Sabbatical Documentation: Stephen Cysewski
I edited my sabbatical journal to only show entries directly related to my sabbatical. To see the complete journal of my sabbatical, with photographs you can visit http://www.cysewski.com/sabjournal/index.html
Saturday, September 03, 2005
We are in Thailand, I have written many posts and have some pictures but the Internet access is very poor. Have gone to a couple Internet Cafes. I just got an account with ego in Thailand; it is working, but because of the phone lines is pretty slow. I have not forgotten this blog, and it will be updated when I get some Internet access. The trip is wonderful and I am learning an immense amount about IT and the Internet and also about Thailand. Please be patient I am will be posting soon.
Watching people build the house is an education, welding, cement work, improvising, the people have real skills that they have picked up from their dads and mothers. Thinking of computer training again, good internet access and examples of successful usage is the key to technology. Everybody has cell phones and they meet a real need, computers, without Internet access meet a marginal need.
Around the Tambon, phone service is very noisy, I will be amazed if it works. At the Internet room that I delivered the connection was slow. Some teenagers playing games, probably eighty computers, well laid out and they looked like in good shape.
Rather then investing in computers the government, if it wants to encourage Internet literacy would provide subsidized broadband Internet access as widely as possible. They have demonstrations of what can be done for business and for fun. I would love to show the people the satellite picture of there area. The problem is not having a computer it is the motivation and pay back from technology. To excite people you need broadband access. Excitement leads to usage.
I was looking at a magazine today and there were pages of ring tones, themes, and even Videos to download to cell phones. This is ust another indication of the impact of cell phones. The value of the end drives the means for education and for IT. If the end or need that is being met by a tool is valuable and centered on human need the technology will be adopted. To me the key to technology adoption and training is broadband internet access. Governments should do everything in there power to make broadband Internet universally available to their citizens. From Internet access with come technology adoption. In Turkey, and in a school in Thailand the traveling Internet bus idea seems to be working.
Means and ends, why before how, purpose drives training. People need a reason to adopt tools, and if you can create a commitment to the purpose the means or skills will follow. Digital cameras have to be designed for many needs, simple record shots for family and travel memories to people who use photography for personal expression. Cameras have a range of controls to meet various needs. Ironically the attempt to make a camera meet different needs makes it more complex.
The ends that drive technology adoption are based on core human needs, the need to communicate, the need to express, the need to know, the need to understand. When I revise my courses I will try to focus on ends that drive needs. I do that in an ad hex way know with my projects, but I can use this idea with much deeper force and clearer intention. Watching technology adoption and use is really making me think.
Jit says that the reason people do not by computers is money, I think that is sort of like exercising, people know it is good but something has to tip the motivation to action. Computers and technology are "good for you". I think the question in not computer it is the Internet!
I tentative idea, if I can arrange broadband Internet, it would have to be satellite, I could make the Internet available and show people some uses. Google Earth, the information on the Bike tours, Google tools, put up a web site of photographs, and then support the development of curiosity. This is an idea that I will sort of nudge along. I would love to see one of the WiMax villages to see what is happening.
I tried the Internet access that Pan gave me, after a few times I could get a connection but I did not have the appropriate ID. I need to find out how to do that, but I do not have my trusty Google. I need Internet access to find out how to get Internet access. Hmmm....Actually this is a common problem with getting on the Internet.
We found out about DSL. The phone line is marginal, but might work. The cost for the cheapest DSL, not counting $100 for the modem, is $12 a month for 256k. The maximum speed is 4mb at the cost would be 2,200 baht or roughly $60. For everyday people these costs are prohibitive. A taxi driver, for a one hour ride, and a fairly long distance only get $3.00. The reason things are cheap in Thailand is that the wages are very low.
I tried to get on the Internet today. I used the information Pan gave me but the username and password were not recognized by the domain. Jit asked one of the village kids who used the Internet, she came over and told me she used e-go. You can buy a card at 7-11. We took a motor bike over to the 7-11, a much longer ride then I expected, fun and a little crazy. Anyway we got a card for 50 hours at 378 baht, around $9. After a little fussing it worked, but very slowly, the phone line is pretty noisy and I thought I was sunk. On a whim I tried another phone line between the modem and the wall. I got a good connection at a useful speed. I guess the principle here is that if you want to know something ask the person who is successfully using it. Also my old favorite "same and different" which allowed me to find a poor phone cable. Anyway I am on at a useful speed. I think that I can use it where ever I have a phone connection. I am lucky also because the service does have an English page. When I got the card though I thought it was hopeless, there was a sticker in Thai over the usernane and password, I thought I would have to type in Thai, but it was only a scratch sticker. I am back in business.
We went to the Queen Sirikit Convention Center for a home show, took the small boat across the river to Klong Toey and then took a taxi to the center. There was a Japan Education show and an Australian education show there. Both shows were recruiting Thai students. It was interesting. The Japanese show was manic; there was even a hyper women in angel wings trying to encourage people to do something. In the United States we are suspicious of foreign students while other countries compete for them. We are going to be really hurt as a country by limiting the inflow of talent. In a sense we are trying to create a protected environment. The result of a closed environment is poor quality and a lack of competition. We need to open the door to talent. A closed environment leads to absurdities like that East German two cycle car, or the Hindustan in India. Viewed from outside our country our government is embarrassing. Enough of that...
When I got back Jit was visiting with two younger people, they know some English. I asked a lot of questions about computer and Internet use. She said the adults used there kids for computer use, primarily to type documents. People use the Internet for school work. In the villages, and even though we are in Bangkok, this is a village, there does not seem to be much Internet or computer use. One perspective is that people are busy all the time with work and home. I asked some questions of how they perceived the Internet. Did they see the Internet as a source of information to search for answers? The answer was a little ambiguous, but I do not think so. Bangkok proper is probably different. To be continued.....
Tuesday, September 06, 2005
I have been thinking about Internet usage, today it has been a total hassle, getting kicked off, having a slow connection, then having a good connection, it can be a little frustrating, but it is what I have..... Anyway, if you are a member of an active community the Internet is an isolating experience, you become separate from the community. If you are isolated the Internet can be a way to join a community. In Thailand, at least where I am, people have a strong community and it is hard to make time for the Internet. I do not know if this is a general observation, but it seems true to the small area that I am participating in.
Some of the IT related places that I want to visit are a WiMax demonstration community, the Virtual Hill Trip Museum, the Internet bus, and Richard Barrow Paknam Web Network. There are previous links on this blog that document these locations. From my very brief experience a traveling Internet station might be a valuable tool to share web resources. Equally important would be to have practical and useful tools to demonstrate the value of the information on the Internet.
Wednesday, September 07, 2005
We will be visiting this school tomorrow. I will also get to meet Richard Barrow who has created Thai-Blog.com, one of my favorite sites. I will post more information tomorrow when we return. I am really looking forward to this visit
Thursday, September 08, 2005
An interesting article. Again though, the problem of training, Internet access, and intended use, is unclear. It is a bit of a fraud to tell people it will help their kids, without training, software, and Internet access. There are many computers stored in garages that were bought for similar reasons. In the United States the educational software market has died. Last night I saw people doing home work on the floor, the computer was not being used. The family that we have been visiting gets up around 5:00, get in their car to go to school and work at 6:00, and does not return in the evening, until 7:00. I have a lot to learn on this Sabbatical.
Friday, September 09, 2005
Yesterday we went to Samut Praknam to visit Richard Barrow at Siriwittayapaknam School. Richard also took us to see the "corporate offices" (his home) of paknamweb.com.
The visit with Richard Barrow was unforgettable. We talked a lot about education and IT. I believe he said that 65% or 70% of the homes had Internet connections. Richard is a very creative person who has created many innovative applications of technology for education. He also has empowered his students with the ability to communicate their own distinctive views. I was impressed and inspired by his accomplishments and perspective.
The Siriwittayapaknam school was also a revelation, the
students were working hard, had a great spirit, and seemed to enjoy school. Jit
took many pictures, and the entire experience will become a reference point for
my sabbatical. Sometimes when writing a blog I have so many experiences that I
do not know where to start and where to end. At the very least I want to be
able to look back on a blog entry to be able to rekindle memories and insights.
This entry is one of those where I enter a few words for many experiences.
I have been going through my printed notes and clippings. I am preparing for my first meeting at STOU on Monday. I am supposed to meet Ann at the flagpole at 10 AM. I am excited about beginning. In addition to my responsibilities and opportunities with STOU I have some personal academic goals. This is a list of projects and locations that I have read about in the last year and half that I want to visit. This is an edited version of the web page that I have created previously. There are links documenting these locations on my Blog and on my Clipping web site
1. I want to visit the Cyber Bus at Wangtongpittayakom School in Phitsanulok
2. I want to visit Richard Barrow of Patnam.com and the Siriwittayapaknam School
3. I want to visit the Virtual Hill Tribe Museum project in the Chang Rai area.
4. I want to visit the Srisangwan School in Bangkok and the Young Digital's Christian Association Technological for Life Center" in Chiang Mai. Both projects were funded by Samsung.
5. If the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration has opened vocational centers for the poor I want to visit one.
6. If the Education Ministry has developed mobile PC facilities for rural sites, I want to visit one.
7. I want to visit Father Joe Meier's project in Klong Toey. I am interested because of the article that I read about Tew Bunnag and his book of short stories, Fragile Days.
8. I want to visit the ICT National Learning Center at Central World Plaza at Ratchadamri Road and/or at ICT Cities in Chiang Mai.
10. I would like to visit the Non-formal Educational Center in Lampang
11. I would like to visit the WiMax demonstration project at Samkha village. The village is located near Lampang city.
12. I would like to visit Ko Kret and meet with the abbot again. I would like to do this because the last visit was so enjoyable and in honor of Sutep. If I get invited again to do the morning rounds I will accept
These are my goals for the Sabbatical in addition to
activities and projects with STOU. I expect that I will also have many
unexpected and valuable experiences in addition to this list.
I also visited a couple Internet shops, email, games, instant messaging, and CD duplication. They were not busy.
Back to the bus trip, we ended up at a very modern and large five story mall, just like any large central Mall, with a few changes. There were many very busy cell phone stores with multiple options. There was also a couple computer or tech stores that were not as busy. Notebooks seemed to attract the most interest. The cell phone shops were packed. Run had a discount certificate so we got a cell phone with prepaid service. Non-Thai people have a difficult time getting cell phones without the right permits and Visa's. I had forgotten my passport, a crazy thing to do. Anyway I got a cell phone, read the manual last night, and wished for a class on how to use all it's options:>. I am having Tone, Jit's nephews, enter a bunch of phone numbers. Hmmmm....
I spent time this morning re-reading and consolidating my sabbatical clippings. I will go through my blog postings and Evernote clippings this morning. I want to have an organized list of specific sabbatical goals before I go to STOU tomorrow morning. I have posted my current list of places that I would like to visit in a previous post.
Another thought, when I ask people about virus protection and spy ware the people who I have been asking do not seem to have software to prevent attacks. I think this is because people are not on the Internet much, and because they use dial up connections. At schools, internet cafe's, and at homes with broadband connections the protection is better.
Monday, September 12, 2005
1967 and 2005
When I came to Alaska I was a VISTA volunteer. I lived in Shaktoolik Alaska. The experience in rural Alaska anchored my perspective in my future career. Living in rural Alaska also changed my values and perspective on life.
Living in Jit's community, getting a taste of a more traditional Thai life style, is also anchoring my experience in Thai cultural values. At least I have some experience in non-urban life. I am thankful to have this experience. While I am on sabbatical my experience in Bangkrachow will, hopefully, allow me to anchor my thoughts and ideas in the experience of everyday Thai life.
Thammathirat Open University
Imagine a huge Center for Distance Education
Imagine a huge institution similar to the Center for Distance Education at the University of Alaska Fairbanks that has an entire building dedicated to printing and producing books using offset and electronic technology, that delivers 75,000 course packs a year, that has 10 regional centers and many tutoring areas in libraries and schools. Imagine that the huge CDE has a faculty and grants degrees, but that it has no classrooms because all the courses are delivered primarily by correspondence. Imagine that the center has an excellent advising and tutoring service and that you have a telephone advising center and web board staffed 12 hours a day. Imagine that there are four studios for TV production and, I believe four sound labs for audio production. What you have imagined is Sukhothai Thammathirat Open University. Today was our first visit and I was impressed by the dedication and commitment of the staff to meeting students needs.
Today we meet with the Educational Broadcasting Production Center, The Office of the University Press, the Office of Educational Services, and the National Printing Technology Training Center. Tomorrow we will visit with the Office of Documentation and Information and the Office of Registration, Records, and Evaluations. On September 22nd we will visit a Regional Distance Education Center and Nakhon Nayok.
We have an excellent person give us an orientation and who will be able to provide support to us during the time at STOU. Her name is Warakanya (Anne). I have her cell phone number listed at number one in my phone book, of course her name begins with A so that helps also. The person who leads the Counseling Section of the Office of Educational Services, Nednapa, reminded me of Michele Stalder. She even mentioned providing one stop service for her students.
I will have an office cubical with a computer, I asked for Jit to be considered my full partner in my time at STOU, and the idea seemed to be accepted. It also looks like we will be staying at Bangkrachao and commuting to STOU. There is an express way that goes from Klong Toey dock to STOU. It costs roughly 250 baht to go each way, including toll fees, roughly $6.00, which is fair price.
I am excited about the first visit to STOU. I also gave Anne my list of places that I want to visit, and she seemed interested in what I was trying to do.
I am thankful that I was invited to STOU for my sabbatical.
Oh yes, I need to tuck in my shirt tails, or get a special kind of Thai shirt. Dress, and the style of dress for faculty and staff is very consistent. Jit clued me in.
Tuesday, September 13, 2005
Another day at Sukothai Thammathirat Open University
We had another very informative day today at STOU, but before I describe the highlights of today I forgot to mention that many courses at STOU have a seminar component. For the seminar, students come and spend two or three days at STOU, near the end of a course. STOU even has a seminar center, which is like a small hotel, for the students. Another important difference between Thailand and Alaska, relating to distance delivery, is that the transportation choices to distance sites are more varied, and cheaper, then in Alaska.
Today we had an informative tour of the Documentation Center and Library. As part of the Library there is an archive of information about King Rama VII. King Rama VII was the king who provided the basis for a constitution in Thailand. It was an informative tour which revealed valuable information about the history of Thailand.
I also got to visit with the Office of Registration, Records and Evaluation. We had an excellent, in-depth discussion. I met a women who will be going on Sabbatical next year to New Zealand. She will be studying how to evaluate distance delivery courses. I hope to continue discussions with her. I emailed her the URL for the Center for Distance Learning at UAF.
There is fundamental difference in how courses are taught and evaluated in Thailand. The evaluating, testing and grading of a course is distinct from teaching a course. Professors will submit question to be included in a test, but the order and specific questions actually included are chosen by a content expert. All students in the courses are given the same test. Non-test work in the courses only counts for 20% of the grade. This is a very different model then in the United States, but it does have some similarities to professional certification like CISCO and Microsoft. Having evaluation and testing distinct from the teaching of a course stimulates many interesting ideas. ¶I also asked about competencies as a method of evaluating courses, but most of the effort seems to be in creating relevant testing for the courses provided.
I also found out that the enrollment at STOU is declining because of competition for face to face education in the distance learning centers. Just like in Alaska some students prefer face to face delivery of course content. The meeting and discussion with the Center for Registration, Records, and Evaluation was thought provoking.
I also met with the Director of International Relations. There is chance that I might get to work with the Office of Educational Services, which is similar to the TVC Student Support Services. I hope it works out. My underlying interests do not rest with technical IT anymore. I am interested in teaching applications and student services. My time at STOU, combined with my own projects relating to computer skills training and support, will provide me with valuable new perspectives when I return from Sabbatical.
An example of how to provide Broadband access to the Internet in rural Alaska. I wonder if the effect will be similar in Thailand.
An excellent example of the power of the Internet for a small rural community in Alaska
Wednesday, September 14, 2005
Another fascinating article that links the concepts of wireless Internet access and cell phones. What does all this mean for Alaska? I think it should be a high priority for the state of Alaska to provide broadband Internet access to every community in the state. Broadband Internet access is the key to education, business, and economic development. Technology is developing that makes it feasible to provide broadband Internet access to rural areas.
Another article confirming Korea's policy on Internet availability. Searching on Google will bring up many other examples.
A brief article with some statistics about Korean Internet usage. Korea seems to be approaching technology in an effective manner. By providing low cost and extensive broadband Internet access Korea is stimulating broad and deep usage of technology. Korea is an evocative proof of the concept that broadband Internet access drives technology adoption, not the distribution of computers without training, Internet access, or support.
Bandwidth matters, I was going to share my Creamers field web site to show the seasons of Alaska, but the bandwidth was too slow, it took forever to load. In the future I will try to create two web sites, one for low bandwidth. I think it will be easy to do, use the same structure and use Adobe Elements 3 to save them at a different level of compression. I was surprised at how slow the web site was. Another lesson.
Thursday, September 15, 2005
The National ICT Learning Center
We went to the National ICT Learning Center in Central World Plaza. Because of energy conservation the mall and learning center do not open until 10:30. The ICT learning center was created to support technology adoption in Thailand. The center includes a seminar room, a professional demonstration center with exhibits by CISCO, Sun, Computer Associates, and Microsoft. There is a training room that can be rented, a digital arts training center, and a large well arranged and supplied room of computers for internet access. There is also a lab of Macintosh G5 computers for graphics arts. The center was well organized and seemed to be well supported. There were many people taking advantage of the internet access. The prices for internet usage was nominal. There was also an e-learning library that looked well stocked. Next to the ICT learning center, and funded by a different government agency is the TK Park with stands for the Thailand Knowledge Center. The Knowledge Park is supported by the Office of Knowledge Management and Development. The Park looked like it was targeting parents of children, it was better attended, there was a tour going on, and it looked like it was well organized and fun to use. All the software that I saw being used was Microsoft based. I am not sure what happened to the People PC emphasis on Linux, but I have seen no everyday evidence of its use.
Overall I was a little disappointed in the learning center. Many of the services provided should be provided by any large hotel. The Knowledge Park looked a little more useful, but its scale was small also. I guess every little bit helps, but it did seem like a pretty small enterprise for such an important need.
Saturday, September 17, 2005
A very busy Saturday....
I can not find 3X5 lined cards or spiral notebooks. We have looked at all the super stores, I will need a new system. I was looking forward to using the 3X5 cards as my memory tool for names, places, and words. I do need a memory tool!!
I have been trying to contact other places to visit. I found two emails for the Srisangwan School but both of them bounced. I will need to keep searching. I also sent an email to visit the Father Joe Meier's project in Klong Toey. No response yet.
Richard Barrows is coming to visit our community next Sunday. It will be great to have Jit show him around.
I have had a continuing email conversation with some people
from STOU. I am hopeful that I will be able to work at the advising center. I
will be meeting with Nednapa Intong Monday after I meet with the director of
Continuing Education. I also have been emailing Sirirat Wipassilapa about
evaluation. I sent her information about UAF Program Review and Program
Assessment process from the UAF Provosts web site. I think there are some
exciting opportunities to collaborate and share at STOU.
Another piece of the puzzle. As cell phones add features
will they become the means for people to use the knowledge available on the
Internet? Will cell phones provide the bridge across the "digital
We went to STOU today, Anne as usual was a great help. I very much appreciate what she is doing, I am thankful for her help. I had a somewhat awkward meeting with Associate Professor Tanit Pusiri the Director of the Office of Educational Technology. He had squeezed us in for a half hour meeting. There was not time to establish rapport. We talked a little about learning objects and Scorm.
Sometimes I do not think that some people in Thailand have an appreciation for practical education for adults. I have not meet anybody, except the wonderful people in Counseling section of the Office of Educational Services, that understands my purpose. If there was ever a country where the Community College mission would be valuable it would be Thailand. STOU does have some similarities in its stated purpose to the community college mission, but I think the faculty might not be ready for the challenge and difficulty of fulfilling that purpose. There is not a perceived prestige in meeting community needs, even in Alaska, we have to constantly educate the faculty about our meeting community needs. Keeping the Community College mission alive in a university environment is always difficult, what I do not see is a comprehension of the importance of the community college. The Thailand technical colleges are not like community colleges. This is just my current impression, and I might be mistaken, in fact I hope I am mistaken.
I had a wonderful meeting with Nednapa. She showed me how she is using the web to share information and to do advising. She is using a Web Board, a threaded discussion software application, to do advising. I think a similar idea would work great at Tanana Valley Campus. I would like to experiment with this idea when I return. Nednapa is a gifted computer user, she creates her own web pages and is an excellent independent learner. I was impressed.
Tomorrow I will meet with the Office of Educational Services department. I am looking forward to the meeting. I feel comfortable there. We will be defining ways that we can work together. I will be eager to share some of this experience with Michele Stalder when I return.
I always need to look at my experiences from different perspectives. Imagine that somebody from Thailand came to TVC, they spoke sub-minimal English. Assume that person wanted to share and collaborate. What would we do at TVC? The only difference in this scenario, and the one I am in, is that in Thailand many people know significant English. In any case it would still be hard to meet the person from Thailand's expectations with an opportunity for significant contribution. My hope is that I could find a person with a similar vision, and knowledge of the Thai language to collaborate with. To me that person will be Jit! She is being a great help, and does understand what I am doing, especially since she has experienced how Tanana Valley Campus works.
I do not want to be a burden or an obligation. It is hard to explain that I have my own agenda and that STOU is only a small part of my purpose in Thailand. It will all work out, but I do not want people to feel obligated to fill my time or to meet my needs. My sabbatical plan was always broader then STOU. I am still hoping to find somebody to collaborate with on my specific agenda. I am not sure that I will find that person at STOU, but if that does not happen I will still accomplish my goals.
Tuesday, September 20, 2005
We went to STOU for a 2:00 meeting with the staff of the Counseling section of the Office of Educational Services. I will be working with them for awhile. The meeting went well, I have many new names, and nicknames, to remember. For me remembering means to write it down! I might be working on creating some documentation for new computer users, but we are still discussing this idea. The computer that I am using at STOU is running Windows 98!
I worry about imposing at STOU. I know I have a lot to offer, and I am confident that I will be of value, but sometimes it feels that I am imposing on peoples time. Nednapa is so courteous . I am thankful for her. After the meeting we spent about an hour talking about advising and education. My next goal at STOU is to learn more about the academic and curriculum process. I am curious and using the concept of "same and different" I am sure I will learn a lot.
With talking with Nednapa about community colleges she mentioned that there is some exploration of that area. The problem is that the four year college and universities might not accept the credit. I think I am being diplomatic, the actual impression that I got is that the colleges would not accept the credit. Some things in the United States, that we take for granted, we really should be thankful for.
At STOU there is no mandatory advising and I do not believe that the faculty has a formal advising responsibility. I need to explore this in more detail. Again I am thankful for UAF's mandatory advising requirement.
In Thailand the government is heavily involved in setting curriculum. My impression that the constant pressure to improve curriculum and to revise courses is not a part of the normal Thai curriculum. This is just an impression and I will be exploring it further. In Alaska we are under some pressure for control of the curriculum from the statewide administration, the state of Alaska, and the Federal Government. If we want a creative adaptive curriculum that is revised to meet the needs of the community and the students we need to keep the faculty role in curriculum creation and approval. There is a tension between standards and creativity. The tension is valuable.
Next week I will get to go to see a STOU regional center at Petchaburi. I also will be at STOU three days to work with the counseling center. After the next two weeks we will evaluate the next step. I am still working on my original sabbatical goals.
I sure am gaining empathy for students on this sabbatical. I feel like an ignorant child sometimes. I think beginning students depend upon their teachers. I know I am sure required to depend on people in Thailand. Living for a long time in a different culture, with a different language, is an order of magnitude more challenging then being a tourist. It sure is a growth experience.
Yesterday I got to do some computer support. Nuk's computer was hanging at the welcome screen. With Jit translating I finally figured out that she had attempted to install an anti-virus program. The problem was that the Trend Micro Virus program was already installed. I finally got the computer to go into Safe-Mode after multiple attempts and used MSConfig to turn off the new virus checker. It booted once and then it started looping again. Sometimes it wanted to scan the disk and other times it just kept re-booting. I finally gave up for the night because I did not have a Windows XP disk. I went over tonight, the computer booted, I got into safe mode and turned off the Trend Micro Virus Checker. The computer booted and seemed to work, but when I restarted it still wanted to scan the disk. I think there are still problems with corrupted files, I also told them they need to re-install the Trend Micro Virus Checker. The way I understand it is that the school where Juke works has a Microcomputer center that will provide support. There is a waiting period. The computer had a good set of software and even had the Microsoft Anti-Spy ware utility. The operating system was Windows Service Pack 2. I am glad I did not have to mess with the XP disk because of all the updates and very slow Internet access. The computer configuration and software installation looked very well done. The reason that I knew what to do with msconfig is that my daughter did the same thing to her computer and Dave helped me correct the problem. Sometimes experience is a great teacher.
Wednesday, September 21, 2005
Tomorrow we go to Nakhon Nayok regional center with Anne. We will need to get started early to get to STOU on time.
Thursday, September 22, 2005
Today we visited Nakhon Nayok, one of the ten STOU regional centers. Next Sunday we will visit a provincial center at Petchaburi.
When we left today it was raining hard. Both of us got on the back of Oy's motorbike and rode to the dock. We made it. By the time we got across the river the rain had stopped. The taxi drive to STOU was a little fast and there was no seat belts. We arrived a little early and had a Thai breakfast. We then all got in a van and drove to Nakhon Nayok. We were joined by Robin, who is from England. Robin works for STOU International Relations. It was fun talking with him. We also were joined by Shaiful Alam a Professor of Agriculture from the Bangladesh Open University. It was valuable to share perspectives with him. He is at STOU to study the agriculture curriculum. He is staying at the conference center.
At Nakhon Nayok we got to see a video demonstration, it worked well when we connected with Lampahng. They are using eMeeting from French Telecom. The video is not currently being used for educational purposes. The current usage is for meetings. The quality was very good.
I got to spend some time talking with the person who provides computer support at the center. I asked him how he learned his skills and he said from technical colleges, workshops, and self training. It does not sound like he provides training or support to the local users. At least, through translation, that was my impression. They do have a wireless connection set up, but I was not clear who was using it.
I found a press release about STOU adopting a state of the art Juniper network. I did see some Juniper equipment while I was there.
I have not seen the diversity of delivery of distance education that we see in Alaska. I do not think that they see the possibility of synchronous distance delivery, at least they are not implementing it. Again, this is an impression, not a fact. The prime model of course delivery is correspondence, supplemented by technology, and seminars. Final tests are the prime method of student evaluation and course completion. There are many caring and creative people, committed to lifelong learning and distance delivery, but I do not see the full spectrum of delivery methods that we use in Alaska. Correspondence dominates the delivery of courses.
In the lobby of the regional center there was a ThoThai paid internet station, interesting.
There was a seminar of community (village) leaders while we were visiting. The subject was providing preventative health at the local level. It was interesting to see the people and the presentation.
One thing that was curious is that I saw no students. We were there in the morning, but the regional center was also in a somewhat isolated rural area next to an army base. The setting was beautiful. The Professor from Bangladesh also mentioned the location as a little odd. It was explained that the land was donated. Again these are not conclusions just impressions from a very brief visit. I assume at other times that the center is well used.
I also asked Anne to see if she could arrange a meeting so I could learn about the academic decision process at STOU. I am very curious based on my experience on curricular affairs and the CRCD academic decision process.
A good and productive day.
Visiting Nakhon Nayok. A poor photo but it is at least a record of the meeting.
Sabbatical reflections and revisions
I wrote this last night.
I have been here for over three weeks and have had many visits and experiences exploring IT. I also have some experience with STOU. It is time to think about my sabbatical intentions.
My goal for this Sabbatical is to learn and reflect.
My methods are interviews and observations.
I am adding a few new items to my interview/visit list.
My goal at STOU is to learn how the institution works and to see how that changes my perception of UAF and CRCD. I do not see having a meaningful or significant job at STOU because of my lack of ability in the Thai language. I think through discussion and interviews that I can be of some value.
When I return from my sabbatical I want to return with a richer perspective and a new pool of experiences and examples to draw upon. I already feel my sabbatical has changed me. My life is not boring, predictable or in my control, it never was, but it seemed that way.
I also am personally am finding creating blog entries valuable. Just keeping notes of my observations stimulates more observations. It is like photography, the more pictures you take the more you see.
Another aspect of this sabbatical is the empathy that I have for students. Not being able to speak or understand a language is a humbling experience. I need a Thai Mary Earp!
When I return I want to work in student support and teach. I would like to do tasks that make a difference and that are significant. I expect to work four more years.
Tomorrow we will visit a regional center at Nakhon Nayok.
Friday, September 23, 2005
A couple left over thoughts from yesterdays visit to Nakhon Nayok. One of the bullets in the PowerPoint presentation about the regional center mentioned cultural preservation. Naturally I was very curious. I asked a few questions and I believe that they are talking about being involved with and documenting local practices including agriculture. There was some mention of being involved with local celebrations also. It was interesting and a surprise. Sometimes the similarities between Thailand and Alaska reverberate.
Another thought on the use of audio conferences for teaching, until cell phones the telephone service was not widely dispersed. Correspondence can be used anywhere and the Thai postal service covers the country. What I am not sure about is why they can not use the provincial and regional centers for course delivery. This would provide another path for course delivery and would open up more technology options. I think they use the regional centers for Graduate School and the Provincial centers for others kinds of academic support. I am just curious and exploring similarities and differences.
Saturday, September 24, 2005
Distance Delivery at the lowest common denominator
These are some thoughts catalyzed by my observations of similarities and differences in the delivery of distance education in Thailand and Alaska.
Distance delivery of education must be excellent at the lowest common denominator of distance delivery technology. Once the technological base of distance delivery is established it is possible to improvise and experiment, and even implement, other technologies. The common denominator in Thailand is the postal service. The prime method of course content delivery is printed materials. I am not sure if audio would work in Thailand. Unless audio will work with cell phones I know it will not work because of the limited scope of regular phone access. Each country, and each region in a country, will have evolving technology and access opportunities. In Thailand there is a good road system and a postal service that will allow delivery of materials in two to four days. In Alaska we have many more isolated areas and the postal service takes a long time for delivery. I guess the underlying principle is that technology, and what is appropriate technology, is determined by very specific regional conditions. Another principle is that any delivery of distance education must provide excellent service using the lowest common technological denominator.
Having the infrastructure of regional and provincial centers, that STOU has, provides an opportunity to provide technological incubators for distance course delivery. I think it would be possible to schedule specific courses that used new technology for students. To use technology it might be necessary to offer some courses at specifically scheduled times. Offering both time dependent and time independent course delivery is valuable for distance delivery students. By implementing technology in an experimental manner STOU would be ready for new technology as the technological common denominator changes and evolves in Thailand Visiting STOU has been very helpful in allowing me to see another context for distance delivery of education.
Monday, September 26, 2005
A very interesting article on technology in Brazil. I am not sure how it applies to Thailand, but it is another perspective on the power of technology. How people get computer training, and what inspires the use of technology are crucially important world wide issues.
This is what I have been looking for. I have a whole new area to explore. This is the kind of program and education that I am interested in. I need to get a contact and start my exploration. I think my sabbatical will move into a different area. It is odd that I only found this resource now. One reason might be is that the Office of the Non-Formal Education is distinct from higher education.
Cultural preservation and program review?
Yesterday we met somebody returning from Issan who was working on Thai Studies and Cultural Preservation. I want to learn more. Again I get a strong echo of rural Alaska experience and priorities. I will keep my ears open to learn more about what STOU does in this area and how it relates to rural Alaska.
This morning one of the ladies who makes candy came over. She had some pills and wanted to know what they did, there was no information except the name of the medicine. We got out the computer and used Google to get the information. The pills were for muscle relaxation and would help the sore muscles resulting from doing all the stirring in the candy making. I did not try the Thai language version of Google, but I should have.
We had a great meeting at STOU. I met with Sirirat and Dr Kunchon. (I murder the spelling of Thai names. I need to see things written down.) Another person joined us who also asked good questions. I do not remember her name, but she is also 60 and getting ready to retire. The conversation lasted for about two hours, it was deep and thoughtful. We talked about the University of Alaska Fairbanks and the UAF processes of program review, program assessment, faculty promotion and tenure procedures and annual reports, We also talked about the university accreditation process, No Child Left Behind, and audio conferences, among other things. The questions were great and I felt I could be of some value. I hope to follow up with more conversations. I had previously shared the relevant UAF documents from the Provosts web site. Underlying the conversation was the realization that the academic processes are very different in Thailand. Having very different, but similar, institutions is a valuable way to generate new ideas.
Yesterday was a good day. We had a meeting with the Vice President for Academic Affairs and the Vice President for Network Development and International Affairs. We were also joined by Shaiful Alam. He will be returning to Bangladesh. We walked across from STOU for a wonderful Chinese restaurant. I have never had Chinese food that tasted as good. People seemed curious and interested about Alaska. I found some more about the academic decision making at STOU and also the actual experience of teaching. It was an interesting and valuable meeting. The people knew where Jit lived, Jit was very helpful and a wonderful companion.
I got to work with Nednapa and also Mr. Warachat on designing a database for counselor support. We were working on what the essential attributes would necessary for a successful database. We will meet again on Thursday to continue the discussion. I felt good to have some value in a discussion.
At STOU they use radio and TV as an integral part of the education process. We got to see a radio progress about counseling and advising. The radio program was in real time. There were two subjects, how to be happy on the job, and also a call in from a former graduate of STOU on how to prepare and succeed as a Distance Delivery student. The Counseling department prepares a live show each week. There is a script that is prepared. The responsibility for the show is rotated among the counselors. I think using radio and TV is another example of mastering appropriate technology for distance delivery. I know in Alaska there are various and intermittent attempts at the use of TV for course delivery. I remember quite a few years ago it was a major means of delivery. I know I see a lecture coming out of UAS on a regular basis when I channel surf.
The most remarkable part of the day was our ride home. We rode home with one of the counselors, Ah, who new about Jit's home area. She lives in the Mahawong area. Her parents used to teach in Bangnamphung area. We were invited home for dinner. The food was excellent, but the conversation even more so. The family is large and lives in a large peaceful compound. There are many computers that people use, and many of the family members are professonal, scientists. I never thought of the economic potential of a Thai famiily working together. We had many questions about social security, health, the role to technology and its impact on younger people and the role of the government in influencing the people. The conversation was interesting and the sense of thoughtfulness, curiousity, and values permeated the discussion. We got a ride home afterward, even crossed the ferry by the mega-bridge. It was dark and the outer gate to the park was locked when we got home. Nhum, who drove us home, thoughtfully waited with the car lights on until we got over the bridge. I am thankful for the thoughtfulness and values that we experience.
Thursday, September 29, 2005
Yesterday there was a loud speaker in Phra Predaeng advertising registration for new classes at the Center for Non-Traditional Education. According to Jit the loudspeaker was saying "train for new positions, learn during retirement, build a new life. Registration is starting for classes."Jit called the center for Tawn, her nephew. She also asked about visiting. We will visit the Phra Predaeng center early next week, Monday or Tuesday. On Wednesday we go to STOU. We will be able to meet with a professor who specializes in Non-Traditional education. I am looking forward to the meeting.
At STOU today we talked about using the Palm or Pocket PC with Outlook or Meeting Maker. I brought my computer to show how I do time management. I also demonstrated Evernote. I will be preparing a database "sketch", using Access, of a counseling support database. I am still strongly hoping that people will adopt Outlook for counseling support. I do not know if the IT department at STOU supports Microsoft Exchange, but even without Exchange, Outlook is a great way to manage counseling responsibility. I will have a very rough database prepared for a week from Monday.
We had a great lunch in the cafeteria and got to talk about cultural preservation. I am very interested in exploring this area in greater depth.
Audio conferences, competencies, and learning Thai!
Sometimes we take for granted technology that we use everyday. I think we take for granted the use of audio conferences at the University of Alaska. From Thailand the use of audio is an innovative, efficient, and practical tool. In my email I get messages about meetings, courses, convocations, and faculty development all offered by audio. Audio conferences are a remarkable technology that permeates our academic culture. Even without our use of audio conferences for course delivery, audio is remarkable.
The evolution of audio conference platforms and the reduction of cost to use audio conferences is also remarkable. This year we put our audio conference platform out for competitive bid and www.genesys.com was the winner. We used genesys.com last year also. Previously we used a system developed and provided by the state of Alaska. It was much more expensive and did not have the features and capability of our current system.
Yesterday I shared some information on competencies and evaluations with Siriwat. The use of competencies for course evaluations is a topic of wide interest. Again I think we take for granted strategies that we have used for years.
Today we will spend at STOU, on Sunday with will be visiting a regional and provincial center at Phet Buri (Phetchaburi)
Next week I want to use for visiting some other locations. We have an appointment with the Center for Non-Formal Education in Phra-Predang. I also need some time to pause, reflect, and re-focus.
Friday, September 30, 2005
Looking two years out, is the problem getting the computers or is the problem getting the internet connection? Even with an internet connection the price of a computer will be an obstacle for wide distribution of technology in low-income areas. Still though there will be a need for training and maybe new net tools adapted to the new platform. Maybe there are four parts to the puzzle, the broadband internet connection, the computer to use the connection, training to use the computer, and tools on the internet that are directly useful and motivating for the community of users for instance resources in the appropriate language with useful local information.
Sunday, October 02, 2005
Visiting the Petchaburi Regional and Provincial center
We visited the Petchaburi Regional Center. The center is architecturally similar to Nakhon Nayok, it was calm and well organized. I am finally getting it through my head that there are regional centers and provincial centers. The student action is in the provincial center. Provincial centers are weekend centers where testing and tutorials are going on. Usually provincial centers are in public schools. After visiting the regional center we went to the provincial center. There were students in tutorials and also another group of students who were taking a pre-test practice. The tutorials were in Human Civilization and in Family Law: Inheritance.
The student pre-test practice was arranged by the student organization. The STOU student organizations are directly related to the mission and purpose of the STOU. What was fascinating was that the students were of all ages, there were many adults. The students in the tutorial would look right at home at Tanana Valley Campus.
After visiting and asking questions we had lunch with some students. The lunch and the discussion was wonderful. We talked about what motivates an adult to return to education and also how students get support for returning to education. We talked with four students. One student was majoring in Agriculture, he was a master farmer, people in his community were already calling him teacher because of his expertise. He wanted to get the education so that he could fulfill the peoples expectations. Another student has a degree in Agriculture and was getting a degree in Law. His back ground was construction management. Another student owned and managed an agriculture equipment dealership. She sold Ford agriculture equipment. She was majoring in Management. A final student was majoring in Political Science. She was a widow that was returning to school, her background was running a school of typing and office skills. I also met a student who was an insurance salesperson. Each of the students was successful, and also very supportive of the the STOU method and support. I also gave a brief presentation to the students in the pre-test tutorial. It was fun to talk with the students.
At the STOU regional center I met a student who was bringing his wife into register. He was finishing his degree. He told a story of being in the hospital after being wounded and the STOU counselor brought him his final test, he did not pass, the first time, but was very thankful for the support of the counselor. He has now succeeded and is recruiting his family as STOU students. The STOU counselor at Petchaburi has a wonderful rapport with the students.
It was great meeting with adult students. Another thing that made me very comfortable is that the students were not in uniform. The meeting with the students, and the lunch discussion was one of the highlights of my trip.
The courtesy and thoughtfulness of the people at STOU are amazing. I only hope that when people visit TVC that we can provide half the courtesy and thoughtfulness.
Tomorrow I will post information about Saturday. One of the important discoveries I made Saturday is that Community Colleges exist in Thailand. Community Colleges first opened three years ago and I believe, from what I know so far, that they are very similar to community colleges in the United States in mission and scope. Anyway more tomorrow and some pictures also.
Monday, October 03, 2005
Community Colleges Exist!
Today, Saturday, we visited the University Fair 2005 at the Queen Sirikrit Center. The exhibition was packed with colleges and universities from Thailand. There were many huge booths. The exciting part of the exhibitionk for me, is that I got to talk with people from two community colleges. I especially enjoyed talking with a person from Ranong, where we visited last year. Community colleges were started by the government three years ago. They are very similar in concept to community colleges in the United States. At Ranong there are currently 400 students. The cost for the courses is 25 Baht per credit. Some courses are offered in English. I think there are 14 community colleges nation wide. The source for many of the students in community colleges are the Non-Traditional Education centers. I believe that the credit earned in a Community College is transferable to a university. Sunday, when we were driving to Petchaburi I saw a road sign for Samut Songkhram Community Colleges. Today, Monday, we will visit a Non Traditional Education Center in Phra Pradaeng so I hope to have more information. I have many questions about Community Colleges in Thailand and am excitied to find a new path to explore.
Tuesday, October 04, 2005
This idea is getting more exciting. There is slightly different information in this post then in previous similar posts in my blog.
Wednesday, October 05, 2005
One of my goals of my sabbatical was to see how the Linux operating system is being used. The "news and analysis" that I read in the United States indicated that Linux and Open Office would be a threat to Microsoft because of the People PC program. Well, during my trip so far I have not seen an instance of Linux or Open Office running. I have asked and people are aware of the option, but prefer to use what they are familiar with. This conservatism is the same in the United States. I think you need to be a geek to willingly learn a new operating system or a new productivity application. There must be a major improvement in function or price to drive new use. I suppose your work required a change it would drive learning new skills, but I do not think it happens voluntarily. In fact I think we learn new versions of Windows because they come on the computers we purchase. In the old days I loved learning new operating systems and applications, but I was a geek. Now I need a functional reason to learn new tools. I still love learning new web tools, but operating systems make me feel tired!
Today we met Dr. Sumalee who is an expert in adult education. Her doctorate is in Adult Education. She was giving a planning seminar for the Counseling section. Jit took notes. From what I could make out, from the sprinkling of technological terms, the subject was intensely interesting. I wished I knew Thai. Anyway Jit took notes and will summarize the meeting for me tonight or tomorrow morning.
Dr. Sumalee is aware of the Wi-Max project in Lampang province. Jit and I will be able to meet with her, and some of her students, this Friday. It was a joy to talk with her, she speaks excellent English. I believe that I will be able to make contact with both Non-Formal Education and Community Colleges through her knowledge.
I want to thank Dr. Warapa and Nednapa Intong for allowing us to attend the meeting today.
While listening to the meeting my mind drifted to various topics about education. I will share some of my thoughts briefly.
Teaching is interactive. The essence of teaching is an interactive exchange with students. I am thinking of interactive in a broad sense. For instance, active reading, reading with questions and a purpose, is interactive.
The joy of teaching adults is that, as students, they have a clear purpose and desire for the course being taught. Adult students also have a life of experience to bring to a subject.
That new educational technology must have an incremental advantage over previous technology or of no technology at all. If there is not sufficient incremental advantage the tool should not be adopted. We are not teaching technology, we are teaching subjects. Technology is a means to creating an interactive encounter, not the end.
Paper is a successful tool. Any replacement for paper, such as a PDA, must have a clear advantage that justifies the effort of using and applying the new tool. When thinking of technology remember the advantage of simple tools.
Confusion is a necessary pre-requisite to knowledge. If there is not confusion there are no questions. A teacher of adults must earn the trust of the students to allow the creation of confusion. Confusion is uncomfortable and if the students do not trust the teacher they will not want to experience confusion. Confusion also must ultimately result in clarity. Confusion that remains confusion is demoralizing and undermines educational confidence.
Having a clear organized structure of course delivery, the course syllabus, the reading list, the assignment expectations, reduces anxiety and gives students the freedom to question and doubt.
Educationally you must have questions to appreciate answers.
The individual trumps the general. A specific experience or a specific person trumps a general principle. Years ago I was taught in workshops that Alaska Native people where shy, or were non-verbal, or a hundred other generalities. What I learned is that such general descriptions were always less important then the actual person in front of me. In fact some general principles and assertions could blind me to the real person I was talking with. Scientifically one tested counter example puts a theory into doubt. For me, I always try to make the specific experience the highest priority.
None of these observations has anything to do with the meeting I experienced today, but it did catalyze these thoughts.
I got up early so I turned on the TV to see the STOU TV course. The courses are broadcast at 5:00 AM on channel 11. The show was professionally done educational TV with a good interview format. There was additional information about the schedule and the radio broadcasts. The presentation looks much better then the lectures from University of Alaska Southeast that I see on TV sometimes.
Cell phones mean that there is a communication infrastructure set up for the technology of the future.
We will be going to STOU today for a meeting and lunch. We will be able to meet with somebody who is knowledgeable about Non-formal education.
Thursday, October 06, 2005
Visiting the Non-Formal Education Center in Phra Pradaeng
Visiting the Non-Formal Education Center in Phra Pradaeng
We will visit the Non-Formal Education Center in Phra Pradaeng today. Jit just confirmed the appointment. I guess I need to start getting ready. I like Phra Pradaeng, it is small enough not to be overwhelming, but there are excellent photo opportunities. I am starting to know where I am in Bangkok, I never thought that would happen.
I am working on the Access database for the STOU counseling department this morning. I wished I had a good reference book! When I am working on this database I need to remind myself that it is just a rough sketch of a potential database. Creating an Access database is like diving down a rabbit hole in Alice in Wonderland, what seems simple becomes complex! Anyway I have to keep repeating to myself, "It is only a sketch!" and "Keep it simple!" When I was visiting the hospital last Tuesday, and waiting, and waiting, I spent some time outlining possible fields and queries. I am glad I did this preliminary thinking. I will be glad though when this project is done. Oh well, another new learning opportunity.
We visited the Non-Formal Education Center in Phra Pradaeng today. The closest educational institution in Alaska would be a combination of the Adult Learning Program in Alaska and the Tanana Valley Campus Workforce Development program. The relationship between ALPA and Workforce Development to TVC is also similar. During the last semester there were 2500 students enrolled in the Phra Pradaeng region. There are eight centers that are located in malls, Wats, and buildings in the community. Right now there are no courses in session. The new courses will begin in November. We will visit the Non-Formal Education Center at the Wat by the Banglepheau floating market in November. The Non-Formal Education centers have both part time and full time teachers. Some of the course series can last from two to three years. We got some literature that describes the curriculum and course offerings that Jit will decipher for me.
The Non-Formal Education Center teaches computer application skills, Microsoft Office, and has some special courses on computer maintenance. When the centers re-open in November I will spend ,some time visiting. I also hope to see more clearly how the Community Colleges interface with the Non-Formal Education centers. The person we met from Ranong said there was a strong relationship. I also asked about Linux, the people were aware of the People PC program, but they said that the people strongly preferred to use Windows.
The Phra Pradaeng area has many factories, there are good employment possibilities. The Non-Formal Education centers works with the companies to prepare the workforce to meet job requirements. There was a hint that some employers did not encourage people to continue to pursue their education, they did not want to lose qualified employees.
Friday, October 07, 2005
In Thailand the promotion and tenure process for becoming a professor is similar, except for becoming a full professor. To become a full professor is, I believe, part of a national process that includes government oversight. I will try to confirm this, but I think that is what I heard.
After finding out about the Non-Formal Education centers I have been thinking that maybe there is a common set of educational needs that are universal. Countries need comprehensive education for their kids, education for adults, vocational education, second-chance or developmental education, technical education, etc.. Each country meets these educational needs in different ways, but countries have a similar range of educational needs, no matter where they are. Think of medical care, it is similar; there is a comprehensive set of needs that need to be met, no matter where the country is. In Thailand I am discovering more similarity then differences in the problems and challenges of meeting the educational needs of the people. There is different terminology, different organization of delivery, but underlying the differences are similar challenges and opportunities. By sharing ideas and resources for meeting educational needs the learning is reciprocal and the range of choices and methods expands. International educational sharing of methods and organizations is a great resource for learning. I am thankful for my sabbatical, I am already anticipating how I might share some of what I have learned.
I finished the draft Access database and will give it to Nednapa today when we go to STOU.
Saturday, October 08, 2005
Yesterday we met with a graduate student seminar on adult education. Many of the students worked with centers for Non-Traditional education. We were hosted by Dr. Sumalee Sungsri who we had met on Wednesday. The students had many questions about our ITS degree, how it was organized and the variety of students that it served. There were many questions about community colleges and how TVC worked. We talked about how to meet the variety of skill levels of adult students. We talked about curriculum and advising. We also talked about experiences and practices in teaching adult students. The students also talked with Jit for a long time about life in Alaska. It was a valuable meeting.
After our discussion with the students we stayed for two student presentations. One of the presentations was about providing training to people in the military and the other presentation was about providing local content to English students in Samut Prakan. The proposal was to increase the student’s actual use of English. Both presenters used Powerpoint. The use of Powerpoint in Thailand is a very common way of presenting information. We stayed until after 5:00 so we got caught in a traffic jam on the way home.
We were encouraged to visit the south of Thailand by a student who taught there. I gave him my email address for further communication. It was a little frightening to contemplate because of the violence in the south, but if it works out, I will go.
There was also some interest in the students to visit Alaska and UAF on a study trip. I said, and I think it would be true, that UAF would be excited about an opportunity to share. A study trip would focus on the College of Rural and Community Development and Tanana Valley Campus. I hope it happens and would love to help create such a collaboration.
Dr. Summalee also talked with me about research collaboration. I would love to work with her on such a project. The College of Rural and Community Development has many similar challenges to Thailand. Exploring the similarities and differences in our methods of meeting our challenges would be valuable for all of us. I would say yes in a second to such an opportunity.
I delivered the Access database to Nednapa yesterday. We will meet to decide the next step on Monday.
Sunday, October 09, 2005
Bangkok Post quote on internet usage in Thailand.
"Here in Thailand, only a small fraction of the population has online access. According to internetworldstats.com as of September 2005, only 12.8 percent of the nearly 66 million people in Thailand have access to cyberspace. The technology is still limited to the educated middle-classes who are computer literate, able to pay the service fees and have mastered some English language skills."
From my superficial observatons this statistic seems true. Most people who I meet confess to having limited computer and internet skills. I think that low-cost internet access will stimulate technological learning for non-students.
Monday, October 10, 2005
Today we visited STOU. We met with Nednapa. There was not much going on today. We will communicate with email for our next appointment or task.
IT City in Zeer is similar in scope to Pantip Plaza. We walked though all three active floors. There are other floors but most of them did not have retail shops. IT City is directly connected to a hotel. Some of my observations:
There were a few tech training places, one was offering a special of Word, Excel, or Windows training for 990 Baht. Others were offering Autocad training. Form what I was seeing they did not look too busy, at least in the afternoon. Some of the classrooms did not look like they were being used.
I saw one shop with very professional testing equipment including Fluke tools.
Many staff were using scooters to get around, it seemed to work well, but horns, or bells, would have made it less surprising. I also saw many Monks. I guess young men share common interests no matter what their vocation.
There were many poster and banner shops with large printers. It looked like a very professional service with high quality equipment. I see similar shops in many malls.
IT City did not seem crowded. There were some empty locations.
IT City is much more sedate then Pantip Plaza, which, for me, is a good thing. We still will check out Pantip Plaza later.
Today was busy and interesting. It was good to see IT City. The sense was that the IT boom has passed, but it was still interesting.
Tuesday, October 11, 2005
Another perspective on the $100 laptop. It is starting to sound exciting. I think it would work in Alaska also, especially because of the low maintenance.
Tuesday, October 18, 2005
Good news, we got a wonderful email from Woody Leonhard. He sounds like he is doing well and is still in the computer authoring business as well as doing a thriving bakery. Check out http://khunwoody.com/ . We will plan for the first or second week of November. There is a thriving Non-Formal Education center there.
Stuart's life in Thailand is a great blog that I have followed for a couple years. Stuart teaches computer skills for Bangkok University and travels throughout Thailand. I always look forward to his blog entries. I emailed Stewart today for an appointment to discuss Thailand and teaching computer skills in a Thai University. The URL for his blog is http://www.sgtowns.com/
This blog is deeply thoughtful. The issues discussed apply to Rural Alaska. Highly recommended!
I transferred all my Thai words that I have accumulated to 3 X 5 cards this morning. It took two and a half stacks of cards to get caught up. Know I need to study them:(
Downloading updates is too slow, even with a good dial up connection. My computer is slowing to a crawl and only 1% of the update is downloaded. It is the monthly Microsoft update.
Yesterday there was a storefront class in a shop house. It was a private English and computer skills school. The classroom was full, about 20 students; it was about 2:00 in the afternoon. I remember in Fairbanks when there were two private computer schools. I forget there names, one was over in the Northward building. Many people took courses from them for vocational purposes. By the middle 90's most of them were gone. I still meet students who say they got training from those schools, most are coming back to get training again from us. In Fairbanks we still have one excellent private computer school, Northstar Computing; they do a good job and have been around for a long time.
I wrote to the Human Development Foundation in Klong Toey to arrange a visit. I emailed them before, but did not get an answer. The foundation is supposed to be providing computer training and I am interested in what they are doing. I have seen the Klong Toey area from the bus and from the Express Way. I would like to learn more. I could provide some teaching if appropriate, and if there is a way to work around my Thai ignorance. I also could do a photo essay to document some of the foundation activities. For information on the foundation you can go to http://www.fatherjoe.org/ If I do not get an email response in the next couple days we will use the phone! I forget sometimes that there are other methods of communication.
I wrote Woody Leonhard, an excellent computer book author that I have used for a reference for many of my courses. I would love to arrange a visit. He lives in Phuket. I hope he answers his email. I found a reference to him owning a bakery in Phuket. He also has a new web site for computer and office information. The URL is http://askwoody.com/
Finally I wrote to the Virtual Hill Tribe Museum in Chiang Rai. The Virtual Hill Tribe Museum is an excellent web site that effectively communicates important issues and provides a means for community development. I find the site inspirational. I think many of the projects of the Virtual Hill Tribe Museum could be applied to Rural Alaska. The web address is http://www.hilltribe.org/
Wednesday, October 19, 2005
I hope to visit the WiMax demonstration at Samkha village of Mae Tha in Lampang if I can get a good contact. We hope to do our traveling in November if it works out. WiMax is very exciting technology.
Thursday, October 20, 2005
I got a nice email from Stuart. He is in Laos but we can arrange a visit when he gets back. Stuart teaches computer and business courses at Bangkok University. He is a refugee from the Internet bubble collapse in the United States. His blog is always interesting. The URL for his blog is http://www.sgtowns.com/
I called John Morris this morning, we had an excellent conversation, about culture, cultural preservation, processes of cultural change and the similarities and differences between Alaska and the Hill Tribes of Thailand. He described teaching people to use the computers, starting with MSN Messenger, and then letting curiosity lead people to other computer skills including web publishing. We talked about the forces of cultural assimilation and the deep lose to human knowledge and experience when a language is lost. John was aware of the Eyak experience in Alaska.
For me, our brief conversation confirmed my hypothesis that the internet is the key technology that will motivate people to use technology, it is not computers. If there is excellent internet access then affordable computers becomes important, but affordable computers, without the internet is not a motivating technology.
Next Wednesday or Thursday John will be in Bangkok. He is on his way to Kentucky for a visit. I am looking forward to our visit. We have many experiences and beliefs in common. It was an excellent conversation hopefully to be continued.
To see the work the John accomplished visit the Virtual Hill Tribe Museum visit http://www.hilltribe.org/ . I would recommend that anybody who is interested in rural Alaska visit and explore this web site in depth. There are many projects and activities that we could emulate in Alaska. There are many common experiences and problems shared between the Hill Tribes of Thailand and the Alaska Native cultures of Alaska. A highly recommended web site.
I will be attending this workshop Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. It sounds interesting and relevant.
We went to STOU for the seminar with Leslie Richards from Waterloo University. The seminar is excellent, practical, pointed in its opinions, and very useful. It would be great to bring Leslie Richard to Alaska for the College of Rural and Community Development. His perspective on technology and learning is practical and refreshing. You can read the previous blog entry to see the seminar content. I am very satisfied with the content and it is fun to meet more of the professors at STOU. No surprises or traffic jams.
Tomorrow we will go to the seminar again and then, during lunch, go to the Siam Discovery center to meet with John Morris of Virtual Hill Tribes Musuem.
I visited Counseling Center at STOU and they are experimenting with my database. There are over 300 records entered in the database. It was strange to see it in Thai. I demonstrated Filter by Selection. I also had a great cup of real coffee at our favorite coffee shop at STOU. I was looking forward to the coffee and it was as good as I was hoping for.
Wednesday, October 26, 2005
The New Classroom :Rethinking Learning for e-Learning is based on a creating tasks for students as a method of teaching. You can see the previous blog entry for more detail as to the workshop content. Essentially creating tasks takes priority over creating course content. By creating tasks you are creating rich, focused expectations with a clear method of coaching and feedback for student learning. Everything that I hear in this workshop I agree with, it has been very valuable.
Last night, when I was not sleeping I realized that the CIOS 211 Providing Computer Support course and the Information Technology Specialist Certification Review are both a form of task based learning. I do not think that either the course or the certification review are a complete implementation of the concept, but they contain the germ of the insights discussed at the workshop. When I revise my Excel course and whatever additional courses that I create I will embed tasks more deeply into my courses. You can see my previous course syllabi at http://www.faculty.uaf.edu/ffsdc/syllabus/
We went Siam Discovery center to meet with John Morris who helped create the Virtual Hill Tribes Museum. John is a deep, creative, and thoughtful person to talk with. I enjoyed sharing experiences and perspectives. His experience in the Peace Corp and in Thailand is invaluable. John has been in Thailand for seven years. I felt an affinity with John and found that the conversation re-awakened previous experiences that I had in Alaska. I highly recommend reading his blog at http://www.hilltribe.org/blogs/
Thursday, October 27, 2005
Another day at STOU, the workshop I have been participating in has been valuable. Not only is the subject interesting the group of faculty members are a joy to work with. Today I will briefly mention some of the workshop jargon. Leslie Richards is doing an excellent job or exploring the material. One of the purposes of my blog is to document my sabbatical and some of the information, in the workshop today will be immediately valuable.
We saw examples of e-portfolios, we looked at a free course management system called Moogle, and also looked at a software package, Reload, that will take a well constructed web site and convert it to SCORM compatible modules for importation into a course management package. It looks pretty cool. There is some valuable information to explore.
We also looked at LearningMapR, which when it is released, will help the creation of task based courses. I especially was intrigued with the idea of 90 examples of task based exercises that could be used for inspiration. I am eagerly anticipating seeing the task examples and structures. The tool looks useful and practical.
Finally we saw an excellent resume writing set of tasks integrated into the University of Waterloo learning management system. I was very impressed with this tool and would love to adapt something similar into our advising at TVC.
Before we went to the seminar we stopped at our favorite coffee shop at STOU. I was looking at the Thai newspapers. There were a couple computer ads. HP was advertising some Compaq notebooks with the "DOS operating system." I am sure they meant Windows XP, but it was curious. A fairly well configured notebook was around a $1,000. There was also an ad for some desktop computers with Intel processors. The best configured model, with an 80gb hard disk and 512mb of memory was about $500. There were advertised as Family PC's. The computers that I see at Big C usually have 256mb of memory, which is pretty slim.
We visited Nednapa during lunch. I really like visiting the people at the counseling section. The Access database is being used, I think it is the first Access database that I have created that is really useful. We looked at creating a lookup field for disabilities. Dr Sumalee was also at the workshop today. I really like to see people that I have worked with. There is a chance I will be able to participate in another adult education graduate seminar.
It looks like my next assignment area at STOU is getting clarified. People seem to know what I am doing before I do! I think Jit is my agent! I believe I will be looking at courseware and educational design.
Friday, October 28, 2005
We went to Pantip Plaza, it was much more active and interesting then the IT shopping center at Zeer. There were many notebooks and digital camera places. On the first floor I kept getting persistently approached to buy DVD's and Software. Sort of irritating. I did not look at the software in detail, but with the need to upgrade and patch software I am not sure if it is worth it anymore. It was pretty interesting though, and there was still a lot of IT energy.
I thought I should explain Pantip Palace. Pantip Palace is a large, I think six story, technology department store. There are hundreds of shops each selling technology, everything from used equipment, to digital cameras, to all kinds of computers. Some of the stores are actually factory run. The selection is amazing; the prices are not especially cheap, except for copied software and DVD's.
There are many weird and profound T Shirt slogans in the
market. One that I think is awesome is:
Tuesday, November 01, 2005
Jit tried to get an appointment with the Mercy Foundation in Klong Toey. I have tried their email address twice with no response. We will be persistent. Jit also contacted Nednapa about Dr. Sumaree's adult education seminar.
Wednesday, November 02, 2005
Anne emailed yesterday, I will be meeting with the Technology Office at STOU on Thursday.
Saturday, November 05, 2005
We went to STOU yesterday. I will be working with the e-learning section of the Department of Technology. The people I met can use English. I am looking forward to working with them. More later.
Monday, November 07, 2005
I organized some files in my USB memory drive to take to STOU, my Excel lessons and curriculum material.
Sometimes something is not memorable until I think about it late at night. When we were visiting the Abbot at Ko Kred we were talking about computer skills. The Abbot did a perfect pantomime of searching and finding the print command in Word. I could "see" the whole process, the looking for the Print command, the finding it, and the surprise and satisfaction when the document printed. It still makes me smile to see his pantomime. The whole experience reinforces the ideas that I always tell me students, you do not have to remember anything, you just need to be willing to explore. When you are using a computer pose a question and rummage for the answer. Every time I visit the Abbot I have a memorable experience.
Ton, Jit's nephew is registering for a computer course at the Non-formal education center in Phra Pradaeng. We will visit the center soon, although this week is very busy. We have our meetings at STOU through Wednesday, then we have the adult education seminar, and then we go with Moi to a Kathin ceremony in Kao Yai. If it all happens it will be a pretty dense week.
At STOU today I had a wonderful meeting with Tuk and Nun. I also got my haircut. I looked at ATutor, an open source course management package from Canada. I was impressed with its look and organization. One thing that is confusing to me is the role of the faculty at STOU. To me, and this is just an impression, faculty are divorced from the ongoing process of teaching and creating and modifying course content. I know I am missing something, but activities that I take for granted are not done by the faculty at STOU. This is just an impression, and I will be exploring the faculty role in greater depth. Comparing faculty roles is very helpful in understanding what we do at the University of Alaska Fairbanks.
Tomorrow STOU again, I will get to share what I do at TVC and UAF. I like my new placement at STOU.
Thursday, November 10, 2005
Today at STOU I shared many of my UAF and TVC resources with Tuk.
There were many similarities and possible tools that we could share.
We had an excellent lunch with Nun. Nun is a wonderful person to know, Jit and Nun have a great relationship. I enjoy talking with her also. She has many wonderful experiences and talents. What I especially appreciate are her values and perspective on life. I am very lucky to be working with Nun.
Tomorrow we will visit Dr Sumalee's adult education seminar. I will then return to STOU on Monday. Next Wednesday will be Loy Krathon ceremony. At STOU, with its waterways, it is supposed to be a good experience.
Today we visited Dr. Sumalee's adult education seminar. There were students from many places in Thailand, they were finishing their research. The students were involved in many projects in Thailand. The man from Surin had some excellent ideas, he mentioned that there is a traditional craft of making medallions and necklaces, but that the craft is slowly dying. We talked about the similarity between his experience and some experiences in Alaska. We also talked about making items to sell to tourists and its effect of craftsmanship.
Another person was working with hill tribes in Thailand and cultural preservation. It was excellent to see so many similarities.
I talked for about an hour about how I grade and evaluate some of my courses using projects and activities. I especially talked about teaching adults. I also talked about the similarity of mission between Tanana Valley Campus and Non-Formal Education centers. There were many good questions about our community advisory board and our funding. There were also questions about the social conditions in Alaska and street people.
Friday, November 11, 2005
People who speak Thai in front of me, if they know English, apologize for speaking Thai, even at STOU. I assure them that I am not offended. When I told Jit and Dr. Summalee not to worry about English there conversation increased in intensity and depth. I have never really thought about it being offensive or impolite. I figure people will let me know if something is important. Also I am the visitor and I am the one who does not know Thai.
Tuesday, November 15, 2005
I am getting new assignment at STOU. I am going to gather examples of different faculty web pages, I will look at the range of content as well as design. I will be able to work at home for much of the assignment. I will be using many examples from the University of Alaska Fairbanks faculty web pages. I will also use materials from the Center for Distance Learning at the University of Alaska. It is an interesting assignment that will apply to my work when I return to Alaska. I will be looking at web sites and resources that do not use a learning management system like ATutor or Blackboard.
I also will be working with the photographers at STOU on content and composition. I need more details on this assignment because I am not a commercial photographer. Photography for me is a personal means of expression. Just because I take photographs that express a unique world view does not mean that I have the skills or interests to help people create commercial or illustrative photography, but my mind is open and I will share and help any way that I can.
Tuk gave me an large in-depth evaluation of STOU e-learning to read. the study, Recommendations For E-Learning Development at Sukothai Thammathirat Open University by John S. Green of The Open Polytechnic of New Zealand was written in 2001. I can see many improvements in technology since the report was written, but the culture of course creation and method of delivery is still the same. The report is very critical of the "text book, work book", method of course delivery. I agree with the criticism.
Most of the people I meet at STOU are talented, creative, and committed to the mission of the university, I do not think that professionals at STOU have the administrative freedom to use their ability. I am torn between my care for and enjoyment of the people I have met, and the thoughtfulness they have shown Jit and I, and my objective belief in what education means. What I do not see is the ongoing magic interaction that is the essence of teaching. I do not see a variety of approaches and experiments in delivering education. I think there is a problem of institutional leadership, not talent or vision. People need a means and support to initiate change. I also have been impressed by the students that I have meet at the provincial centers, in seminars, and on the street. Many good things are happening at STOU, but there is so much more to do to unleash the talented potential of the professional staff and faculty that I have met.
Wednesday, November 16, 2005
Yesterday I worked on my STOU project, just brainstorming. We are going to be staying at STOU tonight for Loy Krathong and then going to Phuket for a few days to visit Woody Leonhard and to see the Non-Formal Education center. I will be writing Blog entries on my Palm and might not be able to post photographs or entries until I get back. We will be returning on Sunday night or Monday.
Monday, November 21, 2005
We walked up to Woody's Bakery and he was gone. He had to suddenly leave for the Netherlands. His son was in some difficulty, but we emailed a few times. Woody's bakery is very nice, it is new shop house, there is free Internet and very good food and sandwiches. It did not feel like Thailand.
We also met Woody's niece who has taught herself excellent English. I had a meatball sandwich. When we left Jit and Pong got Papaya salad from a street vendor. We then walked home. Patong beach is a tourist place. There are many bars, many Pizza places, many street vendors and many German and English people. I can not really say I like it, but it is sort of interesting. Like most tourist places there are no real surprises, just the same thing over and over again.
Woody's was like being in America. There was a picture of a Colorado mountain on the wall and bluegrass music. One of the songs was "I saw the light sweet Jesus, I saw the light" which is very odd to hear in Thailand. Many British and German tourists came in for the Internet access and to get bakery goods and sandwiches. Woody's even had Brown and Haley's Almond Roca candy. I grow up near the factory and we used to go get candy at the factory in Tacoma Washington. It took a double take before I realized what I was seeing. If I did not look out the window I would feel like I was in the United States.
Thursday, November 24, 2005
I spent the day working on outlining my faculty presentation for STOU, it is going well. I also have been using My Web 2.0 from Yahoo, it is sort of a de.licio.us for humans. I am going to use it for tracking my bookmarks. The idea of tags is a powerful concept.
Today I worked on my STOU presentation. I will be creating a presentation on gathering and using information using the Internet next month. I will be creating a web site, hand outs, and step by step examples. It should be fun, and the material that I create I will also be able to use in the courses I teach at the University of Alaska Fairbanks.
Sunday, November 27, 2005
We went to STOU. I am working on my presentation. There is an outline for the presentation at http://www.cysewski.com/stou/interinfo/ It is fun to get back into the lesson creation business. I will be preparing a presentation and set of hands on experiences. Having the faster Internet access at STOU makes it easier. Tuk is a great person to work with, I enjoy taking with her when we go to STOU. She is very competent in her skills, and also very interesting. Nun, works with us also, she is helping me with Thai. She will spend next year in China teaching Thai at a Chinese University. The neighborhood around STOU is very different, sometimes it has a European feel, with bakeries and coffee shops. The area is near Impact Center. The experience in the area around STOU is very different then being in Phra Pradaeng.
Thursday, December 01, 2005
I worked on my STOU presentation today, the date has been changed to December 16th. I also have a presentation scheduled with the photographers at STOU December 23rd. I was asked to speak English slowly! I will know more later on the details of this presentation.
When we got to STOU I worked on my presentation, it is going well, but I have a lot to do. The work is an investment in a future course that I will teach when I return to Alaska, so it is valuable time.
Here is the outline for my morning presentation. All the links should work. I am not sure the presentation will make sense without my actual explanations, but the links should be valuable.
In the morning I was fussing getting my STOU presentation to look presentable in both Firefox and Internet Explorer. I converted my Word document using many different settings, but it still looked odd, I finally had to search and replace on a single character to get it to look OK. There still is a problem, Internet Explorer will not center the table that I am using, but Firefox will. I also downloaded and used Nvu, a free Web page editor. I like it and will use it in my "Using Internet Technology" course that I will teach in the fall.
Sunday, December 04, 2005
Yesterday I finished another step by step lesson for my presentation. I created an exercise to install the Google Toolbar, the Google Desktop and the Blog This button on the Google Toolbar. I just found out tomorrow is Father's Day so I will not go to work at STOU on Monday. In the United States Father's Day is in June not November.
I got up early and went to the hospital with Jit's father. We then went to STOU. I am finishing up my hands on exercises for my faculty presentation. We visited with Tuk and Nun and then I met with the photographic department at STOU. The photographic department does everything from Photo ID's to documenting course content. We talked about photography and the process of taking pictures. I showed some of my photography web sites. I will also bring in some of the photographs that I took at the Loy Krathong ceremony at STOU.
It is hard to enjoy photography when it is a job. For me photography is about emotion and if you are having to take a photograph to represent a specific viewpoint it can alienate you from the joy of photography. We talked a little about taking pictures of things you hate! In one of the men's bathroom at STOU you can see outside through a slated window, there are pigeons roosting there and people throw out their cigarette butts, it is gross. I was thinking about how you could get in touch with the feeling of photography and recommended that people look for things they hated, sort of to clean out the system so you could feel the things you enjoy again. Taking photographs as a business could get pretty depressing. I will meet with the photo group again this Friday at the Photo Fair at Bitec.
One of the tasks of the photography department is to take pictures of the buildings at STOU. They are not happy with the results, the buildings just look like buildings. We talked about lights and weather and not just taking pictures when the weather is nice. People are not really taking pictures of buildings they are taking pictures of light reflecting from buildings. I was asked to go out with a few people and to take some photographs; if the opportunity becomes real it should be fun. If I get a chance I will try to wander around early in the morning as the sun is coming up.
Saturday, December 10, 2005
Yesterday I went to STOU to bring in my hand-on exercises and then we rode to the Photofair with the Photography department at STOU. The Photofair was all digital and really excellent, all the new things from Canon and Nikon were there. I saw the D200, and want one. I also saw, and purchased, the Ricoh GR Digital.
There are going to be at least 40 people for my STOU presentation next Friday. I have the material prepared. Monday is a holiday and Tuesday I will bring in my computer to make sure the projector and Internet connection are working. I am looking forward to the presentation. The subject is Finding, Gathering, and Sharing Information with the Internet. Since my presentation was completed last Thursday Google has added RSS feeds to Gmail and Yahoo has bought del-iscio-us. The world of Tagging and RSS feeds is moving quickly. It is like the old days when the Internet was exciting and free. Everything that I will be presenting will be a free tool to gather and share information. It is exciting.
We are going to put the computer in a sperate room so I will be out of communication for a day or two. Monday we are taking Juk's computer to Pantip Plaza to get repaired. I hope to get to the Photofair tomorrow after the house dedication.
Tuesday, December 13, 2005
We went with Juke's family to Pantip Plaza to get their computer fixed. The motherboard was replaced and a new DVD RW was installed as well as a complete software pack for under $60. We went to a small shop on the fourth floor. It was fun watching the person work on the computer; he was very fast and knew what he was doing. We will know in the next week or two if the repair really worked. I looked at the illegal software, the selection was amazing, Photoshop CS2 or under $3.00! There were also DVD training disks that were very cheap. I looked, but did not buy, but I was tempted.
Thursday, December 15, 2005
I took this photograph this morning, just fooling around. I like it. Tomorrow I will be at STOU all day giving a faculty presentation. The outline for the presentation is at http://www.cysewski.com/stou/interinfo/
Friday, December 16, 2005
I saw a new billboard on the way to STOU today, PC Magazine Thailand. In the IT field PC Magazine is the an essential resource, it is great to see it in Thailand.
My presentation went well, unless I am deluded. People stayed, in fact the participation increased during the day. We used the time effectively, and people seemed to understand the subject. The proof of the workshop will not be my impressions but if the information is used. I have posted the presentation outline in previous blogs.
Sunday we will be leaving for Cha-am & Hua Hin. We will be visiting Non-Formal Education Centers and will be looking at distance education implementations. Two professors were in my workshop who are specializing in technology education and non-formal education, they invited us to join them on their trip. The invitation to go on the trip comes at a perfect time since I just finished my presentation.
Saturday, December 17, 2005
We went home, and I read the newspapers and prepared for our trip tomorrow to Cha Am and Hu Hin. I might not post anything to the blog until Wednesday or Thursday because of the trip. I will be taking notes and making photographs so I will have a lot to share.
Sunday, December 18, 2005
We are off to Cha Am and Hu Hin to visit some non-formal education sites. I will post the results on Wednesday.
Wednesday, December 21, 2005
The Center for Educational Technology and Non-Formal Education and an opportunity
We had a meeting with the Center for Educational Technology www.ceted.org. We met with people from Non-Formal Education to learn about the use of technology and distance education for the delivery of courses for Non-Formal Education centers.
We talked about distance education and non-formal education. We watched a well done video that described the purpose of non-formal education. It sounded like the community college mission. There are three broad themes for training, life skills, community development, and career development. We talked about what is essential to get adults to take advantage of training. I discussed the need for respect for the students, excellent teachers who listen and meet the students immediate needs, and content that is practical and useful.
The non-formal education centers are attempting to meet adults IT training needs, but the curriculum is not comprehensive or organized. I will be meeting with people at the Center for Educational Technology to share our Information Technology Support Specialist curriculum. The meeting will be December 29th. to see the ITS curriculum visit www.uaf.tvc.edu/its/ . I am looking forward to sharing our degree and course competencies and method of course organization and delivery. There is a real opportunity to share some of the material we have created for the ITS program at the University of Alaska in Fairbanks, College of Rural and Community Development.
The meeting was in a formal conference room with food, audio broadcast capability, speakers, and food and drinks. In Thailand, during meetings, even in offices, people bring water, coffee, and usually a snack. There are people whose job is to serve the workers, at least in government offices. People in Thailand are very comfortable with having their pictures taken at meetings. In most meetings there are photographs to document the people present. I do not know what happens to all the photographs, but people pass around digital cameras and take pictures of each other.
After the meeting we went to Pantip Plaza and I had fun wandering around and looking at computers, software, and digital cameras. I got a mouse for Nick and Nuck's computer. The repair that we got at Pantip Plaza seems to be successful.
Hua Hin, the Distance Learning Foundation, the Wang Klaikangwoo School
We took a taxi to the Thai Farmers Bank under the Ari Sky Train station. We met Dr Siriwan Anantho with the School of Communication Arts at Sukothai Thammathirat Open University and rode with her to her parent's house at Cha Am.
At Dr. Siriwan's parent's home we had a wonderful meal and were joined by Dr. Scott Mclean from the University of Calgary, Dr Kamolratchim and Dr. Nhing of STOU. We talked until 9:30 about the roles of the faculty, the uses of technology, and globalization. It was a deep and thoughtful conversation, when we were not teasing each other. It was also great to be able to use English and to understand the conversation.
We then went to the Distance Learning Foundation which is sponsored by the King. The Wang Klaikangwoo School is a Royal school that is also the source for the comprehensive set of distance education broadcasts that are available throughout Thailand as well as Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Myanmar, and Yunnan province in China. The Distance Learning via Technology system is television based, supplemented by Fax, print, and the Internet. The video technology was first class.
Two things that were thought provoking were the use of a school as the source of the broadcasts. The actual classes were broadcast in real time, there was tape delay available, but it was for time shifting. Having the educational programs of actual live classes I think has real advantages in making the presentations interesting. We saw a class being taught with two high quality television cameras. The school, which is a Royal school, is the source of the programs, each of the class rooms is equipped for broadcasting.
The purpose of the DLT is to serve remote schools and schools that have few teachers, it sounded much like rural Alaska. The broadcasts are also available on UBC cable, channels 1-6 are for elementary school, channels 7-12 are for secondary school, channel 13 is for vocational broadcasts, channel 14 is for International broadcasts, and channel 15 is for use of the University. The broadcasts and supporting materials are also provided to the general public and for non-formal education students. Being under Royal patronage gives the foundation an advantage for gathering funds and in encouraging cooperation.
We saw a video of the King addressing the staff of the foundation. The King is impressive in action, he seems like a thoughtful concerned person who truly cares about the needs of the people. In Alaska I see the picture of the King on many walls and on calendars, it seems sort of silly, but being in Thailand and hearing his speech on his birthday, and seeing his influence, I am impressed. Most of all the King seems genuine, a real caring compassionate person, not a politician.
Another web site that supports the broadcasts is http://www.dlfeschool.in.th/
Some statistics, there are 3,107 secondary schools, 8,140 remote schools, and 16 remote boarding schools for orphans because of AID's or tragedy, that have distance learning reception with the correct satellite equipment. Everything is free of charge. The web site www.dlf.ac.th provides Internet support to the educational broadcasts. The material is even used Internationally. There is also a Wat in Los Angeles that provides materials to Thai citizens in the United States.
Video in Thailand makes a lot of sense, most people have access to television, although many can not afford cable. The audience that needs to be convinced to use the material is the teachers. As is usual there are problems getting the teachers to use the materials. There is printed support material of a high quality for the courses. What I saw was educational television done correctly with resources and support. The idea of an actual school being the source of live broadcasts is also interesting. The broadcasts were not taped and then re-used, except for time shifting. The material was fresh and real.
Saturday, December 24, 2005
We went to STOU today. Nothing much happening. We talked with International Relations. I looked at their web site and talked with the person who is creating and maintaining the web site. He is doing a good job and is motivated and knowledgeable. He showed me an excellent web site for web development. Check out www.webhang.co.uk .
We also talked about having an exchange program with Alaska. Maybe creating a summer school course for students to go to Thailand. We also would like to set up a reciprocal arrangement for Thai people to come to Alaska. When I return to Alaska I can start to sound out people about the possibilities.
Next Monday afternoon I will meet with the International Relations office to discuss the idea of an exchange program in more detail. Anne will also arrange a meeting with the Office of Continuing Education for my remaining assignment at STOU.
We got a call from the Non-Formal Education Office to confirm our meeting on December 29th. I have emailed Keith, my partner in Fairbanks, for current degree information and competencies. I am not sure how this new opportunity to share knowledge will evolve, but I am glad to be able to share our knowledge and resources.
Monday, December 26, 2005
When we got to STOU today, we ran over to the Continuing Education Department to meet the people, I stumbled into the bi-weekly staff meeting. We were introduced and talked for a little while, but we had to leave for our lunch meeting. I am not sure what they expect of me yet, I will have an office and I have heard rumors of developing a database. I will spend time trying to match their expectations with my ability, a good idea:).
The time we have left in Thailand is filling up! Jit and I went through the calendar of commitments. I still want to do a little traveling and exploring that is not sabbatical related, but we shall see.
At STOU we went to a department lunch with the E-Learning people. After lunch we had a meeting to explore providing educational tours to Thailand, sponsored by STOU, for students or adults from Alaska to. I referred the people to Elderhostel as a possible means to the end of providing tours. There is an excellent potential to bring students to Thailand under university sponsorship, maybe offering a Summer School course in conjunction with the tour. Until I get back to Alaska and talk with the International Relations office I will not be able to ground any of our ideas in reality, but it is a project I would like to help implement.
Thursday, December 29, 2005
Non-Formal Education Centers. It all came together today, I shared what I knew!
I prepared for my presentation to the Non-Formal Education Department on Thursday. I created a web site to organize my presentation and collected files to take. I want to leave all the relevant information and documents so that the people, at the presentation, will have all the tools to explore the idea I am sharing.
At STOU today we attended another session of Dr. Leslie Richard's workshop on rethinking learning. It was similar to the previous session, and it was practical and useful. I will apply his idea of task based teaching when I create my new courses in Alaska. During lunch we went over to the STOU Continuing Education Department. They were having their year end party with wonderful food and Karaoke. I also got a clearer idea of what I will be doing. I will be helping one of the Continuing Education Staff people to create a database to track resource people. I will also be helping to create worksheets to track expenses and reporting to make sure that the STOU reports are accurate. Talking with Tuk, she mentioned that I might also get to develop a continuing education course, which could be fun. It sounds like I will be busy.
On the way back to the seminar we stopped by the Counseling section to visit with Nednapa and the other people we know at the Counseling Center. There are many people at STOU that I enjoy meeting with and visiting.
One of my goals in coming to Thailand was to share the curriculum and competencies that we have developed for the Information Support Specialist Associate of Applied Science Degree. I have spent the last 14 years developing and teaching practical computer skills courses. The Non-Formal Education Department is the educational institution that provides practical training to the people of Thailand. Today I got to present our curriculum to the Non-Formal Education Department. The meeting lasted for three hours and ended with a wonderful lunch. I felt a rapport with the people, we shared a common vision and set of experiences in working with adults. We have been invited to go and visit different Non-Formal Education Centers and to provide support and advice. The link to the resources that I provided in my presentation is here www.cysewski.com/sabbatical/ITSComp/ . The questions were deep, subtle and relevant, I am elated. Jit translated and she did a very good job. There was laughter, and we shared struggles, dilemmas, and analogies. I felt that I was with people who shared a common vision of teaching adults. I left all the relevant materials so people could copy, adapt, modify, or ignore what I provided. My major goal, what I came to Thailand to share, has been accomplished. The door is open to collaborate and work together. I have had many good experiences in Thailand, and have been able to share many skills and ideas, but I have now found the place where I fit, where my skills match. I am excited.
In the afternoon we went by Pantip Plaza, I bought a USB key and an extra battery for my digital camera, we explored some and then went home.
Sunday, January 01, 2006
I helped Nik and Nuk with their computer, the phone line was bad. We got their connection to the internet working. I also think they have a virus. When I put in the memory card they were using in the camera I got a virus warning. I need to check their computer tonight. Nuk wanted to instant message with MSN, but it said they had the wrong version. I can not update it since their operating system is from Pantip Palace. I told her about Yahoo Messenger so she set up an account. I also sent her a Gmail invitation. I do not know where to get the cheap legal version of Windows XP. What I read about in the United States, and what I experience in Thailand, do not match. When I come back to Thailand I need to get a tool kit of software and tools to use while I am here.
Thursday, January 05, 2006
Tomorrow we leave for Mae Sot with the people from Non-Formal Education. At STOU there was some kind of celebration for monks, there was supposed to be 99 monks coming on campus for food and ceremonies. It looked like it, but I did not count.
The Continuing Education department is a little dysfunctional. I have had to chase people down to get some clarity as to tasks and expectations. At first they wanted me to create a useless database with 46 records, some kind of template. I said I could not do it alone, but I could help one of the employees do it. That stopped that idea. There were some other vague proposals and then it became clear that they did not really have anything for me to do! I have an office and a computer but no meaningful tasks. After some more honest talk I will help the IT person with his tasks. He is responsible for the department web page and also creating databases. He does not have formal training in the area. We will start next Monday with any questions that he has. I think I can be of service, but it was a little bit of a charade to get people pinned down. I think I shocked Jit with my bluntness. At one point I flat out said that I was not going to do busy work! My schedule will be Monday through Wednesday from 9:00 to 2:00, but if there is not meaningful work I will leave and do my own valuable things. I have 12 days and 48 hours left at STOU. I am saving the rest of the time for my other Sabbatical goals and to do things with Jit's family. I also hope that Non-Formal Education continues to evolve into something of value. I feel rapport with the people there.
Monday, January 09, 2006
Mae Sot, Chiang Rai, Karen People, and Non-Formal Education
We left at 5:30, it is dark, there is dew on the Taxi window. I see early morning buses, Monks walking, dogs looking for food, a jogger and Taxis with the vacant light lit. The new 7-11 is very bright. There is a Monk riding on a pedi-cab. Trucks are lining up at the factories. The Wat neon lights are very bright and colorful, blue, white, and yellow fluorescent tubes. We arrive at the Center for Educational Technology early, we wait in the lobby, there are irritating mosquitos.
We are going to Mae Sot today
I have not worn any jeans since I have been in Thailand, except for some cut offs I wear around the house. This must seem unbelievable to people who know me.
We are in a Toyota van, it is an agency van, we are going around picking up people. There are seven people including the driver
I was asked to teach a one day workshop on basic computer skills for the staff at the Non-Formal Education E-Learning department
The web site that I created to explain the ITS program and competencies was well received. I am glad. The assistant director said he could see how things work, the details, and that it was very helpful.
The road is not crowded as we head north, different areas specialize in selling different things beside the road. We are going through an area that has many colored fishing nets. Another region by the road is selling wicker brooms and chairs.
The road from Tak to Mae Sot is a beautiful twisting road
We visit a school in Mae Sot, it is a government school, but there are people from the Catholic Church helping out. Many of the Hill Tribe people are Christian. The students who took a math test at the school, did not do a good job, there answers were identical. The students are preparing for the high school exams. They discussed the problem and tried to give encouragement.
We go to the Friendship Bridge area to go to a market. The bridge is an entry point for people from Myanmar to come to Thailand to work. There is also exchange of goods. There is a fence surrounding the area and a border inspection area. There are people on the bridge looking through the fences. The market is interesting, many name brand food items, and odd and poor quality electronics. There are also many guns for sale, I do not know anything about guns, but I would be afraid to fire one. There were many excellent wood items on sale.
Up on the cement dike, that surrounds the market area, there were two kids, they saw me and yelled, they quickly showed me that they had a carton of Marlboro cigarettes for sale, it was sad to see the hope and necessity in the kids.
We talk for awhile and then go to our hotel, the Central Mae Sot Hill, we go out for a meal in the evening, it is great.
We are supposed to fly back from Lampang, but the plan might not work, Jit decides, and I am glad, that we will ride through to Chiang Rai and then fly home from there. The people we are traveling with are great, and we share many common interests.
Saturday morning we go to Saint Joseph Mae Ramat School to meet some students. We drive north, the area reminds me of Wisconsin, there are rolling hills, read earth, and corn fields. The details are very different, and there are hills in the distance, but the impression is of a well cultivated area.
We meet three students from the Karen community; they have made a seven hour trip with their priest to meet with us.
In there home community there is no electricity, only battery powered devices recharged with solar cells. To use e-learning tools takes planning. Electricity is used with caution and thought. The communities are very isolated, on top of hills with subsistence rice harvest, they have lived in the area for centuries Younger people are leaving the communities for Bangkok, they send money for about three months and then nothing
We met three students who might be the first people from the community to graduate from high school. They are using the e-learning materials from Non-Formal Education. E-Learning, I think, means anything that is not traditional teaching, it includes Video, VCD, DVD's, audio tapes, and self-study text books. The community can not access the satellite TV channels that are provided by the school we visited in Hua Hin. One student needs to pass an English course and the other two a Math course to finish high school. Their goal is to stay in the community and to help the community. The priest wants to help them continue to learn. I think the goal is to learn community development. Later we found that in Chiang Rai there is a Center for Inter-Ethnic Study that might be a good fit for the students, but they would have to leave home. I was moved by the students, and by the hope that they represented for their community.
The Karen people are a large cultural group, they live in the Mae Sot area and also up north. The school is teaching in both languages and is very aware of the need for cultural strength. The traditional leadership is by elders and the culture is strong. The priest has lived in the community for six years and was going to continue. I could feel his emotional and intellectual commitment to the community. There is a school with 200 students that is supported by donations, the school seems culturally and religiously respectful of traditions.
So many experiences echo rural Alaska.
Going back through Mae Sot and through Tak there are checkpoints to look for illegal immigrants. There were also checkpoints on the road south of Chiang Rai. In Mae Sot there are many people using bicycles along the high way to get to work. I think they are from Burma. I do not know the protocol for using Burma or Myanmar. Most people in Thailand seem to refer to Myanmar.
We leave and drive back to Tak and then north to Chiang Rai. There are large granite boulders and what looks like volcanic rock as we drive toward Lampang. I am interested in the geology of Thailand, I need to do some searching. Flying back from Chiang Rai I saw some very odd geographical forms. There was a large half arc that rose from a flat plane almost like the remnants of a huge crater. It was such a uniform shape. I took a vague picture. I need some good maps and some reference materials.
The road north is beautiful when we go through the national parks. There are some impressive mountains (hills to Alaskans) the form and structure is stark and spectacular. Some of the mountains look similar to granite volcanic remnants like the Angle Rocks area around Fairbanks. There are farming communities wherever there is flat land. One of Thailand's strengths is that so many families own land and use it for farming. The flat areas are farmed intensely. There are rice, bananas, grain, reeds, cattle, and corn all being cultivated. The towns have an agriculture infrastructure with farm equipment sales and even grain elevators. The housing that I see is not fancy, maybe even marginal, but the areas are very productive.
We talk a little about the Thailand government. I realize there are not the checks and balances of a federal system. I think the idea of each of the 50 states having it's own constitution is hard to explain. Also the split between state and federal responsibility is difficult to explain. Sometimes seeing another form of government makes concepts clearer.
We finally arrive in Chiang Rai about 5:30 in the evening. There is a hotel, a large hotel, called Little Duck! I suppose it seems more appropriate for the Chinese. We are staying at the Wangcome Hotel, which is an old central hotel in downtown Chiang Rai. We go to walk around the night market and then drive to a restaurant to eat northern Thai food. The food is excellent and very different from the Thai food in other regions, much more crunchy and spiced differently. I like it. We get home and sleep.
Jit and I get up early; her foot is sore because she twisted it last night. It is dark, but we go find a 7-11 to get some Tylenol. In the 7-11 there is a rack for people to put their motorcycle helmets. We then get a Tuk Tuk and go for a tour of Chiang Rai. I love the morning. We go to the market and get out and walk. There are many different fruits, vegetables, and arts and crafts then in other parts of Thailand. There are also many hill tribe people selling in the market. My favorite part of Thailand is the morning markets! I am excited and interested every time we go. We bought some gourds and a Roti. After exploring we went back to the hotel for breakfast. There was some excellent Thai filtered coffee. I have never seen it before, it was real coffee, very smooth and good tasting.
Since we are not going on the Ayutthaya trip Nuck and Star will go, we will pay their way since we can not cancel our places. I am glad that our trip will be good for somebody.
We go the Chiang Rai Rajabaht University, which has a beautiful campus. For some reason I get an experience of Deja Vu. I remember a dream from years ago. The dream is very vivid and strange. The things we think about when riding around:)! We find the building that we are looking for and meet with a group of about 20 students we have registered for non-formal education courses. There are discussions about registration, study skills, using e-learning tools, and how to get help when needed. Many non-formal education courses are like developmental education and pre-college preparation. The students were mostly middle aged adults.
Chiang Rai Rajabaht University offers two year and four year degrees. There is also an Institute of Inter-Ethnic Studies that was created to study and support indigenous cultures in Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, and China. We met with people there and shared common insights. Again the similarity between the challenges on Alaska and the Hill Tribe people is amazing.
During the presentation they were using a digital projector and one of those three-dimensional projectors, like an Elmo, to project transparencies. All that technology and cost was just replicating an overhead projector. It was sort of weird, but we do it too. Sometimes new technology is not an improvement. Overhead projectors worked well for projecting transparencies.
Many of the printed materials and e-learning resources like CDs and DVD's created by Non-Formal Education are similar to STOU's. I have gained new respect for educational television and printed materials like workbooks. Maybe we in Alaska should look at some of the old technologies and use them where appropriate. Audio conferences are no where to be seen.
After the presentation we have lunch at the University and then went to a weird fake Wat. The Wat was created by an artist with his own money, there are paintings for sale. You get to walk on a bridge over hell before you enter the Wat. There are contorted faces and grasping hands. The name, I think, is Wat Kum. There were no Monks and to me it was a rip off. I would much rather visit a Wat that is embedded in a community then a tourist attraction.
We fly home and go to sleep. It was a long wonderful trip with excellent travel companions.
The people of Non-Formal Education have arranged a three day visit to the Wi-Max community near Lampang. We also will be visiting a Bangkok school that is a demonstration project for using technology. I also will be doing a one day workshop for the staff at Non-Formal Education. I feel at home with this group, we share professional values and attitudes, we also have fun. Thankfully Jit is available for translation and interpretation.
I will be teaching a course at STOU. At work today I was confronted with seven students ready to learn! Pretty cool. They will have an hour and a half a day for 12 days. Today I had them, in Thai, organize their priorities. It looks like I will focus on Excel and Access, which is good. I made available all my Excel book files for their use. Tomorrow I begin. I am looking forward to it.
One thing I have found on my sabbatical is that I like teaching. When I get the opportunity to present or teach it makes me happy. When you do something like teaching everyday for years it is easy to forget that it is fun. Well now, because of my sabbatical I am reminded that I love to teach!
Thursday, January 12, 2006
We went to STOU today, I taught and introductory Excel lesson using my Excel book. The lesson went well, the students are knowledgeable and motivated. The questions are good and it is fun to teach them.
Stuart's, of Stuart's Life in Thailand fame was going to visit us this Thursday, we have been emailing. Subscribing to his blog at http://www.sgtowns.com/ , through bloglines is highly recommended, also reading his archive, anyway when we were going into a street restaurant to eat we ran into Stuart. He was checking out where to catch the boat and to park his motorcycle. So instead of Thursday we met on Tuesday. It was great talking with Stuart. We explored the area with Oy on her motobike. We saw a ferry for motorcycles to cross the river, I think the crossing is near Bang Na. Jit prepared a good meal, and we talked about many things, from philosophy to food and even the United States. I asked questions about how it feels to return to the United States after spending a long time in Thailand. Stuart helped me gain some perspective on the feeling of returning to the United States. I know Thailand has changed me, I am worried about how I will feel when I get home, I do not even know if it will feel like home again. I am afraid I will be bored and restless. The visit was excellent and Stuart will go with us to Lampang next week.
The trip to Lampang is to see the Wi-Max village. We will stay in the community over night. We will leave on the train Tuesday night, spend Wednesday in Lampang, go to the community and stay overnight on Thursday, and return by plane Friday night. I hope to see how people really use the Internet when they have access and support. I will also be interested in training and support needs in the community. Stuart might find something of value if he pursues an advanced degree. Essentially I will be able to see and experience people using the Internet in a rural community. I am expecting to have a lot to think about because of this trip.
Today at STOU I taught formatting and printing using my book. C
Fixing a Monk's Modem, maybe!
We met the Monk, who I guess at one time worked for Jit's family. He used to take drugs and drink, but now he is pretty solid, except for smoking. Most of the monks I see smoke! Anyway we went into his room, which was really nice, older, with polished wood floors and many decoration. His computer was running Windows ME. There were a couple modem installations. After fooling around with configurations and the install disk we got it to work. It still is pretty marginal, it does not seat well into the motherboard, but it dialed and made all the appropriate noises. We did not have the correct password for an Internet service, but it did seem to work correctly.
In Thailand people can start stores and sell things anytime they want. In the Untied States you need zoning, licenses, and health inspections. I think I agree with the zoning, but I am not sure of the value of the licenses and the health inspections. In Thailand people do not get sick often from eating at all the creative and entrepreneurial places that people create. I wonder if the regulations end up just limiting opportunity and creativity. I know it is frustrating when people from Thailand come to the United States and face all the regulations and rules for running a small home based business.
Monday, January 16, 2006
I have added a link to the original information about the Wi Max community near Lampang.
I taught Charting and Graphing today, tomorrow I was going to teach about Excel's List tools but one of the students will not be able to attend so I will teach the lesson next week. Instead I will do an introduction to Access, the essential concepts to understand and use Access. We switched next week so that I will teach from Wednesday to Friday.
Tomorrow we leave for Lampang, it will be an interesting trip.
Lampang, Ban Samkha, Seymour Papert, and an inspiration!
We go to catch the train. At the Hua Lamphong station everybody stands at 6:00 PM for the Thai national anthem, this is the first time I have seen people stand for the anthem in Thailand. The railroad station is interesting and well organized. It is a great place to people watch.
Some families are sitting on the floor, there are not enough seats, they are not blocking traffic, a man in a uniform comes out and whistles for them to get up, this happens a couple times, Some Canadian girls sit down, they do not know the previous warnings, the whistling and warnings stop
We meet Stewart and get on the train, there is a Chinese man who speaks excellent English sitting with us. He is going to Lampang to check on a gold mine, I think he is the supervisor. He told me it is hard rock or underground mining. There was also a women from South Africa in our area.
The toilets are the Asian squat toilets, I just do not understand how they work, I have even looked it up on the Internet. The toilets are a mystery. I would lose everything in my pocket and get all wet if I used the toilet the way I think it should work, I must be missing something!
The train is restful to sleep on, the bed is comfortable, I get the upper bunk. We arrive in Lampang about 6:30 in the morning and go to our hotel to check in. The rooms are nice and we have breakfast. We then go to meet Suchin Petcharugsa with the Northern Region Non-formal education center. Suchin gave us a book, "Ban Samkha, Community that Learns" to explain the project in detail. The meeting was excellent. Suchin has worked with Seymour Papert and Constructivism. The project is called the Light House Project. The project was designed with and was inspired by the Constuctivism project at MIT. The recently retired head of Siam Cement is also involved. For the first time I understand the implications of micro-worlds and Logo as an educational tool. Micro-worlds are a means to start the self-actualization process of question, or idea, action, reflection, and revision. The micro-world experience of learning how to learn becomes a self-generalizing process that leads to understanding and growth. I was deeply impressed by our conversation, we were talking about the essential issues of education and community development.
In 1967, when I was a VISTA Volunteer, I learned about community development. I lived for a year in a village of 120 people in Alaska. The values and skils I learned in Shaktoolik have continued with me in my career. I use the ideas of community development in my teaching and counseling. Talking with Suchin Petcharugsa re-awakened and clarified some basic insights that have motivated my life.
We also talked about e-learning. In Thailand e-learning seems to be anything that is not face to face. I really think that the concept of e-learning tangles up and confuses many essential concepts. A few of the more fertile distinctions that are subsumed and hidden by the general e-learning concepts are: synchronous and asynchronous learning; distance and face to face learning; how course material is delivered; and the role or the instructor as facilitator or as presentor of information. For me e-learning is about using the Internet to teach and learn, it includes communication, student submission of work, teacher to student and student to student communication, content delivery and enrichment, using the Internet as a research tool, and using the Internet as a publishing tool. E-Learning is a tool, like writing and speaking, that is used to teach and learn. The Internet provides a huge array of evolving tools that can enhance the teaching process, using these tools, is the key to e-learning.
During our meeting we discussed the MIT $100 laptop project. Thailand is going to make a major commitment to implementing the project, but the issue of training, appropriate use, software, and how the laptops will be embedded in the educational process are a little murky. Dr Suchin talks about people bombing communities with their ideas and projects, it is a good analogy for top down projects.
After our meeting we got to visit an absolutely beautiful Wat. Wat Phra That Lampang Luang is over a 1000 years old. The cream color sand, the golden brown bricks, weathered wood, and form and shape of the structures are beautiful. It was sunset and we walked around and took pictures.
We went to our hotel and then took a horse buggy for dinner. The meal was good.
We go to Ban Samkha today, I was a little nervous. I am introspective and shy by nature. We drive for about 45 minutes and arrive at the community. It is beautiful. We meet the teacher Srinuan Wongtrakul and also meet with our guide and helper Thim. Both people were awesome in their presence and sparkle. We were meeting people that were a joy to get to know.
We got to see a small manufacturing building that was making dried banana snacks, sort of like fruit leather. The process was well organized and the product was very good. We also go to see a cooperative store that returns the yearly profits to the community. Many people have projects, we saw a man who was carving wood horses, Thim's family is growing Japanese pumpkins. The people are productive, creative and industrious.
The Ban Samkha community has an excellent leadership structure based on a committee of community members. The community is so organized that cow herders are expected to pick up after the cows when the are herded on the community streets. The community has created check dams in the mountains to trap water so that it can enrich the forests and also be saved for irrigation. We got to go on a long hike to see the mountains and also to see the check dams. The community is working with other communities in the vicinity to help prevent fire and to build check dams.
The community has developed an individual accounting system so people can see their financial situation. They also have a clear idea of dept in the entire community. Seeing the community debt has inspired many small money making projects sovthat people can reduce their debt. There are about 600 people registered in the community. There are about 40 students in the elementary school. The older students go to school in Lampang, but come home in the evening. Students are expected to share their ideas and talents with the community and to participate in community meetings. As we walk around the community we see no-smoking signs on many homes. There is a sign by the Wat that says Drugs and AIDS equal Death.
The teacher and school are an inspiration. I would have loved my daughter to be taught in the school. The school is built on community development and micro-world principles. Students are using lessons that are deeply embedded in and relevant to the community. There is a student teacher from Chula University at the school, she has been there for three months, she says she loves it
We went to a meeting at the Wat where two bus loads of people from Nakhow Sawan were learning about the community leadership and community projects.
There is a statue of a community hero in the village. He fought for Thailand against Burma. He had the opportunity to stay with the King but he chose to come home. It is a large statue near the library. Somehow honoring a person who returns to the community seems appropriate.
The NECTEC people are in the school helping to revise the configuration for the Internet connection. They are adding VOIP to the configuration. The students and community use the Internet for community projects.
In our walk up the mountains we see check dams, rice fields that are being used for vegetable gardens, crabs that live under rocks, a large snake skin from a poisonous snake, and a young man coming down the trail with a rifle and a traditional orange sash. He had been hunting. It was very dry in the woods, but beautiful. The women we walk with, Thim is a joy, she brings light and laughter wherever she goes. Thim is responsible for the home stay. She is also responsible for the women's check dam team and represents the community in forest fire prevention planning
We had a wonderful dinner with meat cooked over charcoal. A student joined us. She is in 11th grade and spoke English with excellent pronunciation and great spirit and confidence. She wants to be a tour guide for the community; she would also be an excellent teacher. She says she spends as much time with the teacher as she can!
There were some younger English speaking students who were also with us.
We go for a walk in the morning, the light is beautiful, there are many roosters and hens, I am surprised by how colorful and beautiful chickens can be. The bird flu is a tragedy, not only because of the human deaths, but also because chickens are an important part of community life. I hear cattle bells and roosters, watching the sun come over the mountains and seeing the mountain haze is beautiful.
Jit talks with one of the Monks, he is a little skeptical about technology. He would like to see the community focus on local problems like drinking.
We visit a old man who has knowledge about Lanna traditional healing and herbs. He has a library of very old texts on banana leaves that describes medicinal plants in the Lanna language. The school students are working with the man to translate the material to Thai and to create a computer archive to save and share the information. The Lanna herb project is an example of community based education. One student demonstrates how the Lanna script works on a computer, he points out the difficulty with one of the letters, he is in elementary school. I am impressed.
We leave the community; I will never forget my experience here. Driving from Lampang to Chiang Mai we pass a sign that points to the Lampang Volcano. I need to look this up on the Internet.
We stop at Lamphoo and visit another ancient Wat, Wat Phra That Haripunjana Lamphun. There are many people meditating at the Wat, it seems very active spiritually. There is a large school for young monks next to the Wat.
Crossing the pass between Lampang and Chiang Mai there were many, hundreds, of Spirit Houses at the summit. Going up the hill to the summit there were many stalled trucks, other trucks were crawling at less then a walking pace.
We get to Chiang Mai and check it to the "Airport Resident" a serviced apartment that Stewart arranged with a friend. It is an excellent value. All the hotel rooms in Chiang Mai are full, we are lucky to find a place to stay. We are tired and take a nap.
Wednesday, January 25, 2006
At STOU today I taught people how to use the List features of Excel and consulted on some Access problems. I am advocating for creating a simple database with sample data and getting the basic features to work before getting complicated.
Next Monday there will be a good by lunch at STOU. There are supposed to be 15 people there. I have met some wonderful people at STOU and will miss them. In fact, when I think about leaving Thailand to go home I think about missing the people that I have met!
Thursday, January 26, 2006
At STOU today I taught tables and mail merge in Word . The document I saw looked fine when it was printed, but when I viewed the invisible characters they were using tabs, spaces, and graphics to create the illusion of four blocks of text. They were creating graduation announcements. I created a four cell page layout and showed them how to do mail merge. It will save an immense amount of time. Not training your staff is a huge waste of time and money. The people I have been training at STOU are eager to learn, they are excellent students, they are motivated, the problem I think is one of opportunity or supervision.
Tomorrow I will work on my presentation on e-learning for Non-Formal Education. Jit will be going to Pantip Plaza with Ton. Ton is going to take a class on building computers, I think, from what I understand, that he will select and buy the parts at Pantip Plaza and build a computer that he can use at home. If I understand it correctly, it sounds like a great way to learn about computers. We have promised to by Ton a computer before we go. I have made him choose the computer and features that he wants, I wanted him to show me a specific computer that he found. He discovered this course while at Pantip Plaza. I hope it works.
Sunday, January 29, 2006
Tomorrow we go to STOU for the last time, I will teach Word in the morning and have a goodbye lunch in the afternoon. We have three more weeks before we leave. It is hard to imagine.
Today we are going to Pantip Plaza to sign up Ton for a hardware class. I think that the course will include building a personal PC. We also need to pay our Phone and Electrical bills. There was a lot of traffic so Ton jumped out of the taxi and took a motorcycle to pay the electricity bill, he paid the bill and got back to us while we were still in the taxi.
People say Thai people do not read, I am not sure that is true. There are many Thai bookstores and news stands. I know though that I do not read as much, I do not have as much time to read. Getting around Bangkok takes a lot of time. When we are home people are coming over or we go visiting. There is not much solitary time. Reading is a solitary activity. At home in Alaska I read all the time.
We got a cell phone call from STOU, Monday they want more Word training, they have a list of specific questions about Word, great. It is fun to teach people who are ready to learn.
From the taxi I see a sign on a shop, Food and Drunk. I have also noticed T Shirt that and decals on the back window of some cars that say "Drunk 24 Hours."
We sign up Ton for the course at Pantip Palace and then go to pay bills and look for some bookstores, first we will pay the phone bill.
Monday, January 30, 2006
Today was my last day at STOU. In the morning I taught Word skills and then we had a lunch. Many people were there including the President of the university, the directors of the departments that I worked with, and most importantly many of the people who I really worked with. The food was excellent, the speeches and comments were thoughtful, and I felt honored and happy to have had my experience at STOU.
One of the goals of my sabbatical was to get a new perspective on my life and my career, to fill my mind and my emotions with new experiences. I have done that with the assistance of the people at STOU. I have met people who are talented, motivated, and sincere. I will never forget my experience at STOU and hope to honor the people I have met with the work that I do when I return to Alaska.
I especially want to recognize Anne, Tuck, Nednepa, Nun, and Jum when I say goodbye. They were especially valuable to me in their communication, humor, and motivation.
Tomorrow I will work on my e-learning presentation for Non-Formal Education and Wednesday we will be visiting some schools that are using technology. On Thursday afternoon I will give a presentation on e-learning and then we will be done. We have just under three weeks left in Thailand.
Saturday, February 04, 2006
E-Learning is not about creating content! An awesome computer instructor, Somebody who get's it!
We have been very busy the last few days. Tuesday I spent preparing for a presentation that I will give on Thursday summarizing my experiences looking at the E-Learning section of Non-Formal education. The web site that I have created is at www.cysewski.com/sabbatical/elearningexamples/
There is a massive amount of effort in Thailand to put educational content on line. At STOU, at Non-Formal Education and the Commission of Technology. There is also effort to distribute content by radio and television. What I have not seen is effort being put to using Internet technology to teach or learn. What I am recommending is to spend some time focusing on using technology for communication and process instead of content development.
The content that is being created is based on and similar to material already in print! Many of the CD's are of high quality and professional, but they are using the Pre-Test, Content, Multiple Choice Review, Post-Test methodology that is boring and fake! For the television programs and the Multimedia materials being created there is little connection between the production and the users. In a sense many people are creating text books, but there is no follow up marketing. Since people do not sell the material there is no consequence for unused materials.
Before the Internet we did the same thing, does anybody remember all the HyperCard stacks that teachers created. There used to be large catalogs of educational CD's for sale, some of them excellent. I remember spending $700 one Christmas for a CD player for my computer and a bunch of educational CD's for my daughters. The Internet has changed all that.
In Thailand there might be a need to develop materials on line because of the Thai language, but I am not sure why the material should be on-line if there are already workbooks. I do not see innovative or interesting new uses of the on-line opportunity to inspire independent learning. In any case I created a paper and some material to share so that people could see a broader view of e-learning. The Word document at http://www.cysewski.com/sabbatical/elearningexamples/ELearningIdeas.doc and the supporting web site are to start the conversation.
Wow, we visited a wonderful teacher and a wonderful school this morning. Satri Si Suriyothai School is in downtown Bangkok, Nick and Nook go there, It is a girls school. The computer teaching at the school, Poonsak Sakkatatiyakul has created excellent learning tools focusing on student communication and support. His knowledge and educational approach are astounding. You can see the web site at www.thaigoodview.com . The school was selected as a Microsoft Partners in Learning ICT Model School. The information about the award is at this location http://www.thaigoodview.com/ict/. The school web site in Thai is at http://www.suriyothai.net/ Thai students from all over the world use this site, the web log is amazing.
There is an exchange student from Alaska at the school, she is a 10th grader from Anchorage, it was great to talk a little about Alaska.
In the afternoon we saw a presentation on Multimedia Educational CD's and VCD's. for the Division of Educational Technology. The quality was excellent, but I have many questions about whether developing educational content, even of high quality, is E-Learning!
We also visited the Non-Formal Education Center for Target Groups. Jit is interested in people in Alaska taking advantage of the Thai learning resources, we have all the paper work, and sample course content to share with people when we return.
We met another amazing talent today, Rangsun Wibook-uppatum with the Bureau of Information and Communication Technology. He gets it, his description of working to bring teachers on board with effective use of technology as a learning tool was masterful. He understands teachers. He is also aware of the process of stimulating change in a non-threatening way. He has used the Intel Teaching to the Future curriculum to use ITC training as a means to teach about student centered and constructionist learning.
Information on the curriculum as at both these web sites http://www.tmd.com.au/education/ and http://education.qld.gov.au/smartclassrooms/strategy/tsdev_intelteach.html . The content is very good, and is similar to what we might do in our Computer Business Applications course.
He has many innovative programs. It was great to hear him in morning. Much of what we discussed were points I wanted to emphasis in my afternoon presentation.
In the afternoon I made a presentation about my observations and thoughts. I used the web site I created. The Director of the Education Technology Commission also showed up for the later part of the presentation. We spent some time discussing process and content. I really do not think he understood what I was talking about. I think one of the purposes of the meeting was to have me talk with him. He is a road block to innovative uses of technology!
Jit and I have made a contact with Stewart to talk with the E-Leaning people, he would be an excellent employee or consultant because he knows current technology that can be used to support education. I hope it works out.
Tuesday, February 07, 2006
Tone has finished his computer, it seems to work fine. The fan though is very noisy. It is sort of irritating. We need to download Adobe Reader and Winzip. He has installed a good variety of games, but seems to play the Soccer (Football) game the most. I copied my photographs of Thailand to his hard disk. I am going to make some CD's for different people before I go. It will also archive them in the community for later use, hopefully. There is about 50GB of pictures.
Saturday, February 11, 2006
The Central Region Non-Formal Education Center, Ban Magrood, and some observations.
Today we are going to visit the Central Regional Center for Non-Formal Education in Ratchaburi. On the way we will stop at the Don Whey market. As we return we will see the Nakhom Pathorn Chedi. Nook will go with us since she does not have any tests to take.
The Non-Formal Education Regional Center is in a beautiful campus with many buildings, trees, and lawn. It is a former boy scout area. It looks like a summer camp. We visited a computer class where the students were learning web site creation using Dreamweaver. The students were nurses and teachers. The web sites looked well done. They had a server on site to publish the web sites. Amnart Choosuwan is the director of the center and speaks excellent English. The courses they teach seem practical and appropriate. Developing a Community Plan, Day Care, PHP and My SQL, Excel, Word, and Traditional Herbs were some to the courses offered.
The Center hosted E-Learning courses that were content based. People sign in and take the courses, the only support is through Web Board or email. If people want a certificate they need to pay a fee and come to the center to take an exam. Some of the courses have a supporting seminar at the end. The method of course delivery, whether workbooks or web based seems common in Thailand. Except for a few examples I do not see "teaching" in E-Learning. The responsibility for motivation and inspiration is entirely left with the students. The two exceptions to the content based E-Learning that we visited were outstanding, but more common is the passive presentation of material. The center has also developed a site for learning English that looked like an excellent resource for motivated learners.
If there was one thing that I would recommend it would be for E-Learning lessons to be "taught" using all the Internet tools available to provide communication and individualization. Every person I have met is committed, skilled, caring, and professional, what I do not see is the focus on human interaction as a necessary part of the learning process. I would love to be professional colleagues with the people I have met.
We visited the community of Ban Magrood. There is a community web site at www.magrood.com . The Non-Formal Education classroom is a bamboo building with palm frond and straw roof. There are two computers and a large study area. We met with the web site author and the community leader. The community, Ban Magrood, is a UNESCO demonstration project like Ban Samkha. I was very impressed with the web site creator, he took a course and has used that skill to develop a useful web site. Some of the uses that people make of computers is looking for funds for the community, information for community planning, and home accounting. Adults use the computers at the Education Center, and the Regional Center and at an Internet cafe. The web site has current community news on it, it scrolls like a web log so you can see the history of the recent activities. I was impressed and learned a lot from our community visit.
Tone worked with his teacher to do Internet Cafe computer maintenance, he got home after midnight. Tone goes to Pantip Plaza everyday to work with his teaching. It is good to see him energized by fixing computers. The teacher says he is good to work with and very motivated.