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UTCC boosts IT skills

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The University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce (UTCC) joined forces with Hewlett-Packard (Thailand) (HP) and Metro Systems Corp to promote the UTCC Hybrid Learning (hybrid learning) system in advance of the upcoming semester. The system aims to help students master IT skills and to move UTCC closer to its goal of becoming a full-fledged cyber university. 

Students and management members of UTCC and its partner show off the new HP Mini 5102 and My Choice Clicker. Second from left: Prasert Charoonpaisal, general manager of Personnel System Group at HP; Assoc Prof Chiradet Ousawat, PhD, president of UTCC; and Kitti Techataveekijkul, director at Metro Systems Corp. PURICH TRIVITAYAKHUN

Hybrid learning

The hybrid learning system combines e-learning and traditional face-to-face classroom learning. The university initiated the system in 2007, and has been applying it for several courses since then.

"This system uses the advantages of e-learning and traditional face-to-face classroom learning," said Assoc Prof Chiradet Ousawat, PhD, president of UTCC, adding that he anticipated his graduates to stand out in terms of their IT skills compared with the graduates of other universities.

Prof Chiradet explained that students learn content, or "what", which is uploaded to the university's website. Students are able to read the content prior to attending their classes and review the content after classes. In class, they discuss the "whys" and the "hows" with their teachers to extend their understanding of the content that they had previously reviewed.

Since the university implemented the hybrid system three years ago, it has increased the level of responsibility awareness of students, raised their classroom participation rates, and enhanced their IT skills, while widening the scope and intensity of class discussions.

As part of the system, each student is given a "My Choice Clicker", a wireless mobile electronic signal sender invented by the university. The device enables students to interact with instructors. For example, when taking a quiz, students can answer questions by clicking on the device and their answers are sent in real time to the instructors.

Currently, over 200 out of approximately 700 courses taught at the university, or about 30 percent of teaching and learning, use the hybrid learning system. The president's target is to place 80 percent of the university's teaching and learning under the hybrid learning scheme.

New gear

The university has already distributed 10,000 laptops to its students to assist them in their learning.

To enhance the hybrid learning system, starting next semester UTCC, together with its two partners, will provide an HP Mini 5102 mini notebook to all new students. This model is different from the model that was provided to students last year.

"The advantages of the HP Mini 5102 are its endurance and fully equipped functions that are aligned to students' needs," said Prasert Charoonpaisal, general manager of Personnel System Group at HP.

The university is equipped with a high-speed internet network that can accept over 30,000 concurrent connections. Students can also access the internet via Wi-Fi throughout the campus.

"The university gives us laptops not for fun and games. We really need them," said Chutimon Lerdsatitpairote, a communication arts sophomore at UTCC who has been learning via the hybrid learning system since she first enrolled at the university two years ago.

She said that she appreciates the ease of being able to learn on her own and share ideas with friends before she gets to class.

"This system encourages students to use the internet to gain information instead of just for playing games or for chatting," Chutimon concluded.

The university is also redesigning its general education courses in order to teach students practical skills that they can use following graduation.

These will, in effect, be akin to a "life manual" that they can fall back on as they progress.

The subjects include skills in science and technology, mathematics and statistics, modern business, and global and self-management.

More information on UTCC is available at http://www.utcc.ac.th .

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