Now, toddlers learn on iPods in school!

Mumbai, December 15, 2009

In an innovative & ambitious move, Universal High, a chain of ICSE/IGCSE schools with presence in Malad, Dahisar, Tardeo, Thane & Nashik has introduced the very popular iPod Touch devices as a learning tool for its school children from Nursery onwards.

The iPod Touch is a portable pocket computer made by Apple Inc with a multi touch screen, a video player & an internet browser. Each child in the classroom is provided with an exclusive iPod Touch which is pre-loaded with ready-to-use software applications that aid learning.

“We’ve introduced the iPod Touch in the pre-school & early primary years so far”, says Pinky Pujara, UEG’s Director (Schools), “We will gradually extend it to higher classes as well. Because the iPod Touch is deeply integrated in our curriculum, our curriculum experts browse through the iTunes App Store for hours every week to carefully handpick age-appropriate & developmentally-appropriate apps. We’re even custom building some apps for some of our specific needs. Our research has proven a phenomenal jump in achievement of learning outcomes of young children when they use iPods. Additionally, all apps have large clickable buttons that are helpful in developing their fine motor skills.”

The initiative is the brainchild of Jesus S. M. Lall, Chairman & CEO, Universal Education Group (UEG) and eminent educationist.

Commenting on the development, Mr. Lall says “One of the cornerstones of UEG’s educational system -“Redefining Education and Learning (REAL)” – is to use technology to deliver a fun, engaging & interactive educational experience. We conceived the iPod project a few months ago as part of that endeavour. The educational benefits of using iPods in the classroom are phenomenal. The initiative may appear very “high tech” but the key principle behind this move is rather simple – learning outcomes are best achieved when learning is experiential & fun.”

He goes on to add, “I am told we’re the first & only education service provider in India to introduce a game-changing innovation such as this. I congratulate our teachers & parents – not only for making this initiative successful, but also for being the digital revolutionaries our aging education system needs so badly.”

Zarin Virji, the principal of Universal High Malad, gives it a thumbs up while adding, “Kids absolutely love the iPod. Each iPod has dozens of pre-loaded & neatly organised apps. Kids learn a whole host of things – including alphabets, numbers, drawing, colouring, cursive writing, maths, flash cards & memory games. There’s an app that teaches you how to tell time & another one that is a virtual piano! There are dozens of stories, audio books, ebooks, nursery rhymes, videos & podcasts for kids loaded on the iPod. This tiny little device is really a whole world of knowledge in itself. It’s like your imagination in your pocket.”

“The iPod Touch is basically an iPhone without the phone & the camera. From an IT implementation point of view, the key challenge was teacher training. Other challenges included impact protection, using safe materials, content filtering, creating a system of overnight charging & ease of carriage/handling. Strict filtering at the device & firewall level ensures no inappropriate content reaches children. We had to try several dozen products & ideas before freezing on a sustainable & scalable system.” says Jimi Gajab, UEG’s IT manager.

Exclaims, Alok Dokania, father of Vishesh (Junior KG) & Dhiti (Grade 1), “Kids of today are so savvy! You don’t have to teach them how to use a gadget. Sometimes they don’t want to learn, but when they have a gadget like this, they get attracted to it & engage with it .. and then they start learning while having fun. The way the world has moved towards all things digital – from entertainment to communications to information – I think it is very appropriate to make children experts in using such devices right from their childhood. As they grow up, their comfort with technology will hold them in good stead to find their way around the world”.

About Universal High

Universal High, a part of Universal Education Group (UEG), is a chain of ICSE/IGCSE day-boarding schools with presence in Malad, Dahisar, Tardeo, Thane & Nashik. At Universal High, students spend their whole day from 9am to 5pm in the school. The schools are housed in purpose-built fully-air-conditioned glass-and-steel buildings. A great deal of emphasis is put on technology-enabled-learning & the school boasts of plasma TVs & iPods in each smart class, laptop labs and learning management systems.

More information about UEG schools is available at http://www.universal.edu.in

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press [at] universal.edu.in