Malaysia identified information and communication technology (ICT) as one of the key foundations for its projected transition from a production-based economy to acknowledge-based economy by 2020. Considering the importance of the ICT industry, the government launched seven Flagship Applications that would facilitate the adoption of ICT sector among the masses as well as provide a growth platform for the industry as a whole. Smart School flagship is one of the seven flagship applications envisaged under the Multimedia Super Corridor (MSC) initiative.
Smart School is not just about ICT intervention in teaching and learning. The national curriculum and pedagogy are given the highest importance, with the role of teachers, administrators, parents and the community enhanced in the education of the Malaysian students. Individuality, creativity and initiative amongst the students are prioritised. However, ICT is critical in making the teaching and learning processes easier, more fun and effective, as well as making communication and management among the stakeholders more efficient. The Malaysian Smart School is a place where all students can learn within a conducive learning environment. It offers various curricula with on-going evaluation, handled by professional administrators and teachers.
The Smart School applications brings the benefit of technology to the educators and administrators. These also allow the young to get familiar with the ICT world. They can using tools such as personal computers, scanners, printers, multimedia products, TV/videos at a much earlier stage in life. They get to appreciate the power of the Internet and multimedia applications, which can make learning more interesting and enriching. This will in turn result in them becoming more technology savvy.
2.0 TEACHING AND LEARNING COMPONENTS
There are six main components within the Malaysian Smart School. Firstly, teaching and learning process. The teaching-learning processes are the core or the ‘heart’ of the Smart School. The processes relating to curriculum, pedagogy, assessments, and teaching-learning materials (TLMs), are reinvented to help students learn more effectively and efficiently. The Smart School enable students to practice self-accessed and self-directed learning, at their own learning pace.
Secondly, management and administration. The management and administration of the Smart School, which represents the driver or the ‘brain’ of the Smart School, is computerised. Management software helps the Smart School principals and headmasters to manage more efficiently and effectively the resources and processes required to support the teaching-learning functions.
Thirdly, human resources, skills and responsibilities. Parents, the community, and the private sector as stakeholders, play more active roles in improving the performance of the school. All these parties are constantly involved in professional and knowledge development relating to school management, teaching-learning, and other aspects of the Smart School.
Fourthly, process. The Smart School processes are viewed as a system. These processes have been and will continuously be studied reviewed carefully to ensure that the system provides accurate and functional input to produce the desired output. Next is technology. Technology is used as an enabler for Smart School practices in teaching-learning, management and communities with external constituencies.
Last but not least is policies. To ensure the successful implementation of the Smart School, changes in existing policies and regulations, as well as the formulation of new policies and regulations, have to be conducted.
3.0 TECHNOLOGY ENABLERS
In the smart school, the use of technology like internet as a teaching- learning material is the best ways to produce children who are have different learning style than another school. The primary objective of smart school management system to efficiently and effectively manage the resources and process required to support the teaching and learning function. Smart School management system have nine primary function are technology, security, school governance, student affairs, educational resources, external resources, facilities, human resources and financial management. The characteristic of Smart School is very different with normal national school.
In Smart Schools Project , the computers are widely used in teaching and learning also for school functions and activities. For example, teachers use the computer in teaching and learning by showing to the student how they can experience the dangerous experiment through the computer simulation experiment. Besides that, student also uses the computer in extra curriculum activities such as for designing the school magazine. As a result, it will develop the student with good computer skill.
The characteristic of school governance is empowering rapid relay of relevant information to and from all stakeholders and manages curriculum so that it is appropriate to the local teaching and learning environment. It is also involve communication, school policy, making, curriculum, management, community and involvement. Student affair means that student profiles, performance, evaluations, test administration, counselling, health, insurance and others will give advantage like ease of registration for students, parents and administrators and ability to effectively and efficiently manage attendance and respond to problem situations. The characteristics of student affair is comprehensive Student Record System for the storage, retrieval and reporting of all student data so that student data available on-line to those who need it and when they need it just on restricted access.
There is more benefit in characteristics of education resources are comprehensive resource database including audio and video for quick and easy access by teachers and students that will reduces cost of managing resource information. While, external resource characteristics is comprehensive database designed to help index all external resources useful for teaching-learning and management activities. So that, all characteristics of Smart School management is very different with normal national school.
Besides the Smart School project have combines the best of network-based, teacher-based and courseware material such as modules for computer that includes interactive story books and simulation games that students can access to gain knowledge. It’s also providing video, interactive TV and online library for student so that they can refer to collect more information.
4.0 OVERVIEW OF SMART SCHOOL PROGRESS
The Malaysian Smart School Flagship was developed on a strong belief that technology in education and communication is a key access to convey the learning desire to all. The impact of technology on education and further generations is undoubtedly enormous. The Smart School Flagship is one of the seven flagship applications predicted under the Multimedia Super Corridor (MSC) initiative.
The implementation of the Smart School Flagship Application is directed by a high-level Implementation Council (Malaysia) chaired by the Prime Minister of Malaysia. This high-level committee plans and drives all the various flagships. Directly under this is the Flagship Coordination Committee (FCC) which is co-chaired by the Chief Secretary to the Government and the Chief Executive Officer of MDeC, to whom the Smart School Flagship, along with the other flagships, reports the progress, identifies issues and suggests the next necessary steps. At the MoE, the Smart School Flagship comes under the Smart School Steering Committee, which is chaired by the Secretary- General of Education. The members of the Committee include the Director-General of Education, the Deputy Directors-General, the Deputy Secretaries-General, Directors of the various divisions in the MoE, and representatives from the Treasury and Malaysian Administrative Modernisation and Management Planning Unit which is known as MAMPU. There is also a dedicated Project Team that is responsible for all planning, development and implementation of the Smart School which resides at the Educational Technology Division (ETD).
The industry partner of this three-party collaboration is a joint venture company, TSS which comprises seven local companies which are Telekom Smart School Sdn. Bhd (TSS) as component provider for telecommunications service in Wide Area Network and Local Area Network), Sapura Holdings Sdn. Bhd. as component provider for hardware, system software and system integration, Educational Trend Sdn. Bhd as component provider for teaching and learning materials in English subject, DEMC Anzagain Sdn. Bhd. as component provider for teaching and learning materials in primary Mathematics subject, Digital Technology Sdn. Bhd as component provider for provider for teaching and learning materials in secondary Mathematics subject, Multi Media Synergy Corporation Sdn. Bhd. as component provider for teaching and learning materials in Malay language and Custommedia Sdn. Bhd. as component provider for Smart School Management System. In addition, three multinational corporation were also involved in the development of Smart School integrated Solution (SSIS). The corporation are BT Multimedia (Malaysia) Sdn. Bhd as component provider for Project Management and Implementation, Electronic data System IT Services (Malaysia) Sdn. Bhd. as component provider for System Integration and NIIT Malaysia Sdn. Bhd. as component provider for teaching and learning materials in Science subject.
The Smart School Flagship is one of the few initiatives in the region that incorporates strategic planning elements into its implementation Roadmap. It was implemented with four waves include Wave One which is Pilot Project basis between 1999 and 2002, Wave Two consist of Post Pilot between 2002 and 2005, Wave Three by making all schools smart between 2005 to 2010 and Wave Four which are includes consolidation and stabilization of the Smart School.
4.1 Wave 1-The Smart School Pilot (1999- 2002)
In order to implement the Pilot Project, a smart partnership was form between MoE, TSS and MDeC. There ensuring involvement from both the central and state levels. The MoE provided the educational expertise and TSS covers the infrastructure, developing applications and teaching-learning solutions. While, MDeC as a strategic position and role in the ICT growth and development process of the MSC for forging partnerships with the industry. This synergy and combine expertise is to ensure the development and implementation of a comprehensive teaching-learning product of the Smart School Integrated Solution.
The Conceptual Blueprint obvious states that this school implementation consist of two phases which are, a Pilot Project phase and a broad roll-out phase. There are eighty-seven Pilot Schools were involved in the Pilot Project phase which experienced three models of technology which include a computer laboratory model (Level B), a limited classroom model (Level B+), and a full classroom model (Level A). These Pilot Schools were identified to act as the nucleus for the eventual roll-out of Smart School concepts, materials, skills and technologies. The Pilot Project tested the Smart School Integrated Solution (SSIS) via the ICT infrastructure and system in teaching-learning, management and leadership functions of school. All the Pilot School gets the provision of training for teachers, Principals and School Heads in smart teaching and learning, the use of Smart School applications software, courseware, and ICT literacy. This Pilot Project was successfully concluded in 2002.
4.2 Wave 2-The Post Pilot (2002-2005)
The Post Pilot contains three key outcomes includes ICT as a key enabler for learning, monitoring and corrective action key in attaining target and seek further enhancement of Smart School Management System (SSMS) utilization.
First outcomes is ICT as a key enabler for learning. This is more to implement ICT in school to make an effective teaching and learning. Besides, this also to obtain all stakeholders’ support to the nationwide implementation of the Smart School. Secondly, monitoring and corrective action key in attaining target include the critical monitoring and corrective measures which is negligence in addressing constraints highlighted in the various studies will jeopardize the successful implementation of the Smart School. There is an urgent need for supervision and support. Hence, the Roadmap will need to incorporate this as an integral part of the expansion plan for Smart Schools. Lastly, seek further enhancement of Smart School Management System (SSMS) utilization include the measurement of the SSMS improvement and schools’ transition to acknowledge culture.
4.3 Wave 3-Making All School Smart (2005-2010)
During the milestone of Smart School, a strategic Roadmap has been developed in order to put in perspective the objectives, the time-frame, the stakeholders and their key responsibilities. The Roadmap is a strategic one that comprises the stakeholders as a customers, the roles of different stakeholders and customers, performance-based management for the implementation of the Roadmap, the clear attainment targets and fixed timelines from 2005 to 2020 and concretize a Malaysian Smart School scenario in 2020. There are five stakeholders as customers have been recognized as key to the success of the Smart School. The different stakeholders are school stakeholders, community stakeholders, MoE stakeholders, state stakeholders and industry stakeholders. All these stakeholders will cooperate each other to make all school in Malaysia become smart.
School stakeholders which includes school administrator, teaching staff, administrators, teachers and non-teaching staff and student. They responsibility are to develop effective management support for teaching and learning and address fear to technology and change. Furthermore, they must make teaching and learning that can engages and drive students to increased their knowledge and as a students, they must to reap the benefits of learning via technology in schools. The community stakeholders involves parents, guardians, NGOs and others which are most responsible in participation for each seminars, road shows and counselling sessions on the concept and implementation of the Smart School project. The Ministry of Education (MoE) Stakeholders include the ministerial personnel and MoE’s Top Management. These stakeholders in charge more to the unification of the management structure and expand career path for teaching professionals to become educational specialists. The State Stakeholders refer to the State Education Departments (SED), District Education Officers (DEO), Sate Educational Resource Centres (SERC) and Teacher Activity Centres (TAC). All these stakeholder must responsible in Smart School’s ICT infrastructure and system in teaching-learning. For Industry Stakeholders which includes all corporations, multinational companies and business entities in the public and private sectors will in establish a common vision and MoE Public-Private Partnership framework. They also must recognize the best practices.
4.4 Wave 4- Consolidate and Stabilize (2010-2020)
The period between 2010 and 2020 will present opportunities for the advancement of the Smart School applications being implemented in schools. Applications of the Smart School and other ICT initiatives would have converged into effective Smart School solution and advanced applications built on it. By 2020, the teaching-learning scenario could be very much different from the one we have today. The Smart School and the accompanying technologies, coupled with growth in broadband and communication infrastructure would pave the way for pervasive learning environments. These learning environments would be formed through a programmed of interconnected networks that increases communication, connectivity, shared and experiential learning.
Recent studies carried out on the Smart School Concept innovation project, have also revealed a number of additional difficulties. First of all, the students nowadays are passive during learning process. Students hope that everything materials provide by their teacher. The student supposedly plays an active role in determining the direction of their learning by virtue of their participation and activities. Software that is designed to facilitate student’s active, creative and critical engagement with the content can help enhance the active construction and reconstruction of ideas and experiences of student’s understanding of the content presented.
Apart from that, limitation of infrastructure, such as computer labs and continuous limitations to access the network hamper the effectiveness of technology supported teaching and learning. Without the basic infrastructure and connectivity, the integrated system such as encompassing web-based courseware, on-line management tools, and technical support provided by the Smart Schools project was wholly inaccessible to rural areas. The geography of the country itself posed a real challenge for the Ministry of Education.
However, a grater hurdle to overcome than geography was changing the mindset of teachers themselves so that they might use the courseware effectively and creatively. A common misconception among teachers was that using the courseware simply meant assigning a topic for students to learn or search. Thus, the teacher’s role became largely that of a technician merely projected the courseware on the screen while students used the courseware without guidelines or teacher supervision. At the other extreme, some teachers claimed that teaching with the courseware provided required much more preparation time and effort than previously.
The other challenge to implement Smart School is technical support. Technical support is critical to maintenance of all installed hardware and software to ensure minimal description to the teaching-learning and management process. Thus, every Smart School should have a well-defined technical support organizational structure which will provide help-desk function to Smart School students, teachers or administrators who require assistance in solving technical problems. Other than that, a number of organizational options can be deployed to ensure a tight, coherent centralized support organization backed up at the local level by self-sufficient teams based at either individual or identified clusters of Smart School.
The first level support is School Media or Technology coordinator. He or she will attempt to troubleshoot any problems relating to the use of technology before routing it to the next level of support. This first level support also can be provided by technology savvy students that can be considered as part of their co-curricular activities and technology savvy teachers. Recognition and acknowledgement must be given to these technology savvy teachers.
The second level support should be based in school. A technician who is competent in the technology deployed in the school would be the ideal support related. Next is subsequence level of support. Subsequence level of support includes all technical support beyond the school level. It can be a technician who is based at the district or state level, a help-desk at the Ministry of Education level and or a helpdesk set up by the vendor concerned.
The main role and responsibilities of technical support are troubleshooting of technical problems, respond to school media or technology coordinators request for technical help maintenance of all technical equipment, communicate with the other level of technical support and ensure conformity to information technology (IT) policy.
Smart School technology support also should have skills and knowledge such as IT skills and knowledge, computer and networking skills knowledge of educational and management software and other application used in school and most importantly have right attitude.
As a conclusion, the Malaysian Smart School Project signifies a dramatic change in the local educational system whereby information technology is utilized in every aspect of education and students are required to take much greater responsibilities of their own learning. The learning settings in smart schools are conducive for self regulated learning. Information from this study may help smart schools' authorities and teachers to further promote and enhance self-regulated learning in these schools. Both environmental and students' personal factors must be taken into account. Factors that need to be paid extra attentions are levels of IT-integration in the school, student and teacher interaction during the teaching and learning processes, as well as students' motivational beliefs and their knowledge about learning strategies.
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