Going Digital in the Bilingual.hu Program
The Going Digital project takes the core values and the essence of our teaching methods and further enhances our work by intertwining these elements with the use of technology – both hardware and software – in the classroom. The project also widens the scope of learning by providing greater opportunities to practice and develop at home.
Why is the Going Digital project important?
Simply put – because of the requirements of the 21st century labor market.
David J. Deming’s recent paper on labor market requirements (http://www.nber.org/papers/w21473.pdf) focuses on three main skills that are essential for future success:
- analytical and mathematical reasoning, including use of technology;
- the ability to work well in teams;
- and strong communication skills.
The Bilingual.hu Program already emphasizes all of these elements: we focus on mathematics throughout the primary school years, and our approach to teaching and language learning emphasizes both interactive communication and working cooperatively with others.
By launching the Going Digital project and making wide-ranging and in-depth interaction with technology a key aspect of the Bilingual.hu Program across the board, we are only deepening the extent to which we are educating our students for both the real world and the future.
Going Digital is a blended learning program. Blended learning is simply the combination of traditional face-to-face instruction with web-based online learning. The use of printed matter and traditional instruction will continue, but will be interleaved with online materials and online experiences, both at school and at home, and both individually and in groups.
In terms of hardware, and in its fullest form, Going Digital will include the use of tablets in the classroom as well as the use of the internet at home. In terms of software, we are at present working with three main platforms for provision of material: Learning A to Z (https://www.learninga-z.com), Quizlet (https://quizlet.com) and Doodle Maths (https://www.doodlemaths.com). Within Learning A to Z, our focus is currently on their plethora of reading material, their storehouse of science material and their support materials on vocabulary.
Which grades and which subjects will Going Digital affect?
Going Digital has the potential to affect all subjects, in all grades. The core subjects will obviously be most affected. These include English classes, including Tutorials and FCE Exam Preparation Sessions, Civilization, Science classes, History and Mathematics. That said, secondary subjects will also be included.
What will Going Digital add to my child’s education?
- At its most obvious, Going Digital will provide students personal and hands-on experience with technology starting at a young age; it will also allow them to integrate the use of that technology with learning, and therefore with living.
- Furthermore, Going Digital will, in its fullest form, allow for use of personalized learning materials. On the one hand, much of the software, particularly in mathematics and reading, will allow teachers to individually tailor each student’s work. Moreover, within the framework of the teacher’s choice and guidance, students will often have the choice of materials; thus, personal preferences and individual agency become part of the learning environment.
- Thirdly, the software we have chosen will allow for far superior monitoring of each student’s progress and will therefore allow teachers to pinpoint shifts in material, which will in turn allow students to reach ever higher levels of achievement.
- Teaching can also become more efficient and effective due to the quality of the materials our digital platforms will provide. Indeed, the pool of material available is extremely rich from a teacher’s perspective. Thus, anything from core material to fast finishers work becomes ever easier to both access and provide.
- Going Digital will also provide tools for use in the home environment. With adequate coaching at school both in the classroom and in Tutorials, students can do more at home than ever before. This will foster independence and allow teachers to provide wider resources for students to consolidate learning or excel further. We hope this chance to be both supported and to explore will foster a love of learning. With adequate access to hardware, downtime, or even waiting to be picked up, can be enjoyable, a chance to browse one’s tablet for new material to read.
- Our interactive and student-centered methodology is already a highly stimulating and motivating learning environment; with the blended learning the Going Digital program has to offer, combined with the tailored content, students will experience a more exciting and inspiring classroom atmosphere than ever before. The staff involved in field-testing have seen this surge already, and we’re excited to see it spread throughout our program in the coming months.
Will Going Digital be safe for my child?
In the context of the Going Digital project, there are two primary issues to consider regarding safety.
First off, there is the question of physical health. Our inquiries with health professionals have resulted in a short, commonsense list of rules to keep in mind as to how one can make sure that his/her child’s tablet use does not have negative health effects. First of all, we must make sure that the device is used with adequate ambient light in the room. Secondly, the tablet or computer user must sit comfortably but also maintain correct posture while working with any device. Finally, we must be sure to avoid overuse. This in turn depends greatly on the age group in question.
The other key to Going Digital safety is the issue of exposure to Internet-based content in and outside the classroom. We treat this question with extreme caution and are giving it a very high priority, as, of course, not all web-based content is appropriate for children. To ensure that any and all content accessed on tablets is age-appropriate, we employ highly effective content-filter applications on all our devices, hence making sure that inappropriate content does not reach, and cannot be reached by, our students, even by accident.
At the moment the Going Digital project is in a highly active testing phase at Óbudai Nagy László (aka Váradi) Primary School. We are field testing both hardware and software, and have begun training staff to work in the new blended learning environment. So we will soon be able to expand the use of tablets in our classrooms to other grades and other school locations and ensure both on-time and high-quality delivery of the digital learning experience.
That said, online learning will commence in all grades at all schools in the spring semester of 2017 with the implementation of the Quizlet.com platform into all of our core subjects. Other elements of the Going Digital project will be introduced at the fastest rate possible.
Will the Going Digital project cost my family money?
Going Digital will be provided to students and families as part of the standard tuition rate.
Yes, all parents and families can help. Use of this material and these learning opportunities is an essential – and not an optional – part of our educational program. So in fact, all families must help if the project is to be a success for their children.
Yet this is already – and always – true for a child’s education. The only difference is that it will be especially important now to lend support as the project launches, as it will be new for the children and for parents.
So please – as Going Digital reaches your child’s classroom, help him or her to use the material, meet his teacher’s requirement and therefore do his or her best in school. This will mean reliable internet and computer access at home, as well as a helping hand in the beginning, for all ages, as the students familiarize themselves with their expanded learning environment. With your helping hand, we will be able to bring the students to ever higher levels of achievement and, we believe, help them enjoy their learning more, and we hope learn to love learning, for a lifetime.