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					CASE STUDY OF SCHOOLNET OPERATIONS: MALAYSIA


COMPONENT: RATIONALE/OBJECTIVES
The Smart School Pilot Project was carried out between 1999 and 2002 to test the components of the
Smart School Integrated Solution. Among the aims of the pilot project was to determine how integrated
telecommunications and computing infrastructures could help to improve teaching and learning as well as
school management processes.
The 87 schools in the pilot were located in all 15 states of Malaysia, including Sabah, Sarawak, and
Labuan across the South China Sea from Peninsular Malaysia. The following components were tested.

   Technology Infrastructure: hardware, software, systems software, and non-IT equipment, a Local
    Area Network (LAN) for each school, and a Wide Area Network (WAN) linking all schools to the
    Data Centre at the Ministry of Education (MOE)
   Teaching-Learning Materials: courseware and printed materials for Bahasa Melayu, English
    Language, Science and Mathematics
   Smart School Management System: software for managing and administering, school governance,
    student affairs, educational resources, school finances, human resources, external resources, facilities,
    technology, and hostel
   Systems Integration: to integrate various Smart School Integrated Solution components and
    processes, between the Smart School System and other flagship applications, data integrity and
    security.
   Support Services: Help Desk and maintenance and support
   Maintenance and Support Services for four years


Below is a diagram of the design of the Smart School Virtual Private Network, set up in 1999 and
commonly referred to as the Smart School Network.
                                  Data Centre at
                               Ministry of Education


                                                                ISDN
    Internet             2 x 2048Kbps



       2048Kbps
                                                                                   ISDN

                          32Kbps




               64Kbps



          School
                                                               School
                          School             School


All the pilot schools, the Data Centre and Help Desk are connected to the Corporate Information
Superhighway (COINS), a fast, open, nationwide and globally connected broadband multimedia
communications network with a capacity of up to 10 Gbps. In addition, all the schools have a dedicated
Integrated Services Digital Network (ISDN) back-up line in the event that the COINS line is down.
As the pilot project sought to determine how integrated telecommunications and computing
infrastructures can help to improve teaching and learning as well as school management processes,
requirements concerning integrated telecommunications and computing infrastructure were written into
the Smart School Pilot Project Agreement. Responsibility for the Smart School Integrated Solution was
given to a selected consortium. Among other requirements, the consortium had to ensure the ability of
the LAN and WAN designs to:
(i) expand so as to accommodate Smart School Integrated Solution requirements and components, (ii)
support a centralised and distributed data repository, (iii) provide sufficient security features required by
the pilot project, while minimising bottlenecks in performance, (iv) allow school heads, teachers, students
and parents to access school servers from their home computers via the Internet, to perform tasks
authorised under the Smart School Management System (subject to constraints imposed by the WAN
bandwidth and the Internet), and (v) allow each pilot school to access online information in other pilot
schools (subject to security requirements and constraints imposed by the WAN bandwidth and the
Internet). The consortium had to provide a suitable Intranet design. Each device attached to the Intranet
had to have a unique Internet Protocol (IP) address. (IP address ranges are specified by the Government).
A task force comprising representatives from both the consortium and the Government worked together to
establish naming conventions common for all pilot schools, the Data Centre and the Help Desk, including
the following: Internet domain name, server name, organisation, network account, e-mail account, volume
for the partition, driver/folder/directory, user group/container.
The Smart School technology infrastructure featured the following:
(i) a primary domain controller (PDC) and at least one backup domain controller (BDC), (ii) a directory
database for each pilot school and the Data Centre, including such components as organisation, servers,
volumes, user groups, and printers, (iii) creation of necessary user groups, with at least one sample user
account under each user group given appropriate access rights, (iv) at least one File Transfer Protocol
(FTP) account for each school and the Data Centre in order to access the public directory in a server in the
school, (v) file transfer capability from one pilot school to another and between the pilot school and Data
Centre, (vi) a messaging system with sample e-mail accounts for school heads, teachers, students and staff
in each school, and (vii) a system to perform unattended (automatic) backups (for backups that do not
require tape changes)

To ensure confidentiality, reliability and integrity of the system and data, certain security features for the
LAN and WAN were installed: (i) user security controls for user access, group access, public access and
local and remote access, (ii) data accessibility controls to ensure data confidentiality and prevent
unauthorised access, (iii) firewalls and user passwords, (iv) logging reports containing user-ID, activities
performed, source and target destinations, (v) a system for disabling the user account after three log-in
attempts, and (vi) an adequate security system to prevent breach of software data security, detect security
breaches and alert relevant authorities.
Lessons Learned
   While the Smart School Network served the purpose of the Smart School Pilot Project, it will have to
    be upgraded to meet the needs of the roll-out phase of the Smart School.
   The greatest constraint to the usability of the network was the problem of “last mile connectivity” in
    some of the schools, i.e. the connection from broadband lines to the schools. In some of the lines,
    copper wires were used.


COMPONENT: POLICY AND DEVELOPMENT SUPPORT
Role in National Policy and Programme on ICT Use in Education
Essentially, the Smart School Network supported the MOE‟s policy and master plan for ICT use in
education. Since the network is part of the Smart School Pilot Project, it was designed as a stand-alone
virtual private network separate from MOE‟s main network, KPMnet.

In keeping with its objective to support MOE‟s policy on ICT use in education, the Smart School
Network provided a centralised and distributed data repository, gave school heads, teachers, students and
parents access to school servers from their home computers via the Internet, enabled each pilot school to
access on-line information in other pilot schools, transfer files between them and communicate with each
other through email.

With the completion of the pilot project and subsequent expansion of the Smart School Team, work has
started to integrate the Ministry of Energy, Communications and Multimedia‟s pilot Universal Service
Provision Project, which aims to provide telephone and Internet access to 220 remote schools in Sarawak
and Sabah (110 in Sabah and 110 in Sarawak). The pilot project will be expanded to become the
Malaysian SchoolNet Project that is aimed at providing Internet access to all 10,000 schools in the
country.
Lessons Learned
       The Smart School Network was designed in cooperation with other divisions at the MOE to
        ensure that it is in line with the Ministry’s existing policies and to maintain its usefulness after the
        pilot project.
       One-off telecommunications costs were included in the Smart School Pilot Project Agreement,
        with the understanding that these costs would be borne by the MOE after the pilot project.


Leadership and Distributed Leadership:
The Ministry of Education was the driving force behind the Smart School Network. Going by the list of
objectives, the school networking was set up to support a centralised and distributed data repository; to
allow school heads, teachers, students and parents to access school servers from their home computers via
the Internet; and to enable each pilot school to access online information in other pilot schools, transfer
files between them and communicate with each other through email.
Taking the lead in running the network between 1999 and 2002 was a dedicated and officially designated
group of individuals comprising the Smart School Pilot Project Team. Ten MOE officials were dedicated
to the task and were supported by a consortium that was chosen to develop the Smart School Integrated
Solution. The team also worked with other divisions within the MOE, namely the Information and
Technology Division, Curriculum Development Centre, Teacher Education Division, and the Aminuddin
Baki Institute, the Ministry‟s staff training centre. With the completion of the pilot project, the Smart
School team has been expanded to allow for an Infrastructure and Regulatory sub-team to handle all
matters relating to the Smart School technology infrastructure and repository requirements.

Lesson Learned
       Ensure that the SchoolNet is set up in line with the MOE’s ICT policy, especially in terms of
        providing equitable access to schools in all parts of the country.
Awareness and Advocacy
Change management sessions were conducted to advise and encourage school heads and school IT
coordinators to use the IT facilities provided in the Smart School Pilot Project, as well as to ensure that
usage complied with the Smart School security policies and procedures. In the beginning, some schools
were reluctant to use email to communicate with the Smart School Pilot Project Team and insisted on
“black and white” letters or memoranda from the team. The team had to inform them about a Government
circular stating that any email bearing the name, position and address of the sender is considered an
official means of communications. The team also prepared guidelines on Internet use to make the lessons
more interesting and to improve the computer literacy of individuals and bring their thinking skills to a
higher level.
Some school heads feared the possibility of undesirable exchanges and were reluctant to let their teachers
and students use the Internet, email, bulletin boards and discussion sessions. Some students in a
residential school were punished for using Internet facilities after school hours. This was however
corrected when it was discovered that some of them had limited access to computers during school hours.
In addition, they were using the Internet to obtain information for difficult assignments.
Throughout the pilot phase, network use was promoted through the organisation of competitions for
students and teachers to develop websites and by encouraging them to work with other schools on
collaborative projects for their websites. The Smart School Pilot Project encouraged collaboration by
successfully creating a Smart School Network community. Communications among the members of the
Smart School Development Team and between the team and the schools are done mostly through emails.
Lessons Learned
       Schools are used to the manual way of doing things, especially in terms of official
        communications. They need to see letters or memos in black and white before they issue a
        response.
       Ensure that all new processes involved in using the facilities of a SchoolNet are endorsed in
        Government or Ministry circulars.
       Implement intensive change management activities to convince school authorities to allow
        teachers, staff and students to use such facilities as the email, Internet, bulletin boards and so on.


COMPONENT: MANAGEMENT, ORGANISATIONAL STRUCTURE, PARTNERSHIP AND
FINANCIAL STABILITY

Coordinator/Focal Point and Range of Organisational Structures
The Smart School Pilot Project Team was the coordinator of the Smart School Network during the pilot
phase. The team members were systems analysts and educators trained in computer science.
Specific responsibilities were assigned to concerned personnel.
(i) School IT Coordinators were responsible for administration of approved access to each computer
platform, including assignment and removal of user-IDs; accurate maintenance of access records; reports
of access levels as requested by the school head; monitoring exceptional security events, such as attempts
by users to access beyond their authority level and reporting such instances to line management. The IT
Coordinator was the single point of contact between the Help Desk and the school for logging in
problems with any part of the Smart School Integrated Solution, including the network.
(ii) School heads were responsible for authorising initial new user-ids, informing the IT Coordinators of
resignations, contract terminations and transfers into and out of their areas, regularly reviewing access
levels for teachers, other staff, and students under their control and ensuring security awareness within
their areas.
(iii) All teachers, other staff and students were responsible for informing school heads and school IT
coordinators of suspected unauthorised access to the Smart School Network.
The expanded functions of the Smart School Network during the national roll-out will be coordinated by
an expanded Smart School Development Team, with a sub-team dedicated to the maintenance,
management and development of the network. At the school level, the IT Coordinator will remain as the
single point of contact for problem log-ins and resolution.

Lessons Learned
       Ensure that remote monitoring of a SchoolNet’s connectivity, on a daily basis, is built into the
        project specifications. Schools lose interest in using the SchoolNet whenever they encounter
        problems concerning access.
       On-site inspection of schools that keep reporting problems of network access should be carried
        out. Sometimes the setting of the servers is at fault rather than the network.

Required Personnel
The officers of the Smart School Pilot Project Team ran the Smart School Network between 1999 and
2002. The team was composed of 37 officers, including educators with computer science training and
systems analysts. The team also worked with other divisions within the MOE. Ten MOE officials were
dedicated to the task and were supported by the consortium that developed the Smart School Integrated
Solution. The Smart School Portal, BESTARInet, launched in June 2001, designated one officer to
handle the portal‟s technical aspects and another one to ensure the quality of its contents. The officers in
charge of BESTARInet were computer-competent and had a sound pedagogical background. There was a
great deal of cooperation and sharing of information and expertise among all concerned in order to
maintain the network. The consortium maintained the connectivity, conducted regular troubleshooting to
resolve network problems and performed regular configuration audits.

Lessons Learned
       A SchoolNet should be operated by educators with the assistance of technical personnel to look
        after such matters as connectivity and proper functioning of equipment.
       The contents of a SchoolNet, usually represented by the portal or website of the SchoolNet,
        should be handled by educators.


Budgetary Resources/Requirements
The MOE shouldered the costs for setting up the Smart School Network and provided the software
necessary for the development of websites for each school. The schools were allowed to purchase their
own software to upgrade their respective websites. Maintenance, expansion and upgrading costs will also
be borne by the MOE. The team has requested for funding from the Government.
Lesson Learned
       The budget for a SchoolNet must take into account the financial requirements of the coordinating
        body and the schools.
Partnership in the SchoolNet
The MOE set up the Smart School Network with technical support provided by a consortium to develop
the Smart School Integrated Solution. The consortium was involved in installing, testing and maintaining
the network together with the Smart School Pilot Project Team. It conducted regular troubleshooting to
resolve network problems and performed regular configuration audits. The consortium worked with its
sub-contractors in designing the network and satisfying the telecommunications, hardware, software and
security requirements. Since the consortium was responsible for developing the courseware and
computerised software for the school management system, it had to take into consideration the
requirements of sub-contractor content providers.

The Government specified a unique Internet Protocol (IP) address for each device attached to the Intranet.

The consortium also provided help desk services to ensure that network problems were addressed within
the limits of the Service Level Agreement set out in the Smart School Pilot Project Agreement. The pilot
project also made use of consultants from Multimedia Development Corporation and took advice from
ICT companies such as Microsoft.
Lessons Learned
       A SchoolNet or a network involving schools should actively involve the MOE as a patron, an
        endorser or a contributor of content.
       A network’s physical infrastructure should be actively supported by the service provider, not just
        as a vendor but as a “smart” partner, especially in terms of getting an “educational price” for
        telecommunications support and maintenance.
       Content providers should not just come from the Government. Instead, a SchoolNet should seek
        the best materials in the market, selecting those that reflect the national curriculum and can
        enrich learning and offer remedial assistance for students who need more help with their
        learning


SchoolNet Operating Guidelines
Operating guidelines for schools in the Smart School Network are contained in the Smart School
Management System (SSMS). This computerised system with its metaphor screens for school heads,
teachers, students, parents, and Data Centre personnel presents a user-friendly common user front end to
all users in the school and at the MOE‟s Data Centre. In addition to the SSMS user manuals, further
guidelines are contained in the Smart School IT Security Policies and Procedures document.
All users must log in before using their workstation and other network resources. A Single Sign-On
(SSO) capability in the Smart School network allows users to seamlessly access all authorised network
resources on the basis of a single authentication that is performed when the user logs on.
All users have to be uniquely identified, i.e. with a unique user ID, before access to the SSMS is
provided. Each user has to be personally accountable for any activity attributed to his/her user ID. A level
of access authority, consistent with job requirements, is associated with each user ID. Access is limited to
resources that are necessary to perform an approved task or function.
Specific responsibilities were assigned to concerned personnel.
(i) School IT Coordinators: Responsible for administration of approved access to each computer platform,
including assignment and removal of user IDs; accurate maintenance of access records; reports of access
levels as requested by the school head; monitoring exceptional security events, such as attempts by users
to access beyond their authority level and reporting such instances to line management. The IT
Coordinator was the single point of contact between the Help Desk and the school for logging in
problems with any part of the Smart School Integrated Solution, including the network.
(ii) School heads: Responsible for authorising new user IDs, informing the IT Coordinators of
resignations, contract terminations and transfers into and out of their areas, regularly reviewing access
levels for teachers, other staff, and students under their control and ensuring security awareness within
their areas.
(iii) All teachers, other staff and students: Responsible for informing school heads and school IT
coordinators of suspected unauthorised access to the Smart School Network.
Compliance with security policies and procedures required time because many people were using a
computerised system for the first time, but applying manual rules and regulations.
Lesson Learned
       The guidelines for operating a SchoolNet at the school level should consist mainly of security
        policies and procedures because many people tend to use a computerised system while still
        applying manual rules and regulations.
Institutionalisation and Sustainability
With the completion of the pilot project and approval of the national roll-out, efforts to institutionalise
and sustain the network are reflected in the active involvement by school heads, teachers, other staff and
students in using the Smart School Network. The Smart School Network will be expanded and
BESTARInet, the pilot project portal, will be upgraded to take into account the 10,000 schools that will
be linked to the network starting 2004. The Smart School Team is working to integrate the Smart School
Network in the KPMnet, with BESTARInet providing the pedagogical content for the schools. The team
will also integrate the Ministry of Energy, Communications and Multimedia‟s pilot Universal Service
Provision Project, which aims to provide telephone and Internet access to 220 remote schools in Sarawak
and Sabah (110 in Sabah and 110 in Sarawak). The pilot project will be expanded as the Malaysian
SchoolNet Project aimed at providing Internet access to all 10,000 schools in the country.

The expanded functions of the Smart School Network during the national roll-out will be coordinated by
an expanded Smart School Development Team, with a sub-team dedicated to the maintenance,
management and development of the network. At the school level, the IT Coordinator will remain as the
single point of contact for problem log-ins and resolution.
The officers currently in charge of the Smart School technology infrastructure and network are a mix of
computer-competent educators and systems analysts, led by a senior systems analyst. The different
sections of the BESTARInet portal are being reviewed and redesigned. After the pilot project, some
browser-based courseware have been converted to Web-based materials and placed on BESTARInet. A
sub-team of the Smart School Development Team, comprising ICT-competent educators, manages
BESTARInet and handles the portal‟s technical and pedagogical aspects. The portal has links to
commercial educational websites and to the Ministry‟s main websites.
Lessons Learned
       The Smart School Network developed during the pilot project enabled the testing of the network
        to determine how it could improve learning and school management processes.
       Communications and access to learning materials from the Internet have been facilitated to
        some extent, but additional change management activities need to be carried out to encourage
        schools to use the network on a regular basis.
Synergy with Other National and Regional SchoolNet Programmes
Synergy exists with another national programme, the Universal Service Provision Project which is piloted
by the Ministry of Energy, Communications and Multimedia (MECM). This project seeks to provide
telephone and Internet access to 220 remote schools in Sarawak and Sabah (110 in Sabah and 110 in
Sarawak). It will be expanded as the Malaysian SchoolNet Project, aimed at providing Internet access to
all 10,000 schools in the country. The required infrastructure technology will be provided to the schools
by the MECM, while the MOE will provide the pedagogical content and will help to train school heads,
teachers, other staff and students to use the SchoolNet. The two Ministries have started discussing how
best to integrate the Smart School Network with the Universal Service Provision Project to come up with
the Malaysian SchoolNet.
Lesson Learned
       All existing networks should be integrated to ensure that schools get the benefits that each
        network provides.


COMPONENT: INFRASTRUCTURE AND CONNECTIVITY
Start Up Phase and Minimum Requirements
The technology infrastructure that supported the Smart School Network and other components of the
Smart School Integrated Solution were determined during negotiations over the terms and conditions of
the Smart School Pilot Project Agreement signed between the Government and the consortium.
A task force comprising representatives from the consortium and the Government worked together to
establish naming conventions common for all pilot schools, the Data Centre and the Help Desk. These
included the following: Internet domain name, server name, organisation, network account, email
account, volume for the partition, driver/folder/directory, user group/container.

Lesson Learned
       The budget was a constraint in determining the network’s design, especially in terms of server
        capacity at the schools and Data Centre and the bandwidth to be provided to the schools.

Infrastructure and Computer Configuration in Schools
The technology infrastructure that supported the Smart School Network and other components of the
Smart School Integrated Solution were determined in negotiations over the terms and conditions of the
Smart School Pilot Project Agreement signed between the Government and the consortium.

Three technology models were deployed in the pilot project. Below is a summary of the equipment
provided to the schools.
         Level B          Level B+         Level A (Full Data Centre                 Help
                                           Classroom                                 Desk
         (Laboratory      (Limited
                                           Model)
         Model)           Classroom
                          Model)
         37 computers     81 computers     520              10 computers     13 computers
                                           computers
        Level B           Level B+          Level A (Full Data Centre                   Help
                                            Classroom                                   Desk
        (Laboratory       (Limited
                                            Model)
        Model)            Classroom
                          Model)
        2 notebooks       2 notebooks       5 notebooks       1 notebook        2 notebooks
        3       servers   3       servers   6       servers   3       servers   5       servers
        (communicati      (communicati      (communicati      (communicati      (communicati
        ons,              ons,              ons,              ons,              ons,
        databases,        databases,        databases,        databases,        databases,
        applications)     applications)     applications)     applications)     applications)
        Fast Ethernet     Fast Ethernet     Fast Ethernet COINS leased COINS leased
        backbone          backbone          backbone      line (2 Mbps) line (2 Mbps)
        (100 baseT)       (100 baseT)       (100 baseT)
        with 128/64       with 128/64       with 512/256
        kbps leased       kbps leased       kbps   leased
        line              line              line


       Note: COINS stands for Corporate Information Superhighway, a fast, open, nationwide and
       globally connected broadband multimedia communications network with a capacity of up to 10
       Gbps. All the schools have a dedicated Integrated Services Digital Network (ISDN) back-up line
       in the event that the COINS line is down.
Lessons Learned
      The pilot schools made minimal use of the Smart School Network at the start of the pilot project.
       Only the school IT Coordinator used the network extensively for the purpose of communicating
       with the pilot project team and the Help Desk at MOE.
      Change management activities had to be carried out to encourage school heads and teachers to
       use the network.
      School heads had to be advised to allow their teachers and students to use the network because
       many of them had set limits on usage for fear of abuse and misuse on the part of teachers and
       students.
      Lack of access to computers was a common complaint by teachers and students in Level B and
       B+ schools.

Location of Server
Three servers to handle communications, databases and applications were placed at the Data Centre
located in the Educational Technology Division, MOE in Kuala Lumpur.
Operating System/Application
For the pilot project, the following systems were used at the Data Centre: Banyan VINES, IBM OS/2
Warp Server, Microsoft MS-DOS, Microsoft Windows NT Server, Novell NetWare, Novell NetWare.
Lesson Learned
      A research and development project that is based on lessons learned during the pilot project
       concerns the use of Open Source Software for the operating system. The project team has started
        experimenting with Open Source Software for the email messaging service, but has yet to confirm
        its advantages over the operating system used in the pilot project.


Payment and Funding for Connection
MOE paid for all communication costs in the pilot project. Subsequent communication costs after
completion of the pilot has been passed on to the respective State Education Departments.
Connectivity Options
Level A pilot schools were given videoconferencing facilities which they used to link up with schools in
the United Kingdom under the Coventry Project managed by the Ministry‟s Curriculum Development
Centre.
The Multimedia Development Corporation adopted two schools in its vicinity and linked them by
videoconferencing to schools in various countries as well as to Level A Pilot Smart Schools. However,
the prohibitive cost of videoconferencing sessions forced Level A schools to severely curtail use of the
facility. Some pilot schools were given satellite and wireless connection to the Smart School Network
because of problems with landlines in their areas.
Lesson Learned
       The roll-out of the Smart School Integrated Solution to the rest of the schools in the country will
        take into consideration Web-based connection as well as videoconferencing, satellite, wireless
        connection.
Support from Other Sources in Connectivity
Other sources of support in connectivity include Telekom Malaysia, the country‟s main
telecommunications company, which proposed a special educational rate for telecommunications services
to the schools and the MOE. Maxis, another telecommunications company, is cooperating with Telekom
Malaysia to provide Internet access and telephone lines to 220 remote schools and their surrounding
communities in Sabah and Sarawak.
Lessons Learned
       The consortium that developed the Smart School Integrated Solution is helping the MOE to tap
        local and international hardware, software and applications companies in order to obtain volume
        reductions for the schools.
       Microsoft has a special educational price for schools and other educational institutions in
        Malaysia.


COMPONENT: CURRICULUM                    INTEGRATION,          CONTENT        DEVELOPMENT            AND
KNOWLEDGE MANAGEMENT
Curriculum Integration
Teaching and learning materials used in the Smart School Network were integrated in the national
curriculum. More than 60 teachers, educators and MOE officials were seconded to the consortium as
courseware development consultants. Some secondments were on a short-term basis, others were for the
duration of the pilot project.
During negotiations for the pilot project agreement, the MOE required a one-to-one matching of
courseware with curriculum specifications as the teachers insisted that anything that departed from the
curriculum would not be useful in the classroom. Courseware for Bahasa Melayu, English Language,
Science and Mathematics was developed according to specifications in the national curriculum for these
four subjects. However, certain curricular changes were made mid-way in the pilot phase resulting in
courseware that did not faithfully match the specifications. This so-called mismatch was one of the main
excuses why some teachers did not use the Smart School courseware.
Lessons Learned
       It is imperative that teaching and learning materials integrated in the SchoolNet are in line with
        the national curriculum to encourage teachers and students to use the materials.
       However, it would be prudent to add extra materials for enrichment or remedial work so that
        changes in the curriculum would not become an excuse for teachers not to use the materials.


Pedagogy and ICT Integration
The integration of pedagogy and ICT in the Smart School Network was demonstrated by the use made of
the Internet as an alternative source of information for assignments and projects. The Internet was also
used to teach higher level of thinking skills, such as analysis of information for accuracy and truth. A
great deal of collaboration among school heads, teachers and students of the pilot schools came about
because of the increased capability to communicate with their counterparts in other pilot schools, non-
pilot schools, and schools in other countries.
Lesson Learned
       The Smart School Network has made teaching and learning more interesting and has contributed
        to greater collaboration among schools.


Contents of SchoolNet Website
The users of BESTARInet were mainly school heads, teachers and students of the Smart School Pilot
Project. Parents and the Smart School Development Team officers also used the portal extensively.
About 8,000 teachers and 90,000 students from the pilot schools were using the Smart School Network.
The numbers will increase when the roll-out starts in 2004.
The different sections of the BESTARInet portal were determined by the Smart School Pilot Project
Team and were meant to serve the needs of the pilot project. These sections are now being reviewed and
redesigned.
BESTARInet is managed by a sub-team of the Smart School Development Team. The members comprise
ICT-competent educators who manage both the technical and the pedagogical aspects of the portal. There
are links on the portal to commercial educational websites and to the Ministry‟s main websites.
At present, access to the pilot schools‟ discussion sites is restricted to school heads, teachers, students
(and their parents) of these schools. After the pilot project, some browser-based courseware have been
converted to Web-based materials and placed on BESTARInet.
Lessons Learned
       The contents of the Schoolnet should reflect the needs of the different types of users.
       More English contents should be posted now that Science and Mathematics are being taught in
        English.


Providing Resources to the Community and Fostering Collaboration
The Smart School has succeeded in creating a Smart School network community. Most of the
communications between the Smart School Development Team members and between the team and the
schools are now done through emails.
Lessons Learned
       “Use it or lose it” is the message that should be sent to the pilot schools to constantly remind
        them to use the network


COMPONENT: SERVICES
Help Desk
The Smart School Help Desk was set up as a one-stop centre for inquiries covering the Smart School
Integrated Solution and its components. Help Desk personnel during the pilot project were provided by
the consortium, including one support services manager, one Help Desk executive, one Help Desk
supervisor, eight operators, one network executive, one programmer, three administrative assistants, one
application specialist team leader, and six application specialists.
A comprehensive systems and network management framework was used, encompassing strategies, tools,
standards, procedures and workflows and organisation and training programmes for Help Desk personnel.
A proprietary „FOCus‟ system was used as central database for the Help Desk to record and store all
maintenance details (including a bug resolution log, all maintenance activities, fault classifications and
clearance procedure details).
The Help Desk can be accessed through telephone via a 1-300-xxx number (callers pay local charges for
calls made from anywhere in Malaysia), email, Internet, fax, and postal mail. The operating hours of the
Help Desk are between 8.00 a.m. and 6.30 p.m., Monday to Sunday for all states (excluding national
public holidays).
Lessons Learned
       The Help Desk was able to operate effectively based on its service level agreement with the
        Government, but only on problems that could be solved by the consortium.
       Problems reported by the schools and brought to the Government usually took a longer time to
        resolve. Some problems are associated with staffing, requests for replacement of stolen or
        damaged equipment not covered by warranty, non-usability of courseware due to curriculum
        changes, non-acceptance of computerised record keeping by some Government agencies that still
        demanded hard copies.


Troubleshooting and Maintenance
To handle requests for help concerning equipment, infrastructure and connectivity each pilot school has a
designated guide from the Smart School Team. However, not all members of the team have the kind of
technical expertise to handle problems related to equipment, infrastructure and connectivity. Before the
end of the pilot project, ten joint MOE-consortium teams visited all the pilot schools to deal with
technical problems and also to help resolve personnel problems.
More ICT-competent educators and systems analysts are being trained to handle the technical aspects of
the Smart School Network.
Lessons Learned
       Equipment, infrastructure and connectivity play a big part in the ability of the Smart School to
        achieve its goal of improving teaching and learning as well as making school management more
        efficient.
       School heads, teachers, and students are quick to put ICT aside when equipment does not work,
        the applications hang, and there is no access to the Internet when such is required.


COMPONENT: TEACHER AND PERSONNEL TRAINING
Skills Needed
Under the terms of the Smart School Pilot Project Agreement, officers from the Smart School Team and
selected teachers from the pilot schools were trained in the following: How to Run Windows 98
Applications, Hardware/Software Concepts, Introduction to Office 2000 Applications, Word Processing
Application (MS Word), Spreadsheet Application (MS Excel), Presentation Application (MS
PowerPoint), Fundamental Networking Concepts, Logging on to the School Area Network, Internet and
Email Access, System and Peripheral Operations, Equipment Installation, Preventive Maintenance, and
Remedial Maintenance, Problem Escalation and Windows NT Administration.
Lessons Learned
       Future training for school heads and teachers should emphasise how to integrate BESTARInet
        activities in school management and classroom activities.
       The impact of training on the roles and duties of various staff involved in the Smart School
        Network should be evaluated, and the findings should be part of the inputs for strategising the
        training for the roll-out of the Smart School.
Preparatory Skills Training at the Pre-service and In-service Levels
The MOE‟s Teacher Education Division conducted preparatory skills training for teachers at the pre-
service and in-service levels, concentrating on basic computer literacy skills, such as word processing,
presentations and spreadsheets. However, these skills were not directly linked to effective participation in
the Smart School Network.
The need for teacher incentive and motivation after training will be addressed in the roll-out plan.
Lesson Learned
       The gap in the training of in-service teachers, to enable them to participate actively in the Smart
        School Network, will be addressed in the five-year ICT training plan to be managed by the
        Educational Technology Division, MOE.


COMPONENT: RESEARCH, MONITORING AND EVALUATION
The need for a research, monitoring and evaluation strategy and plan will be addressed in the roll-out
plan. Similarly, the formulation of key performance indicators and an evaluation plan and identification of
other means to gather evidence of the success of the Smart School Network will be addressed in the roll-
out plan.

				
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