Complex Made Simple

IT in education – ‘no longer a luxury’

Technology has become an integral part of educating children around the world. Gone are the days where a teacher would sit down with their class and teach using just a textbook, blackboard and piece of chalk. And IT companies in the region are now moving en masse to provide these technological needs.

Children can now enjoy the use of iPads, interactive white boards and internet in the classroom, offering a richer and more interactive learning experience. “IT in education is not a luxury any more it is now an enabler for the modern education concepts. This is a real differentiator for the education suppliers,” states Hatem Sallam, general manager of education at ITWorx.

Usually when people speak of technology in education they mean one of three major things, reveals Sallam. He lists them as the school management system, which is like the ERP for the schools.

“Also they look at the learning management system and this is the platform for collaboration, for creating content, for people to have examination question banks, attendance models. And the third would be the content itself where you are making use of the media abilities that come through technology. These are the three main pillars,” he explains.

IT in education is a growing trend

In this region IT and education is a growing trend, rather than an established one. “In certain markets like North America and Western Europe, IT in education has been there for the last ten years. In this region now we’re seeing an increased trend in deploying technology in the learning environment,” says Aaron Fright, regional director at SMART Technologies Middle East.

“We’re seeing a level of increased adoption on interactive and collaboration technologies in the learning space, whether that’s public school private or higher education,” he adds.
One of the major factors affecting the deployment of technology within a classroom is cost.

Particularly for public schools, meeting these costs can be difficult. However, with some technological advances, schools may be able to make savings through adapting their IT.

“Especially in this economic crisis, technology helps people overcome these problems. We offer cloud and help schools to go to a very low price to adapt programmes and to get rid of the hassle of management and the operations of the whole thing. Not only that but we provide tools that enable in an innovative way the teachers and students to develop content themselves and not have to buy them. Our costs can go as low as $10 per student per year,” explains Sallam.

Risks associated to deploying technology in classrooms

There are some risks of deploying technology in a classroom – chief among which is a lack of understanding. However, this can be overcome through proper training at the time the technology is first introduced.

“There are some key considerations that you need to go through before you deploy the technology to ensure you have a successful deployment of that technology,” reasons Fright.

“is critical because if you’re not able to provide the right level of training and professional development framework for using the technology then you’re not going to get that level of success,” he adds.

The 3D interactive whiteboard

SMART Technologies’ product is an example of where proper training is vital. The firm’s latest version of its interactive whiteboard is 3D capable, meaning the learning experience of a student is made more interactive and a lot more captivating than a blackboard and chalk. While the board is easy to use and adapt to, it is still easy to imagine schools would not get the most out of it, were they not to receive the proper support at the time of installation.

Users of the interactive boards are able to put an image up on screen in 3D, and using a cube shaped controller, rotate, move and examine it in great detail. The benefits for a class full of children are plain to see, especially in a world with an increasing demand for interactivity.