Photo - Jeff Gould, SafeGov.org
A new survey by Parent Action Group for Education Malaysia [PAGE] and international non-profit organisation SafeGov.org shows that more than 90 percent of parents surveyed are concerned about their children's online activities in school being tracked for profit-making purposes by service providers though 75 percent say that internet services such as email and document collaboration will be of educational benefit.
SafeGov.org's Jeff Gould said 92 percent of Malaysian parents want all advertising-related practices to be banned from such services in schools with 82 percent calling for the government to ban all advertising-related activities from online services in schools.
Gould said the survey also showed that Malaysian parents are aware of "a broad range of benefits from Internet services in school, with an emphasis on better skills for the future."
"More than three quarters of parents think Internet use will help their children to learn creativity, problem solving, and critical thinking," he said, adding that a similar proportion believes it will aid their children to acquire essential skills for competing in the 21st century global economy.
He said parents expressed the belief that the internet services would also support the teaching of traditional subjects such as the sciences and foreign languages.
The survey also suggested that parents with pre-tertiary education held even higher hopes than others for the educational benefits of Internet services in school with the belief that the spread of technology could balance social equality, said Gould.
The dark side of data mining
However, the survey [see infographic below] also found that many Malaysian parents see a potential dark side to the use of certain Internet services in schools, especially those that allow online advertising or engage in "data mining" of children's information, said Gould.
As mentioned, more than 90 percent of parents expressed concern that their children's online activities will be tracked for profit through advertising activities. "Although most parents (72 percent) believe that it is legitimate for schools to accept free services offered by Internet companies, 92 percent want schools to ensure that all advertising-related practices are banned from such services in schools."
"It's great to see such a positive response from the parents of our students across Malaysia" said PAGE chairperson, Datin Noor Azimah Abdul Rahim. "Technology in schools will have a significant impact on the learning experiences of our children and their future beyond school and education, and it's important that we have all parties on-board ready to embrace these changes. As an organisation dedicated to education, it's a priority of ours to help ensure that the introduction of any internet services and online learning in the classroom is implemented in the safest and most non-intrusive way to protect the privacy of our children."
"SafeGov is proud to have participated in this important survey of Malaysian parents with a leading local organisation dedicated to education such as PAGE," said SafeGov.org's Gould. "This work is part of our ongoing global series of education surveys that we are conducting in Europe, Asia and the Americas. These results offer powerful confirmation that Malaysian parents, like their peers in every other country we have surveyed, hold the highest hopes for Internet use in schools, but firmly reject any intrusion into the classroom of online advertising or profiling of students for commercial purposes."
Commissioned by SafeGov.org, 400 Malaysian parents of school-age children responded to the survey.
Sign up for CIO Asia eNewsletters.