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Challenges and opportunities in introducing information and communication technologies to the Kelabit community of north central Borneo

et al

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[Author's abstract, ammended] : This paper describes part of an action-research pilot project, which is to provide opportunities for a remote and isolated rural community on Borneo to experience the use of Internet to best determine the applications that meet their needs and support the special opportunities that exist within the community. The project aims to establish a telecentre as a place for the community to use computers, get connected to the Internet and make use of a variety of associated services. The communty's current sources of information are dominated by face-to-face communication. Although many have heard of computers, they have not seen or used any, and many have not heard of the Internet. Phase I of the project involved collection of base-line data to provide a socio-economic profile of the community and to establish existing patterns of communication and their understanding of computers. In view of the Malaysian government focus on computers in education and also of the significance of the school's role in the local culture, the research project is paying particular attention to the lower secondary school in Bario. A study at the school to determine the attitudes and the level of anxiety of the teachers towards computers indicates that the teachers had a positive attitude towards the use of IT. Other factors cited to be primary motivators of IT use include support from the School Principal, teachers willingness to provide team assistance to novice users, and teachers self-awareness of potential benefits of IT for the future development of the community. Recommendations for future IT training programmes catering to the needs of rural secondary school teachers are discussed at the end of the paper


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