Apple in Education Profiles
At UEG, cognitive skills for three to eight year olds have improved significantly - reading, writing and numbers are grasped more easily. Communications, and even fine motor skills are enhanced with the help of the iPod.
UEG has introduced the iPod touch in early years and now the iPad is helping in primary and lower secondary years too, with 3,000 students in eight schools using iOS devices.
“iPod touch has become key to early years learning in our K12 schools,” says Rohit Tikmany, Chief Operating Officer and Head of IT for UEG. “It fits perfectly with our aim to deliver a fun, engaging and interactive educational experience. Teachers now see the device as an invaluable aid for learning their curriculum subjects – and many of them had no experience of using anything like the iPod in class before we introduced it.”
Pratiksha Matondkar, who teaches Maths in Universal High School in Malad, says the iPod has changed her whole approach to teaching. “Children and teachers have discovered together that this is not a toy. It sorts out learning problems quickly, and enjoyably. Simple facts – like the names of capital cities – have been learned thoroughly with an interactive app.”
UEG has also enshrined the iPod in its commitment to prepare children for working life. One of its stated goals is: ‘Introducing children to technology through iPod touch’.
Pinky Pujara, Director of UEG and Head of Universal School Tardeo, explains that “a big, positive outcome of this innovation has been that technology becomes a part of the child’s DNA. The way the world has moved towards all things digital – from entertainment to communications to information – we think it is very appropriate to make children experts in using such devices right from their childhood.”
Children engage with digital learning
Universal Education Group (UEG) is one of the largest private education groups in Western India, with 29,000 students and 1,000 teachers in more than 20 schools and colleges in the state of Maharashtra. Since its first vocational school was set up in 1968, the group has grown to become one of the most successful independent education providers in the country.
UEG had no experience of Apple or mobile tools until the group’s chairman, Jesus Lall, encouraged a review of digital strategy.
“Many of the management team were iPhone users, and starting to get interested in potential uses for apps,” explains Rohit Tikmany. “We were downloading educational apps of all kinds for our own children, and it was a small step to show UEG school principals what was available from the Apps Store.”
iPod touch was piloted in Universal High in Malad, Mumbai with 30 children between the ages of three and five. “There were two big changes,” says Rohit. “Straight away, it was clear that children were enjoying their lessons more with the iPod. By the pilot’s second term teachers were also noticing higher levels of engagement. The child who lost attention in class was getting hooked back in by using the iPod. We could see that it was going to be a game changer.”
“The pilot met all our criteria. We all know learning outcomes are best achieved when learning is experiential and fun, so that was important. Then we could see there was also almost no learning curve or barriers to usage. Thirdly, learners were getting instant feedback from the apps they used, so they had great interaction to help learn by themselves and stay engaged. Finally it gave the children their window on the world, and scope to learn at their own pace.”
Learning with apps is personal
Word spread quickly amongst parents, and the other UEG schools’ teaching staff were intrigued. As a pioneering project in India, there was also good press coverage. UEG extended its pilot to provide more than 500 iPod touch devices for the 14,000 students in its eight K12 schools.
One of the most important tasks for Rohit Tikmany and his team was to provide extensive training for teachers, and to encourage sharing of ideas about using the iPod touch in different subjects. “Teachers have learned their craft in a certain way, and we didn’t want to insist on them using the iPod touch,” Rohit comments. “We introduced it as an aid to learning – for them to decide when it is a good time to use it in their class.”
Each child up to grade 2 in the schools now uses an individual iPod touch according to the subject teacher’s curriculum plans. In practice this currently means three to five hours a week. The devices are stored on trollies and the charging process is managed by the IT team.
Teachers have introduced the iPod into lessons faster than expected, says Pratiksha Matondkar. For the three to eight year old age group, it is the apps that play the biggest role.
“The learning is very individual with the iPod,” she says. “Some children use an app to learn the alphabet very quickly. Others have trouble understanding maths calculations, and we have an app that explains them simply. Yet other children improve motor skills like being able to hold a pen, through using their fingers with puzzles on the screen. Reading has definitely improved. Children are much more confident with vocabulary, and happier to read publicly.”
Although these children are not yet taking external exams, Mrs Matondkar has no doubt that the apps enable children to learn basic facts faster and more effectively as preparation for exams.
Apple mobile devices provide a complete solution
Zarin Virji, Principal of Universal High Malad identifies some of the most important benefits of using iPod touch. "We know that cognitive development concepts such as reading, writing, rhymes, stories, values, numbers, shapes, sizes, and colours are simply better grasped and learned on the iPod. We’ve seen improvements in communication – and in fine motor skills development – because the iPod is entirely touch based.
“We see stimulated senses of touch, hearing and seeing, and enhanced ability to concentrate and communicate. Slow learners and children with special needs are helped a great deal as well: the iPod allows them to learn at their own pace."
The UEG group has followed up its iPod touch deployment by introducing iPad to older children in its schools. Universal School Tardeo is UEG’s first Apple only institution, with MacBook and MacBook Air enabling middle and secondary age children to create podcasts and develop sophisticated multimedia presentations. iPod touch and iPad are used on a one to one basis for primary school children.
At Tardeo, the iPad is used to access learning resources through the Internet. The large high resolution iPad screen is ideal for watching educational videos, for note taking, and for preparing work with multimedia input. The school has an eLibrary for student access to support every subject in the curriculum.
“Technology is a means to our educational ends,” says Rohit Tikmany. “However, we don’t just want any technology. It has to give us a really simple user interface, a good stylus-free touch screen, quality audio and video playback, access to good apps, and a stable product from a company that is committed to education. Apple mobile devices give us all that. As pioneers in using mobile technology in Indian schools, Apple is also great for our reputation.”
Products they useiPod touch
This pocket computer is great for learning both inside and outside the classroom. Learn more about iPod touchiPad
This is a whole new kind of device, and it’s poised to change the learning landscape. Learn more about iPadMacBook Air
This notebook computer is great for learning both inside and outside the classroom. Learn more about MacBook Air