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An Examination of the Concept of Smart School: An Innovation to Address Sustainability

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  • Universiti Teknologi Malaysia& Allameh Tabataba'i University Faculty of Management
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  • Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (Kuala Lumpur)

Abstract and Figures

The smart school is a technology-based teaching learning institution for preparing children for the Information Age. To achieve smarts schools educational objectives, these teaching and learning concepts should be covered: curricular, pedagogy, assessment and teaching-learning materials. Information and communication technology (ICT), as second pillar of smart school, plays many roles in a smart school, from facilitating teaching and learning activities to assisting with school management. For instance, some of technologies which can equip a smart school might be classrooms with multimedia courseware and presentation facilities, computer laboratory for teaching, multimedia development center and server room equipped to handle applications, management databases, and web servers. Although in recent years some efforts have been done for developing smart schools, there is not a pre-defined and an efficient solution for establishing ICT environment for smart schools. The main objective of this research is to examine pertinent aspects of smart school’s concept, namely matters pertaining to teacher training, information technology (IT) infrastructure, and curriculum design to ensure that the innovation can successfully nurture a workforce prepared to meet the challenges of the ICT era.
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An Examination of the Concept of Smart School: An Innovation to Address
Sustainability
Siavash Omidinia
Faculty of Computer Science and
Information System
Universiti Teknologi Malaysia
Skudai, Johor, MALAYSIA
Siavash_omidinia@yahoo.com
Maslin Masrom
UTM Razak School of Engineering and
Advanced Technology
Universiti Teknologi Malaysia
Jalan Semarak 54100
Kuala Lumpur, MALAYSIA
maslin@ic.utm.my
Harihodin Selamat
UTM Advanced Informatics School
Universiti Teknologi Malaysia
Jalan Semarak, 54100
Kuala Lumpur, MALAYSIA
harihodin@ic.utm.my
Abstract—The smart school is a technology-based teaching-
learning institution for preparing children for the Information
Age. To achieve smarts schools educational objectives, these
teaching and learning concepts should be covered: curricular,
pedagogy, assessment and teaching-learning materials.
Information and communication technology (ICT), as second
pillar of smart school, plays many roles in a smart school, from
facilitating teaching and learning activities to assisting with
school management. For instance, some of technologies which
can equip a smart school might be classrooms with multimedia
courseware and presentation facilities, computer laboratory
for teaching, multimedia development center and server room
equipped to handle applications, management databases, and
web servers. Although in recent years some efforts have been
done for developing smart schools, there is not a pre-defined
and an efficient solution for establishing ICT environment for
smart schools. The main objective of this research is to
examine pertinent aspects of smart school’s concept, namely
matters pertaining to teacher training, information technology
(IT) infrastructure, and curriculum design to ensure that the
innovation can successfully nurture a workforce prepared to
meet the challenges of the ICT era.
Keywords: Smart School, E-Learning, ICT Infrastructure
I. INTRODUCTION
In our view, one of the important programs for using
information technology and communication (ICT) is smart
school. This reality was investigated through some
observation in ministry of education. Although there are few
efforts to implement smart school in private and public
sector, it was realized these efforts uses different information
technology infrastructure (platform), ideas and teaching
material. In order to encourage for successful development
of smart school, an ICT infrastructure framework should be
developed. On the other hand, successful practice of
Malaysia in development of smart school has led us to
investigate and analyze Malaysian smart schools’
achievement. We observe and document success factors of
smart school in Malaysia whereby this will help us to
develop an ICT infrastructure framework for smart school.
This research reviews four pillars of smart school including
people, education material, technology and process. Main
concepts of smart school are then identified [1].
II. E-LEARNING
E-Learning can be described as the use of ICT in learning
process. Various tools and technologies including e-mail,
internet, video streaming and virtual classrooms can be
applied for this purpose. For example, one of the concerns of
e-Learning in context of a learner is to connect him/her to a
network in order to access course materials. This also will
supported be by other tools like course management system
and virtual classrooms. Andersson and Grönlund [2] had
analyzed several related papers regard to e-learning
activities in different developing countries and finally they
developed a conceptual framework for e-learning as shown
in Table 1.
Table 1: Conceptual Framework for Challenges of E-learning
(Andersson & Grönlund, 2009)
Categories Subgroup Challenges
Individual Student Motivation
Conflicting priorities
Economy
Academic confidence
Technological confidence
Social support employers
Gender
Age
Teacher Technological confidence
Motivation and commitment
Qualification and competence
Time
Course Course
Design
Curriculum
Pedagogical model
Subject content
Teaching and learning activities
Localization
Flexibility
Support
provided Support for students from faculty
Support for faculty
Contextual Organizatio
nal Knowledge management
Economy and funding
Training of teachers and staff
Social
/Cultural Role of teacher and student
Attitudes on e-learning and IT
Rules and regulations
Technological Access
Cost
Software and interface design
Localization
2nd International Conference on Advances in Computer Science and Engineering (CSE 2013)
© 2013. The authors - Published by Atlantis Press
326
Developing countries will benefit e-learning if they think
for innovative ways to deliver online content on the national
backbone.
III. SMART SCHOOL REQUIREMENTS
The smart school is a technology-based teaching-learning
institution for preparing children with the effective
functionality of smart school which requires skilled staff, and
well-designed teaching, learning and supporting processes
[3]. It encourages active thinking process while its’
environment motivates students to use personal computers
(PCs), the internet and intranets as research and
communication tools. Students are able to access online
libraries, use electronic mail (e-mail) or combination of
desktop video-conferencing and chat rooms for doing
tutorials [4].
The idea of the smart school is defined to revolutionize
the education system through development of a holistic
approach that concerns on making value based education
available to anyone, anytime and anywhere. Implementing
smart schools successfully will be a complex task, requiring
changes teaching-learning processes; management functions;
people, skills and responsibilities; and technology.
Figure 1: Proposed Framework
IV. IMPLEMENTATION OF MALAYSIAN SMART
SCHOOL
With regard to above discussion, the researchers then
analyzed the implementation of Malaysian smart schools. In
order to achieve this objective, several documents and
reports of Malaysian smart school activities have been
studied. The researchers have conducted several case studies
on smart schools in Malaysia. This section provided a
summary on efforts and achievements of Malaysia in smart
school development through fifteen years [5]. The smart
school is planned to achieve the following objectives:
To produce a thinking and technology literate workforce.
To develop a workforce for the information age.
To develop students physically, mentally, emotionally
and spiritually.
To provide opportunities to improve individual strengths
and abilities.
To democratize education.
Successful transformation of traditional schools into
smart schools requires:
support different stakeholders including educational
agencies;
sufficient funds to establish and maintain smart schools;
appropriate guidelines for supporting the schools;
effective and efficient administrative for schools;
sufficient deployment of information technology in smart
schools;
Besides technology, teaching-learning strategies,
management and administrative processes, and well-trained
people are the requirements of smart school. Consequently, a
nation-wide system of smart schools will depend on
advanced IT at national level. The role of IT in a smart
school includes facilitating teaching and learning activities
and assisting school management [6]. Fully equipped smart
school might include the following:
Classrooms with multimedia courseware and
presentation facilities.
Media center for multimedia courseware presentation.
Network resources like internet.
Computer laboratory for teaching courses such as
Computer Studies.
Multimedia development center for creating teaching
materials.
Studio/Theatre for centralized teaching and
videoconferencing.
Teachers’ room with online access to courseware
catalogues and databases, information and resource
management systems.
Administration offices for managing students’ data and
facilities for tracking student and teacher performance or
resources.
Server room to handle applications, management
databases, and web servers; provide security.
The Learning Systems Technology Architecture (LTSA)
is an architecture that is developed by LST committee of
IEEE in 2003. This standard specifies a high-level
architecture for information technology-supported learning,
education, and training systems that describes the high-level
system design and the components of these systems [7].
V. FOUR LESSONS TO LEAD AND PUT THE SMART SCHOOL
ON THE RIGHT TRACK
A. Lesson 1: Structure of the Smart Schools
In terms of the effective individuals in the smart schools,
the key questions as follows:
i. What are the roles and responsibilities of the
individuals?
ii. What knowledge and skills are required?
iii. What kind of education is required?
The Effective Roles in the Progression of the objectives
of the smart schools are as follows: the teachers, the
managers, the support staff and other educational staff, the
327
parents and the community. Each group of these people has
got specific roles for fulfilling the idea of the smart schools
totally and in order to do their duties, they must be experts in
the knowledge, culture and specific skill. However, these
knowledge, skills and behaviors are fulfilled via the
comprehensive educational courses for each group as the
members of the project(Zigler et al., 2011)[8]. In continue,
the contents of the educational suggested programs are
explained for the beneficiaries of the school.
B. Lesson 2: Student
The smart school prepares the students to enter a more
modern and worldwide environment successfully. The smart
schools nourish the creative problem-solving skills in the
new situations and the students are taught to have dare and
courage in their decision-making and the responsibility
assumptions., and for guaranteeing technical support and
facility maintenance [9].
The students will be capable of undergoing an
informational journey all around the world, search for the
information and collect them. Other than having access to the
resources inside of the websites, they will have access to the
national and international resource centers via tools such as
Internet and intranet. Other than having access to database,
the smart school provides a network for interaction with the
students, the teachers and people all around the world and
eventually leads to the expansion of the students’ world via
these communications.
C. Lesson 3: Teacher
The teachers in the smart schools play the role of a guide.
The teacher’s training is the most important activity that
must be done in the beginning of the smart schools. [10]The
teachers are considered the first presenters of knowledge.
The continuous learning is considered as a career necessity
for all the members of the smart community, so that they
progress along with the improvements in the professional
activities and trust the technology(Sang et al., 2010). We
must be careful in selecting the teachers of the smart schools,
so that to be regarding to designing of the educational
processes in the smart schools [11].
The roles and the responsibilities of the teacher in the
smart schools are as following:
The planning and the provision of the teaching affairs and
designing the educational contents and resources
proportional to the needs of the students
The management of the educational technology and
controlling the procedures in the classroom
Verification of the professional duties in the teaching and
learning environment and a constructive communication
with the colleagues and the parents
Offering an effective education and creating motivation in
the students and the assessment of their learning in all of
the educational periods.
Using the technology in the education matters properly
D. Lesson 4: Management
The main pillars of the educational programs of the
management of the smart school are as follows:
The concepts, the processes, structure and how to evolve
and change the smart schools
The planning methods, organization and controlling
The assessment of the technology, the analysis of the
potentials and the
The basic skills of the information and communication
Working with the management software
The methods for evaluating the efficiency of the school
and staff [12].
The basic skills of IT and getting familiar with ICDL
(word-power point)
The education of working with the controlling systems
The education of using the side systems such as camera
and audio systems
VI. SMART SCHOOLS AND SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT
As mentioned earlier, the concept of a smart school is
still a work in progress and hence, the evolutionary
refinement reflects the advances in pedagogy and
improvement in IT. Equally, sustainable development is an
evolving and dynamic concept in terms of its conceptual
definition. Accordingly, this paper adopts the view
advocated by the World Commission on Environment and
Development [13] on the description of sustainable
development: “Sustainable development is development that
meets the needs of the present without compromising [or,
impairing] the ability of future generations to meet their
own needs [or, to enjoy similar, if not better, quality of life
and opportunity as ours]” (p.43).
Sustainable development is generally perceived as an
overlapping of dimensions or components, namely
environment, cultural and society, and economy [14]. These
three dimensions are thought to operate, metaphorically, as
three overlapping same-sized circles with the overlapping
area being perceived as the human well-being. The more
aligned the three dimensions are, the higher the area of
overlapping which, in turn, translates to higher levels of
human well-being. The corollary that stems from this
metaphorical perception on sustainable development is that
a balanced, harmonious, symbiotically interdependent, and
aligned consideration of environmental, societal and
economic dimensions is needed in our pursuit of
development and enhanced quality of life.
Therefore, with the advent of smart schools, it is the
hope that the future generations are adequately skilled and
equipped for the information age without compromising the
perpetuation cherished noble values and culture
VII. CONCLUSION
The smart school is a school that is designed to for
providing a standard virtual teaching learning environment
and as well as improving school management system.
328
Many studies have shown that without a well defined
policy in long term and short term basis concurrently, and
without a sustainable professional development mixed with
an standard virtual content and curriculum and also without
a close monitoring and evaluation, smart schools programs
would not be able to provide sufficient educational service
to students and these projects will eventually lead to failure
than the progress. In this reason, The UNESCO program
involves sustainable ICT integration at all levels of the
educational process especially for the development of smart
schools in developing countries [14]. One of the most
important problems of e smart schools that was observed
was related to the course content .In spite of the intense
consideration raised from the proposed framework, the
course content of the current system is not considered
related to the most important needs of the standard smart
schools. Smart schools could not adapt themselves to the
standard needs of teaching –learning processes and this
problem still exists in educational contents of these schools.
Still there are old course contents in the form of the new
methods of presentation and they are not able to change the
education of the students fundamentally. This problem may
arise from the fact that there is not any definitive definition
for the objectives of virtual education needed for smart
schools.
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