The SMARTBoard usually provided roughly 200 learners with 200 hours of special learning time per week. This equates to approximately 800 hours per month opening up a whole new world of learning to more children as well as extending the number of hours available to each pupil.
DionWired general manager, Andrew Jackson, said the true value of a combined investment of R1,5m could not be quantified – and was set to continue growing as DionWired continued to donate SMARTBoards to schools such as those that would receive them today - the Alta du Toit School in Kuilsriver, the Agape School and the Mitchell’s Plain, Vista Nova Schools in Rondebosch and Bel Porto School in Lansdowne.
Technology changes lives
“It is an undisputed truth that technology changes lives. As we have seen in the retail environment, South Africans are in the midst of a digital revolution. However, the high tech equipment that is transforming people’s worlds is usually out of reach for special needs learners,” he said.
Jackson explained that SMARTBoards, which combined with a data projector to project what would ordinarily be confined to the screen of a computer, on to a large interactive white board in a classroom, had completely over turned many children’s negative perceptions of learning.
He said that the benefits were many – touch screen technology enables children with physical limitations to more fully participate in learning as they could move objects such as images with their fingers. Children with physical limitations such as those in wheelchairs could also more actively participate in learning.
The boards really are SMART
All SMARTBoards come equipped with powerful collaborative software called SMART Notebook that allows teachers to create and deliver interactive lessons while internet access introduces educational resources such as Google Earth, YouTube and many more. An innovative software program known as Clicker is also included. This is essentially a child friendly word processor and acts as a writing support and multimedia tool for children with both physical and learning difficulties.
The program incorporates pictures, audio, and video. It is particularly suited to students who benefit from hearing words spoken, picture-to-text correlation and word prompts. A text-to-speech feature reads back what students have typed while students can also click on any word to hear it read. Learners are also able to record themselves within the program if they are unable to write what they are thinking.
Jackson said that the sheer frustration of learning without technological help was often the reason why many disabled and special needs learners struggled with self-esteem and saw education as an extremely negative process.
A new SMART way to learn
Now the SMARTboard provides a whole new way of learning and sharing knowledge. With learning aids such as the SMARTboard, we can reduce frustration levels and poor classroom participation and interaction. In the long run, this will not only boost a child’s ability to learn but also improve his self image and self esteem, said Jackson.
Jackson said there was no reason why a positive academic experience should not also motivate children to work towards reaching their full potential. “With SMARTBoards, they assist in a virtual frog dissection or visualise how the digestive system really works. Children with disabilities often benefit from a more tactile learning experience and educators can now appeal to one or more senses when presenting information. Because information is presented visually, language becomes more meaningful and exciting. That is also why SMARTBoards help address one of the chief challenges faced by teachers and pupils alike - maintaining focus. They hold children’s attention and keep them interested in lessons for longer periods.”
Interaction is the best way to learn
Our pupils learn best through interaction. This new technology of the SMARTboard is one of the best ways to catch their imagination and to engage them in a meaningful way. The SMARTboard also enables our teachers to investigate extensively, allowing them to find learning resources that are best suited for our special learners. What the SMARTboard means to us is best described by one of our teachers, who said, “The arrival of the SMARTboard to our school is like the first landing on the moon and that sums it up!” explained school principal , Mrs Martha du Toit .
DionWired has certainly seen children who had been struggling to learn come into their own since it donated its first SMARTBoard to the Brown’s School in Durban at the end of 2010. Jackson said the company was proud to be able to reach out with constructive help to young South Africans who most need good educations.”