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This article was written by Habibah lateh and Vasugiammai Muniandy from University Sains Malaysia. It describes and discusses about the obstacles and opportunities of implementing GIS (Geographical Information System) in schools with a deep focus of GIS in teaching and learning geography. The aim of the study is to determine the effectiveness of GIS in increasing students' interest towards the subject as well as to upgrade the performance of Malaysian Teachers' Standard. The future, advantages and disadvantages of GIS to be used in Malaysian classrooms were discussed.
In-depth Summary of the Article
Geography and GIS in Malaysia
The stages of education system in Malaysia can be divided into primary education, secondary education, pre-university education and tertiary education.
In the Malaysian context, Geography is classified as social education and it is offered to primary and secondary school students through the standardized curriculum.
Basic Geography is offered to standard four students in primary schools through the subject 'local studies' while Geography is a compulsory subject among lower forms in Malaysian secondary schools and it became an elective subject at upper secondary level.
Geography can be divided into 3 main fields :
Geography Skills : Longitude, latitude, the usage of compass, bearings, graphs and mapping.
Human and Physical Geography : Climate and weather, population, transportation and communication.
Local Study : Field work (Done within few kilometers from their school/housing area).
The usage of computer in this subject is very low as the one and only computer literate that students learn is producing Bar and Line graphs using Microsoft excel.
In order to make teaching Geography interesting and proactive, GIS were suggested as it :
Captures, stores, manipulates, queries, analyzes and displays all forms of geographically referenced information.
A useful technique for organizing and retrieving spatial information and reasoning (location, latitude and longitude co-ordinates) that supports higher level of learning among students.
GIS allows students to view, understand, question, interpret, and visualize data in many ways that reveal relationships, patterns, and trends in the form of maps, globes, reports, and charts.
A GIS helps to answer questions and solve problems by looking at the data in a way that is quickly understood and easily shared.
It is a new way of thinking and problem solving that integrates geographic information into how students understand and manage the planet. It allows students to create geographic knowledge by measuring the earth, organizing this data, and analyzing and modeling various processes and their relationships. It also allows students to apply this knowledge to the way they design, plan, and change the world.
Possibility of Integrating GIS in Malaysia
GIS is feasible to be used in schools as most of the secondary schools in Malaysia are equipped with computer labs and internet access. [Mohd faris Dziauddin, 2006]
Teacher's enthusiasm or willingness to adapt the new technological GIS method to teach Geography is high as 94.1% out of 219 teachers agreed and give positive commentary regarding the implementation of GIS in schools. [Nordin sake, 2006]
UTM, USM, UKM, UPSI, UMS and UiTM are universities in Malaysia that offers GIS as a subject for their students. UMS offers GIS and make it as a compulsory subject. They offer 2 papers :
The Principles of GIS
The Application of GIS
USM offer GIS for Geography majoring students at the degree level at the Engineering Campus. School of Humanities and School of Distance Education offers GIS for their students at different levels from degree to masters and PhD levels.
According to Vasugiammai Muniandy, (2005), GIS can be integrated effectively into the Geography syllabus, especially 'local are study' without making any drastic changes to the existing syllabus. It is GIS allows students to view, understand, question, interpret, and visualize data in many ways that reveal relationships, patterns, and trends in the form of maps, globes, reports, and charts. A selected topic of local area study and how GIS can be implemented was carried out in developing area, Kepala batas. The study proves that GIS does help students to identify the growth and development in that particular area within decades. In fact, the students can study the development among the area phase by phase.
According to Tarmiji et al (2005), GIS has the future of becoming the 'data bank' as it benefits the students, future generations and the surrounding society. It can be used at both level, primary and secondary and yet be extended to all subjects.
Obstacles in Integrating GIS in Malaysia
The cost of the GIS hardware's and computer labs with complete PC sets are high.
Teacher's enthusiasm or willingness to adapt the new technological GIS method to teach Geography low at rural places. Less computer skills and fear for using computers or latest technologies.
Not enough time to complete the given task in a given time frame, could not find suitable time to prepare the labs, not enough time to organize students and teach them how to use GIS software as it takes a longer time to prepare labs with perfect computer access and software.
Privacy will become a critical issue for GIS as use expands to legal applications. Data ownership will become critical to GIS, with a delicate balance between public and private GIS data.
GIS research needs lots of funding and time to complete it.
Suggestions to Implement GIS in Malaysia
Appoint computer lab assistant to prepare the lab with perfect computer access and software and teach students how to use the GIS software.
Equip all the pre-service and in-service teachers that majors in Geography especially with the GIS knowledge and skills. Other teachers are encouraged as well.
Ministry of Education should centralize the data that should be provided in order to build a homogenous education throughout Malaysia.
Usage of GIS can be expanded to teach other subject like ICT, Science, Mathematics, Business Studies, History, and many more.
The future of GIS is in our hands and we have the capability to use the power that GIS brings to solve the world's problems as it produce a great variety of learning environments and teaching materials.
I totally agree that we should consider using the GIS software to teach geography for our students. This is because :
Acquiring data for a new GIS is no longer a major problem. It is because GPS has become a major source of new GIS data and comes increasingly from the GPS system. GIS technology allows us to do things in minutes that took hours with a pen and paper.
GIS software is now easier to install and maintain as many GIS databases are now distributed over local or wide area networks.
We can look at it as a tool that provides employment for freshly minted geography graduates. I agree that some with skills in GIS are not geographically knowledgeable. However, that does not make the tool a toy, and therefore worthless. If we use it correctly, GIS can be a very powerful time saving tool that allows for accurate mapping.
GIS is an extraordinarily useful tool in a time when so many people are in need of spatial information quickly. While the average person accessing Google Earth or Virtual Earth may not be well versed in Geography, GIS may very well be a tool to bridge that gap by encouraging a new generation of geospatial interests. Anyone can actually use GIS as long as they have a very good understanding of geography, projections and spatial data.
Article 2 : Retrieved from Science Direct [28th July 2010]
Design and Development of a Collaborative mLearning Module for Secondary School Science in Malaysia : Addressing Learners' Needs of the Use and Perceptions of Technology.
Brief Summary of the Article
This article was written by Dorothy DeWitt and Saedah Siraj from University of Malaya. It discusses about the learning of science that does not express the nature of the subject in Malaysian schools. ICT has the function so called Computer-Mediated Communications (CMC) to learn the processes of science outside the classroom. This CMC provides online discussions, enables authentic mLearning (mobile learning) collaboration and knowledge-building similar to scientists either in class or at home through CMC activities on the internet and with text messaging.
Summary of the Article
This article was written by Dorothy DeWitt and Saedah Siraj from University of Malaya. It describes and discusses about the learning of science that does not express the nature of the subject in Malaysian schools in terms of using scientific reasoning processes, conduct in collaboration with other scientists; emphasize the scientific process of making discoveries with peers, sufficient activities for discussions with peers and use of the language of science. In order to solve the problem, Information Communications Technology (ICT) will be used as it enable discussion forums, emails and wikis as it allows project in progress to be shared and improved. ICT has the function so called Computer-Mediated Communications (CMC) to learn the processes of science outside the classroom. This CMC provides online discussions, enables authentic mLearning (mobile learning) collaboration and knowledge-building similar to scientists either in class or at home through CMC activities on the internet and with text messaging. An instructional module for collaborative mLearning that will attend to the problem (communications and discussions in science) will be developed for Form 2 learners on the use and perception of technology. One topic from the science subject has been chosen for this purpose, module were developed and assessed by the experts.
Objective of the Research
To determine the use and the perception of technology of the students in communications and discussions in science.
To design a module based on the findings in the perception studies.
To develop a mLearning module to be used for science instruction.
To assess the mLearning module that is being used for science instruction.
What is the situation of the use and perception of technology among Malaysian schools students in the context of the study/
What are the experts opinions on the design of the collaborative mLearning module for Form 2 Nutrition?
The study adapts a developmental research approach and has 3 stages :
Sample and Population : Two groups were used for this purpose. The samples for all three phases differ.
Learners group : Form 2 students were selected from an urban school in Petaling Jaya (158 multi-racial student population) participated in a survey to determine the use and perception of technology.
Experts : Educators with 10 years of teaching experience were chosen, 3 subject matters that had experience teaching science with computers and technical experts that had both knowledge and 5 years experience in CMC.
Instrument : 2 different approach were used for data collection.
The Technology Skills and Usage Questionnaire (TSUQ) - to determine learner's perception in the technology usage, and use of the computer and the mobile phone for learning. (Questionnaires' were adapted with Cronbach Alpha coefficient of 0.882)
Evaluation by experts after the module design is completed.
Data's was analyzed and presented according to the use of technology and the perception of the use of computers and mobile phones. Means and percentages were used for reporting. In the evaluation phase, the interviews with the experts were transcribed and validated by the experts. The emergent themes were reported.
Findings : Internet is a frequently used tools for students and teachers. Most respondents feels that computer is important for learning. All students should be given the opportunity to use them for learning activities in school and home, meanwhile they feel that mobile phones text messaging should be provided in the module.
Design of the Collaborative mLearning Module : The mLearning module was created based on First principles of instruction (Merrill, 2002). Altogether 3 types of technology tools were used for that purpose; wiki for an online collaborative group problem task, discussion forum for shorter problems, and text-messaging quizzes.
Evaluation of the Collaborative mLearning Module :
The experts feel that the amount data that will be collected during the learning sessions will be a whole lot and they may have problems for managing them. Besides that, the activities will require lots of time and teachers may not have that much of time as they have to finish their syllabus on time.
English will be the medium of instruction in science in this module and it was considered difficult. The suggestion was to use simpler sentences for the students to understand. Inaccuracies in the content should be corrected and that includes shortened forms in text messaging. Experts also requested a separate instructional module to be provided for reference and that videos, sound and graphic be included in the activities to cater to the multiple intelligences theory.
The finding concludes that the usage of internet is very wide among the Form 2 students but emails are not popular among them.
The online discussion forums, phone discussions and text messaging were more popular among students as it could encourage collaborative mLearning in Science.
Mobile learning can take place in any location, at any time and is for everyone as we have been active in mobile empowerment and learning since 2001, working to widen opportunities for learning through the use of mobile technologies.
Standpoint and Suggestions:
I think if we are utilizing internet and computers to teach our students, it is very encourage able but I totally do not agree that we should consider using the mobile phones to teach our students. This is because :
Each one of us wants a richly interactive content for our phone, doesn't matter if it's Blackberry, iPhone or Nokia. The reality about making mLearning content is that there is no single solution to push richly interactive mobile content into every possible phone. This is something impossible to be done. On one side, going for the richest possible interactivities and on the other side going for the widest possible phone coverage.
If I'm an educator, I definitely want all my students have the same access to learning no matter they are from rural or urban area, rich or poor and slow learner or fast learner.
Another important aspect is the screen reflection. This is something people often do not think of but regret not checking when they are shopping for a phone. For example, my current device, the Motorola works great in bright light situations where one would have trouble seeing the screen on an iPhone. It is a very important aspect as the context of our mLearners is just as important as the content. If our learners could not read what is on the phone, what can we expect from the mLearning text strategy?
The cost involved to get the same device as your classmates. If I'm going to participate in mobile learning, I definitely need a device that enables me to participate in most types of learning environment as my friend does. As a student, I might not have that much of money neither my parents can afford to get me one. For me, a good mobile learning strategy can take advantage of even simple devices that cost little to nothing from most wireless networks.
Size of the device really matters. The incorrectly plans mobile learning content will only lead to a compressed e-learning/mLearning. A good mobile learning strategy takes into account what the learners have and need and designs accordingly.
Battery life for an average mobile device is 8 to 10 hours of continuous usage. If our learner needs a continuous learning experience that is mobile and lasts more than several hours, we should probably re-evaluate our mobile learning strategy.
The limitation in storage capacity as students learns far beyond the curriculum and they need ample of storage for their activities. If we are storing big files like movies, audio, podcasts, it is important that we have a memory slot.
The camera quality as how many mega pixels do the camera has as the more mega pixels the better the quality of the picture taken with it.
Wi-Fi is a must as it will enable us to connect to free internet and look for the information's needed.
Bluetooth is important for instance wireless interaction between classmates.