Archive for February, 2013

Applying the Seven Principles for Good Practice to the Online Classroom

Thursday, February 28th, 2013

Almost 25 years have passed since Chickering and Gamson offered seven principles for good instructional practices in undergraduate education. While the state of undergraduate education has evolved to some degree over that time, I think the seven principles still have a place in today’s collegiate classroom. Originally written to communicate best practices for face-to-face instruction, the principles translate well to the online classroom and can help to provide guidance for those of us designing courses to be taught online.

1. Encourage contact between students and faculty. Students need to know how to contact their online instructors and should be encouraged to communicate with us when needed. In my online courses, I identify multiple means of contacting me (email, Skype, Twitter, etc) and clearly post times when I’ll be available to chat during online office hours. While few students utilize the online office hours I provide, offering this time communicates to students that I am available if they need assistance and that I value this interaction.

2. Develop reciprocity and cooperation among students. For those of us who believe that people learn through socially constructing their understanding based on their experiences, this principle is critical. Online courses should not be independent study classes. Online instructors need to build collaborative structures into their courses to promote student-to-student interaction. In my experience, I find that students who feel isolated in an online course have difficulty being successful. In my online courses, I incorporate collaborative and interactive ventures early on. I also try to foster discussions where students communicate with one another, share ideas, and debate concepts. While interacting with the instructor is important in an online class, it is also important that students have a space where they can discuss concepts with one another as well.


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SIDMA College – Lion Dance for Prosperity

Wednesday, February 27th, 2013

Ushering the 2013 Chinese New year – the year of Snake, SIDMA College City Campus, UNITAR International University Sabah invited a special lion dance performance for SIDMA Childcare Centre (Didi Childcare) children and UNITAR Sabah students at SIDMA Atrium on 26th February 2013.

The lion dancers troupe from Penampang Fook Tet Kung Temple; comprising of three (3) “lions” and 12 dancers performed a half an hour dance and acrobatic feats on pillars that were as high as three (3) meters to take a bunch of Chinese lettuce; exclusively for the thrill of the kids and students from the college.

The performance symbolized the lion stalking for food. After enjoying the lettuce, the lion then distributed it back to the Management of SIDMA College and audience who were present. While still on pillars, the lion then presented a prosperity scroll to Prof Dr. Morni Hj Kambrie, SIDMA Chairman; which signifies the showering of good luck to the college and all those around it.

Lion dancing by the music of beating drums, cymbals, and gongs, is believed to bring happiness, liveliness, courage and friendship to all, and also to scare away evil spirits.

Dr. Morni took the opportunity to present an ang pow to the leader of the lion troupe as gesture of gratitude for the blessing.

Also present during the ceremony were Ms Azizah Khalid Merican (Acting CEO), Pn Azalina Ngatimin (SIDMA Board of Directors), Ms Mary Monica Jiony (Chairperson, Board of Governance), Managers/ Head of Departments, lecturers and staff of SIDMA College, UNITAR Sabah.

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Integrity in academia

Wednesday, February 27th, 2013

MEMBERSHIP of the academia carries with it special responsibilities towards students, colleagues, the university, the community of which the university is a part and the scholar’s own conscience.

One such responsibility is to observe academic integrity i.e. the moral code or ethical policies of the university.

This is a vast and evolving area. It straddles many shores within which the waters of ethics, economics, law and technology intermingle.

It is hardly surprising, therefore, that new issues are coming to the fore.

Cyber information: An important issue is the challenge and opportunity of cyber sources of information. Technology has taken the search out of research.

We used to rely on direct sources to obtain material; now a large amount of information, some of it of dubious quality, some of it with no stated authorship, is available at our finger tips.

Previously, information was created by individuals. Now information is more of a communal property, indicating the rise of a sort of “collective intelligence”.

We need to put our heads together to see how to confront the challenge posed by cyber information to the traditional notions of plagiarism and copyright.

Academic publishing: In the growing atmosphere of “publish or perish”, all academicians are required to produce original research. With this new demand, questions of research integrity come to the fore.

Doctored findings: A large part of research financing inevitably comes from external organisations (i.e. the government and industry). This creates the temptation to sacrifice impartial truth in order to please the paying client.

One way to mitigate the problem is to have elaborate rules for declaring sources of revenue and disclosing of clients’ interests.

How far such disclosures work is open to question because interested sponsors can hide behind a web of corporate relationships.

Withheld results: A more insidious problem is when the outcome of one study is withheld so that the sponsors of other lucrative studies are not uncomfortable.

Supervisor-supervisee relationship: Around the world, research supervisors feel that being a supervisor entitles them to put their name as a lead author or co-author of their students’ articles and seminar papers.

There are clear problems of academic integrity here.

Mere supervision, direction, correction, or guidance with sources and materials does not entitle a supervisor to claim authorship of his student’s work despite the undoubted time, talent and effort expended to discuss, guide and correct the student’s output.

by Shad Saleem Faruoi,

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EDUCATION: Streamline school system to create a level playing field.

Wednesday, February 27th, 2013

OUR school system should be progressive and of global standard while retaining its unique characteristics. It should equip our students to face challenges.

The policy of upholding Bahasa Malaysia as the national language and strengthening the command of English among our students is mandatory

English is the lingua franca of universal frontline knowledge, particularly in science, technology and mathematics, but our students’ poor performance in international science and mathematics tests rings alarm bells.

We need to take bold new steps to move forward:

The greatness of a leader

Wednesday, February 27th, 2013

As an ancient Persian saying goes – ‘He who has established justice may certainly sleep in safety; he who has oppressed is always fearful’

WAHB ibn Munabbih, a seventh century universal Muslim historian, had related that there was a king who was numbered among the great kings.

One day, the king wished to go for a ride and bade all the commanders of his army to ride along in a display of sovereignty and might to the people.

Magnificent garments were brought for him to wear, but it was not pleasing to him, so he demanded more until after several tries he donned the finest.

Splendid horses of pedigree stock were led before him; but he was not satisfied until an even more splendid horse was brought.

On this splendid horse the king rode out with great pomp into the midst of his entourage.

The Devil came and put his mouth on the king’s nose and blew the wind of vainglory into it, with the result that the king said to himself. “Who is there in the universe like me?”

Then an old man clad in rough clothes came and saluted the king, who gave no response.

The man seized the horse’s reins. “Do you not know whose horse’s reins you are holding?” asked the king. “I have a request to make of you,” he said. “Tell me what it is,” the king asked.

“Nobody must know,” he said, “I have a secret which must be told into no ears but yours.”

“Tell it,” the king said. The man raised his head to the king’s ear and whispered, “I am the Angel of Death. I have come to take your soul at this moment.”

by Dr. Mohd. Sani Badron.

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SIDMA College, UNITAR International University Sabah New Students Oath Taking Ceremony (February 2013)

Tuesday, February 26th, 2013

A total of 529 new SIDMA College, UNITAR International University Sabah Regional Centre students took their oath as new students of UNITAR Sabah on 22 February 2013 at SESB Hall, Sabah Ekectricity Sdn Bhd, Karamunsing, Kota Kinabalu.

These new students had recently registered for Foundation Courses, Diploma Courses and Bachelor courses at the college. The oath reading ceremony was headed by Spencer Jamiro and Caren Yoni.

The Honourable Datuk Mohd Hasnol Bin Ayub, CEO, Institute for Development Studies (Sabah) was offered the privilege to officiate the ceremony.

During his keynote address, Datuk Mohd Hasnol advised students not to sacrifice or waste their opportunities to study, but to be ready to reflect and understand themselves fully, to seize the opportunities available at the college and to develop themselves holistically; not to merely concentrate on only the components that they are interested in and avoid others that are also meaningful and useful to them later.

Earlier, Prof. Dr. Morni Hj Kambrie, Chairman, SIDMA College, UNITAR Sabah during his welcoming speech thanked the Honourable Datuk Mohd Hasnol for his effort to attend and officiate the Oath Taking Ceremony.

He also thanked and congratulated the students for choosing SIDMA College, UNITAR Sabah as the college has good track record of producing very successful graduates who are currently attached with both in the public and private sectors in Sabah and Sarawak.

Key personnel’s of the college were also being introduced, and students were advised to contact with their respective coordinators / lecturers should they encounter problems during their studies. He also announced that one of the unique policies of the college is the “Open Door” policy and thus students are welcomed to meet their lecturers or even Dr. Morni personally, if their study problems remained unsolved

Students are also being encouraged to make full use of the basic facilities provided by the college, such as: Resource Centre (Library), IT Laboratory, gymnasium, Madrasah. Childcare Centre, Surau, Lecture / Tutorial rooms, Students Activities Lounges and more.

Meanwhile, Dr. Morni also announced new facilities in the pipeline, such as Boat Club, When fully launched, will be available for both students and lecturers to participate in fishing, diving, boating and other related activities.

Prof. Dr. Morni also announced the opening ceremony of SIDMA College new building which will be held tentatively on 24 April 2013, and advised students to fully prepared and participate in some of the exciting activities that will be lined up during the opening ceremony, which also coincide with SIDMA College (Sabah) 10th year anniversary.

During the oath taking ceremony, two of UNITAR Sabah graduates who excelled during the 12th (2012) UNIRAZAK Convocation received their Academic Excellence Award in the form of check from the College. The award was presented to the recipients by Hon. Datuk Mohd Hasnol. The two graduates are as follows:

i. Desmond Ku Soon Vui – Bachelor of Hospitality and Management (Hons) (CGPA upon convocation – 3.76 )
ii. Janet Jahudin – Bachelor of Education (Hons) (CGPA upon convocation – 3.83).

As token of appreciation, Prof. Dr. Morni presented a memento to Hon. Datuk Mohd Hasnol for his time to officiate the ceremony.

Also present during the ceremony were Ms Azizah Khalid Merican, (Acting CEO), Puan Azlina Ngatimin (Board of Directors), Ms Mary Monica Jiony (Chairperson,Board of Governance), Managers and Head of Departments, Lecturers and staff of SIDMA College, UNITAR Sabah.

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SBA in the 2012 HKDSE English Examination

Tuesday, February 26th, 2013

Following the successful introduction of school-based assessment (SBA) into the Hong Kong Certificate of Education English Examination from 2005 onwards, SBA will also be incorporated into the new Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education (HKDSE). Like the HKCEE SBA, SBA in the HKDSE aims to ensure assessment is closely aligned with the English Language Curriculum and Assessment Guide (Secondary 4-6) jointly prepared by the Curriculum Development Council and the Hong Kong Examination and Assessment Authority and supports the Education Bureau’s official policy of assessment for learning.

The SBA component is an assessment of English oral language proficiency based on topics and texts drawn from a wide range of sources, including print, video / film, fiction and non-fiction material, such as newspapers and web-based material. The SBA is assessed through activities linked to a reading and viewing program (Part A) integrated with the general English language curriculum, and through an elective program (Part B) in one or more of the following areas:

Language Arts
Non-Language Arts
Sports Communication
Short Stories
Poems & Songs
Social Issues
Popular Culture
Workplace Communication

The SBA is designed to assess learners’ achievement in areas that cannot be easily assessed in public examinations, whilst also enhancing the capacity for student self-evaluation and life-long learning. As such, it complements the assessment of other aspects of English language being assessed through external examinations, in particular the external oral examination, Paper 4: Speaking.

The SBA is aligned with the HKEAA’s outcomes-based, standards-referenced assessment system which seeks to recognise and report on the full range of educational achievement in Hong Kong schools. The principles of outcomes-based education are that assessment should:

  • promote learning;
  • move away from learning as memorisation;
  • cover a wide spectrum of learning activities and tasks;
  • make use of relevant knowledge in realistic contexts;
  • take place recurrently rather than in end-of-course tests;
  • focus on knowledge, skills, attitudes and values and not only on content; and
  • in the case of language, focus on the key building blocks of developing language proficiency and not only on accuracy.

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Student Presentations: Do They Benefit Those Who Listen?

Monday, February 25th, 2013

Almost everyone agrees that student presentations benefit the presenter in significant ways. By doing presentations, students learn how to speak in front a group, a broadly applicable professional skill. They learn how to prepare material for public presentation, and practice (especially with feedback) improves their speaking skills. But those of us who have students do presentations in class know there’s a downside—and that’s how the rest of the class responds to these presentations. When the teacher talks, students more or less have to pay attention, at least some of the time, but when their classmates present, they can be comatose. Not only does this make it more difficult for the presenter, it means the students listening are not likely having any sort of learning experience.

Peer evaluations are one way to get students listening and learning from the presentations of others, as the authors of the article referenced below have documented. Students attend more carefully to what their classmates are saying when the evaluations they are doing “count.” In this article, which describes the use of peer evaluations in ten 300-level political science courses, students evaluated every presentation and those evaluations constituted between 3 and 5 percent of their course grade—an amount the authors describe as “just enough to make the students take this assignment seriously.” (p. 806) The quality of the feedback students provide is improved when they use criteria (in this case the same one the teachers used) to assess the presentations. Without much experience critiquing presentations and with no specific guidelines, they are likely to offer feedback that is generic and not particularly helpful, such as “Good presentation.”

These authors had students in each of the 10 classes evaluate the peer evaluation assignment, and that feedback indicates the merit of having students do the evaluations. Seventy-three percent of the students agreed or strongly agreed that completing the evaluations made them pay more attention to the presentations. Almost 60 percent said doing the evaluations gave them a different perspective. “Students indicated they gained a different insight into the process, rather than just sitting through presentations without having any objective or direction as an audience member.” (p. 806) Another sizable majority, almost 74 percent, agreed or strongly agreed that completing the evaluations clarified expectations for the presentation assignment.


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RM604m spent on jailing foreigners

Monday, February 25th, 2013

Kota Kinabalu: The Government spent about RM604.8 million to manage non-Malaysian prisoners in four prisons in Sabah sfrom 2006 until October 2012.

Sabah Prisons Deputy Commissioner Kalbin Mohd Said, who testified as the 62nd witness before the Royal Commission of Inquiry on illegal Immigrants in Sabah said the cost covered food, medical, dorm, clothes, electric, water, rehabilitation and others.

He said RM281,455,515 was spent on the Kota Kinabalu Prison Centre (Male), RM45,867,360 on the Kota Kinabalu Women Prison, RM112,873,695 on Sandakan Prison and RM163,884,270 on Tawau Prison.

To a question by conducting officer Dato Azmi Arrifin, Kalbin said statistics on Malaysian and non Malaysian prisoners, showed the number of non-Malaysian prisoners was larger in all prisons in Sabah including the Male Kota Kinabalu Prison Centre, Kota Kinabalu Women Prison, Sandakan Prison and Tawau Prison for the year 2006 until October 2012.

The statistics also showed that Filipinos made up the largest number followed by Indonesians in each of the prisons over the period.

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Dire need for English to be a must-pass subject.

Monday, February 25th, 2013

CRUCIAL MOVE: Experts say teachers must be trained, facilities improved before any change.

KUALA LUMPUR: PARENTS and students have given the thumbs up for the Education Ministry’s proposal to make English a must-pass subject in the Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM).

National Parent-Teacher Association (PTA) president Datuk Ali Hassan said the move was crucial but the ministry should make thorough preparations before implementing it.

“It is about time we made English a must-pass subject. However, necessary measures to improve facilities and train teachers have to be taken to ensure students will not suffer at the end of the day.”

He said schools should also give their full commitment by incorporating the use of English in curricula and co-curricula activities.

“The implementation should not be sudden. Students should be mentally prepared. Activities such as debates and forums would be a good start to instil confidence in students.”

He said teaching and learning materials should be upgraded and teachers should be retrained to ensure better results when the move is implemented.

Former teacher Lee Mei Ling, 41, said the ministry’s suggestion was a step forward to realising the vision of making Malaysia an educational hub.

“There is a dire need for Malaysian students to improve their command of English. But are we prepared?”

She said the plans have to be attainable, thus, the ministry must be prepared before implementing any changes in the system.

“The ministry has to make sure the teachers are ready. Students, especially from rural areas, will also need extra attention.”

Parent Fawziah Mohd Shahar, 42, said making English a must-pass SPM subject will push students to improve their command of the language.

“It is important for students at the SPM level to master English as most of the course work, assignments and references in universities and colleges are in English.

by  Lavanya Lingan.