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Elementary school students are increasingly being targeted with digital content. Pal Pillai / AFP
Elementary school students are increasingly being targeted with digital content. Pal Pillai / AFP

Technology makes presence felt in classrooms the world over

Whether teachers like it or not, digital devices have become commonplace in classrooms across the Emirates and around the world.

Whether teachers like it or not, digital devices have become commonplace in classrooms across the Emirates and around the world.

And in the UAE, new solutions have been developed within the classroom itself.

While still in school, Tasnim Al Khaldi, now a software engineer who graduated from Al Ain University of Science and Technology last year, and her classmate designed, programmed and edited an app- iMonitor.

It monitors young drivers then sends an SMS to their parents whenever they break the speed limit. The software programme was created for Nokia devices, the phone manufacturer that hosted a national contest for app developers last year and awarded iMonitor second place.

"I'm working on one for Windows Phones,"said Ms Al Khaldi. "I'm still a beginner but hopefully I'll be able to deliver something useful."

Even in some of the poorest countries, high-tech solutions are being developed and tested.

Digital education is being experimented with in Africa. The organisation One Laptop Per Child, based in Wonchi and Wolonchete, in Ethiopia, is attempting to discover whether illiterate children can learn how to read by using Motorola Xoom tablets loaded with electronic books, movies and alphabet-training games. In tests, within a week each child had used an average of 47 apps per day, sung ABC songs within two weeks and hacked the tablet's Android software within five months.

In another development, eLimu worked in Kawangware and Mathare, Kenya to provide tablets to primary school kids with a specific app, which meets national curriculum standards but also incorporates animation, videos, songs, music, games and quizzes. The results were so encouraging, tablets are set to be deployed in Kenyan primary schools this month.

Elementary school students are increasingly being targeted with digital content. Much of it is designed to boost their learning experience and foster deeper engagement.

Certain electronic books for this age group come embedded with videos and quizzes. These kinds of interactive features helped to boost the sales of children's e-books in the United Kingdom to 2.6 million during the first half of last year, which was more than double the same period in 2011, according to data from the Publishers Association.

Debbie Sterling, an engineer from Stanford University, founded the toy company GoldieBlox last year to teach basic engineering principles to young girls.

Her main US$30 (Dh110) kit shows how to create structures out of blocks, cranks, axles and washers on a pegboard through a storybook. It comes with free e-book downloads for the iPhone and iPad with animation and tutorial videos for those too young to read. More than $285,000 has been raised via Kickstarter.com, a crowdfunding site, to back this innovation.

While not all teachers or students are happy with the changing educational landscape, it seems technology is in the classroom for the long term.

 

business@thenational.ae

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