Support the laptops for our children for holistic involvement in learning


07 Jul 2015 | by
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Support the laptops for our children for holistic involvement in learning

The laptop topic wouldn’t just go away however much people try to castigate it, it’s an idea whose time has come. This noble idea has gone full cycle from laptops, to tablets and to the current digital class approach. Technology in education is critical for implementation of multisensory learning experience. Issuing of digital resources to class one pupil laptops is strategic in the interests of holistic child development and long term national achievements...........

The laptop topic wouldn’t just go away however much people try to castigate it, it’s an idea whose time has come. This noble idea has gone full cycle from laptops, to tablets and to the current digital class approach. Technology in education is critical for implementation of multisensory learning experience. Issuing of digital resources to class one pupil laptops is strategic in the interests of holistic child development and long term national achievements. This is an idea whose time has come and its implementation is long overdue. The benefits that accrue in the use of multimedia in pedagogy are numerous and beneficial to the child. Laptops perse are the medium of delivery but the actual learning takes place through interactivity with digital content.

 Contrary to critics that go the route of criticizing without seeking up to date information; the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development has digital content for all the stages of basic education. KICD is at the forefront in digital content development available in multiple formats for the various needs of the Kenyan child i.e. for TV, radio, Personal computers (PCs), Online Learning Management and cell phones as reiterated by the Cabinet secretary for Information Hon. Matiangi recently.

Digital content is a supportive resource rather than a replacement for the teacher. Digital resources can also be used to blend entertainment and learning into one platform resulting in a hybrid commonly known as infotainment.  I have talked about this topic for long but just allow me to dwell a little on the different approaches in which the laptop project can be implemented with considerable level of success. These approaches are in application in most ICT developed counties to a considerable level of success.  

 

1.      The laptop trolley

This is a special designed trolley cum cabinet that carries laptops. The trolley will have a secure locker and it will be parked either in the principal’s office or any other secure room.  The laptop trolley is pushed to class strictly when needed making it very convenient for sharing for a number of classes. The benefits are obvious in the fact that the issues of security, cost and pupil numbers is taken care of in one sweep. The trolley is also a charging cabinet that conveniently avails charging ports for multiple devices at a go.

2.      ICT lab

This is the traditional approach of having a special room set aside for the ICT equipment and e-learning. This mode has been in use in the Kenyan secondary schools for ages. It’s quite expensive compared to the trolley approach and there is always the danger of having an e-shrine. This is a situation where the computer lab becomes such a ‘special room’ that is hardly open for use and the keys are not always available thus creating redundancy since the equipment depreciates with time. Other disadvantages include transition from class to the lab that eats into scarce time and the obvious logistics of sitting sixty pupils in room. The advantages of this approach are enhanced security, less breakages since equipment is not moved and a ready to use e-classroom.  

 

3.      Shared ICT centers

This is an enhanced version of the ICT lab that is escalated for use by as many schools within a certain radius. This idea is not different from the pasha centers concept only that it will be dedicated to serve the pupils. A special centre is build with dedicated staff and equipment all ready for use. The pupils from different schools walk in turns at set periods to take their multimedia lessons. 

4.      One Laptop per child

I would admit that is the ideal situation; a dream come true for any system. Though this is the rallying call for the laptop project, the title is more or less the overall objective of the whole concept. All the approaches will definitely aim at achieving this objective albeit in different ways. However if implemented in phases say 2 schools per constituency akin to the ESP ICT integration project , it will be realized at the end of a couple of years. The main challenge of this mode of implementation lies in the dynamic nature of technology, i.e. the pupil getting a laptop five years down the line will more or less be getting better equipment and up to date content. 

All in all the core idea is for all pupils to interact with multisensory digital content to build their learning abilities by engaging all their senses. There are many benefits of implementing this idea to quote but one source (Pelgrum, 2001). These include:

1.      Pupils develop abilities to undertake independent learning.

2.      Providing weaker pupils with additional instructions.

3.      Organizing teaching and learning so that differences in entrance level, learning pace, and

             Learning route is taken into account.

4.      Pupils learning to search for information, process data, and present information.

5.      Pupils being largely responsible for controlling their own learning progress.

6.      Pupils learning and/or working during lessons at their own pace.

 

It’s a fact that many take for granted that young children take to technology faster than adults. A good pointer to this is how our 78% penetration in cell phone use is only pegged on calling, receiving and making the ubiquitous SMS for adult while children take the lion’s share of that slice with the icing being the ability to make use of more functionality of their parent’s cell phones.

All good Kenyans of a progressive nature should support this endeavor to impart ICT knowledge in our learners. We cannot keep singing about Malaysia and Singapore dreams as if we are not courageous enough to leave what we are accustomed to and chart new paths for our noble nation.  Give me a shout @SirGioko or kgioko@gmail.com for more nerdy stuff.

 

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