DionWired gives SMART boost to special needs’ schools

DionWired has begun the rollout of its corporate social investment programme to supply interactive whiteboards to schools for learners with disabilities and, by end June, 15 installations will have been completed in schools in Gauteng, the Western Cape, KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga and Northern Province.

May 24, 2011

A new allocation will be made for the company’s financial year from July 2011, and the total DionWired corporate social investment budget will be allocated to SMART Technology products for special needs’ schools catering for children with a wide range of physical and intellectual disabilities.

“Until now, this technology was available mainly to schools with substantial funding,” says DionWired general manager Andrew Jackson. “We are bringing it to the children who need it most. We are committed to boosting education and, since our product range features the latest technological innovations, our partnership aligns perfectly with the DionWired brand.”

The SMART Board interactive whiteboard is a large touch-sensitive screen that works with a computer and a data projector to provide a central focal point in a classroom and allows teachers and learners to write with pens or move objects such as images with their fingers. The DionWired grant includes the SMART Board, a notebook computer, speakers, microphones, data projector, SMART Notebook collaborative learning software and training, valued at approximately R50 000 per school. SMART reseller Edit Microsystems is accredited for installation, support and teacher training.

Jackson says that the collaborative software meets specific educational needs. “Children with disabilities often benefit from the tactile experiences which interactive whiteboards provide. The tactile learner is instantly engaged by the colourful images and can directly interact with the board by manipulating letters, words, pictures and numbers. At the same time sound effects can be added to objects on the board to assist aural learners.”

All SMART Board interactive whiteboards come equipped with SMART Notebook software, which allows teachers to create and deliver interactive lessons that can be saved, shared electronically and printed. Internet access introduces educational resources through the SMART Exchange website where more than over 50 000 digital lesson activities are available in SMART Notebook, free of charge. The Internet also connects students and teachers to sites such as Google Earth and YouTube. Teachers have easy access to thousands of videos, scientific animations and other multimedia resources and can invite specialists into their classrooms via SMART Bridgit conferencing software or Skype.

According to Anand Sirkissoon, principal of RP Moodley School in KwaZulu-Natal, which received a SMART Board interactive whiteboard from DionWired earlier this year, “The SMART Board holds children’s attention and keeps them interested for longer periods. Educators have the option to appeal to one or more senses. Information can be presented visually, making language more meaningful for a child with low functional speech. Touchscreen technology enables a child with physical limitations and the partially sighted to participate in learning.”

Jane Noble of the Browns’ School in KwaZulu-Natal notes that, with the SMART Board, “Social intelligence can be nurtured through group learning and teamwork. Creative intelligence can be accessed via music, dance clips and interactive musical / dance / theatre software. Now we have an endless world of learning programmes, documentaries, DVDs, curriculum-based games – a multimedia library that can be accessed at the touch of a button.”

“A particular benefit to schools focused on special needs’ children, is teachers’ ability to ‘ plug in’ to the network of other teachers who also use SMART Board technology and may be facing similar challenges,” adds Jackson. “With SMART Bridgit conferencing software, teachers in different regions can share their experiences and assist each other to overcome obstacles.”