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The monthly publication on ICT and Education RNI No. UPENG/2008/25311


Volume IV Issue 10 October 2008    ISSN 0973-4139 

Rs 75

Mindanao (Philippines) eLearning Space Quality Management System PAGE 8

Room To Read: Crafting New Educational Solutions Interview: Erin Ganju PAGE 35

IPPTN Malaysia: Facilitating ‘Living Internationality’ Interview: Prof. Morshidi Sirat PAGE 15

Leader’s Speak Designing a Bright Future for Design and Engineering Graduates in Asia Interview: Tom Joseph PAGE 27

Transforming Rural Bangladesh page 41


11-13 November 2008 Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre (KLCC) Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

REGISTER NOW! Visit us at: ister tion mail us at For further informa .org registration@e-asia

The conference will encompass the following main thematic areas • ICT Policy in Education: Challenges and Opportunities • Innovative and Best Practices of ICT in Education in Asian Region • e-Education- The Asian Experiance • Country case studies of ICT and education initiaves • Smart ways to see ICTs in School Education • Use of ICT in Technical & Vocational education • Dimensions of integrating ICT in Higher Education • Leading Technology: Engaged Learning with Interactive whiteboards • Pedagogical consideration in e-Learning • Partnerships in promoting ICT education • Delivering Excellence in e-Education: Tools and Strategies

Host Organisation

Ministry of Energy, Water and Communications (MEWC) Government of Malaysia

The significant growth surrounding the importance of incorporating ICT in teaching and learning requires a more comprehensive and closer collaboration among the planners and practitioners in ICT-related education programmes across the Asian region. CSDMS hopes that with Malaysia as the host country, the ICT Conference and Exhibition will further enhance a network of ICT initiatives in the field of education among the Asian nations in particular, especially through the networking, knowledge sharing and establishment of smart partnership programmes. The Digital Learning Asia 2008 Conference and Exhibition would ensure involvement and participation from international governments, agencies, and industry in the development of ICT in Education to share ideas, point of views and experiences in implementing and integrating ICT in education.

For sponsorship and exhibition enquiries, contact: Siddharth Verma (+91 9811561645), For opportunities and information related to e-ASiA 2008 event contact us at


knowledge for change

Academic Partners

Contents Volume IV Issue X, October 2008

Case Study

Corporate Diary



Mindanao eLearning Space Quality Management System Gilber Importante & Danilo Galarion

Higher Education


IPPTN Malaysia: Facilitating ‘Living nationality’ Interview: Prof. Morshidi Sirat, Director, IPPTN



Collaborating Educational Videos with Presenter Profiles S C Premaratne, D D Karunaratna & K P Hewagamage

Leader’s Speak Designing a Bright Future for Design and Engineering Graduates in Asia Interview: Tom Joseph, Director, Asia-Pacific Education Programmes, Autodesk


Commentary: Technology Enabling Mass Higher Education

Development Agenda Rural 41 Transforming Bangladesh Anir Chowdhury & Ajoy Kumar Bose

Country Focus


Anoop Gupta


Foyer: Intel Navyavichar: Infusing New Ideas in Technology Integration

Positive Strokes


Room to Read: Crafting New Educational Solutions Interview: Erin Ganju, Co-founder & COO, Room To Read

Ushering Peasants Learning in China Lan Jian



Mark Your Calendar


28 20 33 48

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digital LEARNING INDIA Volume IV, Issue 10 | October 2008

President M P Narayanan Editor-in-Chief Ravi Gupta Group Directors Maneesh Prasad, Sanjay Kumar Programme Co-ordinator Jayalakshmi Chittoor Assistant Editor Manjushree Reddy email: Research Associates Rachita Jha, Dr Rajeshree Dutta Kumar, Shilpa Sahay Research Assistant Angela S Nath Marketing Siddharth Verma (+91-9811561645) email: Sales Executives Rudra Ghosh, Fahimul Haque Subscription & Circulation Lipika Dutta (+91-9871481708) Manoj Kumar (+91-9210816901) Sr Graphic Designer Bishwajeet Kumar Singh Graphic Designers Om Prakash Thakur, Chandrakesh Bihari Lal (James) Web Zia Salahuddin, Amit Pal Editorial & Marketing Correspondence digital Learning G-4 Sector 39, NOIDA 201301, India Phone +91 120 2502181-85 Fax +91 120 2500060 Email

Editorial South East Asia: Reaping the Benefits of ICT South East Asian nations have common challenges when it comes to implementation of Iinformation and Communication Technologies in education. Two of them emerge as cross-cutting issues. First is the need for addressing the diversity of a large population in terms of their educational and economic levels and second is the need for these nations to associate ICT with the need for development for millions of its poor people. Most of the countries in the region have a long way to go as far as EFA Goals are concerned. There is lot to be achieved as far as expansion of primary and secondary education is concerned, especially in countries like Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos. Moreover, almost all the countries in the region are afflicted by major disparities like gender, wealth and ethnicity, which have a direct bearing on education. A number of interventions are addressing these challenges in an innovative manner by strategically deciding on tools for reaching out and also by creating user-driven content. As eASIA 2008 ICT4D conference in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia is fast approaching, it has been our endeavour to focus on some of these interventions in the region in this issue. Examples like the CI Xi Peasants’ Information Network in a Chinese town clearly show how merging distance education with real-time information needed by farmers can effectively improve farmers’ productivity and skills. From the interview of Room to Read COO, it is clearly evident how engaging the local community in any initiative leads to a successful social innovation and also reaps massive benefits for the entire community. In our usual fare of Corporate interventions and viewpoints, we have a commentary on higher education and an interview on Autodesk’s initiatives for engineering and design students in China. Our next issue will carry forward the discussion on more such ICT4E initiatives in the region. So readers, keep a watch! With this, we also take this opportunities to invite you to eASIA 2008 conference and exhibition in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia from 11 to 13 November 2008.

digital LEARNING is published in technical collaboration with Centre for Science, Development and Media Studies.

Owner, Publisher, Printer, Ravi Gupta Printed at Vinayak Print Media E-53, Sector 7, Noida, U.P. and published from 710, Vasto Mahagun Manor, F-30, Sector - 50, Noida,| UP Digital Learning Vol 4 Issue 7 July 2008 Editor: Ravi Gupta

Ravi Gupta Editor-in-Chief



tu s e s

Mindanao eLearning Space Quality Management System

Gilbert Importante (, Asst. Professor, Computer Faculty and faculty and eLearning Manager, University of Southeastern Philippines and Danilo Galarion, Gladys Florangel Ortiz, & Ansylm Condrad Gamalong


indanao eLearning Space (MiSpace) is an organisation offering flexible distance education to public school teachers and administrators in the form of eLearning. It is a consortium of the Department of Education (DepED) and the University of Southeastern Philippines (USEP) funded by the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID) through Basic Education Assistance for Mindanao (BEAM). Initially, the MiSpace eLearning products on CD-ROM were trialled in blended and online delivery modes. The trial found that many of the learners in Mindanao did not have reliable Internet access so a blended delivery mode is now favoured. Interestingly, the use of CD-ROM is supported by the findings of an eLearning study of Sloman (2004) in the United Kingdom which revealed that 73% of the learners preferred CD-ROMs as the most popular form of eLearning than the other forms. A key challenge for MiSpace instructional designers and web developers was to produce quality eLearning courses more attractive to learners in terms of learning cost effectiveness, time efficiency and flexibility. This is where process mapping and the development of quality procedures and documentation has had a significant impact.

The need for quality

Learning is vital to poverty alleviation, social development and economic growth (AusAID 1996). Indeed, providing a quality education enables 

The article examines how the Mindanao eLearning Space consortium has developed and implemented a quality management system (QMS) to support continuous improvement in meeting the learning needs of the Department of Education in Philippines. It begins by providing a brief background on the establishment of Mindanao eLearning Space and the impetus for change. A review of literature on quality, continuous improvement, and organisational change follows, which serves as the underpinning rationale for the quality approach taken to the instructional design of eLearning products. Discussion of the instructional design process also analyses how the QMS has been structured at each step to maximise learning and enhance the outcomes of eLearning products October 2008 |

it can be implemented to offer a quality learning experience (Cantoni et al. 2003). Another key driver in the need to ensure quality was to minimise variation of early MiSpace products. The initial low levels of capacity, particularly in instructional design, demanded a means of explicitly capturing the knowledge and skills of eLearning product development to allow others to follow the process. To this end, the development of a quality management system was considered an imperative in knowledge management. The sustainability of MiSpace beyond the period of financial assistance provided by BEAM was also an important factor in deciding to pursue quality as a business imperative. Quality was recognized as being critical to the longevity of MiSpace in a commercial context. Indeed an empirical study of 3,000 strategic business units support Deming’s (1986) theory of quality which unequivocally proved that quality drives market share and profits (Buzzell & Gale 1987 cited in Omachonu & Ross 1994). This relationship leads to continuous quality improvement and increases productivity and market share.

Quality systems development people to develop creatively and emotionally and acquire the skills, knowledge, values and attitudes necessary for responsible, active and productive citizenship (UNESCO 2004). It is also reflected in the goal of the AusAID-funded PhilippinesAustralia Basic Education Assistance for Mindanao (BEAM) project which is a member of the MiSpace consortium. Similarly, other consortium members (the University of Southeastern Philippines (USEP) and the DepEd) share a commitment to quality education and training. Given the common commitment to educational quality, the MiSpace consortium resolved to develop quality eLearning products to address the 10

learning needs of DepEd administrators, school heads and teachers in Regions XI, XII and ARMM of the Philippines. This represents a potential target audience of as many as 50,000 learners. The decision to explore eLearning as a possible delivery mode was based on an assumption that it can provide a quality learning experience. It has the potential to overcome the problems of diluted understandings and interpretations through the appropriate selection of instructional design strategies for course content, interaction and assessment items which can provide consistent feedback to learners and make the learning experience experiential and reflective. Indeed, the debate about eLearning has now shifted from whether it is a suitable mode of delivery to how

The first step in the change process was to gain stakeholder commitment to quality and to form a representative team to develop a vision for MiSpace. This culminated in the development of a quality policy statement and a commitment to a plan to map and document eLearning processes to ensure conformance to agreed standards. A series of workshops were held by the quality team to clearly define MiSpace processes and procedures to demonstrate that quality is a managed outcome for all eLearning products. The ADDIE instructional design model, illustrated in Figure 1 below, was used as the framework for developing a detailed flowchart of MiSpace activities. Interestingly this process revealed many differences in understandings and interpretations for developing eLearning products and reinforced the need to October 2008 |

have a shared understanding in order to achieve the quality vision. Templates, forms and checklists have been developed to support staff to undertake MiSpace processes and produce the necessary quality records. Non-compliant work must be corrected before approval is given for work to proceed to the next phase. Approved outputs are then document controlled so that the title of the document, author, version number, date and authority approving it are recorded. A functional quality management system (QMS) has been established and piloted with the development of a new version of a social marketing training program. Subsequent courses have been developed using the QMS in school physical resource management, constructivism in teaching and learning, change management, multiple intelligence, higher order thinking skills, educational technology and research methods and statistics. A feature of the QMS is that it has a web interface and is not a manual which sits on a shelf that is seldom used. The advantage of having an electronic QMS is that it permits quality documents to be readily accessed by all staff and updated to capture improvements in MiSpace processes. Furthermore anecdotal evidence suggests the QMS has increased job clarity, reduced rework and significantly improved morale as staff take great pride in the products that have been released.

MiSpace product development

Before being able to develop a QMS, it was necessary to firstly define quality education and training. Quality learning occurs where learners are supported, the environment conducive to learning, the content relevant and facilitative learning processes are used and are linked to clear outcomes (UNICEF 2000). It also required MiSpace staff to research and consider the many complex ways in which technology can be applied for education and training given the broad spectrum of eLearning products that are possible. These dimensions of educational quality Digital Learning | Vol 4 Issue 10 October 2008

A snapshot of the QMS

are addressed in each phase of MiSpace product development. Training needs analysis (TNA) is a process of comparing actual and required levels of performance which may be habitual or have arisen as a result of a performance problem, introduction of new systems or technologies (Tovey 1997). This phase was initially given minimal attention in early eLearning prototypes resulting in materials that varied from what learners required. To increase the quality of the analysis phase, procedures were prepared to clearly define the required competency. After identifying the competency area, the first step taken is to undertake a literature review of the competency area to ensure that the competency will reflect best practices (Clark 1995). It is followed by interviews and focus group discussions with subject matter experts (SMEs) and supervisors to define standards of work performance as well as current performance levels. Analysis also extends to the learning environment. Many factors influence the quality of adult learners including their health, previous education, training and life experiences as well as organizational and family support (Driscoll 2002). Therefore MiSpace procedures also include a detailed task analysis of

potential target groups to derive characteristics of learners as well as to define their needs and expectations. The other consideration in the analysis phase is to consider the instructional setting to determine the suitability of a course for eLearning within the present technology capability (FGCU, 2003). This includes an assessment of possible learning strategies and the media which may be needed to support them. This entails careful consideration of the computer literacy of the target group, their access to computers, the specifications of those computers and the availability of local technical support. The end product of the analysis phase is a draft competency standard and TNA report. These documents are then submitted to the MiSpace Management Committee (ManCom) which reviews the draft competency for compliance and approves further development. The required output or quality record for this phase is a curriculum design document. A quality tool, in the form of a curriculum design document, ensures that the needs analysis and competency standard for each course are reviewed. It also requires the number of modules be defined and sequenced. The design document includes an abstract of the course, learning outcomes, delivery methods and an assessment plan. 11

MiSpace blended learning model (adapted from Rosenberg 2002)

Learning strategies are devised to address background, cultural and religious characteristics of learners and tackle any potential inequalities deriving from gender or ethnicity. Another key driver of the learning strategies employed is the blended learning approach that MiSpace products take. Blended learning is a mix of ‘various event-based activities, including faceto-face classrooms, live eLearning and self-paced learning’ (Singh 2003, p.52). This approach recognizes the limited information technology infrastructure and relatively basic levels of computer literacy of target learners. However an equally important reason for favoring blended learning stems for the pedagogy underpinning MiSpace eLearning programs. MiSpace has undertaken extensive research and has consulted widely with stakeholders to determine how technology can be used appropriately to promote high quality teaching and learning. The framework guiding course development and delivery is based on seven principles of good practice in undergraduate education (Chickering & Gamson 1987) which draws on the different contributions of learning theories. Most importantly, this approach emphasises a community building approach to support the emergence of communities of practice (CoPs) in various competency areas such as 12

asset management, social marketing and financial management. More specifically, the blended learning model of MiSpace combines self-paced computer-based training with classroom training, job aids and reference materials. Most importantly it also nurtures relationships with experts, peers and communities of practice. Research indicates that the community building approach of linking learners with one another, with experts and existing CoPs can be self-sustaining. In this sense, the approach makes better use of resources, promotes lifelong learning and advances practice to achieve better outcomes (Wenger et al. 2002). This claim is supported by a recent survey by the American Society for Training and Development (ASTD) which found that blended learning is considered to be the most effective approach for training (HR Focus 2005). Broad parameters for the selection of instructional media are also set based on the analysis of the instructional setting using Bates’ (2000) ACTION model. Reushle et al. (1999) advocate that the instructional media should allow learner control to navigate through material following their own path with a help facility and glossary. MiSpace products include these features in the user interface template allowing random navigation to modules, lessons, exercises and quizzes.

In addition, a feature of the CD-ROM is a Learner’s Toolbox section which provides some general study tips covering effective reading, writing, time management and assignment writing techniques among others. The purpose of this section of the CD is to create a supportive environment for learners to ease them into a new mode of delivery and meet program requirements. Assessment of learner performance is another integral element of MiSpaces’ quality products. Opportunities for practice in each lesson of the course formatively assess learner performance and provide rich constructive feedback which is immediate. Consistent with Wright & Conroy (1988), self-tests at the end of each module provide answers and explanations as well as a simple calculation of learners’ test scores. In addition, written assignments are structured early in the course, usually a draft analysis or plan, to encourage interaction between the instructor and learners to get feedback. A project plan is also prepared for an eLearning project at this stage. It documents the course purpose and rationale, stakeholder consultations and target audience characteristics. It also clearly states requirements, deliverables, team member responsibilities, a production schedule and a budget. Similar to other quality records, the curriculum design document and project plan require the approval of the MiSpace ManCom which verifies that quality standards have been met. Once approved, resources are committed to the next phase of development. The development phase of ADDIE requires blueprints for the presentation of content, opportunities for learners to practice and be assessed (Driscoll 2002). Much of the quality of course content is assured by the task analysis for the specific competency, its validation with subject matter experts and approval of a validated competency standard. In this sense, the curriculum is standards based and is linked to well-defined performance criteria. Content is developed using a storyboard template which is an important quality October 2008 |

document. It ensures that instructional designers clearly state learning outcomes and learning objectives, use appropriate sequencing strategies and graphic organisers, and select appropriate media. Clearly, the quality of course content is also dependent upon the competency of instructional designers. To this end, substantial investments have been made in developing instructional design guidelines for codified knowledge and on-the-job training to develop tacit elements of instructional design. The quality of the content is also dependent upon its authenticity. Good quality content uses contextualised problems to encourage skills development as well as knowledge acquisition (UNICEF 2000). Similarly content must be gender sensitive and promote peace to strengthen learners’ ability to prevent and resolve conflict at individual, group or community level (UNICEF 2000). To ensure that these dimensions of content quality, a reference panel of subject matter experts and practitioners review it. After the content is approved, it proceeds to web development. A standardised user interface serves as a template for MiSpace products. This approach ensures that all MiSpace products have the minimum required functionality while reducing development testing and quality assurance costs through code and module reuse. Similarly, in terms of content, common study support elements are included on all MiSpace products such as the “getting started” section and “learner’s toolbox”. One of the innovations that MiSpace has included in the QMS is an interaction library which has reduced the burden on instructional designers in developing interactions. The interaction library is a catalog of elements that an instructional designer can incorporate into a course that the learner can interact with, which addresses, in part, the active learning and prompt feedback principles of good practice in undergraduate education. Each interaction in the library contains a sample, defines the information that the instructional designer needs to provide (for example responses for incorrect Digital Learning | Vol 4 Issue 10 October 2008

and correct answers) and provides work instructions for web developers. This quality tool has paid substantial dividends by reducing rework of instructional designers’ storyboards due to omitted information, reducing the effort required to develop interactions, and improving the consistency and quality of interactive elements by providing developers with detailed implementation instructions. Another recent innovation has been to strengthen testing of MiSpace products. Early product prototypes had mixed


functionality on different platforms with some interactions that did not work or provided very limited feedback. These technical and pedagogical problems are common causes of frustration for learners (Hara & Kling 2000). This was addressed by developing quality platform, unit, integration and user acceptance testing procedures and documents. Now, when defects are identified, they are returned to the appropriate team member, whether the graphic designer, web developer or instructional designer for action. Once all defects are corrected, the course is released.

professors, facilitators and resource persons for effective delivery of MiSpace products.

Another important implication of the blended learning approach has been the introduction of learner and trainer guides to accompany course CD-ROMs to support delivery. Wright & Conroy (1988) contend that these print-based support materials form the most basic structure for any mix of media used to deliver instruction.

Implementation is arguably the most difficult phase as ‘good trainers can make a poorly developed program work well and a well developed program work great…bad trainers can make neither work’ (Clark 1995). It also poses a challenge for quality management which aims to reduce variation- MiSpace interprets this to mean minimizing the variation of learning outcomes- not to restrict variation in training techniques. The implication in practice is that all trainers must be competent as

The emphasis of MiSpace’s QMS in the delivery phase is therefore on the training of trainers. All trainers must undergo a program in delivering MiSpace eLearning products and be assessed as competent before they will be accredited. Certification of MiSpace trainers attests to their competency in creating conducive learning environments, ability to skillfully use a range of training techniques and assessment methods to meet the different needs of learners. The QMS also ensures that courses are structured so that student progress and trainer performance can be monitored. Where any significant variations in performance are identified, appropriate remedial action is taken. The learning environment is another key element of implementation phase 13

procedures. Quality tools have been developed for contracting training providers to provide minimum levels and number of equipment for learners, limit class sizes and abide by MiSpace policies to create a safe and inclusive learning environment. Frydenberg (2002) espouses that student services before, during and after an eLearning program should constitute an integral part of eLearning quality standards. This reflects the customer focus of any quality management system. For learners interested in enrolling in an eLearning program, an accurate course description outlining the learning outcomes, content and entry requirements is issued. In addition the enrolment form includes a learning contract that is designed to secure learner commitment and supervisor support so that an environment conducive to learning is created. The blended learning approach permits some face-to-face contact with learners, which provides the opportunity for support services to be extended in delivery. Consequently all sessions are structured to provide support services. In addition, technical support can be accessed through MiSpace or local DepEd offices. In instances where a learner’s progress falls behind, MiSpace initiates contact with the trainer and learner to assess any problems and take any necessary corrective action. The evaluation of MiSpace programs ensures that there is follow-up with learners and supervisors post training to determine the extent of transfer of learning to the workplace as well as the organisational impact.


Training evaluation determines a training program’s effectiveness in meeting its intended purpose; producing competent employees (Tovey 1997). Evaluation is therefore the quality assurance component of a systematic approach to training. However, evaluation does not fit neatly as the final phase of ADDIE if considered as a linear step in the process (Driscoll 2002). MiSpace recognises this predicament as reflected by the central 14

Evaluation Results #



Descriptive rating

1 2 3 4 5 6 7

Student- faculty contact Student cooperation Active learning Prompt feedback Time on task High expectations Respect for diversity

4.32 4.0 4.12 3.93 4.10 4.25 4.29

Very satisfactory Very satisfactory Very satisfactory Very satisfactory Very satisfactory Very satisfactory Very satisfactory

position of evaluation linked to all phases of the ADDIE model illustrated in Figure 2. In practice, this means evaluation is conducted in each phase of ADDIE. As described above, there are a number of quality controls employed before work can progress to the next phase. For example, the training needs analysis and draft competency standard must be approved before proceeding to the design phase. Similar controls are used in other phases. For summative evaluation of eLearning products, the methodology used draws on the work of Kirkpatrick (1994) who advocates four levels of training evaluation: (i) reaction level, (ii) learning, (iii) transfer, and (iv) impact. Reaction level evaluation uses a quality evaluation tool drawing on the constructs of the seven principles for effective undergraduate education to gather data on the learning experience of participants. Learning is evaluated based on assessment results which are quality assured through assessment policies. Transfer of training to the workplace is evaluated by undertaking semi-structured interviews with a sample of learners and their supervisors by phone where possible to keep costs down. There are a number of quality outputs for evaluation beginning with the evaluation of the training needs analysis and competency standard and ending with an evaluation report. The evaluation shows that learners had rated the elearning program at a very satisfactory level having a general mean of 4.15. It further showed that the seven principles as mentioned

had been presented in the programme and the learners had rated it at a very satisfactory level. The number of hours spent by learners on browsing the CD-ROM on average is 8 hours and 28 minutes per week. The learning of participants was evaluated based on assessment results which are quality assured through assessment policies. The participants grades ranges from 1.0 (excellent) to 1.75 (very satisfactory), they were assessed through an approved assessment policies that were presented in the learners guide. Transfer of training to the workplace is evaluated by undertaking semistructured interviews with a sample of learners. Learners’ feedback were recorded and showed that the program had been used in the workplace. Action planning, implementation and evaluation were among the most commonly used modules in the workplace. Impact of the programme was not yet evaluated since there was still a very short time since the end of the training. As such evaluation on this level to measure organisational performance is not yet conducted. Quality plays a critical role in the teaching/ learning process. This implies that ‘the quality of the finished product is the direct result of the quality throughout the process used to create it’ (Nichols 2002, p.1). At MiSpace, this notion has been translated into the dogma that ‘the quality of our product is only as good as the weakest link in the chain’. Hence a total quality management culture has emerged where the QMS has become the lifeblood of the organisation. October 2008 |


IPPTN Malaysia

Facilitating ‘Living Internationality’


he National Higher Education Research Institute (IPPTN) was set up by the National Council for Higher Education in August 1997 as a platform for research and policy making to convert Malaysian public and private universities as centres of excellence. Keeping this thrust in mind, IPPTN set about identifying issues and critical challenges related to higher education to help develop institutions of higher learning in Malaysia. It has also conducted various research to help formulate issues and strategies to develop institutions of higher learning. It plays a proactive role in identifying issues in the implementation of the National Higher Education Policy, and acts as a research coordinating body as well as resource centre on higher education issues. Apart from these objectives, an Action Plan 2006-2010 was formulated to conduct research on higher education in the context of current changes and challenges; establish networks with overseas research organisations and organise and participate in international conferences and workshops; lead training activities in higher education policy research, particularly involving CLMV countries (Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar and Vietnam); and act as a centre for information dissemination and research output on higher education through publications. Few of the research undertaken by IPPTN include: Study on the Academic Promotion Process in Malaysian Public Universities, Study on the Changing

Digital Learning | Vol 4 Issue 10 October 2008

State-Higher Education Institutions Relationship, Towards Ideopolis Kuala Lumpur: Capitalising on Higher Education for the Development of Globalising City-Region, Project on Quality Assurance and International University Rankings in the Asia Pacific, and Strategic Roadmap for the Private Higher Education in Malaysia (Proposal) Since 2007, IPPTN has also been acting as the Secretariat for Ministry of Higher Education’s think tank group while its Director Prof Morshidi Sirat chairs the think tank group. Prof Sirat took over as the Director in April 2002 and chairs various regional and national committees on higher education policy directions. His research interests include comparative international higher education, construction of national and regional knowledge spaces, and governance in higher education institutions. Prof Sirat has co-ordinated numerous research on Malaysia’s higher education institutions and system such as Changing Academic Profession in Malaysia; Futures of Higher Education in Malaysia; Models for Universities in Malaysia; etc. He also undertakes consultancy for international agencies like UNESCO, World Bank, specifically in the area of international higher education. He is also on the Editorial Advisory Board of Higher Education Policy Journal of the IAU. In a interview with Digital Learning, Prof Sirat sheds light on the activities of IPPTN, higher education landscape in Malaysia and issues

Prof Morshidi Sirat What factors led to the setting up of the IPPTN? In pursuance of its objectives of creating excellence in higher education and making Malaysia a regional higher education hub, the National Council for Higher Education under the Ministry of Higher Education felt there was a need for setting up a higher education research institute. As such the National Higher Education Research Institute (IPPTN) was set up at the Universiti Sains Malaysia, Penang, in August 1997under the aegis of the Ministry . What have been the contributions of IPPTN to development of Malaysia’s higher education? Between 1997 and 2004 IPPTN has conducted several major studies, investigated and subsequently recommended policy solutions to problems such as cost of living for students in higher education institutions, graduate unemployment, ethnic polarisation, and quality of faculty in private higher education institutions. Other studies conducted by the body revolve around issues of industrial training, competitiveness of 15

IPPTN has conducted several major studies and subsequently recommended policy solutions to problems such as cost of living for students in higher education institutions, graduate unemployment, ethnic polarisation, and quality of faculty in private higher education institutions Malaysia’s higher education institutions, internationalisation and international education issues, and curriculum development. Besides organising regional workshops, and carrying out strategic policy studies and preparing policy papers, IPPTN organised the Global Higher Education Forum 2007. More than 350 education leaders, scholars, and policy makers from 43 countries came together to reflect and analyse challenges in higher education and also ways to improve its quality. From 2006 onwards, IPPTN has also begun to look closely at Malaysia’s higher education system and pursuing a global and regional comparative perspective. Two most important studies completed by the body includes ‘Future of Higher Education in Malaysia’, and ‘Model for Universities in Malaysia’. What steps have been taken by IPPTN to the development of curriculum? At IPPTN, we are primarily concerned with education curricula and workplace literacy. A study was undertaken on this issue and another study on social skills and work values in the medical education is now nearing completion. Tell us about the higher education policy research under the IPPTN. As far as higher education policy research is concerned, there are six main thrust areas of IPPTN: • Curriculum development and preparation of an entry-level workforce; • Governance of public universities; • Changing condition for academic work career; • Growth and development and 16

• •

transnational higher education services; Higher education and regional engagement; and Higher education system.

Please comment on the changing landscape of higher education, regionally and globally. Matured and developing higher education systems have reacted differently to the processes and societal transformations noted globally. In both the systems, we observed the following major developments in higher education: Expansion in higher education (with massification in the developing higher education system); Differentiation or segmentation of higher education as a response to the differentiating demand for higher education by offering course programmes beyond the mainstream; Greater flexibility, i.e. a multiplication of study options; Quality orientation; and Standardisation.

shaping the knowledge society, generating employability, integrating the dimension of sustainability, internationality, quality orientation and competitiveness, development and use of new forms of teaching and learning. ‘Living internationality’ is already becoming a reality in the context of the EU and is expected to be necessary in Asia in the future. The rise of neoliberalism ideology and new public management (NPM) approach is making future scenario of higher education more complex. How much of focus is there on science and technology in Malaysia? The level of focus on Science and Technology in Malaysian higher education system is very high, both in terms of allocation of resources (national development plans) and relevant policies/regulations. What according to you is the role of private universities and distance education in making Malaysia a regional higher education hub? The role of private and trans-national providers is very important. Both conventional and increasingly nonconventional modes of delivery are important in positioning Malaysia as a regional higher education hub. Necessary quality assurance framework has been put in place to regulate and monitor this sector and non-traditional mode of delivery.

Both conventional and increasingly nonconventional modes of delivery are important in positioning Malaysia as a regional higher education hub

As a result of the above, the landscape of global, regional and national higher education is in constant change, and the following challenges are likely to become characteristic trends in higher education in many countries:

In the private sector, there is no quota for international students in their undergraduate programmes. Notably, there is excess capacity among private providers in courses such as IT, business and management. October 2008 |

News india India launches National Teachers’ Portal

government proposal as mentioned in the 11th five-year plan (2007-12) to establish one central university in each state and provide assistance for establishing one college in each district with a low gross enrolment ratio in higher education. The proposed universities will be modeled on the lines of the New Delhibased Jawaharlal Nehru University and the financial requirement is estimated at INR 4,800 crore. The cities identified are Pune, Kolkata, Coimbatore, Mysore, Vishakhapatnam, Gandhinagar, Jaipur, Patna, Bhopal, Kochi, Amritsar, Bhubneshwar, Greater Noida, and Guwahati.

World Bank funds INR 2,400 crores for SSA India has signed an agreement for second elementary education project under Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan with the World Bank for a total assistance of INR 2,400 crore. The project aims to significantly increase the number of 6-14 year old children, especially from special focus groups, enrolled, regularly attending and completing elementary education and demonstrating basic learning levels. A national portal for teachers was launched by Smt. Pratibha Patil at Rashtrapati Bhavan on the occasion of Teachers’ Day. The portal developed by Azim Premji Foundation with the support from the National Knowledge Commission, aims to act as a medium to improve the quality of education in schools and will also improve the teacher-student interaction in class. Over the next few months the portal will offer content in several languages as well as provide access to other communities such as students, parents, teacher educators, etc. This includes the uploading of material created by and for teachers in five languages (Hindi, English, Tamil, Telugu, Kannada).

Central university in each state by 2012 The University Grants Commission (UGC) is formulating the National University Act for the establishment of 30 central universities across the country. The move comes following the Digital Learning | Vol 4 Issue 10 October 2008

The World Bank funding is part of the Rs 4,000 crore, external assistance towards the second phase of the SSA. In this phase, the focus of the programme will be on quality improvement, augmentation of upper primary classes as well as completing the residual agenda of equity and retention. The two other agencies that will contribute to the INR 4,000 crore under external assistance are UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) and the European Commission. DFID has committed INR 1200 crore and European Commission has agreed for INR 400 crore for SSA.

India towards Integrated Knowledge Network

The government is putting in place an integrated ‘National Knowledge Network’ that would have nodes in all major institutions of higher education. Interconnecting of all knowledge institutions in the country through digital broadband network is aimed to boost research and development activities in India and keep pace with research happening in other countries. The national network was one of the recommendations of the National Knowledge Commission, and is expected to encourage sharing of resources and boost collaborative research and develop inter-disciplinary dialogue. Prime Minister has stressed the need for facilitating creative public-private partnerships in education. He said many eminent educational institutions all over the world were partnering with industry to set up collaborative ‘knowledge partnerships’ on campuses. The knowledge industry is driven by innovation and that innovation is incubated in institutions of higher learning and research. The 11th Five-Year Plan was basically a knowledge investment plan and his government’s effort was to create the next big wave of investment in higher education. Finance Minister P Chidambaram has proposed to provide Rs 100 crore to the Ministry of Information Technology for the project. In higher education, we are building eight new IITs, seven new IIMs, 16 central universities, 14 worldclass universities and five new Indian Institutes of Science Education and Research. 17

Technology Centre to assist differently-abled learners The Centre for Assistive Technology was inaugurated for education and life skill training of differently-able persons, in Bangalore. There are presently 15 students with learning disability enrolled at the Centre for Assistance Technology for Education and Self Help Skill Training (CATELST) at the Spastics Society of Karnataka. The Centre will develop and promote innovative technologies to address learning disabilities. An initiative of the Spastics Society of Karnataka in association with US-based Pacer and IBM, will provide innovative technology to aid the children. The centre is equipped with assistive technology software and other material to aid differently abled persons in communicating and learning exercises. It will be open to public from January 2009, for assessment and consultation on technology-based solutions.

AIIMS collaborates with TCIL for pan Africa e-Network

years after commissioning the network and provide consultancy to the External Affairs Minister on all matters related to the project.

CIET to collaborate with ASI for outreach of digital learning material Central Institute of Educational Technology (CIET) is in talks to join hands with the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) to reach out to the children outside historical monuments and other heritage sites in the city.The move comes as the promotional activity to increase the awareness and outreach of learning materials to students. The CDs contain the digital version of programmes aired by CIET throughout the country to train teachers in different chapters as well as provide learning material for students. From nursery rhymes for tiny tots and mind games for teenagers to learning material on different chapters and live lab experiments for the students of classes X and XII. CIET is also planning to upload the learning material on NCERT’s website

CII to train around 50,000 people for skill development CII in collaboration with industry, government and the National Skills Development Mission is gearing up to address the growing demand for skills with focus on creating employability across sectors in the coming years. The All India Institute of Medical Sciences has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Telecommunication Consultant of India Limited, which is implementing tele-medicine network and the pan-African e-Network being implemented by the Centre. The pan-African e-Network, envisioned by the former President, A.P.J. Abdul Kalam would involve giving teleconsultation and tele-education by the Institute to 53 countries of the African Union. The project is being funded by the Centre and the External Affairs Ministry has been designated as the nodal agency. TCIL would design the network, procure and install the equipment, provide support for five 18

The government is planning to create employment through the National Skills Development Policy. Under the policy, the government has proposed INR 31,000 crore to be spent over the next five years. CII aims to act as a facilitator by providing vocational training to young graduates, undergraduates and school drop-outs. This would be done through training institutes, ITIs, polytechnics and companies certified to train in particular skills - certified training. The Skill Development Initiative Scheme has also laid down a target to train one million people in the next five years.

The HRD to launch Bharatpedia

The HRD ministry is planning to launch Bharatpedia, a collaborative online encyclopaedia like Wikipedia. Primarily for students and the teaching community, Bharatpedia will be part of the National Mission in Education through ICT in the 11th Five-Year Plan. It will have content for college students as well as others. It can be edited, updated and corrected just like Wikipedia entries. But it is aimed mainly at the teaching community. It will also have e-Books in English for most subjects.

Kozhikode becomes first eLiterate city in Kerala

The success of Akshaya, an e-Literacy scheme of the Kerala government’s IT mission is now a household reality. The objective was to make at least one person from each of the 80,532 households in the city e-Literate. The project has met 93.5 percent of the target.The project was kicked off in the city in 2005 aimed to achieve 100 percent e-Literacy in the state, assisted by the city corporation and women’s self-help group “Kudumbasree”. Each person was given a total of 15 hours of computer training in a period of 10 days and the fee per head was INR 120. The corporation provided INR 80, while the rest was paid by the trainee. The corporation spent a total of INR 6.4 million for the project. A number of panchayats and districts in the state had earlier been announced as totally e-Literate.

IGNOU courses to come on mobiles, broadband Students will soon be able to access course material for the Indira Gandhi National Open University on mobile phones and over broadband, with the tie-up between the university and a company that is launching Internet Protocol television (IPTV) services in the country from October. The tieup will see IGNOU’s Gyan Darshan channel being broadcast over the Internet. October 2008 |


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a high demand for such training course. The two courses will be on website development for information management and managerial skills for CMEC managers.

asia PTCL, CISCO, and NUST to establish ‘Centre of Excellence’ for Internet Technologies The National University of Sciences & Technology (NUST), has entered into a tie-up with PTCL and CISCO to set up a Centre of Excellence for Internet Technologies at NUST SEECS, Islamabad.

VN $1,000 for scientific research in international journals education. The issue of providing educational institutions with computers and appointing technicians to facilitate computer education across the country was also discussed. Only 4.5% students are currently studying computer science at secondary and senior secondary levels in the country, as it is not a compulsory subject.

UNESCO develops community multimedia centre for education in Indonesia

The state-of-the-art Centre, a brainchild of Walid Irshad, President and CEO, PTCL, is an effort to improve the quality of IT education in Pakistan. The human resources that will be developed at the Center will be able to export their skills and expertise to the region and beyond, spurring growth in the Pakistani IT sector. NUST would also be expanding its research activity through the Technology Incubation Center that will be operational soon at NUST’s H-12 campus.

For promotion of technology as a community tool, UNESCO has developed a series of training courses for managers of the Community Multimedia Education Centre (CMEC), Jayagiri, Bandung, Indonesia. Currently on, the courses will continue till October end.

At a meeting presided over by Education Adviser Dr Hossain Zillur Rahman, stress was placed on the need for formulating an easy and attractive curriculum on computer 20

During the ministerial visit, University Director Mai Trong Nhuan said the University of Natural Sciences has made lot of achievements in scientific research. In the last few years, scientists have published 110 scientific researches in international magazines. In the current year, the university will conduct scientific research activities costing an estimated VN$ 25billion. The figure is expected to be VN $30millon next year.

China Education Resources announce Education Services Portal Plan China Education Resources Inc. announced its Education Services Portal (ESP) Commercialisation Plan. The ESP is a subscriptionbased service, which is designed to support K-12 schools in China with content, education services (i.e. tutoring, testing, etc.), networking and administration support services for the 21st century.

Compulsory IT study in Bangladesh School Exams The Bangladesh government will make computer and information technology a compulsory subject for classes 9 to 12 in a move to spread computer education in the country. Apart rom this, there is also a move to make the current course books easy and attractive to students.

Vietnamese Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Education and Training Nguyen Thien Nhan has said that the Ministry of Education and Training (MOET) will give VN $1,000 for every scientific research work published in international journals. The announcement was made during his visit to Hanoi National University.

Organised by P2PNFI Jayagiri - a government institution under Directorate General of Non-Formal Education and Youth of Indonesia National Education Department, in cooperation with UNESCO, the training courses focus on the development of community radio and the use of technology as an education tool. Feedback from a training course on producing education radio programmes in August had revealed

The CER has spent the last five years preparing a comprehensive family of education web portals based on its popular CERSP portal hub. The company identified eight strategic objectives for its ESP business to succeed, of which five have already been accomplished. The company believes these accomplishments have positioned the company as a market leader in China’s K-12 online education content and service. October 2008 |

ch r a e res

Effective Content-based Video Retrieval

Collaborating Educational Videos with Presenter Profiles

S. C. Premaratne, D. D. Karunaratna, K. P. Hewagamage,


t its best, e-Learning is individual, customised learning that allows learners to choose and review material at their own pace at anytime anywhere. At its worst, it can disempower and demotivate learners by leaving them lost and unsupported in an immensely confusing electronic realm. Leveraging the most advanced technology, multimedia have raised the learners’ interest and provide methods to learn effectively. Multimedia includes more than one form of media such as text graphics, animation, audio, video and video conferencing. Interactivity (interactive learning) is a term that means a computer is used in the delivery of learning material in the context of education and training. In a computerbased interactive learning environment, a person can navigate through it, select relevant information, respond to questions using input devices such as a keyboard, mouse, touch screen, or voice command system, complete tasks, communicate with others, and receive assessment feedback. Integration of heterogeneous data as content for e-Learning applications is crucial, since the amount and versatility of processable information is the key to a successful system. Multimedia database systems can be used to organise and manage heterogeneous multimedia e-Learning content. In an attempt to integrate video clips into e-Learning we have realised that building an index on top of the video library is a requirement to provide Digital Learning | Vol 4 Issue 10 October 2008

University of Colombo School of Computing, Sri Lanka

The article is on video based educational material where presenters deliver educational content. The authors developed a system which is capable of storing educational video clips with their semantics and retrieving required video clip segments efficiently on their semantics. The system creates profiles of presenters appearing in the video clips based on their facial features and uses these profiles to partition similar video clips into logical meaningful segments. This addresses one of the main problems identified in profile construction and propose a novel approach to create the profiles by introducing a profile normalisation algorithm efficient access to the video library. This will provide an easy mechanism for a student to navigate through the available video clips without downloading the entire clips and thus provide a solution to the limited bandwidth problem as well. To provide content based retrieval of digital video information, we employ a set of tools developed by us to segment video clips semantically into shots by using low level features. Then we identify those segments where presenters appear and extract the relevant information in key frames. These information are then encoded and compared with a database of similarly encoded key frames. The feature information in video frames of a face is represented as an eigenvector which is considered as a profile of a particular person. In our research, we

have designed a multimodal multimedia database system to support contentbased indexing, archiving, retrieval and on-demand delivery of audiovisual content in an e-learning. In this system, a feature selection and a feature extraction sub-system have been used to construct presenter profiles. The feature extraction process transforms the video key-frame data into a multidimensional feature space as feature vectors. These profiles are then used to construct an index over the video clips to support efficient retrieval of video shots. This allows the end-users to use the available bandwidth more efficiently. But one difficulty we came up with is the profile overlapping when the faces of the presenters are projected to the eigenspace. This occur when 21

by limiting the analysis to the largest eigenvectors of related key-frames instead of all eigenvectors of key-frames.

Profile Construction & Recognition Process

the presenters have some features in common and complex to identify as separate profiles. We observed that this happens mainly due the variation among lighting conditions. Our efforts were to construct an algorithm to overcome lighting variations. In this paper, we propose a novel profile normalization algorithm to construct presenter profiles effectively. One of the distinct features of the algorithm is that it is capable of generating profiles at different illumination levels. Our method consequently solves the profile overlapping in eigenspace problem by using certain parameters. This work refines our earlier approach for profile construction which averages all sample key-frame data to construct the presenter profiles. The main components of our architecture are: a Media Server, MetaData Database, Ontology and Object Profiles, Keyword Extractor, Keyword Organiser, Feature Extractor, Profile Creator and the Query Processor. The main emphasis of this research is on the profile creation and normalisation components of the system. The first step of the profile constructor is to extract features from the video Key-frames which containing most of the static information present in a shot. The main 22

inputs to the profile constructor are these key-frames stored in the multimedia database. The presenter detection and recognition process detects the faces in the key frame and try to match it with the presenter profiles available in the profile database. If the presenter in the keyframes matches with a profile then the system annotates the video shot with the presenter identification and maps it with the metadata database. On the other hand, if the current presenter’s keyframes do not match with the available profiles then the profile creator will create a new presenter profile and insert it in to the profile database. The profile construction is based on Principal Component Analysis (PCA). The idea is to represent presenter’s facial features in a featurespace where the individual features of a presenter are uncorrelated in the eigenspace. The feature space comprises of eigenvectors of the covariance matrix of the keyframe features. In this approach, PCA is computationally intensive when it is applied to the facespace. Through the experience we gained from our initial experiments we have realized that the efficiency of the PCA process in this context can be improved substantially

Profile normalisser acquires available profiles from profile database and executes the normalisation algorithm and returns the normalised profiles to the database. Since we get key-frames from different lighting conditions we have to have a proper dynamic profile normalization algorithm to maintain the accuracy of the profile matching algorithm to an acceptable level. Therefore we concentrate on two descriptors, normally the mean intensity and its standard deviation of the data set that we use to construct presenter profiles. After investigating the variation of the illumination and the deviation of the mean intensity and standard deviation of a collection of profiles, we have identified few parameters that can be used to develop an algorithm based on these parameters to normalize the profiles with respect to illumination.

Illumination constraint In our previous approach we have constructed presenter profiles by getting the average intensity values of the faces of presenters in the key-frames of the training set. From the results gathered we have realised that, our system performance deteriorates when the video key-frames are captured at different illumination conditions. The effects of illumination changes in key-frames are due to one of the two factors: The inherent amount of light reflected off the skin of the presenter, or the nonlinear adjustment in internal camera control. Both of these conditions can have a major effect on facial features recognition. In our initial profile construction approach lighting variations result in producing similar profile for different presenter and hence overlap of profiles in the eigenspace. Even when there are only the illumination changes, its effects override the unique characteristics of individual features and thus greatly degrades the performance of stateof-the-art face recognition systems. We have come across a number of October 2008 |

The complete face detection cascade has 32 classifiers, which total over 80,000 operations. Nevertheless the cascade structure results in extremely rapid average detection times. The figure shows some presenter detection applied to the key-frames where multiple presenters appear in a single video shots. Operating on 352 x 288 pixel key-frames, it takes less then one second to detect faces. The selected approach is extremely efficient and fast. After detecting the faces, the face segments are passed in to the face recognition system based on PCA.

Profile Creation & Recognition

Presenter Detection

face image processing techniques as potential pre-processing step to improve the accuracy of the eigenface method of face recognition method. Also a number of attempts have been made to discover a relationship between mean, median and standard deviation of image intensities to construct a normalising algorithm to minimise the adverse effect of illumination on feature recognition. The research focused on finding out a suitable relationship between the mean and standard deviation of intensity values to improve recognition rate by separating out the overlapping profiles in the eigenspace.

number of important features. Feature selection is achieved through a simple modification of the AdaBoost procedure: the weak learner is constrained so that each weak classifier returned can depend on only a single feature. As a result, each stage of the boosting process, which selects a new weak classifier, can be viewed as a feature selection process.

The Figure shows the Graphical User Interface (GUI) for the profile construction and recognition process. The inputs are the video key-frames which presenters appearing. First the system must be trained by being given several key-frames of the same presenter. These key-frames are used to train the system to recognize several features of a presenter’s face and then there will be a new profile created in the database. Then the normalising algorithm is preformed to remove the lighting variation in the key-frames. After the system has been trained, it can

After conducting several experiments using these parameters we have discovered a strategy to reduce the effect of illumination by using the standard deviation(S) and the mean intensity ( ) of intensity values of key-frames. We have developed an algorithm to implement this strategy.


Presenter detection We use a new representation called an integral image that allows for very fast feature evaluation. We use AdaBoost to construct a classifier by selecting a small Digital Learning | Vol 4 Issue 10 October 2008

Profile Creating and recognition


The web application is developed using (Java Server Pager) JSP 2.0. The application requires (Java Multimedia Framework) JMF 1.1 to view the video and audio clips.


Experiments were performed to evaluate our profile normalisation method using different data sets. Frontal face key frames with lighting variations are selected from the database.

Web Application Interface

then look at any key-frame that enters to the system, calculate a set of signatures on it, and compare it with each profile it has been trained to recognise. It then will compute a set of probabilities for each presenter profile, and whichever is the most probable will be considered as the matching profile. If none of the profiles appear to be very probable, then no match will be returned. The profile creation and recognition system is developed using MATLAB 6.5.1. Web application of browsing the educational material by means of profiles.

The web interface grant facilities to browse educational video clips using the presenter profiles which has been created. For the end user, a list of presenter will be offered for the selecting. When a particular presenter is selected, then the list of key-frames which is mapped to the corresponding video segment will be displayed. The web application has the capability of presenting any of the selected video segment give the facilities to the user to hear the audio segment and video segment independently or both of them simultaneously.

Our experimental results show that the performance of the proposed method achieved a good success ratio. Furthermore, Verification tests are carried out to gather false acceptance rate (FAR) and false rejection rate (FRR) results from a data set comprised of key-frames that present typical difficulties when attempting recognition, such as strong variations in lighting direction and intensity. The total error rate is computed as a single measure of the effectiveness of the system and can be compute from FAR + FRR. Without any alterations to the eigenface technique itself, total error rate of 32.4% percent can be achieved. By using our normalising algorithm the total error rate can be reduced to less than 20%. We tested the algorithm using two different counts of key frames of the same presenter to construct profiles. For the initial testing we have used 5 frames per presenter and

The Summary of Results Number of Total Total False False False False presenters frames frames Acceptance Acceptance recognized recognition (Training set) (Test set) Frames Rate (FAR) frames Rate (FRR)

Total Total Error Recognition Rate (TER) Rate (TRR)




























































































October 2008 |

Observations This article has proposed a technique to deal with illumination variations in the eigenspace recognition framework. The proposed method was extensively evaluated on a database of 20 presenter profiles with varying illumination. The experiment results show that the algorithm we have proposed can achieve a substantial improvement in face recognition.

Eigenface Error Rate

for the second testing we have increased the key frames per presenter from 5 to 10. We were able to maintain an 80% recognition rate even when the profile database expanded to 20. The recognition rate with the previous algorithm was 70%. Results indicate that our methodology is

quite robust to both low resolution and luminance changes, which suggest that it can be used for face recognition even when with different lighting conditions. The experimental results show that the performance of the proposed method achieves a better success ratio.

We have observed that effective normalisation of the video key-frames increases the performance of the profile matching system. There are some factors that may be the cause of the remaining 19% error, which were not compensated by our techniques. This could happen since variation in pose is associated with the key-frames. Pose discrimination is not difficult but accurate pose estimation is hard to accomplish. However, a number of simplifications have been made to the initial implementation of the system, and further research is needed to optimize and improve upon these methods. From the final results obtained we can conclude that the new algorithm proposed in this thesis works well under controlled environments and the recognition algorithm took advantage of the environmental constraints to obtain high recognition accuracy.

Future work

Recognition Results Digital Learning | Vol 4 Issue 10 October 2008

The work that had been done can be expanding in several directions. The algorithm can be improved in order to recognise video key-frames such as identify presenter in different poses and scale, although our system works well under small variations in orientation and scale. Development of multi-scale capabilities into our system would significantly add efficiency to the real-time application. Techniques which could be used to achieve multi-scale recognition include scale-based eigenspace and scale estimation based on frame analysis. These areas are proposed as the focus of future work on this research. 25

With Every Right Comes a Responsibility Education is Everyone's Right and Spreading the Message of Education with ICTs is our Responsibility

Volume V Issu e

1 January 200 9

Celebrating its



Anniversary in


You will hear voices from Government, Academia, Industry, and All the Stakeholders of ICTs and Education. For Advertising Enquiry, Contact: Siddharth Verma (+ 91-9811561645), For Editorial Enquiry, Contact: Manjushree Reddy (+ 91-9999662910),

Designing a Bright Future for Design and Engineering Graduates in Asia Tom Joseph, Senior Director, Education, Autodesk Asia-Pacific


any forces are reshaping the world of building and construction, manufacturing, and civil and geospatial engineering in Asia today as we know it. For example, Asia’s oil consumption will approach that of the United States—the world’s largest consumer—by the end of 2020; nearly half the world’s population will live in urban centers and governments; and companies in the region are being pressured by global consumers to reduce their carbon emission and exercise greener practices. In response to these macro-economic forces, job definitions are evolving and today’s professionals are facing pressure to be equipped with multi-disciplinary skills related to their profession in order

to be successful – Product engineers cannot rely only on physical product prototypes alone to be assured of its functionality and safety for consumers; Architects need more than just 2D drafting skills, they need to be able to analyse the impact of different design and material decisions on a building’s performance over its entire lifecycle.

Gaining a Competitive Advantage with Design One ‘meta-skill’ that plays a big role is the ability to leverage and master these macro-economic advances is design technology. By giving professionals the ability to visualise, simulate and analyse their designs before they are real, they can achieve big benefits in terms of

project cost, time, productivity, and innovation. There are clear ramifications of this on post-secondary education: Conventional instruction does not provide the interdisciplinary exposure students need, so universities need to align instruction with workplace demand. By bringing real-world requirements, experiences and tools into the classroom, students will be better prepared for professional practice, and able to define and solve problems in a more holistic fashion.

A new approach to design education in Asia Pacific At Autodesk, we believe that education must go beyond a mere focus on the practical side of design education, and adopt an approach that combines aesthetics and function. Because we know what it takes for our customers to succeed in the commercial industry, we’ve committed to partnering with leading educational institutions to establish multi-disciplinary Centers of Excellence and provide students with the world-class design skills they need to stay at the top of the design food chain.

Case Study: “Designed in India, made for the world” India has emerged as a prime destination for high-end design and engineering work in recent years, and the Government has developed a National Design Policy to support the promotion of design education in India as a means to achieve national and international competitive excellence. A renewed focus on infrastructure development as a growth driver for the economy has also led to a need for qualified architects who are trained in inter-disciplinary areas of Digital Learning | Vol 4 Issue 10 October 2008


urban design and building technology. In fact, it is estimated that educational institutions in India will need to cater to up to 200 major industry segments in which design will play a critical role. This adds up to an estimated requirement of 5,000 to 8,000 designers per annum against the current supply of 300-500 designers in India. At the Sir JJ College of Architecture – the oldest college of architecture in Asia – our design professionals work closely with faculty at the Center of Excellence to develop a multi-faceted curriculum. By teaching students to embrace digital design software tools in situations that mirror the realities in the industry, they have the critical thinking and analysis skills needed to succeed in an integrated practice of design. The Centers of Excellence at the internationally acclaimed National Institute of Design (NID) campuses in Ahmedabad, Gandhinagar and Bangalore in India, also have a Research Chair for Innovation which offers multiple opportunities for joint research projects between Autodesk and NID. 28

As a result, the school has been able to focus on developing an innovative design curriculum and pedagogy that facilitates the spread of design education across multiple tiers of India’s education fabric. The Research Chair further provides students and faculty with the support they need to conduct advanced research in the areas of ‘next generation design’ and design education.

Collaborating with students from around the world In other markets like China, we have established the China Student Design Community Portal to make software and learning resources available for free to all engineering and design students across the country. Students can also take advantage of student forums, class discussions, trainings and tutorials, networking with other students, contributing their work to the design gallery, job postings and collaborate with their peers around the world in such disciplines as architecture, civil engineering, mechanical engineering, industrial design, construction management and more.

Mutual success There is no question that the nature of work is changing. The issues and challenges that today’s professionals face will only become more complex with time, and the imperative for educational institutions in the region to prepare students for the future has never been more pressing. It is reward enough for instructors to be confident that their students are getting the exposure to interdisciplinary content and design technology that will serve them well in their professional careers. Universities benefit in this equation as well - they gain a reputation for developing students who are more likely to succeed in their chosen professions, and this can help attract the attention of more prospective students, not to mention potential employers and donors. And as we work to broaden students’ skill sets and teach them to leverage steady advances in design software, we are not only redesigning their education and giving them a global passport to work anywhere in the world, but also redesigning a more sustainable future for us all as well. October 2008 |

Inspiring Next-Gen Innovators at Early Age Please elaborate on your role as the Director, Autodesk Education Programmes, APAC. There has never been a better time to be a leader in the design software category. In my role as the Director for Education Programmes at Autodesk Asia Pacific, I am responsible for all Autodesk education-related activities in Asia Pacific. This includes establishing long-term strategic relationships and engagements with leading educational institutions, government agencies and industry associations in the region. In addition to this, my team and I are responsible for providing cost effective access to all Autodesk’s design solutions to educational institutes so that they can integrate these into the core design and engineering curriculum for their students. What educational programmes/ initiatives does Autodesk have currently in the Asia Pacific? In order to compete in tomorrow’s global workplace, today’s students must be fluent in the technologies used by professionals in the real world, and be able to collaborate effectively across disciplines, time zones, and cultures. Autodesk offers a compelling suite of education solutions for educators, as well as the real-world tools students need to visualise, design and create the projects of their dreams.

Tom Joseph is the Director of Asia Pacific Education Programmes for Autodesk, Inc and leads a team that is focused on introducing Autodesk’s 3D Design products to the next generation of architects, engineers and designers. Previously, Joseph was the Senior Manager for the Asia Pacific education and marketing team. Joseph started his career as designer with Thyssen Krupp – a German heavy engineering conglomerate. He has been with Autodesk since 1996, and held various positions within technical sales, marketing, strategic initiatives and educational sales in Asia Pacific. In a conversation with Digital Learning, Joseph sheds light on Autodesk’s educational initiatives in China. Digital Learning | Vol 4 Issue 10 October 2008

In addition to our academic Centers of Excellence (COE) with leading tertiary institutions, we also have EduLABs in ASEAN that are targeted at the secondary school level. This is because Autodesk is committed to inspiring the next generation of innovators at the earliest age possible. We have also sponsored a number of local and international design competitions such as the Shell Eco Marathon and bi-annual World Skills Day competitions. Finally, Autodesk provides students from all over the world with the ability to download our software, learn from and collaborate with one another, and explore employment opportunities with our customers and partners through our global Student Engineering and Design Community. Please tell us about Autodesk’s initiatives in China. 1.5 million engineers graduate in China each year, and public and private sector organisations in China are increasingly recognising the opportunity that the global design industry holds for the local economy. To help design students address these expectations, Autodesk has established long-term partnerships with leading education institutions in China to cultivate the local talent needed to make this next transition. We also launched a China Student Design community in March 29

2008 that is entirely in local language and provided localised content to Chinese students so they can collaborate with one another and use the latest design solutions from Autodesk free. How many Centres of Excellence are there in China? What is their function? Autodesk has partnered with eight leading universities in China to establish academic COE. These COEs aim to educate both students and faculty in a wide range of disciplines, including architecture, urban planning, construction management, industrial design, manufacturing, civil engineering, animation, and special effects. Autodesk’s COEs provide leading academic institutions with state-of-theart software and support to investigate issues key to developing economies – such as sustainable design and innovative product development. They also provide faculty and students with digital design tools, multi-disciplinary and project-based curriculum, and stateof-the-art facilities necessary to explore and thrive with new design challenges. To give you an example of how the COEs benefit students, Autodesk has partnered with South China University of Technology’s Architecture and Civil Engineering faculty to introduce students to Autodesk Revit and the Building Information Model (BIM). In addition, Autodesk is working with the mechanical engineering and computer engineering departments to integrate Autodesk technology into university coursework. Through this programme, Autodesk is giving South China University of Technology students access to advanced design software that will enable them to compete in the workforce. At the Tongji University College of Management, we are also working with faculty to teach students to use Autodesk Buzzsaw software for engineering project management. Using the Buzzsaw platform, the university is giving students the opportunity to manage reallife projects. 30

What kind of partnerships do these COEs entail, and how are these beneficial for the students? Please elucidate on the curriculum designed through these partnerships. As part of these partnerships, Autodesk develops a multi-disciplinary curriculum that is customised to the needs of students. For example, we work with the Automotive and Mechanical Engineering faculty at Shanghai Jiaotong University to integrate

them an advantage in a competitive and global marketplace. What is the China Student Design Community? What level of cooperation is there with the Chinese Ministry of Education? The China Student Design Community is an online community that allows students in the fields of architecture, civil engineering, mechanical engineering, industrial design, and

Autodesk has partnerships with 16 schools in Asia Pacific to establish Centre of Excellences Autodesk AliasStudio into the university curriculum. Using Autodesk software, the university is collaborating with General Motors designers on research and development projects. This programme gives students hands-on design experience, giving them a strong foundation for their future careers. At Tsinghua University, we are also working with the school’s Industrial Design department and Academy of Art and Design. Autodesk is introducing the AliasStudio series and Autodesk Inventor into the industrial design and mechanical engineering curriculum. Autodesk is working jointly with Tsinghua faculty to develop and publish an inter-disciplinary curriculum based on Autodesk professional software. Autodesk has also sponsored joint-research projects between the Mechanical Engineering and Industrial Design departments, including 3D tolerance analysis. How many universities does Autodesk have tie-ups with for COEs? Autodesk has partnerships with 16 schools in Asia Pacific to establish COEs. By providing Autodesk 3D design technology that are used by professionals in the field and combining this with innovative curriculum and projects, we are changing the way these students experience design and giving

gaming and animation free access to the professional tools they need to bring their ideas to life. Any student or educator with a valid education email address is invited to participate in the community. Although the free software downloads are becoming increasingly popular, the site also allows students to learn, collaborate and communicate with their peers on campuses around the world through forums, chat discussions and other social networking capabilities. The popular job postings section provides students with opportunities for internships as well as full-time and part-time jobs. The China Student Design Community can be accessed at: http://students.autodesk. Are there plans for educational initiatives in the K-12 segment in China? Autodesk has been making steady contributions to primary, secondary and higher education institutions across the region, helping educators inspire students to pursue visionary careers through Autodesk technology and academic solutions. We will continue to invest heavily in education in China as well, to enable the next global generation of engineers, architects and designers to be inspired and prepared for visionary careers. October 2008 |

Technology Enabling Mass Higher Education The worldwide demand for higher education and lifelong learning has never been greater. Colleges and universities around the globe need to scale up their offerings to cater to a mass influx of students, for whom a degree is their passport to the 21st century workforce. Yet, they must do this in an environment where funding is often constrained and costs continue to spiral upward. Given the tremendous importance of education to individual employability and global competitiveness, institutions are compelled to find creative and innovative ways to effectively reach more students than ever and deliver higher education and lifelong learning at an unprecedented scale. Technology can play an indispensable role in ensuring that higher education institutions are responsive to today’s fast-moving global economy. Technology can also deliver the scientific know-how, research capability and educated communities that are essential to driving sustainable international development and achieving the humanitarian goals that are articulated in the United Nations’ Millennial Developments Goals, such as reducing poverty and improving global health. Technology can also introduce disruptive transformations in the education process itself, as Harvard Business School professor Clayton Christiansen notes in his new book, Disruptive Class: How Disruptive Innovation Will Change the Way the World Learns. But for technology to live up to its transformational potential, business as usual won’t cut it: universities must emphatically embrace change and forge public-private partnerships that tap into the expertise of trusted industry partners (who themselves want to tap into a stronger, more technology-savvy pool of future graduates). Creative collaboration between institutions and the private sector has given rise to promising initiatives that harness technology to advance teaching and learning and reach underserved communities in places as far afield as Qatar, Egypt, Chile and China.

Access Technology holds the key to meeting the growing demand for higher education in an affordable, cost-effective way. For example, modularized digital learning components that can be repurposed across many different courses and instructors, combined with the broad reach of the Internet, change the economics of delivering learning to massive numbers of students, transforming traditional campuses into dynamic, Digital Learning | Vol 4 Issue 10 October 2008

adaptable “click-and-mortar” institutions that serve students not just on campus, but anywhere in the world. The distance learning possibilities opened up by the Internet also throw an educational lifeline to students in underserved and rural communities, or to working adults who must juggle professional and family commitments with their studies. Online services can enable new collaborative and co-learning opportunities, nurturing powerful communities of learning that collapse barriers of distance and help far-flung students learn together.

Quality At the same time, technology enables institutions to continue offering high-quality learning for the growing and diverse mix of students now enrolling in higher education, spanning students of different socioeconomic backgrounds, including an influx of first-generation students from developing countries and underserved communities. Universities and colleges can create richer, more engaging educational experiences that complement and transform traditional instructional tools and promote improved learning outcomes. This can include multimedia content that brings complex material to life and allows students to learn at their own pace, or individual response systems (such as “clickers” to indicate whether students understand the material) that transform traditional lectures into truly interactive experiences that offer powerful feedback loops between instructors and students.

Pedagogy Software also promises to put the educational process itself on a more scientific and data-driven footing through more detailed measurement of student progress and instructional effectiveness. Educators can get timely information about their students’ progress that they can use directly in the classroom to powerfully amplify their instructional capabilities, and students can increasingly test their knowledge and understanding in real-time creating a fully participatory educational process more closely aligned with our developing understanding of how people learn cognitively. Efforts to harness technology toward creating a more rigorous, research-based empirical pedagogical model for education - emphasizing learning outcomes and grounded in hard data - are proceeding across the board. As example, a compelling 31

For technology to live up to its transformational potential, business as usual won’t cut it: universities must emphatically embrace change and forge public-private partnerships that tap into the expertise of trusted industry partners initiative is being spearheaded at the University of British Columbia by Nobel laureate Carl Wieman for teaching science, in which, among other innovations, interactive technology is being integrated into lectures so instruction can be driven by instantaneous feedback from students. In addition to tracking student progress and other key indicators, there are a number of other ways software can help education systems become more agile, efficient and connected. Better data collection and reporting can help meet the demand for greater accountability and transparency in an affordable and efficient way, while also ensuring compliance with the reporting requirements of accreditation agencies and other stakeholders. Moreover, these kinds data-monitoring systems are essential to international standards-based reforms, such as the Bologna Process, which seeks to harmonize academic courses Europe-wide toward advancing the mobility of students and workers across the continent.

21st Century Skills The pervasiveness of technology in today’s workplace means that technological literacy is no longer required just for explicitly technical fields – it’s a foundational skill for every graduate. The ability to offer technology instruction that is aligned to students’ needs will be a powerful differentiator for institutions as they compete to attract students. Institutions also must adapt to the demands of the “net generation,” now hitting college age, who’ve never known a world without PCs, mobile phones or the Internet, and who bring with them dramatically new learning styles and preferences. These “digital natives” are fluent in instant messaging, email, social networking, wikis and blogging, and they are accustomed to inter-disciplinary thinking, multitasking and collaboration, compelling universities to engage with them in fresh ways. Developing student-centric institutions that fully prepare graduates for the demands of the knowledge economy and information society is crucial to the mission of higher education in the 21st century. Public-private partnerships, 32

harnessing the private sector’s expertise to help institutions navigate today’s dynamic fast-moving technology landscape and vested interest in promoting successful learning outcomes, are an essential mechanism for making this happen. Our students expect – and deserve – colleges and universities that effectively clear a path to career success and intellectual fulfillment. It is through a holistic approach including partnerships, process and the right technology, that institutions can develop a world-class infrastructure that enables them to deliver on this social, economic, and moral imperative. The author, Anoop Gupta is Corporate Vice President of the Unlimited Potential Group, Education Product Group and Technology, Policy and Strategy for Microsoft. .


South East Asian Ministries Education Organisation (SEAMEO) RECSAM, Penang, Malaysia Mahanagar Knowledge Corporation Ltd., Asia eUniversity Global eSchools and Communities Initiatives Uniersity of New England, Australia Ministry of Communications and Information Technology, Government of India Indira Gandhi National Open University Open University, Malaysia Institute of Technical Education, Singapore Lal Bahadur Shastri National Academy of Administration, India Centre for Education and Rural Development, India Confucius Institute of Bryant University, US Unnayan TV, Bangladesh University of Kelaniya, Sri Lanka University of Delhi, India


11-13 November 2008 Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre (KLCC) Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia October 2008 |

IIT-B, Wipro sign MoU to enhance engineering faculty A MoU has been signed with signed between the Indian Institute of Technology, Mumbai and Wipro’s Mission 10X to enhance engineering faculty through innovative teaching and learning paradigms across the country. The partnerships aim to create educational material, establishing a joint centre of excellence for research in the field of education. Mission 10X is a non-profit trust which was launched by Wipro Limited in September last year to address skills shortage affecting the IT industry’s growth. The 3-year MoU will include creation of educational material, establishment of a joint centre of excellence to carry out research in the field of education and transmission of education through EDUSAT. Centre for Distance Engineering Education Programme (CDEEP), IIT has been facilitating distance education courses for several years now. Since January 2008, CDEEP has started transmitting IIT-B’s course free of cost to more than 50 colleges through the EDUSAT facility offered by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO).

Educomp alliance with Eurokids International arrives in pre-schools sector Education services firm Educomp Solutions Ltd has acquired 50 percent stake in Mumbai-based EuroKids International Pvt Ltd for INR 390 million to expand in pre-school education.

Educomp has made a strategic investment in EuroKids to leverage the company’s established presence in early child care education foreseeing immense potential in the early child care education market in India which is highly under served. Educomp currently has a presence in pre-school segment through its chain known as “Roots to Wings,” which currently has 52 franchisees. The alliance aims to capitalise on the Digital Learning | Vol 4 Issue 10 October 2008

growing need of “Early child care and education” and this segment in India.

Intel, Dell, Acer to partner Educomp alliance for panIndia IT in schools

The Indian education sector is one of the largest in the world with over a million schools yet less than 5% of classrooms are digitally enabled. Intel, Dell, Acer and Educomp have announced an alliance that aims to drive integration and accelerate adoption of technology into classroom teaching and learning in schools across India. The partnership will undertake over seven thousand schools across 140 cities by holding ‘Next-Gen School Seminars’ over the next six months. These seminars will seek to update schools leaders with latest technology innovations in class room teaching across the globe. The partnerships ties Intel’s World Ahead Programme that will be the learning platform for Intel by providing schools access to technology through PCs, and preparing teachers on effective use of technology in education. Acer brings value through its design, ergonomics and benefit driven features are at the cornerstone of our products strategy under the ‘Aspire’ brand and Educomp will showcase latest version of Smart Class with Smart Assessment System through its pan-India presence to schools Principals and Educators.

assessment of students. The technology, offered by Canada-based SMART Technologies, provides the V280 interactive whiteboard with Notebook and Senteo (meaning voting in Latin) Interactive Response System to the teachers. It offers a 77-inch active screen area, whose large display area the users touch with a battery-powered pen to write notes in digital ink or access and control any computer or multimedia application, including CDs and DVDs, Internet applications and operating systems. The company is a major partner with the Government of Kerala in its ‘IT for schools’ project. The digital technology, which is priced well over INR 90,000 for each school, is expected to improve the learning capabilities of students, increase teachers’ efficiency, besides provide instant feedback in the classroom.

Sun - VTU launch VTU EDUSAT programme A leader in open source, Sun Microsystems Learning services will conduct 50 hours of free-of-cost training on Sun technologies on the EDUSAT network to 111 VTU colleges. The platform also encourages collaboration between schools, enabling educators to easily share teaching best practices across local and global borders. The topics covered will aim to give students an introduction to cutting-edge technologies with additional inputs on how to prepare for careers in software development in an increasingly open source world. The training will be conducted as part of Sun’s training and certification activities from Sun India Engineering Center, evangelists, and other subject matter experts sharing their knowledge on several key areas.

Karnataka schools to have digital tech devices

MBD Alchemie to launch e-Learning portal

Schools in Karnataka State will soon have digital technology devices for students and teachers for performance

MBD Alchemie, an online education academy of MBD Group is launching an e-Learning project in India to 33

become India’s mass education offering through dissemination of high quality standardised content across the country. The online academy was aimed to introduce the courses for students of class 10th & 12th of Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) and for AIEEE and AIPMT preparation. New course on IIT-JEE, STATE CETs, State Boards (Xth and XIIth), are in the pipeline and will be launched very soon. It is collaborating with State Boards of Punjab, Gujarat, Maharashtra and Karnataka. Once the knowledge portal is launched, the curriculum would be available in the respective regional languages as well. The portal embedded with distinctive features like personalised coaching including self paced learning mechanism, self test tool, extensive self-education, online problem solving facility is created to be highly interactive and the instructional interface is very simple.

Etutelage Eduservices nominated for TATA Awards Etutelage Eduservices, a fast growing e-Learning provider has been nominated for the coveted TATA NEN Hottest Startups Awards. The First ever ‘Public Choice’ awards to recognise India’s new wave of growth is an online contest where people can nominate companies and vote on Internet and through SMS. The Awards are a unique collaboration between the Tata Group and National Entrepreneurship Network (NEN), the largest representatives of new & future entrepreneurs in India. Etutelage Eduservices is an elearning company offering innovative technology solutions to school students worldwide. The company offers personalised online tutoring, one on one online SAT and ACT preparation, a unique Quiz a Day for SAT and ACT students and an innovative wiki, Wikifunda, for school students. The 2008 Tata-NEN Startups Awards will showcase a wide range of high potential startups from multiple sectors, ranging from 34

healthcare, retail, mobile technologies, biotech, hospitality, lifestyle, IT and service providers.

GurukulOnline offers Certification on Financial Planning GurukulOnline Learning Solutions (GOLS), an innovator of eLearning in India became the first company in India to offer online training for Certified Financial PlannerCM (CFPCM) certification. Any graduate can apply for this online certification course, which is awarded in India by Financial Planning Standards Board, India, the licensing authority of the CFPCM mark in the country. The course is currently at an introductory price of INR 20,000.

NIIT opens Community Learning Centre in Delhi The NIIT Community Learning Centre (CLC) will provide relevant skills to the unemployed youth in urban slums for making them employable for jobs in various sectors such as telecommunications, retail, hospitality, healthcare, etc. Apart from IT sector Centre will also focussing on the retail sector and have planned for employment generation schemes. The leading Global Talent Development Corporation is working with leading retail and hospitality majors to provide job-opportunities for students trained at the CLC.

The first CLC in the city set up in association with NGO ABHAS was inaugurated by Smt Sheila Dikshit, Chief Minister of Delhi. CLC will offer training programs in the area of basic English communication; computer and operating system skills; knowledge of industry sector; and industry-specific skills such as customer handling in retail. The training programs will be of three months to one year duration for 10th and 12th pass students, residing in urban slums and semi-rural areas. NIIT plans to set up 20 CLCs in the next three years, in close proximity to slums.

OLPC eyes 1 mn laptop sales in India US-based One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) plans to sell one million laptops in India, each with a price tag of about $300 (including deployment) in the next twelve months. The Massachusetts-headquartered association, which set up its office in the capital this month, claims to have already gathered sponsorship commitments from six top business houses for distributing about one million laptops to primary school children. The OLPC is also talking to major companies like Infosys, Bharti and the Tatas for sponsorship commitment of the laptop called XO-1. Bharti, however, declined having made a large order commitment as yet. The price of a laptop is about $300 (inclusive of deployment and maintenance). October 2008 |

ve i t i Pos rkes sto

Room to Read Crafting New Educational Solutions

Erin Ganju, Co-founder & Chief Operating Officer, Room to Read Erin Ganju is the co-founder and chief operating officer of Room to Read. She has been instrumental in creating the scalable approach the organisation employs to create flexible, adaptable programming to meet the diverse needs of each of its partner communities. She manages the design of Room to Read’s programmes as well as its launches into new regions. She also oversees more than 250 employees and operations worldwide, including the Programmes, Development, Finance and Human Resources departments. Erin has spent extensive time working and living overseas Digital Learning | Vol 4 Issue 10 October 2008

in Hong Kong, Singapore, Indonesia and Vietnam. Prior to joining Room to Read in 2001, Erin held high-ranking positions with Dejima Inc., e-Commerce infrastructure provider Network Commerce, leading consumer products company Unilever N.V., and international investment bank Goldman, Sachs & Co. She holds a combined bachelor’s and master’s in International Relations and Economics from The Johns Hopkins University in Washington, D.C. In an interview with Digital Learning, Erin shares with our readers the challenges and issues involved in community development through education. 35

Please shed some light on the education scenario in Asian and SE Asian countries with regard to rural communities. What are the challenges involved for Room to Read ? To give a brief overview, some of the challenges with the educational systems in Asia include the lack of adequate school facilities, shortage of quality teachers, lack of books and teaching materials, challenges with relevancy of the curriculum particularly for a rural child, and the high drop out rates for students in secondary schools, especially among girls. Room to Read began working with rural communities in Nepal in 2000 to build schools and establish libraries. The organisation’s geographic reach expanded rapidly as significant needs and opportunities were identified in Vietnam, Cambodia, India, Laos, Sri Lanka, Zambia and South Africa. Our holistic approach now includes building schools, establishing libraries, publishing children’s literature in local languages, providing long term scholarships for girls, and establishing computer labs. How far is the SE Asian region from attaining the goals of EFA by 2015? Overall, few countries have achieved or are close to achieving the EFA goals. Pre-primary enrollment has steadily increased and progress towards universal primary education has been made, but the challenge of expanding pre-primary education remains especially great in

Dismayed at seeing empty book shelfs in a school library on a trip to Nepal in 1998, John Wood gave up his lucrative job with Microsoft to found the non-profit Books for Nepal. By 2000, the organisation had opened 26 libraries in Nepal and built two schools. Eight years later, the organisation - now known as Room to Read – has established a network of over 5,167 libraries, 442 schools, and 155 computer and language rooms, and currently funds long-term scholarships for over 4,036 girls. . 36

countries like Cambodia and Laos. In almost all countries in the region there are still major gender disparities and disparities due to wealth and ethnicity. Please elaborate on the major programmes of Room to Read in Asia and SE Asia. Room to Read has developed a holistic, multi-pronged approach to help children in the developing world gain the lifelong gift of education. The approach includes the following programmes: School Room — We partner with communities to build schools. Reading Room — We establish bilingual libraries and fill them with donated English books and local language books purchased in-country

In the meantime, Room to Read grew beyond Nepal: first to Vietnam, and then to Cambodia, India, Laos, and Sri Lanka. More recently, Room to Read began working on the African continent, launching programmes in South Africa in 2007 and beginning work in Zambia and Bangladesh this year. In all these countries, it partners with local communities to provide quality educational opportunities by establishing libraries, creating local language children’s literature,

or self-published, creating a colorful space with posters, games, furniture, and flooring. Local Language Publishing — We source new content from local writers and illustrators and publish high-quality local language children’s books to distribute throughout our networks. Computer Room — We establish labs to provide students with vocational skills and employment access. Girls’ Education Program — We fund long-term girls’ scholarships for young girls who would otherwise not have access to an education. One of the key operating philosophies we work under is that we hire local staff, who are personally vested in their nation’s educational progress and we empower them to make key

constructing schools, providing education to girls and establishing computer labs. With a belief that education empowers people to improve socio-economic conditions for their families, Communities, countries and future generations, Room to Read seeks to intervene early in the lives of children. Through the opportunities that only education can provide, it strives to break the cycle of poverty, one child at a time. October 2008 |

programmatic decisions within their country. They are already familiar with the language, conditions, customs and governments and understand the specific needs of the educational system and work to ensure that we craft new solutions to existing problems. What kind of partnership do you have with the local communities for outreach? Our local teams are in charge of establishing partnerships with other organisations to assist with implementing Room to Read programmes as they see fit. These partnerships are varied across the countries we work in, but are critical to the success of Room to Read being able to address the wide variety and complex needs of communities to increase educational opportunities for children. What is the Challenge Grant model? What are its salient features? Our Challenge Grant model requires that communities raise a portion of the overall expenditure for our programmes in the form of dedicated space, labor, materials and/or small amounts of cash. These challenge grants act as catalysts for community building while also maximising the local participation and expertise brought to our programmes. Is your focus completely on rural areas or it also includes the urban poor. We mostly work in rural areas as these are often the most underserved communities. We select regions to work in depending on where there is the greatest need for our programmes, which areas are the best match for our programmes, and which communities request our support. Is the girl child in the Asian region more at a disadvantage than her counterpart in SE Asian region, vis-avis education? Girls are disadvantaged in all of the countries in which we work. In Cambodia, for example, girls’ enrollment in school drops precipitously as they get older. In Nepal, only 35% of women are literate. It is common across Digital Learning | Vol 4 Issue 10 October 2008

Success Stories In June 2007, Room to Read Vietnam sponsored a three-day summer camp for secondary school Room to Grow scholars. In all, 223 people attended, including 170 girls and 53 facilitators and school coordinators. The camp aimed to build team spirit and leadership among the scholars and also offered them activities to increase their self-awareness and recognise their unique talents. The sessions included talent contests for art, writing, sports, singing, and dancing, as well as life skills training for personal development and goal setting. The girls roomed together in dormitories and developed many friendships in the course of the week. The Vietnam Team sent us quotes from some of the girls who participated in the summer camp and I think these demonstrate the importance of programmes that focus on empowering girls: ‘I feel that this is my second family now. I’m a lonely girl, however I feel warm here when I have friends, sisters from Room to Grow. I’m so happy when I have a lot of people caring for me.’ ‘My motto is: In our life, good and bad things always exist. We should dismiss bad things and focus on good things in ourselves so that we can feel happy and confident.’ ‘I am so honored to be part of the Room to Grow programme. My wish is that I want to be a successful business woman and to help other poor students like me.’

many Asian countries that if a family is poor and able to send only one child to school, they generally send the oldest boy. What challenges does Room to Read face in a war-torn country like Sri Lanka, where peace is still a distant reality? Due to the civil war, Sri Lanka has major problems with unemployment, youth unrest, ethnic conflicts and poverty. Eight lakh people have been displaced because of the long-standing war. The country’s infrastructure has been extremely disrupted and this can make it difficult for us to carry out many of our programmes. Challenges range from not being able to work in certain parts of the country due to political instability as well as having our own teams spend time mediating conflict between students of different ethnicities. As an NGO our goal is to try to help all in need and to encourage a focus on peace and tolerance. Our Sri Lankan Country Team has done a fantastic job in spite of these challenges.

In your view, what role does local language play in spreading education among the disadvantaged groups. Language is certainly a challenge to providing education to minority groups. Our Local Language Publishing program is working on this issue by printing children’s books in local languages. In 2007 we received AED’s ‘Breakthrough Innovations in Education’ award for the innovative nature of the programme. Starting next year we will begin printing books in a couple of minority languages in India and Nepal. We hope to expand on this initiative and publish books in additional minority languages in all of our countries in the future. What kind of skills training is imparted through the computer labs set up by Room to Read? Through our computer labs, students primarily learn computer literacy and typing skills. In some of our labs in India, we have also encouraged teachers to focus on computer aided learning as a means of using technology to complement classroom instruction in 37

The Story of Thao Pajuay Phankommadam, A Rural Student from Laos. Life in my village is harsh. It is in a very remote area, one kilometer away from the center of Lao Ngam District in Salavan Province. All of the villagers make their living from farming, and most are very poor. The village has no electricity and no running water. The road from the town to our village is unkempt and rough. We children in the village do not have many educational opportunities. The school has always been in bad shape, and for the longest time we had no library, or books for the students to read—not even textbooks for teachers to use.

Pre-primary enrollment has steadily increased and progress towards universal primary education has been made, but the challenge of expanding pre-primary education remains especially great in countries like Cambodia and Laos

My parents grow rice to support our family. Even though we are poor, my parents always support my siblings and I in our studies. I love to study. Every morning I get up to help my parents steam rice and feed our chickens before I walk to school. The school is not close to my home so I have to leave very early so I don’t miss class. I hate being late. I remember the morning our teacher told us we were going to receive a library from Room to Read. Everyone in the class was so excited and happy to have new books to read. Our school now has a library with so many books!; folktales, picture books, short stories, comic books, novels, books on history, books about famous people, and others which we had never even seen before. The library opens every day for the students to use. Now I have so many books to read! I love the comic book, “Kampha Wants to Go to School”. My other favorites are “The Value of Goodness”, “A home for the Elephants”, “An old kind man”. On weekends I bring books home from school. The children in my neighborhood will come to my house and listen to me tell stories. At night I read the books to my parents, and brothers and sisters. Before we received the library, I used to daydream while I was steaming rice in the morning of what it would be like to read books. And before going to bed, I would sit there and think of books then too. Now with all of these new books, my dreams have come true.


subjects like mathematics, science, social studies, and English. As a result, some teachers are now using computers in conjunction with traditional classes to apply pragmatic application to relevant studies. Through the teacher training we provide, we are constantly trying to help teachers better engage students in lessons using computers. What role does technology play in extending the reach of education among the masses. How much of it is being used by Room to Read? In some of our countries (namely Nepal), we have been able to open our computer labs up to community members during non-school hours. This access – which has included community classes and general use of computers for printing and Internet services – has had the added benefit of generating revenue to help the school sustain

the computer lab after Room to Read support ends (after 3 years). Aside from our Computer Room program, we have not yet used technology to increase education among populations outside of the schools in which we work. One of the main challenges with providing technology in these remote areas is the lack of essential infrastructure, such as electricity. Internet connectivity is another challenge that many people face in the developing world. We have acknowledged this difficulty and are working with our in-country teams to find a solution. Are there any plans for expansion to other countries? We recently registered in Bangladesh and will begin implementing programmes there next year. We hope to expand into one more African country and one more Asian country in the next couple of years. October 2008 |

Size:21.5 x 28 cm


Intel Navyavichar

Infusing New Ideas in Technology Integration In an effort to provide the teacher educators with a platform to share their views, develop research ideas, and provide field– based recommendations to policy makers, a two-day research seminar called ‘Navyavichar’ was held by Intel in New Delhi. The event, held as part of the Intel Teach Pre-Service programme, on September 12 also saw the launch of a research publication on best practices of technology integration in teacher education institutions. The study, in the form of a book ‘Infusing Dynamism in Teacher education Through ICT Integration – Learnings from India’, has been brought out in collaboration with the National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC). Releasing the book, Prof. M. A. Siddiqui, Chairperson, National Council for Teacher Education (NCTE) congratulated Intel for its ‘commendable work and collaboration to strengthen the teacher educators in order to make use of technology in their professional capacity.’ Acknowledging the value of ICT in teacher education, Prof Siddiqui touched upon various initiatives carried out by NCTE in collaboration with Intel, starting from a workshop for teacher educators in 2000 to the recent ambitious Project XPDITTE, which will cover more than 10,000 teacher education institutes in the country. Also present on the occasion were NAAC Deputy Advisor Dr K Rama, Manager, Education, Intel South Asia Anshul Sonak, Director, Corporate Affairs, Intel South Asia Rahul Bedi, Director, SCERT Delhi Dr B N Vajpayee and teacher educators from the 20 TEIs which were part of the study. Dwelling upon the process of conducting this collaborative study, Dr Rama said around 500 NCTE and NAAC accredited TEIs were approached with a proforma, out of which 200 institutions responded. ‘The proforma covered four issues, namely, access to technology; nature of use; challenges faced; and solutions devised.’ Twenty-five of them were selected to write about their experiences in technology integration and finally 20 TEIs came out with their versions. The publication contains case studies of 20 TEIs detailing their practices of using and integrating ICTs in teaching / learning as well as their systems and processes. It assesses the extent to which technology integration has taken place in the TEIs and the manner in which it has been attempted. The outcome of the study not only reveals the status of such efforts 40

but also the possible future directions needed to strengthen the process. The two important aspects covered in the publication include integration of technology within the curricular boundaries and also beyond it. The TEIs which provided input included university departments, IASEs, CTEs, government colleges, government aided colleges and private colleges, rural and urban colleges, colleges that have ample funds and own labs and also those facing severe resource crunch. Teacher educators, who have contributed to the study, also presented their practices of ICT integration to the audience and gave their inputs on an ICT policy in Education on the occasion. The primary research findings of this study were initially shared in a ‘National Research Workshop on Integration of Technology in Education’, organised collaboratively by Intel and Jamia Millia Islamia in 2006. At the workshop the researchers had also touched upon important issues of curriculum studies; addressing student diversity through ICT; advancement of online professional development programme for in-service teachers; attitude of students towards ICT; etc. October 2008 |


Computer Literacy Programme

Transforming Rural Bangladesh

Anir Chowdhury, Ajoy Kumar Bose,

D.Net, Bangladesh

Glimpses from the CLCs An unremarkable high school in a nondescript backwater village of our country just became equipped with a Computer Learning Center sponsored by the Volunteers Association for Bangladesh, New Jersey (VAB-NJ, USA). The students in the high school had never seen a real computer in their life; most people in the village had never heard of such a thing, and if they had, they could not care less: what can a computer do for them? Students were used to slogging through their SSC ‘Computer Science’ syllabus by memorising concepts and definitions from the boring, black-and-white, blurred images of CPUs and monitors on newsprint. These were the digitalnot-haves in the increasingly digital, but as quickly digitally divided, world. Chances that these students would grow the right skills to compete in the globalised world were remote. Now, the newly established CLC is offering them a ray of hope. Even the villagers are

coming by to see the lab and finding out how a computer can impact their lives.

This is the story of 82 CLCs launched in high schools, colleges and community based organisation of disadvantaged areas of Bangladesh as of June 2008 by D.Net. Walk with us to some of these CLCs and see the buzz of activities in an otherwise unexciting establishment of learning, and hear the stories of lives being transformed.

Students’ lives being transformed Md. Nasir Uddin is a student of Class X in one of these high schools where a CLC has taken shape. Whereas previously he despised his Computer Digital Learning | Vol 4 Issue 10 October 2008


and teachers to venture out of their own weasel spaces and empowering them to take new steps. At a number of the centers, the teachers are using computers for tabulating and analysing student grades, scheduling school activities and resource management. One newly founded college which used to have about 100-120 students successfully leveraged the CLC started less than a year ago to market itself very prominently. Its 2006 enrollment jumped to 250.

Science subject material which he needed to ingest directly from newsprint, now he could not be more eager to learn the material taught at the Center as he dreams of being a computer scientist one day. Many graduates of the programme have found the motivation and courage to pursue advanced studies in computer science. A poor girl at a Feni CLC was so inspired from her interaction with the computer that she convinced her brother and another relative to buy a computer at home for further learning. Before the Computer Learning Center was started, students would not get more than 70% in SSC Computer Practical tests. After the establishment of the Center, some students are scoring as high as 100%. Many graduates of the Computer Literacy Programme have been gainfully employed because of the skills they acquired at the CLC. A heartening story is that of Rubel Islam and Alamgir Hossain from Doulatpur who have been employed as computer operators at the Bangladesh Army.

Teachers becoming agents of change Md. Farid Uddin is the teacher of a high school boasting a CLC. He is leveraging his personal interest in computers to 42

build awareness within the community on how the computer has become the new ‘pen’ in the age old maxim ‘The pen is mightier than the sword’. A large number of unemployed youth are coming to him for computer literacy. Teacher Farhana Akhtar in Bagerhat inspired and guided students Ziaur Rahman and Zahidur Rahman to start their own small ‘computer shop’. This is an example of where the CLC gave these two students an ‘axe’ with which to earn a livelihood. A teacher writes from a CLC in Munshiganj, ‘The most important effect of CLP is that it has created and is creating computer awareness among the students of the school; now students realise the importance of computer for their present and coming life.’ School administration being more efficient every year, many schools used to spend several days processing the admission test results of a few thousand prospective students. With the computer processing power, and the consequent heightened sense of urgency among the staff, the efficiency gain has cut down this effort to almost a third of what it used to be. Students get their test results within a day. The CLCs are encouraging students

Humorous anecdotes of students being petrified of computers and overcoming their fears to become proficient operators of the mystical machine abound. One of our 12,808 graduates fell off her chair while holding the mouse because she was trying to move her body with the movement of the mouse. Another graduate escaped the CLC after closing off the Toolbox in a paint programme – he was terrified that he ‘broke’ the computer. Hundreds of these ‘frightened’ individuals are now operating the computer very successfully and fighting with the new ‘pen’.

School Teaching Being More Learner-Centric Invariably at all CLCs, group activities on a computer are essential to getting the lessons completed because i) it is encouraged, and ii) the shortage of computers does not allow one-to-one ratio most of the time. The upside of this arrangement is that the seeds for positive collaboration are sown. Where else in Bangladesh do you see such collaboration at the school level other than students plagiarising from one another? Many of the CLCs have introduced supplementary digital material for general subjects such as mathematics, science and English which the students find difficult to learn and teachers find difficult to teach. This material leverages colourful animation and cartoons that are fun for the learner. It holds the interest of the learner much more effectively than drab textbooks and often monotonous lectures from the teachers. Because the learners sit at the driving October 2008 |

the centers opened as of June 2008, and you will know that the organisers have not just tip-toed around Dhaka or only the big cities. Thirty-four districts and 61 sub-districts are represented with the current 82 centers. Schools miles away from the main road are among the locations selected. It is important to note that the Computer Literacy Program is not purely charity – the schools have to provide the space and furniture for the lab, mobilise the teachers, students and the community, and manage the programme themselves. Thus, it’s a true partnership among the VAB-NJ, donors and sponsors, D.Net and school management.

seat, they drive the depth and breadth of their own learning.

School Emerging as Community Learning Centre and Service Centre Recently, the administrators of the Mymensingh Teachers’ Training College contacted the CLP when their B.Ed. (Bachelor of Education) needed computer training. Some 65 B.Ed students were trained at the Muktagacha and Mymensingh CLCs to successfully satisfy their requirements. This is a poignant example of how CLP has assisted in areas completely outside the original objectives. Many eager parents visited the computer labs. Teachers of other subjects are also falling in line. One particular English teacher’s words are, ‘I keep hearing terms such as ‘hardware’, ‘software’, ‘mouse’, ‘log-in’, ‘log-out’ all the time, and I have no clue what those mean. It’s time I became a computer literate as well.’ In a CLC that was established within a youth development center, the community youth who have graduated from the CLC course, are using the center to draft letters, certificates, programme schedules among many other things. The CLC has made the center a lot more vibrant and useful to its members, their friends and relatives. Digital Learning | Vol 4 Issue 10 October 2008

Recent introduction of Internet and D.Net’s JEEON Livelihood Digital Content in a number of the centers have sown the seed for a giant tranformation in information access by the disadvantaged. Based on five years of research on livelihood information needs of rural communities of Bangladesh, the JEEON Livelihood Digital Content features text, video and animation content on agriculture, health, education, human rights and legal issues, disaster management, appropriate technologies, among many other information needs. This content is already in use around the country in 26 of Pallitathya Kendras which are community information centers. Some CLCs are now operating as part-time Pallitathya Kendras after school. Students from different classes are using the content for their academic purpose specially for agricultural study.

The Partnership Made It Work All of this has been possible because of the dedication of a few devoted volunteers in NJ who conceived of the idea five years ago, a good number of donors and sponsors from the nonresident Bangladeshi (NRB) community, and the sustained commitment of VAB-NJ’s Bangladeshi partner D.Net (Development Research Network) to make this project successful against all odds in all remote areas of Bangladesh. Just one look at the distribution map of

The remarkable phenomenon of NRBs motivating the resident Bangladeshis has happened through this programme. Capable individuals and organisations have come forward to sponsor CLCs. During the fund-raising dinner for the programme in January 2006 in Dhaka, D.Net was able to raise about US $1,500 from individuals, Bank Asia Ltd a private bank has sponsored 13 CLCs under their CSR programme, Hussain Trust and many individuals from Bangladesh pledged setting up multiple CLCs around the country. Diplomats from a foreign embassy visited two CLCs and donated eight new computers. The Dhaka office of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) provided four and Siemens Bangladesh provided two previously used but very high quality computers to another CLC. Recently D.Net and Relief International signed a MoU to collaborate their activity on ‘Enhancing Computer Learning Program along with Internet connection’. The objectives of the collaboration are to promote ICT in a basic education setting and improve the general state of education in Bangladesh, introduce Global Connection Exchange (GCE) programme activities, Teacher Professional Development (TPD) training, ICT Youth Leadership Training, Technology Volunteer Corps Training, International students and teacher exchange and many more. It is a rewarding and inspiring 43

experience to talk to students, teachers, and parents. They feel grateful and encouraged that the more fortunate sons and daughters of their soil are finally looking back and ‘giving back’

Computer literacy programme: Planning the next steps In the last four years since inception, the Computer Literacy Program has gone through a maturation process primarily in programme management and strengthening of operations on the ground. A strong basic curriculum has been designed and proven. The labs are functioning like clockwork (true, there are occasional hiccups with old computer parts needing urgent replacement, but D.Net has perfected a system to address that in an efficient manner for the current centers). Teachers are being trained effectively. They are delivering training to the students according to the agreed upon

ability to objectively assess the impact of a programme that it implements and then apply corrective measures to make the intervention more effective and efficient. In general, the CLCs seem to have great positive impact on not only the students and teachers but also on the parents and the community as a whole. It is important to obtain feedback from independent, external observers. In 2006, a graduate student from the Fletcher School of Government of the Tufts University, USA carried out a formal comprehensive evaluation of CLP based on structured questionnaires, interviews and focus group discussions. The study report entitled, “Bridging Digital Divide for Rural Youth: An Experience from Computer Literacy Programme in Bangladesh,” is available online at The study came up with some interesting observations: CLP graduates tend to collaborate with and learn from

report that the CLC seems to increase the confidence, comfort and enthusiasm of a student in a computer environment, and are somewhat split on whether it increases self-confidence.

Advanced training CLP so far has limited itself to a 32-hour basic training that teaches the students the basics of computer hardware operations, Microsoft Windows fundamentals, word processing, spreadsheets, drawing, and some hardware and software troubleshooting. Advanced courses are being planned which will allow the students more sophisticated use of the computers such as desktop publishing, email and internet, presentations, animation, and even simple programming. D.Net has identified eight schools and conducted a day-long workshop with the teachers to assess demand in these different CLC locations to design the right mix of educational content. D.Net has introduced international standard certification programmes such as Microsoft’s Unlimited Potential in a few CLCs, and is exploring International Computer Driving License among others. This can potentially become an income-generating activity for the CLCs.

Internet access

schedule. Over 92% of the enrolled students are successfully graduating from the programme. Now that the foundation of the set of labs has been established around the country, VAB-NJ and D.Net have started planning the next generation activities for the CLCs.

Impact research D.Net is primarily a research organisation. Its strength lies in its 44

one another more than their peers who did not go through the programme do. Teachers report that CLP trained students do better in other areas, such as, Mathematics, Bengali and English, CLP course are beneficial in the students’ preparation for SSC Computers. Head Teachers report that the presence of a CLC in a school enhances enrollment in and transfer of students to that school and presence of the CLC has had an overall positive impact on the operations and character of the schools. Guardian’s

Twenty-eight CLCs have internet connectivity currently. Internet access open doors for unprecedented knowledge and creativity for the students. This is directly evidenced in Bangladesh in another programme run by an international donor agency Relief International Schools Online that has set up Internet Learning Centers (ILC) in a few underprivileged schools. The schools students are communicating and working on joint projects with students from India, Tajikistan and the USA. The joy and resourcefulness unleashed by the CLCs and ILCs are a sight to behold.

Computers for general education The power of computers as a tool of general education is established all over the world including developing countries. It is indeed the new ‘pen’. October 2008 |

D.Net is collaborating with Bangladeshi organisations such as Foundation for Education Research and Innovation (FERI) and Bangladesh Mathematics Olympiad (BdMO) to bring to the CLCs Math and Science Camps. In such camps, multimedia educational CDs will be demonstrated through computers and students will engage in various activities on selected topics. BdMO in the last seven years has popularised Mathematics all over Bangladesh to the point that all self-respecting schools would want to get involved in the Math competition. The CLCs could provide a very effective avenue for these competitions coupled with multimedia CDs on Math. Another innovation D.Net is planning to launch around the CLCs is ‘Education on Wheels’. The concept has its roots to a visit by a few D.Net members to underprivileged schools in Egypt. There, computers are placed on movable trolleys and taken to classrooms to demonstrate educational concepts thereby making the teaching-learning environment a lot more enjoyable and effective. In the context of CLCs, all D.Net needs is a trolley where one of the center’s computers will be fitted and loaded with multimedia educational CDs for their trip through classrooms. Four CLCs are going to start the ‘Education on Wheels’ programme from November this year. The schools will bear the cost of trolleys while D.Net provides training and relevant CDs for display in the classrooms.

Income generation and sustenance An idea is only as good as its staying power. The Computer Literacy Program has been very successful in its current context. However, the programme needs to be sustained. The funds for it must be maintained either through the donors and sponsors or by some other means. Or, perhaps more realistically, through a combination of donors/sponsors and income-generating activities managed by the CLCs directly. D.Net and VAB are designing several such components to sustain the remarkable achievement the CLCs have been able to make in a Digital Learning | Vol 4 Issue 10 October 2008

very short time. Some of these activities are: • Offering advanced courses suitable to local demand • Leveraging the CLCs as parttime Pallitathya Kendras. The digital services such as computer composing, digital photography, serving livelihood information from the JEEON Livelihood Digital Content platform can all generate income for the CLCs. There are many other income generation activities that are on the drawing board, but the programme needs to move slowly so as not to upset the integrity that it has been able to build with the school communities hosting the CLCs.

Sustaining the NRB commitment and energy Executive Director of D.Net Dr. Ananya Raihan, when describing his first contact with VAB-NJ, wrote in an article that appeared in the 2005 fund-raising booklet for the Computer Literacy Programme, ‘I was a bit apprehensive initially. The NRBs have started many initiatives before which faltered in the middle of the process due to lack of comprehensive planning and clarity about the ultimate objective, prevalence of ‘charity’ mentality, inadequacy of back-up plans, and a lack of understanding of the realities in the field.’ The particular NRBs driving the Computer Literacy Program have proven Dr. Raihan wrong so far – he was indeed quite happy to be proven wrong! Recently, on hearing about CLP, Mark Surman, Managing Director of, a Canada-based global initiative for IT for development, remarked to Dr. Raihan that it is the only programme in the world where

countrymen (NRB and residents) successfully pushed such an initiative a long way without any ‘foreign donation’. The almost unnoticeable event of the poor Feni girl figuring out a way to get a computer in her house is by no means ordinary. It is indeed symptomatic of the profound cultural and social revolution that computers can catalyse for our deprived society. Rubel and Alamgir’s employment as computer operators in the Army is also part of the equation of paving the road for our countrymen to become able soldiers of the increasingly globalised and digital world. CLP is providing the initial sparks of this revolution and transformation. As mentioned earlier, CLP’s capabilities are limited. In the backdrop of 64,000 villages of Bangladesh, 82 CLCs have been established in four years. Obviously success to date is dwarfed by national need. However, the experience gathered and lessons learned over the three years encourage bigger dreams. It has been reaffirmed that honest and fruitful endeavors encourage others to extend a helping hand. The deprived students in the remote villages of Bangladesh have shown that they can make good use of every little opportunity provided to them. CLP has demonstrated that NRBs, with their expertise and resources, are able and willing to effectively contribute to developmental projects that help the country. Professionals from Bangladesh are now scattered in various parts of the world. Most of them nurture a fond desire to pay back to the land from which they sprang. This is a cherished treasure whose proper utilisation can bring the desired well being for the nation.

Anir Chowdhury is a Co-Founder and Member, Governing Body, D.Net and Policy Advisor, Access to Information Programme, Chief Adviser’s Office, GoB. He is also the Vice President of open source movement ‘Bangladesh Open Source Network’ (BdOSN). Chowdhury has been a key contributor to ICT policy formulation, e-Governance advancement, open source adoption and ICT4D progress in Bangladesh as a member of the ICT Task Force. Ajoy Kumar Bose is a Co-Founder of D.Net. He worked as a research officer at Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies (BIDS) from 1991-2001 and has rich and varied experience in socio-economic research, SME, education, agriculture, and Information Technology. His expertise lies in collection, synthesis and analysis of data and core-team management. Bose is presently the Project Coordinator of Computer Literacy Programme in D.Net.


try n cou cus fo

Ushering Peasants Learning in China Lan Jian, LU Hejie, China


armers in Chinese town of Tianyaun in Zhejiang Province are using a range of ICT tools for accessing information on weather, farming and educational content for improving productivity and skills. This innovative model introduced by Tianyuan Town Adult School uses computer, television and telecom technology to generate and disseminate information through video advisories and broadcast of agriculture-based and educational programmes.

Peasants learning network At the heart of this experiment is what is called the CI Xi Peasants Learning Network, which is essentially an online platform housing text, audio visual material hosted on a server owned by the training school. The online content of the network is classified in five sections: Theme news, air classroom, live classroom, online Q&A and discussion. The training school carried out a needs assessment through a questionnaire for the local farmers to find out the most appropriate issues or subject on which they needed information on. As many as 38 different courses were evolved through this exercise. One of the most popular features of the portal is on-demand availability of videos, as the farmers find them very practical for picking-up new techniques. After registration with the school, a peasant gets a login account to access the website. The log-in module also serves as user authentication for the 46

online learning system and then jumps to the relevant interface. The design of the website interface is logical and user-friendly. The

background colours are light, while the characters are big and make a clear contrast to the background. Thus the information is eye-catching to the learners. The editors try to arrange all October 2008 |

relevant content on a single web-page. The portal also has a listing of testing and process modules that a peasant can consult to plan his or her availability for trainings.

Short mobile text message platform Working with the state-run telecommunications department, the training school has been able to create and operate a highly effective short message system platform that is used to send out timely information to peasants. Functioning for the past two-years, this service has so far delivered over 2,000 messages on weather forecast, farming tips, market supply and demand scenario and training schedules on the website. In the year 2006, just before a typhoon was expected to hit the region, the training school had released weather forecasts advising peasants to reenforce their greenhouse structures and dig drainage ditches. It also published information on vegetable cultivation measures specific to post disaster situation on the portal. The online platform also has an expert consultation system to help solve practical problems faced by the farmers. The school also provides and maintains a database of agriculture experts allowing farmers to seek individual telephonic consultations. Broadcast platform and open classrooms The local cable television station

ICT as tool for agriculture extension Given the problems that extension agents face in facilitating direct contact with farmer clients and with researchers due to physical distances involved and lack of transportation for their mobility, the application of ICT offers excellent possibilities. Utilizing ICT for strengthening research-extension-farmer linkages must, however, move from pilot testing phases to integration into researchextension systems and beyond the urban focus. Major factors that need to be addressed include creation of an enabling environment, development of infrastructure, development of software and information content, making ICT sustainable, building capacities, combining its use with traditional media and learning from success stories. (APO, 2002)

Combining traditional information dissemination methods with new forms of extension delivery Studies have shown that farmers depend on multiple sources for information and technologies. In most societies, face-to-face contact is still the preferred mode of communication. Given the large populations to be served by extension and the dispersed and distant locations, face-to-face communication is not always possible and thus needs to combine strategies and communicationchannels to include traditional information sources, such as radio, print, video and television, together with new forms of delivery such as through ICT.

Pioneering ICT model in agriculture extension service In the past two years, more than 800 peasants have registered email boxes, learnt new plantation technology, improved production quality and introduced new crop varieties. The new ICT training model, which started in Tianyuan Town, is now being expanded to five nearby towns and is expected to be widely implemented across China in future.

in the town has developed over 22 programmes on 11 subjects and they are beamed on Saturday evenings. The peasants have a programme directory and this allows them to pick and chose what they need to watch. These programmes are also available on recorded disks for the peasant in case they miss the programmes.

Peer-to-peer learning through study groups Study groups can foster the cooperation awareness and facilitate the communication among learners. The study groups are organised according to regions and similar plantation structure. The peasants study in a peasant family with an online computer. Digital Learning | Vol 4 Issue 10 October 2008

The membership of each study group varies from 7 to 19. The planting master hands in the village are appointed as instructors. All together there are 13 study groups in the town. Advantages of the training model A common training model cannot meet the diverse needs of peasants living in a dispersed area, growing different varieties of crops. The model being implemented in Tianyuan allows dynamic and user-based online content, thus addresses individual needs of the farmers. For farmers, the farming seasons and weather situations are very important. This model provides prompt information to peasants saving them from great losses and optimising production. 47

News world Third ‘ICT in Basic Education Congress’ concludes in Philippines More than thousand educators, education policy makers and represen-tatives from government and non-government institutions convened in Cebu City, Philippines, for the 3rd National ICT in Basic EducationCongress to discuss issues on the use of ICT in primary and secondary education. This year’s theme for the two-day biennial event was ‘Teaching the Net Generation: Curriculum, Pedagogy, and the Challenge of 21st Century Learning’ was aimed to help prepare students and teachers in public schools all over the country for the challenges of technology-based learning. The event was expected to fuse priorities across the education sector, with particular focus on how to most effectively utilise ICTs to benefit the students and teachers.

Sri Lanka launches m-Learning in higher education

The Faculty of Graduate Studies (FGS) of the University of Colombo, SLT Mobitel and Microsoft -Sri Lanka have launched m-Learning to make university courses available to students via mobile. University courses will be made available through devices such as mobile phones, laptop computers and Personal Digital Assistants (PDA). The students will be able to 48

participate in live lectures and interact with lecturers without having to be physically present at the university’s lecture halls. SLT Mobitel has provided broadband connectivity while Microsoft has developed the delivery system for m-Learning. The FGS will currently offer a one year Executive Diploma in Marketing at the initial stage.

Florida state law for each district to have virtual schools

A new state law in Florida, USA requires districts to create their own full-time virtual schools, collaborate with other districts or contract with providers approved by the state. Next school year, the first generation of Florida students can begin to earn a diploma from local public schools entirely online. The law is believed to be the most wide-ranging virtual mandate in the nation. The state already funds two online schools catering to students in kindergarten through eighth grade as well as the Florida Virtual School, which offers middle and high school courses. The new law is expected to bring webbased education to many more students and increase the number taking classes in a virtual world.

Malaysia to have five-star schools by 2010 In order to make Smart Schools in Malaysia a benchmark for other schools, the Malaysian government has said that all 88 smart schools should have a five-star rating under the Smart School Qualification Standards (SSQS) by 2009 or 2010. As many as 65.9% of schools have

already achieved five stars and 29 had four stars while one was ranked three stars. The ministry has developed SSQS standards for assessment in terms of resource usage, human capital, applications and technology infrastructure. The ranking ranges from one star (basic) to five stars (advanced plus).

New Zealand launches ICTConnect in schools New Zealand Computer Society has launched ICT-Connect, a programme to bring awareness and promote ICT as an exciting and well-paid career option amongst school students. ICT-Connect will operate in up to three regional centres, alongside other related regional initiatives. It will involve local ICT professionals ‘adopting a school’ and helping the schools by providing interactive activities with experts, teachers and students. The working group that will set up ICT-Connect will comprise leading figures from the ICT industry, government and education sector.

Open source firms accredited for UK schools

In a move to introduce the usage of open source software in UK schools, an open source company has made it to the list of accredited suppliers of Becta, the agency responsible for administering IT functions in schools, for the first time. The accreditation of Sirius, a leading open source player, to the Becta framework is expected to throw open the doors for schools to access its varied services like infrastructure consulting, technical support etc. The decision also comes as a victory for the open source community which has long championed the cause of open source software in schools citing substantial cost benefits as a major advantage. October 2008 |


Mark Your Calendar october Handheld Learning 2008 13-15 October 2008 London, United Kingdom

5th Annual Colloquium On Online Simulations, Role-Playing, And Virtual Worlds 13-17 October 2008 Hong Kong, China

ICCIT 2008 - International Conference on Computer and Instructional Technologies 15 October 2008 Venice, Italy

OMDESTIN-08 Conference 20-21 October 2008 Muscat, Oman

Regeneration and Learning, Continuity, Change and Community 20-23 October 2008 Newport, South Wales, UK

Pedagogical Education: Contemporary Problems, Modern Concepts, Theories and Practices 23-24 October 2008 Saint-Petersburg, Russian Federation

2nd European Conference on Games Based Learning 16-17 October 2008 The Universitat Oberta de Catalunya, Barcelona Spain

3rd International Symposium and Conference on English Language Teaching Materials 16-17 October 2008 Alor Gajah, Melaka Malaysia

4th International Conference on University Teaching and Learning 20-21 October 2008 Shah Alam, Selangor Malaysia

Speaking of Kids 24 October 2008 Vancouver, BC, Canada

2008 Faculty Student Multidiscipline Global Conference 24-26 October 2008 St. Cloud, Minnesota United States

Third International Language Learning Conference (3rd ILLC) 2008 29-31 October 2008 Universiti Sains Malaysia, Penang, Malaysia

11-13 November 2008 Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre (KLCC) Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Digital Learning | Vol 4 Issue 4 April 2008

ICVL 2008 -The 3rd International Conference on Virtual Learning 31 October-2 November 2008 Constantza, Europe Romania

All India Photography Contest for Children, 2008

Organiser: Central Institute of Educational Technology, National Council of Educational Research and Training As part of its initiative to to showcase children’s talents and nurture it, CIET, NCERT is organising a Photography Contest and intends to to follow it up with a training programme on Photography. The contest is open to all students of ages 12-18/classes 6-12 from formal, nonformal, private and government schools from all states and union territories of the Indian Union. Each student may send in a maximum of two entries, one on each of the two themes: • Nature – Natural phenomena, living and non-living, features and artefacts; • Peole in Action – People’s life, their work, culture. The photographs in colouror black and white in 5’’ x 7’’ or 8’’ x 10’’ size should be sent along with completed entry form and the certificate of bonafide work in the prescribed format by the Head of the School. All entries received would be showcased on the CIET website along with the student’s details. The best 100 entries will be awarded a certificate of commendation. The top 20students would be invited to a two-week course on photography to be organised at CIET. The entries should be sent to: All India Photography Contest for Children, 2008 Central Institute of Educational Technology National Council of Educational Research and Training Sri Aurobindo Marg, New Delhi – 110 016 Last date for receipt of entries: 30 October, 2008

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Atop the crescendo : October 2008 Issue  

[] With the aim of promoting and aiding the use of ICT in education, Digital Learning education magazine focuses on th...

Atop the crescendo : October 2008 Issue  

[] With the aim of promoting and aiding the use of ICT in education, Digital Learning education magazine focuses on th...