Sharjah, UAE: The Ministry of Education’s plan to ensure that all public school pupils and teachers have a tablet or laptop computer has been extended to include special-needs students.
As part of a pilot programme that began in November, the Mohammed bin Rashid Smart Learning Programme now counts the Al Amal School for Deaf Students among its 147 schools offering high-tech, digital learning.
The school’s Grade 8 and 9 classrooms have been rebuilt to accommodate new computer networking systems and Wi-Fi communications that enable pupils and teachers to access electronic devices and custom educational software.
Corporate partners of the Smart Learning Programme donated the equipment that included a Smart Board for each classroom, a laptop for each of the 12 teachers and tablets for 14 pupils.
Installation of the networking system was provided to the school free of charge by Carawan Electrical Mechanical Works.
Officials did not reveal the total cost of adapting the school for the programme.
The implementation of the programme was announced on Monday by Mohammed Gheyath, director general of the Mohammed bin Rashid Smart Learning Programme, school principal Afaf Haradi and Sheikha Jameela bint Mohammed Al Qasimi, director general of Sharjah City for Humanitarian Services, which operates the school.
“Although it is still early days, the programme has truly transformed these classrooms,” said Sheikha Jameela, Supreme Council for Family Affairs vice-president.
“We are amazed at how quickly the students have grasped and adapted to the new teaching techniques. In more ways than one the new teaching techniques have motivated and encouraged the students,” she said.
“There is also a sense of accountability and empowerment that comes with students having information and syllabus at their fingertips.”
Hamada Abd Ellatif, who teaches English, said the programme had transformed the pupils’ education.
“The learning of this course before using this programme and after using this programme is completely different,” said Mr Abd Ellatif.
“It gives them all visual aids. Deaf students have great fun using the latest technology – touching, using iPads – and they found this in this programme. They found fun.
“It’s like they’re playing online with their friends. They learn and they educate this way.”
He said the technology helped him to improve communication with his pupils because it allowed them to send him instant messages through the application.
The software also enables teachers to embed sign language videos to translate YouTube or other instructional videos so students can understand what they are watching.
The interactive lessons simultaneously broadcast on the classroom Smart Board and the pupils’ tablet screens. Occasionally, multiple-choice questions appear on screen requiring students to click and drag the answer to the right question. When a student answers correctly, a symbol flashes on screen signalling praise.
Mr Gheyath hopes to replicate the successes of Al Amal School for Deaf Students in other schools for children with special needs.
The ministry’s plan is to install the Smart Learning Programme technology in all K-12 public schools in the country by 2019.
© The National
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