Learning can now be more fun and interesting for the kindergarten pupils of an initial 15 schools across the country.
Smart Communications, Inc. has launched Smart TechnoCart, a mobile laboratory designed to enable learning and teaching for kindergarten pupils through mobile education solutions and Internet technology.
Inside the Smart TechnoCart are 25 tablets for the use of students; a tablet, laptop and projector for the use of the teacher; Smart Bro pocket Wi-Fi with load for connectivity; and the Smart One Campus, a learning management system to help administrators and teachers track and measure their students’ academic performance. With its compact and portable design, the cart makes it easy for teacher to transfer the laboratory from one classroom to another.
What is important in the Smart TechnoCart is not the tablet per se, but what was put on it and how the recipients use it. The initiative wants to measure, keep track and observe its impact on the learning ability or scores of the students through the learning management system which Smart developed.
Making the tablet a learning tool
“As tablets can be very effective, they can also be a huge distraction for students so the key is how you design the program and use the tablet, what kind of applications or software do you use in order to make the tablet a learning tool,” said Ramon R. Isberto, First Vice President and Head of Public Affairs at Smart.
Each tablet comes pre-loaded with the Batibot mobile app in Filipino as a result of Smart’s partnership with the Batibot TV show. Developed by the Community of Learners Foundation (COLF) and startup partner OrangeFix, the Batibot app is the first localized mobile software aligned with the Kindergarten curriculum which provides educational content from the show into the mobile device.
“We partnered with Batibot because of its proven and engaging materials,” Isberto said. “We’re also looking for other educational content.”
Mario A. Deriquito, Undersecretary, Office of Partnerships and External Linkages at the Department of Education, said that with Batibot as partner, the program will be more interesting for teachers and principals. He also said that with TechnoCart, along with other programs Smart has produced in the past, will become part of the learning process of schools.
To become skilled on tablet usage, teachers are given training on tablet basics as well as on child and curriculum development provided by COLF.
Public schools that can avail of the Smart TechnoCart are those with Kindergarten classes that have a minimum of 150 students or a class with 25 students; with Smart Internet coverage; and with enough power supply for the duration of the class hour.
For a start, the program has chosen 15 schools as recipients of the program. According to Isberto, in selecting partner-schools, they rely on recommendations from different sources and partners. The program’s concept is that the partnership is based on “coalition of the willing” where Smart works with those who are willing to participate in the program because they need it and want to do it in their school. Smart previously did a similar program with other partners.
During the launching, Smart introduced 15 public kindergarten schools that have been identified by the Department of Education, School Divisions, as initial beneficiaries. These are Batu-Batu Central Elementary School, Datu Halun Laboratory Elementary School, and Yusop Dais Elementary School from Tawi-Tawi; Calasiao Central School and Mangatarem Central School in Pangasinan; Bacacay East Central School, and Polangui South Central School in Albay; Maluso Central Elementary School, and Tipo-Tipo Central Elementary School of Basilan; Antonio L. Jayme Elementary School, Education and Training Center School II, and Rodolfo A, Medel Sr. Elementary School of Bacolod; Banilad Elementary School, and Regino Mercado Elementary School of Cebu; and Paranaque Central Elementary School for Metro Manila.
Source of inspiration
What inspires the company to come up with this initiative was the result of the study on the use of tablets for learning among kindergarten pupils in Culiat Elementary School in Quezon City.
Tablets, pre-loaded with mobile apps on colors, shapes, alphabets, and numbers, were used by an entire class of kindergarten pupils for 30 minutes each day. With this model, learning abilities of pupils have improved significantly after three months compared with the past when it was only the teacher explaining the concepts to the pupils.
“Smart believes that digital technologies can help facilitate learning opportunities from pre-school up to college, which is why it has tailored initiatives that are targeted to address the needs of learning communities,” said Isberto. “The Smart TechnoCart is a mobile laboratory designed to address the needs of young students for interactive and engaging learning tools to help them better grasp basic concepts. It does make for smarter learning.”