How the iPad is changing life in UAE classrooms
Gone are the days when students brought apples for their teachers. In today's schools, the students are getting the Apples - their own hi-tech devices.
In a move to get down with the kids and improve education, schools across the UAE have started introducing Apple gizmos as learning tools.
GEMS Royal Dubai School has a growing cache of 62 iPads and 58 iPods in use across the school, with learners able to access approximately 300 applications and e-books. Children are also encouraged to bring their own devices to class to support their learning.
The school uses its tablets for everything from maths, to languages, to video production. In French and Arabic lessons, children use Garageband and iMovie on their iPads to develop their language skills.
Students also use iBooks Author to write their own interactive books, which are then published to their iTunes libraries on their iPads, so that all their friends can read them. The real question, however, is: “Will an Apple a day keep low grades away?”
The teachers certainly believe so. Aminah Evans, foundation stage leader at GEMS Royal Dubai School, says: “Even after just a few weeks of using the iPads, we were seeing huge improvements in the children’s letter recognition, letter formation and phonics.”
The use of iBooks Author, has also had a significant impact on children’s motivation to write and edit their work, as they know it will be published and viewed by a real audience, according to Phil Redhead, the school’s director of curriculum development and innovation.
“Far from ‘dumbing down’ the learning, as many fear,” explains Redhead, “the children report that the iPads make them work harder to ensure that their finished pieces are carefully edited and fit for online publication.”
The school even has its own app, allowing the children to publish their own news and work.
“Publishing to our iLibrary on the iPad means that we have to work even harder to make sure that our work is perfect,” says Year 5 student Melania Mihalcea.
Parents who download the school’s free app can view the students’ work on their own devices. British mother-of-two Michelle Proto admits she was wary at first.
“But soon, I saw that my children were learning very fast using the iPads and that they even enjoyed doing homework,” she said.
The attraction kids have to tablets is also a terrific opportunity for app developers. RGH Games has developed ‘The Math Mage’ game, which gives kids exciting adventures where mental arithmetic helps defeat monsters.
When gizmos are used wisely, it seems kids are so busy playing, they forget they’re learning.
As the New York Times pointed out in 2010, the iPhone has “become the more effective tool in human history to mollify a fussy toddler”. And apps such as Toddler Teasers, Infant Arcade and Peek-A-Boo make Apple’s gadgets even more effective pacifiers.
Sure these apps are a godsend to many tired parents, keeping the kids busy so Mum and Dad can have a bit of peace and quiet, but could they also be one of Apple's stealth strategies for recruiting the next generation
Apple marketers know full well that this "hand-me-down influence," guarantees future patrons. Companies and retailers work hard to get us to pass on our brand preferences to our children. So, when Steve Jobs made a product like the iPad so simple a toddler can use it, perhaps he knew that making a prosperous future for shareholders would be child’s play.