Tawi-Tawi has always been in my bucket list. Despite remoteness and damaging impressions about it, there’s always something about this province that entices me to go there. And so when I was invited to a special trip to this southernmost part of the country, I did not hesitate to say yes. Going there means taking Tawi-Tawi off my bucket list and learning firsthand, Smart Techocart, a Digital Laboratory in a Cart.
SMART TECHNOCART is a CSR project of Smart Communications, Inc. under its Education program. It is a complete mobile laboratory designed to enable learning and teaching through the use of mobile education solutions, such as tablets and Internet technology, for Kindergarten pupils.
This mobile lab in a cart is given to select Public Schools with kindergarten classes of at least 150 students or 25 students per class. Currently, there are 12 public schools all over the country that are recipients of Smart Technocart. These are schools are in Bacolod, Cebu, Albay, Parañaque, and Pangasinan. The latest beneficiaries are three public schools in the Province of Tawi-Tawi.
A non-traditional laboratory that can be easily wheeled from one classroom to the next, each Smart TechnoCart contains 20 seven-inch tablets, a laptop, a projector, and a Smart BRO pocket WiFi that comes with an initial load for Internet connectivity. Its compact and portable design makes it easy for the teacher to transfer the laboratory from one classroom to another.
When the Smart Technocart was delivered to Bato-Bato Central School, Datu Halun Laboratory School, and Provincial Housing Laboratory School in Tawi Tawi, there was a feeling of sheer excitement and hope in the community not only among the teachers but also the students and parents. The kindergarten pupils were eager to hold for the first time tablets and experience digital learning.
Teacher Rosalyn Sansawi of Datu Halun Laboratory School recalled the reaction of her pupils the first time they held the tablets. She saw their enthusiasm and motivation to learn using the gadgets. Even if one tablet was shared by three pupils, the school kids were willing to share and learn lessons using the mobile devices.
Teacher Fatima Hadjuk of Provincial Housing Laboratory School considered Smart Techonocart as a huge blessing not only their pupils but to the teachers as well. It lessens their workload and enhances their way of teaching. With use of the interactive technology, the students are more engaged in learning. Being visual, kids become more attentive. In fact, absenteeism has lessened and pupils always look forward to their lab classes.
One of the features that make the Smart TechnoCart unique and appealing to students is the localized content of the mobile application called Batibot, which is aligned with the kindergarten curriculum. Developed by Smart in collaboration with the Community of Learners Foundation and startup partner OrangeFix, the Batibot app has interactive features like the classic game “Alin Ang Naiba,” where children are asked to identify what is different from a group of objects and pictures. Kindergartners can also practice writing by tracing letters on their device, and sing along to Batibot songs via the app’s videoke feature.
Smart Community Partnerships Senior Manager, Stephanie Orlino said that since they began deploying Smart TechnoCarts in August, they received numerous positive feedback from teachers. One teacher in Albay said that her students now find learning so exciting that they go to school even when classes are suspended. They look forward to using the Batibot app on the tablets.
I was given the chance to roam around Bongao City, the capital of Tawi-Tawi and saw the need for the delivery valuable assistance to make it more progressive – not just from the government but even from the private sectors. It is good to know that Smart is giving its share by taking an active part in enhancing the learning the school kids in Tawi-Tawi. My salute to Smart.
To know more about Smart’s education initiatives, as well as how to sponsor Smart TechnoCarts for schools, please visit www.smart.com.ph/learnsmart