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Malaysian students can now read digital textbooks via app

According to a recent report, the Ministry of Education in Malaysia had previously announced that physical textbooks would be replaced with digital ones in 2019 and students would be able to use their own mobile devices to access these books.

An earlier report on the subject noted that Malaysian schools were going digital with the introduction of e-textbooks next year, a surprise announcement by the Deputy Edu­cation Minister.

Educationists noted that the move was timely and a step forward in improving the country’s education system, noting that while it is undeniable that private schools are more advanced, it is necessary to start somewhere and digital textbooks are the way to go.

It was noted that the Education Ministry would work with parent-teacher associations and private companies to equip schools with computers.

Another benefit is that e-textbooks would mean lighter schoolbags. Moreover, it was noted that the ministry was discussing whether to let students download these e-books on their personal devices or on school devices.

And while the content was only in PDF format, eventually the ministry plans to make it more interactive.

In 2014, it was reported that the Education Ministry would be digitalising textbooks to enable teaching and learning through a virtual learning environment platform.

The then Education Minister had said that the digital textbooks would help lighten both the students’ schoolbags and parents’ burdens, adding that the textbooks would be released in two phases.

The first phase saw 313 titles made accessible to students, parents and teachers, through the 1BestariNet website. The second phase, initiated in 2019, will see digital textbooks being made more interactive.

Now, in 2019, the first week of the school year has started and lower secondary students can start downloading and reading these textbooks on the free mobile app.

The Deputy Education Minister, also mentioned before that that instead of the current PDF files, they would develop more interactive ones in the future.

However, for now, students will be using EPUB (electronic publication) files instead as it is much better than PDFs.

EPUBs have smaller file sizes and they are compatible with all screen sizes so students would not have to zoom in and out or strain their eyes too much when studying.

The mobile app also states that it “reads EPUB files made for Malaysian primary and secondary education. It is designed to have features that support rich media content, and mobile ability.

These digital textbooks are ready to be used and more teaching content for other forms will be expanded in the future.

Students and teachers are urged to register with the e-textbook website and download them into their personal mobile devices.

The steps are simple, requiring, first, a registration. Then, users need only to fill in their personal details along with the school’s details as well. After registration, users are free to browse and catalogue the books they need.

Another report noted that Malaysia is also focusing keenly on higher education.

With an allocation of RM210 million under the 2019 Budget, a Malaysian foundation will be offering more than 7,000 new opportunities this year, including focus of existing programmes on certifications in technology-related fields, professional accreditation programmes for accounting and finance, and a new initiative for those from religious and tahfiz schools.

The report also noted the challenge, looking forward, will be in keeping up with technological advancements and embracing IR4.0 so as not to be left behind.

It was noted that employers’ expectations of employees have moved towards technology-savvy communication skills, which in turn, require tertiary institutions to impart such abilities to students.

It is hoped that higher education can prepare future generations to face IR4.0, which will impact all economies, industries and society at its core.

As the lines between the physical, digital and biological worlds slowly blur, so do the ways in which we interact with emerging digital technology such as artificial intelligence, analytics and the Internet of Things.

The aim is to acquire the ability to quickly grow and adapt to remain relevant as people who are willing to learn will be agile and are versatile as they will also rank higher on the employability scale in today’s dynamic world, and this applies to all levels of students.

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