5 Tips for teachers to get going with technology

Thursday, January 3rd, 2013 | technology, Tips | Comments Off

Where do I start?

Where do I start?

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.

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What is the best type of chair for your school’s computer room?

Tuesday, November 8th, 2011 | Implementation Issues, Tips | Comments Off

By the time a school has purchased hardware and software to kit out a computer room, there is usually not much funds left for other things, such as chairs.  Yet, learners need to be seated comfortably in order to obtain full value of the technology.

Many schools have found that simple, cheap chairs – such as bar stools – are the best.

After 8 years of constant use, this stool still serves its purpose

Some learners must computers share
It could be two or three
They can not all sit on one chair
Or on each other’s knee

Do not go just for fancy chairs
Look carefully at price
When learners have to work in pairs
Choose those that will suffice

Search for a chair that’s small enough
The learners must sit near
To look at screens for long is tough
Each word to them be clear

The best with chairs that one can do
Is buying small bar stools
At a good price they come to you
They’re just right for the schools

(Taken from Furnishings, a section of The Khanya Story)

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Technology – a labour saving device for teachers

Sunday, November 6th, 2011 | education, Tips | Comments Off

Teachers, do you know that that technology is the best painkiller for admin work?  Admin is certainly the least glamorous part of teaching but technology – particularly a computer – can take the sting out of it.

Consider just a few examples of how technology can make your life easier:

You will save a lot of time when you use a computer to create test and examination papers, class notes and lesson plans. 

Once documents have been created – and stored electronically – they are available for instant reuse at a later date.  Even when changes are required, these can be made in a jiffy, eliminating the need to recreate the entire document.

If you use a spreadsheet to record student performance, you will save yourself much recording and calculation time – and your figures will be more accurate.  At the press of a button you’ll be able to  obtain averages and other statistics required by the education system; this will also help you to keep your finger on the pulse of the class and can inform you how effective your teaching is.

You may think that these tips are so obvious … it is not so obvious to more than 90% of teachers in South Africa who are not yet using technology!  Let’s encourage them to do so.

If you have found ways in which technology has eased the admin burden of teachers, please share them with us.

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ICT – a valuable tool in the hands of teachers

Monday, October 17th, 2011 | education, Tips | 2 Comments

Information and communication technology (ICT) can be a valuable tool in the hands of teachers when used skillfully.  ICT has great potential as a productivity tool, helping teachers to save time and energy.  It is also great as a teaching tool, as well as a learning tool.

Just to give you a taste of what is possible,  consider 5 of the many ways in which a teacher can use technology:

A computer makes a great filing cabinet for teachers – all documents they need are stored safely in one place.

Don’t forget the “C” in ICT – technology is a wonderful tool to communicate with fellow teachers around the globe.

Teachers can save time by displaying the class register on an interactive whiteboard and allowing learners to click their presence for the day.

Many stories of Africa have been transmitted orally and must be preserved – use ICT to record these stories for posterity.  Even better, let the learners record these stories … imagine how this will help them to build literacy skills.

In a multi-grade class, use ICT to keep one grade purposefully busy while giving personal attention to the rest of the class.

These are only a few arbitrary suggestions.  Teachers, why don’t you try some of them?  Talk to your colleagues who are already using technology as a productivity tool, as a teaching tool, or as a learning tool.  You will be pleasantly surprized to discover how ICT can enrich your professional life.


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A security tip for schools with computers

Thursday, October 13th, 2011 | Tips | Comments Off

Teachers, principals and school governing bodies are proud of the resources at their schools, particularly if they have worked hard to obtain those resources.  It is understandable that they want others to know what the school has to offer.

One of the things a school may be pleased about is a computer room, particularly in areas where computers are not yet commonly used by the community.   Sadly this facility may become a target for criminals.  Securing a computer room against theft comes at great cost: burglar bars, security gates, surveillance equipment and even steel mesh or razor wire on the ceiling.

Have you considered that, inadvertently, you may be inviting burglars into your computer room?

This sign says: "Plenty of loot inside!"

Resist the temptation to put up a nice sign informing all about your technology resources.  This is particularly so if the sign is on the outside perimeter of the school, where it is visible to all passing by.

A sign that could help to protect your equipment is one informing that security measures are in place.  Such a sign acts as a deterrent and when prospective thieves see it, they may decide that it would be safer for them to take their business elsewhere.

Display this sign on the outside of the school.

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What factors should be considered when selecting an ICT venue?

Saturday, July 30th, 2011 | Installation, Tips | 7 Comments

Even though some people question the value of computer rooms in schools, enough reasons exist why schools will still consider these facilities at times.  Bear the following factors in mind when selecting a suitable classroom that you plan to convert into a computer room:

Size: for a computer room which holds 25 learner workstations, a server and peripherals, you need a venue of at least 60 sq m.

Capacity: if classrooms are limited, don’t do away with a library – rather consider a combined media centre.

Orientation: select a north-facing room (in the Southern Hemisphere) – it reduces sunlight glare and aircon costs.

Security: select a room with a concrete ceiling as a security measure against criminals.

Location: a room on the outer periphery of the school building is less secure than one on the inside, thus less suitable as an ICT venue.

These thoughs were tweeted by @e4africa with the tag #ictschooltip.

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Is ICT in schools always successful?

Sunday, May 22nd, 2011 | education, technology, Tips | 4 Comments

When technology is installed in a school some believe that it will lead to immediate improvement in teaching and learning.  Wrong assumption!  It does not always work that way.

Consider the following conditions under which ICT will not  be succesful:

ICT is unlikely to succeed in a school that does not have good leadership. 

ICT is unlikely to succeed in a dysfunctional school – first sort out management issues before investing in expensive tools. 

ICT is unlikely to succeed in a school in the absence of adequate infrastructure – attend to this first. 

ICT is unlikely to succeed in a school where teachers are not motivated to become involved and try it out in the classroom. 

ICT is unlikely to succeed in a school where technical support is not freely available.

If ICT is not as succesful in your school as you would like it to be, it may be owing to one or more of these factors.  Identifying the barrier is the first step towards removing it.

These thoughs were tweeted by @e4africa with the tag #ictschooltip.

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Is there any justification for a computer room in a school?

Friday, April 22nd, 2011 | technology, Tips | 4 Comments

Some claim that computer rooms are of little value in schools.  Does a computer room have a place in a modern school?  Consider the following points:

When a school has limited funds, a computer room allows all learners in the school to move through it on at equitable basis. 

When technology enters a school the first time a computer room has the advantage of providing a training venue for teachers. 

Converting a classroom into a computer room doesn’t rob the school of a teaching venue if it’s used for teaching and learning. 

In a computer room, learners can acquire computer skills while working under the supervision and guidance of a teacher. 

Computer rooms and classroom ICTs both have a place in schools provided they are used optimally by teachers and learners.

These thoughs were tweeted by @e4africa with the tag #ictschooltip.

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SMS speak translator

Saturday, February 5th, 2011 | Tips | 2 Comments

If your teenage son sends you a text message and you don’t understand his SMS speak, there is hope.  Go to this translator, type in the obscure message, and you’ll have it translated!  Perhaps easier than learning to decipher it yourself.

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How to calculate the a volume of a cylinder

Saturday, September 12th, 2009 | Tips | 8 Comments

Are your students battling to remember the formula of a cylinder?  Try to illustrate it by means of a pizza (I must admit it is a rather flat cylinder!).

If the height of the pizza is a, and the radius is z, the formula to calculate its volume is: 



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