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Technology to the rescue - Can gadgets in the classroom enhance learning?

We sought the opinions of young people in the Asia-Pacific region on how information and communication tools can be used to promote literacy in a more fun and active learning environment.

Quek Ri An, 24, Singaporean, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore

“It’s about engaging teenagers’ interests. So you’ve got to use something they use in their daily lives, which is basically SMS, iPhones, or Facebook. Facebook itself is actually a good resource to provide cross-cultural information and access to any types of knowledge they want. Things like Google, Wikipedia and related programmes provide us with information we are not familiar with and it’s about stimulating the intellectual curiosity in young people so that they can actively think on their own.

“Another fun way is to write blogs because right now they are so popular. Maybe we can have teachers handing out assignments where students have to keep a blog everyday and just discuss various topics that encourage critical thinking.”

Li Xien Yap, 21, Malaysian, Sunway University College, Malaysia

“ICT brings learning into lives; for example small children are able learn from the educational programmes on TV such as Dora the Explorer and Sesame Street. It may seem like a cartoon but these programmes use repetition and reinforcement to teach the alphabet, numbers, colours, shapes and basic vocabulary. This whole new way of teaching makes learning much more effective.

“A mobile phone that has a vocabulary application or dictionary application also assists our day-to-day learning. Every time when there is a particular unknown word, application users can just look up the word anytime and anywhere without even needing a mini dictionary.”

Nay Lin Aung, 25, Myanmar, Assumption University, Thailand

“Nowadays many people usually use TVs, radios, the Internet and classrooms for learning and teaching. Another more interactive way is that they usually use quizzes, chatting or forums. So, how about combining these in one place to promote and set up an active learning environment.

“I would like to use Moodle software as an example. Moodle is an Open Source Course Management System, also known as a Learning Management System, or a Virtual Learning Environment. It can support learning in a classroom by uploading video files, audio files and course materials into it. For discussion, it can support chatting and forums. For questions, users can also ask questions, not only to the teacher but also others. And, learners can check their level by taking quizzes and on-line exams. Students can also find whatever they want to know in wiki of Moodle.  For each chapter or course, students can submit their assignments to their teachers and share them with others.”

Jeong Jaehoon, 26, Korean, Seoul National University, Republic of Korea

“Let me think about an e-learning system. If there’s a real time lecture, we can let students share their ideas and questions through the web while they are having lectures, like on-line games let users exchange their strategies with the chatting function. They can give answers to each other, and the teachers in the lecture can give answers right after they check the questions. Also, teachers can introduce good answers at the same time.

“The students who are introduced by the teachers in the lecture will be excited, and will be eager to participate again.  If there are some topics or projects which need creative ideas, we can ask students to post their ideas on the web, and ask others to vote for the best one. We can give credits to good answers and creative ideas. To show active participants’ contribution in public, we can add special effects to their ID or avatar. This way will fulfil participants’ social needs and higher needs such as ego needs and self-actualization. As a result, this will inspire them to learn and participate actively.”

Abdul Husain, Afghan, 19, 12th grade, Ibni Sina High School, Kabul, Afghanistan

“There are no communication tools or computer labs in my school and I think very few schools in Afghanistan have such facilities. Anyway I think it would be really great to have such aid tools which would help in a better understanding of the lessons taught. I have a computer at home which I don’t use much because I have to work after school and I do my homework when I have some free time.”

Ly Sokheng, 25, Cambodian, Royal University of Phnom Penh, Cambodia

“To me, the way through which we can promote the ICTs to have more fun is by providing more entertainment programmes through radio, TV, the Internet and other communication and information channels. Also, ICTs help people to share feelings through chatting channels such as Facebook, Hi5, Yahoo and so on. Besides, all the information means should leave an open space for people to express themselves and leave comments about the news they read or listen to.”

By Kantanach Chayapong, Chalan-dhorn Ruangpakdee, Isabel Gonzalez Rojo and Amin Sadiqi