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Sara Moreira¹, Prof. Francisco Restivo¹, Prof. Francisco Dionísio² Project developed at Faculty of Engineering, University of Porto (¹DEI - FEUP e ² DM – ISTUTL,SQIG-Instituto de Telecomunicações))
In this paper is presented an unusual scenario of technology platforms adoption: Moodle at the National University of East Timor (UNTL) [Mor09]. We intend to answer questions concerned with the challenges that technology needs to face when making the first steps in bringing IT to an inhospitable environment, and the depth of the impact of technology while promoting the digital inclusion in East Timor.
improved by them." This social gap among those who have access to and use computers and the Internet [Wil01] is not necessarily a problem from developing countries – it is usually applies to the gap between rural vs. urban areas, but it also may be related to other issues such as gender. It is often questioned what is the added value that technology can bring to places where there is hunger, poverty or other conflicts. In response, we present case studies where technology is introduced to support education, build an economy or simply bring new channels of communication to those who were previously isolated. There are many successful cases in bringing technology to remote places while creating development opportunities. Focusing in East Timor, which is the first independent country of this millennium and still recovering from the violent events at the time of independence, the reality is that people have little contact to new technologies and computers. Moreover, East Timor is one of the poorest countries in Asia, lacking infra structures of all sorts, including communication and digital infra structures [AF05]. 3.2. E-Learning Platforms
To enhance UNTL’s capabilities through ICT by providing the first information system there. To support the future of Portuguese Cooperation project at UNTL by analysing the legacy bureaucratic procedures and carrying them to the digital era. To improve higher education in East Timor, by making more contents available for the students and promoting their contact with ICT To understand the issues that lead to the success of a Project of this kind, while redefining pedagogical and administrative workflows, and its impact in users’ habits. To create a critical mass for future developments in a broader scope.
Main goals of the project were
Looking to the technology gap as an opportunity rather than as a disadvantage, distance-learning tools and learning management systems may play an important role in these environments, being simultaneously tools to improve the access to education and a motivation to adopt digital technologies. Firstly, a key factor in the case of Timor-Leste specifically the UNTL - is the fact that Internet access at this time is entirely inappropriate (in terms of price, speed and quality of service - QoS). UNTL does not have a geographically distributed structure. Even if it did, the Internet connection without minimum conditions, isolate that institution from the outset. Another interesting point is that there is no budget for project implementation. Thus, the software must be licensed with "Free" or "Open Source" official (recognized by the Free Software Foundation or the Open Source Initiative), preferably running on Linux with an Apache server and a system of database management MySQL database This set of requirements leads to the selection of a platform based on widespread technology, for example PHP / MySQL, and a large user base to
In order to illustrate the path leading to the above main goals, we begin by focusing digital divide realities and we define the potentiality of e-learning tools in bringing education and knowledge to that kind of places. We then describe the adoption project itself, concerning informatics issues such as the installation and configuration of Moodle, its resources and the users training and support. In the end, we discuss specific difficulties associated to the project development and related with the definition and use of such a system in this context. 3.1. Digital Divide Contexts
In the Digital Divide Network, the concept of digital divide is defined as "the distance between those who took advantage of the benefits of digital technology and those people whose lives could be significantly
support standardized learning objects. There is a platform that stands out clearly not only in number of sites and users and also shows a robust and appropriate to the situation in question - the Moodle platform. Although the investment for the development of a course can be high, resources can be reused, transferred and adapted. This can lead to education and knowledge to those who would otherwise not purchased, providing more content to students and promoting contact them with ICT. This tool serves not only from the technological point of view, but also as a representation for training, education, and administrative tasks. 3.3 Moodle at the National University of East Timor Moodle was adopted in order to support the future of UNTL after completion of the Portuguese Cooperation ten years project in that institution, providing an useful and secure storage for interactive information. We present the definition of the problem to solve at the National University of East Timor, and the solution found in Moodle e-Learning platform. The project began with a team of four people with the following main tasks: • • • Modelling of documents flow at the Portuguese Cooperation Project (FUP) in UNTL. Administrative requirements analysis. Pre-Installing in an internal server and activating Moodle at FUP. Fig. 2 – Home Page of Moodle at UNTL. The next goal was to promote the use of Moodle by different kinds of users. We created a "Fast Moodle” guideline of procedures for teachers and students, and completed it with a period of training for them. Soon the actual use of the platform started with a pilot course on Operating Systems (OS) through Moodle. Concerning education, we used Moodle as a tool to support classes, where different types of educational resources and content would be available each week to carry out practical exercises related to OS. Moodle also served as a channel of communication within and outside the classroom, as students, highly motivated by the increased contact with ICT, used it for several educational activities (such as the submission of assignments and discussion on related subjects). Moodle was also used in more fun ways, through chat and blogs. Upon completion of the school year, we evaluated the use of Moodle through a survey. 11 answers were received from a total of 36 enquiries. Most students found Moodle intuitive and agreed that it improved the learning process. The students were also confident about the usefulness and use of ICT at all levels. 3.3. Future Perspectives
Fig. 1 – Teachers data workflow at UNTL. While adapting current workflow, Moodle was structured with the equivalent courses organization:
After evaluating the process involved on the project development, and based in the problems arisen, it is stated an essay about future perspectives for the University, the country and similar places. Besides all the difficulties faced, the Project has created the opportunity to install an e-learning solution at the UNTL, and has shown that there are more things to be done, that will need people’s involvement. Moodle has not yet become a mandatory tool in the UNTL, but in the future that situation may change. The Project has shown that it is possible to go forward, even though at a slow pace and it creates expectations that may challenge others to adopt and improve the project. A good engineering solution may play an important role.
The use of e-Learning platforms enables better organization for administrative and curricular information, as well as allowing new channels for the distribution of pedagogical and educational contents. While the evaluation of the results much depends on the expectations at the outset, through this project we confirmed that UNTL students truly recognized the advantages of the tool and adopted it for college work. The availability of contents and the access to electronic information is clearly important and the number of education, evaluation and monitoring projects is increasing, acting on contents assessment, using platforms such as Moodle, for various subject areas, such as in neighbouring Indonesia [HS05]. The adoption of Moodle (open source and free software) in UNTL played an important role in the dissemination of information within the organization. Moreover projects of this kind are not necessarily expensive. The biggest challenge is finding the human resources required for the production and / or reuse of meaningful and useful content. UNTL and Timor-Leste must enhance the general infrastructure of digital communication and Internet services which can provide sustainable channels of interactivity. Even at an international level, the potential is big for the spread of digital literacy in this context. In order to optimize the impact of ICT projects in Timor-Leste, the country needs to recognize the importance of telecommunications and Internet development, focusing on creative solutions in the ICT sector and training people who can drive new implementations. Despite the delay that exists in terms of services and infrastructure support for now prove insufficient; the centralization of digital learning and knowledge through such tools is an engine of development.
In conclusion, not only we evidently expect future development in UNTL, but we also expect to reproduce and adapt the project in other institutions responsible for the transmission of knowledge. The result of this work is seen as positive and it provides well framed guideline for the Timorese reality. As mentioned, it should not be forgotten that the greatest needs Timor-Leste faces in terms of ICT must be met quickly to give way to leverage knowledge and development.
[AF05] ABIDIN, Abdullah Zanol, FREITAS, João Câncio, .tp / .tl Timor-Leste, Publicação Digital Review of Asia-Pacific, 2005 [HS05] HASIBUAN, Z.A., SANTOSO, H.B., The use of e-learning towards new learning paradigm: case study student centered e-learning environment at Faculty of Computer Science - University of Indonesia, Fac. of Comput. Sci., Indonesia Univ., Depok, Indonesia, 2005 [Mor09] MOREIRA, S., Adopção de uma Ferramenta de e-Learning na Universidade Nacional de Timor-Leste: O Desafio da Tecnologia, O Impacto da Mudança, Faculdade de Engenharia da Universidade do Porto, 2009 [Wil01] WILLIAMS, K., What is the digital divide?, working paper, University of Michigan, 2001
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