Author Topic: A tablet a day keeps the boredom at bay  (Read 552 times)

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Offline thaiga

A tablet a day keeps the boredom at bay
« on: March 11, 2012, 01:00:43 PM »
First and fourth-graders at a Bangkok school benefit from government trial programme
By his own admission, 10-year-old Petch wasn't the most dedicated student in his fourth-grade class at Bangkok's Rachawinit School.

SURF AND STUDY: A student at Rachawinit School tries out the new Lenovo tablet. Rachawinit was one of five pilot schools to trial the government’s One Tablet per Child scheme. PHOTO: CHANAT KATANYU
According to his teacher Wassana Somwan, Petch had trouble concentrating in his lessons, he couldn't sit still and his writing was not as good as other students.

But all that changed when Rachawinit was chosen as one of five pilot schools to trial Lenovo computer tablets for Grade 1 and Grade 4 students under the government's One Tablet per Child scheme.

''I like the tablet,'' says Petch. ''One time, the teacher asked what our favourite region was, so I searched the southern region and read about its traditions. This was where my grandfather came from.''

''I'm more focused now, before I used to just run around the classroom, not paying attention,'' he said.

Ms Wassana only allows Petch to use the tablet if he first practises writing.

''His writing is so much better now because of it,'' she said. ''He's happy to receive compliments, to get good grades and to help other kids with their tablets.''

The computer tablets have also had a dramatic impact on Nannapath Sirpratath's first-graders.

During the 10am break, they sit quietly busying themselves with drawing and painting applications. But when the tablets are locked away for the 11am break the children run around screaming and playing.

Ms Nannapath trained for three days on how to use the tablets and has been teaching her first-graders with 40 of them for two hours a day from Jan 20.

''It's fun for me and it's fun for the students,'' she says, explaining the importance of ''fun'' as an effective way to educate seven year olds.

''The tablets help the students to learn better and also improve their behaviour.''

When Ms Nannapath talks to the class about Asean, she asks the students to search the word and read up online about the regional bloc. On Makha Bucha day she told her students to search for information about the religious holiday on their tablets.

''When there are pictures and colours, it's more fun and the students become more interested,'' she said, adding that textbooks are good, but they are outdated when compared to online content. Also, the textbooks don't have the colourful images to attract the attention of students.

Ms Wassana said that the fun, the excitement and the ''ability to travel the world'' have changed the classroom and her students.

''I asked them to search for Thai proverbs, and they found more results on the internet than in the textbooks, and with beautiful images,'' she said.

''It's a new toy for them full of wonder and excitement, so they become very excited about learning. Their parents too are excited,'' she added.

But not every student has fully embraced the tablets. When a tablet and a notebook are placed in front of six first-graders in Ms Nannapath's class and they are asked which they prefer, three students shyly choose their notebooks.

They explained quietly they believed there was more knowledge in their notebooks.

The other three first-graders, however, pointed to their tablet computers enthusiastically saying they were fun and educational.

Ms Nannapath said students take to the new technology at their own pace. Furthermore, students who have tablets or computers at home tend to embrace the new learning tools more easily than others.

The 80 students at Rachawinit are using the Lenovo tablets in this pilot project. But the 900,000 tablets to be distributed to first-graders in government schools nationwide next school year will be from China's Shenzhen Scope Scientific Development Co at a cost of US$81 (2,430 baht) apiece.

''I hope they [Scope tablets] will be good,'' said Manich Huangtong, Rachawinit School's deputy director.

''We haven't seen those tablets yet, but we have to believe they will be good. The government chose them after all.''

Mr Manich, Ms Nannapath and Ms Wassana agreed there are still uncertainties about the implementation of the One Tablet per Child scheme.

The Scope tablet comes with a two-year warranty. The Education Ministry plans to set up service centres in each province staffed by trained vocational school students.

''Other than that, I think the teachers are supposed to be able to take care of minor problems and each school should set up a team to handle repairs themselves,'' Mr Manich said.

He said the logistics of the service centres needed to be further discussed, along with Wi-Fi connectivity in classrooms. The Rachawinit pilot classrooms have four Wi-Fi spots, with 10 students assigned to each.

Ms Nannapath and Ms Wassana both said that to handle minor upkeep of the tablet computers, they will need more training. ''I really hope the scheme will work out,'' said Mr Manich. ''Especially in the provinces, as I grew up in a province myself. We all could really use this.''

Mr Manich conceded that some older teachers might struggle with using the tablets, but he expected their professionalism would prevail.

Under the scheme, students will get one tablet for use from Grade 1 through Grade 3, with the devices having a projected lifespan of three years.

Mr Manich said it depended on the government what would happen after the third year.

When asked what he would do without his tablet, Petch's eyes widened. ''I don't know,'' he said.
Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined.
 

 



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