Technology boost for rural schools

national March 03, 2014 00:00

By The Nation

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An innovative project promises to apply modern technologies for the educational benefit of children at rural schools.

Dubbed the Braincloud, the project is going to connect children in Yala and Chiang Rai with native English teachers via high-speed Internet access and tablets.
Now in its pivotal phase, Braincloud has already offered real-time English lessons at eight pilot schools in Nakhon Pathom, Nakhon Nayok and Prachin Buri. 
Because the results have been impressive, the project is now ready to expanded further. 
Last month, Stephen Schoettler, the founder and chief executive of Junyo Analytics, Michael Canuel, the founding executive of LEARN Quebec, and Dr Nahathai Thewphaingarm, head of the Thewphaingarm School advisory committee, gathered at a Braincloud school in Nakhon Pathom to kick-start the expansion. 
“My vision for Braincloud is to provide a modern education that is accessible and affordable for all kids in Thailand,” Braincloud founder and chief executive Tan Soamboonsrup said.
Under this project, the Thewphaingarm School will serve as the learning centre where English native speakers will collaborate with teachers at rural schools in conducting classes via tablets and the Internet. 
“I hope to see Thai children become bilingual. I wish to see them speak both Thai and English fluently,” Nahathai said. 
The Braincloud Solution mainly involves interactive learning on the Internet; a kind of wireless high-speed broadband Internet technology called “Braincloud Virtual Fibre”. 
The virtual fibre is installed at schools with Internet-related problems and is used to connect signals at distances up to 100 kilometres and with an optimal speed of up to 100 Mbps (upload/download). 
Braincloud programmes are optimised for children in grades 1-6. 
A number of organisations have contributed to the Braincloud project, which has received guidance from Canuel. 
He has already successfully used the 21st Century Blended Learning Model to support up to 2 million students in Quebec, Canada, whom are now bilingual in French and English. 
The Braincloud Solution promises to introduce a 21st Century Blended Learning Model to primary school children in many schools that are financially in need.
Schoettler, the former CTO of Zynga, expects the latest technology to revolutionise learning. 
Sombat Chaksomsak, the principal of the Chiang Rai-based Ban Huaykhom School, said: “I am glad that this project will come to Chiang Rai and will benefit my students, as we are a border school and most of our students are tribe children.
“Being a teacher, I would love to see the opportunity for my students to learn English from native English teachers be the equal of those urban students. 
“I saw a demonstration of the Brincloud Solution on the February 12 at Chiang Rai’s PAO school, 
“I am totally convinced that this learning model, which is easy and fun, will make my students feel confident to speak English fluently and love to study English.”