By The Nation Weekend
The initiative is a component in the collaboration between Asean Foundation and Microsoft Asia-Pacific, which aims to enhance the technological skills of teachers and educators as part of preparing Thais for the digital-economy era.
The teacher-training event was also attended by volunteers from Coder Dojo, a club for young computing programmers. They provided in-class support and advice to the teachers.
Dhanawat Suthumpun, managing director for Microsoft (Thailand), said the tech giant believes technology can be a force for social and economic inclusion. Equipping young people with digital skills increases their economic opportunities, while also addressing the talent shortage faced by industries as they digitally transform.
Microsoft Thailand contributes to the regional Asean Digital Innovation’ programme dedicated to driving the economic growth of the Asean bloc.
Chailerd Pichitpornchai, director of the Institute for Innovative Learning at Mahidol University, said that one of the key roles of his body is to provide academic and knowledge management services for society, in order to improve the capabilities of teachers in developing and managing a more effective curriculum.
The Python Programming session reflects the Institute’s mission, he said.
“This training will both equip teachers with the digital skills and extend the boundaries of their imagination, which can be developed and leveraged for the benefit of Thai youth in the future,” said Chailerd.
By the end of 2019, Microsoft is committed to organising digital training sessions for 500 teachers and 50,000 students across Thailand, in a drive to enhance their potential for creativity and critical thinking along with their digital skills.
Wuttichai Kanhar, a participant teacher from Banphaeowittaya (Teetong) School in Samut Sakhon province, is concerned that traditional computer science education focuses on teaching children to remember theories and learn only from books. That approach can lead to an inefficient thinking process that makes for a poor fit for what they will learn in future careers.
Passing on knowledge
“As a teacher in the 4.0 era, I try to always look for ways to gain new knowledge to pass on to my students, and I feel that by learning the modern Python computing language, they will not only be equipped with additional digital skills, but also get to develop their critical thinking and problem-solving skills. If we enable them to truly understand this process at the execution level, they will certainly be able to use the skills in other subjects and their careers in the future,” said Wuttichai.
Kanjana Sittirattanayuenyong, a participant teacher from Prakhonchai Pittayakhon School in Buri Ram province, said she had no Python programming skills before the course, but with the programming language now incorporated into the curriculum by the Ministry of Education, she realised the importance of developing them.
“I plan to pass on the knowledge I gained from this training to my students, starting from teaching them the basics in Python programming, before enabling them to develop their own projects for a hands-on experience,” said Kanjana.
The Asean Digital Innovation Programme aims to reach 46,000 underserved youth in seven Asean countries – Thailand, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines and Vietnam – and to equip them with digital skills that enable them to thrive in the fourth industrial revolution.
To achieve this objective, local partners from each of the seven countries will be brought in to deliver capacity building workshops for over 500 educators by harnessing specifically developed learning modules.