In June 2009, the Malaysian state of Terengganu embarked upon Project e-Book (Projek Buku Elektronik), an effort to improve education through the use of ICTs, training and support. 204 The state government took note of the work carried out by Intel with the Portuguese government’s Magellan project and approached the company to develop a similar program. Project e-Book was intended to bring technology – including PCs, interactive whiteboards and servers – into schools. The ICT infrastructure and training, as well as Internet connectivity, digital curricula and teacher development, were focused on helping students, teachers and schools engage in interactive e-learning programs.
The initiative consisted of four primary elements:
- Educational content : Localized content and national school texts were digitized; the sole Malaysian government textbook publisher granted permission to the Terengganu government to pre-install the digital textbooks on Classmate PCs.
- Training : Intel Teach professional development was employed to enable teachers to integrate technology effectively into classroom teaching and learning activities. Working with a state government-owned private training agency, the project was expected to benefit more than 3,000 teachers.
- Technology : Intel agreed to provide hardware, software and services designed specifically for education, over the course of three phases.
- Connectivity : Internet access was provided to the schools via SchoolNet, a nation-wide collaboration between federal government ministries and local ISPs. The PCs provided by Intel were Wi-Fi enabled.
The project plan involved distributing PCs to students, who were allowed to take the computers home, providing the added benefit of giving low-income families access to ICTs. The teachers did not receive PCs until a year after students began using them. Two to three teachers per school received training in Intel Teach Essentials, with the expectation that these teachers would then train others at their schools. The program was planned and managed by a committee that included membership from the state government and other participating organizations.
At the project’s outset, the Terengganu government allocated MYR 35 million annually to fund the project, with the laptops provided free to students. The state planned to increase the funding allocation to take greater advantage of the PCs and to enable one-to-one e-learning in the future.
The project was also designed to involve local industry, in order to foster a sense of community ownership in the project, as well as to generate local employment and economic development opportunities. Industry involvement included the following:
- The state government worked with Intel and a local assembler to open a factory capable of assembling 10,000 Classmate PCs per month.
- Digitized textbook content was provided by a local textbook publisher for pre-installation on to PCs.
- The State Education Department drove participation among district education offices and the Principals Board, and published general guidelines to help school administrators.
As of 2012, 93,000 PCs had been distributed to students in grades from primary Year 4 through secondary Form 2 (ages 10-14 years). They were pre-loaded with digitized versions of standard textbooks, test preparation software, Intel education bundles, the Koran and other religious resources, and a dictionary. 205
The Malaysian government has worked with leading universities, SRI International and Intel to conduct research into the effectiveness of the project. Among the findings of that research were certain challenges:
- Teachers did not receive computers at the same time as students;
- The teachers trained on how to incorporate technology into their lessons but did not always pass along such training to other teachers at their schools;
- More interactive teaching materials were needed;
- Infrastructure challenges persisted, including a shortage of power outlets for charging computers and unreliable or slow Internet connections; and
- Students who received their computers in early grades continued to use them at home but lacked updated educational content consistent with their more advanced capabilities.
In response to the evaluations of the program, changes intended to address these challenges were implemented.
204 Intel, “Education Program in Malaysia Gives Economy a Booster Shot,” (2010), available at http://www.intel.com/content/www/us/en/intel-learning-series/learning-series-education-program-malaysia-study.html .
205 Intel, “Research Shows 1:1 eLearning Enriches Education in Malaysia,” (2012), available at http://www.intel.com/content/dam/www/program/education/us/en/documents/Intel%20Education%20Research%20Summary/intel-education-research-summary-malaysia.pdf .