Category Archives: e-Education

Overcome the loss in learning due to COVID-19 : Part 2

Contributed by Minda Marshall of LectorSA, a member of ADESSA

Finding the way out of the storm: what is needed?

Governments have already identified that education plays a significant role to improve human capital. Good education outcomes ensure macro-economic stability; ignite inclusive growth, and advance their country’s ability to be globally competitive. Improved education outcomes also lead to an increase in tax revenue and GDP. It lessens the demand on social services, health services and safety services. It contributes to low levels of crime and improved health.  A lot has been done to research new and efficient ways to improve education. New curricula are developed, and vast investment is made to enhance learning environments.

The most significant gap currently challenging the improvement of educational outcomes globally is the lack of capacity in our learners, students and workforce to intelligently work with visual information. To achieve this, and other development outcomes, the foundational skills and strategies needed for visual intelligence should receive urgent attention.

The basis of learning is to interact intelligently with information. This includes the skills and strategies needed to find relevant information. To know how to connect new information to your schema of understanding. And to understand how to use the information you have now internalised to create new knowledge. Visual intelligence is the ability to process, understand and express visual information. One of the cornerstones of visual intelligence is reading with adequate comprehension. If 74% of our Grade 4’s cannot understand what they are reading, they will struggle to work with, and learn from visual information for the rest of their lives! They won’t be able to use the information they have to make intelligent choices towards a better future for themselves and their children.

Reading is not just recognising symbols, or reading and writing basic words – there is much more to reading than what meets the eye. Reading is a complex cognitive process of decoding symbols for the intention of deriving meaning (reading comprehension) and/or constructing meaning. Good reading does not develop naturally as the human brain is not ‘pre-wired’ for written information, but for spoken. This is one of the reasons that humans have, for generations, transferred knowledge through singing and story-telling. With the advent of written language, we’ve developed different strategies of training the brain to read with understanding. This has arguably been one of the most significant challenges facing nations in the last few decades. One of the critical aspects of learning that was recently proven through neuroscience is that the human brain is a self-organising creative system.

To find out more – follow this link to the full article.

www.eyebraingym.com

Embracing a Pandemic

Contributed by Adrie Schoeman, MD of Master Maths, a member of ADESSA.

Master Maths has been around for more than 40 years. After so many years in business, with franchise centres in nearly every town in South Africa and some in Namibia, we have a solid rhythm. Our structures and processes are in place.  However, when that announcement came that our country (like the rest of the world) will go into a hard lock down, the uncertainty kicked in and the fear was real. This pandemic did not choose it’s victims, we were all (small and large businesses) in the same boat. None of us could ever have foreseen a scenario where a pandemic just changed our normal day into something really surreal. 

We had to trust our investment made into solid systems and it stood the test of time. Master Maths has invested substantially in developing a new LMS system, which we were in the process of rolling out. The pandemic forced us to fast track this and with good support and collaboration tools, the pace at which franchisees adapted to the new technology, ensured that we could proceed with our business in a new “normal” manner. Our learners could use our platform and with some additional applications, were able to continue their learning path. Parents had the knowledge that the monitoring and support from the franchise centre was there. Online learning became the new “normal” and we will never be able to thank our clients for their support and trust during this year!

But more than anything else, I saw grit in action!  Grit means courage, a show of strength of character, a never give up attitude, a true commitment… not a word you hear often, but one I now, know the meaning of and experienced first-hand. Not only amongst colleagues and franchisees, but also amongst our learners, parents and every schoolteacher.  Being involved in education we all had one goal – support learners as best we can.

I was asked to write about Master Maths’ experience of this pandemic.

This is a story of a learner’s experience, shared with me … it is but one, but a similar story was told by every franchisee I spoke to.

“Today was my first session back at the centre since lockdown. When I arrived at the centre, it felt weird and strange and honestly I was totally freaked out. Thank goodness for my mask, although I hate the thing! I was greeted by a “please wait before entering” sign at the door. There was someone coming towards me, her eyes looked vaguely familiar, but I didn’t recognize her immediately, until I heard her… hallo how are you, welcome back…of course…did she put one some weight and look at the hair…  It is sanitizing, temperature measures, cleaning shoes and questionnaires, but then I was seated and a familiar feeling of being back at the centre started kicking in.  I missed seeing my tutor…. online is ok, but not the same.”

The question most asked and written about in the media – is teaching going to change to virtual teaching in future? At Master Maths we embrace technology. It is a fantastic tool, but online tutoring only, will never be able to replace the experience of being able to see and interact with a tutor/teacher. We are happy to see us slowly getting back to business as normal!

Overcome the loss in learning due to COVID-19 : Part 1

Contributed by Minda Marshall of LectorSA, a member of ADESSA

A wise man once told the story of how he went on a joy ride with a boat off the South African coast. It was a beautiful day, but within a short time, a storm came up. He described how thankful he was that he had an experienced skipper. I remember how he told us that he was standing behind the skipper – watching over his shoulder.  The skipper explained to him: “You must be able to see the way through the waves,” as they safely navigated to the beach.

In the eye of the storm

Governments, educators, parents and students are currently facing a perfect storm. The challenge now is to find the way out of the storm. International figures indicate that 1.6 billion students around the world were out of school at the peak of the COVID-19 lockdown in April 2020. Many countries will be severely challenged to achieve their Learning Poverty goals.[i] 

According to the World Bank,we need rapid, decisive, and coordinated action. They indicate that we were already living in a learning crisis before the pandemic. The situation threatens to pose a massive setback to hard-won gains in human capital.[ii] Before the outbreak of the global coronavirus pandemic, the world was already struggling with a learning crisis, with 53 per cent of children in low- and middle-income countries living in learning poverty being unable to read and understand a simple text by age 10. Up to 7 million students from primary and secondary education could drop out of school due to the income shock of the pandemic alone.[iii]

The added challenges we face is that I4R is placing a higher demand on learning, unlearning and relearning. We will all need to achieve higher, to develop more, to read faster, think smarter, learn better in the future. Even students that were doing good before might not be doing well enough going forward. We are all faced with oceans of information.  Neuroscience has shown that the cognitive load exceeds the capacity of the working memory, intellectual abilities decrease. We must find a way to increase life-long learning effectively and to bridge gaps caused in learning by, and worsen through, the lockdown.

To read the full article, click here.

Find out how you can join us in finding the way out of the storm. www.eyebraingym.com


[i] https://www.worldbank.org/en/news/press-release/2020/06/18/covid-19-could-lead-to-permanent-loss-in-learning-and-trillions-of-dollars-in-lost-earnings

[ii] https://www.worldbank.org/en/news/press-release/2020/06/18/covid-19-could-lead-to-permanent-loss-in-learning-and-trillions-of-dollars-in-lost-earnings

[iii] https://www.worldbank.org/en/topic/education/publication/simulating-potential-impacts-of-covid-19-school-closures-learning-outcomes-a-set-of-global-estimates

Does the cascade model work for technology training for teachers?

When we think of a cascade in nature we have a vision of big quantities of water rushing down a river.  In education this image has become a metaphor for a particular training model: one teacher from a school (or a district) is trained; the newly trained one trains a few more; each one of them trains a few more, until all have received the training.

The cascade training model is an attempt to fast-track training of great numbers of teachers.  Cost saving is one of the perceived benefits of this approach – only one teacher needs to attend an expensive training course.  The knowledge gained on the course can then be passed on progressively to all in the organization.

When you introduce technology into your school and have the need to train all teachers in its use, this may be a tempting strategy.  In theory the cascade training model seems to be cost and time effective.  But does it work?

In a cascade in nature the force of gravity ensures that the all the water reaches the bottom.  The force of gravity – a pull from below – is not operative when you try to empower all your teachers with technology skills.

You probably would select the most qualified person in terms of passion and affinity to technology, as well as training ability, to be at the top of the cascade.  If the members of the first group who receive training are less qualified, the effectiveness of the training they offer to subsequent groups will be diluted.  They can only pass on what they themselves value, remember and understand.

In many cases the envisaged cascade is reduced to a mere trickle of knowledge when it reaches the last teachers.

Minimal knowledge may reach the teachers at the bottom

The cascade model may be useful for creating initial technology awareness among all staff members.  When more intensive training is required, you can’t depend on this model.  Teachers are at different levels of technical competency; a one-size-fits-all training approach will not yield desired results.

If you want technology training of your teachers to be effective, don’t just put a ‘model’ in place, hoping it will work.  Ensure that each teacher receives all the training, coaching and support they need to make them skilled users of technology teaching tools.

UNDER WHAT CIRCUMSTANCES DOES TECHNOLOGY AS A TEACHING TOOL NOT LEAD TO SUCCESS?

Technology does not always lead to success in education– it does not automatically lead to improved teaching and learning.

The introduction of technology in the business world only yields results when it supports the objectives of the organization. A good organization structure must be present. Throwing a lot of technology at a problem will not make it disappear if the establishment itself is dysfunctional.

The same principle is true in a school environment. Attractive as the use of technology may appear when face-to-face teaching is disrupted, it is unlikely to add much value under the following circumstances:

Poor leadership: Where the principal, management team and governing body do not give clear direction in general educational matters, it is doubtful that they will do so when it comes to the use of technology as a teaching and learning tool. If sound leadership is lacking, this matter must be addressed before you even think of introducing technology.

Dysfunctional schools: Sadly, some schools fall into this category. Some schools struggled to persuade learners and their teacher to be in the same classroom at the same time during the pre-pandemic period. One could hardly expect technology to make a difference in such schools now.

Unwilling teachers: Where teachers resisted the use of technology in the classroom in the past, one can hardly expect results now. Hesitancy to use technology now may be a result of a lack of exposure to technology in the past.

Technical support: Nothing is as disheartening to teachers (and to learners) as when the technology fails when they try to use it. Planning to use technology as a teaching and a learning tool must include some form of maintenance and support.

Training is not available: If no training is available, technology may end up missing the purpose of using it. Along with the technology, adequate training for teachers must be provided. A lack of training is perhaps the biggest reason why technology fails as a teaching and learning tool.

There is ample evidence that technology can lead to improved teaching and learning – success depends on the environment in which you try to embed it.

How to limit kids’ screen time during lockdown, AND …

equip parents adjusting to two new ‘battlegrounds’ – homeschooling and digital learning.

With lockdown potentially being extended beyond 21 days, parents are faced with a longer period of time indoors. Some have loved their time together, and others desperate for their old routine. Devices, social media, apps and games provide escape for both parents and kids, a much-needed “breather” in a long day of incarceration. And connecting to friends and chatting is important for humans.

But life online often comes with many by-products – bullying, exposure beyond what is age-appropriate, contact from strangers, sexting. More time online naturally means more risk. Parenting will be different over this unparalleled situation, to adjust to socialising and schoolwork, but our attitude to online safety should improve in relation to the amount of screen time. 

As Western Cape kids are set to “return to school” (while they stay at home), millions of parents have suddenly been transformed into ‘home-schoolers’? 

Dean McCoubrey, Founder of MySociaLife, the leading digital life skills and online safety program in schools in South Africa, answers some key questions … READ MORE

Use cell phones to expand the walls of your classroom

Lessons are typically conducted in classrooms.  Some teachers take their learners on field trips or find other innovative ways of teaching outside of the classroom, but this happens only on occasion.  In most cases it is not practical to have a lesson outside the classroom.  The downside of a lesson constrained by the four walls of the classroom is that when the learners leave the room, the lesson is over.

Cell phones can be used to let the lesson continue outside of the classroom.  Activities and content can be given for leaners to engage with after they leave the classroom.  This means that the classroom is now expanded to the homes of learners, or even to the transport that the learners will use travelling between their homes and school.  When learners cannot be taken on field trips, or when they need be educated about other parts of the globe, a cell phone can be used to give them a glimpse into those aspects.

When learners cannot come to school owing to sickness, or when civil unrest prevents them from moving around freely, we can use their cell phones to put the classroom in their homes.

Using cell phones outside of the classroom can enhance any lesson, but it would be particularly useful when a school has a strict no cell phone policy, or where the use of cell phones is prohibited in the classroom.  Despite the restrictions, teachers can still expand the walls of their classroom by letting the learners use their devices for learning outside of the classroom.

Technology disruption in the classroom

When we put technology in the hands of students, teachers fear the many possible ways in which this could disrupt their lessons. Winston Churchill said: “When I look back on all these worries, I remember the story of the old man who said on his deathbed that he had a lot of trouble in his life, most of which never happened.” This is so true in general, and it also applies to the worry that technology will disrupt learning in the classroom.   However, one must think about the positive possibilities and then see how we can handle disruptions when they happen.

An immediate solution that presents itself is to have a no-device policy in schools.  Cell phones are banned, as well as other electronic devices, except maybe calculators.  But is that the best way to go about things?   In the past students were distracted by writing notes or letters and sending them along in the class.  Did teachers react by banning paper?  Of course not!  They found other ways to handle the situation.  The same should be true of technology.

CHOOSING A VIDEO FOR A LESSON

Choosing an appropriate video to use in a lesson is not always as simple as it may seem.  Whereas there are many websites and YouTube videos that have educational value, selecting the right one for the lesson is not easy.

One obstacle is time – time for the teacher to go through the plethora of available videos.  Many teachers find that it is too time consuming to view available videos to find the one that will fit in well with the lesson. 

Many videos were produced for television or for use in specific classroom situations in other parts of the world and may not be suitable for a lesson in a South African classroom.

But there are wonderful resources out there – superb videos that can blow life into lessons; if only one can find them!

It will be useful if a curated bank of videos is available so that teacher can go to a subject, grade, topic and lesson and find videos that are guaranteed to supplement a lesson.  ADESSA is proud to be working with the DBE to create a Digital Content Framework document, that will ultimately lead to the establishment of a repository of approved video material, as well as other digital content items.