Tuesday, March 26th, 2013 | training | Comments Off
This question is the same as asking: “How long is a piece of string?”
And the answer is the same: “It depends …” Yes, different factors determine the length of time it will take a teacher to come to grips with classroom technology. For example, a teacher who is already digitally literate should find it easier to make the transition from traditional classroom teaching to one where technology is harnessed.
When technology training programmes are developed for teachers, bear the following in mind:
Training teachers in the use of classroom technology takes place in stages; it is not a once off event. Short training sessions over a period of time is better than one intensive course.
The more time teachers spend trying out newly acquired technology skills, the sooner they’ll become proficient. Allow enough time after a training session for the teacher to practice new skills.
Just in time (JIT) training works better than training a teacher now with a view to applying the knowledge much later. When teachers are trained, but technology only becomes available in their classrooms months later, some of the skills would have faded.
Each teacher – like learners – will acquire skills at a different speed; the important thing is to practise each new skill often.
Teachers should not despair when they battle to acquire classroom technology skills; from experience they know that fast learners are not necessarily the best learners.
Monday, February 4th, 2013 | Blogging, e-Learning pioneers, technology | Comments Off
Ask this question to different people and you will get different responses:
Vendors of tablets may point to some schools where ebooks are already in use and argue that they are a reality in many schools and that other schools are catching on at lightning speed.
Education departments, in general, have little to say about this topic.
Only a small percentage of teachers want to see ebooks in their classrooms … the majority will hang onto printed ones for as long as they can.
So, what is the real uptake of ebooks in South African schools? The folks that know best are the book publishers. They should be able to tell us how ebook distribution compares with that of printed textbooks.
The biggest supplier of textbooks to schools in South Africa reckons that “SA schools [are] still slow to catch on with ebooks”.
Tuesday, January 22nd, 2013 | technology, Uncategorized | Comments Off
Teachers, do you feel that e-learning is not for you?
Do you believe that there are insurmountable barriers preventing you from using technology in your classrooms?
Most of the barriers you perceive are not real – they only exist in your mind. And with a bit of effort you can overcome them.
Think about the following:
Barrier #1: My school does not have computer facilities for the learners and therefore e-learning is not possible.
So what? Start building your own digital skills so that when technology devices become available for the learners, you will know how to use them to improve the classroom experience for them. e-Learning starts with you, not with technology devices.
Barrier #2: The children in my class know more about technology than I do.
Use this situation to your advantage. Children love to show off their skills. Remember, a conductor of an orchestra is not a master of all musical instruments, but draws on the skill of each expert musician to produce beautiful music. Even with a basic understanding of technology (but with your experience of teaching) you can transform your classroom into an interactive symphony.
Barrier #3: I am technically challenged.
Get over it! Years ago many of us said that we will never be able to use a cell phone … and look at us today! If you put your mind to it, also this barrier will dissolve.
The real barriers to e-learning are not a lack of money, or a lack of physical resources, or a lack of a background in technology, but rather an unwillingness to get out of a cosy, comfortable corner and taking the effort to learn to use new tools.
Thursday, January 10th, 2013 | Blogging, communication | Comments Off
Look to the right and you’ll see the badge for “The Best Education Blog – 2012”, thanks to all of you who have voted for e4Africa! It is gratifying to know that the blog still holds value for folks of the education fraternity.
Last year I had to disengage the “Comment” feature, owing to spammers trying to advertise everything from Louis Vuitton bags to Viagra. These messages are not machine generated, but were posted by real people targeting blogs with spam filters – how low can you go! It took a lot of my time to remove them every day.
Since your comments are a valuable source of information to me, as well as to other readers of this blog I am exploring ways to make the comment feature spammer proof and will restore it as soon as I’ve found a solution.
Tuesday, January 8th, 2013 | education, ICT in Africa | Comments Off
After the 2012 matric results were announced last week, the media – particularly the social media – were abuzz with comments from education authorities celebrating the results and defending the not-so-good aspects, and with criticisms from those who believe that education is failing the country.
A though provoking article written by Professor Mary Metcalf appeared in The Sunday Independent of 6 January 2013, highlighting the things that are amiss in our education system but giving clear suggestions of what can be done to improve matters. Her recommendations are succinctly summarized by a paragraph towards the end of the article:
The five challenges are clear: improve success from primary school; reduce the dropout rate in Grades 10 to 12; increase the proportion of pupils who are passing at higher levels; focus on the provinces which have inherited the greatest portion of the apartheid devastation, and where the largest numbers of the poorest children live; and reduce the huge inequalities that are pervasive across the system.
This is a tall order! And it will require us to pull out all the stops to overcome these challenges.
While addressing these issues, don’t overlook the possible contribution of technology. How can technology help? In some way, it can address each of the five challenges:
Improve success from primary school: Many teachers are already using technology in their classrooms to develop and improve literacy and numeracy skills of learners from Grade 1 up till Grade 12.
Reduce the dropout rate in Grades 10 to 12: After introducing technology, many schools have reported that it serves as a way of regaining and retaining interest in learning among learners who might have given up on their education.
Increase the proportion of pupils who are passing at higher levels: Technology can help to fill the gap where skilled teachers are not available, or where big learner numbers make it impossible for teachers to provide individual guidance.
Focus on the provinces which have inherited the greatest portion of the apartheid devastation, and where the largest numbers of the poorest children live: An injection of technology in these provinces, alongside other interventions, will accelerate the rate of improvement in the qualityof education.
Reduce the huge inequalities that are pervasive across the system: Technology has proved to be a great equalizer.
Who is responsible to address these challenges? Professor Metcalf says that the state has a responsibility:
The Department of Basic Education has diagnosed these and other challenges, and has a clear and credible plan to address them in its Action Plan to 2014. The National Development Plan reinforces this. Achieving these goals requires strong educational institutions.
Both the Action Plan to 2014 (see Chapter 7: The Importance of e-Education) and the National Development Plan include the use of technology as important elements of a strategy to improve education. But will the State be able to pull this off on its own? The article concludes by appealing to all of us to make a play a part:
The first line of responsibility is with the department and its political and executive leadership. But it is also through citizens actively supporting teachers and schools, and working in partnership with provincial and national leaders, that implementation can succeed, and we can progressively make access to a quality public education for all a reality. To give this support is our individual and collective responsibility as parents and citizens, as is our parallel responsibility to hold officials accountable, to ensure fairness and that promises are kept.
The question now is: how can the private sector – particularly technology companies – work along with the national and provincial education departments to fix South Africa’s education?
Thursday, January 3rd, 2013 | technology, Tips | Comments Off
Are you a teacher who would like to improve your teaching in the classroom?
Have you considered using technology as a tool to do so? But you’re facing a dilemma – you’re not a technology boffin and you don’t know how to learn to use it?
Here are a few tips that may help you to get going:
A quick and easy way for you to learn to use technology is to buy it, switch it on, use it and ask for help when you’re stuck.
When you consider a technology training course, remember that Just-In-Time (JIT) training is recommended otherwise new skills can’t be reinforced and are soon forgotten.
You would likely respond best to face-to-face training; the comfort of the warm-body experience must not be under estimated.
A blended approach is possibly the best way of learning to use technology, using different available training options such as: enrolling for a training course; making use of e-learning material; trial and error discovery; and asking a friend for help when you’re stuck.
If you’re a technology novice, you may initially find entertainment available on a computer or a tablet (or even your smart phone) a painless introduction to technology. Play a game, or download a few videos, or start reading an e-book, or sign up for one of the social networks.
Wednesday, December 19th, 2012 | trends | Comments Off
MOOC is the new buzzword in education – particularly in the higher education lexicon.
What is a MOOC? It is an acronym for a Massively Open Online Course. Let’s unravel the meaning of this phrase in reverse order:
It is a course, since it is courseware prepared by universities (or other education institutions) for accredited programmes of study.
It is online, since anyone with an internet connection can access it.
It is open, since you don’t have to pay for it. Well, most of the time a MOOC is free; sometimes you are only charged for assessment and/or accreditation.
It is massive(ly),since internet access makes the course available to anyone, anywhere on the planet. The student body is no longer restricted by location or accommodation. In theory, hundreds of thousands, even millions of people can enrol for a particular course.
One may wonder on what technology platform MOOCs will be made available. This is not altogether clear at this stage; the idea of free, open, online courses is appealing to many but the definition of the technology engine is still in its development phase.
The movement towards MOOCs seems like an attractive option for the beleaguered education system in South Africa, but time will only tell how useful it will be. Poor internet connectivity, a lack of access to technology devices and low levels of understanding of e-learning are some of the barriers that we have to overcome to make MOOCs viable alternatives to class-bound courses.
Tuesday, December 18th, 2012 | education, technology | Comments Off
Recently I saw the following two quotations tweeted on Twitter:
Education is an admirable thing, but it is well to remember from time to time that nothing that is worth knowing can be taught. (Oscar Wilde)
Tell me, I’ll forget; show me, I’ll remember; involve me, I’ll understand. (Chinese proverb)
From the re-tweets and re-re-tweets of these snippets of wisdom it seems as if the sentiments expressed in them find resonance with many who are serious about education.
Telling happens when a teacher teaches or a lecturer presents a lecture. A good teacher will also show … using diagrams, real world models, doing experiments, even showing video clips to serve as memory aids. Sadly, that is where teaching in the classroom often ends.
Involvement of learners is important … but how do you accomplish this? More than teaching and showing is required. Involvement means that the learners must jump in boots and all into the learning material and participate in the learning process. The result is that learners will make worthwhile knowledge their own because they have been active partners in the learning process.
You may have guessed where this is going – yes, technology is a powerful tool for teachers to involve learners. The following are just a few of the many ways in which technology can take the classroom beyond a mere lecture room:
As the name implies, an interactive whiteboard (IWB) makes it possible for the teacher to involve the learners in the learning process in many different ways. The good news is that some data projectors now have interactive features, which obviates the need for an expensive IWB, yet allowing for interactive learning to take place.
Learners love their cell phones and innovative teachers are already using these devices to draw learners into the learning experience. Tablets play a similar role (for those who can afford them).
Where learners have access to the internet, they can create their own knowledge by doing research. No more spoon feeding … learners can be taught to find, evaluate and analyse information and then synthesize what they’ve gathered into knowledge which they make their own.
Mathematical skills are acquired through practise, practise and still more practise. Drill-and-practice programs are available on technology devices and these can be used to help learners to hone and own mathematical skills.
The screens of cell phones, tablets or computers encourage reading and the keyboards encourage writing. Active use of these devices develop reading and writing skills … much needed in our country where the education system has not succeeded in “teaching” and “showing” these skills.
Let’s not just marvel at the wisdom of Wilde and the Chinese … put it in practice by harnessing technology to make learners active and eager participants in the learning process.
What learners will learn, experience and understand through active involvement is much, much better than all our well-prepared and smoothly presented lessons.
Monday, November 12th, 2012 | training | Comments Off
The short answer to this question is: a lot of training.
At least the same amount of money that schools spend on hardware and software should be devoted to ICT training of teachers.
Most ICT tools were not specifically designed for educational purposes; teachers must be helped to discover their classroom potential.
Being computer literate is only the first step for teachers who want to use ICT as a teaching tool.
For teachers to succeed with ICT they need a paradigm shift – this means thinking differently about teaching and learning. This process can only happen if training takes place over an extended period.
ICT training of teachers is labour intensive but, without it, technology in education has no chance of success.
Monday, October 29th, 2012 | software | Comments Off
Learners at school spend 12 years building up to that big moment – Matric! And then the exams are upon them and they are overwhelmed. They have so much revision to do, where do they start? EasyPass is a handy tool for teachers and learners to ease the pain.
The EasyPass Online Assessment Centre provides question banks for 16 of the most important matric subjects. The questions are categorized by topic within a subject. Tests are generated on the fly, with a random set of questions submitted for each learner to complete. Since the Centre is internet-based, learners can access them anywhere, anytime, and from any internet-enabled device.
The EasyPass mission is simple: to help Matriculants find out what they do and don’t know. And while they are finding out, they are learning because they will get feedback on each question. Once they know where they are weak, they can go back to their textbooks or ask their teacher for help. The learner can also go back to the assessments to measure their knowledge gain after revisiting the material, because they are allowed to complete each test up to five times.
The target market is both individual learners as well as schools. The questions are developed by subject-matter experts, usually teachers who have retired or are pursuing other interests.
EasyPass is keen to work with underperforming schools to help them improve their matric marks, and in turn improve the learner’s chance of future success.
- Wayne of BlackBoard applauds the #motheoconf2013 for having a Twitter stream, displayed to all conference attendees. Tweeted 5 hours ago
- "Lecturers, e-learning starts with you," says Wayne of BlackBoard. #motheoconf2013 Tweeted 5 hours ago
- Since this space is now used for advertising ... MUSTEK and LEZMIN are your premium technology partners in the Free State. #motheoconf2013 Tweeted 9 hours ago
- Seeing that this space is now used for advertising... remember that MUSTEK and LEZMIN are your premium Free State technology partners. Tweeted 9 hours ago
- #motheoconf2013 The Telkom guy says connectivity is key for FET education... he would say that, wouldn't he! Tweeted 10 hours ago
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