Tablet technology takes teaching into 21st century

Updated 07 December 2012
0

Tablet technology takes teaching into 21st century

Emma Mccluskey’s classroom looks much like any other.
A verb chart, posters and pupils’ work adorn the walls. The children lean over their desks, seven and eight-year-old brows furrowed in concentration.
In its essence, it is a scene that could have been recorded at any time since Shakespeare was at school.
Except it isn’t. Instead of textbooks, the pupils are pouring over tablet computers linked in to a wireless broadband network.
There are still pencils in their hands but for how much longer? In an age when toddlers learn to use touchscreens before they can speak, tablet technology is about to take teaching into a brave new word, and McCluskey’s students have been invited to the preview.
In September, the British School of Paris (BSP), where McCluskey teaches, became one of a handful of schools across Europe to take the plunge and decide to restructure their teaching around the technology that is already integral to its students’ lives.
Every pupil at the international school on the outskirts of Paris, from four-year-olds to university-bound 18-year-olds and every member of staff, was issued with an iPad at the start of the autumn term.
Not everyone was convinced. Parents fretted that their children would be on Facebook as soon as their teachers’ backs were turned, or that an iPad in the bag would make then a target for mugging.
Three months on, everyone involved is still adapting and the experiment has not been without hiccups. Surfing on the move during break times, for example, had to be banned after a few children took a tumble.
But overall, the verdict is positive from both pupils and staff like McCluskey, who lights up when she talks about an upcoming project on maps.
“Normally it’s quite a drabby kind of topic but it’s brilliant now,” she says. “We’re going to be taking birds eye view photographs with the iPad and then were doing a (virtual) tour of the school.” Like most European schools, the BSP was already linked into a virtual learning environment, with resources increasingly drawn from the Internet and classrooms equipped with interactive whiteboards. But a traditional computer room arrangement meant even a well-resourced school like BSP could only get its pupils online for as little as two hours per week.
In that context, giving each pupil the means to access the available resources at their own pace, was a no-brainer for Steffen Sommer, the headmaster of the school.
“Unlike us adults, today’s children are natives of this technology,” he says. “They have an urge to communicate, they have an urge to research.
“It is very different from what education used to be like, It’s wrong to ask the children to learn in a 20th-century style when they’re clearly living in a different world.” The tablets did not come cheap. Wear-and-tear and the pace of technological innovation mean they will last only two or three years.
The school has also had to shell out 200,000 euros ($256,000) to upgrade their wireless network, which uses a “smooth wall,” to keep students off inappropriate websites.
But savings on ink and paper, which alone was costing the school 100,000 euros ($128,000) per year, and the lower price of e-textbooks, means the new technology should pay for itself in the medium term, as well as being more environmentally friendly.
In McCluskey’s classroom, students follow along on their tablets as she guides them to online math worksheets tailored to their individual abilities.
Her students come from all over the world, some initially speak little English, and a few have learning difficulties. Across that spectrum, she reports improved motivation.
“When they have to do something on the iPad they really can’t wait to get started — if it’s in their book it takes them about 10 minutes sometimes just to get the date written,” she said.
The time saved by the devices is a recurring theme. Older students play games on them and access social media (outside class, of course) but they are also used to snap photos or record audio of their homework assignments, gaining precious minutes in the end-of-lesson rush.
In the evenings they can ask each other questions or work with other students on group projects using video chat.
“Quite a few people lost their homework last year because we had so many papers and things that we had to give in,” reports 12-year-old Mia Lawson.
“It’s quite fun because you get to make different things on it and there are loads of different apps that you can get.” BSP’s initial plan was to ask parents to ensure each student brought their own tablet-style device but it was decided that operating on different platforms would be too complicated.
Apple’s iPad was chosen partly because its extended battery life suits the school day and, for the moment, gives it an edge over rivals, but also because of resources available through from the world’s most valuable company.
With programs for creating interactive resources, a huge number of textbooks available for download, and more than 20,000 educational apps, Apple has spent years positioning itself in anticipation of an explosion of sales of mobile Internet devices in the education sector, according to tech website Wired.com’s Tim Carmody.
“It’s not just about engaging students. It’s about engaging everyone in the education and publishing industries,” Carmody wrote.
At the release for their textbook apps in January, Apple’s Phil Schiller said that 1.5 million iPads were currently being used in education. The new mini-iPad, launched last month, has been designed specifically with the education market in mind.
BSP headmaster Sommer says its up to each teacher to decide how much use they make of the device at their disposal. What matters is creating active learners.

“The notion of problem solving is a most fundamental 21st century skill, much more so than detailed knowledge which might be obsolete tomorrow,” he says.
“They’re given a task and with the technology they are working out by themselves how they can solve that task.”


Huda Al-Nuaimi’s Ramadan edit is giving us real nautical vibes

Updated 20 May 2018
0

Huda Al-Nuaimi’s Ramadan edit is giving us real nautical vibes

  • The capsule collection focuses on paisley prints in playful shapes
  • The outfits are ideal for iftar and suhoor gatherings

DUBAI: This Ramadan, Huda Al-Nuaimi, the designer behind the eponymous Emirati contemporary label, has launched a holiday/Ramadan edit, and “summer” is clearly the theme of the day.

Featuring a complimentary color palette of fire engine red, seafoam white and cobalt blue — not to mention the stunning backdrop of the sea in the collection’s look book photographs — the Holiday Collection is all about how rising summer temperatures call “for print and texture to warm up your wardrobe.”


The label notes that the capsule collection focuses on “paisley prints in playful shapes, with bell or flounce sleeves (and) Chikan embroidery (a traditional embroidery style from Lucknow, India) with accentuated shoulders and button details.”

The dresses and abayas are gorgeous. We’re huge fans of the nautical striped dress, which the designer advises to wear with trainers during the day or heels in the evening. We’re also loving the hand-beaded, striped linen abaya-overcoat style outfit, complete with 1990s rendition earrings.
As with any of her collections, women should not be afraid to accessorize.

“I truly believe accessories make an outfit,” Al-Nuaimi — who studied at the London College of Fashion — told Emirates Woman magazine. “It is the piece that takes a look from simple to fun, from day to evening, or from casual to polished. It’s key to get the right balance and know how and when to accessorize.”

Almost every piece in the collection works as a wardrobe staple and can be re-worn again and again, so whatever you decide to invest in will probably come in handy for the rest of the summer season. The blue-and-white printed kaftan and drop shoulder red-and white dress are both particularly handy, even beyond Ramadan. Both flowy, loose dresses are slightly fitted at the waist, boast V-shaped necklines and feature hemlines that end just above the ankle, making them perfect for summer travels and evening iftar gatherings.

Al-Nuaimi is one of the few UAE-born brands to impress international buyers so much that it secured a partnership with a global e-retailer MatchesFashion.com, after the website’s co-founder complimented the designer on her handbag.

She recalls the incident in a conversation with Vogue Arabia, saying: “I was at a MatchesFashion.com event where I met (co-founder) Ruth Chapman, who told me, ‘I love your bag.’ It was my own design and featured embellished pins. She gave me her business card. I gave her a call and she told me that she really liked the concept. That’s when I thought to myself, ‘How can I get them to her?’”
Securing a spot on one if the world’s leading e-retail websites isn’t bad for a brand that was established in 2016.