Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Classmate PC makes learning easy and fun

Classmate PC makes learning easy and fun

An 11-year-old student at Chulalongkorn University Demonstration Elementary School, Apisada Chulakadabba, is working with her friends to create a presentation about the phenomenon of rainbows.

Published on December 11, 2007

Small fingers are walking across the compact keyboard on a tiny blue laptop computer.

She and her friends are searching for information to understand in detail exactly how a rainbow occurs. They will then explain it all to their classmates and teachers in a presentation of a few pages.

The teacher will allow the Power Point presentation created in Apisada's laptop to show on every student's laptop immediately by a command through the "teacher control" program, so Apisada's classmates will see all the pages of her presentation in detail.

Apisada said that Classmate PC helps her enjoy learning and understanding science matters. She likes to learn science more than ever. She said she prefers it as it helps her to better understand the subject matter. She can access online subject material from the school's Web blackboard as often as she wants, to quickly find the information she wants, and for easier access to the teacher's assignments which are also available on the school's Web blackboard.

"Earlier, when I was assigned to produce a report, I had to go to the library to search for books as well as having to use my family's computer at home to search through the Internet. I could not make a real presentation like I can using Classmate PC. In the past I had to print it out and then read it to my classmates without the facility to show them what the things I found look like," said Apisada.

Classmate PC, with built-in wireless connectivity, allows students to learn with more fun and more efficiency as well as encouraging greater collaboration between teachers and students.

Classmate PC was developed by the Intel Global Platform Definition Centre to deliver "real PC" performance based on reliable Intel architecture. It also incorporates software and hardware features designed for daily student use, supporting their needs through enhanced teaching and interactive learning. With teacher management and policy control software, it can enhance classroom activities.

It is a part of Intel's education programmes designed to test the use of computers in developing countries such as India, Vietnam, Pakistan, the Philippines and Thailand.

The first Classmate PCs arrived in Asia in March, with 1,230 units scheduled to be shipped by the end of the year.

At the beginning of June, 45 Classmate PCs had arrived in Thailand, at Chulalongkorn University Demonstration Elementary School, to test their use mainly in science and mathematics classes, and for minor use in teaching geography, art and languages.

Primporn Asumpimpong, a science and mathematics teacher at the school, said that Classmate PC allows teachers and students to learn and also encourages students to concentrate more on the subject matter as they are having more fun in the classroom.

"Teaching with Classmate PC encourages students to participate more in lessons and keeps them alert and enthusiastic in class," said the teacher.

Students can take Classmate PC back home to do their homework as well as to search for information for a report. They can then save that information in Classmate PC or in a flash drive and return to class to present it for teachers and friends immediately. Even though some students have a computer at home they like to use their own Classmate PC.

"Although students are able to use the Internet to find information to develop their reports, they still have to write it down in a one-page summary in their own handwriting. This is to keep students thinking and writing for themselves," said Primporn.

Ladda Pukiat, director of Chulalongkorn University Demonstration Elementary School, said there is now only one room with wireless Internet connections to facilitate students with the Classmate PC. After evaluation of the programme, the school might purchase Classmate PCs from Intel in bigger lots and expand the wireless connection to more classrooms.

"Today, only students in Primary 4 to 6 are allowed to experience the Classmate PC and wireless Internet connection. Students in Primary 1 to 3 are allowed to use computers and the Internet in the computer rooms instead," said the director.

The school plans to develop the full range of "virtual classroom" materials. The concept is to encourage teachers to develop online classroom materials and keep them in the school's main servers, then pool them with the other 50 schools in its education network throughout the country.

The 50 schools in the network also have to develop online materials from their own locations and send it to be shared and kept in the school's servers.

Asina Pornwasin

The Nation

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