While interventions like interactive whiteboards and school management information systems have proven successful time and time again in the International Institute for Communication and Development’s (IICD) projects, there is no ‘one size fits all’ solution in ICT4Education. For this reason, IICD is always searching for innovative ways to offer effective and efficient solutions. This month, IICD’s TeachTab and LearnTab, an IICD-developed tablet designed for educational use, was piloted in one primary school and one teacher training college in Malawi. Partnering with Don Bosco Youth Technical College, IICD aims to use these low-cost tablets to address the problems of educational resource shortages and overcrowded classrooms faced by many Malawian schools.
Tablets offer certain advantages that make them very appealing for ICT4Education projects: they are portable, low energy, affordable and offer interactive capabilities. Whereas standardly available tablets come pre-assembled and with a particular set of capabilities and functionalities, IICD is instead taking advantage of the rapidly dropping costs in ICT hardware by ordering the individual components of the tablets and assembling them with basic software that allows the teacher and all the students in the classroom to interact simultaneously. This results in a solution not only much more practical, but also much more affordable than installing a traditional computer lab or other ICT solutions.
Using the TeachTab, teachers can control the whole classroom and monitor what students are doing with the LearnTabs. Teachers can install or block applications remotely and broadcast text, presentations, videos or audio to all devices. The TeachTab also allows the teacher to interact with and prompt questions to the whole classroom at once using the interactive whiteboard functionality. Using the LearnTab, students can work in small groups, collaboratively post answers to quizzes prompted by the teachers or edit the same document or project together.