Many pupils in the emirate still have insufficient access to technology to support their education across all subjects, Dubai's education authority has said, urging schools to make better use of technology in classrooms to teach pupils better.
Good teaching practice now dictates that information and communication technology (ICT) resources be used effectively to promote pupils' skills of enquiry and research, officials said, in a paper, titled How Children and Teachers Use Technology in the Classroom — What Dubai School Inspectors Have Found So Far. It was prepared by the Knowledge and Human Development Authority's (KHDA) Dubai Schools Inspection Bureau (DSIB), based on observations made by inspectors over the past four years of school inspections.
"Although teachers now use ICT more regularly, we noticed that many pupils still have insufficient access to ICT to support their education across all subjects. A significant majority of pupils use ICT regularly in an ICT suite or at home, rather than as routine across subjects. This does little to help their progress and independence in learning," the study says.
However, ICT is now being used more and more effectively as a tool for learning. Access to ICT resources has improved, and this has become an important part of teacher training, inspectors found.
Even in schools where ICT portals and resources were more limited, a few teachers and their pupils made creative use of ICT Inspectors once observed a Grade 12 boys' science lesson where the classroom was small, pupils' numbers large and there were not enough ICT resources. So the teacher used internet network software to project an experiment onto the wall for all pupils to follow, they said.
Another example was in a school where textbooks had not arrived in time for the start of the academic year; Grade 11 pupils downloaded information on to their electronic tablets to study until hard copies arrived.
"As the number of interactive whiteboards and projectors has grown, more teachers have been encouraged to use video and other media as a routine part of their teaching."
In some schools, particularly the new ones, facilities and resources available to pupils are among the best in the world.
Aware of the skills
There is no doubt that young people are aware of the skills and benefits ICT offer to their academic growth and development, inspectors said. "Because of this, we feel that schools must continue to embrace change in their approaches to ICT if they are to provide pupils with the knowledge and skills they need."
Use of ICT portals for communication with parents was also noted, in addition for the need for more teaching training in this area.
"Schools with limited resources must be included in this process so their students do not lack the skills which will affect their chances in adult life," the study highlighted.
Hall of fame: Schools using ICT
Jumeirah English Speaking School
It has taken significant steps to integrate ICT into the life of the school. It clearly achieves the aim of developing skills necessary for pupils to use ICT in a responsible and discerning manner. A stimulating range of ICT learning resources are used creatively by pupils and teachers to support and challenge learning at all stages. Carefully planned curriculum programmes with access to digital devices, including touch-screen computers, laptops, iPads and iPod touches, ensure that pupils from KG to Grade 6 are confident about finding information out for themselves and applying their learning to broader, real-life contexts.
American School of Dubai
It has readily embraced technological changes. ICT is used imaginatively to discuss and debate issues around a set text. Teachers assumed the role of facilitator managing discussions, having structured the physical and electronic opportunities to do so creatively. Such exercises were instrumental in extending learning opportunities for pupils.
Dubai National School
It is managing technological change in a structured manner. A customised, interactive management portal was effective in supporting and providing e-learning tasks for students' academic development. The curriculum was enhanced and simulated by managers and teachers; homework was issued and tracked, and assessment and reporting made available for all stakeholders to see and comment on. The introduction of iPads from Grade 5 onwards arose out of two concerns — first, the need to advance the skills of pupils and, second, the health and welfare of pupils having to cope with the increasing weight of school bags containing heavy books. The school focused on electronic storage of textbooks and use of a stylus to write and download notes to solve these problems, which also gave pupils experience in further use of technology. A customised, interactive management portal was effective in supporting e-learning tasks for pupils' academic development.