Har Wai Mun @ 2007
The Smart Schools concept is part of the Malaysian Information Technology (IT) agenda that exposes students, teachers, administrators and parents to IT in every aspect of education at the administrative and classroom levels for preparing school leavers for the Information Age. The role of smart schools projects is to fulfill national development goals and aspirations to produce a creativity and innovation citizen with science and technology education in the 21st century (Curriculum Development Centre, CDC 1997a) [Curriculum Development Centre is the School Division of Ministry of Education]. Its will bring about a systemic change in education, from rote learning and examination-oriented culture to a thinking and creative knowledge culture (Foong-Mae, 2002). This project also emphasize inculcate Malaysian values among the students and produce a generation of caring, peace-loving and environmentally concerned citizens.
At the pilot project stage, 90 schools were selected to take advantage of the programme. However, only 80 schools implemented in 1999 and further 9 new schools implemented in 2000 and one new fully residential school. The 90 schools will serve as our ‘showcase’ schools to the world. It is expected that the results of the pilot will give directions for broad development for the rest of approximately 8000 schools (Curriculum Development Centre, 1997d). However, due to financial constraints the construction of these schools, the smart schools programmes need the supporting of various stakeholders such as government, corporate sector, parents and the community and even the small user fee (Curriculum Development Centre, 1997c). All of them will make a financial contribution to some equipment, organize fund raising activities or assist with contacts for sources of funding and material contribution.
At meantime, Ministry of Education encourages those schools by putting efforts to acquiring technology through their own initiative. This is in line with the plans as outlined in the Smart School Implementation Plan (1997) of undertaking the role of ‘architect and promoter’ to provide the model and guidelines for setting up a smart school. Out of 90 smart schools, Sekolah Menengah Taman Tun. Dr. Ismail, Damansara, Kuala Lumpur was chosen as Curriculum Development Centre’s (CDC’s) Research and Development school. It was selected due to the high level of commitment and enthusiasm shown by the school community. The school is continually taking the initiative to add and upgrade its IT infrastructure and facilities through community and business involvement (Curriculum Development Centre, 1997e).
In addition, the technology transfer form advanced nations such technology enablers as individual desktop personal computers, multimedia computer laboratories, video conferencing systems and high-speed internet connections build up local technology through Research and Development (R&D) within the Multimedia Super Corridor (MSC) and build up a highly competent workforce who is able to create new products and processes and school classrooms in this programme feature. Therefore, classroom practice will focus on inquiry, discovery of knowledge and understanding, development processes and the design and creation of products (Curriculum Development Centre, 1997b).
Furthermore, it implies that the teaching and learning courseware designed for the Smart Schools utilizes the internet or web-based environment. Perhaps the most useful feature of the web-based learning is its ability to serve as a multifaceted environment for communication. Those communication modes and tools available to students such as the e-mail, internet relay chat (IRC), bulletin boards for discussion groups and synchronous video and audio support for collaborative work. By the way, this fosters a creative learning approach to the students to engage this unique learning environment where collaboration and a sense of community are cultivated (Edelson et al, 1996; Hiltz et al, 1999; Idrus & Atan, 2002).
The smart schools in IT competency enable the local students to build networks with students from other countries and collaborate in areas of mutual interest. It is because it enables the students to do their own exploration into the wealth of information and resources and to determine their self-paced study by choosing the most effectively learning way. The access to resources and the integration of various media leads to students have the luxury of comprehensive learning experiences (Harasim et al, 1997). There are involving an evolution of various learning strategies, from synchronous learning to threaded discussions then to self-directed, collaborative, individually paced study. Besides that, the utilizing teaching materials not only limited to printed books, but also include electronic books, multimedia software, and courseware catalogues and databases (Umat, 2000).
Moreover, the globalization and students are also expected to be proficient in an international language such as English. For curriculum, it will be implemented for Form 1 and Form 4 for the 4 main subjects in which are Bahasa Melayu, English Language, Mathematics and Science and those subjects are basically based on KBSM (The Integrated Curriculum for Secondary Schools) in terms of emphases on knowledge, values and thinking skills (Curriculum Development Centre, 1997b).
In conclusion, Smart school’s cooperative, competitive, and individual learning material and exercises in Malaysia will create literate next generation. The students must be able to think creatively and critically and must have a reasonable level of self-sufficiency. It is also expected the electronic government system will able to contribute greatly to the efficient management of school and able avoid redundancy and wastage of resources especially human resources.