A digital makeover for Minarah
When principal Jay Halai took a hard look at the pedagogy of Minarah College in 2020, he saw that they faced a major problem: their teaching and learning style was still mostly paper-based and lecture style.
So Halai, along with school leadership, spearheaded a drastic and fast-paced digital and pedagogical overhaul.
By all standards, their overhaul was a total success.
Minarah College, an independent K-12 Islamic school in Greater Sydney, due to its impressive digital transformation and integration of digital practices and pedagogies that will impact the lives of its students, received a 2022 designation as a 5-Star Innovative School by The Educator Australia.
As part of its digital facelift, Minarah partnered with SMART to equip students and teachers with interactive technology that would help deeper learning occur. Minarah College consulted the EdTech Assessment Tool to understand better where they stand amongst 32 capabilities based on global education frameworks like OECD, CASEL, and ISTE.
They ranked high in most areas, however, they were surprised to see their biggest challenge was supporting teachers. He found that teachers were looking for ways to utilize classroom tools better in order to improve the learning experience for all students.
“The missing piece to actually get the students to be engaged in the learning was the SMART Boards,” Halai said. “The interactive flat panels revolutionized my teaching, and it revolutionized the way students learn.”
How Lumio and SMART displays changed classroom engagement
Staff at Minarah are thrilled with the transformation they’ve witnessed in student engagement since implementing the digital learning tool for student devices, Lumio, along with SMART interactive displays in their classrooms. Marwa Abdallah, Minarah’s associate deputy principal, has seen a clear before and after in the classroom atmosphere.
“Lumio has been the best thing to come to Minarah College in recent times…we are able to get these kids to engage with so many hands-on resources,” she said. “[With Lumio] they're writing, they're drawing, they're collaborating with one another … and really taking upon themselves the ability to take the driver's seat in their learning.”
Issam Ibrahim, Minarah’s Head of IT, is impressed with the range of choices and resources that SMART’s products and software have opened up for teachers.
“It’s very easy for our teachers to be able to create resources and provide dynamic content and to be able to make that [content] more gamified,” he said.” “And also to co-create with the students and have them come to the SMART Board and interact.”
Game-based learning is just one way that Lumio helps Minarah College teachers supercharge engagement in their classrooms. The rest of the resources that are included in the software have been pivotal in changing the learning culture at the school.
I looked at all the resources that were available on Lumio, and I was dumbfounded,” Abdallah said. “Whether it'd be the videos that I needed…that had no commercials in there, [or] the ability to get the students to collaborate their ideas without me having to lead. [We] went from being a very content-heavy program to a very resourceful and rich program for these children, and I really saw the fruits of that labor on that program.”
The SMART difference: why Minarah chose SMART
When it came to choosing the right company to outfit their digital transformation, Minarah’s staff surveyed many options, but it quickly became clear that SMART was the winner for a variety of reasons.
“SMART has been in the EdTech industry for over 30 years… they were the premium brand, and they didn't have just a single solution but had a whole ecosystem,” Ibrahim said. “With SMART, it wasn't just the hardware alone, it was also the suite of software that came with it.”
Ibrahim also noted the local, responsive support that Minarah staff receive from SMART on a regular basis as a major perk to working with the company.
“We regularly meet with SMART, whether it's professional development or access to their technical team, as well,” he said. “It's been great to have someone that we can provide our feedback to and come back to us with what we can do to improve in certain areas.”
Halai also emphasized the decades-long track record of SMART as a key factor in their decision.
“It's got that legacy, you know?” Halai said. “Almost two decades in, SMART’s still allowing students to be very interactive in their learning. That active learning is a massively important part of students developing as learners.”
But more than anything, it’s the impact on all types of student learners that Minarah staff is most excited about in their overhaul and the SMART ecosystem they’ve invested in, reaching students they weren’t reaching before.
“I heard a quote once that technology gives the quietest student a voice, and that's what Lumio and SMART have done,” associate deputy principal Abdallah said. “They've given the quieter students who would never normally engage in these lessons a voice and the chance to stand up to be confident, to be active, and to participate in things they normally wouldn't have done before.”
This shift in the learning culture at Minarah College has not only helped the school to receive national recognition, but it has invigorated the staff and students in a way that had been missing previously.