Many schools in the UAE are slowly and surely switching over to Smart classrooms with teachers using smart screens to teach and children using smartphones and notepads to learn.
Most notably,the Mohammed Bin Rashid Smart Learning programme(MBRSLP), established in 2012 has enabled more than 24,000 students and more than 3,500 teachers in 146 schools to deliver a world class education through leading technology solutions.
As parents, many of us are worried about whether this will really be beneficial to our children or would it just increase their addiction to technology.
So what really is Smart Learning? Smart learning is the introduction of IT and multimedia in classrooms thus creating and implementing a more effective education delivery process. This programme aims to empower students to develop their capabilities and strengths while maintaining their cultural understanding of the area.
So what are the advantages of SMART learning?
1. Access to online resources: Internet can be a source of great learning. The teachers and students can use various resources available on the internet for every subject. The sheer volume of information available can be accessed to satisfy the curious minds who want to go beyond what is printed in their school books.
2.Better assimilation of subjects: In traditional classrooms students understand a subject only as well as a teacher can explain it. Multimedia and interactive learning used in smart classrooms can help in learning better, especially those topics that cannot be explained well using the traditional methods of teaching. Students understand and learn more from what they see than from what they hear.
3.Digital medium for notes: In a traditional classroom, students have to take down notes which the teacher writes on the board or dictates. This is not only a cumbersome process but it also distracts the students from actually paying attention to the lecture. In a Smart learning classroom, notes would already be provided to the students in the form of powerpoint presentations, word documents etc. Which allows the student to pay full attention to the teacher. Since the lectures are recorded, students can access the lectures repeatedly. This is also advantageous to students who have to take breaks during the terms and have to catch up on the missed classes.
4. Access to experts: Smart classrooms have video conferencing facilities which can be used to talk to experts on various subjects. It can be used to educate about the issues and new developments in a particular subject or for a broader understanding of industry in general. This is very good for their future.
5. Better performance in class: Smart classrooms improve the academic performance of students by helping to enrich their understanding and develop a stronger base in any subject. The availability of recorded lectures and notes allows students learn better. The use of technology and multimedia makes learning a fun experience. Studies show that the students that study on computers, phones, or tablets, study for an average of 40 minutes or more per week than those who do not.
6. Fun in learning: Children today are exposed to smartphones, tablets or computers very early in their lives. Learning with the same tools makes it more fun to learn. Dissemination of information in powerpoint presentations or videos or internet or video conferencing makes it easier for the students to grasp concepts.
7. Health benefits: Smart classrooms are also a boon to teachers and students who maybe allergic to chalk dust and chalk or sensitive to the ink in marker pens. Smart classrooms use digital resources a lot and reduces the use of chalk or marker pens.
8. Options for teaching: Yet another advantage of smart classrooms are that the teacher can have more options for teaching methods. The more choices you have to present something, the freer you are to meet your students’ needs.
As with all things new, there are a few disadvantages as well.
1. Cost: Technology needed to implement SMART learning in classrooms is quite expensive. All schools cannot afford it. In the schools that do implement it, very often the school fees can be quite high. All parents cannot afford to send their children to SMART learning schools.
2.Skilled teachers: SMART learning is an innovative learning technique which requires teachers to change the way they teach. Teachers have to be trained to use the SMART learning technology effectively.
3.Maintenance and repair: SMART learning relies heavily on electronic equipment which need to be maintained in proper conditions. The technology needs to be updated regularly as well which is time consuming and costly. The school also has to hire maintenance personnel.
4. Technical faults: All electronic equipment is prone to technical faults. If the technology fails on one day, the teachers have to be prepared to teach without the technology as well. This increases the workload of the teachers as well.
The advantages of SMART learning class rooms far outweigh any disadvantages of the programme. Future innovations in the fields of education and computer science will not only decrease costs involved but will further improve the programme and make it more effective. As parents, we can be sure that the infusion of technology in the classrooms will heighten the interest of the students in learning and they will be encouraged to explore further to develop their interests. Implementing this programme in schools will improve the learning experience of many students and ensure that they are prepared for the future.