Visible, measurable progress with IT tools
“Coming from underprivileged families, these children don’t really have access to a computer at home,” he continues. “On the other hand, they are daily users of smartphones. We start IT education in the 5th grade from the basics to Scratch programming, and go on to content creation with Office programs as they get older. The students really enjoy working with computers, and those with learning difficulties are also keen to sit in front of a keyboard and attempt to do the tasks. Their progress is more visible and measurable with the use of IT tools.”
Although the students are just getting to know the new methods, there is already a perceptible improvement in communication. The kids enjoy using the various platforms, such as chat and email, to present their work. They learn a lot from one another during the joint reviews, which also builds self-esteem. The digital tools also trigger creativity, and they can use the emerging great ideas in a future piece of work or project.
“Introducing the CIP (Complex Instruction Program) method was a major step for the school,” adds Nyíri. “It required a different approach and lots of learning on the part of the teachers, but the students were really enthusiastic about the new approach. The mobility of the tablets makes them accessible and usable in various classes. The groups gather information using a tablet, thereby improving critical thinking and creative skills. It’s much easier bringing them to class than dictionaries and encyclopedias, and today’s smartphone-savvy kids navigate them with ease.
The school introduced the new tools gradually. Teachers received special training in Microsoft Outlook and OneDrive, which they have been using in their daily communications ever since. Starting this year, they have also been using the joint calendar, keeping the faculty up to date about school programs and events.
“It was much easier with the kids. They grow up in a digital world and relate better to these tools. They’re highly motivated to use them,” explains Nyíri. “They learned how to use Office 365 in the first few classes, and the first semester evaluations were sent by email. They only use digital notebooks in IT class, but also use Office 365 tools to prepare for their other classes.”
One of the main challenges is convincing parents to use the more secure institutional platform instead of Facebook. Starting next year, Nyíri has plans for training parents as well. He hopes to show them the benefits of their endeavors, and thereby improve parent–teacher relations.