M Saraswathy / Mumbai Nov 07, 2011

You would expect a pre-school to engage toddlers with the customary building blocks, colours, alphabets and numbers. In a bid to stand apart from the rest, many schools now sport digital blackboards, tablet PCs, digital audio-visual mediums and interactive boards — replacing the abacus, blackboards and charts. Enter the age of ‘smart classrooms’ for toddlers. Leading the way are schools like EuroSchool, Vibgyor, TreeHouse, KidZee and Kangaroo Kids.

Deepa Bhushan, head of curriculum at Kangaroo Kids, says, “Technology is very important at all levels these days. Digital content and audio-visual learning aids make classroom lessons engaging and help children learn in their own individual space.” The school, adds Bhushan, plans to introduce tablet PCs from next year to make lessons more user-friendly.

 What do parents think of this? Deepak Kanulkar, a parent, believes this is the era of technology-savvy kids. He adds that there are several creative teaching aids available to match children’s expectations and help them understand objects and words that are difficult to explain or project.

Classrooms at EuroSchool are powered with multimedia content like diagrams, videos, animated experiments and demos. Interactive touchscreens and electronic pens add to the interesting ways in which a child can participate in the class. Thus, teachers can navigate between the traditional blackboard-method and the digital screen. Dhruv Lilani, a student of EuroSchool, says technology-enabled classrooms made learning an exciting experience and helped him understand topics faster. “It is a fun way to learn,” he adds.

Kanika Rana, another parent of a child studying at EuroKids pre-school, explains that technology made it easier for her child to associate with the learning process. Because of these initiatives, her child, she says, was able to grasp several concepts in school that would have been difficult to explain at home.

Natasha Mehta, principal of EuroSchool in Navi Mumbai, says, “Integrating technology in all classrooms and not just the AV room or the ICT lab has enhanced the conceptual understanding of children and strengthened the teaching-learning process. In an age in which children use PSPs, handle iPhones and other gadgets with extreme ease, we find that technology engages students more effectively, since they receive auditory and visual stimulation in a very appealing and informative manner.”

Though Kidzee uses basic technology in the classroom that provides children with the visual and auditory medium of learning, it plans to introduce them to technology through interactive learning modules, since they believe that technology-assisted teaching enables differentiated learning styles and assists visual, auditory and kinesthetic learners.

Nitya Ramaswami, head of child development and academics, Zee Learn, explains, “Children love to explore new things. It helps make learning interesting and strengthens concept formation. Parents’ expectations have changed. Initially, parents were happy if their kids could communicate in English. Today, parents want their children to use technology that will enable them in their future learning.”

Tree House has introduced interactive whiteboards in classrooms that inculcate adoption of technology at a very early age in students. At Vibgyor High, apart from these whiteboards and other audio-visual aids, letters, numerals and stories are introduced through multimedia presentations. The sessions involve activities using headphones, through Listening Posts where each child follows instructions played on a CD. This helps in developing and enhancing their listening and comprehension skills.

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