools will be equipped with high speed Internet service by next year, making digital learning for millions of students a reality in Malaysia.

Education Minister Datuk Seri Mahdzir Khalid said Internet facilities would be upgraded in 6,000-odd schools, bringing the total number of schools with relatively high speed Internet access to more than 10,000.

“High speed Internet access does not only improve teaching and learning in schools, but is also beneficial for teachers and other staff in discharging their duties,” he said after opening the Kelantan Teachers Day celebration at SMK Belimbing here yesterday.

He said the current speed varies from as low as 2Mbps in rural schools to 10Mbps in some urban schools.

Mahdzir also called on teachers to be technology savvy, as information and communication technology tools were the way forward in the education sector.

He urged parent-teacher associations and non-governmental organisations to play a more active role to help drive schools towards excellence.

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Public WiFi can be used to spread ransomware, say experts.

Friday, May 19th, 2017

PETALING JAYA: With ransomware on the rise, even public WiFi networks are no longer safe, according to ethical hackers C.F. Fong and Foe Chee Kang.

An ethical hacker is a person who hacks into a computer network in order to test or evaluate its security, rather than for malicious or criminal intent.

The two were speaking on The Couch, a live talk show by R.AGE, where they also demonstrated how easy it is to infect a computer with malware through a fake public WiFi account.

“If we set a WiFi account like this at an airport or hotel, we would have access to so many people’s information,” said Fong, the chief executive officer of cyber security firm LGMS.

Fong also gave the live audience tips on protecting themselves from cyber attacks.

He advised people to never use pirated software, to update their software regularly, and keep physical backups of their data.


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Online users urged to be cautious with email attachments

Friday, May 19th, 2017

KOTA KINABALU: Internet users should be wary on any suspicious link or attachment from email which can be associated with the latest Wannacry Ransomware attack.

Ransomware are a type of malware designed to extort money from victims by holding files or entire computers to ransom.

The ransomware typically demands payment to undo changes that the Trojan virus has made to the victim’s computer, which ranges from encrypting data stored on the victim’s disk to blocking normal access.

Chief Technology Officer (CTO) CyberSecurity Malaysia, Dr. Solahuddin Shamsuddin said most ransomware is spread hidden within Word documents, PDFs and other files normally sent via email.

“Prevention is the best option when dealing with this kind of cyber attack, which is why I urge all people and network system administrators to be more careful and take precaution.

“By updating to the latest windows update, backup any important files regularly, constantly update to the latest anti-virus update, and do not open any suspicious attachment or link sent through email,” said Dr Solahuddin to reporters after launching the Mosti Social Innovation (MSI) Explore Cyber Ops Sabah Edition, here at the Inventory of Science and Technology Center UMS, yesterday.

CyberSecurity has not issued any statement on social media, prohibiting the use of online banking and online purchases with regards to a viral statement sent through social media such as WhatsApp and Facebook.

He also said that all organisation system administrators to be more vigilant and continue the necessary actions to protect and secure their infrastructure computer network systems.

According to him, people should be more cautious even though there has not been any major incident related to the ransomware reported in the country.

Threat of cyber attacks can happen at any time and anywhere where with the power of today’s technology allows various forms of cyber attacks which users do not expect.

The impact can be huge with property damages, losses, interruption of operations, reputation and even can threaten national security, he said.

The latest cyber attacks have infected more than 150 countries including computer networks of Britain’s National Health Service, Russia’s interior ministry and international shipper FedEx.


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