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Berlitz goes digital with iPad-based classrooms

Global English language provider Berlitz has taken media-based learning a step further in the UK by moving beyond interactive whiteboards to wirelessly connected iPads and smart TVs in its newest London location for executives in Holborn.

Berlitz's new London executive centre opened in July

"My view was that we needed to futureproof the school"

While still using textbooks in other centres, Berlitz hopes all learning material will be digitalised within six months across the London and Windsor operations.

“When we decided to open a second school in London, my view was that we needed to futureproof [the school],” said Gavin Boyd, director of Berlitz UK and manager of the London and Windsor language centres, part of 8 Berlitz schools operating in the UK.

“It brings a relevance to the teaching by using the technology that the majority of our students are predisposed to using and creates an automatic dialogue that our students are comfortable with. It’s a learning experience, not harking back to the idea of a ‘classroom’ which a lot of people don’t want these days.”

Teachers source material from the internet and work with a variety of iPad apps

Currently, teachers source material from the internet and work with a variety of iPad apps including an application that allows a teacher’s whiteboard notes, normally erased at the end of class, to be saved in a dossier for students’ future reference. Audio material is saved in the company’s cloud network, available 24 hours a day. Students can use their own iPads or one of the spares on hand at the centre.

“Textbooks by their very nature lag between what’s current and what’s in the book. This is delivering very topical information, news and products to the students,” said Boyd. “Being able to access Youtube or BBC news automatically creates that immediacy in the classroom.”

So far, Berlitz has offered tablet based teaching in one-to-one sessions with business minded students at its executive centre in London which opened in July. Boyd says by the end of the year, the second London location, also in Holborn, will have been completely rebuilt and integrated the technology into classes with a more general student population.

In due course, the new technology-led approach to learning will be rolled out to other Berlitz centres. In the future, the price of an iPad will mostly likely be included in the cost of courses for students who don’t already have one.

The price of an iPad will mostly likely be included in the cost of courses in future

“Rather than buying a textbook or a collection of text books and resources it makes a lot more sense to offer all these to the students in one device,” said Boyd. “Especially with the introduction of the iPad mini this week costs are coming down dramatically. The price is not going to be that much different from buying five or six text books.”

The new technology has been developed with the media-based learning already established by Berlitz in mind; the company has utilised CyberTeachers ®  and online telephone coaching via Skype for students after their face to face courses have finished and they have returned home.

Other schools have also adopted new technology in the classroom – Canadian College of English Language was among one of the pioneers in this field with its SMRT curriculum.

Company Netop also unveiled a new Classroom Management iPad app last week, while ICEF Monitor wrote about students demanding more technology in the classroom.

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