Readings this week gives me a lot of thoughts and leads me think about my students in Thailand.
In summer 2010, before I started my program at Teachers College, I had spent three months as a volunteer, teaching economically disadvantage students at a public school in the north of Thailand – boarding area between Thailand and Burma. Due to the fact that those students’ families were distant from school, it was impossible for most of them to commute to school every day. As a result those students need to stay in the school. Teachers are responsible for raising the children full-time from grade 1 to grade 12. Geographically, students here do not really have a chance to be exposed to the real world outside. Teachers were the most influencers for their development.
As discussed with the principal, students did have low exposure to the real world. The school was not successful in academic achievement. No one was admitted into colleges. In addition, the students did not feel that they are ready to workers after the graduation. In a nutshell, they did not feel confident about their lives in the future.
While everything seems to be insufficient, the school had two computer labs with over 100 PCs for students and WIFI Internet.
The readings this week pointed out many promising opportunities for my students. According to Schroeder, Minocha, and Schneidert (2010) “Social software can build social relationship, improve learning, enhance communication between students and educators, create and maintain communities, and exploit opportunities.”
I believe that the use of social software in the school would be able to help those children to be able to expose to the real world that they are missing. In addition, it can prepare the students to be ready for their future after graduation. For example, they would be able to express their thoughts (with anonymous or identified conditions), work as a team (collaborative learning and working), and practice authorship (writing their literatures and reflecting others’ works).
One concern, we need to take into account is the risk of computer use in school. Due to a high student-teacher ratio, there might not be sufficient number of teachers to monitors computer use outside the classes. This might become a big challenge for the principal to make a consideration to allow students to use computers. Software to help teachers to monitor must be deployed before implementation.