All posts by Kobus van Wyk

A non-threatening way for learners with ASD to practice their communication and social skills

Milo the robot is designed to be interesting and approachable for learners with ASD. He can walk, talk and even model human facial expressions. Milo never gets frustrated or tired. He consistently delivers lessons in a way that learners with ASD respond to. This recurring positive experience creates an environment in which learners can learn and thrive. Robots4Autism helps learners improve their social and behavioral skills and gain the confidence they need to succeed academically and socially.

Milo – the robot.

For further information, contact Edit Microsystems, the distributors of Milo: 021 433-2520 | elviera@editmicro.co.za 

The curriculum support that dictionaries provide

The following article has been contributed by Oxford University Press South Africa (a member of ADESSA).

We’ve come a long way since the first historical dictionary for general use, the Oxford English Dictionary (OED), was published more than 90 years ago. Before that, dictionaries were often no more than word lists covering a certain subject and representing a limited pool of speakers, for instance speakers of British English in a specific academic field. As such, many early dictionaries were bilingual (two languages) and served the need to translate words from one language to another, for example when translating scientific texts from Latin to English.

The monolingual (one language) OED’s mission was to present a snapshot of the English language throughout history, and in fulfilling that mission it has accumulated more than 600 000 words used in many world Englishes (English as it is spoken in different geographical locations on the planet), going back 1000 years. It gives the meaning, spelling and pronunciation of each of these words and traces their history through some 3 million quotations.

The dictionaries of today are more than tools for checking meaning, spelling and pronunciation, however. They can be tailored to a specific market and for a specific role, for example school dictionaries that not only contain the basic vocabulary that learners need to know in order to understand what is said in the classroom and grasp the meaning of terms in their textbooks, but also provide critical curriculum support so that learners will succeed in their tests and exams.

Twenty-first century technology has played a crucial role in opening up possibilities for selecting the right vocabulary for the target market, such as schools. Dictionary-making software and the availability of corpora (collections of texts, for example school textbooks and literature) in electronic format have made it possible for educational publishers to include the words which the school curriculum determines that every learner should know.

Studies on the switch from Outcomes-based Education (OBE) as contained in the National Curriculum Statement (NCS) to the current Curriculum Assessment Policy Statement (CAPS) confirm that the shift has resulted in ‘a much more detailed level of specification of content’ (What’s in the CAPS package? – Umalusi). In other words, the new curriculum specifies the ‘exact scope and depth of the content that is to be taught and assessed’. This translates to learners knowing the terminology prescribed by the curriculum and understanding what each term means and how to apply it.

Take, for example, the natural sciences (physical sciences and life sciences) and the social sciences (geography and history). A good South African school dictionary should include curriculum words for physical sciences (such as equilibrium, stoichiometry, vector) and life sciences (such as biosphere, photosynthesis, taxonomy). It is also a no-brainer that subjects like geography and history would be more country-specific and that curriculum terms would reflect burning issues, for example spatial distribution, sustainable development and indigenous knowledge systems for geography and apartheid, civil resistance and nationalism for history.

Mathematics – a subject many learners find challenging – has a unique terminology and has even been described as ‘n separate ‘language’ that schoolkids need to learn. Imagine being asked to “write rational numbers as terminating or recurring decimals” (CAPS Mathematics, FET phase) but being clueless as to what that means. The South African curriculum specifies the terms each learner should be familiar with in order to advance to the next level, and a good school dictionary should support learners by providing the correct terminology and clear definitions and/or example sentences.

Science and maths are obvious examples, but the same is true for all subjects. Consider literature, for example. The South African curriculum specifies the basic vocabulary learners need to know in order to carry out a critical analysis of a literary text, including words such as consonance, enjambment and nemesis. This type of vocabulary is known as a metalanguage, which according to Lexico (powered by Oxford) means ‘a form of language or set of terms used for the description or analysis of another language’.

A dictionary supporting the school curriculum should also contain instruction words used in tests and exams. These include words such as evaluate, organise and extract. Learners may have studied hard and have all the knowledge a subject requires, but if they don’t understand what is asked of them, their marks may never reflect their abilities.

Moreover in South Africa, learners from non-English home-language backgrounds are expected to cross over to English as their Language of Learning and Teaching (LOLT) in Grade 4. This means that they have to read, speak and write English in all their subjects. International studies such as the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS) have shown just how much of a challenge this has proved to be for the majority of South African learners, with our country ranking last in a list of 50 participants. However, help is available in the form of curriculum-savvy bilingual dictionaries that make code-switching (flipping from one language to another) a useful way of acquiring the necessary vocabulary fast.

Considering all the reasons above, choosing a dictionary offering the right kind of curriculum support may be one of the best things you can do to help your child succeed at school … and beyond!

The TRaining Room Online

Today we’re featuring The Training Room Online (TTRO), one of ADESSA’s members, who is doing great things in education.

TTRO is an organization of passionate and talented individuals who design and develop innovative learning solutions to upskill and empower people for the now and for the future. They believe in driving change through next generation learning by combining immersive technologies and learning methodologies to deliver relevant competencies that add value to your organization and your people.

The current chairperson of the ADESSA Executive Committee, Jeanine Briggs, is the TTRO representative.

THE DIGITAL EDUCATION GROUP – SPECIALISTS IN ONLINE LEARNING SOLUTIONS

The Digital Education Group, a member of ADESSA, comprises of a consortium of companies, business partners and suppliers which are focused on bringing e-Solutions to market.

These companies are specialists in online learning solutions through cutting edge technology and software development Leading provider of courses4all, focusing on equipping individuals entering into the working arena or enhancement of skills with end user computing courseware and automated testing.  Active Digital Education (ADE) is endorsed by the South African Council for Educators (SACE).


Your preferred partner in e-Solutions and products

Core Competencies

  • Consulting, Project and Change management specialists in eLearn and the blended learning approach
  • Learner Management Systems (consulting and the application thereof)
  • Sole provider of the eSkills4all solution
  • Sole provider of the access4all online examination tool
  • Framework (integration and reporting tool, integrates all systems into one for dynamic hands on reporting, workflows and process flows)
  • Delivering quality, affordable digital literacy programmes to the African market, using the latest technologies
  • Specialists in eLearn Solutions
  • Supplying end user computer skills to market
  • Customisation of LMS and eLearn content development through the blended learning approach and methodologies
  • End User Computing Skills customised for the South African Educator Market (NQF2 – 4)

Products

  • Courses4all
  • PM4ALL (Project Management)
  • EQ4ALL (Emotional Intelligence)
  • ESKILLS4ALL (End user computing Windows 2013/2016)
  • Access4all

Online/Offline exam administration and delivery system

For more information contact info@degsa.co.za or visit www.degsa.co.za

A MOVE TOWARDS INKJET PRINTING

At an event hosted by Tarsus in Cape Town, Epson presented its products suitable for education. A range of data projectors and interactive devices was presented.

An interesting fact was mentioned about a trend in printing. There seems to be a definite move from laser printing to inkjet printing. Less power is required, wastage is reduced and the cost is lower. It will be worthwhile to keep an eye on this development.

Joel Chetty – Business Account Manager (Education) of Epson

ADESSA – 2019 AGM

The 2019 AGM of ADESSA was a huge success.  Many members attended in person and others Zoomed in from different parts of the country to hear the main speaker, Brian Schreuder (Head of Department of the WCED), giving an inspiring talk about the approach of the Western Cape Education Department towards education.

The WCED’s transformational strategy has two pillars: e-learning and a “transform to perform” philosophy.  Mr Schreuder highlighted the role that the private sector can play in providing good quality content and invited ADESSA to continue its discussions with the province.

Brian Schreuder, Head of Department of the WCED

Henry Kavuma of the DBE then spoke about the SONA ICT Commitment of the President and in very clear terms spelled out the critical role that ADESSA will play in the future to assist the DBE to execute its five-year plan.

After years of working behind the scenes to boost our membership and to build good relationships with the decision makers of education, it is satisfying to see that our efforts are paying off and that ADESSA is now poised to play a significant role in the furtherance of good education in South Africa.  Our members are thrilled at the prospects that this opportunity opens for them.

Public schools in Gauteng, are your admissions policies up to date?

This article is contributed by Teach360, a member of ADESSA.

The 2019 school year is already underway and this week the admissions application process opened for 2020. If you run a school that is preparing to review its next set of young applicants, you need to ensure that you are fully up to date with the Gauteng Department of Basic Education’s new admission policies.

In particular, you should be aware that recent changes have been made regarding the province’s feeder zone regulations, with the radius of these zones extended from 5km to 30km. Are your school’s 2020 policies compliant?

Edwell Gumbo, the GM of Teach360

Until recently, public school policies mandated that schools prioritise applicants living or working within a 5km radius of their schools. This diminished the chances of children living further away from better-resourced schools from being admitted to these schools.

But for the last 18 months, Gauteng MEC of Education Panyaza Lesufi has been acting on a 2016 Constitutional Court ruling to address these issues. Lesufi has done this, and in November 2018 new regulations regarding the province’s feeder zones were officially gazetted.

“Feeder zone determination plays a significant role in ensuring that access to our schools is fair, transparent and conducted in an equitable manner,” Lesufi said.

The new system gives learners who apply to the school closest to them preferential rights but, if the school is full, they can now apply to any school within a 30km radius of where they live or work. Learners who have siblings at the school they are applying to are also given priority.

Other admissions rules have been under the spotlight, too, with Lesufi calling for reform in regulations that potentially discriminate against learners based on their race, ethnicity, language, age, religion, sexual orientation, HIV status and other criteria.

Assessing your school’s compliance

As a public school in Gauteng, it’s critical that you are compliant with these new legislated changes, but assessing all of your school’s policies can be a confusing and time-consuming process.

Fortunately, there are resources available to help you, such as Teach360, an education solutions provider that developed a number of school policies addressing most of the needs of schools.  These policies are comprehensive enough to cover the pertinent components that schools need to manage, but you can even adapt or tailor them according to your school’s specific needs.

Teach360’s school policies are fully compliant with the most recent legal and regulatory requirements and cover matters such as learner discipline, language, religion, human rights, HIV/AIDS and time-scheduling.

These policies have been drafted by one of South Africa’s top education law professors and endorsed by international specialists in the field.

“We recognise that schools have to have clear and comprehensive policies in place in order to operate effectively and be compliant with the law,” says Edwell Gumbo, GM for Teach360. “Our products simplify this process by providing all the access to information and tools that schools need.”

The new school feeder zones will be revised at least every three years, or whenever a new school opens in an area. Ensuring that your policies are up to date and legally complaint will minimise any disruptions these changes cause so that you can get on with the task of educating South Africa’s young minds.

About Teach360

Teach360, which forms part of the FutureLearn Group, develops comprehensive and efficient CAPS-aligned teacher resources in the form of Teacher Files that meet classroom and administrative needs and School Policies drafted based on legal and regulatory requirements. Teach360 also provides a full set of educational resources and learning materials that include the likes of CAMI and Quanta.