Creativity and innovation

This article appeared in Issue 7 of Khanya – Education through Technology – 2005

After achieving the Premier’s target of completing 320 computer laboratories by March 2005, it’s a good time to reflect on how these facilities are being used.

From the outset it was made clear that Khanya would concentrate on providing technology to schools for the explicit purpose of supporting curriculum delivery, as opposed to being a vehicle for computer literacy.  This is one of the main features that distinguishes Khanya from similar projects.  A team of facilitators is engaging with schools to ensure educators are comfortable with the technology, and understand how to integrate classroom teaching with computer room activities.  The result is that thousands of educators have been empowered to use new technology tools to improve their teaching.

However, it would be a mistake to believe that everything is perfect in Khanya schools.  One has to be critical and constantly assess whether the equipment is used optimally.

Many schools are doing well, with the computer room being used during every period of the school day, as well as after hours.  It is good to see that more schools are opening the facility to the community too.  It is therefore sad to visit a school and find the laboratory is locked.  Principals and governing bodies are encouraged to manage the use of the computer room in such a way that learners can get the best use of it.  With planning it can even be used during exam times.

When learners do go into the computer room, what happens there?  There is no objection to some computer literacy taking place, although that could be a by-product of learners engaging with educational software.  All have a responsibility to ensure that the best software is selected and used and that proper integration with the curriculum is achieved.  Principals need to question how educators are using the equipment and curriculum advisors must constantly advise in this regard. The Directorate of Curriculum Development has a duty to select the best possible software offerings to support the various curricula, and then, of course, the Khanya facilitators will ensure the educators are properly trained for the task.

Computer technology is playing a major role in all fields of human endeavor: medicine, commerce, engineering, agriculture, and so forth.  It yet has to make a major impact on the education process.  In the Western Cape we have the opportunity to prove that computer technology can, indeed, be used to improve teaching and learning.

Sir Ken Robinson, a leading UK expert on education, said:

“Creativity is the process of having original ideas; innovation is putting them into practice.”

The WCED has certainly been very creative in establishing Khanya to promote the use of technology in the classroom.  It is now up to all educators who have access to these facilities to be innovative in their use.

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