Mimio began in 1997 with a singular philosophy: to make learning more engaging for students. Yukti Pahwa and Sheena Joseph, in conversation with Jaemes Shanley, find out more about their interactive teaching technologies and what it takes to integrate them to the Indian classrooms
Mimio has recently introduced the new Mimio Classroom Product Suite. Could you tell us more about it?
We have introduced a new product which is a completely revamped whiteboard system. The new Mimio Classroom Product Suite is based on the feedback, experience and knowledge gained from interacting and observing more than three lakh classrooms globally, thereby resulting in better refinements in the design and, most importantly, integration of several technologies into one comprehensive system. This includes the student response systems, white boards and document cameras or data visualisers.
How is the technology expected to benefit teachers in India?
All three of the technologies – the student response systems, white boards and document cameras – are being used in significant numbers in classrooms across North America. One of the challenges that was observed, for teachers, was that it becomes a difficult and complicated process to integrate independent systems while teaching, all of them being controlled by different softwares. The Mimio Classroom Suite is an integrated and easy-to-use suite of interactive teaching tools and services tailored specifically for the Indian educators. It allows the interactive whiteboard devices, student assessment systems, document cameras, accessories and software to seamlessly work together or on their own.
What are the differences that you have observed in terms of technological integration in India and abroad?
According to me, the differences that exist are reflective more of the differences among teachers in terms of their positioning in the technology fluency curve. This implies that on a scale of 1-10 (where 1 signifies total ignorance and 10 represents expert in usage of technology), we will find teachers who populate the entire scale. Although, it can be visibly observed that, the percentage of teachers from North America or Britain populating the higher end of the scale will be more than the teachers from other parts of the world.
Countries like USA are more in the evolutionary stage of technological integration, while in India the trend is more of a transformation.
Could you tell us about the partnerships that Mimio has entered into with other companies in India?
With our tie-up with Educomp Smart Class, Mimio now has over 30,000 classes in India. Smart class is a comprehensive system in terms of content, teacher training and technology usage in classrooms. ICT is a very dynamic industry, with a lot going on in this field. We need to be careful so as to not make ICT a tidal wave which inundates and overwhelms everyone. In India we find a lot of elements which are extra ordinary, be it in terms of the incredible quality of digital content, interactive software and systems like smart class, which have managed to transform classrooms in India from being abysmally equipped to being technologically sound.
How are the Mimio interactive teaching technologies different from other products in the market?
Two significant aspects which can differentiate Mimio from others are, firstly, our approach to whiteboards – which is to bring technology to the board rather than build technology into the whiteboard. This has a host of positive implications in terms of costs, transportation, implementation, installation, and after service support. In a market size like that of India, all these factors are really important. But it also has to be made easy to use. Document cameras are an important transitional technology as it allows the teacher to pull anything from the analog world into the digital content and be able to use them more broadly and flexibly. We also invented a system where the teacher handsets automatically renumber themselves when returned to the recharging tray- a convenient and time saving feature for both teachers and students. When stored in a tray, handsets recharge automatically, so there’s no need to deal with the hassle or expense of replacement of batteries.
The most powerful aspect of this technology is that the teacher can assess the student learning and understanding of the class. It allows the teacher to constantly get feedback and then look at those results and find out who has not understood. There has been a lot of research into learning styles and not everyone learns in the same way. One of the advantages of ICT is that it allows teachers to present content in different ways and lessons can be structured accordingly.
ICT is a very dynamic industry, with a lot going on in this field. We need to be careful so as to not make ICT a tidal wave which inundates and overwhelms everyone
What is the role of Mimio in creating content and curriculum standards?
Every country has its own curriculum standards and objectives, and there can be certain commonality of design. We have done some work in the US, and are looking at the discipline and structure of measurable and observable learning outcomes based on curriculum standards. We are hoping that over time we can extend this globally and contribute to healthy educators and link educative interactive technology with curriculum standards.
We have our software application and a content gallery, but most of it has been influenced by the requirement standards of North America- which is our largest market. We also have a web portal, with more than 40,000 members worldwide, where teachers can share, upload and download content. Over time we seek to move towards a more neutral content, which can then be universally used.
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