Garden: Inside One Of The Most Expensive International Schools In The Klang Valley

international school

We live in an increasingly technology-centric world. Gone were the days where we could learn by just poring over textbooks after textbooks. Now with our kids having access to all sorts of technology we need to change our teaching approach – making it more interactive, enjoyable and fun.

As more schools embrace this, there are more ways to engage with technology to boost learning from children as young as three years old. Seeing your child enjoy learning is more satisfying than seeing straight A’s on your child’s report card. And this is for both you and your child.

Times have changed. To keep your child’s interest, you need to engage him/her on a completely new level than when we (the parents) used to when we were in school.

A few months ago, we published the top 10 most expensive international schools in the Klang Valley. These schools are undoubtedly expensive, but will you get the value that matches the price you are paying?

International education is a pricey choice, but for most of the families who have made sacrifices for their children’s education find that it’s worth it. Other than the usual perks like smaller class size, more flexible and up-to-date teaching methods, there are also state-of-the-art facilities. Of course, different schools have their own unique selling points.

Let’s take a look inside one of these schools, Garden International School (GIS), which has successfully merged technology and education seamlessly. It uses the British National Curriculum and has been accredited by the Council of International Schools (CIS).

Its high-tech campuses are located in Bukit Kiara, Kuala Lumpur (main campus), Desa Sri Hartamas (an Early Years Centre) and another campus in Kuantan. GIS have been known as a technology-driven school, with two of its teachers receiving the Apple Distinguished Educators awards.

technology and kids

Image from 3News.

Which school of thought?

None of us had today’s technology when we were in school, so while parents realise technology has become an integral part of their child’s education, they are divided into two schools of thought when it comes to technology and children. Some are against their children using technology devices excessively, while another group thinks technology is beneficial to learning.

From smart phones to tablet computers and game consoles, it is not unusual to see children as young as one, intuitively swiping screens and confidently pressing buttons. Commonly known as “screen time” for younger children, used in the right way, at the right time, has proven to be really helpful and interesting tools to help children learn.

At GIS, they’ve embraced technology and use it to enhance learning. The introduction of devices such as iPads to the students has boosted their learning experience via the integration of technology which complements existing teaching formats.

Having been exposed to technology and been taught the best way to leverage on it in today’s innovative world from young is priceless. It’s not just about the devices, but also about the technology infrastructure that is put in place to make learning innovative.

Equipped with ICT suites for the Visual and Performing Arts, Modern Foreign Languages and Design Technology, WiFi throughout the school, access to laptops for all students, e-research facilities in the libraries and school-wide Student Information Management System (SIMS), GIS students learn in an environment that is parallel to the real world.

international school

Image from ABC.

Factors that make a tech-savvy school

Most schools, especially international and private schools who are not lacking in funding, blend technology and education to introduce the real world to the students from a young age.

Many students are not lacking the talent, but the confidence to excel. Technology and education will not mean anything if it set up as a one-size-fits-all for all students. GIS takes it a step further by personalising the learning as much as possible for each individual learner to ensure that they are continually stretched and challenged. This way the students will be given the opportunities to help them find their passions and excel – not just in school, but in life.

The GIS Learner Skill aims to hone the students to be effective global citizens and they are evaluated through the six key areas of Creative Thinker, Adaptable Lifelong Learner, Active Citizen, Resilient Individual, Independent Inquirer and Effective Contributor.  So, how does one school offer more value than another? What makes one school better than another, or charges higher fees than another?

It’s easy to give each student an iPad and a laptop for learning. But teaching and equipping them with the knowledge on how to make the best use of these technology is the key to successfully injecting the right amount of technology in education.

It’s almost always more effective to look at the learning approach rather than the teaching approach, where the school focuses on the learning opportunities created for the students. This means learning is always student-centred where they are able to take the lead of their own learning.GIS holds the Apple Distinguished programme for its large scale enquiry programme, taking ICT and education seriously. This recognition is reserved for programmes that meet criteria for innovation, leadership and educational excellence, and demonstrate Apple’s vision of exemplary learning environments.

In 2013, two of GIS’ teachers, Anna Power, e-learning leader in the Primary School, and Stephen Trask, director of ICT, bagged the Apple Distinguished Educators awards. They have both been formally invited to join the ADE Class of 2013 – joining a select band of global educators who are innovating within their classroom. This year, the representatives from GIS, joining the ADE are James Abela, lead teacher for Computer Science, and Alex Turner, e-learning leader.

The Apple Distinguished Educator (ADE) Program began in 1994, when Apple recognised K-12 and higher education pioneers who are using a variety of Apple products to transform teaching and learning in powerful ways. Today it has grown into a worldwide community of over 2,000 visionary educators and innovative leaders who are doing amazing things with technology in and out of the classroom.

If technology is one of your main criteria when choosing a school for your child, here are some other factors that make a school a successfully high-tech one:

  • The schools have a team of trained teachers, or specific administrators, who are responsible for overseeing the technology, such as e-learning leaders, director of ICT and even director of innovative learning.
  • Relate and complement technology and learning in classrooms. Forget about schools that solely use technology for memorisation in favour of those fostering student inquiry and problem solving.
  • Teaching and administrative staff should be adequately trained in how to use the technology.
  • One dead giveaway of a school that is not fully embracing technology is when WiFi is not available throughout the schools, but only at certain hotspots.

It’s undeniable that misusing technology can have severe consequences, especially for young children. However, it is also undeniable that technology is so closely interweaved in our daily lives, avoiding it will only lead to failure. Therefore, it is important to inculcate the right technology habit in a child’s lives so they will go on to become responsible adults who are able to use and embrace technology to their best advantage.

If you are planning to pay for an international education for your child, this should be an important aspect to consider, and evaluate.

With expensive international school fees, make use of a good cashback credit card to manage your family finances!

Image from Garden International School.

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