Schools are being connected to the broadband infrastructure as part of the Government’s efforts to develop a world-class education system and produce a knowledge-based nation.
BACK in 2004, the then Energy, Water and Communications Ministry mooted the idea of setting up SchoolNet, a virtual private network that provides broadband Internet connection to schools in the country as the latest approach to provide learning facilities beyond the classroom. This initiative was part of efforts to realise the Government’s aspirations to develop a world-class education system and produce a knowledge-based nation. It was also meant to bridge the digital divide and information gap between schools in urban and rural areas.
GITN Sdn Bhd (GITN), a subsidiary of Telekom Malaysia (TM) which offers infrastructure, hardware and software to government agencies, was mandated as the project manager to roll out SchoolNet via its Internet Virtual Private Network.
Since then, five SchoolNet schools in Cyberjaya, 20 in Putrajaya and one in Muar have been wired up via fibre optic (Fibre-to-the-School or FTTS) infrastructure, which provides a broadband connection of 10Mbps. The teaching and learning applications riding on the 10Mbps Internet connection include podcasting, video conferencing and SchoolZone Portal. In future, the infrastructure is expected to be expanded to accommodate 10 gigabyte speeds.
The SchoolNet infrastructure is delivered through three technologies – asymmetric digital subscriber line, wireless and very small aperture terminal technology.
As the broadband infrastructure provider for the project, TM also showcased teaching and learning applications such as podcasting and video conferencing with Sekolah Seri Puteri and the SchoolZone portal. It also demonstrated how to manage a local area network, which is a computer network covering a small area.
SchoolNet’s applications include e-mail and newsgroup, remote access application, file transfer application, information distribution application and information search application.
It provides quick access to online education information as well as interactive communications, enabling students to exchange data and information with other users in the network.
The teachers in all SchoolNet schools can use the infrastructure to provide a richer, more effective, more interactive and advanced experience for students.
The webportal for SchoolNet, known as SchoolZone, was introduced two years ago.
Students and teachers can look for information on other schools and SchoolNet, enhance the sharing of information and news about their schools and communicate with each other as well as optimise the role of specialised teachers in the country. The portal also enables teachers to share their teaching and learning modules with each other.
To ensure full utilisation of SchoolNet, a school adoption programme called GITN TechnoGogy Learning in Schools (GTL Schools) was initiated in collaboration with the Education Ministry two years ago. GTL schools have SchoolNet facilitators who educate students, teachers and communities on ICT applications and how they can use ICT to teach and learn.
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