High technology revives interest in dying musical art
A teacher with special expertise in music at Ban Nong Yang Ngua School in At Samat district, Roi Et, has adopted technologies to enhance his teaching over the past decade. Most recently, Weerachai Martluplao, 58, has begun using YouTube to help not only his own students but also people around the world to learn how to play the khaen, a type of mouth organ, a skill that is disappearing from Thai society.
In the past, aspiring khaen students had to train directly with masters of the instrument, which greatly limited their numbers. Weerachai’s passion is to change this. He has piloted the use of several multimedia tools such as video recordings and compact discs to distribute the art of playing the khaen to everyone who is interested.
However, he found that these methods were not sufficiently effective, as physical videos and CDs could only reach a limited number of people, while interest in the khaen was flooding in from students, parents and many others within Thailand and around the world.
Three years ago, Weerachai introduced YouTube to his class. At the first stage, he showed his students existing videos of others playing the khaen. Then he created his own khaen lessons and uploaded them on to YouTube and his blog.
The lessons include fundamental and advanced-level tutorials designed for all levels, from primary to postgraduate students.
“YouTube, blogs and SlideShare are the three main online tools for uploading the knowledge of playing the khaen to let students and people who are interested in it to learn anywhere at any time and as often as they want,” Weerachai said.
He has also now added the YouTube lessons to the school’s official curriculum. Many people have discovered these lessons on YouTube and reached out to him for more information about how to play the instrument.
“We need to design each lesson’s video file, such as what the main content is and how long it is. Lessons on YouTube should not be too long, since students might lose their concentration. It should be around five to 10 minutes.”
In his class, students upload their khaen performances on to YouTube to show their talents to fellow students and parents. Weerachai said the ability to broadcast their performances online gave his students great pride and motivation.
“At the school, we have only eight teachers for 119 students. Lessons available on YouTube help students to repeat learning the subjects as often they can. They can practise at school or even at home at any time,” he said.
His son Weerachart Martluplao, who has been a science teacher at Phonmuang Prachart School in the same district for three years, is also using YouTube as a key tool to teach his students.
He utilises multimedia formats, including digital tools like YouTube, to conduct his classes. His teaching method is focused on having students think and integrate science knowledge, computer literacy and presentation as well as communication skills in order to prepare them for well-rounded success in the future.
In his Mathayom 3 science class, he teaches students about the ecosystem and the process of decomposition, subjects that require more attention beyond his classroom lectures in order to be fully understood.
“For this purpose, a curriculum has been designed that prompts the students to investigate issues affecting their own school’s ecosystem, analyse the issues and find ways to fix them by conducting their own research online using Google Search and YouTube,” Weerachart said.
The students must complete independent research in order to create a storyboard of ideas, which they then discuss together with the class before mapping out actual solutions for their school.
“Throughout the assignment, all of these processes are recorded through photography and videos shot from their personal devices, which are later used to create a video story on YouTube to demonstrate the cycle of the tasks,” he said.
This method enables students to learn and develop various skills, ranging from research, organisation and brainstorming to the application of academic terms to real life, he said.
Weerachart has also used YouTube as well as Google apps for education, including Google Sites, Drive, and Doc, to teach other subjects such as mathematics and English.
“All 17 teachers at the school are now using YouTube as a crucial tool for teaching our 340 students. YouTube can help us apply a ‘teach less but learn more’ concept. Teachers and students can together curate and create knowledge efficiently,” he said.