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UNESCO Bangkok supports Thailand’s second decade of education reform using project-based learning and ICT


Thailand has recently launched its Second Decade of Education Reform with principal strategies reflecting the intention of the government to harness the potential of information and communication technology to build the capacity of Thai students, enabling a culture of knowledgeable use of ICT and communication for the development of future education. The ultimate goal of the education reform is to instill learners with skills that are essential to thriving in the 21st Century society, i.e. creativity, higher-order thinking, and citizenship.

One of the ways to achieve the Reform goal is through teachers, by strengthening their ability to incorporate pedagogical approaches that promote desirable qualities in students. Learner-centred teaching methods and project-based learning (PBL) are part of such approaches. In Thailand, the concept of learner or student-centred teaching was much emphasized on since the first decade of Education Reform back in late 90s. Yet, there persists a gap between government-directed attempt at moving away from traditional instruction and actual abilities of teachers to incorporate problem-solving and students’ thinking skills into classroom activities.

Recognizing the need to reduce such discrepancy, UNESCO Bangkok has collaborated with Chiang Mai University to train teachers from ten schools in Chiang Mai province in the north of Thailand to integrate project-based learning and tele-collaboration into their teaching. The objectives of the training workshop were to improve Thai teachers’ ability to facilitate student-centred project-based learning that includes ICT-enhanced collaborative learning, referred to as “tele-collaboration.” The five-day training, titled Capacity-Building Workshop on Project-Based Learning and Tele-collaboration took place on 14 – 18 March 2011. A total of 40 participants, both teachers and principals, from ten primary and secondary schools participated in the workshop.

In the hopes of fostering higher-order thinking skills and ICT literacy essential to the 21st Century learner, the teachers designed and would later implement project-based learning activities which address issues of interest in the local community with students from the participating ten schools. The participants were introduced to a combination of theoretical approaches and examples of PBL to reorient them towards more meaningful PBL planning and practical implementation plan among students. They were also encouraged to incorporate elements of ICT into learning activities and aim for tele-collaboration on all “3Is” levels, i.e. inter-disciplinary, inter-school, and inter-cultural.

An important aspect of the workshop was the support of the implementing partner Chiang Mai University (CMU) and UNESCO Bangkok. With extensive hands-on practice and feedback opportunity throughout the duration of the workshop, CMU and UNESCO Bangkok experts guided schools in refining the PBL design. In the end, participating teachers completed five project designs. The fact that PBL project implementation remains a relatively new concept to some educators in Thailand, UNESCO Bangkok also aims to collect innovative practices in collaboration with CMU and use lessons to compile a whole-school support strategy for project-based learning as a reference for other teachers in the country.

This workshop was part of a series of trainings under the Korean-Funded UNESCO Project “Facilitating Effective ICT-Pedagogy Integration.” The Project operates in six countries in Asia and Pacific Region. In relation to the capacity building aspect of the project, UNESCO Bangkok offers schools the opportunity to submit their PBL proposals for financial contribution as incentives for teachers to commit to project implementation and international school partnerships among the target countries.