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Computer Assisted Instruction (CAI) for Primary School Students

Launched in 1998, the Learn and Have Fun with CAI for Primary School Students Project has the main function of identifying quality CAI software from abroad for use in Thai primary schools, and integrating this software initially into three subject areas: maths, science, and English. The project also includes staff development to train teachers in the full and effective use of the CAI software in their classes.

Under this Programme, many award-winning and widely-recognized CAI software packages from abroad are reviewed and those most appropriate for the context are then selected. The emphasis is especially on software that aims at enhancing maths skills, scientific knowledge, English competency, creativity, and general knowledge. Instruction manuals are written for the software in Thai. After selection, the CAI programs are integrated into school curricula. The focus of the project is on integration, and training the teachers how to write lessons plans that infuse ICTs into the learning experience. Eventually the teachers will be able to make well-informed decisions to choose quality software that is best suited to their classroom.

The project was piloted in Pratamnak Suankularb School, Bangkok, and progress was constantly monitored by a project team that held regular meetings with the school’s teachers to discuss the challenges and identify possible solutions. Lessons learnt from the pilot have enabled the development team to continuously modify and fine-tune the project, thus ensuring its effectiveness.

Impact

Judging by the overall improvement in the performance of both the students and the schools, as well as in the computer competency of the teachers, the introduction of CAI programs has definitely been a success. As a result, in 2000, the Princess donated 30 more computers to the school, in addition to the original 10, enabling each student to have their own computer. Many senior teachers who used to suffer from “computer phobia” can now be described as “computer savvy”! Also, some of the previously least enthusiastic students are now very eager to come to computer classes, and their grades have markedly improved.

The successes at Pratamnak Suankularb School have attracted numerous visitors from both the public and private sectors; it has evidently become a model school in every sense. Currently, there are 15 schools around the country participating in the CAI for Primary School Students Programme. This will soon be expanded to schools in remote, impoverished areas of the North, North-East and South, in an attempt to bridge the digital divide by employing ICTs to help the poorest of the poor.

The Programme team is also currently expanding the reach of the Programme to take in other schools in rural areas in order to balance out educational inequalities between urban and rural children.