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Wakra students excited to start studying through ‘eSchoolbags’

Qatar: Sunday, December 03 - 2006 @ 16:40

eSchoolbag, that proposes to ease the burden of the traditional schoolbags through students access to multi featured Tablet PCs, is presently being piloted at Al Wakra Independent School for Girls.

Launched as a collaboration between ictQATAR and IDA (Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore) last September, ‘eSchoolbag’ project moved a step forward last week, with School’s Academic Advisor, Dr. Majid Ibrahim announcing that students will be able to carry their ‘eSchoolbags’ home. So far the Tablet PCs were being used within the school’s premises.

The announcement coincided with the visit of Singapore’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. George Yeo to Doha last week. The Singaporean delegation’s visit to the school followed iDA and ictQATAR’s signing of a MoU for ICT collaboration last week, witnessed by His Highness the Heir Apparent and Singapore’s Prime Minister.

During the school visit al-Wakra 8th grade students showcased their Tablet PCs to the delegates. The visit turned into an interactive session when the students started talking enthusiastically about the benefits of the ‘eSchoolbags’.

“Thanks to the eSchoolbag, I don’t have to carry my heavy schoolbag any more,” said Mariam Abdul Rehman, one of the 188 students who is excited to take her Tablet PC home. “Studies have become fun now with animations on my PC. I can’t wait to take it home,” added her classmate, Hebba Mohammed.

It was not just the students who were excited, even their teachers seemed surprised at their students’ overwhelming response. “My students are more actively involved in the classroom now,” said Ghada Mohammed Khattab, Math teacher at the school.

Mr. Yeo was accompanied by Dr. Hessa Al Jaber, ictQATAR Secretary General Dr. Mohamed Al Ansari, e-Education Manager and officials from the Supreme Education Council.

Addressing the gathering Dr. Mohamed Al Ansari said that due to the joint efforts between ictQATAR and IDA, students can acquire cutting-edge technology in education to enhance the process of learning. He added that “we have investigated a number of international experiments with this kind of technology and found the Singaporean experience to be of most significance and relevance to the needs of our schools in Qatar.”

On September 14, this year, ictQATAR had announced the beginning of the first phase of its ‘eSchoolbag’ project at the school. For its implementation, ictQATAR’S had chosen IDA and Microsoft’s Singapore’s model Backpack.net that has been responsible for providing Singapore schools with solutions and ICT tools such as tablet computers, special software, electronic books, content and the internet and wireless mobility.

In Qatar, a consortium formed by Backpack.net’s partner iCELL Network, Heulab and Amdon Consulting has been at work to deliver a turn-key solution to the students. iCELL, is to lead the consortium work and will be responsible for eSchoolbag rollout and training.

Now, halfway into the project, iCELL has worked with al-Wakra school to have a network for “anywhere, anytime” wireless connectivity to the school servers and the Internet.

Eight teachers have gone through iCELL’s rigorous training scheme that equips them with the knowledge to employ tablet computers in class and to encourage inquiry based learning.

To ensure the smooth functioning of the project ictQATAR’S e-Education department also held a demo-session for over 200 parents at al-Wakra school last Wednesday, explaining the benefits and features of the eSchoolbag project.

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Sunday, December 3- 2006 @ 16:40 UAE local time (GMT+4) Replication or redistribution in whole or in part is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Mediaquest FZ LLC.

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