Scholarly article on topic 'Mobile Learning: The Case Study of the Four Southern Most Provinces of Thailand in Transforming Critical to Opportunity'

Mobile Learning: The Case Study of the Four Southern Most Provinces of Thailand in Transforming Critical to Opportunity Academic research paper on "Economics and business"

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{"Mobile learning" / "ubiquitous learning" / "pervasive learning" / "mobile computing" / "mobile device" / e-learning}

Abstract of research paper on Economics and business, author of scientific article — Muazzan Binsaleh, Sariya Binsaleh

Abstract According to the violence situation in the four southernmost provinces of Thailand, which are Pattani, Yala, Narathiwas and Songkhla, that causes problems to retain the quality of education system. Thus this research aims to consider the mobile technology as a tool for learning and teaching to overcome the problems and limitations. The research objectives are 1) to estimate the current situation in the four southernmost provinces of Thailand, 2) to identify the limitations of existing room based learning affected by the unrest situation in the area, 3) to explore information from government sources and published papers about mobile technology used in the southernmost provinces of Thailand and 4) to construct guidelines and recommendations framework using mobile technology as a learning environment in the school system of the southernmost provinces of Thailand. In order to achieve these objectives the literature analysis, focus groups and in-depth interviews will be conducted. The expected outcome for the study is guidelines and recommendations framework using mobile technology as a learning environment in the school system of the southernmost provinces of Thailand.

Academic research paper on topic "Mobile Learning: The Case Study of the Four Southern Most Provinces of Thailand in Transforming Critical to Opportunity"

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Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences 91 (2013) 322 - 330

PSU-USM International Conference on Humanities and Social Sciences

Mobile learning: The case study of the four southern most provinces of Thailand in transforming critical to opportunity

Muazzan Binsaleha*, Sariya Binsalehb

aMuazzan Binsaleh, Faculty of Communication Sciences, Prince of Songkla University, Pattani, Thailand, 94000 bSariya Binsaleh, Faculty of Communication Sciences, Prince of Songkla University, Pattani, Thailandu, 94000

Abstract

According to the violence situation in the four southernmost provinces of Thailand, which are Pattani, Yala, Narathiwas and Songkhla, that causes problems to retain the quality of education system. Thus this research aims to consider the mobile technology as a tool for learning and teaching to overcome the problems and limitations. The research objectives are 1) to estimate the current situation in the four southernmost provinces of Thailand, 2) to identify the limitations of existing room based learning affected by the unrest situation in the area, 3) to explore information from government sources and published papers about mobile technology used in the southernmost provinces of Thailand and 4) to construct guidelines and recommendations framework using mobile technology as a learning environment in the school system of the southernmost provinces of Thailand. In order to achieve these objectives the literature analysis, focus groups and in-depth interviews will be conducted. The expected outcome for the study is guidelines and recommendations framework using mobile technology as a learning environment in the school system of the southernmost provinces of Thailand.

© 2013 TheAuthors.Publishedby ElsevierLtd.

Selection and peer-review under responsibility of Universiti Sains Malaysia.

Keywords: Mobile learning, ubiquitous learning, pervasive learning, mobile computing, mobile device, e-learning;

1. Introduction

The vision and goals of Thai education reform proposal in the year 2009-2018 under the National Education Act are developing Thai people to be good, smart and happy as well as improving society to be desirable, sustainable, strong and harmonized and leveraging people to aware and adapt themselves and society to be knowledge-based economy and ready to get into ASEAN( ASEAN Framework Agreement on Services or AFAS) which had been scheduled to become an ASEAN Economic Community in 2015 (Association of Southeast Asian Nations, 2009). To develop such goals Information and Communication Technologies (ICT)

* Corresponding author. Tel.: +66-73-349692; fax: +66-73-349692 E-mail address: bmuazzan@bunga.pn.psu.ac.th

1877-0428 © 2013 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd.

Selection and peer-review under responsibility of Universiti Sains Malaysia.

doi: 10.1016/j.sbspro.2013.08.429

need to be provided with a sufficient number and covered in all area with adequate quality so that learners can learn happily, teachers and administrators can work happily and parents and community will be satisfied with the quality of their children.

The National Education Act are trying to implement new organizational structure by promoting the decentralization administration, using technology to improve education and applying innovative learner-centered teaching into practices which are linked to a master plan of the Thai Learning Technologies (TLT2010). TLT2010 proposed that learner, teachers and administrators should have an opportunity to access to computers, software and telecommunication services adequately and sufficiently with reasonable cost. In the near future, trend of using ICT in Thai education is straightforward and will be common use because it will be supported by the current government as the Prime Minister, Yingluck Shinawatra announced to the parliament on August 23, 2011 about education policy as defined in "Social Policy and Quality of Life" and will be implemented within a period of 4 years of this government (Ministry of Education, 2012). A significant statement that she declared to the Parliament were to expand and accelerate use of information technology to education in order to leverage the quality and distribution of educational opportunities and upgrade the education system as equality as international. The electronic learning system will be provided as a national mechanism so that the paradigm shift of learning will be focusing on learner-centered. High speed Internet and information network will be developed and one tablet per child and "Cyber home" will be provided throughout the nation in order to support long life learning at all levels of students.

However, Since January 2004 the four southernmost provinces of Thailand, which are Pattani, Yala, Narathiwas and Songkhla, were severely damaged by the unrest situation. Unfortunately, this situation is not much positively improved until now (October 2012). Literally, retaining of the education system quality in the four southernmost provinces of Thailand can be very difficult because of the violence still exists including the burning of school and shooting of teachers caused to shut down the school, the attack on teachers and protection units when traveling to school.

The results of this phenomenon tremendously affects the learners in terms of learning achievements, many students are not able to read or write properly when they finished their primary school and the national averages of student achievement scores in all subjects are below and under standard comparing to other Thai regions. With the future learning environment towards mobile environment, together with the advancement of mobile devices and networking which lead to the more convenience learning environment, anytime-anywhere paradigm. The hope of alternative learning method by using mobile devices and mobile networks should be examined to investigate their impacts and opportunities in this critical situation.

Based on the problem specified and related literature review, the research questions for the study were then emerged, they are 1) has mobile technology been used as an educational tool in the school system in the

southernmost provinces of Thailand? And 2) what is a suitable mobile learning framework for unrest situation in the southernmost of Thailand? According to the research question the research objectives were constructed and these are 1) to estimate the current situation in the four southernmost provinces of Thailand, 2) to identify the limitations of existing room based learning affected by the unrest situation in the area, 3) to explore information from government sources and published papers about mobile technology used in the southernmost provinces of Thailand and 4) to construct guidelines and recommendations framework using mobile technology as a learning environment in the school system of the southernmost provinces of Thailand.

2. The current conflict situation

Jitpiromsri (2011) has collected database of the violent situation occurred in the four southernmost provinces of Thailand and indicates that the unrest situations from January 2004 until August 2011 for a period of seven years have caused the violence in total about 11,074 events which contributed to the deaths and injuries combined, approximately 12,841 victims with 4,846 deaths and 7,995 injuries.

Looking at the broader picture, statistics of the unrest seems to be declining as the government described them. Considering after a major turning point since June of 2007, the frequency of violence may decrease. However, what is remarkable is that from 2008 onwards there have been attempted to create unrest in a regular manner to maintain the target and the unrest in those areas are also in higher levels of violence sometimes. In recent years from 2008 onwards with monitoring the situation closely and continue to adhere, it was found that unrest in the southern provinces is the patterns of violence that erupted continuously and jump higher. This pattern of violence reflects and represents endless violence. Previous statistics indicated that there has been violence in the high-low swing up and down all along (Jitpiromsri, 2011). It can be said that this is a continuation of the dynamics of the situation that should be watched carefully.

The causes of the problem are rooted in a variety of factors, including the political issues of nation and state building in the region, the failures of the Thai policy to cope with democratization and with the web of corruption and criminality that has grown up to a significant degree in the southern provinces (Harish, 2006). This situation may called "chronic protracted violence" because of the continuation of violence every day and every month, the cause of death by firing people groups on a daily basis, placing bombs in public places and the bomb attacks targeting government officials, attacks on the military base, police or forces volunteers, a clash with armed forces to suppress the arrest, blockade of the officers to search for insurgents as well as killing innocent people. Such an event is occurring on a regular basis.

3. Effects of the conflict situation to education and room based learning

Among various education problems in southern Thailand, the violence and conflicts have tremendously affected the education system in the area. According to Human Rights Watch (2010), the education system was affected by the violence in three ways which are 1) attacks and threats to teachers, 2) the occupation of the premises of the school by the security forces and 3) the attack on public schools of the insurgents. Southern Thailand is one of the most dangerous places in the world for teachers, not only teachers but also executives, drivers and school janitors have died from the attacks of the insurgents. These situations directly affect the education system. In the southern provinces between January 2004 and the first week of September 2010, at least 108 teachers and other 27 educational personnel were killed in the attacks which are expected to be the treat of a group of insurgents (Human Rights Watch, 2010). As a result, many teachers live in fear every day. Many teachers have asked the government to move out to teach outside of the southern area.

The occupation of the premises of the school by the security forces, on the other hand, also causes significant threat to learning system. Thai security forces put the safety of children and education at risk by setting up a strong base within the school building or on school grounds. In general, the security forces should monitor outside the school in a short time to protect the immediate safety when the school is threatened. But instead of that, the soldiers are stationed at the school to set up a stronghold for many months and years, with the desire to be part of the security forces to assist the military in the same time benefit from the state infrastructures including permanent construction with free electricity and water supply. When the security forces are set up in schools or on school grounds, students at the schools have to learn along with the presence of armed people around. While security forces focuses on cost savings by establishing a base in the public schools, such armed also enclosed a hidden cost which is the sacrifice of children to be educated in a safe environment without fear.

The attack on public schools of the insurgents directly destroys the education physical infrastructure. During January 2004, twenty public schools were arson attacks in one night together with three of the barracks and police stations were attacked (Human Rights Watch, 2010). Such an event is regarded as a mark of return of the insurgents and separatists in southern Thailand. The insurgents will target schools with a high mark, not only is the property of the government but also meant to be a symbol of the Thai education system in which a group of insurgents see it as a tool to destroy the ethnic identity of Malay Muslims. Since the group of insurgents has caused fire to burn public schools, school arson fire burned at least 327 times in the period from January 2004 until early September 2010 (Human Rights Watch, 2010). Most physical attacks to schools are arson, but insurgent groups have also used a hand grenade, improvised explosive device (IED) and the incendiary bomb. These bombs are often used to attack dedicated targets especially the security forces which are based in schools and the protection forces of teachers or schools. The explosion causes damage to the infrastructure of the schools and fear in general, the schools are destroyed, the students and local people are scared and worried about the

safety of children and community. The loss of building is a direct impact on the ability of children to access room based learning and education.

4. Learning perspectives

According to Bloom (1956), the objectives of people learning are fitted into one of three psychological domains that are 1) the cognitive domain concerning about processing information, knowledge and mental skills, 2) the affective domain concerning about attitudes and feeling and 3) the psychomotor domain regarding to manipulative and physical skills. Moreover Bentham (2002) addressed three essential approaches on learning which are cognitive, behaviorist and Humanistic approaches. Cognitivism approach focuses on mentality or cognitively in the human brain. This group of theorists believes that learning is not only the behavior responding to the environment but it is more complicated. Learning is the mental process to collect, create and relate the information as well as utilizing the information to solve various problems. Learning is the cognitive process to gain knowledge and understanding.

The behaviorists see human with optimistic mind, they believe that human is not good or bad in nature. Human activities are shaped by outside environment, and human actions are stimulus response. Learning occurs through the connection between environment and stimulus response. Behaviorists pay much attention to 'behavior' as it can be seen, measured, and tested. There are three essential learning theories within this approach which are 1) Classical Connectionism Theory (Thorndike, 1929), 2) Conditioning Theory (Pavlov, 1927; Watson & Rayner,1920; Hilgard, 1948; Skinner, 1953) and 3) Hull's Systematic Behavior Theory (Hull, 1952).

The humanistic approach on the other hand give emphasis on human value, they believe that human in nature is humble, capable, and well equipped with self- motivation to improve themselves. If human is placed in freedom situation, they will develop themselves to be a perfect human. There are two essential theories within this humanistic approach which are 1) Maslow Learning Theory (Maslow, 1970) and 2) Rogers Learning Theory (Rogers & Freiberg, 1994).

5. Mobile learning overview

According to Nyiri (2002), Mobile learning is fundamentally e-learning delivered through mobile computational devices such as Plams, Personal Digital Assistants (PDA), Pocket PCs, smart phones, digital cell phones, tablets and any other handheld devices. Moreover, the use of mobile devices with the wireless network technology flourishes mobile learners to get conveniences, expediency and immediacy of mobile learning in appropriate time and accessing the appropriate learning contents (Chen, 2003).

Sharples (2008) has also described that there is a need to re-conceptualize learning for the mobile age, to recognize the essential role of mobility and communication in the process of learning, and also to indicate the

importance of context in establishing meaning, and the transformative effect of digital networks in supporting virtual communities that transcend of age and culture. As part of the process of developing a theory of mobile learning, the core members of the MOBIlearn European project held a reflection session during its final meeting in January 2005, to discuss what is distinctive about mobile learning and "what do they know now that they didn't at the start of the project". They conclude findings from the final reflection session, illustrating the collective perception of twelve research leaders after 30 months of the project:

• It is the learner that is mobile, rather than the technology.

• Learning is interwoven with other activities as part of everyday life.

• Learning can generate as well as satisfy goals, it can be initiated by external goals or a learner's needs and problems.

• The control and management of learning can be distributed across learners, guides, teachers, technologies, and other resources in the world.

• The learning context is constructed by learners through interaction between learners and their environment.

• Mobile learning can both complement and conflict with formal education.

• Mobile learning raises deep ethical issues of privacy and ownership. For example in some mobile learning systems, parents are able to trace the development of their children's learning anytime. While on some systems, parents are able to trace the location of their children.

Sharples (2008) also highlighted that:

"Every era of technology has, to some extent, formed education in its own image. In the era of mass print, the textbook was used as the medium of instruction, and a prime goal of the education system was effective transmission of the principles of knowledge. During the computer era of the past fifty years, education has been re-conceptualized around the construction of knowledge through information processing, modeling and interaction. For the era of mobile technology, learners may come to visualize of education as conversation in context, enabled by continual interaction through and with personal and mobile technology."

Drawing on previous opinions, mobile technology becomes an important role for learning because it seems to support the paradigm shift in learning at the digital age.

6. Mobile learning in diverse areas and in the conclict situation

Mobile learning have been applied in diverse areas such as in geography field work (Theng et al., 2007), rural area (Kumar et al., 2010), environmental restoration site (Rogers et al., 2009), and a trip to an

archaeological park (Costabile et al., 2008). Theng et al. (2007) implemented Mobile G-Portal, a group of mobile devices as learning assistant tools supporting collaborative sharing and learning for geography fieldwork. From their study, Theng et al. (2007) suggested that digital libraries could go beyond desktop applications, providing "just-in-time/just enough" information through mobility of new digital devices such as PDAs for more effective learning and teaching. Kumar et al. (2010), on the other hand, carried out participant observations to identify the opportunities in students' everyday lives for mobile learning by conducting a 26-week study to investigate the extent to which rural children will voluntarily make use of cell phones to access educational content. Their study showed a reasonable level of academic learning and motivation. They highlighted that cell phones are a perfect vehicle for making educational opportunities accessible to rural children in places and times that are more convenient than formal schooling.

7. Initial findings

With the substantial achievements of mobile learning in diverse areas as discussed earlier, it motivates that the investigation on how to use mobile learning in the unrest situation should be examined to enhance students' learning and create a new, innovate learning channel for our learning society. From the investigated subjects including the current conflict situation in southern Thailand, the learning perspectives and mobile learning, it could be further analyzed to identify the benefits of mobile learning when linking to the learning theories and conflict situation. The initial findings illustrated that the limitations of room based learning caused by the conflict situation are 1) security concern when traveling to school, 2) the occupation of the premises of the school by the security forces and 3) the attacks on public school by the insurgents. With these limitations, the investigation of relevant learning theories were conducted and found that there are 3 learning theories that should be applied in this situation, which are:

(1) Intellectual Development Theory: The learning management according to this theory is to consider the intellectual development of learners, and then provide suitable experiences to their development convince learners to interact with the learning environment provided and emphasize self- directed learning. It motivates learners to think independently and creatively.

(2) Hull's Systematic Behavior Theory: This theory believes that learning capability is reduced when people are in the tired or exhausted situation. Thus the learning management according to this theory focuses on learner's preparedness, learning capability, and the best time for their learning. Alternative learning methods should be provided to conform to variety of learners' capabilities and preferences.

(3) Rogers Learning Theory: The concepts of this learning theory are that humans can develop themselves if they are in an environment that is relaxed and free, the atmosphere should also be calm and conducive to student

learning with the student-centered focus. Teachers should teach and guide students to become leaders in their own learning and help students to accomplish their learning goals.

These 3 learning theories are compiled well with the mobile learning characteristics, in which the learning can be conducted at any time and any places, home or school in the students' comfort and needs.

8. Conclusions and future works

While the conflicts in the four southernmost provinces of Thailand still exist, the investigation on how the situation affects the education is needed and the solution to overcome this problem is required. One of the solutions to overcome the limitations of room based learning can be achieved through mobile learning. The initial findings showed that with the combination of some learning theories and mobile learning technologies, they can be adapted and applied well in this problematic situation.

In this study, apart for the documentary research which aimed to obtain the preliminary findings, the focus group and in-depth interviews will also be conducted to confirm and gain additional understanding of current situation in the four southernmost provinces of Thailand, the limitations of room based learning in the affected areas and mobile technology used in the four southernmost provinces of Thailand. The focus group will consist of participants from primary and secondary school teachers. While the in-depth interviews will deal with local leaders, education service providers and government officials, the in-depth interviews will be conducted with this group of samples as it is impractical to bring theses participants for the focus group.

In the final step of this study which aims to construct guidelines and recommendations framework when using mobile learning in the affected area, formulative research will be conducted in this step by analyzing all information from documentary research, focus groups and in-depth interviews in order to construct a framework for developing mobile learning environment into the southernmost provinces of Thailand.

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