Archive for the ‘Educational Technologies’ Category

Convertibles for work and play

Sunday, March 10th, 2013

TWO-IN-ONE: New breed of hybrid devices offer the balance between the productivity of traditional notebooks and the functions of a tablet.

HYBRID portables are here. Microsoft’s Windows 8 operating system designed for both touch screen and traditional PCs is seeing to the roll-out of the convertibles with great intensity. This new breed of hybrid devices offer the balance between the productivity of traditional notebooks and the functions of a tablet in one lightweight package.

Some slide, a few flip or fold and others do the twist to become a notebook or a tablet. The design of the convertibles may vary from one manufacturer to another but generally, these portable new age PCs combine the features of a full-fledged laptop and a tablet to bring both convenience and performance.

These devices are thin, lightweight, have keyboards and Windows 8 touch interface for controls and are the only computer you will need on days when you have to juggle presentations, communicate via email and social networks as well as download music/movies while on the move.


This model has a detachable screen that becomes a full tablet when separated from the keyboard via a magnetic latch. It features a hinge with magnets that smoothly guide the tablet into place.

The HP ENVY x2 weighs 1.4kg and when separated, the tablet portion weighs just 680gm. For better viewing experience indoors and outdoors, it has a 11.6-inch diagonal HD touch display with ultrawide viewing angles. An optional stylus is also available for added creativity and accuracy.

Positive effects of Facebook

Sunday, March 3rd, 2013

WHILE Facebook usage has been blamed for everything from shorter attention spans to increased stress and obesity, authors of a recently published study say that the social media site actually has a positive effect on psychological well-being.

Published in Behaviour & Information Technology and released this week, the study investigated the role Facebook plays in the lives of 800 students from seven universities in South Africa.

What researchers from the University of Cape Town found was that intense Facebook usage was linked with perceived bridging, bonding and maintaining of social capital or networks.

Social capital is defined as the “resources” or assets accumulated via the development of relationships, whether it be values, beliefs and attitudes or the level of their social life and the density of social engagement.

Bridging social capital is described as the link between acquaintances while bonding is used to describe close family and friend relationships.

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Laptops for students will improve learning

Friday, February 15th, 2013

THE WAY FORWARD: Electronic – schooling will boost knowledge – sharing.

WHEN Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin visited the Daphne High School in Mobile, Alabama last month, he observed the students’ learning style and was pleasantly surprised that they were using laptops and had excluded textbooks.

Muhyiddin, who is Education Minister, said this was an innovative education process that Malaysian schools could emulate given that Internet and broadband facilities have been extensively installed in schools.

The ministry, he added, was considering providing laptops instead of textbooks to all students.

Responding to this, a New Straits Times reader, Lee Cheng Poh from Penang, said it was better for the ministry to instead look into problems faced by teachers — the lack of teaching equipment as well as old equipment used in schools.

Lee cited laptops and LCD projectors used since 2003 when the Teaching of Science and Mathematics in English was introduced, and outdated overhead projectors.

While I believe that no national school in the country should be lacking in up-to-date facilities in this day and age when the government is making big investments in education, this issue should not be used to derail any effort in improving the learning process in this digital environment because this is the direction the rest of the world is taking. We cannot be left behind.

In fact, using laptops in school is no longer an innovation. They have long been used in schools across the globe.

In most cases, the affordability and potential use of computing devices has enhanced learning in diverse ways — such as allowing students to access learning material relevant to their level of knowledge and understanding, at their own pace with little supervision, offering children in disadvantaged communities previously unable to afford computing devices a chance to develop their computer skills.

In Malaysia, the e-book project was first launched in Terengganu in 2008 under a lot of excitement as well as scepticism.

Nearly five years on, research shows that the project in which some 25,000 laptops were distributed to standard five pupils, has been quite a success with some hitches and some room for improvement and adjustments.

It has been described as a “laudable attempt to make education free for all and to eliminate illiteracy”. In 2009, Terengganu became the first state to have provided e-books to its primary schools in the whole of Southeast Asia.

The benefits certainly outweigh the argument against the use of laptops in place of textbooks in schools — primary or secondary — because, for one thing, these kids were all born in the new age of technology and they take to electronics like a duck to water.

by Nuraina Samad,

Why Facebook Makes You Feel Bad About Yourself.

Thursday, January 24th, 2013

No surprise — those Facebook photos of your friends on vacation or celebrating a birthday party that can make you feel lousy.


Facebook is supposed to envelope us in the warm embrace of our social network, and scanning friends’ pages is supposed to make us feel loved, supported and important (at least in the lives of those we like). But skimming through photos of friends’ life successes can trigger feelings of envy, misery and loneliness as well, according to researchers from two German universities. The scientists studied 600 people who logged time on the social network and discovered that one in three felt worse after visiting the site—especially if they viewed vacation photos. Facebook frequenters who spent time on the site without posting their own content were also more likely to feel dissatisfied.

(MORE: Why You’re More Likely to Remember A Facebook Status Than a Face)

“We were surprised by how many people have a negative experience from Facebook with envy leaving them feeling lonely, frustrated or angry,” study author Hanna Krasnova from the Institute of Information Systems at Berlin’s Humboldt University told Reuters. ”From our observations some of these people will then leave Facebook or at least reduce their use of the site.”

The most common cause of Facebook frustration came from users comparing themselves socially to their peers, while the second most common source of dissatisfaction was “lack of attention” from having fewer comments, likes and general feedback compared to friends.


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The good and bad of Twitter

Tuesday, January 22nd, 2013

Twitterjaya has many faces. Some say there is nothing positive of the fame achieved through it while others are overwhelmed by their instant recognition.

I’M quite shy,” Shasha Mendoza, the 19-year-old student whose unabashed anti-KL112 rally tweets made her an instant Twitter sensation, said.

“But you are not quite shy on Twitter,” I told the teenager who managed to excite Twitterjaya (the moniker of the Malaysian Twittersphere) on Jan 12.

“It’s my first time meeting you. I’m not that shy actually. I’m kind of overdressed,” said the business administration university student. She was wearing a rather tight and short dress in Starbucks Cafe at The Curve, Petaling Jaya.

“Now that you have your 15 minutes of fame, has your life changed?” I asked the Twitter sensation who has her very own hashtag #ShashaMendoza.

“The thing about being famous is whenever I go out, people will look at me and talk bad about me,” she lamented.

“(For example) I went out with my friends to The Curve and I heard two girls kutuk (criticise) me.

“They said, ‘Shasha Mendoza kuat berlagak (loves to show off/talk big). She’s an attention seeker.’

“I buat bodoh saja. Tak payah layan. (I played dumb. There is no point in entertaining them)”.

“It seems many were angry with your pendatang (immigrant) tweets,” I told her.

“I was misunderstood. It was not meant to sound that way,” she said.

“People say I am a bimbo and stupid. (But) I am a 19-year-old girl and I tweet about politics”.

Now Shasha thinks before she tweets.

“If I tweet wrongly, they (she says 70% of her new followers are haters) will use it against me,” she said.

by Philip Golingai.

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Ye olde school days

Monday, January 21st, 2013

Our columnist is flooded with memories of her early teaching years when typewriters and bulky machines ruled the day before the e-era changed lives completely.

WE HAD been going through some old photographs of when we had first started out teaching and after reassuring ourselves that despite the wrinkles and added kilos, we still looked better than many of our male ex-colleagues who were by now pot-bellied, bald or both.

I turned to my friend Dilla and said, “Do you remember the rickety old typewriter at the back of the staff-room which we used to prepare test scripts those days?”

“The typewriter!” Dilla closed her eyes for a few seconds and let out a deep sigh.

“How could I forget? We used to fight over it all the time, especially on the day before our stencils were due for cyclostyling.”

Stencils, cyclostyle — it’s been decades since I had heard those words.

“Do people even use them anymore?” I asked Dilla.

“I swear,” said Dilla, “if I close my eyes long enough, I can even get the smell of the red correction fluid we had to use whenever we made mistakes on the stencils.”

“Pink, Dilla, bright pink, that was the colour it was. Good heavens Dilla, are we really that old?”

“The stencil pen,” Dilla went on, “do not forget the ubiquitous stencil pen which we used to sketch the diagrams with.”

“And the transparencies for the overhead projector (OHP). Remember how innovative and cool we seemed those days when we wheeled the bulky OHP in for our class lessons?”

“Ah, the pre-ICT (information and communications technology) days,” said Dilla, “before technology swept in and changed our teaching lives forever.

“Days when the closest thing to cell phones were the walkie-talkies that the sports secretaries in school brandished during cross country runs.

“The huge table-cloth sized student mark-sheets that we had to complete after every main examination.”

Nostalgic charm

We were quiet for a few moments and then Dilla said, “but tell me really, would you rather do things the old way, stencil pens, OHP and all?”

I thought for a while and then said “no”.

While there was a certain nostalgic charm associated with teaching paraphernalia of yester-years, there’s no denying that things are much more convenient now.

by Mallika Vasugi.

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Of Facebook, debating and being inspired!

Sunday, December 23rd, 2012

FACEBOOK is one word that needs no introduction. Ask students to group past and present tense verbs and you are likely to get blank stares but mention “Facebook” and they are all ears. That’s the power of Facebook.

The story I am about to tell however, is not about using Facebook in the classroom, but how it helped me to connect, gain inspiration and be proud… so proud in fact, that it moved me to tears.

This is how it all began. Every year, my school students will take part in the district level English Language Debate Competition.

Now, it is quite a daunting task to get teenagers to speak in front of a crowd let alone sacrifice their time for training sessions after school hours. They would rather use the time to chat online, watch the latest music video or attend tuition (the most popular excuse).

From arguing on the advantages of being on a debate team and the importance of learning to articulate arguments, I managed to get some students to join the school’s debate team.

Challenging steps

After the selection process and a few short debate sessions, the biggest challenge was getting all five of them to research, prepare their arguments before the training sessions and attend the training itself!

During the first session, I was shocked at the level of preparation this group of students had done, despite telling them what was needed.

I was hyperventilating and could have literally pulled off every strand of hair on my scalp. As this was their first debate, I guess I could not blame them entirely. So I showed them some debate videos and asked them to watch a few more at home.

A debate requires commitment, perseverance, diligence and time as one needs to do thorough research on the motion.

Extra hands were needed to prepare these students so that they will have what it takes when they get on stage. This heavy responsibility rested on both myself and my fellow colleague’s shoulders.

Sitting alone in the language lab after the team had left, I thought: “how was I to get them ready in three weeks?”

Saved by social media

Then, my mind and thoughts travelled back in time… reminiscing about this particular batch of students; how we almost won against a prestigious school and the determination and maturity that they had demonstrated.

I realised that I was still in touch with them through Facebook. Three of them are currently pursuing law.

So I went home and posted a message via Facebook; requesting them to find some time to help me coach these five newbies.

I didn’t get my hopes up though as I thought they would be busy with their university life.

To my pleasant surprise, all three were happy to help coach the team and do their bit for their alma mater. With dictionaries and laptops, we cracked our heads while working on their arguments.

As I watched these four teenagers: Puteri Eleni Megat Osman, Roeshan Celestine Gomez, Jeremy Lim and Siti Raihan Rosli, I felt so proud that these students were from my school.

I was even more delighted to see how they had grown intellectually and matured. They were also more committed and prepared. I was moved to tears.

Not only did they come to school for the training sessions but we also communicated via Facebook and the telephone.

You will be amazed at how high a teacher’s phone bill can be and it is not just mindless chatting but calls discussing school events, performances, listening to their arguments at 11pm or giving them tips or any fresh arguments that may have popped into my head at odd hours.

Puteri Eleni also set up our school debate team’s Facebook account and attended all the debate competitions to show her support.

Those former students of mine not only inspired this debate team but they also inspired me to continue this challenging journey of training and teaching others.

by Thanbeer Kaur Sekhon.

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Using Student Clickers to Foster In-Class Debate

Monday, November 5th, 2012

Integrating technology with appropriate teaching strategies can help stimulate participation and create a student-centered atmosphere conducive to learning. One technology shown particularly successful in boosting student engagement is clickers (Martyn, 2007). In fact, a research study found that student test scores were significantly higher when clickers were used as part of an in-class lecture as compared to a different section of the same class that didn’t use clickers (Mayer, Stull, DeLeeuw, Ameroth, Bimber, Chun, et al. 2009).

The purpose of this article is to explain how a relatively new technology, like clickers, can be paired with an age-old teaching technique, like in-class debates, to help students develop a deeper understanding of course material and achieve higher exam scores.

Pairing clickers with debate
Our baccalaureate senior level adult health courses meet twice weekly after 18-hours spent in clinical rotations. Each class session lasts two hours and fifty minutes. By the second class, instructors noticed that students were minimally engaged in the discussions. In an effort to enhance student engagement, we began using clickers to promote student debate with a goal of facilitating learning through questioning, critical reflection and discussion.

Here’s how it works. The typical class always begins with an overview of the student learning outcomes for that class session. It was within that context that we introduced students to the clicker/debate strategy, including the rules of behaviors. The primary rule is respect, which we define as a group to include things such as not interrupting others when they are speaking, refraining from side conversations, using professional voice and body language at all times, maintaining appropriate tone of voice, and keeping responses to two minutes or less. For the purpose of building self-confidence and enhancing communication skills, the students are encouraged to stand while speaking, however standing was not required.

Once the class agrees to the rules, the instructor begins the lesson with a PowerPoint guided lecture. Within the first 10-15 minutes, the first debate question is presented. The question stem is displayed for all to view and students are instructed to silently consider all possible and plausible answers. The instructor chooses one student from anyone willing to answer the questions with a rationale. Then any student with a differing view is invited to offer their answer and rationale, and why they believe the opposing student’s response was fallible. To help facilitate critical thinking, the instructor asks follow-up questions to deepen understanding. This debate portion of the class lasts one-to-three minutes depending on the complexity of the topic being discussed.

Once the debate period closes, four possible answers are displayed and the class uses their clickers to anonymously select what they believed to be the correct option. When all responses are tabulated, a bar graph of the collective responses is displayed for everyone to view and discuss further. The student debater who had the correct answer receives a small prize, such as a full-size candy bar, while the opposing student receives a consolation type prize, such as a pencil or a kid’s toy typically found in a fast food meal. If neither were correct the entire class gets a mini-size candy bar. We found that this little incentive helps motivate students to participate, and makes the experience fun for everyone.

Reaction from faculty and students
Nurse educators have a responsibility to ensure students acquire the knowledge and skills necessary to transition from student to nurse successfully. Classroom experiences set the tone for learning in the clinical setting; therefore, lesson plans should be inclusive of strategies that not only focus on disease management but other essential skill-sets such as effective communication, conflict resolution, and a healthy self-confidence. One way to accomplish this is by incorporating clicker questions, complemented by student debate in the classroom.

by Leslee Shepard, Ed.D

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New Education Blueprint: 4G Internet access and a virtual learning platform for national schools.

Wednesday, September 12th, 2012

KUALA LUMPUR: All 10,000 national schools nationwide will be equipped with 4G Internet access and a virtual learning platform.

This can be can be used by teachers, students, and parents through the 1BestariNet programme as well as training all teachers to embed ICT in teaching and learning in order to support student learning, said the Education Blueprint unveiled today.
In addition, the number of ICT devices will be increased until the student-to device ratio reaches 10:1.
The ratio may be lowered further, by being subjected to an impact assessment and availability of funds.
The move  is not to ensure students  learn how to use  ICT but are able to leverage it effectively to enhance their learning, the blueprint said.
This move  will further strengthen  the foundation of  ICT-enabled  schools while introducing proven ICT solutions into the education system, it added.
The ministry will also be piloting ICT innovations for delivery such as distance-learning and self-paced learning before scaling up nationwide.
Malaysia has long recognised the transformative potential of ICT in education.
The UNESCO review noted that Malaysia was among the first few countries in the world to have pioneered a strategic ICT plan for its education system.
From 1999 to 2010, the ministry has invested approximately RM6 billion on ICT in education initiatives. The bulk of these funds went towards additional computer labs to support PPSMI (RM2.6 billion) and the building of a computer lab in every school (RM2.5 billion).
A study conducted by the Ministry in 2010 found, however, that ICT usage was relatively limited. Approximately 80 per cent of teachers spend less than one hour a week using ICT. Only a third of students perceive their teachers to be using ICT regularly.
The roadmap for leveraging ICT for learning will see the ministry adopting a sequenced approach to ICT.
Critical elements for ICT usage such as devices, network and applications, ICT competencies in teachers, and curriculum and assessment will be in place prior to shifting to more intense, innovative usage of ICT.
by Yiswaree Palensamy.

Use new tools of the trade

Sunday, September 2nd, 2012

Traditions die hard in the teaching profession, but educators must face up to the fact that 21st century tools are needed to teach digital learners.

AS AN educator myself, I have many friends who are teachers and they often seem happy and comfortable teaching the way they have been taught when they were in school.

I often hear that teachers are reluctant to use technology to teach because they see it as a waste of time.

Are you one of those teachers?

If you are, then dip your toe into the 21st century; it may be cold at first, but it will warm up very quickly.

You’ll find that technology is a tool that not only engages and challenges the student, but the teacher as well.

This is the 21st century and our students are 21st century digital learners!

We may not always have all the resources, but we can still find a way to not only educate but to engage our students, digitally.

What is digital learning?

According to the Digital Learning Day webpage:

Digital learning is any instructional practice that is effectively using technology to strengthen the student learning experience.

Digital learning encompasses a wide spectrum of tools and practice, including using online and formative assessment, increasing focus and quality of teaching resources and time, online content and courses, applications of technology in the classroom and school building, adaptive software for students with special needs, learning platforms, participating in professional communities of practice, providing access to high level and challenging content and instruction, and many other advancements technology provides to teaching and learning. In particular, blended learning is any time a student learns, at least in part, at a supervised brick-and-mortar location away from home and, at least in part, through online delivery with some element of student control over time, place, path and pace.

Embracing change: New methods of technology should be used to strengthen the learning experience in class.

Embracing change: New methods of technology should be used to strengthen the learning experience in class.

Now, that’s a mouthful! To me, digital learning means:

·Allowing students to take control of their learning using technology as a guide;

·Creating comic strips to depict a situation in learning;

·Having discussions about shared books with students across the world;

·Completing research projects through chat or discussion groups online, using an Interactive Whiteboard (I have a Smartboard) to make your lessons interactive; or,

·Skyping with a student in another state to bring a story to life.

It means so many things; most of all, it means using technology as a tool to engage and challenge our 21st century learners.

But we teachers don’t need yet another “new and shiny tool” for our profession unless it does something powerful and relevant to the learning potential. Any new technology must first be couched in powerful and relevant learning potential.

by Dr. Termitkaur Ranjit Singh.

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