Archive for the ‘Educational Technologies’ Category

The Trouble with Facebook’s ‘See Friendship’ Feature

Saturday, November 20th, 2010

Facebook normally catches flack for making private information available to advertisers. But last month, the social-networking site with half a billion users quietly added a feature that makes your private information available to the friends of your friends, which may be a much more nefarious group. A button called “See Friendship” aggregates onto a single page all of the information that two friends share: photos both people have been tagged in, events they have attended or are planning to attend, comments they have exchanged, etc. To see this stuff, you need only be “friends” with one of the people. So let’s say I’ve turned down an ex-boyfriend’s request for friendship; he can still peruse my pictures or trace my whereabouts by viewing my interactions with our mutual pals.

The “See Friendship” feature was launched by Facebook developer Wayne Kao, who credited his inspiration to the joy of browsing through friends’ photos. “A similarly magical experience was possible if all of the photos and posts between two friends were brought together,” he wrote on the Facebook blog. “You may even see that moment when your favorite couple met at a party you all attended.”

(See pictures from inside Facebook headquarters.)

The problem with that, according to the more than 3,800 users who have joined a Facebook group demanding to be given the ability to opt out of the feature, is that the couple might not want friends of friends seeing that moment. They might not even want many people to know they’re a couple. Barry Wellman, a University of Toronto professor who studies social networks and real-life relationships, thinks Facebook developers don’t understand the fundamental difference between life online and offline. “We all live in segmented, diversified worlds. We might be juggling girlfriends, jobs or different groups of friends,” he says. “But [Facebook thinks] we’re in one integrated community.” (Comment on this story.)

In this era of “media convergence” — when GPS and wireless devices are colluding to make one’s offline location known in the virtual world — friendship pages allow you to see an event your nonfriend has RSVP’d to or a plan he or she made with your mutual pal. At best, “See Friendship” is an invasion of privacy (one disgruntled user likened the feature to having sex on a football field in broad daylight). At worst, “it brings cyberstalking to a new level,” says Kevin Wright, a professor of computer-mediated communication at the University of Oklahoma. “We’re just beginning to see the toll this is taking on people.”

(Watch a video of quick and easy Facebook tricks.)

And then there’s the already gnawing problem of Facebook, one this new feature will only exacerbate: seeing all the fun your friends are having without you. “You’re making a normally ambiguous situation very concrete,” says Wellman. “People don’t call you up and say, ‘Hey, we’re not calling you.’”

by Lisa Selin Davis.

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Get noticed with a projector

Sunday, October 24th, 2010
KUALA LUMPUR: Whether in a classroom, training room or auditorium, a projector can help enhance presentations and captivate the audience.However, how do you select a projector that can take you a long way in terms of usage?

Look for a model with an advanced LED light source such as Samsung’s F Series projector, the F10M, said Yap Chee Chen, Samsung Malaysia’s product manager for large format display.
“LED provides bright, high-quality light which is important when you want presentations to be vivid to everyone in a room. The F10M performs at an 1,000 ANSI lumens offering brighter, clearer and more colourful projection.”

Also, he said, it does not require lamp replacement and is mercury-free, making it eco-friendly as well.

“The F10M has the lowest total cost of ownership with 50,000 hours of lamp life.
“The LED light source is capable of maintaining its brightness over the entire life of the projector. Powered eight hours a day, the projector has a lifespan of more than 10 years.”

Another advantage of the LED technology, Yap said, is that the projector needs less time to warm up and cool down, enabling a safer operating temperature for the duration of its life.

“The projector also takes less than three seconds to turn on and off which is crucial when you need to present information.”
Projector noise is another vital point to consider, said Yap.

“You certainly don’t want your presentation to be hindered by a noisy projector. This is another reason why the F10M is ideal.”

To ensure perfect projection, it features Auto Keystone Correction which automatically adjusts image distortion and stretching due to incorrect projector placement.

The F10M, optimised for business purposes supports various formats — PDF, TXT, HTML, MPEG, JPEG, Power Point, Word, Excel and movies — and has a variety of features. These include office viewer, remote management, convenient screen controlling and easy picture adjustments. It has eight user-setting display modes — dynamic, standard, presentation, text, movie, game, bright and user to provide clear and lively image quality.

Users can easily select the optimal display mode with the remote controller. Users can hook up all their multimedia gadgets with input options that include 1HDMI, S-video, USB, and PC ports.

by Chandra Devi Renganayar.

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ICT now a teaching tool

Thursday, October 14th, 2010

PUTRAJAYA: The education policy in the country has taken a new leap forward and it is set to embrace Information and Communications Technology (ICT) as the main tool for teaching, said Education Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin.

The policy aims to use ICT as a vehicle to encourage creativity, collaborative learning, critical thinking and problem solving skills.

“The teaching and learning process is no longer a teacher centric or one-way process. A teacher is now a classroom facilitator, who is equipped with ICT knowledge,’’ Muhyiddin said, adding that the new approach would uplift the quality of education in the country.

“Through this policy, all ICT programmes in the ministry will work towards the same goal, which is to increase student achievements and to ensure that every student has access to quality education.”

Audio aid: Muhyiddin trying the Audiocity software at the launching of the Policy on Information Technology and Communication in Education in Putrajaya yesterday. Looking on is Education Ministry Director- General Tan Sri Alimuddin Md Dom (right).

At the launch of the new ICT policy in education yesterday, Muhyiddin, who is also the Deputy Prime Minister, said that education ICT practices in developed countries would be used as a benchmark to ensure that the ICT component in Malaysian schools are of international standards.

The policy, which was developed by the ministry in collaboration with Multimedia Development Corporation (MDeC), was a continuous effort from the Smart School initiative launched in July 1997.

The policy will focus on eight main fields, which include a structural realignment of ICT management, education administration and management, technology infrastructure, teaching and learning, and community involvement, amongst others.

“The ICT policy in education will also go through a Central Management Programme which will be responsible in organising all the ICT initiatives in education, in order to increase administrative efficiency and to save resources.”

Muhyiddin hoped the policy would align the quality of Malaysian education to the vision of making Malaysia an excellent education hub, in line with the status of an advanced nation by the year 2020.

by Alycia Lim.

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ICT to be prime mover in teaching process

Wednesday, October 13th, 2010
PUTRAJAYA: Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin yesterday launched the Information, Technology and Communications in Education Policy which aims to make ICT the prime mover in the teaching and learning process.He said the policy would be carried out through a centralised management programme to co-ordinate all ICT in education initiatives.

In ensuring its effectiveness, Muhyiddin said the new policy would be supported by four components, which include Third Party Outsourcing, Public-Private Partnership, the involvement of Communities of Practice as well as Extended Communities.
The policy is already in place in many developed countries and their benchmarking tool would also focus on eight main areas of education.

“These practices, which will be used as benchmarks, will ensure that all components of ICT in Malaysia’s education system meet international standards.

“This policy, which is a continuation of the Smart School initia-tive, emphasises the use of technology as the tool to promote creati-vity, learning through cooperation, critical thinking and problem solving.
“It will merge and coordinate with all existing ICT initiatives, such as the SchoolNet, the Computer Laboratory, the EduWebTV, Access Centre and also other ICT initiatives which would be implemented in future with the aim of raising the performance of the students,” said Muhyiddin, who is also Education Minister, after launching the policy here, yesterday.

by Farrah Naz Karim.

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Facebook in, privacy out

Monday, October 11th, 2010

IF you think Facebook is just a tool to make new friends and stay in touch with old ones — think again. Security issues, data breach, privacy invasion and user abuse are all rife on Facebook today.It has become a research tool for thieves, a platform to perpetuate hate groups and expand political and social rows, among others.

Last month, Rebecca Javeleau, a British teen who wanted to celebrate her 15th birthday with close friends, created a Facebook invite. She had meant to invite only 15 friends but the number of people who confirmed their attendance reached 21,000.
Her invitation had gone viral simply because she failed to mark her invitation “private”. She had to call off her birthday party.

Police in New Hampshire in the United States caught up with some “friends” who broke into homes after finding out that their victims were away on vacation, based on their Facebook status updates.

Thousands of Facebook users have also become victims of “clickjacking” attacks — hackers exploit the “Like” and “Share” functionality to trick users into sharing malicious content with their friends.
Home users are not the only ones at risk, states a report by security research firm Sophos.

Businesses and other organisations can be the victims of cybercrooks using stolen employee information to their advantage.

A survey conducted late last year revealed that Facebook is the worst security threat among all the social networking sites.
Why has the social networking site evolved to such a state?

Facebook’s privacy settings, combined with the high volume of personal information users post on their profiles, have opened doors for exploitation, says Dr Adrian Budiman, a senior lecturer at Universiti Utara Malaysia.

“The main appeal of Facebook is the ability to connect through personal networks and attract members’ contacts by publishing information that matters to other people.

“In order to attract more members, it has to promote its services. If we see a generic advertisement to visit Facebook, it may not be as appealing as stumbling upon an old friend’s personal photos on Facebook through an unrelated Google search. This is the main reason why it is dealing with many privacy issues. It gradually reveals more and more information to the public in order to attract visits to its site.”

He says users tend to forget that Facebook is a business entity.

“Even though we may use its services free of charge, we also sacrifice something in return. Its business model is to attract as many members as possible so it can promote paid services through advertising or games applications.”

Adrian says Facebook users generally want to contain their private information among a pre-approved group of friends.

“But if this was implemented rigidly by Facebook, business growth would be slow at best. Therefore, under the banner of being more social, they opened up certain settings that allow the public to view the private information of unsuspecting members to attract more users.”

Adrian, who conducts research in the field of new media and culture, says one of Facebook’s main “violations” of privacy is the gradual release of initially private information to the public network.

SchoolNet bridges digital divide

Sunday, October 3rd, 2010

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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Many in the dark over content code

Tuesday, September 28th, 2010
MANY Internet users are still oblivious to the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Content Code.

The Content Code provides detailed guidelines for different media from advertisement to Internet and was released to the public in 2004. It contains several general principles including making sure that the content will not be indecent, false, menacing or offensive in character with intent to annoy, abuse, threaten or harass any person as stipulated under Section 211 of the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998.

The code also stressed on respecting diversity.

Another no-no is spreading materials that can offend good taste or decency; be offensive to public feeling; encourage crime, lead to disorder or is abusive or threatening in nature.

It also stated: “There should be no discriminatory material or comment based on matters of race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, age, sex, marital status or physical or mental handicap”.

The code does acknowledge that every person has a right to full and equal recognition and to enjoy certain fundamental rights and freedoms as stipulated in the Federal Constitution and other relevant statutes.

Still, no one is above the Malaysian laws as legal action can be taken against offenders, including those involved in sedition, pornography, defamation and breaching of intellectual properties.

For any complaint found to have breached the code, the Complaints Bureau may impose fines and other penalties, namely issue a written reprimand, impose a fine of not more than RM50,000 and/or require removal of the content or cessation of the offending act.

The bureau may also refer the offending party to the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission for further action deemed necessary.

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SchoolNet enables the sharing of knowledge

Monday, September 27th, 2010
THE SchoolNet network infrastructure was implemented in 2004 to equip up to 10,000 schools with broadband Internet access through a virtual private network.The then Energy, Water and Communications Ministry mooted the idea.

GITN Sdn Bhd (GITN), a subsidiary of Telekom Malaysia (TM) that offers infrastructure, hardware and software to government agencies, was mandated as the project manager to roll out SchoolNet via its Internet Virtual Private Network.
GITN provides the infrastructure through three technologies — asymmetric digital subscriber line, wireless and very small aperture terminal technology — and provides broadband connectivity.

SchoolNet’s applications include email 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 communication.
Students can 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, interactive and advanced experience to students.

The webportal for SchoolNet, known as SchoolZone, was introduced two years ago.
Students and teachers can search for information about other schools and SchoolNet, share information and news about their schools and communicate with one another.

Teachers can also share their interactive learning and teaching modules with each other.

The schools can use the portal to communicate with other communities in SchoolZone.

A SchoolZone facilitator will train information technology teachers to use the portal.

To ensure full utilisation of SchoolNet, two years ago, a school adoption programme called GITN TechnoGogy Learning in Schools (GTL Schools) was initiated in collaboration with the Education Ministry.

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Muhyiddin Launches Cybersafe In Schools To Promote Cyber Security

Saturday, September 25th, 2010

News Pic

Muhyiddin (centre) launches Cybersafe in Schools. From left: Dr Syarifah Zahara, Musa Aman, Dr Maximus Ongkili & Fadilah Yusof. Pic: Zamain Singkui

KOTA MARUDU : Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin on Friday launched the “CyberSAFE in Schools” programme, signalling a step further in strengthening the cyber security infrastructure, with focus on the education sector.

CyberSAFE or Cyber Security Awareness for Everyone is a collaborative initiative between Science, Technology and Innovation Ministry and the Education Ministry.

Launching the programme at Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan Tandek, near here, Muhyiddin, who is also the Education Minister, said the safe and ethical use of the Internet as advocated by the programme would provide safe Internet surfing environment among students and teachers.

He said that in the effort to expand Internet accessibility and connectivity, the government was mindful of the fact that although ICT was an indispensible tool, it could also create a negative environment, exposing children to unhealthy activities.

“The country is facing challenges in handling cyberspace issues including the enforceability of cyber laws outside the country’s border, proliferation of cyber media, development of human capital for cyber security and hackers targeting the country’s critical information infrastructure, among others,” he said.

At the same time, Muhyiddin said, there was a huge market potential in the cyber security sector and that in Malaysia alone, growth was expected at 19 per cent annually, reacing RM856 million in 2015.

“The Institute of Management Development, based in Switzerland, ranked Malaysia in the 19th position in terms of cyber security, well ahead of countries like the United States, United Kingdom, South Korea, India and China. Malaysia ranks second in Southeast Asia and fourth in Asia.

“This puts Malaysia among the most competitive nations in the world in cyber security.


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E-readers are good news for bookworms

Monday, September 13th, 2010

PETALING JAYA: Good news for bookworms – you can now read up to 2,000 books or more at any one time.

This is made possible through the availability of many brands of electronic e-readers which are not only environmentially-friendly but space-saving too.

MPH Bookstores Sdn Bhd chief operating officer Donald Kee said e-readers could help resolve the problem of students having to lug heavy school bags.

“E-readers are popular in many advanced countries. It is common to see people reading them on public transport,” he told The Star.

In Malaysia, most buyers are urbanites aged between 25 and 35 years.

Malaysian Nature Society president Tan Sri Salleh Mohd Nor however said it is a misconception that e-readers protect forests because books are usually made from trees grown on plantations,

“We support e-readers as it’s good to use less paper.

“However, many older people might prefer reading from a traditional book,” he said.

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