Personal IT devices to hand for first grade pupils

Last century, each person was considered to be the architect of their own fortune. Today, we control our own lives via IT. Accordingly, Belarusian teachers and parents aren’t arguing whether children need personal electronic devices. Rather, they’re debating which type should be used

Three ‘applicants’ are under discussion: electronic display boards, e-readers (e-book devices) and netbooks. The latter, demonstrated at a recent press conference by Alexander Martinkevich, Deputy Head of the High-Tech Park’s Administration, has been created by Intel Corporation especially for junior pupils. It’s durable enough to withstand knocks and bangs, is water resistant, so can be accidentally splashed with tea, and its plastic case can even be used to slide down from an icy mountain! Meanwhile, it can’t be stolen, since it only works inside its registered educational establishment. Each netbook can be used as a drawing board, while enjoying all the opportunities of a true PC, with wireless Internet access.

In September 2011, junior schoolchildren at several Belarusian schools will be given these devices, with the HTP launching a pilot project to create a new educational environment. Mr. Martinkevich promises that teachers will receive special training and the results of the project will be comprehensively assessed by specialists.

The HTP initiative is part of the Education Ministry’s plan, from September, to launch the use of personal electronic devices in several schools — yet to be chosen. They are to be of various levels and in various parts of the country. The Education Ministry is still deciding between electronic display boards, e-readers and netbooks.

Will it be difficult for teachers to master the new electronic device? “I don’t think that any computer-literate person would face difficulty. In fact, many smart phones are like miniature display boards these days,” notes Yuri Bykadorov, Pro-rector of the Belarusian State Pedagogical University and a member of the Education Ministry’s Informatisation Council. “I advocate the launch of technological innovations. Moreover, the quality of the screen is such that it doesn’t cause eye strain; its contemporary technology gives pictures of almost perfect definition.”

“Soon, we’ll determine which device to use and choose which schools will trial the experiment, we’ll prepare methodical recommendations for teachers and will organise special classes for them,” notes Belarus’ First Deputy Education Minister, Alexander Zhuk. He stresses that the electronic device won’t replace textbooks, since books and live communication are essential.

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