2023-11-29 20:40

Kobus van Wyk

Documenting the challenges of implemening ICT in schools in South Africa.

A Challenge for School Leaders

It is challenging for school leaders to maintain an open mind. Experience is an undeniable asset, but it may be a barrier to adopting fresh ways to lead an educational institution.

Here are three things that school principals and other school leaders can do to ensure that they maintain an open mind:

1        Fight the “I’ve always done it this way” mode of thinking. True, you may have been successful in the past, but the world around us – including the world of education – is changing exponentially. Although your methods may have worked well in the past, there may be better ways of doing things at present. Opening your mind to such possibilities can help you to be an even better leader than what you are now.

2        Take your time. When confronted with a new idea, your first reaction may be to think about reasons why it is invalid. Rather, open your mind to the possibility that this idea may have merit. Take your time to weigh up the pros and cons. This does not mean that you must adopt every new thing that comes your way, but you can only improve your leadership thumb print by considering alternatives.

3        Don’t under-estimate the ideas of your teachers. They may not be as experienced as you are, but the teachers in your classrooms are currently in the trenches, in touch with the learners and the way in which young people now assimilate information. They may come with fresh ideas and when you consider them with an open mind, and adopt the good ones, you can only enhance the way in which you are leading.

If you are a school leader, which one of these three points do you think you can work on?

Why companies involved with e-learning should join ADESSA

The Associated Distributors of Educational Supplies in South Africa (ADESSA) was established in 2003 in order to represent suppliers of educational products and services (particularly those pertaining to e-education) in their dealings with government departments, educational institutions and other interested parties.  ADESSA aims to be the “voice” of the e-education industry and to work for the interests of its members.  It is independent of government and is funded by subscriptions from member companies.

ADESSA promotes sound and ethical business practices and membership ensures government and other clients of high quality and good value products and services for education.  It assists its members to build good relationships with government and educational institutions.

Schools, universities and other educational institutions benefit from the services of ADESSA in the following ways:

  • Products and services can be purchased from ADESSA members, knowing that its members are committed to reliable service and support
  • The member companies are established, ethical companies (not “fly-by-night” operations)
  • Member companies understand the needs and requirements of education in South Africa.

ADESSA members benefit from membership in the following ways:

  • They enjoy enhanced credibility with government and educational institutions
  • As a result of the close ties that ADESSA has with government, members have access to up-to-date information about educational needs in South Africa
  • They can be assured of being part of the “voice” with the decision makers of education in South Africa
  • Networking with other reputable members in the education industry may lead to mutually beneficial partnerships
  • Special discounts (at times no cost) opportunities to exhibit at trade shows, as well as events arranged by government departments

Government (the National Department of Basic Education, as well as the provincial departments of education) also benefits from the services of ADESSA:

  • It can use ADESSA as a single channel to disseminate information to industry
  • It is assured of ethical behaviour and good quality products and services from member nations
  • It values the input of member companies when determining policies

We are aiming to strengthen the voice of the industry, in order to support government, but also to influence it in decision making.  It is important for all those who are involved in e-education to become united in this process.  ADESSA is a neutral body, promoting the common interests of education.

For a list of all current ADESSA members, see our website.

For further information about how to become a member of ADESSA, please contact me at ceo@adessa.org.za or kobus@e4africa.co.za.

The acid test for successful use of technology in the classroom

More than two hundred years ago a test was developed by gold prospectors to distinguish gold from base metal.  Nitric acid dissolves other metals more readily than gold, so to establish whether a find was really gold it was given the acid test.  Subsequently this term took on a figurative meaning, that of a sure test, giving an incontestable result.

Technology-in-EducationWhen we use technology in the classroom, we don’t want to use it simply because it is available.  There must be a purpose for using it.  So, what is the acid test for successful technology use in education?

Let’s consider three elements of a lesson plan, which is the blueprint of every lesson.

First of all, there are learning outcomes.   This is the guiding principle of every lesson … what do you want the students to be able to do when the lesson is completed?  It should be a well-defined outcome.  Simply stating that the student must “understand” or “know” or “appreciate” is not good enough.  Must the student be able to describe an object, or use a formula to calculate, or demonstrate a skill?

Next, there is assessment.  This should link back to the learning outcomes, since the purpose of assessment is to test whether the student successfully achieved the lesson outcomes (or the educator has succeeded in helping the student to do so!).  There is no point in testing something that is unrelated to the learning outcomes.

And now we come to technology.  When we use it, it must support the learning outcomes.  If the outcomes can easily be achieved without the use of technology, then perhaps it was not necessary to use it in the first instance.

So what is the acid test?

When we do assessment, and find that the lesson objectives have been achieved, can this success be attributed to the use of technology?

If the answer is yes, the use of technology was appropriate; if the answer is no … well, then it was not the real gold we imagined it to be.

An excellent tool for educators

In a previous posting I mentioned reasons why I believe that the 2in1 tablet-laptop combination device (HP 360 P N37004 /500gb Green Touch 11.6) is a suitable learning tool for students in a classroom and at home.

To recap, these reasons are:

  • compact size
  • the tablet screen is protected
  • you can touch and type (best of both worlds).

Over the past few weeks I’ve discovered that the 2in1 can be a good tool also for educators: teachers, lecturers and course administrators.

I am the head tutor of an course (Teaching with Technology), offered by GetSmarter and Wits University, aimed at teachers and lecturers who want to learn how to use technology as a teaching tool.  This requires me to participate in a very lively discussion forum, as well as marking assignments on-line.

When travelling I make use of odd moments like when waiting at an airport, or between meetings, or when taking a break in a coffee shop, to engage with my students.  This I did in the past by using a tablet – more convenient than a laptop to carry around and to open up quickly.  This worked for me, only the on-screen keyboard made it somewhat tedious when I needed to make longer comments.

For a few weeks now I’ve been using the 2in1 and found it to be an excellent tool for me – it is compact, easy and quick to use, but with the added advantage of a full keyboard, should I need it.  It has certainly made my life as an on-line tutor much easier.

This made me think: it would be an ideal tool for teachers and lecturers … small enough to carry around with ease, and big enough to use it for serious work.

The 2in1 device: an ideal solution for education

Over the past few days I’ve been using my 2in1 tablet-laptop combination device (HP 360 P N37004 /500gb Green Touch 11.6) for everything, in order to determine whether it will be suitable for classroom use.  And I must say, even though I’m not in a classroom, I became rather attached to it.  The features I find useful (and which I believe will be useful in education) are the following:

Touch when you want to and type when you need to
Touch when you want to and type when you need to
  • Size:  it is small, compact and fits into any bag quite easily.  It takes less space than a standard textbook … so just imagine the reduction of weight of a book bag when students load all their textbooks as e-books on the device.
  • Protected:  When you close the device, the screen is protected … with tablets you need additional protection.  I bought a padded sleeve to protect the device overall, but that is just because I am obsessive about taking care of electronic equipment. One of the biggest problems with the use of tablets in schools is damaged screens, often because the device is shoved into an overfull bag.  The 2in1 will solve this problem in two ways: it will reduce the contents of the bag and the screen will be protected when the machine is in its closed position.
  • Touch and type: The touch features of a tablet is desirable in education, but the downside is the on-screen keyboard.  With the 2in1 this problem is solved: touch when you want to, and type when you need to.

Useful in education?  I definitely believe so!