October 13, 2011

Free Tablets for Thai Youth Could be Problematic

Best Technology Yet - (photo credit: gadgetsbuzz)

It seems a bit aloof and naive to write an article when so much suffering is going on in Thailand due to the flooding, but there was an interesting article from the faculty at Asian University discussing the Prime Minister's campaign promise to give all children in Prathom 1 (Grade 1) a free tablet. From the Bangkok Post:

Thailand is going to face great difficulties if it attempts to introduce tablet computers as fully-fledged learning tools at the lower levels of primary education for a number of reasons. First of all, until now relatively few learning applications are available in Thai language and the operating systems used for tablets all feature English. This means that students have to acquire some form of basic proficiency in English to navigate their new learning tool. This has been acknowledged by Education Minister Woravat Au-apinyakul and he has encouraged schools to provide extra English tuition to tackle this problem.
It is a common complaint amongst the business community in Thailand that the education system woefully unprepares its students for the IT-centric 21st century. A big issue is the poor level of English in Thailand. With most software written in English, this does not make it easy for students to learn how to use computers. Training for teachers on how to utilize this technology is absolutely critical, but this needs to be coupled with English language training as the author mentions.

Unfortunately, creating eBooks is a shoddy process at the moment and uses developing techniques from the late 1990s (XHTML), which is not well-suited for designing educational textbooks, especially in Thai. The new EPUB3 format for eBooks (just finalized by the International Digital Publishing Forum) will hopefully standardize multiple languages and allow functionality of MathML code to display mathematical equations. If it doesn't then the Thai government will have to develop some kind of mobile app to handle all this content so that children can read textbooks on their subsidized tablets. Best of luck to them.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Wonderful publish. I'm dealing with several these issues.