International Affairs Centre, PSU Phuket
College of Computing student, PSU Phuket;
Roman Antonov, Sarah Avedikian, Vasilii Dementev, Kevin Fuchs and Seppo Karrila, Dr. Jonathan Hugo, Jinghui Ji, Jenny Li, Jie Jie Limpanapa, and Krittat Phaisamran
The Conversation, https://theconversation.com/au
Authors: Dilani Gedera, Ashwini Datt, Cheryl Brown, Dianne Forbes, and Maggie Hartnett
United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) RansomAware Campaign, https://www.unodc.org/roseap/uploads/documents/ransomaware/index.html
Model: Eugenia Vanya Priskyani, IG @eugeniavanya
Photographer: Kaybee Photography, IG @kaybeephotography
Published on March 18, 2022
Online education is an evolved (and fastest growing) form of distance education that is delivered or conducted via the internet using a combination of electronic devices such as computers, smartphones, and tablets. It is not a novel way of teaching and learning by any means, it’s been around for decades since the 1990s with the creation of the World Wide Web. The rapid advancements of communication, digital, and educational technologies in the last decade have made online learning a more popular alternative to traditional brick-and-mortar education.
During the pandemic era, we were (re)acquainted with online learning; wherein Zoom, Google Meet, and Microsoft Teams became our everyday vernacular. The unprecedented demands for online learning platforms across the globe suddenly skyrocketed as schools and universities were scrambling to find viable alternatives to face-to-face instruction. Overnight, whether we like it or not, online education was our new normal and I suspect it’s here to stay.
This issue explores the pros and cons of online education from both the teachers and students’ perspectives. For this issue, I also invited students from various surrounding international and Thai schools to voice their opinions on online learning. Needless to say, they did not disappoint.
I want to thank all article contributors for sharing their experience and insights on online teaching and learning. A special thanks to Thaiconsent Media for inviting me to attend the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime (UNODC) press release event to conclude the To be RansomAware: UNODC Campaign Landing Event, a regional campaign focuses on localizing and raising awareness on ransomware and prevention tactics among Southeast Asian organizational leaders and the general public, on 4 March 2022 at Alliance Française Bangkok.
If you have something to share for our next issue, we’d love to hear from you, drop us a line and consider becoming a contributor to the magazine. Get in touch with me: email@example.com. Take care of yourself and each other.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this magazine are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of PSU Phuket and its employees or the official policies of PSU Phuket. Any content provided by our contributors is of their opinions and is not intended to malign any individuals or entities.
Beyond Zoom, Teams and video lectures — what do university students really want from online learning?
Republished article under a Creative Commons license from The Conversation: https://theconversation.com/beyond-zoom-teams-and-video-lectures-what-do-university-students-really-want-from-online-learning-167705
By Dilani Gedera, Teaching and Learning Manager, Auckland University of Technology;
Ashwini Datt, Curriculum Development Manager, University of Auckland;
Cheryl Brown, Associate Professor of e-Learning, University of Canterbury;
Dianne Forbes, Senior Lecturer in Digital Learning, University of Waikato;
Maggie Hartnett, Senior Lecturer in Education, Massey University
Top L to R: Dr. Dianne Forbes and Dr. Dilani Gedera; middle L to R: Dr. Maggie Hartnett and Ms. Ashwini Datt; bottom: Assoc. Prof. Cheryl Brown
As any university student, lecturer or tutor can attest, the pandemic has turned learning and teaching upside down. So it’s important we understand what happens for students when their learning shifts online with little to no warning.
Since 2020, there’s been a growing body of important research into the impact of online learning for educators. But the student voice, which is essential to informing good design and facilitation of online learning, has been largely unexamined.
Our Student Online Learning Experiences (SOLE) research project aims to rectify this and give voice to those who are, arguably, at the heart of the COVID-19 education crisis.
The study uses data from nearly 1000 survey responses from students across all eight New Zealand universities. Through a combination of online questionnaires, individual and focus group interviews, we explored their experiences of online learning during the pandemic in 2020.
Challenges and benefits
Students are not a homogeneous group and online learning is not the same for everyone.
Our research shows that, even in so-called normal times, students face multiple challenges, such as access to technology and online resources, financial hardship, family responsibilities and challenging study environments. The pandemic has exacerbated these challenges.
A lot of my family members got [made] redundant, and they lost their house. There were 11 people staying in my house. I couldn’t study. I was also working at the same time. I had to pick up more shifts to help. Working more hours and trying to study on top of that was hard […] My house was always loud […] it was just hard for me.
Among the challenges, however, there were some benefits. More than half the students acknowledged not having to travel and having the flexibility to learn at their own pace and place was positive.
Being able to cut out travel time has given me pretty much three hours of extra study time in a day. The flexibility has enabled me to fit [study] around my daily life. It reduced stress and anxiety. I feel more in control of the work that I do. I definitely work better when I feel like I have to take charge of my own learning.
They also appreciated “being able to access learning materials at any time and the ability to pause and continue” at their own pace. Students also reported they were able to “balance the children, household and study much more effectively”.
Support and communication key
Though many students felt less motivated and less focused, they became more used to online learning. They discovered they could leverage the good aspects of remote learning when they had the right support or knew where to get help, such as financial assistance, extensions, and disability support.
Some students found online learning took them a lot longer to process and engage with.
When it comes to posting something online, I like to make it perfect. Check my grammar, check my punctuation, and see if it makes sense. It’s like [a] mini assignment […] And then a tiny post might take forever for me to write, whereas in class we just have to say it.
However, most students also said regular updates and clear communication were key to helping them learn online by reducing the sense of isolation and distance.
It was good to see students/lecturers talking about their daily life before the online live lecture starts. This gave a sense of “interaction” rather than being talked at in campus lectures where I usually felt a bit of distance from lecturers.
Open-book versus closed-book
Our study also highlighted the need to rethink university assessment practices. In the face of ongoing demands of family, work and lockdown life, many students found it challenging to sit an exam at a specified time.
They preferred time-based assessments (in which students complete an open-book exam or another type of assessment task within a specified time frame), rather than online exams at a fixed time.
One respondent questioned whether universities were “assessing students in a way that’s actually effective and beneficial for their learning”.
Asked what they would like to see continued in future course design and teaching, a majority preferred open-book exams “that assess the application of knowledge as opposed to a stressful closed-book memory test”.
Such an approach might also help minimise problems with cheating and academic integrity in the online environment.
What do students say we should do?
Fundamentally, we need to get to know and consult with the students we work with and understand their needs and circumstances. We need to provide choice and negotiate learning possibilities, including such things as:
- develop student skills and competency online, provide video tutorials, allow time to experiment and have fun, give feedback and encouragement along the way
- design more flexible and inclusive learning experiences (for example, allow students to choose from a selection of times to complete assessments)
- establish opportunities for students to give and receive self, peer and teacher feedback
- foster social learning and social presence online by nurturing relationships and creating opportunities for group interaction
- provide opportunities to participate in class or online workshops (post-pandemic), maximising the benefits of blended learning
- inform students about the full range of support available and clearly communicate priorities for learning.
Better design, better learning
As pandemic conditions become the new normal, educators need to move beyond Zoom, Teams and video lectures to create inclusive learning environments. Using the Universal Design for Learning framework would be a good place to start.
Equity and diversity should be front of mind when we transition to blended, flexible or online modes of study. As one of our respondents aptly put it, we must
[…] recognise inequities and students who may have all kinds of difficulties accessing online learning, who may have physical disabilities that make online learning difficult, who may be having to take care of people.
Above all, we must listen more closely to those whose lives and learning are most affected by these changes — students.
How to Stay Protected Against the Looming Threats of Ransomware
By the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC)
Press release from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime’s “To Be RansomAware Campaign: UNODC Landing Event” held on 4 March 2022 at Alliance Française Bangkok
Left to right: Alexandru Caciuloiu, UNODC Cybercrime and Cryptocurrency Advisor; Jeremy Douglas, UNODC Regional Representative; and Mr. Yuichi Oba, Minister and Deputy Chief of Mission, Permanent Representative to UNESCAP, Embassy of Japan
Group Captain Jadet Khuhakongkit, Director of Critical Information Infrastructure Management Office, National Cybersecurity Agency Thailand giving a keynote presentation on cybersecurity best practices
Manachanok Jumroonrojana, Superintendent of High-Tech Crime Division, Cybercrime Investigation Bureau, Royal Thai Police answering a question from the audience
Cybercrime technology is becoming more and more sophisticated. If your online security system isn’t up to scratch, you could be unknowingly vulnerable to a ransomware attack. That’s why protecting yourself and your data is an ongoing process. It requires a conscious effort, not only to implement cyber security measures, but also to maintain them.
The Devastating Impacts of Ransomware Attacks
Ransomware can cause serious damage to an organization’s data, operations, finances, infrastructure, and even brand image. With the potential to cause devastation on multiple levels, cyberattackers pose a significant threat to any business.
Once a hacker has access to your private files, they seize control of them. First, they’ll encrypt them, so you can no longer access them. Then, while you’re frantically trying to figure out what steps to take, they may release those files to the public, sell them on the dark web, or simply destroy them. All the while, you may be watching helplessly. Unless you have a backup system in place, paying a ransom could be your only hope of regaining access. Even then, data may never be recovered as promised. Rebuilding your database can be costly, in more ways than one.
Famously, ransomware WannaCry infected more than 5 million devices in 2017, striking businesses worldwide including FedEx, Honda and Boeing, and locking their files. It even brought down the National Health Service in the UK and telecom providers in Spain. It capitalized on devices that were running outdated versions of Windows, then self-replicated to spread even further. This type of ransomware is still running rampant to this day. In fact, there was a surge of WannaCry attacks just last year.
When a ransomware attack brings an organization’s entire online operations to a halt, every moment of downtime incurs a financial impact, adding even greater pressure. As time ticks on, the chances of making a full recovery grow slimmer while the financial losses continue to mount up. Those who’ve fallen victim may have to spend time investigating the breach, attempting to negotiate with attackers and deliberating steps to take, before even having a chance to think about recovery. Sometimes, the recovery process can take weeks.
To make matters worse, during that time, cyberattacks often make the news. This means that while desperately trying to recover important data, organizations have to scramble to protect their reputation at the same time. According to a Forbes insight report, almost 50% organizations that encounter a data breach suffer from damage to their brand image.
Then, there’s the hit of the ransom itself. Ransom fees are exorbitant, and you may even find yourself being asked to pay millions for your company’s precious data. Travel giant CWT felt the sting in 2020, when it was forced to pay $4.5 million to cyberattackers who took 30,000 of the company’s computers offline. Once they’d managed to recover their data, they set to work recovering their reputation, as the incident had been widely reported by international news outlets.
These ransom figures aren’t plucked out of thin air. When cyberattackers gain access to a network, they often spend time looking through the victim’s personal data and online bank accounts to determine how much they’re capable of paying. This enables them to tailor the ransom to you, in an attempt to get as much money out of you as possible. If you’re an official who has unknowingly allowed a cyberattack by not following online safety protocols, you may even face compliance fees. This means you suffer from even further financial damage.
Once a business has been infected with ransomware, it’s rarely the end of the story — even if a ransom has been paid and access reinstated. Despite any protective measures that are put in place after the attack, they may still become a likelier target in the future. This is because once cyberattackers have identified and exploited your vulnerabilities, they often share them on the dark web, encouraging an entire network of other cybercriminals to take advantage of those same opportunities. This means that being free of ransomware can be a lengthy, stressful and arduous process.
Organizations can play a vital role in protection against ransomware by thinking like a cybercriminal, identifying vulnerabilities, and putting protective measures in place.
Take Initiatives to Stay One Step Ahead of Ransomware
Don’t let yourself be a target. To protect yourself against ransomware, you’ll have to brush up on your cyber hygiene. That means taking frequent steps to keep your systems up to date and to improve your digital security.
What Governments Can Do
Avoiding these risks is not just the responsibility of the individual user or business. In order to effectively protect against ransomware, governments have to develop digital security policies, provide funding, and educate the public on cybercrime.
Clear frameworks need to be established, both for the public and private sectors. On top of that, entities need to be set up for users to report cyberattacks to and turn to for help.
What Companies Can Do
Companies need to provide cybersecurity training for all employees, so the burden of protection and prevention isn’t placed solely on an IT department.
They also need to have protocols in place which identify assets and risk factors and lay out steps to take in the event of a ransomware attack, as well as recovery processes to follow. Permissions can be limited, so only authorized personnel are able to download new software or make system changes. This limits the openings available to a potential cybercriminal.
Most importantly, a business of any size needs to have a back-up system. Important data needs to be backed up regularly, and in more than one location for optimum security. Networks need to be monitored, and knowledge kept up-to-date. By staying abreast of the latest developments in cybercrime, you can take action to protect yourself from any nasty surprises.
What Individuals Can Do
As an individual user, it’s important to keep your operating system and all your software up-to-date. This includes antivirus programs, which should be used to scan all software downloads prior to running them. Outdated and compromised software can effectively leave holes for cybercriminals to creep through.
It’s crucial to assess links before clicking and avoid any that are suspicious or unsolicited. This is a common way that hackers deceive users. Finally, use secure passwords, and make sure to change them at regular intervals.
Put yourself in a hacker’s shoes and try to identify all the weak points in your cybersecurity system. If you were on the outside trying to break in, where would you start? Apply that intelligence by using it to develop your own cybersecurity strategies.
Stay Vigilant, Stay Protected
Reducing the risks of ransomware is not just an individual responsibility. It requires a collective response, because when one user’s data becomes compromised, their entire network can be put at risk.
Alexandru Caciuloiu, the Cybercrime and Cryptocurrency Advisor at UNODC, stated “Digital security can be achieved through constant efforts. It starts when all individuals, including those within governments, organizations, and companies, habitually undertake and maintain basic cyber hygiene practices that will help protect the security of their networks and assets”.
The UNODC Global Programme on Cybercrime provides assistance in prevention, awareness raising, and analysis to fight against cybercrime. Read about the UNODC’s work on cybercrime for more information, tools and resources.
THE FACULTY LOUNGE
Extended Abstract: Satisfaction with Remote Teaching in Thai Higher Education
By Kevin Fuchs and Seppo Karrila
Once again, I teamed up with Seppo Karrila to embark on a journey that expands upon our previous research project related to Emergency Remote Teaching or ERT for short. As part of our new research project, we examined potential threats and shortcomings that are associated with ERT. This research paper is published in The Education and Science Journal, an international journal indexed by Elsevier’s Scopus database and ranked in the upper second quartile.
“Emergency Remote Teaching is a new educational paradigm. We have never been put in a situation comparable [to this] and the conditions are less than ideal. The collective aim should be to find a compromise for institutions, educators, and most importantly, our students to manage through these rough times.” – Kevin Fuchs
Emergency remote teaching (ERT) is meant to be a temporary shift from the normal modes of contact teaching. Such a transition was imposed during the global pandemic in the spring of 2020, and higher education was required to shift the entire curriculum online in an attempt to curb the spread of the virus while maintaining the continuity of its services. The disruptive overnight change and conversion of entire courses to ERT caused concerns, not only to the educators, but also to the students who had little time to adapt to the new circumstances.
This study aimed to examine student perceptions concerning remote teaching during the global pandemic COVID-19. Moreover, the study aimed to identify attributes, which students deem as the most important during emergency remote teaching.
This mixed-method case study expands earlier research addressing those concerns and adds to the body of knowledge by investigating how ERT is currently perceived by undergraduate students in Northeastern Thailand during the second year of the pandemic. Responses from a self-administered survey were collected and analyzed (n = 363). Based on descriptive analysis, 12 unstructured interviews were conducted to investigate particular findings more thoroughly.
The study identified that the students largely view ERT as inferior compared to traditional classroom teaching. Students claimed both the lack of social interactions with peers and inability to seek academic support as the primary reasons. This study informs educators about student perceptions and preferences during these extraordinary circumstances of uncertain duration.
An importance-performance rating matrix was used to determine the perceived satisfaction of undergraduate students. Moreover, the results of the study present recommendations that aim to provide institutions and educators with practical guidance on how to tackle the outlined issues.
About the authors:
Kevin Fuchs is a lecturer at the Faculty of Hospitality and Tourism, Prince of Songkla University, Phuket Campus. His research interests are on sustainable tourism development, technology-enhanced learning, and flipped classroom pedagogy to increase student engagement in hybrid learning.
Seppo Karrila is an associate professor at the Faculty of Science and Industrial Technology, Prince of Songkla University, Surat Thani Campus. He holds a Ph.D. in Applied Chemistry from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He moved to the Prince of Songkla University in 2012.
THE FACULTY LOUNGE
Online Teaching: the Pros, the Cons, and the Future
By Dr. Jonathan Hugo
Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) is my first real teaching job. I had recently trained in Phuket for a short time, with a view to filling my retirement with more than enjoying the beach and a lot of reading, and Prince of Songkla University, Phuket Campus (PSU Phuket) was good enough to give me this opportunity four years ago.
I had done a small amount of teaching such as one-day courses, evening classes in the preceding years, and some tutoring many years ago, all in “content” subjects—mostly finance, in which I had laboured for 30 years, and originally in science, my passion at university. So, TEFL was a novelty. Of course, being English, I can speak the language. I was also well educated, understood my language and have a reasonably wide vocabulary. I have lived among non-native speakers of English for many years and have attempted to learn several languages myself—with greater or lesser success. I hope these characteristics and experiences provide a firm basis for being a TEFL teacher.
There was much to learn in starting at PSU Phuket. There were several administrative systems to master (TQFs, grading, evaluations) and a great opportunity to exploit to the maximum the facilities of the incumbent Learning Management System (LMS). There was also a somewhat bewildering array of courses, with material which I found to be somewhat idiosyncratic to the various authors, of whom some were very helpful in guiding my assigned courses, others more “hands-off.” The relationships between the courses were never very clear to me; the coordination between course directors went well over my head. Over time, I have come across elements of the different faculties, but my experience has been limited, even though there has been some overlap in interests. However, the students and I seem to have survived!
The teaching itself was, and is, the fun part. I imagine that most teachers will tell you that the interaction with the students is the best part of their jobs. I also found the interactions with my fellow professionals enjoyable and rewarding. Human interaction is a well-established component of job satisfaction.
Then, in early 2020, came COVID-19. Stay at home, “lockdown!” A new style of teaching was imposed in the interests of “social distancing.” We heard of new tools such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams (MST) and even Google Meet became part of our vocabulary. We learnt of synchronous and asynchronous teaching methods, with various exhortations on how to avoid three-hour online sessions from becoming—how shall I put it?— deathly!
Most of us, like much of the world, I suspect, have adopted Zoom as our preferred tool, despite PSU’s preference for MST. It is in this context that you should read my thoughts on the positives and negatives of online teaching.
Some people will tell you that the future of education is online. It is true that many top-quality educators in the world are online, in the sense that they have recorded their wisdom electronically and made it available to all-comers. The variety and extent are amazing to anyone who spends a little time browsing the internet. Literally millions of individuals and organizations record extensive material on virtually every subject–often free. Several publishers produce online TEFL textbooks, supporting material, their own LMS systems, all available at a price. One might ask, why should we re-invent the wheel?
The fact is, we have adapted, using the textbooks that we would have used in class, to deliver more-or-less the same classes over the internet. We may use the online material, but somehow, it does not seem very well suited to class learning. So, we remain teachers, doing the same job but in a new way. Of course, this has permitted education to continue during the enforced isolation of the pandemic, which must surely be regarded as a positive.
We have become accustomed to the human interaction afforded by “screen time.” It is certainly better than none. I first became acquainted with video-conferencing during my previous working life—negotiating research agreements with a corporate technology partner. It can work, of course. It seems to me to work best in relatively small groups of people who know each other “in the flesh,” this is usually the rationale for some degree of “business” travel.
These are the skills that modern teachers are developing—how to build engaging instructional material and deliver it engagingly through the online medium. It is a big investment by the teachers and will hopefully be usable for a foreseeable future.
The major negative of the online approach is, in my view, the relative lack of personal interaction. This is particularly damaging with large class sizes. The screens will allow 100+ participants in the class, but that situation is very difficult to manage, whereas, in a lecture theatre, all 100 members of the class can be viewed, at least peripherally, simultaneously, and can throw out responses and participate. There is an energy in a classroom, which is mostly absent from the online environment. The technology provides us with “break-out” sessions; student groups working in a classroom are similar, but have much easier, less formal access to the teacher. In this context, online classes should be as small as possible, to facilitate conversation, and should never exceed 24 members (note the even number, divisible into groups of two or three).
An obvious negative is the absence of uninterrupted, high-capacity broadband connections, so that all dialogue and presentations are instantaneously communicated. This occurs when students, or teachers, are in technically challenging environments—poor Wi-Fi is a significant impediment. A similar impediment arises when services are part of the teaching method (e.g. collaborative document editing) but there are technical restrictions (e.g. Google availability in China)—not insurmountable, but inhibiting, or perhaps costly to overcome.
My final negative addresses the topic of assessment. It seems to me to be more difficult to ensure that assessments online are as unbiased as those in class. Online invigilation is limited. I have watched students on Zoom, muted but clearly talking during exams—saying what to whom, nobody knows. And others using their smartphones while performing tests on their tablets—doing what? Sharing answers, mailing copied texts. The online approach also tends to favour simplistic testing—multiple-choice questions. I have recently seen advertised software that will grade essays on multiple dimensions, it sounds impressive and of course could be applied in both online and classroom situations. But generally, technology has some way to go in helping with the assessment process. Doubtless, it will come.
In my view, almost certainly, the future will be more online. This medium provides a high-quality product, and the (high) development cost is spread over many people and a long period of time. So, it is simple economics that there will be consumer (parent/student) pressure to move in this direction.
What will push in the other direction? Well, teachers will probably resist the change, since it will reduce their numbers. Some will progress to course development, but this will not be to the taste, or skills, of all. There may also be student resistance; they go to university for the life experience as well as the subject tuition. It will therefore be incumbent upon universities to ensure that courses, however delivered, are supplemented by prestigious life experiences—supportive mentors/tutors, team sports, collective cultural opportunities such as orchestras and theatrical productions, real-world issue-handling, which are difficult or impossible to provide online. The parents will have a difficult job, weighing costs of inexpensive online academic study against the social benefits of the university.
Having studied and taught some economics, I suspect that the online teaching world is here to stay!
About the author:
Dr. Jonathan Hugo is an Englishman from London. He studied chemistry at university and then spent his career in computing and finance. He lived in Arabia for 20 years before retiring to Thailand and starting a new career as a lecturer at the Faculty of International Studies, PSU Phuket. He enjoys meeting people and life-long learning.
THE FACULTY LOUNGE
The Theory of Obedience and How it Relates to Online Learning
By Sarah Avedikian
Whether we are students or teachers, we all have realized the pros and cons of online learning by now, 2 years post the pandemic. Let me narrate to you an experiment which I recently came across that made me think about how it makes sense to me with the online teaching of my university students.
This experiment started in 1961 and continued to be held for a number of years. The experiment was conducted for different categories of people, and progressed to include different versions with slightly different approaches. A psychologist named Stanley Milgram wanted to understand human obedience, and so he did the following:
An advert was placed in a magazine requesting participants for an experiment, in exchange of $4 and some transportation fees. When the participants arrived, they were told that it was an experiment on learning and memory. So, they split the participants into 2 groups: teachers and students. The students were strapped into a chair with electric wires, while the teachers were taken to a different room and were told to recite words to their students. The idea was for the students to be able to remember word combinations: when the teacher said the word “nice,” the student was to remember to say the word “day.” When the teacher said “blue,” the student would have to say “box,” and so on. The teachers were given access to a table of switches which were marked with voltages for electrical shocks. Whenever the student made a mistake, the teacher was to press a button and shock the student. The buttons of voltages started from 15 volts, which was labeled as “mild shock,” with a 15-volt increment to up to 450 volts, which was labeled as “Danger! Severe shock.” The more mistakes the student made, the higher voltage of shocks s/he would receive.
Now, bear with me, because this will soon get very interesting. We would probably think that most people would cause some mild shocks but then disagree to proceed with the experiment, right? I mean, if someone has not caused us any harm, why would we want to inflict pain on them at all?
Participants in one of Stanley Milgram’s experiments regarding obedience to authority (Yale University Manuscripts and Archives)
Equipment for the Milgram experiment. (Yale University Manuscripts and Archives)
But reasonable as this might seem, Milgram’s experiment proved otherwise. When asked to shock others, most participants of the experiment kept giving the shocks without stopping, even after the student screamed in agony and demanded to be released from the experiment. Some of these teachers did in fact protest, sweat, and show signs of stress, but since Milgram was standing right behind them and telling them to keep going with it—for the sake of the accuracy of the experiment—62.5% of the teachers kept giving shocks all the way to the end. 62.5%!!! Can you believe it? This begs the question: are most people, therefore, sadists?
By the way, these so-called “students” were actually a part of the experimenting team and they did not actually receive the shocks, they were only pretending. However, the participants, in this case the “teachers,” were not told about this detail.
Stanley Milgram repeated this experiment on people from different ages and from all walks of life, and the results remained the same. He then conducted the experiment on women, and the results still stayed the same, although women seemed to show a higher level of stress.
Then the experiment was taken to a different level: Milgram wanted to know whether people would still be obedient when they receive the commands from people who are not of authority. He changed his doctor’s robe into normal, everyday clothes and repeated the experiment. He realized that people who didn’t see others as authority, were less likely to be obedient. The obedience level of these participants dropped from 62.5% to a staggering 20%.
Yet more, Milgram wanted to know what would happen if he left the room altogether and let the participants do the shocking without any supervision. He soon realized that the participants were continually “cheating” and not actually sending shocks to their students.
Milgram came to a different interesting conclusion: that people, in fact, don’t want to inflict pain on others. We aren’t actually dangerous creatures, and we do want to be good to others. But the mindset changed when an authority figure was involved. Furthermore, if the authority figure is in close proximity to that person, s/he is more likely to behave in an obedient manner.
Participants in the Milgram experiment.
(Yale University Manuscripts and Archives)
This interesting result was also observed in different wars in history: when the commander was on the battleground with the troops and giving orders then and there, the troops were more likely to submit. But if they were left alone on the battlefield without any supervision, soldiers were more likely to misaim on purpose in order to avoid killing anybody.
And what about all the students who are learning online? How seriously are they really taking their education? How are they to stay focused, while using the same devices for learning and accessing all their social media accounts? While their notifications are on and telling them that they shouldn’t be “missing out on all the fun in the world?” Personal responsibility surely plays a great role here, and this is a huge task to ask of these young adults at such a young and indecisive age. If they don’t already have a role model to learn personal responsibility from, then it will be extremely difficult for them to really understand what they need to do, which values they should honor above all, and which behaviors would lead them to self-progress instead of self-destruction.
Sarah is a creative-writing enthusiast and a writer. She is an English lecturer at Phuket Rajabhat University. She enjoys topics related to psychology, art, and travel—among others. She is an avid book reader and also an artist. Sarah has a B.A. degree in drama and theater and has been a teacher for about 4 years. She is currently taking some classes to enhance her artistic side too.
Welcome to the Google Meet?
By Jie Jie Limpanapa
Ahem. I’ve told you, Khun, to take that silly dog-face filter off before turning your camera on. Oh, sorry, that’s just your real face. You, Nadia, turn your mic on! Has anyone seen Tim this morning? Ok, guys, please settle down. Right, everyone, please look this way and get ready for the lesson.
What lesson, I hear you ask? Well, today, dear readers, you’ll be learning all about the world of online learning.
I’m Jie Jie Limpanapa and I am a Year 8 student at HeadStart International School. But today, I will be your teacher to take you through the pros and cons of online learning. From my own online learning experience (a grand total of 8 months in the last two years), about 90% of the students I know absolutely hate remote lessons. But is there still some good in it, or is it more disastrous than one of Elon Musk’s tweets?
For most people, online learning is quite convenient. After all, you have the ability to learn from the opposite ends of the world. However, some people take convenience a bit too far; I even heard of one boy who “took part” in a lesson from his phone while at Central Festival! In this situation, how can anybody stay focused and be able to extract some information from the lesson?
“Can I go to the toilet?”
“Eliott, I have told you for the millionth time, turn your mic off!”
Sorry about that. Where was I? Yes, so what is online learning for in the first place? Anyone?
Obviously, we are in this Google Meet because of COVID-19. From this perspective, online learning gives us a safe place where we can at least get some education. Ah, I can see that Yim’s made a point in the chat box. Yes, that’s right, you are more likely to learn some research skills and be more autodidact through online learning.
Now, we have come to the most important part of the lesson. I want you to remember this and take some notes. They’ll need to be uploaded later onto our Google Classroom, I’ll know if you don’t complete it.
In all seriousness though, one of the reasons that online learning isn’t as effective as it should be is because most of the students are unmonitored. During online lessons, we are being given trust and accountability to be responsible people. I have to agree with the teachers on this point, some of us aren’t grown up enough to behave ourselves.
During online learning, we all went through some degree of social retardation. I, myself, became a human jellyfish! From a world of chatter and laughter, to waking up, sitting in front of the computer, and going to sleep. The cycle just went on and on and on for so long that when we finally returned to school, we became awkward and stilted.
At this point, I think we can all agree that our screen time has increased, right? This is one of the cons of online learning. If left unmonitored, it’s easy to see how this can snowball into an addiction, with a multitude of apps, games, and sites spilling into our daily lives.
Who knows when we will stop wearing masks? Maybe the world will soon be an empty dystopia, with unoccupied streets, people living in their own cyber-bubble, and onsite learning impossible. Who knows if online learning is to be used again? We could very well be the generation of Online Learners…?
But next time, if there is a next time, let’s focus on the lesson a bit more and try to be more aware when using the chat box. Please remember to turn on your cameras too, else I’ll be talking to icons of Peppa Pig, rainbow puke, and shopping bags. Anyway, you may leave the Google Meet. I hope to never see you here again.
About the author:
Jie Jie is a Year 8 student at HeadStart International School. Something of a polymath, she has always reserved a special part of her brain and heart for writing. She hopes to see a lot more of the world in the coming years and will surely be inspired to write a range of pieces.
Brave New World?
By Krittat Phaisamran
“A great teacher can teach Calculus with a paperclip and literature in an empty field. Technology is just another tool, not a destination.” – Frank Herbert
Progress. Growth. Advancement. The three cornerstones of the modern economy. This is the land of Elon Musk, where a company’s “judgment day” is decided on a tweet. Bitcoins, NFTs, and the Metaverse; everything from money to how we interact are being revolutionised. Even education cannot escape these economic demands.
Meet online learning. Learn from anywhere just like you would in a classroom; live and interactive lessons are conducted by teachers in America to students in Fiji—its versatility is unparalleled. It’s flexible and allows students to learn at their own pace, giving them the independence they so desperately lacked. It’s a life-saver, providing a sanctuary for education to continue amidst a global pandemic, saving countless lives and ensuring the future. What’s not to like? We are truly living in mankind’s golden era.
But is it really like that?
Online learning comes with a slew of problems, brushed away by media hysteria and tangential reporting, all in the name of viewership figures. Online learning amplifies our innate and instinctive six of the seven deadly sins. Let me explain.
Sloth and gluttony are fairly obvious and literal. Laziness and complacency are reflected in the lack of effort that the students invest, while gluttony is shown in increased obesity rates. As students are left unmonitored, they are also left to make their own injudicious nutritional decisions—resorting to their favourite “comfort foods” with depressing regularity.
The remaining four sins require a touch of creativity and a modicum of inference. Our inner wrath is unleashed as a result of our sedentary lifestyle; in doing nothing, our diminished self-worth projects itself in nihilistic misanthropy. I, for one, circumvented this by engaging in physical activities to stave off the darkness. Pride, a word with a multiplicity of—sometimes conflicting—connotations. In this context however, it is a negative, used to convey the fragile, superficial image of the youths. It takes just one innocuous third party comment to topple the house of cards. And what does this lead to? Silence and disengagement.
As the mics and cameras are turned off, secrecy, duplicity, and ultimately cheating itself is made easy. Thus, we inevitably encounter both envy and lust, our two final guests to the table. Humans are, by nature, competitive and students are no different—they lust to outdo each other. We look at our peers with envy while they, with devious jubilance, celebrate their near-perfect scores. This lust is only exacerbated by the presence of the seemingly-benign “study” sites, which are used by many students habitually—not to supplement learning, but to replace it. It’s an open-secret, the students know it and the teachers as well.
With online learning, teachers lack the authority and power to assert themselves, implement their rules, and claim dominance. A mere threat of sending a hastily-worded email to the parents is just not enough to keep the students in line.
The purpose of this article is neither to criticise the hardworking and punctilious teachers and students—whom I have the utmost respect, nor to commend or uphold the centuries-old, highly-centralised, and monopolistic educational system that is in critical need of a reform. My point is, when adopting new technologies, we must utilize our critical thinking skills to discern progress from the “Emperor’s new clothes.”
We are living in a Brave New World, where everything is rapidly changing. Technology might be ready, but are we?
About the author:
Krittat is a Year 10 student at HeadStart International School, an aspiring writer who has always shown a particular flair for the written word. He is also a keen sportsman and a member of the school orchestra. He dreams of one day travelling the world and publishing a book.
Online Learning, Good or Bad?
By Jenny Li
People are searching for new ways of learning because of the COVID-19 pandemic. One of the most popular methods is online learning. While most people say that online education is good, others argue that it is terrible. Here are my reasons why I think online learning is good and bad.
First of all, online learning helps schools prevent the spread of COVID-19 infection among the students. Secondly, online learning allows the teachers and the students to set their own learning pace, this can allow the students to learn self-management skills that they can use in their daily lives. Lastly, some students might prefer eating lunch at home instead of at school, so with online schooling, they get to eat home-cooked meals.
The bad thing about online learning is that it can cause sore eyes because of the excessive screen time. Moreover, students become less socialized too. Physical Education (PE) classes are much more fun to do together with other classmates in school instead of doing it alone in front of the screen. Additionally, if a student’s wifi connection is poor, his/her learning would be interrupted and s/he won’t be able to learn anything during that time.
I think in-person learning is better than online learning because the screen you look at every day can be bad for your health in the long run. Also, with in-person learning, the students can interact with each other more frequently, so the students can be more socialized.
Both online and in-person learning have their positives and negatives. Although people may have different opinions about online and in-person learning, the main purpose is the same: to educate the students. I am grateful to have amazing teachers who supported me with my learning during this crazy time.
About the author:
Lizhen Li or Jenny Li is a grade 6 student at the United World College Thailand. She is 11 years old and she moved from Beijing, China to Phuket about three years ago. She likes writing fictional stories because she can use her imagination.
Online Classes: The Pain is Real
By Praewa Mathuros
Grrring…grring… It is 8:27 am. Oh no, I have only 3 minutes to prepare for my morning online class! “Good morning students, how are you today?” the teacher asked. The online class went silent, no one answered. “Okay, no answers. Let’s begin our lesson then.”
Hi, my name’s Praew. I’m currently studying in grade 7 at Phuket Wittayalai School. In this article, I’m going to talk about the physical side effects of doing online classes during the COVID-19 outbreak.
My everyday routine has changed because of online learning. I feel more bored because I have to stay at home all day, every day. In my first semester of studying at my new school in 2021, I went to school for only about a month. I was so happy during that one month because I got to make many new friends. We certainly did not expect to study online that entire semester.
Ouch!!! Every day my back hurts and I always have a headache. I think I’m not the only one who suffers from these health problems. I’m sure other students experience the same too. Could it be that the pain is caused by studying online?
Thai students have to study online for eight hours per day, so that’s forty hours per week. We have to sit in front of the computer for 8 hours!!! That is terrible. No wonder my back is always hurting and I get headaches from staring at the computer monitor for a long period of time. I want this pain to go away; the sooner, the better!
I survived my first semester studying online and got good grades. I felt so happy and relieved when I found out that I’m going to study in school for my second semester. I was so excited, I counted down the days until I could go back to school.
“Praew, wake up,” called my dad. It is the day that I have been waiting for so long, the first day of the second semester. I went to school at 6:45 am and met all my friends. I have missed them all. I was very surprised to see that most of them are now wearing glasses. When I asked them why, their answer was the same: sore eyes from online learning.
I hope many parents will read this article. I want people to know the negative health effects of learning online on school children. I hope that the COVID-19 situation will improve soon, so I don’t have to experience more physical pain from learning online.
About the author:
Praewa grew up in Thap Put, Phang Nga. She recently moved to Phuket to attend secondary school at Phuket Wittayalai School.
Studying Abroad in Thailand and Online Learning
By Vasilii Dementev
I have been living in Phuket for more than six months now and this semester is my second one at PSU Phuket. One of the goals of studying abroad for me was to immerse myself within a diverse academic environment. Meeting other students from different backgrounds and nationalities is very useful in shaping my worldview and improving my intercultural communication skills. Unfortunately, the pandemic has forced all classes to be held online.
The two good things about online learning for me are that I can sleep in longer and I don’t have to leave my home at all! The combination of online learning and easy food/grocery delivery in Phuket gave me no good reason to go out at all. When my friends back home asked me how often I go to the sea, they were very surprised to know that I have yet been to the sea.
In contrast, there are many disadvantages of studying online. First, it is impossible to benchmark myself against my peers. You complete the task, send it, receive a grade, and that’s it. People are social beings, comparing our performance with others is important for a healthy psyche.
Second, not all lecturers are suited to teach online. Some simply read out the material on the presentation being broadcasted online. I might as well watch the lecture on YouTube for free. If further explanations with examples are provided or more opportunities to ask questions are given, then I’m okay with it. But sometimes the students are seemingly rushed to do the laboratory work following the lecture, without any comments or feedback and are expected to perform well.
Third, it is necessary to highlight the lack of socialization during online learning. Most of the Thai students ended up communicating only among themselves, leaving the international students with their own. In my opinion, this is very bad as we are students from the same major and classification. In the end, it is much more productive for me to communicate with other international students from different majors.
Thankfully, we are now back to studying onsite. I’m so glad to be back in the classroom and so ready to take the plunge into student life!
About the author:
Vasilii Dementev is a first-year student studying Digital Engineering at the College of Computing, PSU Phuket.
New Normal, New Learning
By Jinghui Ji
A mighty epidemic has swept the entire world. From the initial panic and confusion to the current stability, we have all paid the price in blood. From the previously overcrowded shopping malls to the empty restaurants, closed schools, and locked-down cities, we witness the consequences of not taking the pandemic seriously.
For our health and safety, we turned to online learning as a protective measure to reduce possible infection routes, while ensuring the completion of the students’ learning goals. Compared to face-to-face learning, I feel less pressured and more relaxed during my online classes. The learning materials and tasks are more readily made available online by the lecturers, allowing the students to access and watch the lecture videos repeatedly.
However, there are several shortcomings of online learning. Interactions between lecturers and students become very limited during online classes. Sometimes, the students may not be able to respond to the lecturer’s questions or requests in a timely manner due to a slow internet connection. In this case, an unstable online learning network reduces the efficiency of student learning. Moreover, in an online learning atmosphere, the lecturer’s level of enthusiasm can decrease easily as the lecturer may end up speaking alone in the online class.
Online learning is not perfect, but it is the only best solution for the time being. I hope the pandemic will end soon and I’m sure in the near future (post-pandemic) we can find better ways to effectively achieve our learning goals. After the rain, you will finally see a rainbow.
About the author:
Jinghui Ji is a third-year student studying International Business: China at the Faculty of International Studies, PSU Phuket.
PSU Phuket Student Profile
Name: Kaho Motoyama
Classification: 3rd year student
Major: Tourism Management
Faculty: Hospitality and Tourism
I am from Yokohama, Japan. I chose to continue my study at PSU Phuket because I’m interested in the university’s tourism program. My favorite thing about studying here is that the Thai students can speak more English than the Japanese students back home.
In my opinion, although online learning enables me to take my classes from anywhere, sometimes some technical problems disrupt and hinder me from learning. This is problematic for me as I consider myself a hardworking student.
Name: Roman Antonov
Classification: 2nd year student
Major: Digital Business
Faculty: College of Computing
The flexibility of online learning made my travel arrangement to my home country in December possible, especially during the pandemic. I haven’t been home for six years, I haven’t seen my family and friends for so long, so this trip is very important for me. I started preparing for my trip in September to make sure that everything was in order so I don’t get too stressed out before my flight to Saint Petersburg, Russia. I’m not sure I could have done all these if we were studying onsite.
Saint Petersburg is a wonderful city with many historical centers and elegant architecture. Any place you go around the city, you will find famous sights. On any street, you will see houses where well-known tsars, writers, architects, or artists live or used to live.
Photo: Kazan Cathedral in St. Petersburg
I got to spend some time with my family and hang out with my friends. I walked every day around the city center, walking along the main street Nevsky Avenue, passing the city rivers and Christmas markets. Although it can get as low as -15°C outside, I enjoy this winter magic, especially accompanied by a warm cup of tea.
I went to the Lutheran Church of Saint Peter and Saint Paul, one of the oldest and largest Protestant churches in Russia, to listen to a live Christmas organ music. It was my first time listening to the sound of the Church organ.
I also visited 3 iconic museums such as the Fabergé Museum, the State Hermitage Museum, and Kunstkamera. Decorative applied and fine arts collections, including the famous Imperial Easter eggs, are displayed at the Fabergé Museum. While classical arts and Tsar collections are housed in the Hermitage Museum, one of the world’s largest museums. Kunstkamera? Well, that’s an interesting place to visit. If you Google Kunstkamera, you will probably be shocked! Peter the Great was a collector of human mutations and unusual child pathologies. Even though I’ve been there twice, I’m always fascinated with the collection of abnormal things.
Photos L to R: Fabergé Museum, Cockerel Easter Egg, Coronation Easter Egg
Before the end of my trip, I went to the Lensoaviet Academic Theatre to watch “The Inspector-General,” a satirical play by Nikolai Gogol. It was very funny and entertaining. I truly enjoyed the time I spent in Saint Petersburg. I flew back to Thailand to study onsite and was ready to start my second semester.