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Samsung enriches learning with Smart School technology

Lavington Primary pupils during a Smart School class session at the Samsung Electronics Engineering Academy in Westlands in Nairobi on December 10, 2012. Photo/DIANA NGILA
Lavington Primary pupils during a Smart School class session at the Samsung Electronics Engineering Academy in Westlands in Nairobi on December 10, 2012. Photo/DIANA NGILA   Nation Media Group

Helga Ndinda, 11, swipes to turn the pages on her Samsung Galaxy tablet during a Social Studies lesson at school.

The tech savvy Standard Five pupil at Lavington Primary School taps and pinches the touch screen of her device to flip through the teacher’s presentation, view photos and answer quizzes.

Mr Edward Njoroge, the subject teacher, uses a felt pen-like stylus to input commands, make notes and share content with learners through the giant 65-inch computer screen located at the right corner in front of the classroom.

Welcome to learning in the digital age which trades the traditional dusty blackboard for an LCD electronic board with optical touch capacity which allows teachers can share content with their students.

“I find classes really interesting when we use these tablets,” says Helga who is part of the pioneer class where Samsung is piloting its e-learning solution dubbed Smart School.

The ease with which the radiant learner navigates through the mobile device betrays the fact that she first came face to face with a tablet computer less than a week ago.

“The pupils are very excited by this technology because through multimedia resources, the learning is experiential,” Mr Njoroge told the Business Daily.

The Samsung Smart School solution is the latest mobile-powered education application to be rolled out in Kenyan schools, as learning moves to virtual platforms.

The Korean electronics giant is testing the application at its Samsung Electronics Engineering Academy in Nairobi where a select class of 15 has been taking part in the trial runs.

“The platform enhances learning in a personalised, interactive environment which increases enthusiasm for learning,” says Mr John Kamonde, the lead technical support at the research hub.

Local technology experts have also developed multiple education applications designed to digitise text books and quizzes, offer interactive lesson podcasts and allow for sharing of learning content.

Continued uptake of digital learning may condemn ‘analogue’ tools such as exercise books, text books, chalk and blackboards to history as learning acquires an electronic face characterised by interactive multimedia.

Safaricom is currently piloting its e-learning platform Safaricom Blackboard at Starehe Boys Centre and School.

The programme launched in July allows teachers to record their lessons and store the digital content on the Safaricom Cloud. Students and teachers from any part of the country then access this material online through the Safaricom Blackboard at a fee.

Finnish tech giant Nokia in October began trials on a mobile based education application in 10 schools to aid in the teaching of sciences especially mathematics.

The platform, Nokia Education Delivery, carries educational material to mobile phones which can then be connected to a television or projector to teach larger groups of learners.

The Kenya Institute of Education, the State-funded curriculum developer, in January began digitising the primary and secondary school curriculum and preparing e-learning materials to help teachers deliver ICT-integrated lessons.

A complete Smart School kit features a Galaxy Note 10.1, an e-board and the necessary software that allows teacher- student interaction.

Lavington Primary School headmistress Agnes Ndolo is excited about a feature of the app that allows for remote management where from the comfort of her office she can monitor what each class is learning.

“If I can monitor the entire school from my office, that improves on our administrative management and I can tell which classes were taught and which ones were missed,” said the head of the school with 1,041 pupils and 32 teachers.

The facility also allows the teacher to remotely manage student’s tablets through sharing content and locking their display screens. From the e-board, a teacher can also take a roll call of learners as it shows the names of all the students who have logged into the class session.

“With the Classroom Management functionality, the teacher can send what’s on the board to the students’ Galaxy Tabs and monitor their devices,” said Samsung Electronics East Africa business leader Koki Muia who is in charge of service.

Michael Najoli, 12, says the tablets have helped improve his concentration and review lessons learnt at home.

“With this, (tablet) I can revise at any time and I think that will make me perform much better,” says the pupils who is set to join Standard Eight next year.

hdavid@ke.nationmedia.com