Developing Higher Education Information


Dr Soekartawi

Brawijaya University, Indonesia


Since its independence in 1945, education has always figured prominently in Indonesia’s national developmental policy. Its importance is highlighted through Article 31 of the Amended Indonesia Constitution, which identifies education as one of the key rights of its citizens. Further, the education sector is given a priority focus in Indonesia’s budget, receiving an allocation of a whopping 20% to the total budget outlay for 2008-2009.

Despite these efforts, Indonesia’s education sector faces numerous challenges in teaching over 50 million students in 300,000 schools, employing about 3 million teachers spread across 17.5 thousand islands.

Three major issues pose challenges to Indonesia’s education sector. These are: i) Increasing equity and expanding access to education; ii) Enhancing quality improvement, relevance, and competitiveness, and iii) Strengthening governance, accountability, and public image.

One of the policy instruments in Indonesia is the integration of ICT into education ranging from the elementary school level to the higher education. This article discusses Indonesian government’s responses to the above challenges by using ICT and the success in achieving this.

The national policy for integrating information and communication technology (ICT) into education by the Ministry of National Education of Indonesia is laid down in the Five Year Development Plan, 2005-2009.

Basic activities related to the policy of integrating ICT into education consist of development of systems, methods and learning materials through the use of ICT. This is expected to develop a higher education information network, infrastructure and human resource to support its implementation, both for education management and the learning process. By using ICT for educating students in higher education institutions equity of quality can be assured.

Implementation of the policy and strategic development in integrating ICT in higher education in Indonesia may be grouped into three major directions, namely:

  • Quality of learning through increased access to new resources and improved teaching approaches,
  • Educational management and ICT led management information systems, and
  • Quality of ICT graduates and need for ICT specialists.

The goals and objectives of utilising ICT for education programme in higher education in Indonesia are to firstly provide all higher education institutions and its faculty, and students, with opportunities to learn the use of ICT. The goal is to employ ICT as an enabling tool to access information and gain knowledge through self-paced learning, or through interactions with lecturers/professors and fellow students.

Secondly, it must electronically link institutions of higher learnings and libraries to provide students and teachers an environment in which distant resources can be made available remotely at finger tips.

Finally, it must make maximum use of ICT in learning, including open and distance learning, to meet the needs and aspirations of all students in higher educations or in continuing education and skill enhancement without any constraints with regard to age, sex, profession, social status, race, distance, or geographical location.

ICT Programmes in Higher Education

Several ICT programmes have been initiated in Indonesia’s higher education. These are: are Global Development Learning Network (GDLN), Indonesian Higher Education Network (Inherent), Jardiknas (National Education Network), Indonesia-Managing Higher Education for Relevance and Efficiency (I-MHERE), e-Education, etc.

To optimise the use of ICT in higher education, GDLN is partnering with the Indonesian Higher Education Network (Inherent) programme. This joint partnership was recently launched by the Minister of National Education Republic of Indonesia on July 9, 2008. This network enables people in Indonesia – through 82 state universities, 140 private universities, and 12 regional offices – to connect, share and learn across geographical border.

The Indonesia government believes that the current technological revolution has created new paths for people and organisations to relate with one another. It is also believed that these technologies can be included as a key factor in the improvement of processes and opportunities of teaching and learning.

The integration of ICT in higher education in Indonesia is in line with the Dakar Framework for Action on Education for All, which states that ICT in the 21st century offers new ways of managing the education process as well as delivering particular programme. Such technologies can also help to deliver learning programmes at adult and professional levels, such as teacher education through distance education/learning.

Integrating technology with teaching implies the use of learning technologies to introduce, reinforce, supplement and extend skills. The difference between the classroom of exemplary users of technology and technology users is in the way their classes are conducted. In the exemplary classrooms, student use of computers is woven integrally into the patterns of teaching; software is a natural extension of student tools.

In the case of integrating ICT in higher education in Indonesia, various technologies have been used like:

  • Audio (cassette, radio broadcast, telephone, voice mail telephone),
  • Video and television (TV broadcast, VCD, fiber optics, video tape, video text, video messaging),
  • Computer and internet or web-base (fiber optics, computer, CD-ROM, Computer Assisted Instruction, Computer Based-Learning, Computer Based Technology),
  • Web-based via internet (chatting, bulletin board, e-mail, internet, on-line learning), and
  • Combination of audio, video, computer and web-based technologies).

Experiences from Indonesia show that one of the most important things that should be taken into account is that each strategy should address a specific learning or teaching need. The most effective approach is one of solving instructional problems. Technology should be viewed as one of the means of solving some of the problems that teachers and learners face.

Potential strengths and weaknesses of ICT in teaching and learning have been well documented in the literature with the former probably outweighing the latter. For example, Soekartawi (2004b, 2005, 2006) and Warschauer (1996) asserts that ICT can enhance student motivation by helping students gain knowledge and skills about using computers, giving ample opportunity to use electronic communication, and carefully integrating computer activities into the regular structure of the lesson for meaningful learning.

According to Soekartawi (2006) and Rusmini K.A and S. P. Syed Ali (2004), information technology and Internet can also promote collaborative teaching and learning and raise the achievement of the students. It can also improve teaching-learning materials, management system, and assessment system.

GDLN, Inherent, Inhere, Jardiknas and I-MHERE are higher education networks. Within the networks are some initiatives, like,

  • Dissemination of library service automation system,
  • Application system which is distributed to Higher Education Institutions for free,
  • Development of Management Information System (MIS) and database system for Higher Education Institutions,
  • Help universities in managing their data and/or information related to their assets and resources distributed for free,
  • SISDIKSAT (Sistem Pendidikan Satelit) – the implementation of tele-teaching via satellite, targeted to less developed public Higher Education Institutions.
  • GDLN – connected to the World Bank global development learning network. Connecting four universities (UI, UNRI, UNUD, UNHAS) in Indonesia Higher Education Institutions.
  • Universitas Terbuka (The Indonesia Open University) – The Indonesian Open University with open learning contents (UT-on-Line) since 2001, and
  • Indonesia-Managing Higher Education for Relevance and Efficiency (I-MHERE).,

Global Development Learning Network – a Case Study

As has been cited above, the Ministry of National Education has initiated a programme called Global Development Learning Network (GDLN). It was firstly initiated in academic year 2004/2005 with the participation of UI (University of Indonesia), Unri (University of Riau), Unud (Udayana University) and Unhas (Hasanudin University). GDLN Indonesia is treated as a learning center for Indonesians to enhance their knowledge by sharing and learning from others’ experiences in different local area or countries. GDLN programmes are specially designed to explore more on the current issues in Indonesia such as healthcare, agriculture, education, economic, technology, environment, tourism, social issues and many others. It is believed that that by sharing with international counterparts, Indonesians could adopt and adjust the international best practices for the local issues. This is an effort toward knowledge based society in Indonesia.

The vision of GDLN is to be the largest, sophisticated and useful learning center in Indonesia that connects every part of Indonesia to the world. GDLN Indonesia becomes the only place where one can share and learn from each other’s local and international experiences through programmes that are informative and yet critical to the key development practitioners in Indonesia. The mission is to be continuously broadening the national network and maintaining the connectivity to each local learning center. Not only that, programmes are critically selected and developed, which are related to the current and important issues in Indonesia that need immediate attention.

Guided by these vision and mission, the GDLN has set up a network among 82 state universities, 140 private universities, and 12 regional offices.
Some major activities of GDLN are:

  • Delivering GDLN International Programmes( i.e. Micro finance Training for Trainers, Combating the Scourge of Dengue Fever, and Incidental activities),
  • Delivering GDLN National Programmes (i.e. Course Content Development, GDLN Learning. Activity
  • Development or GLAD, Coffee morning with Director General of Higher Education, Studium Generale, Seminars and trainings using Video Conference),
  • Designing Content Development (i.e. Course Content Development, Competitive grants to develop course material through blended learning mode, and
  • Delivering GDLN Learning Activity Development (i.e. Competitive grants to develop learning activities, short courses or training, seminars).

Continuing design of content course materials (i.e. Data Communication, Development of Open and Distance Learning on Thermal Processing, Technology of Canned, Food Products, Sampling Techniques, Investments, Nursing Process and Basic Human Needs, Improving the Teaching Quality of Probability & Statistics Course, Development of Customised Anatomy and Physiology, e-Learning Courseware for Engineering Student, Software Engineering, Database 1, Food Quality Assurance Course, Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point, Sensory Evaluation Course, Evaluation of Biological Value of Food, Food Microbiology, Forest Pathology, e-Commerce, e-Learning for Reading Comprehension Utilising Translation as a Didactic Procedure, etc

General evaluation of the GDLN resulted in conclusion that there is a great demand of GDLN in more wide usages either in regular teaching learning activities or in distance and open learning activities. More specifically, it can be explained as follows:

  • First, there is a great demand of GDLN. In the beginning GDLN was set up for the purpose of networking by setting connectivity to enable knowledge exchange in the context of development. Presently, many colleges and universities demand more than the technical facility to run videoconferences.
  • Second, there is a great demand on the use of ICT in e-Learning, i.e. putting content in an online environment, using PBWiki (Wiki) or Moodle (LMS), using free e-discussion tools, such as Yahoo Groups, applying e-Survey, integrating synchronous small group and working activities using for example Skype.

Constraints in Integrating ICT in Higher Education

When identifying the constraints under which we would develop an on-line learning programme, the following issues shall be taken into account (Soekartawi, 2003f, Munaf, 2001):

  • Budget (and schedule) – Certain aspects of on-line learning are relatively quick to develop (such as text and simple graphics). Others require more expense and time (such as extensive interaction, videos, simulations, and animations).
  • Quality – Because so many organisations have limited experience with on-line learning, we might investigate the prevailing notions of quality on-line learning within the organisation we are serving. Some have difficulty with the transition from classroom to computer-based training and become overwhelmed when discussing the possibilities of performance support.
  • Staff – Who’s going to work on this programme, either in a development capacity or as an advisor on the content? More specifically, what’s their experience with on-line learning.
  • Technology architecture – Determine types of equipment, networks, and software are available in the organisation and find out where they are headed, so you can determine the configuration of the computers on which your programmes will be used.
  • Justification required – Proper justification is needed if management moves to online learning.

Undoubtedly, ICT is potentially a useful tool both for managing education and for teaching. Use in managing educational institutions should be encouraged, as should use by instructors to gain access to educational materials.

Experiences derived from the integration of ICT in higher education in Indonesia, resulted in its ability to support three pillars or objectives of education development in Indonesia, namely: increase equity and expansion to education; enhance quality improvement, relevance, and competitiveness; and strengthen good governance, accountability, and public image.

More specifically, integration of ICT in higher education in Indonesia resulted in improving quality in education and research in universities, improving solution for higher education quality, access and equity improvement, bridging the quality gaps between institutions, improving resource sharing, therefore improving efficiency, improving information asymmetry, and becoming a catalyst for improving higher education role to the community.

But getting the best from ICT integration depends on many variables, including the availability of the budget, appropriate design of software and hardware; the training and attitude of instructors; and the realisation that different students have different requirements. Finally, it should be taken into account that technology is never a substitute for good teaching. Without skilled instructors, no electronic delivery can achieve good results. But neither can traditional classroom teaching, come to that.

The integration of ICT in higher education institutions, should be focused on: Firstly, learning about ICT — computer and ICT literacy; second, working with ICT as a tool — ICT-assisted learning; third, learning by means of ICT — ICT as an educational resource; fourth, treating ICT as a building block of a powerful learning environment; fifth, applying the positive ICT impact on the educational organisation and management and finally, minimising the constraints.