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Bario and Japanese children to communicate via webcam

on 08 Jun 2010.

By SHARON LING
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SCHOOLCHILDREN from Bario in Sarawak’s interior will communicate with children from Japan for the first time via webcam at the end of June.

This will be made possible under a programme, to be jointly implemented by Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (Unimas) and a Japanese non-profit organisation as part of a universal playground programme.

Dubbed Pangaea, the programme will enable children around the globe to become friends by overcoming language and cultural barriers through information and communication technology (ICT).

It consists of local and webcam activities. During local activities, children use PangaeaNet to communicate with counterparts in different countries. They can share artwork such as pictures and animations through PangaeaNet besides exchanging feedback.

In webcam sessions, children from various Pangaea sites experience face-to-face communication via webcams and can even play online games with one another.

The Pangaea programme has been implemented in various sites in Japan, Korea, Austria and Kenya. Last year Unimas was selected to run the first Pangaea programme in Malaysia. The programme is now being carried out as a collaborative project between the university’s Centre of Excellence for Rural Informatics (COERI) and Pangaea Japan.

Unimas piloted the programme in Kota Samarahan last year with schoolchildren aged nine to 14.

This year, the university introduced Pangaea to schoolchildren in Bario, a remote village in the Kelabit Highlands accessible by Twin Otter plane from Miri.

The first Pangaea activity in Bario was conducted in January with 20 children aged nine to 13, facilitated by school teachers, parents and relatives of the participants, while a second activity was held in April.

On June 26, the children will participate in their first webcam day. The COERI-Pangaea team will set up an Internet connection at the Bario community hall to enable live-feed interaction via satellite with children in Japan.

A machine translation tool developed by researchers at Kyoto University will also be used during the interaction between both groups of children.

This is the first of future plans by COERI to connect children from remote communities with others in different locations.

COERI believes the project is not only about bridging the digital divide but providing innovative ways for children to use ICT to learn about other cultures, languages and traditions.

 

Extracted from The Star Online.

Arkib Berita

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