[2015-08-07] Visiting Report: E-learning Pilot School (Shin Shin School #27) by Bai-Qing

On October 15th, 2012, President Ting, Wen Jia Lin, Secretary Ma-Chi Shi and I, accompanied by Jien-Wu Liu (Tongyu County Board of Education Secretary), and Baicheng Liu (Foreign Affairs Office Deputy Director), visited Jilin Province Min-De Shin Shin Primary school. Starting from May this year, we will build virtual computer classroom and observed the students usages.

Upon arrival, the school assigned Mr. Tsai to provide us computer classroom usages rate. She gave us a copy of the report as reference. The main content of the report includes computer classrooms usage. School utilized computer classrooms to prepare computer courses from simple to advance level. The courses are designed for kids coming from lower income families, who do not have personal computers. Open classrooms are offered for teachers to reserve and leverage, for those who could not attend the training, helping them to increase their computer literacy level. For fine art subjects, teachers will leverage the use the computer classroom to offer lectures. Every Monday and Wednesday afternoon from 6:30pm stay open to students, teachers are responsible for monitoring computer usages. After a period of time, teachers really felt children’s computer skills improved, from searching, assisted learning, and design other aspect of the jobs, those children have considerably improved their level.

At the meantime, the report raised the issue of the pilot process. For example, you cannot use an electronic classroom software, video player when the video is not connected properly to microphone jack to run all software extension. Students completed homework could only be saved in computers. Those work will not be able to be printed.

President Ting addressed some of the questions. For example, for computer classroom software problem, we will upgrade the school. Video players can be used to compensate projectors. Microphone problems can be solved. As for printing problem, one will need to ask the computer help desk. For the new pilot schools, Shin Shin Educational Foundation need to address these technical problem. President Ting was very appreciated that the school can open computer classroom to students for 40 hour a week. Hopefully, they can hold some computer skills contest activities to stimulate students’ interest in learning computers.

We also visited and observed school computer classrooms which adopted Shin Shin comprehensive designed courses last minute. The so-called comprehensive practice course is a distinctive school curriculum. Teachers define a topics, such as researching hometown specialties, the stories of a cup of milk, so that students are the first to use computers to search relevant information. Then teachers took students out of school for practice. The report concludes with a computer to establish topics and projects is a very practical course, similar to students in US who work on school projects. The focus is looking at team as a unit, working collaboratively. Teachers will provide counseling and other assistance during the process.

One of the classed we visited which discussed “Life and Security”, target for grade 6 students. However, the class is open to grade 3 above. Teachers divided big problems into smaller problems, including traffic safety, fire safety, natural disasters, and campus security. Each team is responsible for a small problem, distributed the work by a team leader, including gathering classified information, gathering relevant pictures, making powerpoints, word documents, drawing and more. When students began working, we observed in the classroom and discovered that kids were very skilled in searching information, producing documents, collaboratively helping each other. Classroom atmosphere is pleasant, therefore I was very surprised! I personally believe that this practice of creativity displays strong educational philosophy of the school curriculum and the extent of the use for computer-assisted teaching. Primary schools in remote area are as good as in the cities. We also see more than one student at a time play downloaded videos from an online website. The school computer classroom teacher Mr. Wang brought up some simple maintenance points—reinstalling the system all the time takes less than one hour.

Finally, the school arranged for us to meet with teachers and students from grade 3 through 5. Chinese, English, Art and other teachers reflected that Shin Shin computer classrooms had significantly changed the traditional teaching model. They began to increase comprehensive practical topics, each unit will let students have team discussion on those topics, rather than pure teaching of knowledge. The computer-aided English teaching also found helpful in increase children’s self-learning ability. Teachers were originally not used to teach in a room lined up with computer desks, considering to be a change to the traditional classroom. However, they soon found out this arrangement is very suitable for bring collaborations within children, bringing themselves together as well as closer to teachers. This improve teamwork, active classroom atmosphere, children’s interest in learning, and also help teachers to better understand students learning progress.

Students are very passionate to introduce us how they use computer classroom to actively search for poetries, verify English vocabularies, information, homework, and other information. We understood that two third of students do not have computers and network at home. When school provided them computer classrooms, offering them the opportunity to gain practical usage of computers, students became very excited, and asked us how kids in US learn in classes. We were very pleased to see that their vision and curiosity are growing stronger.

In summary, the school principals, teachers and students were very open-minded in the pilot program, willing to try new technologies, new ideas, supporting the pilot program. When they discovered problem, they promptly communicated to us. The result was above expectation. Their experience will be very helpful to other Shin Shin schools in the future.