Archive for the ‘Educational Technologies’ Category

We can beat handphone addiction by playing games together

Friday, July 26th, 2019
Research shows that Internet and mobile phone addictions are as addictive as drugs. – FILE PIC

FOR some people, using phones has become a psychological disorder.

They can’t stop looking and checking their phones.

Research shows that Internet and mobile phone addictions are as addictive as drugs.

Psychologists and neuroscientists at the University of Southern California, the United States, said “mobile phone addiction has behavioural similarities to hard drug use”.

They said the addiction forces the brain to “release dopamine, the reward-and-pleasure neurotransmitter”.

Hence, this is the reason why we feel good when we use our phones and feel something is missing when we are not using them.

Society must reduce Internet and mobile phone obsession.

One way to do this is to read books and play games with our children.

Before the existence of mobile phones, children and adults played games, such as hand-clap, batu seremban and congkak .

To encourage children to play these games, we need to put down our mobile phones and play with them.

Other than that, we can play board games like snake and ladder, chess, Monopoly and Scrabble.

Playing these games is fun and they stimulate our mind.

They encourage interaction as they are played in pairs or group.

In a jump-rope game, one has to jump in sync with the rhythm of the swinging rope held by two friends.

Most traditional games make us run around.

Playing this way is more fun and improves our social skills.

It also fosters friendship between players.

If it is played by neighbours, the neighbourhood becomes close- knit. However, neighbours are now distant from each other.

A reason of this could our Internet and mobile phone addictions. An activity than can reduce it is embroidery, which improves our brain functions.

Learning a language too engages our mind.

By Dr Megawati Omar .

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Digital gaming industry can generate huge returns

Sunday, July 21st, 2019

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia needs to continue to focus on the digital gaming industry as it can help generate a lucrative income for the country, said Communications and Multimedia Minister Gobind Singh Deo (pic).

He said the industry had improved vastly alongside other digital entertainment industries such as film making and animation series that have raised the country’s stature in the world.

He noted that in 2017, some 60 local game-making studios recorded exports worth RM600 million.

“Apart from the ability to generate billions of ringgit for the national economy, it can also create employment opportunities, especially for young people,” he said in his speech at the Kre8tif! @Schools programme, here, Saturday.

According to him, positioning Malaysia as a hub for the digital content creation industry will also attract more foreign investment.

Gobind said the country actually had great but lesser-known talents such as Wan Hazmer Wan Abd Halim, who was the lead designer for the “Final Fantasy XV” video game.

“Previously Wan Hazmer worked in Japan with a world-renowned gaming company, but he has now returned to Malaysia to help local talents,” the Minister said.

Gobind also congratulated Animonsta Studios for their latest animated movie, BoBoiBoy: Movie 2, releasing on August 8, which will also be hitting cinemas in Singapore, Brunei, Indonesia and Vietnam.

In the meantime, he emphasised that the development of the digital economy in the country should be inclusive so as not to sideline the disabled community.

“Let’s work together to build a Malaysia that is digitally inclusive,” he said, citing his Ministry’s co-operation with telecommunications companies such as Celcom, Maxis, Digi, UMobile and YTL to introduce special mobile phone packages for people with disabilities.

He said the special prepaid and post-paid packages were very beneficial to the group, as it would give them the opportunity to use the Internet as a platform to trade, and help them live more independently.

Commenting further, Gobind said the Kre8tif! @Schools programme for special needs students introduced by the Ministry and Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC), would allow them to learn about creative technologies such as ‘3D modelling’ and animation.

Kre8tif! @Schools, he said, was a commitment by both his Ministry and MDEC to actively develop the creative digital content industry.

“We have many other programmes in the pipeline to ensure the Malaysian digital economy continues to grow and the people can enjoy mutual prosperity,” he said.

Meanwhile, at a press conference after the event, he said the Ministry would take appropriate measures to help film industry players in the country to venture into animation.

Don’t blame violence on video games

Monday, July 1st, 2019

Video games are a source of relaxation and entertainment, and players get connected with a wide variety of people.

PUBG (PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds) has nothing to do with violence and terrorism. But violent video games involving shooting are very popular with teenagers.

There are many arguments on how video games influence teenagers to become aggressive.

Some people believe the terrorist attacks in Christchurch were caused by violence in video games. The reason is because the perpetrator, who live-streamed the mass shooting, filmed it in a way similar to a first-person shooter video game.

However, the relation between violent video games and acts of aggression is debatable.

Youth and Sports Minister Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman once said: “Even when there was no PUBG, violence still occurred. So do not be quick to blame it on one thing.”

But he was quick to point out that violence should be condemned by everyone because it contradicted the humanitarian principles steadfastly held by Malaysians and communities worldwide.

He said video games had nothing to do with the Christchurch violence and whether shooting games existed or not, some people would still be violent if they already held extremist views.

In my opinion, even if PUBG gets banned, players would find a way around to play it and fans would play other games with a similar shooting style.

Video games are a source of relaxation and entertainment, and players get connected with a wide variety of people.

I believe online games are not at fault.

Video games are part of e-sports and all players develop their skills from there.


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Thoughts on working remotely

Sunday, June 30th, 2019

DID you know that while many of us have jobs that require commuting to our workplace, there are those who start their workday from the comfort of their homes?

Technological advancements have enabled professionals to work remotely, and with the changing perception of what defines a ‘workplace’, the remote work movement is growing fast around the world as more employers are opting to hire remote workers.

Whether they work for companies that allow remote work or are freelancing, the essence of being remote workers is that as long as they have the necessary apps, a laptop, and a reliable Internet connection, they can work outside a traditional office environment, be it their home, a café, or a co-working space.

Remote work benefits in several ways. Mainly, remote workers have greater control over their work and life because they are able to establish their own working time and schedule activities for family, friends, the community, and themselves.

They also can achieve high productivity as they tend to be more focused on the job when there are no office distractions and they understand the privilege of working outside a permanent workspace.

If they are working with professionals from different parts of the world, remote workers have the opportunity to experience different cultures and perspectives as they collaborate with their international colleagues.

And for those who work best in a co-working space, they can boost their creativity and networking by meeting and socialising with other remote workers from different fields.

However, becoming a remote worker isn’t as easy as it seems and is therefore not for everyone, for it takes immense self-discipline and organisational capabilities to thrive in such a working style.

For one, remote workers need to learn not to procrastinate or get easily distracted, since they are not working within a traditional office structure.

If they don’t allocate breaks for themselves, remote workers could also risk experiencing burnout, which can be detrimental for their health and well-being.

They must also set boundaries between their work and life by notifying their employers as well as their social circle of their work schedule.

These boundaries can inform not only those who are unaware of the remote work concept, but also those who assume that remote workers are available at all times on the basis that they don’t work in a typical office setting.

And when there isn’t a lot of videoconferencing with their colleagues, remote workers must possess effective communication skills, especially via emails, text messages, and phone calls, to avoid misunderstandings.

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Govt to focus on digital infrastructure development

Sunday, June 23rd, 2019

Al-Ishsal (left) briefing Shafie (right) on digital infrastructure development in Sabah.

KOTA KINABALU: The state government will be focusing on its digital infrastructure development on three areas, namely industrial, tourism and education.

Education and Innovation Minister Datuk Dr Yusof Yacob said his ministry was given the responsibility as the exco at the central level to look into the digital infrastructure development.

“A number of places will be the focus of this particular development, such as Kota Kinabalu Industrial Park (KKIP), Sandakan, Lahad Datu, Sipitang and the new port in Kudat.

“Apart from that, good system and digital infrastructure are also needed in at tourism centres, especially at famous islands around Semporna, Mount Kinabalu area, Maliau Basin and Long Pasia that will be developed into a tourism spot.

“Urban areas will be also developed as medical tourism, education hub… and the focus will be from Papar to Beaufort areas,” he said.

Yusof also hoped all errors in the digital infrastructure will be solved as soon as possible, in line with the needs of Industrial Revolution 4.0 to evolve the 3G, 4G and 5G development according to  investors’ needs.

Meanwhile, the chairman of Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) Al-Ishsal Ishak said his discussion with the state government was productive and had gone smoothly.

According to him, MCMC and the state government will be collaborating to develop the needed infrastructure at the areas identified, in line with MCMC’s goal to develop National Fiberisation and Connectivity Plan.

“This plan, which combines the use of optical fibres and wireless connectivity, targets the achievement of 98 per cent baseline coverage in inhabited areas by 2023 with a minimum bandwidth of 30 Mbps.

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100 public varsity students to get real-world exposure thanks to Intel partnership.

Friday, June 14th, 2019

PUTRAJAYA: There is a new internship programme designed to increase the employability of Malaysian graduates by giving them real-world exposure in the constantly evolving electronics and microelectronics field.

The first batch of the MoE-Intel Elite Internship Programme will see 100 public university students gain exposure to industry standard chip-design software over 10 weeks.

This will include hands-on lab work to ensure the students are able to use the tools effectively and efficiently.

Intel Microelectronics (M) Sdn Bhd Malaysia Design Centre general manager Suresh Kumar said 12 lecturers from those universities will also be trained by Intel under the train-the-trainer programme to equip them with industry knowledge on silicon design.

During the launch of the programme, he said this is to ensure the sustainability of the programme once the pioneer batch has completed their internship.

“We want these lecturers to go back to the universities, share with their fellow academicians, as well as scale beyond the original 100 students,” he said during the launch of the programme at the Higher Education Department Friday (June 14).

Education Minister Dr Maszlee Malik said the programme was specially tailored to equip undergraduates with the knowledge of industry-standard electronic-design-automation (EDA) software of Synopsys, focusing on the integrated circuit (IC) design.

“I would like to urge all students to grab this golden opportunity and absorb all the knowledge transfer in the industries,” he said during his keynote speech, adding that this is also the time for them to enhance their problem-solving skills.

“At the same time, it is hoped that this programme will increase the percentage of Graduate Employability (GE) among the graduates in the engineering field.”

Maszlee also said the selected students are currently pursuing their electronic or microelectronic engineering studies at six universities – Universiti Malaysia Perlis, Universiti Sains Malaysia, Universiti Teknologi Malaysia, Universiti Putra Malaysia, Universiti Teknologi Mara and Universiti Tun Hussein Onn Malaysia.

By Rebecca Rajaendram
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Instagram suicide of S’wak girl highlights danger of gadgets

Monday, June 10th, 2019

A girl, 16, in Sarawak commits suicide after a poll on her Instagram showed that her “friends” were in favour of it. When we read about such shocking news, we feel like the world has gone mad. And we are helpless, knowing that we can’t turn back time. Technology is here to stay.

Kids and technology seem to be the No. 1 point of contention for parents.

Experts debate the pros and cons of screen time, accessories and applications. While some encourage 3 year olds with mobile phones, others compare the device to cocaine.

At first glance, moderation seems to be the magic word. Except, nobody seems to agree on what moderation looks like.

By default, children oppose moderation. Ice cream and sweets in moderation sounds just as unappealing as “a little bit of screen time”, whatever that might be.

Our parents grew up playing with, and collecting, as many toy soldiers and fake guns that they could get their hands on.

In hindsight, this might seem questionable, but then again, youngsters in ancient Greece played with inflated pig bladders. Not exactly a trend we want to resuscitate either.

Then there were marbles. The more the better. School children used to exchange their lunch bags for a specimen of rare beauty or colour.

They were soon followed by never-ending releases of new Barbie dolls, each with a special feature or hairstyle, or convertible car, the gifting of which would make or break a little girl’s birthday party.

Remember Furby and the Tamagotchi craze? The Pokémon wars? The Magic cards collections?

Ever since children have become more than little adults that can be exploited as a cheap labour force, parents have struggled with instilling a concept of moderation in their young ones.

Smart technology with access to the Internet and social media are seen as one of the biggest threats to children’s development and safety.

Objectors are discussing real concerns of overuse and dependency. A Kaiser Family Foundation study shows that children now spend more than half of their daily time staring at a screen.

That leaves little time for tactile stimulation gained by hugging and rough playing as well as sensory input like movement, human connection and exposure to nature.

As a result, many pre- and primary school children lack coordination, motor skills and self-regulation abilities.

We all know such a kid. One who can play Angry Birds on a tablet like nobody’s business, but is unable to hold a fork, tie his shoelaces or communicate in a string of three coherent sentences.

On the other side of the debate, proponents of technology for children argue that young minds get to express their creativity when good old pen and paper are replaced by a much more effective 3D animation.

They reason that kids who socialise with others through video game live chats and social media get to interact with youngsters from different backgrounds and cultures.

They claim that the freedom of expression granted by technology gives them independence and empowerment.

These are all valid points, too.

However, this brings us back to the subject of moderation. A child that slouches in a comfy chair playing a game on his phone needs to also run and play hide and seek in a real forest or at least a backyard.

A boy who sharpens his problem-solving skills playing a fast- paced video game in a so-called survival mode needs to hone these same skills in a kitchen trying to make a pancake.

And yes, a teenage girl that chooses “D” for Death in a friend’s Instagram poll needs to ask herself what she would answer if she stood face to face with the friend who is conducting the survey.

Smart technology is called virtual and remote for a reason. A new generation is growing up in a seemingly sanitised world, where nothing happens for real, where actions have no real consequences, until they do.

And once again, as parents, we have no one else to blame but ourselves. After a hard day’s work, on a rainy Sunday morning, or during a long road trip, we are all too ready to hand our smartphone or tablet to our 3 year old and trade a screen for peace and quiet.

by Fanny Bucheli-Rotter.

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How the pervasive Internet and social media have divided or united us

Sunday, June 9th, 2019

WE can all agree on one thing about the advent of the Internet: it has made it possible for us to communicate faster and more efficiently with each other, be it by email, text messages, WhatsApp, social media like Facebook or Instagram; and made our lives intertwine with one another on a level and at an intimacy never seen before in the history of mankind.

At the tap of a key on a device that we hold securely in our hands, light enough to tuck away in our pockets and easy enough even for a six-year-old to learn how to use; at the speed of light we can send a text message, a photograph, and even a video-clip to each other! The cost of doing this has reduced so drastically in recent years that virtually anyone can afford to buy a smartphone, subscribe to a data plan, and learn how to use it all within a few hours.

Who could have thought all this was possible even 10 years ago? It was a scientist’s dream or nightmare, depending on which school of opinion you hold.

Personally, I am rather concerned with the proliferation of unverified texts and video clips that are being shared nowadays mainly on WhatsApp chat groups and to a lesser extent on Facebook.

Firstly, I noticed that those who are very active on such WhatsApp Groups (I’ll just abbreviate it to WAG for short) are usually not so active on Facebook (FB) or Instagram (IG) even though they might have accounts there. Probably because it’s so much easier to forward messages by just clicking on one’s smartphone, rather than having to do a share and even say a few words or re-caption if one is to share it on FB or IG.

It also means that those who are very active on FB or IG, seldom, if ever at all, participate in sharing texts via WA and IG. It’s mainly a matter of choice I suppose, but I can quickly gather a person’s style and character by which social media he or she is fond of using. (Instagram users just love photos!!)

Either way, by WAG or FB sharing, there are pros and cons as in any new invention or form of communication.

I’ll mention the pros to start with.

In times of emergency, crisis or getting information out to the most number of people both WAG and FB are perfect tools – within minutes or hours the sender can inform everyone in his group of any major natural or man-made disaster, from earthquakes, flash floods, and terror attacks, to a newly declared rabies infected area or a remote road that has collapsed.

Even calls for assistance for a poor or disabled person, or a lost ad – elderly person from the home or a lost pet – can come in useful.

There are certain areas of information being dispersed, which may be dubious or of problematic value to all – I’ve seen sharing of where there are police roadblocks or speed traps; private residences being robbed or stalked; troublesome neighbours or bad drivers, or even bad-mouthing of a third person.

Where does one draw the line?

Sometimes there are grey areas where an issue isn’t simply good or bad – who gets to decide the uncertainties? Can we simply condemn something or someone without verifying the information or do we just simply forward it along, and share it on social media?

Social media and WAGs work best when they try to do good; as in bringing lost family members back together, reconnecting old classmates or work colleagues, and finding long lost friends. It’s amazing the number of reconnected people I’ve had a chance to either meet or talk to. Speaking personally over the past 12 years since I’ve been on FB and more than three on WAGs, I’ve had a chance to reconnect with many lost family members, former work colleagues, and long lost friends too. I can’t offhand give you an exact number but I’d say pretty close to 50!

It’s a wonderful gift that the Internet and social media have given us – the tool of communication; and if we all use it for this purpose it’s indeed a Godsend.

I’ve also used both tools to communicate news of varying emotions – good news, sad news, and tragic news. When we use these WAGs and FB format to announce weddings, births and birthdays – as well as promotions, awards and great uplifting events, they’re always well received. When it comes to sadder occasions like deaths, sickness, and any other losses it becomes dreaded and shocking. Then there are the disastrous news of terrorist attacks, volcanic eruptions, and flash-floods, which can help the receiver to avoid going to the areas mentioned and to check if their loved ones are affected by them.

In all these aforementioned areas, the Internet and social media help us all, unite us all humankind, as they assist, inform, and prepare us for what comes next.

Then, there are the cons – the areas where the Internet and social media divide us and threaten the very fabric of our society, a tool of discord and disunity. WAGs and FB have the power to send out, share and forward, by the people using them, texts and messages and video-clips showing and telling of fake news, false stories, or invented or perverted or heavily edited video-clips aimed at the sole purpose of promoting and supporting just one side – be it a political party, a cause or a person.

This is when you see the ugly and insidiously evil side of the Net.

The reader, recipient, or receiver of such texts, messages, and video-clips need to be very discerning, and be alert and must educate himself to be able to tell if and when he receives such fake or false messages. First, does it come from someone you can usually rely on or depend on for being usually truthful and not frivolous? Second, check the origin of where the message came from. Is the source reputable, reliable, and well known? Is there a bad ulterior motive behind the message?

If you ask all these questions to yourself, and come off wanting or unsure – it’s usually fake or false. Write it off quickly and don’t re-forward nor share it.


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In robotics classes, Armenian teens dream of high-tech future

Tuesday, June 4th, 2019

YEREVAN: In a sleek classroom in Yerevan, the capital of Armenia, one of the poorest post-Soviet republics, 14-year-old Nazeli Ter-Petrosyan peers at the screen of her Apple Mac.

During a computer programming course offered at the high-tech Tumo school, Ter-Petrosyan and her classmates learn how to digitise medieval texts.

“I’m developing a programme to enable artificial intelligence to read old manuscripts,” said the teen.

Her computer screen features a page from a 15th century Bible held at Armenia’s famed repository of ancient writings, the Matenadaran.

Armenia, which is known for its rich history and troubled past, has grappled with poverty, unemployment and a brain drain since the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991.

But despite a stagnant economy, Armenia’s tech sector has been booming over the past decade, boosting hopes that one day the resource-poor country can become a global IT powerhouse.

Tumo is a cutting edge, after-school learning centre, where around 7,000 Armenians aged 12 to 18, from all walks of life, study for free.

Packed with hundreds of computers with industry standard software, 3D printers, video cameras and an animation studio, Tumo gives youngsters an opportunity to study web design, robotics, animation, music, digital media and more.

The project has been so successful that there is already a Tumo school in Paris and plans for others in Europe and the United States are under way.

In one of the centre’s workshops, students are buzzing with excitement as they learn how to build robots from Lego kits and programme them to perform tasks like collecting rubbish or making a salad.

“We are working on projects that we will be able to later use in our everyday life,” said Davit Harutyunyan, 14, as he showed off a half-assembled robot.

The South Caucasus country of three million people boasts a vibrant startup scene and its tech workers have been a driving force behind a wave of peaceful protests that ousted the old elite from power in 2018.

Tumo aims to raise the next generation of tech professionals and play a role in creating a knowledge-based economy in a country where 30 per cent of the population live in poverty.

“We’ve got very ambitious plans,” chief development officer Pegor Papazian told AFP.

“We want to become one of the world’s most competitive labour markets,” added Papazian, who holds a master’s degree from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the United States.

The non-profit centre was founded in 2011 by Sam and Sylva Simonian, a US-based couple who are part of the influential Armenian diaspora formed largely as a result of World War I massacres by the Ottoman forces.

The school occupies two floors of a six-storey pink tufa stone building, located on the outskirts of Yerevan in the shadow of Mount Ararat which stands just across the border in Turkey.

The Simonians provided the initial investment of $60 million to set up the project but it is now largely self-sustaining, with the centre renting out several floors to tech companies.

The school’s gleaming facade and huge windows contrast with dilapidated Soviet-era residential buildings nearby.

Inside the futuristic, open-plan premises, mobile computer workstations allow students to move around freely.

“In Armenia what Tumo offers is extraordinary,” Julian Sefton-Green, a professor of new media education at Deakin University, in the Australian city of Melbourne, told AFP in emailed comments.

Tumo offers “a particular vision of a techno future,” said Sefton-Green, who visited the school and studied its educational model.

On average, students spend two to three years at the centre.

They create their own learning plans and are assisted by instructors, many of whom come from companies such as Google and Pixar.

There are no grades and, at the end of their studies, students receive digital portfolios showcasing their work.

Tumo has established three satellites across the country and Azerbaijan’s breakaway region of Nagorny Karabakh.

Plans are under way to open more than 20 centres over the next 10 years.

Papazian said the staff had been struck by the poverty in which some of their students live. “We are helping them discover a new world,” he added.

The authorities have embraced the initiative and it has become a ritual for foreign dignitaries and other top guests to visit the school.

Grammy-award winning rapper Kanye West, whose wife Kim Kardashian is of Armenian descent, toured the premises in 2015.

Last year, the school also earned rave reviews from German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

“This Tumo is not for Armenia only. It’s international. It’s a philosophy,” she said in August during the first visit to Armenia by a German chancellor.

In some ways, the Tumo project could be viewed as being ahead of its time for Armenia, which still lacks the rule of law and a stable economy, among other things.

Sefton-Green said that only time would tell if the pioneering school would help reshape the country.

“Unless there is structural economic response to the kind of investment Tumo has offered, it is possible that benefits will not be felt,” he said.


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Sharp Malaysia hosts PM, minister at smart interactive classroom

Sunday, May 26th, 2019

GEORGETOWN: In the spirit of promoting 21st century education, Sharp Electronics (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd (Sharp) recently hosted Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Minister of Education, Dr Maszlee Malik at its smart interactive classroom in Penang.

“Sharp’s smart education solutions comprising interactive whiteboards and engaging education content allow educators to present lessons in an engaging way to help improve retention and interest among students. This approach caters to a wide range of learning styles be it visual, auditory, reading, writing, or kinesthetic.

“Our smart technology is poised to upgrade classrooms from traditional blackboards to dust-free screens that present multiple functions for teaching and learning when paired with user-friendly teaching applications. These functions include quick answering, work comparing, screen broadcasting, and brain storming, among others. The result is a highly engaged classroom where students play a more active role in taking ownership of their lessons and the overall learning process,” said Sharp managing director, Robert Wu.

Tun Dr Mahathir shared a light moment listening to the chatter of young students at Sharp’s Smart Interactive Classroom. At the same time, Dr Maszlee witnessed a young group of tech-savvy preschoolers interact with an artificial intelligent educational robot at Sharp’s Smart Kindergarten area. The designated smart education areas showcased Sharp’s dedication to champion 21st century learning.

Sharp recently announced its debut in the smart education solution sphere through the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding with Eduspec Holdings Berhad (Eduspec), an integrated education solutions provider. The strategic partnership is poised to benefit the local education sector as it aims to equip 100 classrooms across Malaysia with smart education solutions comprising advanced digital tools, software and interactive educational content, directly elevating the education experience in schools and campuses nationwide.

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