Slow connection, little attention

Slow connection, little attention

Foreign students forced to adapt to overcome challenges amid pandemic

Foreign students in Thailand living under Covid-19 restrictions have been facing some online learning challenges, adding another level of stress to their academic life.

To better understand their perspectives during the pandemic, the Bangkok Post asked how they have coped with these challenges.

Inshaiwan Sj, 22, a second-year student from Myanmar, is currently enrolled in an undergraduate programme for electrical engineering at Lamphun Technical College. He said he understands the situation and has had to adapt.

Inshaiwan Sj has been studying online for three semesters after the government began enforcing its measures to curb Covid-19 infections.

"It's a rule that the college has to follow [government measures] and only provide online lessons to its students," he said.

"Even though I do not feel comfortable studying online, I have to be patient and try to stay with it until the college resumes onsite learning, which I still do not know when."

The Shan state native admitted that he has faced some challenges during online classes.

"Quite often I can't concentrate on studying," Inshaiwan Sj said. "I don't understand what teachers are trying to present.

"I feel bored, lonely and sleepy while learning," he added. "But whenever I have those feelings, I warn myself that I have to try to listen to teachers to catch what they teach."

Inshaiwan Sj said his college has provided him with sufficient academic content and other learning materials for online learning during the pandemic.

Van Vixay Chittaphone, a 26-year-old junior from Laos currently enrolled in an English language undergraduate programme at Mahachulalongkornrajavidyalay University's Faculty of Humanities in Chiang Mai, said it was not easy for him to adapt to online learning during its first phase.

He said online learning at the time was still new to him, and he felt it might not work for him.

"What else could I do? Covid-19 came and the university has not resumed onsite learning yet," Mr Van said. "So, I changed my attitude towards it immediately."

He said online learning has now helped him save money on transport.

"I can study from home. I just get access to a link [for content] provided by a teacher," Mr Van said. "However, sometimes I face internet connection problems. I am not the only one who faces such a problem -- there are other students.

"Some students opt to cover their cameras sometimes, prompting some teachers to spend time complaining about this during class," he added. "It's a waste of time."

Karina Cordova, 22, a Filipino freshman currently enrolled in the English for Communication undergraduate programme under the Faculty of Humanities at Mahapajapati Buddhist College, Mahamakut Buddhist University in Nakhon Ratchasima, said she was not used to studying via Zoom.

Ms Cordova said her peers were also complaining about slow internet connection diverting their attention during class.

"To make students keep participating in classes, I think it's good to have a discussion board [with rules and a set timeline for posting] so that learners who do not have stable internet connection can still take part in class activities and discuss ideas with each other," she said.

"I only have to adapt to the Zoom classes because it is tiring to stare at the computer for hours," Ms Cordova said. "Otherwise, I'm fully adapted to every other aspect of online learning today."

"During this entire pandemic, I only studied, made time for indoor hobbies, and I try to find locations within the province to unwind," she said.

"I'm actually attending two schools right now, one is here and the other is in my home country. In my home country, I attend an open university."

Despite these woes, some foreign students in Thailand have been enjoying online learning.

Phan Thi Tho, a 23-year-old student from Vietnam currently enrolled in an English language graduate programme at Mahachulalongkornrajavidyalaya University in Ayutthaya, said she has been enjoying both onsite and online classes.

"I love studying online because I can manage my time -- no need to spend time [travelling] to the university," Ms Tho said. "I can set the time and do other work."

She said: "Almost all lectures come with high-technology classrooms and different learning applications," adding, "I am very excited during learning because every new day, [the school] gives us new things."

Ms Tho said onsite learning was more costly as she had to spend a lot of money on transportation and miscellaneous items.

"One problem for me is the [weak WiFi signal] in my dormitory. It is also not really strong enough," she said.

"Sometimes I miss [lessons being taught] during online classes."

However, it was not the main problem for her, as most lecturers record their lectures.

"As I am [a member of] the young generation, I have used technology since I was a girl. As an MA student, our classroom is not big -- ties between students and lecturers are very nice and close," she said.

"We can fully take part in the online classes and it is easy to ask questions as lecturers really care about us.

"I also learn new things from the internet -- about what I like and things I have never tried before. I travel around the world through my computer," she added.

"I am so lucky that I live in the countryside, as it is peaceful here."

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