Amal el Mahi (28) is a teacher at a public primary school Het Schateiland in Gouda.
“I have seen so much change in the six years I have been working here. Today, every child starting in year one has his or her own tablet. I personally view digitalisation as a positive development: the children are more motivated and you can better adapt your lessons to individual learning targets. On the other hand, you cannot rely on tablets unquestioningly. Children learn to count more effectively with actual objects – a clock or wooden blocks, for example – which also teaches them spatial awareness. And in a history class, for example, a well-told tale from antiquity is as popular as ever.”
Tablet teaching or not?
“It is a difficult balance: what should we teach digitally and what not? The University of Nijmegen is currently researching the effects of tablet teaching on learning results. My school is involved in the study. We recognise the importance of the controlled use of tablets: it is a means and not an end in itself! Something else we have seen is that parents often have more problems with digitalisation than their children. Some pupils have no one at home who can help them with a PowerPoint presentation or project and some have no computer at all. Do all the children truly have equal opportunities? That is something I sometimes worry about.”
“The increasing degree of digitalisation makes schools vulnerable. For example, you need a good Internet connection. When it fails, you have to be able to fall back on books. Information protection is also important; that is something we are increasingly recognising. A digital pupil-monitoring system provides very valuable insights, but that information is not intended for everyone. We must of course prevent any information about a child’s home situation becoming public knowledge.”