Linked for learning

Published on Nov 13, 2002

Thamonwan Rummaneeyanon, or “Cherry”, 12, a Grade 7 student at Satri Sri Suriyothai School, is trying to understand her on-screen computer course. Not quite comprehending how application software differs from operating systems, she clicks on the “chat mode” function and poses her quandary directly to her teacher.

The teacher, in this case, happens to be on the other side of the country.

Later, Cherry needs some additional help in completing the assignment, so she switches to “chat” again and discusses it with her fellow students.

They, too, are many kilometres away.

Welcome to the new realm of online study, in which students and teachers at different schools can “meet”, discuss and study in the same virtual classroom.

Students are cybernetically linked to undertake the same course of study at the same time.

The “School on the Net” was set up two years ago by the Institute for the Promotion of Science and Technology (IPST)

Its aim is to encourage eight schools nationwide to pool resources and abilities via the World Wide Web.

Already equipped with basic knowledge about computers and software, these students learn to write software programs and design graphics, Web pages and multimedia presentations.

The project has been sufficiently successful that it is being extended to include junior secondary students this year.

Once logged on, the participants can simultaneously or individually access their assigned subject content at, says Poonsak Sakkatatiyakul, a teacher at Satri Si Suriyothai School.

They’re encouraged to interact, electronically discussing and sharing ideas with classmates and teachers near and far.

Teachers at each school together developed the course curriculum for the virtual classroom.

Poonsak says the content of the Basic Information Technology and Computer course is divided into nine parts, with each school tackling the nine components and the IPST covering other aspects.

Timetables for each subject are set in advance to give teachers adequate opportunity to prepare.

“And when it comes to study time, students have at least nine teachers they can call on for help,” Poonsak says.

“Since the student and the teacher aren’t necessarily in the same location, the ‘chat room’ is there for them to communicate promptly.”

Geared to self-learning, the project gives students the chance to study and practise on their own, finish and submit their assignments, including homework, and take tests.

As one of some 9,600 students at the eight schools linked to the project, Cherry says it’s been quite helpful and has made her more familiar with computers and the Internet.

“Apart from the studies, it shows me how to search for information on the Internet, so it becomes easier for me to complete a report to submit to the teacher,” she says.

Asina Pornwasin

The Nation

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