Smart School

            Information and Communication Technology (ICT) has become very powerful tool recently for imparting knowledge and training students to face the challenges posed by the information-based global economy and development. A result, this has increase in the demand for basic computing hardware in schools and higher institution all around the country. Paradigm shift from pencil and paper-based teaching to an ever-increasing reliance on electronic learning has been aware by governments.
            Hence, respective education policies stressing on the need for greater technology access for students. In order to achieve the full potential of ICT for enhancing the learning experience, it is vital to increase the number of students with access to computers. The retrofitted PCs offer an attractive and cost-effective opportunity for installing computers in 10,000 schools across the country. PC refurbishment forms an integral component for the success of programs such as the Smart School initiative in Malaysia.
            The former Prime Minister of Malaysia, Dr. Mahathir Mohamad conceptualized the Vision 2020 plan for the country. This vision aimed to map out the steps required for a sustained growth in the long term and achieve all the desired economic and social objectives by 2020. A technologically literate and analytically thinking population forms the cornerstone of this vision. This coupled with the education system’s aim to nurture students into spiritually, intellectually, and emotionally inclined individuals, lead to the formulation of the Smart School Concept. Smart School is a flagship application of the Multimedia Super Corridor.

            The Malaysian Smart School is defined as learning institutions that have been systematically reinvented in terms of teaching-learning practices and school management in order to prepare children for the information age. The Smart School Flagship was one of the seven applications identified under the Multimedia Super Corridor (MSC) initiative. The MSC Smart School Flagship Application is a collaborative effort between the Ministry of Education (MoE) and the Multimedia Development Corporation (MDeC). The Telekom Smart School (TSS) industry consortium provided the ICT expertise for the initiative.
            The history of the Smart School project is rooted in the two-pronged objectives of the flagship, which are to jumpstart the MSC towards building a knowledge-based economy, contributing to the growth of the ICT industry and creating a pool of talent resulting in high-value job creation. The other one is to prepare the citizens for the information age through an innovative education delivery process.
            The Ministry of Education started to conceptualise the Malaysian Smart School in 1996 and subsequently began its 3-year pilot phase with 88 pilot schools in 1999. Pilot schools are 88 residential and non-residential primary and secondary schools located in rural and urban areas throughout Malaysia that participated in the study to make all 10,000 schools in Malaysia smart by 2010.
            The aim of the Smart School is to change the culture and practices of Malaysia’s schools, moving away from rote-memory learning toward fostering creative thinking skills. Smart schools are provided with computerized classrooms and LCD projectors, electronic resource centre, computers in science labs, self-access centres and WIFI hotspots. The other ICT initiatives are TV Pendidikan and Pelaksanaan Pengajaran Sains dan Matematik dalam Bahasa Inggeris (PPSMI); teaching of science and mathematics in English in 2003.


            The implementation of smart school have five goals and strategies that need to be fulfil which is provide all-round development of the individual, provide opportunities to enhance individual strengths and abilities, produce a thinking and technology literate workforce, democratise education and increase participation of stakeholders.
            The first goal is to provide all-round development of the individual like intellectual, physical, emotional and spiritual. Intellectual is focus on getting the knowledge. It is also focus on searching, generating, and using knowledge toward creative thinking skills. Then, about the physical is the responsibility and consciousness of student toward life. The development in emotional and spiritual are related to moral and good values. This is included the emotional balance and emotional intelligence.
            The second goal is to provide opportunities to enhance individual strengths and abilities. The strategies of this goal are to provide elective in the curriculum and allow for vertical integration. The vertical integration means that grade levels students for all subject in the school curriculum.
            Third, to produce thinking and technology-literate workforce, students will be teach to have the thinking across the curriculum. The application of technology is applied in teaching and learning to produce a technology-literate student. 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 forth goals of the Smart School Project is democratise education. The Smart School programmes provide equal access to learning opportunities. In Smart School Curriculum, students enable to have holistic learning because the curriculums involve all significant aspect of life. The uses of technology as one delivery system gives students the skills they need to use technology such as internet to get more information. Other than that, the Smart School programme also provide for differing abilities, style and paces of learning. The teachers have to ensure that the students gain equal access to quality learning and allowing for self-paced learning. To accommodate the variety in students, teachers should make different types of lesson and learning experience to motivate the students in classroom.
            The last goal of the Smart School Project is increase the participation of stakeholders. These goals involve a few strategies that can be due to fulfil the goal, which is to create awareness of what happens in schools. All the stakeholders must know their responsibilities and give feedback so that the Smart School project is known whether it is working or not. The participation of the stakeholders such as parent, community, and private will allow the exchange of experiences and ideas for smart school project. Finally yet importantly, they can launch the parents web site for each smart school so that the school and the parents side can change idea concerning about the smart school project.           

            There are several components in smart school such as teaching and learning processes, technology, management and administration, human resources, skills and responsibilities and the policies. The first component is the teaching and learning processes in smart school. The Smart School will enable students to practice self-accessed and self-directed learning. Students can learn their own pace. The processes relating to curriculum, pedagogy, assessments, and teaching learning materials, are reinvented to help students learn more effectively and efficiently. This process related with the use of information technology (IT).
            As the second component in smart school, technology is used as an enabler not only in teaching and learning, but also in management, and communications among the stakeholders. The management and administration of the Smart School, which represents the driver 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.
            Third component is human resources, skills and responsibilities. Parents, community, and private sector as the stakeholders, play active roles in improving the performance of the school. All these parties are constantly involved school management, teaching-learning, and other aspects of the Smart School. Last component are the policies. The policies is to ensure the successful implementation of the Smart School, changes in existing policies as well as the formulation of the new policies and regulations.

            Implementation of smart school, the main emphasis that should be concentrated by the school administration is wise resources management. This is to make sure the school infrastructures are well organized. Smart school is one of Ministry of Education long-term plan, which the goal is to upgrade lesson contents and method in delivery the content to the students. Thus, all the principals should have responsibilities to upgrade and reconstruct the management system of school administration in order to ensure smart school projects give positive result. However, we cannot deny there are some challenges and obligation in smart school implementation.
            A principal of a smart school has complicated duty and need full commitment, as it is a big challenge to conduct and organize the school well. Excellence and success of a school is depending on the effectiveness of principal as leader of the school. As the smart school related to computing system, so the principal has to emphasis and gives more commitment on provide technology infrastructure such as laboratory, smart whiteboard and media mass material. It is quite challenging because the principal with the help of school administration staff has to plan wisely the paper work to ensure the procedure is in order and run smoothly. Moreover, the principle need to use school budget wisely as smart school is highly cost especially their maintenances.
            Furthermore, smart school also faced problem to provide high quality and relevant teaching and learning materials for the students although there is available instructions but it only suitable for lower form students. The difficulty in obtained software for upper form students will give trouble to the principal and school administration because the teaching and learning materials that provided by Ministry of Education is not enough to cover student numbers. Sometimes, materials provided by Ministry of Education are delivering not in time. It may late for several months or even received in the middle of school year session .In order to cover the problem and ensure the teaching and learning process smoothly run, the school administration has to provide alternative software by searching from other resources. Sometimes, the alternative software may be piracy, hence principle need to be more cautious. Principles and teacher must check the contents of the alternative software so that is follow the national curricular contents.
            In line with the smart school mission and vision is to produce students of IT savvy the principals must prepare themselves with technology knowledge and skills. Smart school principals must have good appearance in the both physical and mental, honesty, selflessness, self-confidence and ability to communicate with others. This is important as the principals can use collaborative management for the success of the smart school project. They are not only need to provide support in terms of money but also be a model and made transformation in administration. In efforts to cultivate ICT culture in a smart school, a written policy document should be draw up. This policy will help to design and manage the ICT program, which enable teachers and students to master in ICT systematically and progressive.
            Moreover, teachers also have to face the challenges with an open minded to make sure the smart school is success. Teachers also must prepare themselves with ICT knowledge and skills. This is because teachers have a big responsible to teach and deliver knowledge to the students. The teachers must be able to think creatively and critically and beyond. The teachers need to use computer intensively in their study, presentations, teaching process and communication to diversify the use and application of ICT. They need to increase their skills in handling electronic equipment so that they can manage classroom with no hesitate and problems most of electronic equipment is sensitive and difficult to handle by senior teachers such as LCD projector and interactive whiteboard. Hence, class or short course need to held by school administration to expose all teachers to new electronic equipment.
            In addition the teachers are using technology equipment and the infrastructures intensively in teaching process, so there must be problems when the computers or equipment are damage or unable to use and cause disruption of teaching process. Thus, this problem must overcome smartly to ensure teaching and learning process progress smoothly. The best solution is always kept them in proper schedule maintenance. However, the cost of maintenance is very high, this may cause the repair, and maintenance processes delayed or take long time. Hence, ministry of education should place at least one professional technician in every school so that any minor damage can be repair faster and save more time and budgets.
            Next, they are also not ready to achieve the objectives of smart school concept and learn new ICT programmes. Besides, they are lack of exposure in how to use the technology. Thus, the government have to overcome this problem by train the teachers to make sure that teaching and learning process progress smoothly and effectively. The teachers themselves have to adapt with the new concept of teaching and learning. Smart schools arise with new concept, which differ than normal school. One of smart school concept is enable students to practice self-accessed and self-directed learning. The learning processes reinvented to help students learn more effectively and efficiently. Technology is used as key enabler not only in teaching and in learning,
            There is no exception for smart school students to face the challenges in implementation of their smart school. For several of smart school students, they are not well informing about the unique features of smart school. They are unfamiliar with technology and electronic equipment. They may come from non-academic family background. Hence, they preferred to learn in traditional methods. Therefore, to overcome those students problems, the number of students in smart school have should be limit. Only the excellent students can enter to smart school because the learning styles need students to can explore by themselves to gain knowledge and information. They need to be more independent.
            Actually, the smart school students should be ready to accept and adapt with the new transformation of teaching and learning process. They should be prepared mentally and physically so that they can accept the changes and make as initiative to improve their skills.  It is good if the exposure given by the teachers can help and increase the student’s interest in learning process. In Smart School, most of student’s assessments are using a computer supported by an internet. They have to learn how to gather information from the internet. Unfortunately, some students do not have an access to internet at home.
            The smart school students should ensure all taught that given by the teachers is a useful knowledge. They need to give efforts to master at all. For the sake of realize that, the smart school students should read and understand what teachers have taught. They must always practice and do revision continuously in order to become expert in ICT.
            The smart school itself have to face the challenges in implementation of smart school. The smart school also lack of facilities.  The computer laboratories are not in adequate number. There are also hardware problems related to LANs, PCs and servers. Furthermore, the breakdowns of electricity supply also one of the challenges. This is due to inability of the existing system in school to cope with the increase usage of electricity.  Thus, the authorities should play their roles in improving the management of smart school. Moreover, the smart school software was not compatible with the national textbook. Thus, the school has to upgrade the software in line with national textbook. Each school need to have a system integration engineer who has a broad range of skills including software and hardware engineering and interface protocols.
            There are several advantages and weaknesses from Smart School project. It may involve students, teachers and the school itself. On the other hand, the Ministry of Education (MoE) also has to find the best solutions to solve the problems faced by people in this project. This is very important to ensure the project will run effectively and successfully. All men should cooperate to ensure all the problems are solved in the best way; hence there will no waste of time, money, and energy in future so that we can focus on other things.
            Smart school is a school with new and different environment as it may promote a better learning atmosphere. Normal schools more to pencil and paper-based teaching where teachers and students concentrated on traditional methods. On the other hands, smart schools used more interactive electronic tools. Most of their contents of lesson are in the form of presentation using power points, videos, simulation and others. Students are exposed to new learning atmosphere, which better than before as this lesson style more interactive and interesting. Students will experience new learning process and will excite them to give more attention and involvement in the class.
            Furthermore, students of Smart School usually quest for knowledge on their own and teachers just act as their guidance or facilitators. Students are allowed to explore freely the information. They may found videos, simulations or presentation slide, which can help them to understand more on certain topics. The learning process is more to student centred- autonomous learner and active learners. This learning process will advanced students in future life as they may try to gather information, analysis, conclude and solved the problems they faced systematically. Active learners will always improve their skills and knowledge; this is very important attitude if we want to produce future competence workers in global world.
            Smart schools are provided with computerized classrooms and LCD projectors, electronic resource centre, computers in science labs, self-access centres and WIFI hotspots. All this equipment will help students and teachers to do more classes that are efficient. Class well equip with computer, LCD projectors and others stuff will increase their used by teachers and students. WIFI hotspots are essential as it can helps students and teachers to use freely the internet to search and browse information easily. Electronic resource centre and self-access centres are important as WIFI hotspots as it can promote uses of ICT among students. Lastly, uses of computer in science lab will increase the skills of science students to face the outside world. Vision 2020 emphasized that Malaysia had to embrace the knowledge economy in order to become globally competitive. Creating an Information Communication Technology (ICT) literate society was a central platform in achieving that transformation.
            Furthermore, teachers are be able to use the latest technology as a tool to enhance the teaching learning and managing schools is part of being a smart education system. Hence, we can say that technology is the key enabler for the Malaysian Smart Schools. The Malaysian Smart School is a learning institution systemically reinvented in terms of teaching learning practices and management system. This would improve the workflow in place for submission and retrieval of lesson plan. The lesson plans can also be reuse or share with other teacher, results in better lesson. They can have discussion and so on. Besides, database of staff and students record can be easily achieve for references. This reinvented learning institutions would synergistically utilised the components of the Smart Schools, for instance; the teaching learning, the management and administrations, the human resources, the enabling technology, the schooling processes, and the underlining supporting policies.
            On the other hands, there are several disadvantages of smart school project. Most of the students are not completely ready to change their role from passive learner to self-directed learner. From preschool to primary school, Malaysian students are trained by spoon-fed style. The spoon-feeding practice is part of our Malaysian education culture, which has long built its warm nest and is still very much alive. Spoon-feeding is a common term, which literally means feeding one with a spoon or metaphorically means giving no opportunity for one to think or act for himself. Behavioural treatment given by teachers to students before that so pampers and compromises self–development may impede independent learning and can deter creativity and innovativeness among the students in general. When they enter the smart school, some of them may not fit with this new culture and cause some of them left behind. Hence, teachers as facilitator must give more attention to them.
            Moreover, students do not have an enough opportunities to develop their critical thinking skill. In normal schools, when teachers give certain topic, they are trigger to think about it and try to give their ideas. Even this process of try and error, the critical thinking skill may developed, and promote them to find the fit answer or best solutions. Contrast to the student in smart school, all the information is can be access easily as the computer and internet connection is provided in their classroom. They can easily surfing the browser at the moment teachers give the topic and start to discuss it. Their critical thinking skills not used maximally. Sometimes, technology make people become more lazy as the technology help to reduces human effort mentally and physically as they are created to decrease the burden faced by men.
            The cost to maintain smart school is high than normal. In smart school, the maintenance for electronic equipment every year may be higher as all this equipment is too sensitive and need expert attention.   The software used in schools include word processing applications, Internet browsers, educational (drill and practice) programs, spreadsheet and database applications, presentation software, graphic programs, desktop publishing applications, e-mail software, simulation programs, and so on, also cost more than normal school. Furthermore, hidden costs in terms of shipping, storage, and hardware upgrades sometimes tend to impose stress on the limited resources available to this project. The Ministry of Education have to provide large amount of budget to ensure the continuity of the smart schools project.
            Furthermore, the site of readiness of main player or server may be problem to rural area with bad network connection. Some rural area in Malaysia still not provided with good network connection. This smart school only can be developing in the urban area with good network connection. Hence, the project cannot be implementing totally all over the country. The opportunity for rural student to develop their ICT skill is less than urban students, even the exposure to ICT world may late. It has may take times to run smart school to rural area. Government should make steps to repair network connection in selected area after surveying the chosen project site. This is to ensure not only the school in urban areas have the speciality to run smart school project. Until now, most of school in rural areas left behind in school development. The equality in education system of Malaysia does not achieve their goal yet as they still gap between rural and urban areas.

             schools are one of the initiatives of Ministry of Education to improve students’ knowledge and skills to face the real world. They are new generation that become the future leaders. They are future workers need to compete with real global competitor.  Students need to learn more about ICT as this new era ICT become one of the most important knowledge as we can see know, most of things around us is surrounding by electronic equipment and we need ICT knowledge to handle it. Smart school projects will help in planting the skills needed by students to face their suture life. Even this project cost higher budget, the result from this project may help country as more technologically literate and analytically thinker is produced.
            Smart school project should be continuously, as it will help students in many ways even it is very difficult to maintain and manage the schools rather than normal schools. The contents and skills provided in this kind of schools are relevant to this era. People are desperately need to learn and apply ICT in their daily life. Students should be updated to all kind of technology so that they can compete with another and with people around the world.


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