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** For foreigners who are not familiar with the country, education and tuition culture in Malaysia, you might find the following guide useful - Malaysia, Education & Tuition: A Background Guide.

An introduction to e-learning

         The definition of 'e-learning' often shifts with the winds of technological developments. It is also frequently misrepresented to the Malaysian public. Nevertheless, e-learning in general, is any form of teaching and learning utilizing an electronic network (LAN, WAN and Internet) for the purpose of delivering content, interaction or facilitation. Internet, intranet, stallite communication, audio/video tape, interactive TV and CR-ROMs are among the range of electronic medias included in this category. Teaching can be conducted 'synchronously' or 'asynchronously'. Teaching-learning materials that are delivered via these medias possess texts, graphics, animation, simulation, audio and video. It should also provide features such as 'discussion groups' and online professional help for its educational content.

Accept and obey

         How does conventional learning differ from e-learning? In a conventional classroom, teachers are regarded as the stagemasters. They are the all-knowing figures entrusted with the responsibility of bestowing knowledge upon their pupils. Teachers are endowed with an unchallenged authority on the academic subjects. Dissents and differing viewpoints in the classroom are rare, if any at all. Education, in this sense, is teacher-centred.

Let's learn together

         In e-learning, the pupils are the focus. Pupils are expected to be more self-reliant and to take more responsibility of their own education. The e-learning environment would compel pupils to play a more active role in the teaching-learning process. Pupils have to make plans and search for information on their own initiative and effort. Teachers act as facilitators and guides in this student-centred system. In a sense, technology has propelled this paradigm shift by placing enormous amounts of know-how and know-what easily at our finger tips.

Why e-learning?

         Why should we implement e-learning in Malaysian schools? Primarily, e-learning allows the culture of self-learning to take hold. Pupils can pick the time, the content as well as the direction of their learning experience. They also have the opportunity to repeat difficult topics as many times as desired for better understanding. Shy pupils who rarely ask questions will have a 'safer' avenue to get their queries answered. Questions may be forwarded online without face-to-face meeting. More organized group discussion forums can be achieved using the available technology. A properly planned e-learning system enables records to be archived systematically for the reference of pupils, teachers and facilitators. And it goes without saying that professionally prepared e-learning materials will be more interesting and effective in teaching pupils due to the multimedia and interactive features, compared to the conventional materials.

A matter of when, not if

         In the meantime, some of the more progressive pupils in Malaysia are already using the Internet as an important source of information. Many have also been exposed to locally produced e-learning materials. Some even prefer to seek solutions to their classroom problems via discussions forums, bulletin boards and chat groups. This trend is inevitable and will only grow stronger in the future, eventually becoming a mainstream practice. With the advantages of e-learning and the interests of pupils in the Internet, this is therefore an extremely opportune time to adopt e-learning as widely as possible in our public schooling system.

Leaving none behind

         However, there are a number of challenges that impede the smooth implementation of e-learning in Malaysia. One of the major hurdles is the accessibility, or the lack of it, to Information and Communications Technology (ICT). There exists a significant digital divide in our society at the current juncture. This divide stretches across the urban-rural and poor-rich dichotomies. If the problem is not overcome, it could result in a large portion of our society being left behind as our country advances into the new digital economy.

Cooperative effort

         There is also a dearth of quality teaching-learning materials in Bahasa Melayu. The majority of websites, for example, is in English. Some schools cite the lack of Internet access or crawling Internet speeds as stumbling blocks, though a stronger broadband-initiative by the government may be the solution. These are all crucial issues that must be addressed before e-learning can become the norm, instead of the novelty, of education in Malaysia.

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Glossary of Terms :
(1) Tuition - Tutelage, the act of tutoring or teaching a student (pupil); Fees paid for instruction (especially for higher education). In Malaysia, tuition is more popularly used to denote tutoring rather than fee. Common Malaysian misspellings: Tiution, Tution. *(BM): Tuisyen, Tiusyen, Tusyen, Tuisen, Tiusen, Tuisyan, Tiusyan, Tusyan. | (2) Home Tuition - Tutoring that takes place at students' or tutors' home as opposed to at tuition centers; Also: Home Tutoring, Private Tuition, Private Tutoring. *(BM): Tuisyen Di Rumah, Tuisyen Swasta. | (3) Personal Tuition - Tutoring on the basis of one tutor catering to one student. Also: Personal Tutoring, Individual Tuition, Individual Tutoring, One-to-one Tuition, 1-to-1 Tutoring, One-to-one Tutoring, 1-to-1 Tuition. *(BM): Tuisyen Peribadi, Tuisyen Persendirian, Tuisyen Perseorangan, Tuisyen Individu. | (4) Group Tuition - Tutoring on the basis of one tutor catering to several (small number, but more than one) students. Also: Small Group Tuition, Small Class Tuition, Group Tutoring, Small Group Tutoring, Small Class Tutoring. *(BM): Tuisyen Berkumpulan, Tuisyen Kumpulan Kecil, Tuisyen Kelas Kecil. | (5) Tutors - Tuition Teachers, persons who conduct tuition. In Malaysia, teacher is more popularly used to denote a school teacher whereas tutor usually means a non-school teacher. Also: Tiutors, Tuitors. *(BM): Guru Sekolah, Cikgu Sekolah, Pengajar Tuisyen, Guru Tuisyen, Cikgu Tuisyen. | (6) Home Tutors - Tutors who provide home tuition as opposed to those who teach at tuition centres. Also: Private Tutors, Personal Tutors, Individual Tutors, One-to-one Tutors, 1-to-1 Tutors, Group Tutors, Small Group Tutors, Private Teachers, Personal Teachers, Individual Teachers, One-to-one Teachers, 1-to-1 Teachers, Group Teachers, Small Group Teachers, Private Tuition Teachers, Personal Tuition Teachers, Individual Tuition Teachers, One-to-one Tuition Teachers, 1-to-1 Tuition Teachers, Group Tuition Teachers, Small Group Tuition Teachers. *(BM): Pengajar Di Rumah, Pengajar Swasta, Pengajar Peribadi, Pengajar Persendirian, Pengajar Perseorangan, Guru Di Rumah, Guru Swasta, Guru Peribadi, Guru Persendirian, Guru Perseorangan, Cikgu Di Rumah, Cikgu Swasta, Cikgu Peribadi, Cikgu Persendirian, Cikgu Perseorangan. | (7) Tuition Centers - Private institutions that conduct tuition on classroom-like settings. Also: Tuition Centres, Tutorial Centers, Tutorial Centres, Tuition Classes, Tutorial Classes, Tutoring Classes. *(BM): Pusat Tuisyen, Pusat Bimbingan, Pusat Tutorial, Kelas Tuisyen. | (8) Home Tuition Jobs - Home tuition vacancies; Posts to be filled by home tutors. Also: Private Tuition Jobs, Home Tutoring Jobs, Private Tutoring Jobs, Home Tuition Assignments, Private Tuition Assignments, Home Tutoring Assignments, Private Tutoring Assignments, Private Tuition Vacancies, Home Tutoring Vacancies, Private Tutoring Vacancies. *(BM): Jawatan Kosong Tuisyen, Pekerjaan Tuisyen, Kerja Tuisyen, Tugasan Tuisyen. | (9) Home Tutees - Home tuition students; Pupils receiving home tuition from home tutors. *(BM): Pelajar Tuisyen, Murid Tuisyen, Penuntut Tuisyen. | *(BM) denotes terms in Bahasa Melayu or Malay Language.