Mimio Global Press

Herald Sun
School gears up for a hi-tech future

CUTTING-edge technology from iPads to interactive whiteboards is revolutionising Victorian classrooms.
July 15, 2010

MELBOURNE, Australia - Bialik College in Hawthorn is leading the charge with the purchase of 24 iPads to be used by students from kindergarten to year 12.

Financed by the school's parents' association, the devices will be used for everything from interactive numeracy to harnessing Google Earth to study geography, music and art.

The news comes as the visiting head of one of the world's biggest education technology companies says Victoria is the most advanced state in the nation at embracing such gadgets in schools.

Bialik College principal Joseph Gerassi said educational tools such as iPads, laptops and interactive whiteboards were being integrated into the school curriculum as a way of engaging today's tech-savvy students in their own language.

"This is about making learning fun, collaborative and imaginative," Mr Gerassi said.

"These types of tools are already being used outside school by many of our students and by embracing them for educational purposes, we will create new possibilities for them."

Interactive whiteboards display images and text. They allow teachers, with the touch of a hand, to move images or bring up extra information.

Mr Gerassi said rather than replacing traditional learning tools such as books, the college would explore ways of using such new technology in conjunction with the old methods.

The school's head of curriculum, Marc Light, said the students themselves would play a major role in designing and developing their own applications as part of the process.

Such forward thinking is crucial if the marriage of new technology and students is going to work in the classroom of the future, according to the head of education technology company Mimio.

In Australia as part of a worldwide fact-finding tour, Mimio general manager Laurence Huntley said his early experience as a volunteer teacher in Africa had taught him the value of an open-minded approach to learning.

"My year in Ghana taught me that if you give students the right opportunities and the right tools, they will amaze you with what they can achieve," he said.

But Mr Huntley said no matter how clever the technological wizardry in the classroom, it was vital it used content relevant to the curriculum.

"You can have a lot of fancy pictures and videos, but if they're not relevant to the subject matter, the kids won't learn, they'll just be entertained," he said.

Students at Bialik College have already taken to interactive whiteboards like ducks to water.

So much so, primary school students who used them for a year became instructors for teachers who had not used the gadgets before.

"One prep class actually created an instructional DVD to be used by staff explaining and demonstrating how to operate a (hi-tech) whiteboard," Mr Light said.


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