Sunday, December 13, 2009


In today’s ultra –competitive environment, the success of any country would largely depend upon its ability to adopt and adapt confidently to increasing demanding and challenging global scenario. No government or organization is shielded from the challenges and forces of globalization and competition.These challenges may have compelled countries to part take in education reforms. Building a knowledge
– based economy, where knowledge, creativity and innovation play an important role in generating and sustaining economic growth, is a key objective in Malaysia.
The Strategic ICT Roadmap for Malaysia was mooted by the National IT Council established in the 6th Malaysia Plan (1990 -1995) and Malaysia’s National ICT Agenda (NITC) formulated in the 7th Malaysian Plan ( 1996-2000). Fundamental to the transformation of the country from p-economy to keconomy and realized Malaysia’s Vision 2020 policy of becoming a fully developed nation by the year 2020. The MOE together with leading industry players have form smart partnerships to accelerate the
use of ICT in schools. Amongst steps taken to ensure the management and enhance the integration of ICT initiatives into education targets, agencies like Malaysian Administrative Modernization and Management Planning Unit (MAMPU) was established. MAMPU provides consultation services to ensure the structure, system, work procedures and implementation of ICT development are in line with
efforts to improve the government’s delivery system.

In 16 July 2004 the Malaysian Government endorsed Malaysian Administrative Modernization and Management Planning Unit (MAMPU) Public Sector Open Source Software (OSS) Master Plan. In the Master Plan’s Phase I: Laying the Foundation, four (4) government agencies were selected to participate in the Malaysia Public Sector OSS Initiative, and the Ministry of Education (MOE) was one of the
selected pilot agencies. This paper provides a brief outline of the a pilot and enhancement of the LMS project, deployment approaches and challenges faced in its implementation.

„Information Communications Technologies‟ (here with a particular emphasis on „information‟ dimension) will require that governments reassess preconditions : regulations (direct or indirect),levels of democracy, idea formulation and other aspects that will develop the process of knowledge and information exchange (1) UNESCO defines the term „Information Communications Technologies‟(ICT) as:
The system of technologies, tools, and devices that are used to transmit, process, store, create,display, share or exchange information by electronic means (3)
This broad definitions encompasses a wide array of technologies such as computers and its peripherals, video, radio, television, compact disc (CD), DVD, telephone (mobile and fixed line),personal digital assistants (PDA), digital cameras, satellite systems, network hardware and software as well as equipments associated with these technologies, such as video conferencing,emails, web logs (blogs) and social network (such as Facebook, Friendsters, My Space and Twitters)

ICT in Malaysia - Major Policies Development Malaysia‟s Vision 2020 policy was formulated in 1991 to ensure the transformation of Malaysia into becoming a fully developed nation in her own mould by the year 2020. The vision calls for the nation to achieve a self sufficient industrial, Malaysian centric economy. In her quest to
achieve the objectives of Vision 2020, Malaysia identified information and communications technology (ICT) as one of the key foundations for its projected transition from its production – based economy to a knowledge – based economy by 2020. ICTs are crucial enabler in a knowledge – based economy because it facilitate the acquisition,utilization and dissemination of knowledge towards enhancing the economic and social values of society. To spearhead the move towards achieving the Vision 2020, Malaysia embarked upon the launching of its Multimedia Super Corridor (MSC) in 1996. Modeled to be a world-class hub for development and nurturing of the Nation's ICT industry, the MSC provides first-world knowledge and infrastructure, at developing-nation costs.

The Strategic ICT Roadmap for Malaysia was mooted by the National IT Council established in the 6th Malaysia Plan (1990 -1995) and Malaysia‟s National ICT Agenda (NITC) was formulated in the 7th Malaysian Plan ( 1996-2000). The Eight Malaysia Plan (2001-2005)outlined the strategies, programmes, and projects to increase the nation‟s economic growth towards building a united, just and equitable society as well as meeting the challenges of globalization and k-economy.

The ultimate aim of these long and medium – term plans is to build Malaysia into a developed nation based on its mould. National broadband plan for operationalization of broadband in the country was formulated in 2005 targeting 50% penetration of household by 2010. Malaysian Information communication and multimedia services (MyICMS) plan was also formulated in 2005 to converge cellular telephony, broadcast and internet in the country. The Public Sector Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Strategic Plan was launched to ensure that the various ICT initiatives undertaken by the Government agencies will be in line with the Public
Sector ICT vision; to provide efficient and quality service to its customers - the citizens and businesses. In achieving this vision, the ICT Strategic Plan will be the blueprint that defines then vision, strategic direction and framework for the usage of ICT in the Public Sector; the objectives and strategic thrust areas of ICT development for the Public Sector; as well as the implementation strategies and action plans to be taken to realize the objectives of the plan.Human resource development is the foundation to the success of any nation. These plans have
great implications on the national education system, for such a transition will require the critical human capital capable of harnessing ICT to create new economic opportunities. Thus in order to develop this talent pool, the government announced in the Eight Malaysia Plan the need to reengineer the country‟s education system and align it with its Vision 2020.Education Development Plan for Malaysia 2006-2010 was launched in 2006 to chart the direction of education to pave the way for education in Malaysia for the future. The Education Development Plan aims to ensure that all citizens have the opportunity to twelve years of education in terms of increasing access to education, increase equity to education and increase quality education . The plan also aims to further develop the potentials of individuals in a holistic and integrated manner so as to produce individuals who are intellectually, spiritually emotionally and physically balanced in line with the National Educational Philosophy. The main focus of the plan was on the development of preschool, primary, secondary and tertiary education levels which will be strengthen through the development of support programmes, funding management and integration of information and communication technology (ICT)
The plan contained six main thrusts:
 To build a Malaysian nation.
 To develop human capital.
 To empower national schools.
 To bridge the education gap.
 To enhance the status of the teaching profession.
 To upgrade the excellence of educational institutions.

ICT in Education Policy
The Ministry of Education articulation of ICT in education focused on three main areas.
(Ref:Malaysian Smart School Roadmap 2005-2020: An Educational Odyssey; Multimedia
Development Corporation, Cyberjaya: 2005] and
 ICT will be used as an enabler to reduce the digital divide between the country‟s schools
by enabling ICT access for all students;
 ICT will be used as teaching and learning tools in education, taught as an independent
subject and integrated into others; and
 ICT will be used to enhance efficiency, effectiveness and productivity of management in education.
The operationalisation of the policies into the educational demands calls for transformation of the ICT development plan. Malaysia ICT development plan aims to:
 Intensify the development of the ICT infrastructure;
 Expand access to and equity for ICT facilities;
 Improve assessment and evaluation systems using ICT;
 Emphasise ICT integration into teaching and learning processes;
 Improve ICT knowledge and skills of students, teachers and other personnel;
 Intensify usage of ICT in education management;
 Improve the management and maintenance of ICT equipment;
 Increase research and development efforts in ICT; and
 Increase cooperation between educational institution and the community towards
expansion of ICT in education.
Implementation Strategies
Implementation strategies to achieve Malaysia‟s ICT in education objectives include:
 Preparing appropriate ICT equipment and infrastructure for all schools;
 Introducing ICT curriculum and support for ICT integration into general teaching and learning;
 Upgrading the ICT skills and knowledge of both teachers and students;

 Increasing ICT use in educational management; and
 Upgrading ICT maintenance/management in educational institutions.
Major ICT In Education Initiatives
1) ICT for all students to bridge the digital divide between schools
a)The Smart School project:
The Smart School Flagship is one of the seven flagship application envisaged under the Multimedia Super Corridor initiative. This ICT-mediated project attempted to
systematically transform the schools in terms of teaching and learning practices and
school management processes in order to prepare the students for the information age.
This project was implemented by the government in collaboration with a consortium led
by the country „s major telecommunication company. The implementation were
scheduled to go through 4 waves :
i) the piloted in 88 schools from 1999 – 2002
ii) the post –pilot (2002- 2005), making all school smart (2005-2010 and
consolidation and stabilization.
Smart School solution encompasses the computerize Smart School Management System,
browser-based teaching and learning materials and Help Desk support services. This
project would be extended to other schools and all schools expected to be converted to Smart Schools by 2010.
b) Computer laboratories:
Under this project, which began in 1999, computer laboratories were constructed on a
large scale in schools. Up till May 2009, more than 6,000 schools were equipped with
computer labs. The laboratories are equipped with basic ICT facilities such as PCs, Local Network, printers and servers.
c) SchoolNet:
The SchoolNet project provides broadband internet access to all schools with the aim of bridging the digital divide between pupils in urban, rural and remote areas, To enable schools to get connected internally and globally, internet connection is provided via The SchoolNet project. Access with 1Mb/s are provided in 9654 locations. By 2010 internet access with 4Mbps would be available in 579 locations.
d) WebTV :
On demand video streaming of educational content were made available to users via the
EduwebTV initiative. Users can download educational contents via eight channels, viz;
news, academic, interviews, magazine, curriculum, live, interactive and guideline. The content videos can be downloaded anywhere, anytime as long as internet connection is available.
e) School Access Centres (SAC):
These centres are cyber café with a difference. It created a perfect setting for self access, self-directed and self-paced learning. With the School Access Centres, students can use computers even after school hours especially in accessing the internet and doing collaborative projects. Computer access centres have been installed in 3029 schools since 2006 with 70% rural schools and 30% urban schools distribution This project will:
 Enhance the acculturation of ICT into the learning process
 Reduce the computer-child ratio
 Increase pupil-computer contact hours
f) Transforming all the schools to smart schools:
As a strategy to turn all the schools smart and further reduce the digital divide between the schools and improving access and equity to ICT, the Government is leveraging and synergizing on the various ICT initiatives explained above into one effort. The making school smart programme is a logical continuation to the pilot smart school initiative. It is the third wave of the Smart School Implementation Plan
2) ICT as a teaching and learning tool Newhouse (2002) reports that ICT is a mediator of learning in the multi components learning environments and ICT have been shown to support students and teachers in improving learning outcomes. The Ministry had produced a variety of teaching and learning materials ranging from audio CD, video CDs, interactive CD ROMs, web-based multimedia contents as well as providing access to on line teaching and learning materials. A total of 3778 titles of teaching and learning materials have been produced and dispersed to schools from 1999 – 2008. Teachers and students had access to an array of ICT tools at their disposal such as electronic presentation, word processing,spreadsheets applications; electronic publishing. With the internet, they had access to web editing facilities; emails; electronic forums; chats; external electronic resources; and databases.
3) ICT as a productivity tool
The Education Ministry has been using computers to improve efficiency for many years.
Legacy systems such as Educational Management Information System (EMIS), Students
information System (Sistem Maklumat Murid – SMM), Students Discipline System
(Sistem Salahlaku dan Disiplin Murid – SSDM) have been the back bone of the data
gathering systems in schools. This is supported by many other systems such as Textbook Loans Management Systems (SISTEKS), school time table systems, and various other systems either procured by the states or district education departments or built by the schools themselves Under the Smart School programme (1999-2002), a browser based integrated school management application called Smart School Management System (SSMS) was built as a comprehensive system encompassing 10 school management functions into 32 modules. This later morphed into a web based school management function called Web School Management System (WSMS) in 2006. In 2009, an updated school management system called Sistem Pengurusan Sekolah (SPS) is introduced. This would be augmented with the Learning Management System (LMS) to enable schools to use the digital teaching and learning materials already available.

The Malaysian Public Sector Open Source Software Master Plan One of the main concerns from the implementation of ICT IN Malaysia is the escalating and high cost due to the structure of licensing fees and constant upgrade. The emergence of Open Source Software (OSS) where the source codes are available for the users to use,
modify and redistribute, provides vast opportunities for the government to leverage on OSS technologies for the benefit of its IT implementation. The Government of Malaysia has decided to encourage the development and implementation of Open Source Software and initiative and in the year 2002, the Malaysian Government endorsed Malaysian Administrative Modernization Management and Management Planning Unit (MAMPU)proposal for the development of the Malaysian Public Sector Open Source Software Master Plan for the benefit of its IT implementation. The objectives of this initiative are:
 Reduce total cost of ownership
 Increase freedom of choice of software
 Increase interoperability among systems
 Increase growth of ICT industry
 Increase growth of OSS industry
 Increase growth of OSS user and developer community
 Increase growth of knowledge-based society
 Reduce digital divide
The Malaysian Public Sector Open Source Software Master Plan includes the following;
 Establish strategic direction and framework
 Develop an implementation plan and roadmap
 Establish Open Source Software Competency Centre to support OSS
implementation in Public Sector
 Formulate policies, standards and guidelines

In the Master Plan‟s Phase I: Laying the Foundation, four (4) government agencies were selected to participate in the Malaysia Public Sector OSS Initiative, and the Ministry of Education (MOE) was one of the selected pilot agencies. In 2004, the Ministry of Education embarked upon the implementation of a MAMPU sponsored Learning
Management System (LMS) pilot project which covered the following OSS solution
 Application Solution: Development of a web-based Shareable Content Object
Reference Model (SCORM) compliant education application developed for schools
as part of MAMPU‟S Open Source Master Plan -LMS for use in schools.
 Distributed Enterprise: Processing on multiple remote servers with a centralised
data store for consolidation.
 Infrastructure Solution: LMS is using PHP development platform and operating in
Linux Server using Apache for the web server and MySQL for the database.
The original pilot LMS was designed to operate with the School Management System
(SMS) of MOE, and could also operate as a standalone system independently. The 2004
LMS was a modified version of A-Tutor 1.4 to focus on functionalities for teaching and learning. (A-Tutor is an open source web-based SCORM complaint learning management system.)In the initial MOE LMS pilot project, heavy modification, customization and localization were made on A-Tutor to accommodate the requirements of MOE such as to allow either single or multiple schools hosting. The front-end user interface was completely changed,which had very little resemblance to the original A-Tutor. Moreover, a Bahasa Malaysia language option was added to the front-end user interface in addition to the original English language.The LMS was developed using PHP scripts operating on an Apache web server, MySQL database and SUSE Linux Enterprise Server. Selected existing Windows-based smart school courseware titles were also launched in an OSS environment with the licensed
CrossOver Office plugins. The flexibility of open standards allowed the LMS to run in
Linux and other operating systems accessible using Mozilla, Firefox and other internet browsers. The LMS pilot project was implemented in three schools, namely:
• SK Putrajaya 2, Putrajaya (Smart School)
• SMK Aminuddin Baki, Kuala Lumpur (Smart School)
• SMK Seri Titiwangsa, Kuala Lumpur (Ordinary School with IT Laboratory)
Three different architecture setups were tested for assessing the best architecture for subsequent roll out to other selected schools.
• SK Putrajaya 2 used a thin client over local area network (LAN). The LMS
server and thin client server were located in the school.
• SMK Aminuddin Baki used Linux desktops to access the LMS over SchoolNet.
The LMS server was located in Bahagian Teknologi Pendidikan (BTP), Ministry of
Education (MOE).
• SMK Seri Titiwangsa used existing computer laboratory PCs operating on
Windows XP to access the LMS over LAN. The LMS server was located in the school.
The pilot LMS project kicked-off on 9th, August 2004 and was signed-off upon full
completion on 31st, October, 2005 under Phase I of the Malaysia Public Sector Open
Source Software Program.Following the handover of the pilot project to the Ministry of Education, MAMPU conducted a Post Implementation Review (PIR) to assess the strengths, weaknesses and gaps between the LMS performance against users' requirements and expectations to provide input for the enhancement of the system before rolling out the LMS to more schools. The pilot LMS provided many learning opportunities, and for this current LMS project several improvements and enhancements have been made to overcome the issues raised in the PIR. The improvements will include changes to the functionalities and processes of
the Pilot LMS Project including but not limited to:
(a) Teacher and Student Management
• Registration and enrollment to class and courses with proper access rights to class
related resources in the system
(b) Course Management
• Import/export of SCORM 1.2 compliant courseware.
• WYSIWYG content authoring with graphics inclusion/resizing support
• Support for inputting and displaying of mathematical and scientific symbols
(c) System Management
• SSO with multi-authentication plug-ins including LDAP
Overview of Current LMS Project As mentioned earlier, the LMS in Phase 1 was heavily modified, customized and localized, yet many of the users' requirements were not being fulfilled. For example,there were limited mathematical and scientific symbols, restricted graphics‟ functionalities, cumbersome on-line editing of lessons, problematic re-sizing of photos and pictures, and constrained design and tests‟ settings. The limited bandwidth of the schools also created usability issues for teachers and learners. Therefore, the Ministry of Education was confronted by two dilemmas: no upgrade path for the pilot LMS and the inability to use MOE media rich files due to bandwidth cost.The new LMS has the capability to address the above shortcomings of the pilot LMS,and the new LMS is more user-friendly for preparing and editing coursework, assigning homework, managing exam banks and administering examinations. The new LMS is well-tested and accepted by over 30 million Moodle users worldwide.

Project Description
The Ministry of Education introduction of blended-learning to its schools through a
distributed architecture LMS. This is to overcome the issue of limited bandwidth and
large media rich files. Before the LMS is deployed, it will be localized and customized. The roll-out will be in a phased-approach consisting of 5 initial schools followed by nine batches of 5 schools each. Blended-learning, technical and LMS user training, by means of a “train the trainer” concept, will be adopted. The project is supported by network monitoring software and help-desk and maintenance services for two years.

Project Goals and Objectives
1. To adopt the key success factors of the LMS Pilot Project and incorporate the
lessons learned to fine tune and plug gaps to ensure rectification before the LMS is
rolled out to more schools in Malaysia.
2. Reinforce buy-in for the project by including users‟ recommendations to bridge
the gap between current LMS performance against requirements and expectations.
3. Update technology, network infrastructure, tools and software.
4. Accelerate Adoption: Roll-out LMS to 50 schools throughout Malaysia and also
to further test and promote OSCC target solution areas in:
5. Application Solution: Development of the web-based SCORM compliant LMS
for use in schools.
6. Distributed Enterprise: Processing on multiple remote servers with a centralized
data store for consolidation.
7. Infrastructure Solution: L.A.M.P. Adopting a Linux Operating System, Apache
Web Server, MySQL database, and PHP development platform.
In line with the government policy of prudent spending, MOE hopes with proper
implementation and management OSS LMS the ultimate objective to accomplish the
Malaysian government‟s mission to promote pervasive adoption, development and use
of Open Source Software becomes a reality.MOE investment in ICT is also based on a
User-Centric Aligned IT Strategy to develop the knowledge base (not data) and using
the knowledge to customize the approach to optimize the long- term development and
improve education standards in Malaysia through :
 re-engineering of education and administrative processes;
 is supported, not driven, by technology.
 and reinforced with change management
Blended Learning and Social Constructist Pedagogy
In this age of the Internet, a new landscape of educational model to develop, and blended learning has grown into a standard for modern education. The concept of extending the physical classroom into a virtual, web-based classroom has driven the development of Learning Management Systems such as Moodle. However, Moodle has its own foundation: the concept of a “social constructionist pedagogy”. This theory, going back to Piaget and employed by Seymour Papert and Alan Kay of the One Laptop per Child Initiative, is often called “learning-by-making”.According to this theory, learning is a reconstruction rather than a transmission of knowledge. Learning is not something that is done “to” you, learning is something that you “do”.
Promoting Learner Involvement “A constructivist perspective views learners as actively engaged in making meaning, and teaching with that approach looks for what students can analyze, investigate, collaborate,share, build and generate based on what they already know, rather than what facts, skills,and processes they can parrot. Some of the tenets of constructivism in pedagogical terms include:”
Students come to class with an established world-view, formed by years of prior experience and learning.Even as it evolves, a student‟s world-view filters all experiences and affects their interpretations of observations.For students to change their world-view requires work. Students learn from each other as well as the teacher.Students learn better by doing.Allowing and creating opportunities for all to have a voice promotes the construction of new ideas.

System Architecture
The previous LMS consisted of three system architectures: a thin client server accessing
a local LMS server; Linux desktops accessing the LMS server at Educational
Technology Department through SchoolNet; and Windows desktops accessing a local
LMS server. None of the three architectures accommodated user access from home. The
PIR indicated that not being able to access the LMS from home was a major drawback.
Given that blended-learning requires out-of-the-classroom access, it is vital that the proposed enhanced LMS fill this shortcoming of the Phase 1 deployment.

In order to meet the need of home access to the enhanced LMS, several system
architectures have been discussed and the following picture illustrates the basic
configuration. Each school has a school server that contains the enhanced LMS, and
users at the school connect to the LMS via a LAN. The LMS should be able to serve
content in a fraction of a second to users in the schools‟ LAN. Home users will be able to access the school server via the central server using SchoolNet and a reverse proxy setup.
a. Meeting User Demands
The degree of fit between the user requirements and the LMS software clearly marked the LMS lacks the ability for teachers to keep track of the students learning progress. Students and teachers could not access the LMS from the outside school for homework and assignments.
b. Change Management
Changing the mindset of teachers can be a challenging task. The engagement between
teachers and technology fail to shape the teachers to focus on what the technology can do ,rather than how their pedagogical goals can be achieved .
c. Cost of Bandwidth
In Malaysia, the cost of bandwidth is prohibitively high, so a central server solution is not currently financially viable. A distributed architecture allows for fast Local Area Network (LAN) access to each school server. The PIR indicated that users complained of long wait times to access content not located on a LAN. The following table contains data regarding download speeds for 20 computer users attempting to concurrently access a 10 MB file on a remote server.As lamented in the PIR, 20 computer users sharing SchoolNet‟s limited capacity requires them to
wait 26.7 minutes to download a 10 MB file. The same file requires 0.8 seconds to load in a LAN environment. Being that some of the courseware files are as large as 650 MB and given the high cost of bandwidth in Malaysia, a distributed architecture is the only feasible option.

 The development of the Malaysian Public Sector OSS Master Plan Malaysian
Administrative Modernization Management and Management Planning Unit
(MAMPU) will serve as guide to accelerate the adoption and usage of OSS in
the public sector. In terms of integrating ICT, the implementation of– OSS Master Plan in 2004 and the subsequent expansion in 2009 initiative had brought valuable lessons to the Ministry of Education. We have learned that in the days of rapidly changing technology we can no longer formulate plans with one size that fits all. All stakeholders must be brought together so that future plans take into account the latest development and future trends of the industry. There is a pressing need for schools to be able to build their own repertoire of teaching and learning materials that fit their school requirement.The development and implementation of Open Source Software and initiative at the school level it is hope that the availability of innovations be a reality through the reduction of total cost of ownership, increase freedom of choice of software and eventually reduce digital divide. In the Malaysian context a drastic change in the mindset of the schools and the community is needed in order to transform the curriculum and assessment with ICT as the key enabler. Integrating ICT in TLM must focus on producing students that are creative, innovative and critical as outlined in the National Education Philosophy and realized the ICT master plans of the country .

1 comment:

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