March 2007

Rethinking the Asian ICT and Education Agenda

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10 sessions 
55 speakers
20 countries
(as part of the e-Asia 2007 that brought together 700 people from more than 50 countries)

 




One Objective- ICT and Education- Opportunities for Digital Asia Several approaches- online and offline discussions, paper presentations, plenary, round tables, interviews, and many more

 


 

The conference venue
Digital Learning Asia 2007
6-8 February 2007
Putrajaya International Convention Centre, Malaysia


 



a study on the Asian minds on education technology, a reference note towards policy level preparations, and an approach for the development of the education community.

 





ICT is undeniably a crucial tool for education, and the economy. Its contribution is proven not only by many recent academic studies but also by the experiences of the past years that shows the fast rise of digital learning and ICT based industry and the economy. ICT based education however has changed over the last few years. The awareness has grown that best results with digital learning are often not achieved anymore by quick and radical new approaches but by well conceived processes with a clear eye for tangible and measurable results.


There are several Asian countries that have made enormous progress in this arena. Some have completely outpaced others on particular areas and have become global leaders. There are many chances for Asia, ICT still has much more in stock for digital learning to rule the roost. Many new market segments will probably see a big growth, such as the content market and the creative industries. A leading position in these new growth areas is crucial, if Asia wants to play in the first league of productivity, combined with a strong policy system. Digital Learning Asia 2007 seconds this approach of exploring all those chances and opportunities leading towards a Digital Asia.

Digital Learning Asia 2007 bringing together the thought leaders: Sanjay Kumar, CEO, GIS Development, Walter Fust, Director General, SDC, Dato' Dr Lim Keng Yaik, Minister of Water, Energy and Communications, Malaysia, R Chandrasekhar, Additional Secretary, Govt of India, M P Narayanan, President CSDMS, Dato' Dr Halim Man, Sec. General KTAK, Malaysia, Richard Fuchs, IDRC,Canada, Dato' Dr Nordin Kardi, VC, UUM, Malaysia and Ravi Gupta, Director, CSDMS (from left to right)

Inaugural address by the convener Ravi Gupta Vincent Quah, Microsoft Asia Pacific (right) among others The journey starts: The Minister of Water, Energy and Communications, Malaysia accompanied by others to join the conference 

The journey starts: The Minister of Water, Energy and Communications, Malaysia accompanied by others to join the conference

 

 


Digital Learning Asia 2007, which was a part of the three days umbrella event eAsia 2007, was the culmination of five months of planning and collaborating among CSDMS, Ministry of Energy, Water and Communications, Malaysia (KTAK) telecentre.org, Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), and key partners like, Microsoft, Nokia, SEAMEO, National University of Singapore, Universiti Technologi Mara, University of Uttara Malaysia, and several others to bring together the key stakeholders from Asia and beyond. The Digital Learning Asia planned as a consultative forum for discussion and collaboration was designed to engage the participants representing organisations involved in or interested in ICT and education activities in and around Asia.

Digital Learning Asia 2007 is the third in the series of such consultative forums organised by CSDMS in Asia. While for some participants this was the first time, they met the Digital Learning community at large, for many, it was a place to meet old friends, make new acquaintances and forge news partnerships. The three days of the forum saw participants engage in several planned and adhoc discussions on the way forward for the ICT and education community in Asia.

Breakthrough!

Cognitive gaps among different stakeholders in ICT in education continue to be an area that needs attention. The call is for strengthening of cooperation and linkages between educational institutions and organisations across the globe.

Governments need to form smart partnerships with vendors and non-profit organisations to help bridge the digital gap between students from urban and rural schools.

Dedicated classroom technology has to be promoted rather than moving from one classroom to the other as practiced in several countries.

Leadership within the schools has to be emphasized.  Recognising, training and supporting teachers who are champions within the schools system will be a boost to promote digital learning.

The first day plenary of eAsia conference set the stage for the next two days of consultation on telecentres, eGovernance, Digital Learning, eHealth and mobiles for development. While the Minister of Energy, Water and Communications (KTAK), Malaysia talked about the value addition that a comprehensive policy environment brings to national development, he also emphasised that while the country is surging ahead with IT enabled growth processes, it also needs to review and rework its focus human resouce development that could drive the knowledge economy. The Minister insisted that there is a need to focus attention to sustain, strengthen and value-add to the existing initiatives in human resouce development. While M P Narayanan and Ravi Gupta, the President and Director of CSDMS highlighted the vision and the key objectives behind the eAsia conference, Water Fust, Director General, Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), R Chandrasekhar, Additional Secretary, Department of Communications and Information Technology (DIT), India and Akthar Badshah, Senior Director, Microsoft USA also reiterated that the way forward for ICT4D in Asia was to collaborate and strengthen the initiatives through renewed partnerships and sharing of expertise.

The first day also saw the launch of the ITU-Universiti Uttara Malaysia partnership on Asia-Pacific Centre for Excellence for Rural ICT Development. The Minister along with Dato' Dr Nordin Kardi, Vice Chancellor, Universiti Uttara Malaysia inaugurated the launch.

The inaugural day saw a key session by the Government of Malaysia on Malaysian ICT vision that included key experts from KTAK, and Malaysian Communication and Multimedia Commission (MCMC).

The Global Knowledge Partnership had put together a plenary session drawing expertise from Microsoft, Ministry of Communication, Government of India, Omar Dengo Foundation, Costa Rica, EPFL, Switzerland, Foundation ChasquiNet, Ecuador, Community Informatics Research, Network, Training and Development, Canada and Friday Solutions, India. The session hosted by Walter Fust was framed around experiences of multi-stakeholder partnerships and addressing three key questions of poverty reduction, scaling models and government policy involving multi-stakeholder partnerships.

As a part of the overall eAsia themes, the Digital Learning Asia 2007 conference took prominence due to the importance of ICT-enabled learning in an increasingly knowledge driven global economy.  In the next two days of the conference, the participants tried to learn about experiences that have enabled change conducive to the new environment of knowledge society as the instruments to bridge the knowledge and education divide. The purpose of this conference was to identify new ICT and education related questions, roadblocks, progress, and debatable issues, and to provide new impetus to the digital learning discussions.

The first day saw the launch of the telecentre magazine, a joint initiative of CSDMS and telecentre.org. Richard Fuchs, Regional Director, South-East and East Asia, IDRC, Walter Fust, SDC, Akhtar Badshah, Microsoft spoke about their association with CSDMS  and their vision for the magazine on telecentres, volunteering their support for the magazine. Ravi Gupta, Director of CSDMS explained that the magazine on telecentre has been conceptualised as an interface between telecentre leaders, knowledge providers, and decision-makers, providing up-to-date information on developments in the telecentre movement, networks, and service providers.

The conference saw participation from education ministers and education managers in government, senior policy makers, administrators, academics, school heads and teachers, curriculum specialists, industry representatives, and education consultants.

The sessions began with a visioning process setting the stage for the participants to learn, share, network and identify collaborators. While infrastructure is critical, going beyond it and looking at process, content and teachers capacity building were identified for national programmes, keeping in mind the importance of comprehensive policies.

The second day began with the plenary session titled 'ICT in Education: Opportunities for Digital Asia'. The forum participants learnt about national level ecosystem of ICT-enabled education.

Understanding the fact that the developing countries are facing today the challenge of preparing their societies and governments for globalisation and the information and communication revolution, this plenary session showcased some emerging application areas and the new potentials of ICTs that can bring in dramatic changes in learning and eventually in the economic and social development.

'Educators must change – it is often in the winds of change that we find our true direction. Educators are the digital immigrants who have slid into the digital age, but are still doing most things in the old way, where as the students are the digital natives- fluent in the digital language and applications.'
Dato' Haji Yusoff bin Harun, Director, Educational Technology Division,Ministry of Education, Malaysia

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dato' Haji Yusoff bin Harun,  Director, Educational Technology Division, Ministry of Education, Malaysia, who elieves that what is important is not the technology but the people, broadly presented the ICT in Malaysia's policy and in Ninth Malaysian Plan. He also gave a picture of major ICT in education projects of Malaysia like Smart school project, SchoolNet, Computer Labs, Teaching of Science and Mathematics in English, Educational TV, school access centers, etc. The Malaysian experience of shifting gears, and framework for leadership provided the first opportunity for Digital Asia to start the journey towards change.

Breakthrough!

Continuous professional development of teachers is very important to ensure that they are being updated with new ICT tools and innovative teaching methodologies.

There is richness of content available for schools to purchase and use, and governments should seriously consider whether there is any need to do in-house development of materials for schools.

There is a need to reveal and revise the mode of assessment, and set mechanisms within the evaluation system that are representative of the changed environment.


The Malaysian experience went beyond the school aspects, with the representative from the Department of Higher Education under the Ministry of Higher Education, Malaysia putting forward some future development plans like the 4G mobile, Next Generation Network, National Broadband Master Plan, IPv6, use of open source software, etc. that can be adoptable by others striving for development in the context of digital opportunities. The participants also believes that what is important is not the technology but the people, broadly presented the ICT in Malaysia's policy and in Ninth Malaysian Plan. He also gave a picture of major ICT in education projects of Malaysia like Smart school project, SchoolNet, Computer Labs, Teaching of Science and Mathematics in English, Educational TV, school access centers, etc. The Malaysian experience of shifting gears, and framework for leadership provided the first opportunity for Digital Asia to start the journey towards change.

The Malaysian experience went beyond the school aspects, with the representative from the Department of Higher Education under the Ministry of Higher Education, Malaysia putting forward some future development plans like the 4G mobile, Next Generation Network, National Broadband Master Plan, IPv6, use of open source software, etc. that can be adoptable by others striving for development in the context of digital opportunities. The participants also got glimpses on the use of ICT in Distance Education, Malaysian Research and Educational Network (MYREN) experirnces.  university-industry partnership in promoting ICT in education showed some related challenges of benchmarking and compliance with industrial requirements, challenges of inter-ministerial collaboration, and private sector participation.

Harry Kwa, Director of Education, Microsoft Asia Pacific, Microsoft' What we need to look for in Asia are

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