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By 22 November 2012 | Categories: news

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Long after the last school bell of the day had rung, Samsung South Africa pulled back the curtain and provided an exciting peek into what may well be the future of schools, the classroom and learning, as it launched its Smart School system at Crawford Preparatory in Benmore, Sandton.

Paulo Ferreira, head of enterprise mobility at Samsung South Africa, explained that the Samsung Smart School is a “complete converged digital education package” that provides students and teachers with access to 65-inch interactive eBoards (whiteboards) and Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 devices.

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Ferreira elaborated that the Smart School system further consists of three components, which work together in synergy with tablet and interactive whiteboard technology.
 
The interactive management solution delivers content to students and allows for the sharing of screens inside the classroom. With this, teachers can monitor student progress and conduct group activities, as well as run tests or instant polls.
 
The second component, the learning management system, caters to providing educational materials, such as e-textbooks and learning apps. This also gives students access to timetables and school notices that can be accessed at any time and at their convenience.
 
The final piece of the Smart School system puzzle consists of the student information system. This enables educators to track student attendance, the grade history of a student, as well as keep a record of prizes or demerit points. Furthermore, students are able to access their school information at any time – whether at home or at school – and are able to interact with their peers and teachers via online portals and engaging communication tools.
 
Ferreira pointed out that this in turn enables students to better share their views and queries on school work as well as engage with fellow students and teachers in real time.
 
 
Media were given a first hand view of a class in action, in which the Samsung Smart School system is being used. 
 
Summing up...
 
“This is a fully integrated one-on-one learning platform that allows teachers to deliver an interactive learning experience, to provide students with immediate, reliable data access,” he commented.
 
“We are excited to launch this solution at Crawford College, in partnership with The Advtech Group, a brand equally as passionate as Samsung about continual innovation and incorporating technology into every facet of scholar’s lives. This partnership will allow us to derive a strong value proposition for both the private and public educational sectors on the continent,” Ferreira continued.
 
Tim Allen, the head of Academics of the Advtech Group, pointed out that the smart classroom redefines the way learning happens from within school, to when students are on break, to when they go home, as well as between students, their peers and their teachers. Additionally, he enthused that both present and future students would benefit from the smart school launch immediately, as well as in the years to come.
 
And, while seeing the smart classroom (and a real time lesson) in action was a treat, Craige Fleischer, the director of mobile communications at Samsung, reminded of the gravity of the educational situation and the critical role education plays nationally. He cited that it was believed that less than a third of the population had a matric qualification, while half of those under the age of 25 were currently unemployed.
 
Bright sparks
 
Amid this sombre note, there is also a bright spark, lit by the flame of technology. Fleischer pointed out that both students and teachers were seeking real time access to information, and students were increasingly technologically savvy.
 
This, he explained, means that technology can play a very important role in upskilling today’s students and tomorrow’s workers.
 
“We are aiming on providing a one-on-one teaching and learning environment, in which children can learn at their own pace, as well as in groups, and thus ensure that no child is left behind,” he continued.
 
 
 All students were equipped with the Galaxy Note tablet with a dockable keyboard, while a lively lesson was conducted from the teacher’s own tablet.
 
To the point
 
If, like us, you have memories of surreptitiously sketching in your notebook while a particularly boring lesson was underway, or as some younger students may today, hastily typing a text under their table, the Smart School concept in action that we saw couldn’t have been any further from this scenario.
 
Instead, the Smart School appeared to serve as platforms of engagement for the student and teacher alike, encouraging students to remain in and even shape the lesson around them, and thus remain engrossed in the subject being discussed.
 
Summing it up best is Ferreira: “Samsung is committed to delivering the classroom of the future – taking learning beyond the blackboard and supporting the adoption of new technologies into our teaching environments. Through the Smart School solution teachers are provided with the flexibility they need to conduct interactive lessons and engage with students quicker and more effectively.”
 
“Ultimately, we see this as an ideal way to elevate education and foster a creative learning environment in a managed digital setting. Certainly our hope is to contribute to increases in student grades and classroom interaction through our technology capabilities,” he concluded.

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