Abu Dhabi: Khalifa Khalid eagerly scans through various educational games on an iPad before settling on a interactive mathematical one before blazing through one of its colourful, slightly challenging levels.
"This is a lot of fun…I'm so happy that we have these now because it makes going to school fun. I can even look at other websites such as Youtube or play other games with my friends," the grade six pupil from Al Ameen school, which is based in the capital, said.
Along with his classmates, Khalifa participated in a live demonstration of the Abu Dhabi Education Council's (Adec's) new student-centred eLearning programme, the iClass, which utilises digital tools including tablets, multi-touch tables, 360-degree video conference facilities, 3D video projections, interactive and multi-touch whiteboards in addition to programmes that allow teachers and parents to monitor and discuss each child's progress.
"The world is moving at a rapid pace and we must keep pace with it. One way we aim to do so is through iClass, which is currently in a pilot phase. As part of our New School Model [NSM] we want to move away from books to using technology that not only provides a new learning experience but also reflects the current level of interactivity that already exist in pupils' lives," Dr. Mugheer Al Khaili, director-general of Adec, said.
Six public schools out of 270 across Abu Dhabi have been chosen to be a part of the programme's testing phase for the 2011-2012 academic year.
Richard Mehrer, programme manager, special projects division, Office of Strategic Affairs at Adec, said: "Additionally, because there is precious little Arabic educational content, we will be providing our own content along with teachers and even pupils, who are being encouraged to create their own content throughout the academic year."
Afaa Rashid, an information and communications technology teacher at Al Ameen School, had a different view on the move. "What's amazing about these tools is that they provide a fun medium to encourage the children to learn. However, I don't think schools would ever consider becoming completely technologically-based. Books are as essential to the learning process and I believe combining both will definitely enhance their education overall," she said.