Current Trends In Postgraduate Educational Technology Education Essay

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Abstract

The present emphasis on the use of technology in teaching and learning in Malaysia has brought about some research interests in the field of educational technology. This paper examines the current scenario of research carried out in this field in the Malaysian Universities. In particular, this paper explores some current trends that emerge in the selections of research area at the post-graduate level within the past five years from the year 2000 to 2005. Data collected for this research indicates an increasing number of postgraduate researches in educational technology each year in the Malaysian Universities. These trends are classified into possible areas of instructional design; analysis, design, development, implementation and evaluation. Within the last five years, postgraduate research in educational technology concentrates at the Masters level (70%) as compared to the Doctoral degree (30%). The trends uncovered from these postgraduate researches are an indication of the status, practice and directions of educational technology in Malaysian education system. Based on the findings, the majority of theses are based on research focusing on the Implementation (34%) followed by Development (30%), Analysis (15%), Evaluation (15%) and Design (6%). Efforts from public universities to make ICT as part of teaching and learning are indeed prevalent in Malaysia. The researchers hope that universities will make available an updated list of database on the list of theses at the postgraduate's level and also make it accessible to the public, researchers and students. The list of theses is not only important for reference for current and future postgraduate students but also as indication of the current trends or future directions of the state of education in Malaysia. Inevitably, each institution has its own unique approach to the type of research which goes inline with each university's mission and vision in upholding the country's aspirations towards becoming a developed nation by the year 2020.

An Individual Country's Experience - Malaysia

Malaysia hopes to increase the quality of life for its people by building quality infrastructure and strengthening human capital in its journey to become a developed nation by the year 2020. The Eight Malaysian Plan has seen a great deal of emphasis being placed over the last five years in educational research and development. Efforts have been directed towards the advancement of Information Communication Technology (ICT) knowledge in higher institutions in Malaysia. Research activities at the postgraduate level showed an increasing number of postgraduate researches in educational technology each year in Malaysian Universities and each institution is unique in contributing to this field of education that is in par with the Ninth Malaysian Plan for the next five years.

Introduction

The Malaysian government is geared towards achieving its vision in becoming a developed nation in which Information Communication and Technology (ICT) plays an important role in the education system by the year 2020. Based on the National Education Report by Ministry of Education Malaysia (2004) the utilization of technology as a tool in teaching and learning will become part of the curricular policies, educational content, and teaching and learning strategies within the next ten years. The implementation of ICT in the teaching and learning of core subjects in schools like English, Bahasa Melayu, Science and Mathematics extends the government's commitment in its effort to provide meaningful education by making ICT-enhanced teaching and learning as common features in Malaysian school.

The Malaysian Ministry of Education (MoE) and other public and private institutions also play a major role in providing education and training services to meet the challenges of Vision 2020. Universities, College Universities and Teacher Training Colleges are offering ICT related programmes. Centres like Centre for Instructional Technology and Multimedia (USM), Institute of Multimedia and Software (UPM), Centre for Educational Technology and Multimedia (UPSI) among others are evidence of these institutions commitment to train teachers who are competent in ICT and to be able to contribute to the development of the country. Faculties and Schools of Education in Malaysian Universities are all geared up to ensure that the country's aspirations are met. The teacher education curriculum includes ICT literacy as part of its effort to increase the number of ICT literate teachers.

The growing emphasis on ICT in Malaysia has placed a strong emphasis on science and technology in education. A great deal of emphasis in educational research and development has also been geared towards the advancement of ICT knowledge in higher institutions in Malaysia. Researchers and educators are encouraged to focus on ICT research. It is hoped that research findings in this area will not only improve the teaching and learning methodology but will also contribute to the body of knowledge in the design, development and evaluation of teaching materials as well as courseware development.

Based on a survey by Ministry of Education Malaysia for an APEC Project (1999), Eight Malaysian universities with Schools and Faculties of Education were already using ICT to train teachers for secondary schools. These universities were making ICT as an important part of their course content and their teaching and learning strategies. USM in particular requires students to take Instructional Technology courses as an important part of their course programme.

Problem Statement

Technology changes rapidly and educators need to keep up with its advancement to ensure that the aspirations of the country is met. Therefore, educators and professionals need to keep abreast with the changes to be able to plan for the future. Professionals and practitioners need to know if the country is moving towards this direction.

Scholarly ICT-based researches have been conducted in Malaysian Universities at the tertiary level namely for the Masters and Doctoral degree. Therefore, this paper will focus on the current trends in the postgraduate research in the field of Educational Technology. Surveys and educational reports from the Ministry of Education in ICT development in the country are often focused on ICT readiness among teachers, schools and students, curricular policies, educational content and learning strategies (MOE, 1999, 2004). Since the Ninth Malaysian Plan (2006-2010) puts a strong emphasis on technology-based education system, the current trends in postgraduate research for the past five years during the Eighth Malaysian Plan (2001-2005) has to be looked into and should be advocated as an area in need of research.

Table 1. List of Public Universities in Malaysia with Educational Technology Research

at Postgraduate Level

University

Faculty/School

Institute/Centre

Universiti Malaya (UM)

Faculty of Education

Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM)

School of Educational Studies

Centre for Instructional Technology & Multimedia

Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM)

Faculty of Education

Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM)

Faculty of Educational Studies

Institute of Multimedia and Software

Universiti Pendidikan Sultan Idris (UPSI)

All faculties

Centre for Educational Technology & Multimedia

Universiti Utara Malaysia (UUM)

Faculty of Cognitive Science and Education

Universiti Islam Antarabangsa (UIA)

Institute of Education

Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM)

Faculty of Education

Universiti Teknologi MARA (UiTM)

Faculty of Education/

Faculty of Information Technology and Science Quantitative

Research Objectives

The principle aim of this paper is to provide a summary of the trends in Educational Technology research in Malaysian Universities for the past five years (2000-2005). Based on the ADDIE Model the research aims to investigate what has been the focus of Educational Technology research in education at the Malaysian Universities.

ADDIE Model was chosen over Instructional Systems Design (ISD) Model (Dick and Carey, 2001), ASSURE Model (Smaldino et. al., 2005) and PIE Model (Newby et. al., 2000), due to its generic and simplified nature with all the important components of ID. ADDIE is short for Analyze, Design, Develop, Implement, and Evaluate. It is a basic model for any type of learning, including web-based and, is simple and includes all the components found in all other instructional design models. Dick & Carrey (2001), for example provided nine steps in its ISD model which is too extensive while PIE (Planning, Implementation and Evaluation) Model (Newby et. al., 2000) provided too simple alternatives to the research intended. Smaldino et. al. (2005), on the other hand, is more appropriate to the teaching learning environment which is not the focus of this research that focuses on the Instructional Design (ID) components.

These findings are hoped to provide relevant feedback on the directions of educational technology-based research in Malaysia towards realizing the country's aspirations especially in making ICT-enhanced teaching and learning as common features in Malaysian school.

Methodology

A. Procedure

There are 11 public universities in Malaysia and nine have been identified for this study. These nine universities were identified as having Faculties or Schools of Education and Institute or Centre that offer educational technology research programme at the postgraduate level (Table 1). The list of theses title at the postgraduate level was obtained from various resources at the respective universities, namely, the library, online database and the School/Institute of Graduate Studies. Since the study focuses on the trends of educational technology research, only theses from schools and faculties of education were considered. However, in certain universities, other IT-based centres and faculties also carried out research and courses in Instructional Technology at the postgraduate level that are also linked to educational courses. Therefore, data from these centres and institutes were also collected.

As an example, in USM, data was taken from the School of Education and also the Centre for Instructional Technology and Multimedia. In UPSI, since all faculties are education-based, data was also collected from theses in music education, art education, chemistry and other department.

Data were obtained from the list of theses at respective university library, websites and the School/Institute of Graduate Studies. However, from a total of eleven public universities in Malaysia selected for this research, only four universities (Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM), Universiti Malaya (UM), Universiti Pendidikan Sultan Idris (UPSI) and Universiti Teknologi MARA (UiTM)) have a database that keeps track of their postgraduate theses.

UM for example, has the list of theses title published on the library's website. Data was downloaded on-line. In UPSI, the data was provided by the Centre for Graduate Studies. The rests of the Universities do not have any database that is easily accessible to public although they were helpful in providing the list upon request. While theses were collected and stored at the library or the postgraduate school, the lists of titles are not often updated. In the case of USM, the Institute of Graduate Studies made every effort to ensure that the data was made available to the researchers. Where data was not available the theses were obtained from the theses rack and titles were copied down manually. Other universities were unable to provide the data in time for this study. Permission was not granted to the researcher to obtain data from their collection. Given the time constraint, a decision was made to continue with the research and report writing using the data obtained from the four universities as shown in Table 2.

Data collected for this research indicates an increase number in postgraduate research each year in the area of educational technology in Malaysian Universities. Leading the pack is USM with the most research in postgraduate educational technology research within the last five years. This is as expected as Science and Technology has been the main emphasis since the establishment of the University in 1969. The School of Education and Educational Technology Unit (now known as the Centre for Instructional Technology), however, were only established in 1970 and 1974 respectively.

Universiti Malaya being the first university in Malaysia has the oldest Faculty of Education. Research in this field has been in placed since 1970's. Thus it came as no surprise that the number of research conducted in Educational Technology is well established and increasing in numbers.

Formerly known as the Education Institute of Sultan Idris, UPSI received its university status in 1997. Therefore, as expected courses at the postgraduate level are still new. Nevertheless, researches in educational technology in UPSI are slowly increasing in other areas of education such as music, art and science education.

UiTM since its inception in 1956 also received its university status in 1999. Postgraduate courses offered through the Faculty of Education only began in 2000. Therefore, the research in Educational Technology and other areas at the postgraduate level is still at its infancy. Data obtained only showed two masters theses in educational technology within the last five years.

Other Universities like UPM, UKM, UTM, UIA and UUM showed that there are faculties of education and Centres/Institutes that caters to the need of research in educational technology. However, during the period of this study, data was not available from these five universities. Efforts has been taken to obtain the data through phone calls and even visits but due to time constraints and unavailability of personnel to help compile such data, data from these universities were not collected in time for this research. It is the aim of the research to compile data from all universities in Malaysia but due to these constraints only data from four universities could be reported. It is hoped that in future there will be a more complete, systematic and current list of data that would present the current trends and directions of educational technology in Malaysian universities.

Conclusion and Recommendations

Efforts from public universities to make ICT as part of teaching and learning are prevalent in Malaysia. Educational research in areas of educational technology is increasing year by year. That is an indicator of the universities pledge towards realizing the Vision 2020.

The study only collected data from four universities. The researchers hope that universities will make available an updated list of database on the list of theses at the postgraduate's level and also make it accessible to the public, researchers and students. Compliments should go to UM for making their database easily accessible via the university library website. USM's Institute of Graduate studies should be thanked for making the efforts of assigning an officer to compile a list for the researchers. The Centre for Postgraduate in UPSI should also be credited for its effort to have updated their database when this study was conducted.

The list of theses is not only important for reference for current and future postgraduate students but also as indication of the current trends and future directions of the state of education in Malaysia. This of course will be in line with the current trends and development of the country as a whole. It is also hoped that future study in the current trends of postgraduate research will include the private universities contribution to the advancement of educational technology research in the country.

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