Internet and Education

The onset of the new millennium and reformation promises new hope for accelerated development of Indonesia's education sector. The key factors contributing to this new hope are moves towards decentralization, school based management, empowerment of schools and communities to influence school outcomes, and the unification of objectives and goals by all sectors.

In the past very efficient and effective communication systems were established to disseminate information to all sectors of the education community. The decentralization of education will necessitate a new paradigm and role for the educational administration. A major component of this new role will be the efficient monitoring, identification of needs, and affective deployment of human and other resources to meet those needs. By in large the problems in education are mainly systemic and currently the full potential of the human resources in all sectors are not being utilized. Most of the research and development initiatives during this new interim period should be directed towards developing communication systems that empower the various education sectors to contribute to the development and future directions of education in Indonesia.

Communication Systems

The emphasis upon maximizing human resources in all sectors implies that we will need highly effective communication systems. If we are going to be responsive to needs then the initial focus should be more upon the reception of information rather than upon dissemination of information. This almost implies a reversal of roles compared to the previous role of communication for educational administration.

Research* into school development has clearly indicated that one of the most effective ways in which schools self-develop is through the sharing of information and ideas. One of the major contributors to the professional and personal development of the principals in schools modeling successful change has been the open and supportive communication achieved by means of regular principal forums. By collectively addressing issues among peers affective, realizable solutions have been achieved. The invitation of input and direct contributions from the other stakeholders; students, parents, and community members also provided a wealth of information and improved community support for school development. If the primary objective is the maximization of educational human resources it is imperative that we greatly improve the communication channels between all sectors of the education community and stakeholders. Therefore the initial thrust for improved communication should also focus upon shared communication and increased opportunities for contributions from all sectors.

The responsibility of schools entering this new era of globalization should be to prepare students for all the new challenges that are rapidly changing our society. The ability to speak a foreign language and computer literacy are currently the two 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 literacy (See Introduction - Computers).

Given the high priority for establishing computer facilities within all Indonesian schools and the large distances between provincial schools in Indonesia it appears logical that one of the better options for improving communications between the schools, Kanwils, Kandeps, and the National Ministry of Education would be the utilization of the Internet. Some schools are already taking the initiative to establish facilities themselves. Based upon these existing moves, and given that the development itself is consistent with the learning needs of our students, the Internet as strategy for consideration as a communication medium is very valid.

The Internet and teaching and learning

The wealth of information now available on the Internet has already surpassed the expectations and even the imagination of the systems early inventers. The Internet was originally created as a military defence system to decentralize and distribute control so as to eliminate the risk of total failure, as could be the case if a centralized system's main computer was destroyed.

The Internet decentralizes and empowers. By using the Internet we can access almost unlimited and rapidly expanding sources of information. We can communicate individually or on mass to practically anywhere in the world within seconds. We can publish information that can be accessed from anywhere in the world instantly. We can communicate real time through telephone and video processing units. We can "chat" through a wide range of free chat networks ie. mIRC.