My first contact with Malaysia was a professional education conference held in Kuala Lumpur in January 1970, where the language of communication was English but the methods of presentation were largely talk with little presentation technology. At that time, I had only just arrived in Asia and the sounds and smells were so exciting and different, that I hardly noticed the lack of resources. Recently, I was invited to return to present the Keynote paper to the Second Malaysian Educational Technology Society Convention. After twenty years, I noticed a definite maturity about the way in which people were approaching educational technology. The sophistication was not only in the technology employed but in the concepts held about its appropriate use. In the intervening years, I had been fortunate to be a consultant to one of the premier Malaysian universities in the area of educational technology, and been a consultant and examiner to other universities in the same country.
In reporting his experiences over a similar period, Don Ely compared three developing countries, Peru, Chile and Indonesia. In summarising his conclusions he stated:
Educational technology is alive but not well in all three countries. There are diverse applications, but no unifying concept. Principles are transferred from more developed countries, but there is a lack of understanding on part of decision makers on what is meant by educational technology. This field must be defined in the cultural context of each country. The field must emerge as an indigenous innovation, not a transfer from another country. (Ely, 1990, p.1)It is this context in which arises a difficult problem for Malaysia. The country contains an interesting series of paradoxes. At one time, it is possible to obtain the latest in educational technology and software, and at the same time, many classroom teachers are still working with simple, non projected, self made materials such as models and charts. It was pointed out to me by members of the convention that books are still precious items, despite the increase in the number of local books which are published for classroom use. The dilemma also extends to the implementation of educational technology ideas.
One of the best examples is the application of the resource centre concept to schools and districts (Tow & Zubir, 1985). While the educational technology ideas are adopted there are problems with their execution. There is a confusion about what are the key elements of the innovation and how can they be employed in the Malaysian context. The issues in Tow and Zubir's report are not unique to Malaysia or a developing nation. Problems of supply, and government bureaucracy are universal problems for educational systems. But when also dealing with unknown concepts the problem is doubly difficult.
Educational technology in Malaysia has had considerable support from the Education Ministry and government authorities. In fact, compared to Australia, there is remarkable coherence and organisation. Scarcity of resources has created a climate where sharing has created links not often seen in Australia. For example, Malaysian school libraries are part of the Educational Technology Division of the Ministry and participate in the growing sharing of resources through Resource Centres at school district and state levels. In this brief discussion, some of the key developments which demonstrate clarity and direction for scarce resources will be raised. These basic components of the situation can provide a useful picture of the application of education technology.
The Educational Technology Division has six different Sections - Educational TV, Educational Radio, Audio Visual, Library, Evaluation and General Services, and Engineering. The Division is headed by a Director who is responsible to the Director-General of Education and he is assisted by a Deputy Director and a staff of about 250 in the six sections. Each Section has an Assistant Director who plans and administers all the activities in his/her own Section. At the State level there are the State Educational Technology officers whose functions are to coordinate and help implement the ETD programs, activities and projects.
The ETD with its staff and activities at both national and state levels strives to provide an integrated educational media service for over 6,500 elementary schools, over 1,150 secondary schools and 28 Teacher's Colleges in the country. The target school population is about 2.2 million elementary school children, 1.3 million secondary pupils and about 180,000 teachers in the country.
The most significant development in line with the need to integrate services was the transfer to the Division of the Library Section (with effect from January 1st, 1988) from the Schools Division of the Ministry of Education. The prime objective again relates to the coordination of the educational resource centres set up at State, District and School levels. Thus the idea for resources centres has had a pervading and interesting impact on the organisation of educational technology support.
The Library section among other activities is involved in:
What may be termed a shift in emphasis from the preoccupation with the production of radio/TV programs and the provision of library books and non electronic AV materials to a concern over the concerted use of media (print and non print) to enhance the quality of education may be dated from the launching of the 'Projek Menggalakkan Penngunaan Perpustakaan Sekolah' (Project to Encourage Intensive Use of School Libraries) in 1981. In that year the Ministry set aside M$409,000 for a three year period during which 25 rural primary schools selected from the 14 states were given guidance, training, encouragement, and assistance to integrate book and non book materials and look upon them as teaching-learning aids. Initial emphasis of this project was the physical organisation of material according to the established school library system. The rationale here was that systematic organisation of book and non book materials would lead to easy retrieval which in turn would encourage frequent usage.
The Ministry of Education has embarked on a nationwide strategy towards setting up resource centres at State and District levels. Four State Resource Centres have been established in the rural states of Kelantan, Trengganu, Pahang and Kedah as a pilot project (Tow & Zubir, 1985). Under the current Eighth World Bank Loan Scheme, 360 new District Resource Centres are being built and equipped.
These state and district resource centres will operate in the context of the following functions:
|University||Type of course||No. hours/units||No. students||Staff/ student ratio|
|(Thanby Subahan & Abdul Mutalib Rani, 1985, pp.180, 187)|
The concepts for the design and development of alternative delivery systems are similar to those found in other countries, namely, relevance, benefit in terms of time invested, individualisation in terms of needs and feedback, and self assessment (Dhamotharan, 1990, p.15). A simple comparison with an Australian study has found similar problems in working with teachers for their own professional development (Hedberg & McNamara, 1990). The general applicability of the open learning method is without doubt, the problem remains as to how to motivate teachers who feel that their employer should foot the bill as they believe they undertake the exercise for their employer rather than themselves.
Recently, there have been policy changes which suggest that students throughout their secondary school and tertiary studies should be able to also speak another language fluently. The emphasis on English as a second language will have considerable impact on the use of one of the most prized resources - library books. Most universities have considerable collections of works in English. It is to be expected that the focus on learning to read and speak in English as well as Bahasa Malaysia will open up the resources to many students who cannot currently use the resources. The class sizes remain high and so it is unlikely and the staff are relatively inexperienced so that major innovations in teaching methods will not be a likely as the use of the simple resources of teaching, such as books, overheads and presentation.
It is this change in the concept of how schools perform their key function of educating the society that educational technology is seen as a key player. The tangible development of resource centres has a clear impact on the presence of educational technology in learning. The organisational links between, print, broadcast, computers and other media forms has therefore potential for efficient development and less fragmented allocation of development effort.
Principles and practices of educational technology can provide equal access to educational opportunity using media and;
Perception of modernisation - a desire to adopt contemporary technologies.
(Ely, 1990, p.1)
The changing policy of the government to the use of languages has a bearing on the use of technologies, there is more emphasis now in bilingualism - meaning Bahasa Malaysia and English, in that order and that will develop an increase in the use of the current resources such as books and English language materials.
Clem Chow (1990, p3) in reporting his perceptions of the use of new technologies in developing countries reported:
There have been many reports of failures in adapting these technologies. Hardware is relatively easy to get, as is technical assistance compared to help developing appropriate software. To develop successful software, it is essential that there be local input. The material must reflect the values of the particular culture.Malaysia has indeed worked hard to provide teaching and learning materials with an appropriate national and cultural bias. The growing sophistication of production methods and quality of materials promises to assist the country achieve better educational methods and more enlightened practice. There appears to be a real movement away from the 'cargo cult' approach to the use of technologies toward an assessment of appropriateness and ease of implementation within the structures provided for dissemination. The unique mixtures are paying off and the growing professionalism of a group who are identifying themselves as educational technologists and who achieve national recognition is an important development.
Bujang, Hhnin & Hussain, Mohd. Yusof. (1985). Individualised teaching and learning (ITL) - An approach to teaching Biological courses at undergraduate level through appropriate educational technology. In Rahim, M. S., Myint, S. K. & Rasidah, S. (Eds.) (1985). Pendidikan, Lathihan dan Teknologi-Teknologi Baru. (Education, Training and New Technologies) Proceedings of a seminar, 21-22nd December, 1984, Penang: Universiti Sains Malaysia. pp.140-174.
Chow, C. (1990). Using new technologies in developing countries. International Perspective, 18(1),3.
Dhamotharan, M. (1990). Open learning systems for the continuing education of professionals in Malaysia. Paper presented to the Second Educational Technology Convention, Kuala Lumpur, June Ist to 3rd.
Ely, D. (1990). Diffusion and implementation of educational technology in developing nations. International Perspective, 18(1),1.
Hedberg, J. G. & McNamara, S. (1990). The human-technology interface: Developing for open and distance education. International Perspectiv, 18(1), 5.
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Thanby Subahan, M. Meerah & Abdul Mutalib Rani (1985). Pendidkan Guru den Teknologi Baru. In Rahim, M. S., Myint, S. K., & Rasidah, S. (Eds.) (1985). Pendidkan, Lathihan dan Teknologi-Teknologi Baru. (Education, Training and New Technologies) Proceedings of a seminar, 21-22nd December, 1984, Penang: Universiti Sains Malaysia. pp 175-194.
Tow, D. M. & Zubir, R. (1984). Educational Resource Centres. Project completion report. Fourth Education Project in Malaysia. World Bank Loan 1329-MA. Kuala Lumpur: Faculty of Education, University of Malaya.
Vias, R. (1990). The information age: Some implications for schools. Paper presented to the Second Educational Technology Convention, Kuala Lumpur, June 1st to 3rd.
Zubir, Rohanna. (1985). Models of Teaching and Student Learning: A Malaysian Perspective. In Rahim, M. S., Myint, S. K. & Rasidah, S. (Eds) (1985), Pendidkan, Lathihan dan Teknologi-Teknologi Baru. (Education, Training and New Technologies) Proceedings of a seminar, 21-22nd December, 1984, Penang: Universiti Sains Malaysia. pp 115-139.
Zubir, Rohanna. (1987). The challenges of innovation in teaching: A Malaysian context. Paper presented to the UNESCO Seminar on the application of communications technology in education in developing countries, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, Bangi, Selangor, Malaysia, December 7-8.
Zubir, Rohanna. (1988). Descriptions of teaching and learning: A Malaysian perspective. Studies in Higher Education, 13(2), 139-149.
|Please cite as: Hedberg, J. G. (1990). Educational technology in Malaysia: The resource centre as a unifying concept. In J. G. Hedberg, J. Steele and M. Mooney (Eds), Converging Technologies: Selected papers from EdTech'90, 177-185. Canberra: AJET Publications. http://www.aset.org.au/confs/edtech90/hedberg.html|