School takes maths to the next level with iPad


BM, 23-12-2012 20:05:00


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Introduces well-researched learning platform that enables teachers to monitor students without looking over their shoulder

In a small room in Bangalore, 20-odd children gather twice a week for a 40-minute class on mathematics. The fourth graders take their place quietly, but are not facing a blackboard.

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There is no teacher with a piece of chalk either. Each child in the class, however, has a new iPad, with a light pen and ear phones.
 
Unlike computer-based learning where the student interfaces with the computer using a mouse and keyboard, this system allows them to use their fingers or a light pen to answer questions.
 
This is how GEAR Innovative International School conducts math classes these days. The old ‘chalk and talk’ system is not completely replaced. Instead, the five classes per week of 40 minutes each now comprise three in the old system and two with iPads. The pilot project, which began about a year ago, went live two weeks ago.
 
The system is based on a unique learning platform created by Prazas, a US-based company promoted by four Indian engineers. Called Tabtor (acronym for Tablet Tutor), the learning tool considers how children perceive the subject and how teachers can do their job more effectively.
 
Sundi Iyer, one of the promoters, said, “With this new tool, the school can cut nearly 80 per cent of the non-teaching time, which comprises up to 40 per cent of the time a teacher spends with children.” The time assigned for preparing question papers, correcting and grading them is classified as non-teaching time.
 
“The boost in efficiency can be quite significant,” said Iyer. “It allows teachers to monitor every child at the same time and keep track of their progress, including how much time each child took to solve any given problem.”
 
While teacher efficiency is a clear target, iPad-based teaching infuses enthusiasm among students, which is hard to miss.
 
When asked how many children prefer iPad-based maths over the paper-and-pen system, all hands in the class went up.
 
GEAR school plans to increase the number of children covered by this new method to about 900 next year from around 250 this year.
 
Though only mathematics in English is being taught on the iPad at present, Tabtor is equipped to handle any subject in English and several Indian languages.
 
The school’s founder-principal M Srinivasan said that the school had initially tried Android-based tablets.
 
“However, the reception from children was not encouraging. We felt that if we have to go for tablet-based learning, we have to choose the best option,” he told Bangalore Mirror.

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