(P) How’s your math?

“A digital project conquers both students and teachers. The evolution and the results of the students at math classes are spectacular!” says Liliana Alistar, a math teacher at Dimitrie Negruțiu Gymnasium School in Pogoneşti, one of the 30 schools that entered into Digitaliada, a project of Orange Foundation. Digital teaching encourages teachers to make the link between a subject and the practical aspects of real life says Mrs. Alistar while she gives the students the example of a tomograph computer that cuts the image of the brain into 50,000 plans and shows them images on the internet. In parallel, on the tablets, she shows them a pyramid cut with a plan, two, three, four parallels and so on, and the children link the subject to a concrete situation.

3400 pupils, from 30 gymnasium schools in the rural area, learn in Digital Labs equipped with tablets so that each student can work individually during the class, with a laptop for the teacher and video projector for the class thanks to Digitaliada – the project developed by Orange Foundation in order to sustain the digital education in Romania. Along with the equipment, they receive a complete suite of applications adapted to the curricula, digital materials and lesson plans to support the learning of math and ICT with digital technologies. Orange Foundation also invests in teachers training so that they feel comfortable and prepared to use the new digital methods.

The digital lab introduces students and teachers to a whole new world and digital technology makes classes more exciting and more interactive. “We enjoy when we see the enchanted faces of the children. They love it, you can see that already in their grades!” says another teacher enrolled in the program – Loredana Constandache, the director of the Grivița school, in Galați. Alina Nica, who is teaching in two schools, only one of them being in the Digitaliada project, is comparing: „Classes on tablets are more attractive and they even forget about brakes; they want to work more than others who do not have access to technology and for whom the teaching is classic. ”

New terms and concepts are more easily understood through digital means, than with the classic blackboard and chalk. Teachers have understood that there is a structural generation mind-shift and that their roles will soon become those of a coach and that the unidirectional teaching is not interesting for the generations that have access to the modern wonders of digital. For a sixth grade pupil at Sîncraiu de Mureş, the Digital Lab made a significant difference to the previous school years: “In ITC class we made a project in Scratch. I created a character, which was actually me, and with the arrows I went to my grandfather’s house and back.” says him with a big smile on his face.

The aim of Digitaliada is to improve school performance of the children in rural areas so that they may compete for high school with children in the urban area. In the assessment made at the end of 2017 school year, we noticed that the average of 25% of the students in the program increased by 1 point and they are much more attracted to math classes. On the other hand, teachers are very proud to be pioneering in Romania, and they have become models in their counties.

In fact, the laboratories can be used by any teacher in the school, not just by the math and ICT teachers to whom the program is addressed.

How did teachers received the Digitaliada project? – “I admit, it was not easy at first. But then I saw how fast and easy it worked. I went through the notes taken at the training, I got used to digital technology and I perfectly understood its role in supporting traditional education. Since then, I have used the tablets, laptop and projector on a weekly basis in class. ” – Luminița Podoleanu – ITC teacher at Dimitrie Negruţiu Gymnasium School in Pogoneşti.

At national level, Orange Foundation supports the digital education through the Digitaliada online platform and through a digital materials contest held annually. The Digitaliada platform is an online learning hub that can be accessed and used by anyone interested, students or teachers across the country. The contest awards people passionate about developing original and open source educational content. www.digitaliada.ro platform contains over 400 digital educational materials in Romanian language that can be accessed free of charge and the number is constantly increasing.

Due to the previous editions excellent results, Orange Foundation will expand the program in 10 more rural gymnasium schools starting September 2018.

(p) – this article is an advertorial.

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