[14 July 2015] Husin Ludsuman Abduhalim, Principal I of Maluso Central Elementary School, couldn’t wait to show the mobile digital laboratory to his kindergarten pupils when he gets back to Basilan.
Husin Ludsuman Abduhalim, Principal I of Maluso Central Elementary School, couldn’t wait to show the mobile digital laboratory to his kindergarten pupils when he gets back to Basilan.
Teacher Sin, as he is called by students and co-teachers, thinks that this latest initiative from undisputed leader in mobile Smart Communications, Inc. (Smart) will help make learning more engaging for the young learners in his school.
“Our kinder kids, who are mostly five-year-olds, are excited about using the gadgets. I’m pretty sure they will be motivated to learn with the help of technology,” he assured.
Teacher Sin said even the students’ parents were amazed when they learned that their children will get to use tablets in kindergarten school. More often than not, only students in higher grade levels or in high school get to use gadgets.
Just like Teacher Sin’s students, kindergarten learners from 14 other public schools across the country will soon experience digital learning through the Smart TechnoCart, an innovative mobile digital laboratory designed to facilitate formative learning among young pupils with the use of mobile devices and applications.
Each Smart TechnoCart contains 20 tablets for the use of students; a tablet, laptop and projector for the use of the teacher; Smart Bro pocket WiFi with load for connectivity; and the Smart One Campus, a learning management system to help administrators and teachers track and measure their students’ academic performance. Its compact and portable design makes it easy for the teacher to transfer the laboratory from one classroom to another. To help schools optimize the use of the Smart TechnoCart, teachers are also given training on tablet basics. They are also provided training on child and curriculum development by the Community of Learners Foundation (COLF).
The Smart TechnoCart tablets are pre-loaded with the Batibot mobile app, the first localized mobile app aligned with the Kindergarten curriculum based on the hugely popular children’s television show. Developed with COLF and startup partner OrangeFix, the mobile app makes available educational content from the TV show into the mobile device for mobility and accessibility. Just like the TV show, the Batibot app is also in Filipino.
“The Smart TechnoCart is a mobile laboratory designed to address the need of young students for interactive and engaging learning tools to help them better grasp basic concepts. It does make for smarter learning,” said Ramon R. Isberto, head of Public Affairs at Smart.
The other public kindergarten schools identified by the Department of Education School Divisions as initial beneficiaries are: Batu-Batu Central Elementary School, Datu Halun Laboratory Elementary School, and Yusop Dais Elementary School from Tawi-Tawi; Calasiao Central School, and Mangatarem Central School in Pangasinan; Bacacay East Central School, and Polangui South Central School in Albay; Tipo-Tipo Central Elementary School of Basilan; Antonio L. Jayme Elementary School, Education and Training Center School II, and Rodolfo A. Medel Sr. Elementary School of Bacolod; Banilad Elementary School, and Regino Mercado Elementary School of Cebu; and Parañaque Central Elementary School for Metro Manila.
“The Smart TechnoCart is perfect for millennials. That’s how kids consume their content now—they learn using their tablets and smart phones. I have a nephew who, when he was two years old, can already navigate the tablet, and he couldn’t even talk yet! Children who saw a tablet for the first time were able to open it within 5 seconds without help. It comes naturally to them,” said Stephanie V. Orlino, senior manager and head of education programs at Smart Public Affairs.
Bringing back Filipino kids to Filipino
Equally important is the push for Filipino content that is aligned with the kindergarten curriculum.
“What makes the Smart TechnoCart unique is we didn’t stop with these devices. We developed the first localized mobile application aligned with the kindergarten curriculum, which is Batibot. This is our contribution to help promote literacy, using the mother tongue, among young students,” added Orlino.
The Batibot app features beloved characters like Manang Bola. The interactive educational application teaches kids letters, numbers, shapes, and colors. The app also engages them in children’s stories and sing-along videoke.
In 2013, Smart commissioned a study on the effectiveness of tablets as tools for learning in kindergarten. Study showed that students introduced to tablets improved far greater than those without tablets. “When kids learn letters and numbers, the kids need to see it, hear it, and touch it. The students can do all these with tablets,” Orlino added.
Last year, Smart started training teachers of public elementary schools on how to maximize tablets for teaching and learning under the Tablet 101 initiative. During the one-day training course, the teachers learned how to create widgets, maximize battery life, how to use the privacy settings, the learning mobile apps they could use, and how to get these from the Google Play Store or the Apps Store, for Android, and iOS devices, respectively.
Smart, through its LearnSmart program, has implemented various initiatives aimed at enhancing Philippine education across the learning stages. To know more about Smart’s education initiatives, and how you can help other kindergarten schools have their own Smart TechnoCart, click on www.smart.com.ph/learnsmart.