Samsung’s Smart School are Tablets for VARK Hexagons of Learning

“With Smart School we seek to contribute to the educational processes of the country , accelerating the adoption of technological tools in the classroom and developing interactive digital content to enrich the current methods of teaching and learning”

Citizenship Manager for Samsung Electronics Latinoamerics, Ms Silvia Cuervas on January 23rd 2015 on the launch of the Samsung smart School Initiative with the Ministry of Education

Samsung, the little Blue and White South Korean Giant, has a very big heart and is truly an example of what a good corporate citizen should be.

What am I gushing about exactly, ma Cherie?

Samsung has launched, for the first time in Jamaica and possibly the Caribbean, their Samsung Smart School E-Learning Platform, at the Duhaney Park Primary School. Samsung Smart School is an initiative that Samsung developed in collaboration wit the Ministry of education and the non-Profit Organization Glasswing International; to provide Tablets in a classroom setting that allows for a more interactive way of learning.

According to Samsung, this is all about the future of the little ones and their adoption of technology in their lives to quote Citizenship Manager for Samsung Electronics Latinoamerics, Ms Silvia Cuervas, quote: “With the Smart School Project, Samsung continues to strengthen its commitment to society through the development of educational programs that transform the lives of young students in our countries, providing the most innovative technology tools to serve their development”.

She went on further, giving more details on the spread of the Samsung Smart School Program, which was quite extensive, quote: “We strongly believe that Technology can create new learning possibilities for students, helping them along their way towards life-long learning and whole-person development in order to acquire the knowledge and skills needed in society today. In the region , during 2014, 27 schools and more than 22,000 students benefitted from Samsung Smart Schools in 11 countries with a total of 32 digital classrooms”.


So what is this Samsung Smart School all about?

After all , most Jamaicans probably don’t even know that Samsung recently introduced  SUHD TV based on Quantum Dot Technology at CES (Computer Electronics Show) 2015 as per my ditty Samsung’s SUHD Smart TV Running Tizen OS as UHD Alliance grows and Internet of Things Beckons.

So Samsung going back to School seems a bit out-of-character for the company more known for smartphones and Tablets among most Jamaicans. Folks, it’s all about where your priorities are and for Samsung, this is “Technology” in Education. 

Samsung Smart School at Duhaney Park – Blue and White Samsung at a School in Green and White

As you can see above, I have an invite, just not in printed form.

So when I arrived at the gates of Duhaney Park High School at 10am that day, I was greeted by a gate that had a mini-crowd of Primary School students dressed in their usual Green and White colours.

Apparently, the food and trinkets from the Vendors outside was enticing enough for many of the children to venture outside and buy what they desired. My desire was to get inside.

After the Gate Watchman asked me if I had an invitation. I said yes and confirmed by a show of knowledge of the event, who I represented and the organizer. Thus I was able to slip through the students, who stared eyes all a-goggle at the spectacle that was me. I had on khaki pants and I wore a dress shirt and tie, as the invite said “Business Casual”.

Too bad for my face wasn’t really ready for the video light, so I had to mask off myself from the world behind my MIB (Men in Black) shades and a decent Black Hat, which goes with anything and is a “good look” aide from my usual green baseball cap.

So I’m here.

Walking towards the stairway straight ahead immediately after I passed a mural on the right, there were a set of four (4) vertical Blue banners with “Samsung” in bold white lettering. Good thing they were this large; on my way I almost got lost as I had to travel on a No. 32 JUTC Bus and the Banners were what guided me to the location of the event.

A company of Blue and White set against a School bedecked in Green and White, I mused to myself!

Pre-Samsung Smart Room Vibes – Samsung Smart Room was the real Star of the Show

The event was more super Samsung-esque decorated than usual, with blue vermillion glittery fishnet wrapping embracing the guard rails of the stairway leading up to the Second floor of the Building where the event was being held.

The left and right of the stairway was decorated with wicker baskets bursting with dirt and some hastily planted Palm fronds and eucalyptus Buses in black plastic containers.

Like I said, very Samsung-y.

Even the cleaning lady, who I met at the top of the gate, was cleaning the floor with a mop in a Blue Bucket, as she complained bitterly of wanting to have the place cleaned and wanting to have it ready – yet again, as she’d cleaned it earlier that morning!

Got really super Samsung-esque when I walked down to the location where the event was being held. There were four (4) rooms upstairs of which three (3) were the focus of today’s Presentation.

The Fourth Room, an Early Literacy Room with a vaulted ceiling, was converted to host the Press Conference, with plastic wrap Wallpaper with the Words “Samsung Smart School” covering the front and back of the Classroom.

The Press and their cameras had begun to file in, with tripods set up at the back. The Room had twenty four (24) white plastic chairs covered in silk drapery with a blue band wrapped around the middle of the chairs.

Parted in two (2) groups of twelve (12) chairs, the audience would face a Blue desk at the front.

A Plastic transparent Podium was at the right with the words “Samsung” in blue letters and to the left, a vertical blue plastic banner with Samsung written in White letters. On that Blue Table were placeholders for the following people:

  • Ms. Lydia Richards, Principal of Duhaney Park Primary School
  • Ms. Sylvia Cuevas, Corporate Citizen Manager for Samsung Electronics Latin America
  • Hon. Rev Ronald Thwaites, Minister of Education
  • Dr. Grace A. Mclean, Chief Education Officer in the Ministry of Education

Outside of the Press Conference room was a white desk with the large Samsung Logo in blue and white with as lovely Samsung girl planted behind the desk. She had a ceramic tray in front of her with some four (4) scissors, each of which had a blue ribbon tied.

A clue, I thought to the dignitaries at the shindig, as it matched the four placeholders, suggesting these four (4) persons, including the Minister of Education, Ronald Thwaites, would be on hand for the Ribbon Cutting Ceremony to open the Second and Third Rooms where the Samsung Smart School was located.

Please note that dear reader; it’s relevant later down in the article. Ah yes, the Second and Third Rooms!

The Second and Third Rooms seem to be of interest, as they had been taped up and renovated and had metallic silver stands placed in front of the door with bright Blue ribbon set up for a Ribbon Cutting Photo Event.

Again, the railings all along this upper section was covered in more glittery fishnet wrapping! Samsung basically overlayed themselves like a gigantic anaconda all over the building!

Samsung Smart Room – Samsung Girls from Pan-Am say no to the Media for Second and Third Rooms

Aside from the familiar Black Ink staff milling about and organizing the event, there were some tall statue-esque, leggy fairly beautiful Samsung girls dressed like Air Hostesses from Pan-Am Air with white, thick belts tightly caressing their waists.

The only thing missing from their blue one piece mini-skirt, with bright thick white seams on the front and the words “Samsung” in blindingly harsh white lettering emblazoned across their chest was the Pan-Am Air Pillbox hat with the blue stripe.

White Peep-toe shoes with toenails au naturale painted in Red capped off their ensemble as they flitted about, guarding both the entrance to the Press Room as well as the Second and Third Room with nothing more than their pale eyed, cheery smiles. The star of the show, the Samsung Smart School, was hidden behind the Doors of the Second and Third Rooms, I could tell.

The other journalists from the other Traditional Media hadn’t arrived as yet as the Black Ink Staff milled about getting thing ready. Hoping to beat the crowd, I chatted up the lovely Samsung Girls, hoping to get an exclusive look at the Samsung Smart School Room or Product, but to no avail; my charms were ineffective against them, as they had their orders not to allow any Media in.

I did get to see a little of what was inside. Blue chairs, Tablets and keyboards……before the door was unceremoniously closed on my field of vision.

Samsung Press Conference – Duhaney Park Primary steps toward Tablets for VARK

The Press Conference eventually got under way at 11:25am with Miss World 2006, Sara Lawrence being the Master of Ceremonies. To be fair, I wasn’t really interested in what she had to say, especially as I was seated at the back on the right hand side of the room with a Black Ink worker above me snapping away happily with her Tablet.

It got a bit more interesting when the Principal of Duhaney Park Primary School, Ms. Lydia Richards, told her story about how she was contacted via email to become the first school in Jamaica and indeed the Caribbean to receive the Samsung Smart School Rooms.

According to her, the children are excited, having been using the Samsung Smart School Rooms for some time now. It apparently was having an effect on attendance and behavior, especially among boys, as they knew that to get to enter, being on their best was a ticket to Wonderland!

She also let loose some future plans, as Samsung plans to install several other Samsung Smart School Rooms, each serving a grade and each grade having five (5) Classes.

As there were sixty two (62) regular classes, that suggests that six (6) more Samsung Smart School Rooms would be launched at the Duhaney Park Primary School in the near future. That’s a lot of students to cater for, actually two thousand one hundred and eighty five (2,185), mainly hailing from the neighbouring community of Duhaney Park and other parts of Kingston that they’ve served since 1966.

It also suggests that the seven (7) department would also be taking turn to use the Samsung Smart School Rooms to aid the children, mainly from the ghettoes, to become model citizens, namely:

  • Guidance and Counseling
  • Library
  • Music
  • Physical Education
  • Reading
  • Spanish

She soon was followed by Ms. Sylvia Cuevas, Corporate Citizen Manager for Samsung Electronics Latin America, who spoke in halting English, described the move as part of the continued Global spread of Samsung Smart School program throught Latin America, with Jamaica being the latest stop on that drive toward making Technology a part of education.

Samsung had already donated a Samsung Smart School room to Quest Preparatory after they were crowned the Samsung Cup champions for 2014 along with medals for the players and a team Trophy. So technically speaking Duhaney Park Primary School isn’t the first school to receive a Samsung Smart School room, but rather the first to have it deployed as part of the Government of Jamaica TIS (Tablet in Schools) Project, at the behest of the Government of Jamaica.

To round off, Duhaney Park Primary School  student Nicholai Williamson did a Vote of Thanks for the Students of Duhaney Park Primary School was helping him to learn and due to the interactive nature, made it possible for students of all the VARK (Visual, Auditory, Read/Write and Kinesthetic) Learning Styles able to learn using the Tablets.

There is was again, yet another clue, as I’d remember glimpsing some Tablets when I’d gotten the sneak-peek into one of the Samsung Smart School Rooms. This made me more anxious to see these “Tablets” in the Samsung Smart School Rooms.

Samsung Smart School – Samsung Smart Room throwback to the 70’s as Ministers failed to show

Chief Education Officer in the Ministry of Education, Dr. Grace A. Mclean, was next, apologizing for the absence of Minister of Education, Ronald Thwaites and Minister of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining, Phillip Paulwell. Apparently the tabling of the amendments relating to the Dangerous Drugs Act 2015 to decriminalize Marijuana on Friday January 25th 2015 and a continuing retreat were the reasons for their absence.

I suspect the retreat part isn’t true, as I’ve not seen or heard of any such ongoing Retreat for Ministers. Still, she did reveal some interesting tidbits of News; Samsung was now on boards as an Equiptment Provider for the E-Learning II now called the TIS (Tablet in Schools) Project.

Possibly, they would be one of the providers of CMS (Content Management Systems) and DMS (Device Management Systems) for Tablets to be a part of the Tablet in Schools Program, even providing the educational content for these Tablets.

She also pointed out that it would help with Language Arts, Numeracy and Science and that by boosting Inquiry based or Interactive Learning via the use of technology, it would help to make them Technology Literate as well.

Well, with more apologies and her speech out of the way, it was time to go into one of the Two (2) Samsung Smart School Rooms. With the tray in hand, the Samsung girls carried the Scissors for the Ribbon Cutting Photo Event.

Samsung and Duhaney Park Primary – Samsung Smart School 70’s with Hexagons of learning 

Flashbulbs of the Paparazzi are all I can remember of the scrum as chairs moved and the crowd, guests and Media, made a beeline towards the Samsung Smart School Room to witness the Ribbon Cutting Photo Event. I squeezed in along with the twenty four plus persons including Press and other Media to get a glimpse of the Samsung Smart School Room , actually the Third Room….and I was spellbound.

The Samsung Smart School Room had an all white pastel finish both on the roof as well on the walls. But apparently such a cleanroom-looking finish wasn’t too lively, so they splashed on some squares of Fuschia Orange from the darkest shades to the lightest and splashes of squares of Blues, from the deepest purples to the lightest baby blues.

The paintjob, which had been done many weeks prior made the Samsung Smart School Room look like something straight from That’s 70’s Show, except with a brighter, high contrast accent. The Samsung Smart School Room itself was something else entirely, looking like a scene from the Cantina on Star Trek: The Next Generation.

The Samsung Smart School Room had five (5) hexagonal Desks with  six (6) kiddie-sized chairs that had fritted triangular holes in the back of each of the blue chairs. In total, each of the two (2) Samsung Smart School Rooms can seat up to thirty (30) students, all in a focused Circle of Learning.

In front of each chair was a Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 Tablets, which are a close step-cousin to the Samsung Galaxy Tab S 10.5 and Galaxy Tab S 8.4 Tablets launched here in Jamaica at the Samsung Experience store back on Thursday October 16th 2014  as described in 10.5” AND 8.4” Samsung Galaxy Tab S Tablets are solid Tablet Products.

In front of each Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 Tablet is a Micro USB Docking Cradle and a Bluetooth QWERTY keyboard, making the Tablets more like using a regular Desktop computer in their configuration, only with Touch capabilities using a S Pen instead of a mouse.

I actually pretty much ignored the demonstration by Samsung’s Dedicated Product Trainer Trudy Ann Brown, as it became instantly clear how the Samsung Smart School worked. Seated around the hexagonal tables were the following Duhaney Park Primary School students ready to demonstrate their understanding of how to use the Samsung Smart School System:

  • Benedo Wright
  • Dushawnie Douglas
  • Najae Muir
  • Sabrina Lewin
  • Ashley Mous
  • Raiana Black
  • Tashanle Moore
  • Caleb Brown
  • Jaheim Kelly

The rest of the twenty one (21) seats were occupied by the Samsung representatives, invitees to the event as well as members of the Press in order to get first-hand usage of the Samsung Smart School System.

The Keyboards are synched to each Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 Tablet via a Bluetooth connection and the teacher at the front of the class with her Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 Tablet is connected to each student through a Gigabit Wi-Fi Router at the back of the class.

According to Samsung Technician for Samsung Smart School Weyner Seville ,that Gigabit Wi-Fi Router is connected to a Laptop that’s running the Samsung Smart School Server platform, which assigns the administrative privileges to the Teacher and her 30 students.

The Samsung Smart School Server Platform, which can run on Windows 7 or Windows 8 Platforms, connects to the Teacher’s Tablet as well as the Student’s Tablet via a static IP address System, enabling communication and Control by the Teacher during her lessons ONLY to those Tablets.

You cannot bring in another Tablet or smartphone and use the Wi-Fi, as it’s locked out for any other device as pointed out to me by Dawn Salesman-Thomas.

The Laptop and the Gigabit Wi-Fi Router sit atop a large white Charging Cabinet marked “Acer” that contains a set of charging docks that are used to recharge the Tablets at the end of the day as well as store the Tablets for safekeeping.

Interestingly, it’s connected to a UPS, ensuring that the Charging Cabinet isn’t affected by power surges, making this product ready to “touch the road” in Schools Downtown, where power surges due to throw-ups make power unstable.

Samsung Smart School – TIS Project Boost that’ll develop ICT in Jamaica and Girls Who Code

During the demonstration by Samsung’s Dedicated Product Trainer Trudy Ann Brown, we could see what they are doing on her Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 Tablet as it was projected on the 55” Samsung HDTV Screen.

She was able to communicate with her students all at the same time or on a one-to-one session privately using an IM (Instant Messenger) built into the Samsung Smart School via her Tablet once they’ve logged in.

She was also able to set group activities and tests and give instant feedback once the test, which were short answer or multiple choice, are completed, telling each student what grade they got. Her control is absolute; she can even shut down any Tablet or even block someone from using a Tablet if they’re misbehaving!

Amazing, therefore, to watch children at this age sitting attentively and actually behaving, just to get a chance to use the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 Tablet in the Samsung Smart School.

Only if your next door neighbour seated beside you is nosey and decides to peek at your Tablet will anyone know, as the teacher can display the class average grades on her flat screen TV, which is at the front of the class.

Included with all this gear is a Samsung Printer connected to another Laptop on the other side of the room. Like the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 Tablets used in the Samsung Smart School Rooms are assigned via a static IP address, making it difficult for anyone to just waltz in with a Tablet or other device and just the Wi-Fi Internet.

Not so confident about the Charging Cabinet, as it just has a single lock, albeit the door locks securely. Still the room is located in the Second and Third Rooms at the top of the two storey building, so it’s safe so long as thieves can’t get past the front gate security.

The Duhaney Park Primary School is slated to get some six (6) other Samsung Smart School Rooms. So security is a must, otherwise a good program like this may have difficulty being spread to the rest of the island, as thieves from the community might steal the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 Tablets!

Other than that this concern, the concept is a good fit with the TIS (Tablet in Schools) Project already spearheaded by the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining.

I eventually left feeling satisfied, both in mind and body, as I did eat some of the after-event food provided. I sauntered out of the Duhaney Park Primary School at around 12:10pm feeling upbeat as the Samsung Smart School Rooms was basically a vote of confidence in Jamaica TIS Project and was a great start towards Jamaica becoming a Technologically literate Society.

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Lindsworth is a Radio Frequency and Generator Maintenance Technician who has a knack for writing about his work, which is in the Telecoms Engineering Field. An inspired writer on themes as diverse as Autonomous Ants simulations, Power from Lightning and the current Tablet Wars.