Technology opens up the options for learning

Aulia R. Sungkar, Contributor, Jakarta | Supplement | Mon, 06/25/2012 5:07 PM

Ratu M. Sumampow is a recent graduate of sixth grade, but she can already testify to the power of technology in education.

“When I was a little girl, I didn’t understand a book I read and I had trouble understanding the story. After my mom introduced me to technology, I can easily go online to conveniently get all the information I need,” said Ratu.

When it comes to education, technology can help children in the learning process through various tools, from laptops and computers to BlackBerry smart phones.

Educational games transform teaching and learning in a fun way, thus helping young children build skills more easily.

“In my first years of schooling, I learned math and other subjects like English using interactive learning computer games. It’s a fun way to build your knowledge and skills. Now that I know how to access to the Internet, I find there are numerous sources of information that we can benefit from,” Ratu said.

She is a student of Morning Star Academy, a school providing homeschooling programs in the Kuningan area of South Jakarta. She added that in delivering class curriculum material, her school allows its students to continue learning outside classroom by providing quizzes, tests and study questions online which are accessible outside the

“My teachers send me e-mails regularly. There are assignments, such as those in history and English, that require Internet research. I usually use my laptop for browsing sources, like topics in a book for instance,” she further said.

Ratu also uses a smartphone for communication and her education. “With my BlackBerry, I can read my e-mails and communicate with my tutors regardless of my whereabouts.”

Mila Winata, Ratu’s mother, is a strong advocate of encouraging kids to use technology.

“Lack of IT skills will make children less competitive in the future as technology is constantly evolving.”

She believes that students who perform above average in their studies are most likely utilizing technology in their learning process.

Safira Rachmayanti noticed that her 10-year-old son’s computer habits helped him achieve better grades at school.

“In the beginning, I was worried when I found that my son was pretty much hooked on computer games. Later, I realized that there are many interactive learning computer games that could potentially hone his many skills, from math to English and history,” said Safira, whose son Hanif R. Arrayyan has just graduated from fourth grade.

Asked what made him hooked on technology, Hanif quickly responded, “The visual images and interactive features. They make learning become as much fun as playing.”

His school, Al Furqon, a private Islamic school in South Jakarta, requires its students to take computer classes from first grade.

“I remember the excitement I got when my computer teacher first taught us simple lessons, such as basic introduction and simple interactive learning applications. That moment, I knew that I was going to love the technology.”

Hanif is able to access the Internet to enjoy children’s online sites.

“I especially like downloading games from nickelodeon. I also like to go on yahoo! kids for games, music, movies, and that site also features a study zone with cool visualization that makes learning more enjoyable.”

Stefanie Pramana, principal of HOPE for Generations in Pantai Indah Kapuk, expressed her opinion that the cyber world has made a limitless contribution to the world of education.

“Nevertheless, parental supervision is strongly advisable to control the content a child can access. Installing parental Internet content-control software is one way to block sites with negative contents such as violent images, nudity or bad language,” she said.

She explained that the use of technology in education should not be limited to the Internet and computer software. She cited the use of digital cameras as an example, in which “students can learn to capture images or record videos of such scenes as natural panorama, flora and fauna”.

Listen up, speak up and get ahead in a language

The Jakarta Post | Supplement | Mon, 06/25/2012 5:02 PM

Many of us dearly want to be able to speak a foreign language, whether it is English or Indonesian, but there are different factors holding us back. We become tongue-tied when we have to use a foreign language, and sometimes do our best to avoid using it.

Actually, that fear of speaking it (we may be very good indeed at reading proficiency) is what is the worst for our ability to express ourselves.

So why are we tongue-tied when it comes to using English?

1. Don’t want to sound “stupid”

2. Scared of making mistakes

3. Don’t know what to say

4. I’ve got a lot of other things on my mind already – why do I have to worry about this too?

Here are some ways to overcome that fear of failure, and to speak freely.

Speaking Up:

People want to hear your opinion, so speak to them. They will forgive grammar and word choice mistakes, because they’re more interested in what you have to say than having perfect prepositions and grammatical expressions.

Speaking more English or Indonesian will also help you improve; you will be getting practical experience.

If you keep quiet out of fear of making mistakes, your speaking companion will probably feel uncomfortable – have they done something wrong?

When it comes to speaking English, like all languages, it’s best to keep it clear and simple. No need to “strive” for big words; just “try” to explain yourself.

Listening Lessons:

Listening also works wonders in understanding how native speakers converse in their language. Whether it is taped books, songs, TV programs or simply attending a lecture by a visiting scholar, all will be of help (heavy metal music
may not be the way to go, however).

Try to take part in a foreign exchange program, or go on career workshops or training abroad to practice your language and listening skills. “It made such a difference to me in learning a language abroad when I was overseas, because you are surrounded by the language and you have to use it,” says “Yana”, who studied in France. “And there is always someone to help you out.”

Of course, another great option is to take an established language-course in your host city. Look for ones with an excellent reputation for teaching students the skills they need.

What are you waiting for – learning a language will win friends and influence people! JP