Maxis launches eKelas portal, education space gets crowded

Available to all 2,300 secondary schools

The Maxis event was held to announce that eKelas, an interactive online learning service the company launched in 2012, had successfully completed its pioneer or pilot phase and would now be rolled out to all 2,300 secondary schools in the country.

The event was also held to recognise the 30 pioneer schools which took part in the pilot, involving 900 students and 120 teachers. They were given supplementary online learning tools which focused on knowledge acquisition through adaptive, experimental, experiential and relevant real world scenarios, Maxis said.

“Having seen the impact this programme has had on the (30 pioneer) schools, we are excited to provide this service to all public secondary schools in Malaysia, with the hope that they too will benefit from this innovative learning service,” Maxis chairman Arshad Uda said in his speech at the event.

“We believe that Maxis eKelas will provide students with an experiential and exploratory method of learning which will make a difference in how they approach their day-to-day studies.

“With this initiative, we are also pleased to support the Government’s efforts in capacity building, helping to develop a future society that is technologically literate, dynamic and innovative through ICT learning,” he added.

The full-scale deployment to all 2,300 secondary schools will be from June onwards. Unlike 1BestariNet’s connectivity, which requires the construction of telecommunications within school premises, eKelas will run on schools’ existing ICT infrastructure, Maxis said.

“There are number of initiatives we will be undertaking,” said Maxis’ Kugan. “We’re in the midst of dividing all these schools nationwide into six districts and will hold education carnivals where we will invite teachers and students to try it out. We will also have a mega promotion nationally as well.”

While eKelas will be made available at no cost to the schools, parents and schoolchildren can also sign up to use the service at home – at the cost of RM25 per month, or RM20 for second and onward accounts.

If students need to do their work using eKelas at home, their parents will need to sign them up for the service. Maxis will be making the service available through its family packages as well, while the ‘cost-conscious’ customer segment will be served via prepaid packs, Kugan said.

“We’re very proud of this initiative to make this content freely available to all public secondary schools,” he said, although he later admitted the company expects all this to this to “contribute to our growing data revenues.”

Maxis has not set a target for the number of sign-ups or schools to get on eKelas, Kugan said, adding that the company has “invested significantly on eKelas, and we want to make sure it’s the primary tool used by all secondary schools.”

He declined to reveal the size of this investment, saying that “what’s very clear to us is that the initial feedback from the 30 pioneer schools has been extremely positive.”

‘’It’s really about taking Malaysia to the next level in terms of interactive learning and online syllabus,” he said.

Maxis also intends to expand the courseware to include Forms 4-5 by next year, and to eventually include all secondary school subjects, Kugan said.

“We will also be making the syllabus available in e-book form for tablets; eKelas would enable an e-book environment for schools,” he added.

Maxis said eKelas is a result of a “smart partnership” which was initiated between the company and the MoE in 2011 to support the Government’s continuous initiative to increase ICT usage in schools.

Maxis has also worked closely with the MoE in the Bridging Communities programme, providing Malaysians from underserved areas with access to the Internet and exposing communities to online tools.

Also, through its Maxis Cyberkids Camp project, the company said it has touched about 8,600 students and teachers from about 1,500 schools by equipping them with technological skills.

However, while the relatively independent efforts of companies such as Maxis and Microsoft are to be lauded, with so many players involved in the space, the ICT-enhanced aspect of the National Education Blueprint seems less a blueprint and more a set of sketches scrawled on serviettes.