ICT in Africa

What is the uptake of ebooks in South African Schools?

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”.

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SENT – Schools eNetwork Trust

Wednesday, March 28th, 2012 | internet | Comments Off

A guest post by Ian Anderson of SENT

The Schools eNetwork Trust (SENT) is a non-profit organisation, which was established  in 2011 to provide free internet access and other services to schools. The pilot project has started in the Western Cape, and has achieved sixty applications and over twenty-five installations of schools. The vision is that in time, depending on input and assistance, this service will become available to schools in other provinces.

The initiative is a blue print for the implementation of a provincial schools Wide Area Network (WAN), which we have called the Intranet. The intranet is not designed to take over the administration of the schools networks although it should help; it is designed to connect the schools with service providers and enable appropriate services.

We understand that many of our schools do not have the necessary technical skills, or the finances, to employ these skills directly to run networks and manage complex technical services. SENT supports this process and provides the resource base that directly improves productivity and reduces operational costs.

SENT provides a WAN connection into which schools are connected for internet access that also includes various secure services including email, web proxy and remote backup.  An amount of 20gb of bandwidth is provided with up to a 5mb synchronous speed.

A message from the CEO, Dave Couves:

As the CEO of Comtel Communications, we support SENT with all the resources we can provide, as connecting schools is a very realistic goal.

At this stage the entire project is financed by a commitment from Comtel Communications, which has pledged R1 million in resources, with the assistance of Scoop Distribution Cape Town, who has supplied R40 000 worth of wireless equipment. Other keen stakeholders are welcome to contact us at info@sent.org.za .

For more information or to register your school in the Western Cape, please visit our website for a free Line of site and installation.

An opportunity for schools

 

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Please vote for e4Africa

Saturday, January 21st, 2012 | Blogging | 4 Comments

I was both surprized and amused when I received an email from someone in the USA informing me that e4Africa was nominated for the Most Fascinating Blog 2011 awards in the category Teaching Blog.

The decision of the panel who nominated this blog was based on a rather controversial posting that appeared in March 2011.  This particualr posting ruffled many feathers, evoked 322 emotion-laden comments and looking back, it is the one post I wish I’d never published.

If you find that posting fascinating, or think that e4Africa holds any fascination for you, please vote for it.  Simply click on the blue voting badge displayed on the right, search for e4Africa and cast your vote.  By doing this you are helping to put a proudly South African education blog on the map.

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White paper on e-Education

Wednesday, December 21st, 2011 | education, ICT in Africa | 3 Comments

The White Paper on e-Education, published by the former Department of Education in 2004, states the following:

Every South African learner in the general and further education and training bands will be ICT capable (that is, use ICTs confidently and creatively to help develop the skills and knowledge they need to achieve personal goals and to be full participants in the global community) by 2013.

Or are we chasing rainbows?

With only a few days left before we reach 2012 (and eight years after publication of the paper) one wonders … how far have we progressed towards reaching that goal?

What do you think … will we make it?

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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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Education week

Sunday, June 19th, 2011 | ICT in Africa | 2 Comments

 

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How digitally literate are our children?

Thursday, June 16th, 2011 | education, ICT in Africa | 1 Comment

In an web article Are children becoming ‘digitally illiterate’? author Alex Hudson laments the fact that learners in the UK can’t write computer programs!  He said:

As computers become ever more complicated, there are concerns that schools and universities are not teaching the basic programming skills that underpin some of Britain’s most successful industries.

What are learners taught in schools in the UK?  The article states:

[Children] learn about Word and Powerpoint and Excel. They learn how to use the applications but don’t have the skills to make them, …

It’s the difference between reading and writing. We’re teaching them how to read, we’re not teaching them how to write.

The narrowness of how we teach children about computers risks creating a generation of digital illiterates.

Well! This concern gives some food for thought for us in South Africa.

If the guys in the UK are concerned about the fact that their learners are digitally illiterate if they “only” know basic computer applications, where does this leave our children, who do not even have access to technology?  How will we be able to compete globally if our children don’t even have an opportunity to learn the basic skills, which are taken for granted in the rest of the world?

We still have a long way to go to ensure digital literacy for our children!

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Was it only lip service?

Sunday, May 15th, 2011 | education, ICT in Africa | 5 Comments

During a recent round table discussion on ICT support for teaching and learning, the Minister of Basic Education, Angie Motshekga, said that an urgent need exists to further explore information and communication technologies (ICTs) to support administration, teaching and learning in schools.

Yet, during her budget speech no announcement was made about the availability of funds to make ICT in schools a reality.  The saying “put your money where your mouth is” comes to mind.

Or was it merely a case of …

... paying lip service to the use of technology in schools?

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Why should you even think about bringing ICT into a school?

Friday, May 13th, 2011 | education, ICT in Africa, technology | 3 Comments

Technology is brought to schools at great cost.  Some question whether one should even consider doing this, particularly in view of the many other needs of schools.  Ponder the following statements before you conclude that ICT should not be a high priority in a twenty-first century school:

If technology is used with great benefit in most fields of human endeavour, surely it must be useful in education too.

The digital divide must be removed as soon as possible – it hampers efforts to narrow the gap between rich and poor. 

It’s impossible for teachers to help learners cross the digital divide in a classroom that dates back to a pre-digital age. 

The new ways in which we receive and respond to information demands visual, media and digital literacies from learners.

Digital literacy is the new literacy – without it, it’s impossible to call yourself literate in this digital world.

The classroom blackboard was invented in 1801 – how can we teach digital skills on such an ancient device?

In a world dominated by technology we dare not let learners leave school without a deep understanding of the use of ICT.

The world around us dictates that ICT must be a part of school curricula – it is no longer a question of “why” but “how”.

It’s as if children are naturally inclined towards technology – cash in on this and use ICT to incline them towards learning.

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

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A national agency for e-learning?

Saturday, April 16th, 2011 | education, ICT in Africa | 1 Comment

It has been reported that provincial education departments are to be stripped of their responsibility to procure textbooks for their schools.  The Basic Education Minister of Education, Angie Motshekga,  said:

“We will appoint a national agency to manage the central procurement of teaching-support materials, to deliver on our promise of one textbook per child per subject”.  

 Mothshekga indicated that this agency will be established during the current financial year.

The national minister of Basic Education takes control of textbooks

Should the Minister not likewise establish an agency to establish e-learning in all schools in our country?

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