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This material is suitable for All Education Sectors.
Name & E-mail (Author): Phillip Rekdale
I'm an Education Consultant in Jakarta
Tanggal: 07 April 2001
Article: From Education-Laboratory.Com (Pendidikan Network)

Poor Layout

A Major responsibility of schools entering this new era of globalization is to prepare students for the new challenges that are rapidly changing our society. One of the greatest challenges currently facing our youth is finding meaningful employment. The ability to speak a foreign language and computer literacy are currently two of the most common criteria required from people wishing to enter the workforce in Indonesia (and globally). As only about 20-30% of senior secondary school graduates nationally continue on to formal tertiary education, and with computers now infiltrating every aspect of human life it places a high burden of responsibility upon our education system to improve the development of our students' language and computer literacies.

The cost of providing facilities for computer studies in schools will be high.

  • How can the government afford to finance this development?
  • Given the needs, how can the government afford not to finance this development?
  • Does the government need to fully finance this development?

There are currently moves within several private and public schools (state schools) to address these issues themselves. Some schools have established strong links with their communities and have taken steps through inviting community support to establish basic computer facilities. These schools have demonstrated how we can address one of the major problems facing the introduction of technology into schools in Indonesia - sustainability. Effective sustainability systems have already been established by these schools by improving their community's understanding of the importance of technology for their children. In the cases we have studied schools that are working with their communities to establish facilities have indicated continual growth and increased support from their communities.

Sustainability is a key factor. Past programs for providing technology to schools have generally achieved little long-term success and very rarely have they exhibited any growth. The provision of language laboratories is a typical example. There are usually six main issues:

  • Budgets for maintenance are not provided with the initial facilities.
  • Training is usually too specific and not related to the needs in the field or attitudinal change.
  • Staff for routine maintenance and development are not provided.
  • Technical expertise is not available or is too expensive.
  • Suitable teaching materials are not provided.
  • The poor working conditions of teachers in the field dictates that they cannot devote time to developing creative teaching materials.

These issues are even further magnified in the case of computers because the level of expertise required to develop and maintain the facilities is higher and computer skills are very marketable. The proposition that staff can be trained in the schools is invalid in the current context because anybody who develops the required level of expertise could earn ten-times what they would be paid in schools in the commercial sector so they would be lost or spend all of their time moonlighting (as is already the case with many of the skilled staff in the public service).

How do some schools manage to purchase computers which are expensive and have high maintenance costs?

A few schools are located in wealthy communities where parent-teacher groups can raise large sums of money relatively easily. However, some other schools in the middle to lower socio-economic areas have managed to achieve similar levels of accomplishment in establishing computer and other facilities in their schools. Two examples are SMU 2 Wonosari in Central Java and SMU 23 in Bandung, West Java. Their initial approaches to school development were similar but different. They both managed their success by cooperating and working together with their communities. However, SMU 2 in Wonosari relied mainly upon its determination and the development of its staff's skills, while SMU 23 in Bandung initiated its programs by taking a very entrepreneurial role and achieving community sponsorship.

Regardless of what approach your school might decide to take the important points are that your school has clear objectives, is pro-active in communicating those objectives and benefits to your community, and is open and 100% transparent. It is important that development is carefully planned so that the quality improvement of educational outcomes for the students can be easily communicated to the community. It is truly amazing how much extra support can be achieved from communities when "trust" is established and they "understand" the benefits for their children.

What equipment (hardware) is required?

Current regulations limit the maximum class size to 48 students. While 48 computers would be regarded as ideal it is an unrealistic target for all schools in Indonesia currently. Some schools have shown us that they have commenced successful extra-curricular school programs with very few computers by careful scheduling. The author believes that a realistic short to mid-term target would be 24 computers. In reality most classes have less than 48 students so the student to computer ratio would be less than 2:1. Sharing of computers during early stages of computer training can have advantages for helping to build confidence and also it allows the more skilled students to be placed so that they are able to help the weaker students (improving teacher efficiency). This doesn't mean that you must buy 24 computers now. You could begin a basic extra-curricular program with just two computers. The main thing is that you have a plan, make arrangements to train and prepare your staff, and begin to address the issue. The author has taught Internet classes using only one computer.
NOTE: Most suppliers of computers in Indonesia will install whatever programs you request on the computers prior to purchase. This is one of the reasons careful pre-planning of training objectives is necessary in order to know what programs to request and save on program (software) costs later. However, I would recommend that at least 20% (preferably all) of your computers have CD ROM drives so that special programs that require constant CD use can be utilized.

From our experience in the schools it would appear that two (2) printers are also a minimum requirement.

Basic Computer Laboratory Designs

Poor Layout

Poor laboratory layout

This laboratory layout is very common however from a teaching viewpoint is very limited.

  • Student visibility is very poor (particularly from the rear).
  • The teacher cannot see what the students are doing.
  • Access for the teacher to work individually with the students is very difficult.
  • Cabling is difficult and requires under-floor cables (not easily changed).
  • Students are prone to bumping the equipment as they enter an leave (reliability problems).
  • If a computer needs attention (or a minor repair) at the front of the class it can distract all the other students.

Good Layout

Good laboratory layout

This laboratory layout is far better from a teaching viewpoint.

  • Students can turn in their seats and visibility is fair.
  • The teacher can monitor the activities of all students during the class.
  • Access for the teacher to work individually with the students is excellent.
  • Cabling is easy and easily modified.
  • Students do not have access to the cabling (at the rear) and reliability is good.
  • If a computer needs attention (or a minor repair) other students are not distracted.
  • If your room is large enough the center area with seating allows the teacher to teach principles at the beginning of the lesson or to review common problems that many or all of the students maybe encountering. Far more flexible.

Recommended laboratory layout

We recommend that if you are without experience and you want to purchase equipment, software or install Internet facilities that you use the Pendidikan Net FORUM to ask for information or assistance from the many experienced people within our education community. Purchase locally so that you can more easily obtain support and assistance when required. Compare all prices and warranties before you order any equipment.

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