It took teacher Leonard Kua - who has no prior IT training - three years of persistent hard work to build up Brainbits.
Parents at Maha Bodhi School needn’t rack their brains to stay abreast of their children’s homework or keep tabs on their behaviour in school. With a click of a mouse button, they can find out the latest buzz on their kids’ performance, conduct and attitudes in class.
What’s more, pupils can download worksheets, take quizzes to test their understanding of class lessons and revise vital concepts through a system called Online Practice. All this is possible thanks to Brainbits, an interactive website created by a teacher on his own.
The brainchild of teacher Mr Leonard Kua, Brainbits had its beginnings all the way back during Mr Kua’s undergraduate days at the National Institute of Education (NIE). He was so inspired by the teaching potential of Information Technology (IT) that he set out to design and construct the website when he was a trainee teacher.
After three years of hard work, Mr Kua launched Brainbits in January 2007 when he was a teacher at Maha Bodhi School. A fun and creative learning experience, the website supplements classroom teaching and also serves as a platform for students, parents and teachers to share ideas, resources and information.
Thumbs up from pupils and their parents as they benefit from the resources and information uploaded on Brainbits.
Virtual corners for exploration
A treasure trove of virtual surprises, Brainbits is made up of 12 sections. The two most popular features are Our Class and Parents’ Corner. As its name implies, “Our Class” is dedicated to Mr Kua’s Pri 4 class at Maha Bodhi School and consists of ten subsections: Our Work, Primary Times, Student of the Month, Talking Point, Homework, Worksheets, Online Practice, Quizzes, DIY Experiments and Our Codebook.
According to Mr Kua, Talking Point, Homework and Student of the Month are his pupils’ favourite subsections in Our Class. Talking Point is a supplementary teaching tool that Mr Kua uses to help his pupils develop critical thinking and writing skills. Every fortnight, he posts about a new topic related to breaking news events. Pupils are encouraged to share their thoughts on the subject via email, which Mr Kua vets and posts online for further comments and discussion. “Talking Point allows pupils to be exposed to current affairs and they enjoy such discussions,” he observes.
Homework is a tool for pupils and even their parents to keep track of English, Maths and Science assignments. Assignment details are displayed in a calendar format for easy viewing. Updates are in real-time - as soon as Mr Kua has assigned the pupils a fresh batch of homework, he logs in to Brainbits to post the details online and his pupils can see it immediately.
But what really gets pupils excited is Student of the Month. This section recognises pupils who have displayed outstanding behaviour, attitude and performance in their classwork. “They are quite excited because their photos will be put up here,” explains Mr Kua. The section also motivates his pupils to put on their best showing.
Pri 4 pupil Rachel Tan gives Brainbits a firm thumbs-up. “I like Brainbits!” she enthuses. “Not only does it let us find out our daily homework assignment, it also has useful links to help us in our research.” She adds, “The online assessments also help me improve my studies.”
Mr Kua is inspired by IT’s potential in teaching; he uses his website to supplement his lessons and disseminate useful information to pupils and their parents.
Linking parents, pupils and teachers
Moms and dads have their own space too, in Parents’ Corner. This provides a quick and efficient communication channel for parents, who can easily pen feedback to Mr Kua. In turn, a WebSMS service lets Mr Kua notify parents of important events such as exam dates and submission deadlines for school projects.
One very popular feature in Parents’ Corner is My Child’s Record Book, which provides parents with a monthly update on their children’s behaviour. In addition, parents can view the Continual Assessment and Semestral Assessment average scores for English, Maths and Science. With these statistics, “parents can gauge their children’s standing in class,” notes Mr Kua.
Calling Mr Kua’s effort a commendable achievement, parent Mrs Melody See said that for busy parents, “Brainbits is a very useful online resource that offers an accessible, one-stop update on our child's schoolwork, performance and achievements in school.”
To make Brainbits even more user-friendly, Mr Kua is working hard to develop the For Teachers section. Seeking to make this section even more interactive, he hopes to see “more contributions from teachers so we can share ideas, resources and experiences with one another.” With such drive and determination, you wouldn’t have guessed that he was no IT geek when he started work on Brainbits. Despite that, he stuck it out through three years of hard coding. Now that’s brain power!