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Friday, August 28, 2015

Useful Windows 10 Tools for Teachers and Students


Windows 10

Microsoft's new operating system (Windows 10) was released recently (29/07/15). The upgrade is free for Windows 7 and 8 users to upgrade their (http://www.microsoft.com/enus/windows/features)
computers

I was one of the early adopters of this new operating system from the software giant. It took me approximately 24 hours to upgrade my desktop computer from my office from Windows 8.1 to Windows 10. I have to leave the upgrade to continue throughout the night due to the slow Internet Speed. (This is a major problem in Papua New Guinea)The same amount of time was spent on upgrading my laptop from Windows 8.1 to Windows 10. 

There were no other issues encountered after the upgrade. I have really enjoyed using this new operating system from Microsoft and I have no intention of going back to Windows 8 or Windows 7.

The following features of Windows 10 are some of my favorite and I am pretty sure teachers and students will also find them useful. 

Microsoft Edge Browser Web Note 
Microsoft has taken a huge gamble to create a new browser from scratch. Microsoft Edge will
eventually replace Internet Explorer. Though Internet Explorer is still available in Windows 10 due to numerous legacy programs that still depend on it. The Edge browser interface has a clean look and with a number of new features added. One of my favorite feature of Edge browser is the ability to write notes directly on the page that you are viewing. At this stage, Microsoft Edge is the only modern browser that has this ability. You can also  highlight important points in the article and you can be able to clip specific points from the webpage that can be added to the paper that you are writing.

Sharing Favourite Webpages and Articles on Reading List Application

Many people are used to sharing articles, photos and videos via Twitter, Blogs, Facebook and other Social Media Sites. All modern browsers allow you to share resources with others.
There is one particular application that not many people are aware of its full potential is the Reading List Application.Reading List Application can be installed on your Windows Phone, Windows 8 Computer and Windows 10 devices. This application can be downloaded from the Windows  Application Store.
 This application allows you to save any on-line article (journal articles, webpages, news articles) that you find useful and you want to access later. Reading List allows you to create different categories for you to organize and sort your articles for future use. One cool thing about this application is that any articles you add from one device can be accessed from other devices as long as these devices have Reading List Application installed on them.

Reading View is another very useful feature that allows you to read an article in full screen mode without having to put up with stuff like advertisements that continue to pop up every second. Reading View allows you to concentrate on what you are reading and taking notes and highlighting main points using Edge's note taking tools are more effective and enjoyable.

Cortana Virtual Assistant
Cortana is Microsoft's virtual assistant. It allows you to speak or ask questions in natural language. Cortana responds to your queries or questions like a real person. This virtual assistant has been available on windows phone 8 devices for quite a while but it is now integrated into Microsoft Windows 10. Cortana is integrated with Microsoft's Bing Search engine (www.bing.com) and the Internet to respond to your queries. Cortana can be configured to suit your needs. Cortana collects data from your Internet usage and attempts to understand you more. The more you use cortana, the smarter, it will become. That means it will attempt to accurately respond to your queries. However, if you are concern about your privacy you can always go to Cortana's Setting and remove your history from there.
Cortana has a alot of potential for teachers and students. It can be used in a language lesson whereby students can learn to ask questions in English for Cortana to respond to. It can help students to improve their English usage. Disable students can also use Cortana in various ways. For example, blind students can be able to search the Internet for useful information. They can also ask cortana for time or today's weather. There are many ways teachers can integrate Cortana into the curriculum to make the lessons more meaningful and interesting for the students.


Wednesday, October 17, 2012

UPNG WEBSITE AND COMPUTER NETWORK DOES NOT PROMOTE THE UNIVERSITY'S STATUS

I am compelled to agree with Dr. Steven Winduo's commentary (The National, Friday October 12,2012) on the state of Information Technology services at the University of Papua New Guinea.Tertiary Institutions in Papua New Guinea need to embrace technology fully in all aspects of their operation if they want to be competitive with other Institutions world wide. As a former student of this University, I am saddened to know that little has been done to improve the Information Technology Services of the Country's largest and oldest University.
Fig.1.0 UPNG outdated Website


A well integrated Information Technology system at the University of Papua New Guinea needs to have the following features.First and foremost is the setting up of an effective Local Area Network for the main campus that will connect all offices within the main campus and a Wide Area Network that will cover the other Open Campuses in other parts of Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands.These Schools/Faculties and Open Campuses located throughout Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands should be able to connect to the main network with ease to enable easy communication and dissemination of information. Once the Network is properly established and fully manned by qualified ICT staff,  the other important services will dramatically improve.

 The next step is to establish a well designed Intranet that will provide other important services for both staff and students. The Intranet should consist of tools that allow staff and students to create and disseminate information in an efficient and timely manner. The intranet should provide opportunities for staff and students to collaborate on wide range of activities.This would include online bulletin boards, discussion boards for subjects and courses. This would allow lecturers to respond to queries about courses and subjects from their students without having to resort to traditional notice boards and telephones.Second, the Intranet should provide a system of Assessment Submission for students to submit their Assignments electronically (Electronic Assessment and Tracking System)This system should have important information such as assignment due dates, date submitted, automated response to students informing them of the status of their submitted assignments. The students should be able to track the progress of their submitted assignments and should know exactly when the marked papers will be returned.  This is a more comprehensive tool that is different from emails. Lecturers will receive the electronic copies of the students assignments, mark them and return the assignments back via the same system to the students.  The University also needs to establish an effective Student Assessment Processing system that will allow lecturers to submit students raw marks electronically rather than having to print out the marks and submit them manually. The system processes the students marks and automatically award grades based on the University's Assessment Policy. The students' transcripts should instantly be updated when new data is received.

The Michael Somare Library also needs to be effectively integrated into the University's Computer Network. The important collections such as Papua New Guinea Collection and the University's own research articles and Journals should be in electronic format and should be accessible through the Institution's Computer Network via the Intranet. The Academic Staff and Students can access the Michael Somare Library anywhere on campus via the Intranet. The Staff and Students in Open Campuses in Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands can also access the Michael Somare Library via the University's website.The Library should go further by subscribing to various refutable electronic scholarly Journals world wide to provide alternative and quality research publications to support the needs of both academic staff and students of UPNG.

The University's website is poorly designed  and lacks creativity. The user experience while using this website is very poor and does not even promote the University. The University's Website is very important and plays an important role in providing vital services for the University once it is properly developed and integrated into the University's Computer Network.The University's Website not only provides services for the University but it also promotes the status of the University to the outside world. The following services are missing and should be addressed by the University as soon as possible. Firstly, the website should be updated regularly. The last update carried out by the webmaster was on March, 2007. Second, there should be a login screen or dialog box where staff and students can be able to login to use the University's various services such as discussion boards, journal databases and so on. This will enable the University's other campuses in Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands to have easy access to all these services.Third, there should be options provided to submit on-line application forms for various courses. The application forms should also be made available for download from the website rather than having to write to the University to send printed application forms which can take ages to reach a potential student. The various electronic bulletins, newsletters and hand books meant to promote the University and the marketing of various courses should be made available on the website for viewing and downloading. With the Website fully developed and supported, the various Schools within the University can then offer some of their degree programs on-line for those students who wish to study at home.
To top it all the University's Information Technology Services should ensure both staff and students have access to quality Internet Services.

The University of Papua New Guinea Administration should support the Information Technology Services Unit to address some of the areas mentioned above if it wants to achieve its goal as a premier University of the South Pacific (Sadly this is not the case). It can achieve this by seeking expert technical assistance from partner Universities in Australia and Asia. The University can also send a team to these Institutions to study their systems and then incorporate some of these ideas into the Universities Information Technology services.

Links to Papua New Guinea Universities Websites

Check these Institutions' Websites and compare them. Which University website has some of the features or  standards mentioned above?

1. University of Papua New Guinea- (http://www.upng.ac.pg)
2. Papua New Guinea University of Technology- (http://www.unitech.ac.pg)
3. University of Goroka- (http://www.uog.ac.pg)
4. Divine Word University- (http://www.dwu.ac.pg)
5. Pacific Adventist University- (http://www.pau.ac.pg)


 





Saturday, July 7, 2012

A Review of the Upper Secondary ICT Syllabus


The Papua New Guinea Upper Secondary ICT Syllabus for Grade 11 and 12 has already been distributed to Secondary Schools throughout the Country. It would be interesting to see how far the Secondary Schools have gone to implement this Syllabus. A quick visit to some schools especially in the rural areas will give some sort of idea on the implementation of this program. The following points need to be used as a starting point to evaluate this policy.
  • The skills level of ICT teachers in Secondary Schools.
  • Is the school fully equiped with ICT equipment and decent computer room based on appropriate standard.
  • The funding level of the School's ICT program.
  • Technical support and School's technical staff.
  • Support of the Department of Education in areas of software distribution and technical support.
  • Staff development of ICT teachers in-country and overseas.
The Curriculum content review should also be conducted to identify the relevancy of the topics/units to the Country's needs and that the contents are comparable to other countries.

The following are units of work in the Grade 11 and 12 ICT Syllabuses.

Grade 11 Units:
  • Computer Fundamentals
  • Advanced Word Processing
  • Computers And Society
  • Advanced Spreadsheets
  • Database 1
  • Internet 1
  • Desktop Publishing
Grade 12 Units:
  • Information and Communication Systems
  • Database 2
  • Internet 2
  • Multimedia
  • Computers and Employment 
In my view after reflecting on the ICT Syllabus I feel that the units of work are concentrating more on Computer Literacy Skills which is only one component of the Information and Communication Technology universe. There should be more advance stuff included for the other ICT tools and advance computing topics such as programming languages and other Computer Science units.

Here are some suggestions for future review and development of the ICT curriculum in the Secondary Schools.
  •  Computing skills which is an obscure part of the Design and Technology Syllabus in the Lower Secondary should be placed on its own and a new syllabus to cater specifically for computing. The following units in the Upper Secondary ICT Syllabus should be moved down to Grade 9 and 10. These units are, Advanced Word Processing, Computers & Society, Advanced Spreadsheets, Desktop Publishing, Computers and Employment, Internet 1 and 2. 
  • Advance topics such as Programming Languages, Website Development using Java and other programming Languages for web development. I recommend Small Basic, a programming language developed by Microsoft Lab for Students and Teachers. It is simple to learn and students and teachers can develop powerful applications such as games and other Educational applications. Small Basic is free and can be downloaded from Microsoft Website. It is essential to introduce children to programming languages early rather than wait until they are in Universities. This will ensure that they have mastered the basics before doing advance programming languages in Universities. The other reason is that it will assist the students to decide whether further studies in ICT or Computer Science in Tertiary Institutions is a career that they would like to take up.
  • The Department of Education should establish an ICT Unit within the Department that can provide ICT support to schools, purchasing of educational software and software licenses on behalf of schools and provide technical support.
  • The Government of PNG introduced Free Education Policy recently. However, if it is serious about providing quality education for all children, it should vigorously support ICT development in all Secondary Schools in the Country.
  • Staff Development of ICT teachers should be a priority if the ICT programme is to be successfully implemented in schools. Staff Development can be School Based, at District Level or Provincial Level. The recruitment of Information Technology or Computer Science graduates should be encouraged to ensure that quality is maintained in all schools.These graduates can be sourced from Unitech, UPNG and Divine Word University and can undergo teacher training to qualify as teachers. This should be attended to urgently to fill up the vacuum currently existing in many Secondary Schools.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Cyberbullying: Is it already happening in Papua New Guinea?

Cyber-bullying is a new (new type of bullying in PNG Context refers to recent introduction of new technologies in the country) type of bullying that involves the use of technology(Smart Phones, Tablet PCs, Computers) with access to the internet to bully others. The tools used by cyber-bullies include instant messaging(chats),emails, text message, websites and video chats. Social networks such as facebook.com and others are utilized dailly by cyber-bullies to attack their victims. For example,"Police are trying to locate a woman identified as Louisa Hainter, who allegedly posted defamatory remarks against Singut on the social network Facebook"(http://malumnalu.blogspot.com/2011/05/ex-miss-png-fights-pornography-claims.html).
The victims are always known to the perpetrators.These include the use of verbal abuse, obscene languages, obscene images that target the victims base on their physical appearances, race, gender, age, academic status and social status such as unable to fit in with the others. For example, a girl who is doing extremely well in her academic work can be a prime target for other girls who dim themselves inferior and therefor can be abuse by these jealous girls.

Is cyberbullying actually happening in Papua New Guinea? There is no research carried out so far to ascertain the extent of cyber-bullying in Papua New Guinea. However, it would be safe to say that with the increase access to cheaper smart phones and tablet pcs (eg. I Pads) with internet capabilities by young Papua New Guineans and the increase use of  social networking sites such as facebook, it could happen right under the noses of their parents.One of the clear example that cyber bullying is already occurring in PNG society is the current bribery and extortion against the well known TV presenter and former Miss PNG- Antonia Singut(http://malumnalu.blogspot.com/2011/05/ex-miss-png-fights-pornography-claims.html). Fortunately for Antonia, her parents and family members were very supportive and assisted her throughout her ordeal.It shows that not only ordinary Papua New Guineans can be affected but well known and respected Papua New Guineans are also not immune to bullying from unscrupulous human beings. This is only the tip of the iceberg but there are countless young Papua New Guineans out there that are constantly being bullied online daily without their parents knowing. Further, it should be noted that young Papua New Guineans are not even aware that they are being bullied. They take it as part of the everyday PNG culture. For example, many young Papua New Guineans think it is normal to swear at someone using the 'f' or 'c' words.

What makes this extremely difficult is that not many Papua New Guinea parents are ICT literate ;or if they are ICT literate they are not aware of the dangers that their children are facing everyday while on the net. I am a facebook user and I use this social networking site everyday. My experiences and my interaction with other facebook users has shown that most facebook users are young Papua New Guineans and most of them are school children ranging from Primary Schools to Tertiary level.

The huge advantage that cyber bullies have over other forms of bullying is that with the help of the technology bullies follow you where ever you go right into your bedroom or even right under the noses of your parents as long as you are online. Further, cyber-bullies, thrive on the ignorance of parents, educators, law enforcement authorities such as the police and even the victims themselves. There is no clear policy in place to assist victims in areas such as counselling or through legal means. There is no clear guidelines to assist Papua New Guinea children in particular to follow to seek assistance.( If there is such a guideline I am not aware of it). School authorities and the Department of Education need to carryout awareness to educate school children in light of the increase use of technology such as smart phones in particular and internet access in the country via these devices which may fuel the increase in cyber-bullying.

Why talk about Cyber-bullying? Cyber-bullying like the ordinary bullying can have drastic negative effect on the victims' lives. The victims can be psychologically affected.They can have long term emotional and behavioral problems and can affect their normal every day lives. They can even commit suicide if they feel that the world no longer cares for them. The victims such as school children can easily give up going to school. The victims themselves in future can become criminals because of the state of their mental health. In countries such as the US for example, innocent school children have been gunned down by victims of bullying.

What should parents and teachers in Papua New Guinea do to prevent cyber-bullying from occurring?

  • If you are a parent try to spend some time discussing what your children are doing on-line and what sites they are visiting. Encourage them to discuss their social networking experiences and likely abuses from cyber-bullies.
  • Encourage your children to record the instances of abuse and the date and time it occurs.This will become handy if you decide to take legal action in the future.
  • As a teacher- a teacher needs to carry out awareness on the positive and negative effects of technology such as smart phones and internet. This will enable the children to make correct decisions while using these technologies.
The following websites are established to assist victims of bullying; and also those who want to know more about bullying; or those who wish to assist victims but require additional information to do so. Some of these websites are set up by victims of bullying and their horrifying experiences should provide valuable lessons for everyone.



Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Integrating Digital Videos in Teaching and Learning in Papua New Guinea Outcomes Based Curriculum

 Digital Videos can be a great tool to create interesting and stimulating lessons for children in Papua New Guinea Primary Schools. There are a lot of advantages for using digital videos. The children will be able to observe real life videos based on their locality. The concept and content of the lesson will be clearly understood by students. It will stimulate discussion and generate new ideas. The teachers can easily design activities based on the videos. The videos can be replayed to reinforce the concepts taught in those particular lessons.The videos can be safely stored and re-used in the future.
The purpose of this article is to provide basic ideas on how to integrated Digital Videos in the Papua New Guinea Reform Curriculum (Outcomes Based) to supplement the already existing teaching strategists/methods currently being used by classroom teachers. It should provide a starting point for ICT literate teachers who are willing to experiment on using ICT in an innovative way.The paper assumes that the teacher is literate in ICT and can be able to confidently use ICT in teaching.

Fig.1. Trainee Teachers preparing their lessons for teaching.
Lanakapi ps
Background to the Papua New Guinea Education System
Papua New Guinea introduced the reform curriculum popularly referred to as the Outcome Based Education (OBE). The main focus of the Outcome Based Education is to provide opportunity for children of Papua New Guinea to learn appropriate skills that will enable them to be useful and productive members of their Community when they complete Basic Education (Elementary Grades up to Grade 8 in Primary Schools). In the Reform Education System the children are expected to attend Elementary Schools (Preparatory to Elementary Grade 2) in order to be eligible to continue on to do Grade 3 up to Grade 8 in Primary Schools. Students sit for an external exam in Grade 8 and only students who do well are selected to continue on to do Grade 9 and 10. Students again sit for a Grade 10 exam and base on their Internal Assessment and Exam results they are then selected to do grade 11 and 12. The school drop out rate is one of the highest in the world with the majority of the children who drop off from school have no hope of pursuing further studies. Though there are numerous private schools establish in the country the school fees charge are astronomical and beyond the reach of ordinary parents.


ICT Oriented Classroom Models for Papua New Guinea Schools
Papua New Guinea is a developing nation with rich natural resources such as gold, natural gas and copper. The Country also has a rich and diverse environment and experiences whereby a teacher can draw upon to create interesting and meaningful lessons for their children in the classrooms. The materials required can vary from school to school depends on the financial abilities for that particular school.
However, in terms of technology usage in schools the country has a long way to go to catch up with the rest of the world. ICT is hardly used in most schools (approximately, 99 % of the total number of schools). These schools lack basic ICT equipment and facilities and the teachers lack the basic ICT skills to use them effectively in teaching and learning. The scenarios below can illustrate the type of setup in respective schools.The teachers and the school administrators can be able to adopt which ever model that is suitable for their schools. It is important to note that ICT is not limited to computers only but there are other ICT equipment that teachers can utilize as well.


Table.1.0. ICT Classroom model for Papua New Guinea Schools.
Model Equipment Required Organization
1. A digital camera/camcorder and a desktop computer Whole Class or put students in groups and rotate. In this model teachers can organize students in groups and create different activities base on the same topic/theme. That is one group can use the single computer while another group carries out a written comprehension exercise/activity.
2. A digital camera/camcorder, a desktop computer, a data projector Whole Class
3. A digital camera/camcorder, a laptop, a data projector Whole class
4. A digital camera/camcorder, a data projector and more than 1 desktop computers (2 pcs and upwards) Groups (Children do activities in small groups)
5 Digital Video Camera/Camcorder, TV Screen Whole Class, Small Groups
6 School Computer Lab (5 Computers & up) If a school has a separate computer lab (A classroom converted into a computer lab or a building purposely built to be used as a lab) then the Class Teacher need to see the IT Specialist to schedule his or her class to use the computers.

ICT Integration in Teaching and Learning using Outcomes Based Curriculum
ICT can be successfully integrated into wide range of topics contain in the Papua New Guinea Outcomes Based Reform Curriculum. It is assumed that the teachers are ICT literate and can handle wide range of ICT equipment confidently. This includes computers, video cameras, digital cameras, DVD players and so on. The idea is to use ICT meaningfully and in an interesting way. This should supplement the more traditional approaches currently employed by Papua New Guinea teachers. The following examples below will at least provide some examples for the teachers to assist them in their planning. The examples are taken from Lower and Upper Primary Grades. The examples will also assist Secondary School Teachers in their planning.


 Table.2.0 Sample Lesson Ideas: Integrating ICT in Primary School Subjects
Level Grade Subject Strands/Sub-Strand (Topic/Sub-Topic) Indicators Lesson Ideas using digital videos
Lower Primary (Grade 3-5) 4 Community Living Culture-Customs

-describe customs related to events of significance
-describe traditional customs and religious practices about
birth, death and marriage
-students use Encarta Encyclopaedia to view short video clips about different societies and compile a short report about traditional customs


or


-students view a video about a traditional society in Papua New Guinea and compare the customs to their own society.
 
5 Community Living Culture- Customs

-Investigate relationships within societies
-describe rules of behavior in a matrilineal and patrilineal society
Upper Primary(Grade 6-8) 7 Science Living Things-Nature of Living Things

-Identify and compare the basic structure of living things and how they allow them to function in their environment
-make comparisons between the body coverings of animals and explain how these structures are suited to the environment in which they live -students watch a video on animal reproduction and create an Interactive Power Point Presentation

or

-students carry out research on the Internet and compile report on different animals around the world.
8 Science Living Things-Nature of Living Things

-describe and explain the processes of reproduction in living things and how the environment influences these processes
-identify patterns of reproduction in living things

-draw the stages of reproduction
-students use Digital Video Camera to make a short video clip of common insects found around their homes and their different stages of reproduction and edit the video using Windows Movie Maker.(This is a long term project. Different stages of reproduction will be observed and recorded).

In order for the teacher to teach an ICT rich lesson the following points should be considered;
1. Plan your lesson and identify the ICT equipment that will be used in the lessons. Test these equipments to make sure they are working perfectly.
2. Organize the classroom setting to accommodate these lessons. These includes seating arrangements and setting up of the ICT equipment.
3.Decide whether you are going to use whole class or group activity.
4. Make advance booking to use the computer lab if you are planning to use the School’s Computer lab for your lesson.
5. If you are thinking of taking the children outside ensure that children's safety is considered.
6. Filter the Internet sites before allowing the students to use the Internet. Supervise the students while they are using the internet for research.


Conclusion
Digital videos can be integrated successfully in various subjects if the teachers take extra time and effort to plan their lessons that are interesting and meaningful. Young children enjoy lessons that utilize videos and other multimedia tools. These ICT tools should complement the existing traditional teaching methods use by teachers everyday in their classrooms. The examples listed above should provide teachers with some basic ideas on how to integrate ICT in their lessons using the Reform Curriculum (Outcomes Based).