Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Will the screen replace the chalkboard?




Will the screen replace the chalkboard?

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
A Zion International School of Phnom Penh teacher instructs students in the Infini-D Learning Lab.

Will the screen replace the chalkboard?

Last month students woke up to a new “virtual” reality. Since Cambodia suspended classes due to the Covid-19 outbreak, educators and teachers alike have had their daily patterns disrupted.

Many teachers are grappling with the same challenges as their pupils.

They wonder how best to engage with students, whether the tools at their disposal are adequate, if they are getting results and, most crucially, whether the classroom will ever be the same again.

Srun Sovan, co-founder of local digital learning platform Edemy, told The Post that, despite growing pains, “e-learning is here to stay”.

Her company is responding to the pandemic by supplying educators and students with the Tesdopi app.

According to Sovan, despite growing numbers of the rural population having smartphones, the main challenge is network access.

“Through my experience in travelling to the countryside for workshops, access to smartphones is considerable – with that number increasing among high-school students.

“I think integrating information and communications technology with education helps increase the effectiveness of teaching – it helps teachers stay focused and maximise their interaction with students.

“However, in conventional classrooms, teachers can read students’ body language or ask them questions to ensure that learning objectives are being met,” said Sovan.

Tesdopi addresses this issue by allowing teachers to conduct one-on-one tutoring through teleconferencing. It also provides them with access to metrics that help them address learning gaps.

Since the schools closure began, the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport has streamed more than 700 lessons for students from primary to high school on its Facebook page.

To incorporate large, remote communities who find themselves on the wrong side of the digital divide, it launched an initiative to promote educational programming on TV stations such as TVK2.

In Cambodia, where smartphones outnumber people and recently overtook television as the most popular medium for news, only around half of rural citizens have regular internet access.

Philip White, principal of Zion International School of Phnom Penh in Russian Market, shared Sovan’s optimism that the current climate was accelerating the digitalisation of the classroom, but he stressed he did not view it as “a solution to improve student engagement”.

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Philip White, the principal of Zion International School of Phnom Penh.

“As educators, it is always important to be looking for new ways to enhance our teaching, student learning and parental interaction. Any technology that enables this to happen more efficiently and with added benefits is a definite advantage that progressive schools will want to benefit from, and in fact have actively been seeking for generations. What we are seeing now is just an acceleration of that,” he said.

White, who moved to Cambodia in 2013 after having worked in business development in Canada’s dynamic tech industry, said that after the not-for-profit school suspended classes on March 16, its teachers shifted their in-class experience to the digital realm.

Zion International boasts the only Infini-D Learning Lab in Asia. This innovative technology transforms classrooms into an interactive “spaceship”, tailoring the experience to each teacher’s unique learning objectives.

White stressed that while digitalised experiences like Infini-D can improve students’ classroom engagement, the same cannot be said for distance learning.

“We will continue to find ways to improve the quality of our education and engagement, for our learners and their parents, but I don’t believe that staring at screens all day is the best path forward.

“As long as technology enables educators to facilitate learning and interaction with increased engagement, we will see it find a place in the classroom.

“Many students are doing a great job following along with online classes in good spirits, although everyone misses being at school,” said White.

MOST VIEWED

  • Hungarian exposes 90 to Covid in Siem Reap

    The Ministry of Health has discovered 90 people who have been exposed directly or indirectly to a Hungarian man infected with Covid-19. They all are required to quarantine at home and the hospital. The ministry is searching for other affected people. Among the 90, one is the

  • PM warns of ‘new Cold War’

    Prime Minister Hun Sen said the possibility of a so-called new Cold War has become a significant concern and that all countries have to reject outright, any attempt to allow history to tragically repeat itself. He made the remarks in a speech during 75th Session

  • PM: West unfair to Cambodia

    Prime Minister Hun Sen released a message celebrating the International Day of Peace on Monday, saying that some major powers and western countries had been systemically cooperating to put political pressure on Cambodia as they did in the 1970s and 1980s. Hun Sen said pressuring

  • ‘Bad news is an investor’s best friend’ – unlocking investment potential in Cambodia

    It is time to shop. Economic woes provide good pickings for investors if they know where to look The poem If, written by English Nobel laureate poet and novelist Rudyard Kipling for his son circa 1895, is widely perceived as fatherly advice for John who would

  • PM requests Russia’s Covid vaccine

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has requested that Russia provide Cambodia with its Covid-19 vaccine after the former announced it planned on mass vaccinating its population next month. The request came on Thursday through the prime minister’s Facebook page as he met with Anatoly Borovik,

  • First ‘mobile kitchen’ in Cambodia enters service

    A catering company recently rolled out Cambodia’s first “mobile kitchen” – a $50,000 container capable of serving up to 200 people at a time. The kitchen is the brainchild of Seng Hok Heng Catering Services. At 4.4m-high, 6.8m-long and 2.4m-wide (expandable to 6.8m), the kitchen is equipped