Category Archives: e-Education

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.

The September 2018 issue of The Mighty Pen is now available.

Once again packed with useful information, the September 2018 edition of The Mighty Pen in now available for download.

Practical information is given in one of the leading articles: Why your school IT network needs a spring clean.  Schools who are experiencing a deterioration in network performance will find useful tips in this article.

Do yourself a favour and scroll through the entire magazine; you are sure to find something that will spike your interest.

From obstacles to opportunities – making the adoption of digital education easy

 

Snapplify’s Shaun Marshall urges schools to see how easy it can be to embrace digital learning, saying the following:

The development of digital technology has been of enormous importance to the education environment. It opens possibilities for teachers and students, transforming the classroom in a multitude of ways.  Yet, despite its benefits, digital education is not always eagerly embraced by schools and educators. The reasons for this can present as real challenges, but I believe that they are not insurmountable.

Shaun Marshall

At Snapplify we work hard alongside institutions and educators to create solutions that serve education best, regardless of infrastructural challenges. We’ve addressed this challenge with the Snappbox, our award-winning hardware distribution solution for digital educational content. The Snappbox is an effective way to include the core elements of e-learning in unconnected classrooms. In rural Cofimbama in the Eastern Cape, we used the Snappbox to preload over 2000 school tablets with the Snapplify ebook Reader app and over 300 ebooks from leading publishers. These tablets are being shared among 4000 students in 11 schools. Using the Snappbox has saved institutions like this one over R600 000 in bandwidth costs, and approximately 4000 hours (166 days) in download time – meaning more time for teaching.

A common challenge many schools face when bringing digital education into their classrooms is resistance or reluctance from educators. This most often comes from a lack of confidence.  Teachers sometimes feel intimidated – not only by the technology itself, but by their students, who are au fait with this technology.

With this skills gap in many schools, it becomes important to ensure that educators have the training and support that they need to incorporate technology into their pedagogy. In fact, this is so integral to the success of digital education that we’ve incorporated teacher training into our initial rollout for schools signing up with Snapplify, with the option of further training during the year, depending on an individual school’s requirements. Snapplify is committed to supporting our schools and an essential part of this is supporting educators.

Ultimately, the move to embrace digital education is not as daunting as some initially believe it to be. Whatever the ICT setup and skills level, you can make digital education a reality in your school by choosing the correct digital education partner.

Email education@snapplify.com to chat about your specific needs and how we can work together.

We believe that digital learning is the future. Keep up to date with what we’re doing in education by signing up to our mailing list: http://eepurl.com/bPlsaL

Emails and the school curriculum

When last did you use one of these?

How many letters do you lately find in your letterbox?  And how many paper based letters do you post in the red post boxes?  Compare that with the number of emails you receive and write daily.  For most of us, emails are now the preferred way of communication, to such an extent that we hardly make use of snail mail.

At school we were all taught how to write letters: the personal “Dear Mary” type, as well as the more formal “Dear Mr Smith” business letters.  We were taught about form, register, good letter writing techniques and even some letter writing etiquette.

Did you know that this is still what is being taught in South African schools?  This in spite of the fact that learners may never have seen such a letter in their life!  The writing of emails is not part of the curriculum of language subjects.  It is true that the writing of emails is part of the CAT (Computer Applications Technology) courses, but relatively few learners take this subject at school.

Of course, a few teachers have already taken the bold move to “extend” the curriculum unofficially by including email writing in their classes … but these ones are the exception.

This is just a small example to illustrate the long way we still have to go to prepare learners to function efficiently in this digital age.

Is your technology an add-in or an add-on?

One of the biggest tragedies of technology in education is the huge number of unused devices in schools and other institutions throughout the country.  These technologies were procured at great cost to the organization, or they have been donated.  Regardless of its source, technologies that are not optimally used do not add any value.

So the question is: is the technology in your school an add-in or an add-on?

To make the difference clear, let’s use an example form your home.  In most kitchens a stove can be regarded as an add-in – it is such an integral part of what you do in a kitchen that you can hardly imagine one without a cooking surface.  But an electric cake mixer is seen by some as an add-on – it is nice to have, but not used all the time and you can do without it.  Of course, unless you are a passionate baker – in that case the electric cake mixer is an add-in for you.

Is this an add-in or an add-on in your classroom?
Is this an add-in or an add-on in your classroom?

The point of the analogy is that when a piece of equipment is not an essential part of your normal operations, it is an add-on.  When you elevate its use to a level where it is part of what you’re doing every day, it becomes an add-in.

Rather than having a room full of add-ons technologies, which are seldom – or never –  used, it is better to have only one, or a few, technologies with which you are comfortable and that you can use to enhance your lessons.

ADESSA members are keen to assist educators make sure that technologies procured from them are not mere add-ons.

Connectivism … a learning theory supported by technology

First there was behaviourism.  Then the learning theory of congnitivism became popular.  And towards the end of the last century constructivism became prominent.

All of these theories still contain elements of relevance in the modern classroom.  But a new learning theory has emerged: connectivism.

the concept of education of children.the generation of knowledge

Connectivims has been called “the learning theory for the digital age”.  It reasons that, since we are surrounded by many networks (such as  networks of information and networks of people) and many of these networks are supported by means of  digital means, much learning can happen through these network if we are digitally connected.  Through technology a social environment in which learning can take place is thus created.

Many educators have already experienced the value of group work, such as doing projects, in their classrooms.   This is getting better and easier with the use of technology.  The ubiquitous nature of digital technology makes connectivism not only feasible, but has also become an important way in which people learn.  When you need information quickly, how do you go about it?  Google it, of course!  And such is the nature of learning in the twenty-first century.

For connectivism to flourish in the classroom, one needs dependable and robust devices, reliable connectivity, appropriate knowledge content and teachers who are adequately empowered to use technology as a teaching and learning tool.   ADESSA brings together the best of breed companies in South Africa that can supply all the components to make connectivism a reality in our classrooms.

Image credithttps://prezi.com/54ouzcylsvxa/tok-presentation-shared-and-personal-knowledge/