ICT and Malaysian Schools

The then Minister of Education, Dato’ Sri Hishammuddin Tun Hussien in his seminar paper “The Moving Young Minds International Ministerial Seminar of Education” in London (2004) among many other things stated that ICT is growing not just in capacity but in accessibility, availability and popularity. Old ways of communicating information and making things are destroyed or altered and new ones come into being. He gave the example that within 24 hours after the tsunami horror (the deadly waves that had spread destruction in twelve countries up to 3000 miles apart and killed an uncountable number of people); news and images of the destruction has been beamed into living rooms worldwide and journalists reported via satellite phone from affected sites. The Internet played an irreplaceable role in the mobilization and coordination of the relief effort in the affected countries. Within 48 hours, the largest ever fundraising effort for disaster relief was well under way, much of it on the web.


Wikibooks define information and communication technologies (ICT) as a “diverse set of technological tools and resources used to communicate, and to create, disseminate, store, and manage information”. These technologies include computers, the Internet, broadcasting technologies (radio and television), and telephony. Older technologies such as the telephone, radio and television, although given less attention, have a longer and richer history as instructional tools. Radio and television have for forty years been used for open and distance learning, although print remains the cheapest, most accessible and therefore most dominant delivery mechanism in both developed and developing countries.

E-Learning is most commonly associated with higher education and corporate training. E-Learning encompasses learning at all levels, both formal and non-formal, that uses an information network – the internet, an intranet (LAN) or extranet (WAN) – whether wholly or in part, for course delivery, interaction, evaluation and / or facilitation. Others prefer the term online learning. Web – based learning is a subject of e-learning and refers to learning using an internet browser (such as Netscape or Internet Explorer).

Blended Learning refers to learning models that combine traditional classroom practice with e-learning solutions. Class can be assigned both print-based and online materials, have online mentoring sessions with their teacher through chat, and are subscribed to a class email list. “Blending” was prompted by the recognition that not all learning is best achieved in an electronically-mediated environment, particularly one that dispenses with a live instructor altogether. Consideration must be given to the subject matter, the learning objectives and outcomes, the characteristics of the learners, and the learning context in order to arrive at the optimum mix of instructional and delivery methods.

Open and distance learning is defined by the Commonwealth of Learning as “a way of providing learning opportunities that is characterized by the seperation of teacher and learner in time and place, or both time and place; learning that is certified in some way, by an institution or agency; the use of a variety of media; including print and electronic: two-way communications that allow learners and tutors to interact; the possibilities of occasional face-to-face meetings, and a specialized division of labour in the production and delivery of courses”.


The potential of each technology varies according to how it is used. Haddad and Draxler identify at least five levels of technology use in education:

  • presentation;
  • demonstration;
  • drill and practice;
  • interaction;
  • collaboration.

Each of the different ICT’s may be used for presentation and demonstration, the most basic of the five levels. Except for video technologies, drills and practice may likewise be performed using the whole range of technologies. Networked computers and the Internet are the ICT’s that enable interactive and collaborative learning best. However the full potential as educational tools will remain unrealized if they are used merely for presentation or demonstration.

There are three (3) general approaches to the use of radio and TV broadcasting in education:

  • Direct class teaching, where broadcast programming substitues for teachers on a temporary basis.
  • School broadcasting, where broadcast programming provides complementary teaching and learning resources not otherwise available, and
  • General educational programming over community, national and international stations which provide general and informal educational opportunities.

Teleconferencing refers to “interactive electronic communication among people located at two or more different places. There are four (4) types of teleconferencing based on the nature and extent of interactivity and the sophistication of the technology.

  1. audioconferencing;
  2. audio-graphic conferencing;
  3. videoconferencing;
  4. web-based conferencing;

Audioconferencing involves the live (real-time) exchange of voice messages over a telephone network.

Videoconferencing allows the exchange not just of voice and graphics but also of moving images.

Teleconferencing is used in both formal and non-formal learning contexts to facilitate teacher-learner and learner-learner discussions, as well as to access experts and other resource persons remotely. In open and distance learning, teleconferencing is a useful tool for providing direct instruction and learner support, minimizing learner isolation. Higher institutions using teleconferecing in their online learning programs include the Open University of the United Kingdom, UNITAR (Universiti Tun Abdul Razak) Malaysia, Open University of Hong Kong, and Indira Ghandi National Open Univerity.

Three General Approaches to the Instructional Use of Computers and Internet:

  1. Learning about computers and the Internet, and technological literacy is the end goal.
  2. Learning with computer and the Internet, in which technology facilitates learning across the curriculum.
  3. Learning through computers and the Internet, integrating technological skills development with curriculum applications.

Learning about computers and the Internet focuses on developing technological literacy. It typically includes:

  • Fundamentals: basic terms, concepts and operations;
  • Use of the keyboard and mouse;
  • Use productivity tools such as word processing, spreadsheets, data base and graphics programs;
  • Use of research and collaboration tools such as search engines and email;
  • Basic skills in using programming and authoring applications such as Logo or HyperStudio;
  • Developing an awareness of the social impact of technological change.

Learning with computers and the Internet means focusing on how technology can be the means to learning ends across the curriculum. It includes:

  • Presentation, demonstration, and the manipulation of data using productivity tools;
  • Use of curriculum specific applications types such a games, drill and practice, simulations, tutorials, virtual  laboratories, visualizations and graphical representations of abstract concepts, musical composition and expert systems;
  • Use of information and resources on CD-ROM or online such as encyclopedia, interactive maps and atlases, electronic journals and other references.

Learning through computers and the Internet combine learning about them with learning with them. It involves learning the technological skills to engage in a curriculum related activities eg. using spreadsheet and database programs to help organize and analyze the data they have collected, as well as using a word processing application to prepare their written report.

Telecollaboration is the organised use of web resources and collaboration tools for curriculum appropriate purposes. Judi Harris defines telecollaboration as “an educational endeavor that involves people in different locations using Internet tools and resources to work together. Much educational telecollaboration is curriculum-based, teacher-designed, and teacher-coordinated. Most use e-mail to help participants communicate with each other. Many telecollaborative activities and projects have web sites to support them.


The Ministry of Education sees ICT as a means, not an end in itself. Technology is not seen a “vitamin” whose mere presence in schools can catalyse better educational outcome. The concept of ICT in education, as seen by the Ministry of Education, includes systems that enable information gathering, management, manipulation, access, and communication in various froms.

Three (3) Main Policies for ICT:

  1. ICT for all students – ICT is used as an enabler to reduce the digital gap between the schools.
  2. The role and function of ICT in education as a teaching and learning tool.
  3. Using ICT to increase productivity, efficiency and effectiveness of the management  system.

Malaysia is often cited as front runner in ICT implementation in developing world. The following are some of the initiatives implemented by government agencies that gave Malaysia this profile:

  1. The Malaysia Smart School Project that was launched in July 1997 by the Prime Minister – as one of the flagship applications of Malaysia’s Multimedia Super Corridor. The project aimed for a systematic reinvention of teaching and learning and of school management. It promotes student-centred, integrated and unified learning. It has developed a School Management System and a set of Learning Courseware.
  2. ICT Training in Schools : The model that the Ministry uses to disseminate training is the cascade model. Selected master trainers  undergo training , later to pass their training to selected trainers, who in turn, train their colleagues at school, district, or state level.
  3. Training teachers to use teaching courseware, notebooks, projectors and supplying schools with such equipment: In 2003 after a change in the language of instruction for Science and Mathematics to English – this programme was initiated to help teachers cope with the changed.
  4. The Computerisation Programme in Schools: The Ministry of Education implemented a Computerisation Programme in Schools to introduce ICT literacy to as many schools as possible, and thus to reduce the digital divide to some extent. Each school in Malaysia will be supplied with at least one computer Laboratory.  To date there are more than 3,000 computer lab. in operational.
  5. The Process of Providing Information Technology and Connectivity to all schools: Almost all schools are “wired” with broadband connections. The Ministry is also looking into equipping schools with WiFi (Wireless Local Area Networks) so that the benefits of connectivity can be realized by all.
  6. Internet Usage: MySchoolNet website was set up by the Ministry of Education to help increase the use of ICT in education, providing links to help teachers and students access educational information readily.
  7. The Electronic Book Project: In 2001, the Ministry initiated a pilot project involving the use of electronic book or e-book. E-book, a device which stores electronic textbooks and links the user to the internet, can be used to improve teaching and learning in the classroom. It is hope that the use of the e-book can replace the conventional textbooks and thereby resolve the perennial problem of heavy school-bags.

Introducing ICT into all schools in Malaysia is a major undertaking even though it is a major investment into the future productivity of Malaysia K-Economy Plan. Let’s hope that all Malaysians are committed to ensure it success.

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