Tablets get cautious thumbs-up in early test

national February 04, 2013 00:00


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Interactive content motivates Prathom 1 students

Months have passed since hundreds of thousands of tablets were given to Prathom 1 (Grade 1) pupils across the country. So far, interactive learning with the tablets has provided good motivation to study and to practise for Prathom 1 pupils at a Bangkok school.

Each time, the students focused on their own tablet screens sitting on their desks, while moving their index fingers on the screens to interact with electronic exercises and lessons.

About 40 pupils in two Prathom 1 classes at Chumchonmoobanpat-tana School in Khlong Toei district have been studying like that for about three months now.

The interactive content in the tablets is succeeding in arousing students’ curiosity to practise exercises and study. Prathom 1 teachers from both classes said they had used the tablets to motivate their classes to learn on their own.

The school is supervised by the Department of Education under the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA).

The BMA has given 46,575 tablets to 431 schools in the capital.

In all, 800,000 tablets were issued to all Prathom 1 students in the 2012 academic year nationwide.

The government will eventually distribute 1.69 million tablets to all Prathom 1 and Matthayom 1 (Grade 7) students countrywide for the 2013 academic year.

During The Nation’s observation in both Prathom 1/1 and 1/2 classes last week, Prathom 1/2 students were seen actively adding numbers in mathematics games, as Prathom 1/1 students practised reading about two elephants on their tablets.

“Mostly, we’ ve had them practise exercises on the tablets. Some are educational games that they can interact with. So, once they touch to answer, they know if the answer is correct or incorrect immediately. And also animation makes the exercises and lessons more exciting and interesting for them,” Chongjit Borvornsakulchart, 45, a Prathom 1/1 teacher said.

Chongjit and Prathom 1/2 teacher, Srisuda Kul-ak, 42, said they still mainly taught with textbooks as they had more content than the tablets. They used tablets in other lessons.

“I like studying from textbooks because they have more knowledge, but we have more fun while studying from tablets,” said Supha Numkamnerd, 7, in Prathom 1/1 and Kaothit Imlim, 7, in Prathom 1/2.

Supha added that she liked doing fun exercises on her tablet, especially mathematics and reading.

Apart from this, students at the school practice singing and learning development songs, writing and drawing.

Both teachers said they had their pupils use tablets three times per week on average and one to two hours at a time.

“We won’t let them use the gadgets every day. We want them to do other activities so they can develop other skills, particularly writing,” Srisuda said.

Chongjit said she wanted more interactive exercises and electronic lessons installed in the tablets for the students to practise and review.

If possible, she wanted the lessons to cover all eight subjects. Now, the lessons covered only five main subjects. Also, she wanted apps that suited her teaching.

According to the department, most teachers wanted the content in the tablets to cover the whole Prathom 1 curricula that could be applied to their teaching. They wanted educational supervisors to guide them on how to use tablets with teaching in class more effectively. Meanwhile, pupils said that they wanted electronic lessons in the tablets to be provided in other subjects, including health and physical education, art, and occupation and technology.

“They’ve paid more attention to study and helped guide each other on how to use applications. Now, they appear more skilled in using the tablets compared to the first week,” said Pornnicha Chatapun, director of the school.

Pornnicha said the school was providing Wi-Fi access and it would be available from next week as she saw the Internet as an updated source of knowledge for her students. “We’ll have to prepare our teachers for challenges that will come with Internet use to protect our pupils from improper media.”

According to the department, teachers at all 431 BMA schools have taught with tablets since November last year, using them along with textbooks. The schools reported that the pupils concentrated more on studying and interacted extensively with their teachers. The tablets have also helped the pupils understand more about the content of some lessons.

It found the tablets were an effective teaching tool and aroused students’ curiosity in technology use. The gadgets could also provide for teachers and pupils with an opportunity to access up-to-date and varied learning sources. However, care had to be taken with negative impacts, like students entering improper websites and the maintenance burden on schools.

The department will conduct research to study other impacts the tablets have on teachers and pupils using the computers in class.

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