Author Topic: The fun they had  (Read 658 times)

Offline thaiga

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The fun they had
« on: February 13, 2012, 11:33:14 AM »
Government urged to train teachers on use of computer tablets to enhance pupils' learning

BANGKOK: -- Paper and pencils were replaced by tablet computers during a Prathom (Grade) 1 Thailanguage class at a school in Bangkok recently. Students used the hitech tools to write words, following their teacher’s instructions, typing and erasing many different words until they got them right.

For the morning's language lesson, the 50 students were told to write words with d, t, p and b as final consonants and show them to the teacher and their classmates.

Having used the tablets for one period per day for the past three weeks and become familiar with using them, they were now able to write the words fluently as soon they thought of them.

The class then became a little chaotic as they scrambled to show what they had written and check to see if it was correct.

"Writing the words on the tablets is fun for them, while they gain knowledge in class. It was not so enjoyable for pupils to write on paper, and moreover, we had to use a lot of sheets when doing the activity," teacher Thikamporn Sawasdiyothin told The Nation during an observation session of tablet use in class last week at Srinakharinwirot University Prasarnmit Demonstration School (Elementary).

This school is one of five pilot schools in different regions of the country taking part in a project studying the impacts of tablet use on students and providing recommendations and guidelines for suitable tablet use. The project is entitled Integrating Technology to Enhance Learning.

In an afternoon science class, 51 Prathom (Grade) 4 students used tablets to make their own "mind maps" grouping different objects according to their degree of transparency, into such categories as transparent, translucent and opaque.

One student said his tablet helped him summarise lessons and made it easier to get a big picture of what he had learned.

Studying from textbooks was suitable for considering content in detail, he said.

Science teacher Sukanya Suphannarat said her students seemed excited about using and learning from the tablets.

But adapting lessons to accommodate the tablets has not been easy. Both teachers said they had put extra work into adjusting lesson plans before they started teaching, since the tablets were new to both them and their pupils. Some learning materials were provided by the Office of Basic Education Commission for installation in the tablets, but they had to search online for additional programs and applications that suited their students' learning activities.

Asst Prof Chalermchai Boonyaleepun, president of Srinakharinwirot University (SWU), urged the government to make a serious effort to train teachers so they would know how to use the devices to enhance learning.

Since more than half of the budget on preparing teachers and administration staff as part of its pilot project had proved a success, Chalermchai said the Education Ministry should do the same when handing out tablets on a national scale.

"The government should not just distribute the tablets without providing other support to schools," said Kanitha Rujiroj, an expert advising on the project.

"We've received reports from the pilot schools about different problems. For instance, they found that improper advertisements appeared when using some applications online," she said, adding that teachers should install applications that prevent students doing Internet downloads by themselves. They must not allow students to adjust the tablets' settings, she said.

Kanitha also urged teachers to clearly explain dos and don'ts for tablet use to students. She added that schools had to provide adequate facilities to support the effective use of tablets in class.

Assoc Prof Sukumarn Kasemsuk, director of the school, said parents were worried that students might accidentally damage the tablets and wondered if they would have to pay for it.

Kanitha recommended damage insurance.

The project, which kicked off in October, is studying how the use of tablets could affect students' health, behaviour and learning habits, as well as its impact on the attitudes of teachers, directors, parents and people in surrounding communities.

Asst Prof Sirinoot Teanrungroj, director of the Computer Centre at SWU, who oversees this project, said the teachers at the pilot schools under the study would hold a meeting in April to share the problems they face and discuss the ways they had addressed them. Then, SWU would gather their information to create lesson plans and guidelines for teachers nationwide. "This will be helpful for them when they use the tablets in class."

A total of 900,000 tablets will be distributed to Prathom 1 students starting in May.
The Nation
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