PENANG, through the Chief Minister Incorporated (CMI), has taken another big step forward in promoting e-learning by setting up a virtual recording and broadcasting studio at the Penang Digital Library 2 (PDL 2) in Jalan Masjid Negeri.
Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow said the studio is an extension of the “E-Learning Computer Program” initiated by the state government recently to allow teachers to handle e-teaching more interestingly and appropriately, whether in the form of videos, worksheets, animations and so on.
He said the teachers preparing for their lessons could change the background according to the suitability of learning via the green screen.
The studio is a joint corporate social responsibility (CSR) project by Intel Microelectronics Sdn Bhd and eLearningMinds Group Sdn Bhd for the Penang government.
“Since the movement control order (MCO) was imposed, the education sector has been affected even to the extent that some institutions have not yet resumed operations,” Chow said in his speech when officiating the opening of the virtual recording and broadcasting studio at PDL 2 today.
“The conventional method of teaching and learning can no longer be continued and has been transformed into virtual education through e-learning in order to ensure that the students’ education continues smoothly.
“Although it may seem difficult, this new normal has been adapted by all parties to break the chain of the Covid-19 viral infections.
“The new normal cannot be the old normal anymore.
“However, the lack of computers and mobile devices as well as unstable internet connection for e-learning is a new challenge for residents and parents.”
The studio, along with equipment such as smart interactive TV, CPU, camera and other hardware, cost an estimated RM42,195.
CMI chipped in RM20,000 to renovate the virtual reality room for digital recording and soundproofing purposes. The studio is operated by PDL staff members who have received training from Intel and eLearningMinds Group.
Chow said the studio is open to all school teachers and public education institutions to use free of charge while the private education sector would be given a 50% exemption according to the existing rental rate.
State executive councillor Chong Eng, who heads the taskforce for the E-Learning Computer Program, said the main purpose for setting up the virtual recording and broadcasting studio is to assist teachers to prepare their lessons and share.
“Not every teacher is familiar with the e-learning programme. So, this is a way of pooling resources,” explained Chong Eng, who is in charge of the state Women and Family Development, Gender Inclusiveness & Religions Other Than Islam.
“For example, one teacher can prepare a lesson, say Mathematics for Form One Chapter One, and then can share it with other teachers. This will be very useful especially for rural schools, which may have problems with connectivity.”
Through the E-Learning Computer Program, the state government has assisted needy students who do not have computers or laptops by giving them refurbished computers donated by companies and well-wishers. New computers are, however, given to the students on a six-month loan period.
Chow, Chong Eng and those present later witnessed a demonstration in which SK Permatang Binjai teacher Izdihar Zakaria gave a brief lesson on Mathematics in the studio while a student, sitting outside the studio, followed the lesson and answered some questions using a laptop.
SNS Network managing director Ko Yun Hung, whose company is supporting the E-Learning Computer Program, praised the Penang government for setting up the facility.
“What Penang has done is a very wonderful and excellent benchmark. People have something to learn from here.
“This setup is rare and in such a beautiful place and environment. The state government’s efforts do not stop there.
“It continues to add new things and Penangites are very fortunate to have such a nice setup.
“As the CM has said, it is open to public schoolteachers for free. On their own, not many teachers can utilise this kind of setup and technology.
“This model is a very good one to start off with. So, people will be able to witness and experience how it works.
“When schools see this model and learn about its functions, they can then set up similar thing in their own schools. That is our intention. And we hope that more and more schools will have their own virtual studio.”
eLearningMinds managing director Kelvin Loh Lih Fu, who also gave a presentation, said teachers could do quite a lot by using the virtual recording and broadcasting studio.
“Lessons can be conducted via Zoom and other video communications platforms. They just require minimum help and do not need technical skills,” said Loh.
“When we talk about digital learning, people tend to focus on the hardware. But content creation is the most important thing.
“The success or failure of the project depends on the content. Without content, it is just like a library without books.
“So, our purpose is to provide reasonable tools for the teachers to easily create content by themselves.”
Among those present at the launch of the studio were Jelutong MP R.S.N. Rayer, Deputy State Secretary (Development) Datuk Azhar Arshad, CMI deputy general manager S. Bharathi, Penang Education Department senior assistant Rohimah Baharuddin, Penang Education Department chief assistant director Saiful Nizam Ramlee and Intel Microelectronics Sdn Bhd general manager (business banking unit) Ngoo Seong Boon.
Story by K.H. Ong
Pix by Alvie Cheng
Video by Alissala Thian