Teaching Thai At-Risk Students to Design and Create Technology


In November 2013, I taught a semester-long Design and Create Technology course for Thai at-risk students at the Janusz Korczak School, an informal school located in the biggest slum in Thailand where students had unique situation concerning their health, learning disabilities, and developmental variations. Eight out of fourteen students were diagnosed as HIV+. The twelve students were classified as affected by poverty came from various backgrounds: children from low-income families, street children, children of incarcerated parents, children who survived human trafficking and children of immigrant Cambodian workers.

As a member of facilitating team applied constructionist design paradigms to teach students (who had little to no background in technology) to design and create media through PowToon and Scratch software. We observed how students interacted with design software and what they learned in the process of making their own meaningful media projects. Unlike many deficit-model interventions that took place with at-risk children, students at Janusz Korczak School were taught to emphasize design, creativity, and higher order level computer skills. The result proved that more than half of the participants, if given the opportunity, would be self-motivated learners and do very well when they were taught in a way that tailored to their interests. The study also explored the reasons why the Design and Create Technology course was unsuccessful in particular group of students.

Thanapornsangsuth, S. FabLearn 2015: Digital Fabrication in Education Conference, Stanford University, Palo Alto, USA. Teaching Thai At-Risk Students to Design and Create Technology.

To read the full paper, click HERE

The paper was presented at FabLearn 2015 Conference at Stanford University on September 26, 2015. Writing in study format, the first case is a story of Fah who is a novice in technology. From Fah, we learned about the importance of working on a meaningful project. Despite her barrier in languages and computer proficiency, Fah was able to express herself through her own media creation. Along the way, she was able to pick up and make sense of the language she had never known before. The second case is about “From a Consumer to a Producer of Media,” Bank taught us about the importance of social component. From a student who was dubbed as Eeyore (because hardly interacted with others), he gained confidence and became an expert amongst other students. The last case study is about the unsuccessful cases, we learned about the importance of support and management. Six students lost their interest because we did not give them enough support since the beginning. They did not have a project topic that interested them and eventually felt that they could not relate to the course and faded.

To watch the video of my presentation, click the link below:


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