December 2006

Power School

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SPRINGDALES, Pusa Pioneering
Change with Technology

Good teaching can be defined as that which supports effective learning. It must create opportunities for the development of both tacit and theoretical knowledge. Good teaching means analysing theories in ways that are meaningful, and providing the learner with the opportunity to relate these theories to practical experience. It involves providing students for implicit knowledge acquisition. So, can these principles be applied to teaching through Information and Communication Technology (ICT)? Yes, technology enhances learning by making it more exciting and eliminating repetitive tasks. In acknowledging different learning styles, the multimedia experience like sound, text, pictures, music and video that modern technology provides, is invaluable. And Springdales School in Pusa, New Delhi, India proves it all. Simmi Kher (simmikher@gmail.com), IT Coordinator, Springdales answers all the 'How's and 'What's.

The effective use of ICT is integral to the wider strategy of bringing about improvements to teaching and learning in the classroom.  Why? Because technology is an important part of Springdales' everyday life, and children love to use it to play and learn. ICT in the classroom has been linked with positive improvements in attainment and motivation.  The school Principal Ameeta Mulla Wattal's vision towards Information Technology resulted in Springdales School, Pusa, being honoured with the Intel Technology Award for the 'Best Integration of Computers in Curriculum -2003'

Change in any context is difficult; to change one needs to be prepared to take risks, make mistakes and be committed to the purpose of the change. This school has always been a pioneer of any change, hence, the novel idea of starting a Computer Resource Centre, which was built with the vision of empowering the faculty with the knowledge of incorporating technology into their daily teaching and learning process.

Infrastructure
The school has two Computer Labs for the classes 2-8 and a Senior Computer Lab for the classes 9-12 and a Computer Resource Centre for the teachers. Apart from this computers are provided to each class supervisor for the teachers to use. The school staff rooms, all the science labs, the art rooms, the social work department, the maths lab, the library, the school office, junior school are all equipped with computers. The school has an infrastructure of 150 computers.

Preparation for the integration of technology
In order to prepare the school for the technology integration in to the school curriculum, the following steps were taken in the year 2000:

  • The computer wing was renovated with many changes.
  • The teachers were trained under INTEL Teach To The Future Programme.
  • The Computer Resource Centre was designed.
  • The Audio Visual Room was designed in such a manner, that the teachers making computerised presentations could take their classes in this room. The room has a white screen, a computer and LCD projector so that the children can see the presentation on a bigger screen.
  • 100% of teachers are today computer literate and are using the technology effectively.

Actual implementation of technology aided learning
Initially to motivate teachers towards Technology aided teaching, multimedia-based, computer-aided teaching software was brought into the school and at the same time the teachers were encouraged to make their own presentations too and a knowledge bank was created in the Computer Resource centre. Various Educational CDS catering to different subjects were also bought.

Over a period of time we realised that the presentations that were being made were mostly for the middle and senior school, where as the multimedia teaching is really enjoyed by the junior school students. On investigating on this issue, we found out the junior teachers were not getting enough time to work on the computer to make presentations though they were effectively using computers to make their worksheets, mark sheets and class lists. To solve this problem the school came out with a pilot project called Digitisation of Junior School Syllabus, where the senior school students were involved to make technology aided lessons for the junior school. The teachers designed their lessons on paper and the students transformed it into a multimedia presentation, using Flash, sound files, animated gifs and movies and the result was astonishing. The presentations made by the students are being used by the teachers and a data bank is being maintained in the Computer Resource Centre.

The Maths Lab is making an extensive use of computers to conduct their activities and a dry subject like mathematics is made interesting.

ICT for special need
Special needs children can shine using ICT, and their self-esteem and self-confidence soars, especially when they become 'the class expert'. We know if dyslexic learners are to make progress, they must have a multi-sensory approach where they can look, listen and touch. So what could be a better medium than a computer? We have been teaching Information Technology to the dyslexic children for the last 3 years and they do so well securing marks above 90% in their board exams in this particular subject.

Designing
The school makes abundant use of technology in designing. Newsletters, handouts, programme cover, Invita-tion cards, etc. are all designed in-house. Each art room is equipped with a multimedia computer, colour printer and scanner. Starting from the annual day invitation cards, the handout brochure, to the ballet, everything has computer graphics supporting it and the complete show is computerised with light and laser effects.

Computerised library
The school library has been computerised by a Library Management Software along with a barcode reader. This performs automated library tasks from catalogue maintenance to issue, re-issue and returns. Quick searches are possible by author, title, and subject. Two computers are kept in the library so that the students can surf the catalogue for the books they want and know the availability status of the books.

Administration with ict
The school office is fullycomputerised using softwarepackages for Accounts, Providentfor the last 3 years and they do soFunds, Salary, School Fees, School
Transport, and Income Tax.

Reaching out to the other world
Apart from imparting computer education to the students and teachers of our school, Springdales' continuous endeavour has been to impart all kinds of education to the less privileged too. The programmes undertaken in this line are:
1. SWASHAKTI: A Vocational Training Centre was launched in January 2005 to promote economic empowerment of underprivileged youth in the areas adjoining the school through computer application courses.
2.  Mobile Computer Education Programme: The van with 16 computers reaches the nearby community.
3.  Twinning Programme: Springdales School has adopted a school (A.D.S.B Vidyalaya, Jhandewala), to which the teachers go and teach.
5.  Dasghara and Todapur Computer Project:  Two computer centres have been set up at the Dasghara and Todapur Villages by Springdales School. As a part of this endeavour student from these villages come to work in the school computer labs too.

Two wonder kids who build own computers
New Horizon, a Lagos based ICT training centre, discovered two junior secondary school students under the age of twelve who have the ability to assemble a computer in 15 minutes and have actually built their own computer with a trade mark DASH.

The kids, Davidson Oseremen and Shittu Rilwan are two of a kind who met at a private secondary school, Doregos Academy in Ipaja. The former hails from Edo state while the later is from Kwara state in the South-South and South West regions of Nigeria, respectively. DASH is actually formed from the first two letters of DAVIDSON and the first two letters from SHITTU.

ICT Empowerment Project organised by New Horizons at secondary schools in Nigeria which discovered the wonder kids is such that the students of participating schools are being trained in all areas of IT from Junior Secondary School to Senior Secondary School.

Wakrah school pilots e-learning class project
Around 188 students of Al Wakra Independent School for Girls in Qatar will soon begin studying through their Tablet PCs as ictQATAR's 'eSchoolbag' project took off. eSchoolbag, that proposes to ease the burden of the traditional schoolbags through students access to multi featured Tablet PCs, is presently being piloted at this school.

Launched as a collaboration between ictQATAR and Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA) last September, the project will allow students to carry their 'eSchoolbags' home. So far the Tablet PCs were being used only within the school's premises.

 iCELL will be responsible for eSchoolbag rollout and training. Eight teachers have gone through iCELL's rigorous training scheme that equips them with the knowledge to employ tablet computers in class and to encourage inquiry based learning.

Video links learning       
From a large TV at the back of a Norfolk classroom in southern England an extra pupil is joining in a lesson – from about 300 miles away in the Channel Islands ( a group of British dependent islands). It is 15-year-old David Brehaut, who without the video the link to maths and ICT classes at Sheringham High School would not be able to gain any qualifications at the only school on his home island of Sark. His only other option is to move to the mainland away from his family.

He has been given a chance to study at a Norfolk school from his own because of recent government investment in ICT in Norfolk schools which means more and more can be done through computer networks, the Internet and video conferencing. And

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