Teachers use tablet as tool for learning

CEBU CITY—Today’s teachers have access to a wealth of materials that they can use to improve or supplement their classroom strategies and to make learning more fun for their young students.

In the case of more than 40 early childhood educators from Cebu City’s public elementary schools, they learned that tablets can serve as effective teaching tools during a one-day workshop, Tap&Learn: Tablets for Education, organized by Smart Communications, Inc. (Smart). 

Smart holds Tap&Learn workshop in Cebu.  Grade school teachers from Cebu City’s public schools were exposed to the array of mobile applications that they can use to help enhance learning to their young students during the one-day workshop organized by Smart Communications, Inc. (Smart) dubbed Tap&Learn: Tablets for Learning.

The workshop is part of a nationwide series under Smart’s community partnerships for education.

Liezl L. Jurado, who handles the pre-school class of San Nicolas Elementary School, discovered a number of mobile applications that come in the form of games but are designed to teach early grade-schoolers a range of subjects—from numbers to alphabets to basic concepts.

Jurado was able to download a promising app that she thinks will come in handy when she introduces animals to her students.

“We teachers can’t imitate animal sounds correctly. Using new technology, kids can hear the correct sounds animals make. They also learn what animals, even those not found in their locality, look like,” she explained.

mEducation: Technology for learning

“Smart designed Tap&Learn to help expand the tools that teachers can use to further enhance the learning experience of their young students.  At the same time, it enables the teachers to explore new tools that digital technologies can offer for a more engaging learning session with their students,” said Darwin F. Flores, department head for community partnerships at Smart.

“This is a company initiative that promotes the use of technology in education in support of our advocacy for digital inclusion.  For years, we have been utilizing mobile- and web-based technologies to democratize access to quality education, and Tap&Learn is our latest initiative customized to address the requirements of our partner learning communities,” said Ramon R. Isberto, Public Affairs group head at Smart.

Smart has identified six sites for the training program, which kicked off last August in Urdaneta City in Pangasinan.  Apart from Cebu City, the course was also conducted in the cities of General Santos, Surigao, Legazpi in Albay, and Balanga in Bataan. 

Smart picked local government and agency partners that showed their willingness to support the initiative and receptiveness to new technology, explained Stephanie Orlino, Public Affairs senior manager for education programs at Smart.

Smart study

“Tap&Learn came about as a result of a commissioned study that concluded that kindergarten students, who were allowed to use tablets in class for 30 minutes each day, were a month ahead in lessons compared to their peers who didn’t have access to the same devices,” said Orlino.

Orlino said the study, which ran for three months last year, compared a group of pupils with another class without access to tablets. The students, who were allowed to tinker with the gadgets, coached one another how to use the device.

“We saw there was no need to teach the kids how to use the tablets,” added Orlino.

Vanessa Harayo, Cebu City Division ICT coordinator, said Tap&Learn is an innovative initiative and in line with the Department of Education’s modernization program.

The workshop introduces digital devices as a tool for learning and teaching activities, she pointed out. With Tap&Learn, teachers can also show their students that tablets have uses other than for games and social networks like Facebook.

Multimedia materials

Maricel Matondo, who teaches third grade at Pardo Elementary School, said she has a tablet and has been using it to enhance her teaching methods, such as to show pictures of flags and rare animals.

With Tap&Learn, Matondo and 43 other public school teachers discovered that other than photos, there are a host of multimedia materials they can access using the tablet to augment classroom instruction.

Ruby Omana, a first grade teacher at Labangon Elementary School, said one of the mobile apps she was able to download during the training not only teaches the alphabet to students, it gives the correct phonetic sound of each letter. It also contains a video of a girl singing the alphabet song, which students appreciate because it is visual.

Colors can be introduced to students using an app that encourages creativity through drawing and painting, said Runnel M. Bontuyan of the San Jose Elementary School.  He tried out the Doodle app and sees it as something that his grade-schoolers would appreciate.

Smart’s Tap&Learn partners include SEAMO-Innotech, which is providing educational videos and other materials to teachers for free, as well as the Google Educators’ Group and Wikipedia.  

In using technology for education, Smart also trains teachers from universities how to develop applications for Android and iOS mobile devices under SWEEPx, which is a spun-off program of the Smart Wireless Engineering Education Program, a linkage between the telco and the academe that seeks to further improve the quality of engineering and IT education in the country.  By implementing customized technology-enabled projects from across the student’s learning stages, Smart hopes to help schools produce industry-ready graduates in this increasingly knowledge-driven world.  (Source: Smart)

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