Category Archives: Education news

Creating Effective Remote Onboarding in a Post-Pandemic World

This article is contributed by Fuel Online, a valued member of ADESSA.

With the recent COVID-19 pandemic, many companies have adopted a fully or hybrid remote approach to working. With an established workforce, this is a manageable transition, however, organisations will need to think about how they effectively onboard future employees.

The dramatic shift away from established office working, to the majority of workforces now working from home, has revealed significant benefits that have led to many organisations making the change a permanent one.  Employers are realising that they can significantly reduce overhead costs and are no longer geographically limited in their hiring choices. Many businesses are also adopting a hybrid approach to capitalise on work-from-home advantages and mitigating the disadvantages. The hot desk is ready to make a comeback as businesses offer smaller, flexible office spaces for team members to drop in one or two days a week. However, the need for effective onboarding is more essential than ever. Organisations need to ensure that they can onboard future employees seamlessly.

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Identify important information

Whether you’re an experienced onboarder or just starting out, the first step is to identify the content that new employees need to know to get started. Don’t give in to the temptation to try communicate everything at once. That approach will overwhelm your onboarding programme and will likely leave you with a new employee who has struggled to retain the basic and most important information they need to function in their role. The best approach is to determine two or three learning objectives. This can be done by refining the information to cover what your new employee needs to be able to do in their role. Potential learning objectives may be:

  • Apply company values to their work
  • Identify and use appropriate tools for completing tasks
  • Follow company policies

Clear learning objectives will help you to carefully review all potential content and evaluate the value of each piece to identify what content is truly relevant to your onboarding programme and what is better placed elsewhere. These will help you to order your content into what is most urgent, informing your content creation roadmap.

Create your content

All training content needs to be informed by your onboarding learning objectives. If you have existing onboarding material that needs to be converted, it is useful to bear in mind that no content is unusable; all existing legacy content can be adjusted to suit delivery through an online training methodology, organisations just need to understand how to utilize what currently exists. An experienced online training service provider, like FUEL, is more than capable of ensuring that all existing content is revised and utilized so no skills knowledge is lost during the implementation phase. FUEL excels at successfully converting existing training content into engaging, online training modules for maximum return on investment. We offer a full-service production service, from script to screen. Our ‘Presenter to camera methodology provides a vital transitional link for learners moving from classroom-based learning to online training. Our green-screen studio is equipped with state-of-the-art camera and lighting equipment and we offer a range of production packages to meet both your learning objectives and your budget.

Assign training leaders

Assigning a Training Leader to a new employee, will ensure that they get the support and motivation that they require when making the shift to working online. For many employees who are used to having the support of colleagues in the office environment, the shift to working remotely will be challenging.

A training leader will be able to monitor the progress of learners through their modules and can offer regular check-ins with those who are struggling to adapt to the new way of working. The most unique challenge of all virtual activity, including training staff to work online, is social isolation. Check-ins help remote workers feel a sense of community. If those workers are left ignored for too long, it could potentially impact employee health and wellness and be a drag on productivity.

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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. 

Mastermaths Logo Oct 2020

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!

The Social Dilemma – are your students puppets to social media?

Netflix smash hit movie on the influence of social media is one of the most talked about this year.

With 4.5bn online – and approximately 4bn of them on mobile devices – social media is now as commonplace as eating lunch. It is not an exaggeration to say that most people spend more time on social media than they do eating or bathing, or even talking in person to other human beings. 

The Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) – and COVID-19 – have dramatically accelerated the adoption of technologies and smart devices, but are we ploughing into the future as the untested guinea pigs of these technologies, in a race to compete or to be accepted socially?

Netflix’s new smash hit documentary, The Social Dilemma, poses this question on the impact of these digital platforms, using the voices of a number of former senior-executives-turned-whistleblowers who reveal the true motivations of some of the most powerful companies on earth. 

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The movie illustrates that society finds itself as the product in ‘the attention economy‘ – where time on screen means competitive advantage to giants like Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix, Google (FAANG). The longer we stay on a single platform, the more data they collect, the more customized the ads are which can be served to you based upon your digital choices and preferences, and the higher the company value. 

The debate is whether we are all just “lab rats” in an egotistical race to market dominance, or as Tristan Harris from the Centre for Humane Technologies puts it, “The race to the bottom of the brain stem”. Which social platform can gain significant edge to amass the most data and retain marketshare, eyeballs and influence?

That last word – influence – is, of course, the concern. Adults feel that they have the critical thinking skills to discern when they are being manipulated and ‘sold’ a dummy. For this reason, many may be entertained by the movie, even shocked, but little in their concrete daily patterns of behavior may change. 

Getting this message into Generation Z, however, can shape the way they consume content, and give them the opportunity to get up to speed with the reality of social manipulation, at a critical formative junction. 

And many adults can establish an objective view of what social media really is – tech companies competing in the attention economy.That doesn’t mean they stop using it, it means they see it for what it is. MySociaLife, the leading digital life skills program in South African schools proposes, “We need to help kids to move from safer to smarter so they can explore and excel.”

Dean McCoubrey, Founder of MySociaLife, says, “I have been following many of these speakers and other professors in the movie for the last few years – I communicate with a few of them in the US via LinkedIn and email, and some are often happy to help our education program here in South Africa. They were a significant reason why I decided to move from being a media agency agency owner myself, to teach kids in schools about media literacy, online safety and their use of devices and social platforms.”

Parents work hard to build a values system in the home, and schools seek to do similar. Parents want, and society desperately needs, our kids to have an informed and balanced world view, compassion, empathy, and the skills of critical thinking. While the internet exposes us to more, and educates us, an algorithm can swim upstream against these values, feeding us more and more information to keep us glued to our screens. When you add in the science of how the brain works and the dopamine that gets delivered to the pleasure centre in the brain – when you get a like or succeed in a mission on a game – you can understand why devices are stuck into our palms, bags and back pockets. Before long we can believe what we are being fed, rather than contemplate it or challenge it. Virtual hamsters on a wheel. 

MySociaLife deeply believes critical thinking, and the 8 digital soft skills that they teach in schools, will be the superpower combination to accompany technical ability, for Generation Z. The problem is that schools need more understanding of the complexity of life online and how to straddle the line of popular culture and important life skills while inspiring their students to embrace technology safely and intelligently. 

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“Right now, there aren’t enough educators that can understand this massive landscape of digital identity, reputation management, privacy, security, sexuality online, critical thinking, mental health, compassion – and empathy and how this looks in an online context. That’s what makes our program successful. Students find it relatable and they give us credit for it, saying that it impacts the way the view this digital world they operate in,” he concludes. For interviews, please contact Mediaweb on info@mediaweb.co.za or call 0214193144

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 2019 issue of ‘the mighty pen’ IS out

The latest issue (September 2019) issue of The Mighty Pen is now available for download.

As usual, it is packed with information, relevant to education. An overview of the activities of ADESSA is included in this issue. It is also good to see advertisements and articles about several ADESSA members, including Pearson, Edupac, Snapplify, Oxford University Press and Eduboard.

The Mighty Pen Sept 2019

Everyone can read better

President Cyril Ramaphosa emphasised the importance of ensuring that all South African children learn to read during his State of the Nation Address (SONA) on 20 June.

Sharing President Ramaphosa’s vision, Lectorsa has taken the lead and launched their #YesIcan Literacy campaign at the beginning of the year. The Lectorsa team is determined to work with all interested schools, businesses and NGO’s to use more than thirty years of research to improve literacy skills in South African schools and boost educational outcomes. The aim is to equip South Africa’s young people affectively with the right skillsets, to grow with an ever-changing world.

LAB-on-line data refers to more than 95 000 individual profiles (mostly ESLS across South Africa) that demonstrate how to not only improve reading and visual literacy, but also cognitive abilities for users from the first year of schooling through to management levels.

 In 2018, one of the groups they empowered, Grade 4 learners, improved their reading skills to a Grade 7 level, measured to international norms and standards.

Director of Lectorsa, Minda Marshall said, “These learners, also mostly English Second Language Students (ESLS) exceeded the expected outcomes and gave us great hope for what can be achieved with the right type of intervention.”

Indeed, the debate concerning at what age students should start the language of instruction as English and not mother tongue has been raging for several years. Important aspects that deserve our attention in this area are:

  • Mother tongue instruction in reading is important[i]
  • “Instruction in English from as early as possible is the best way to become fluent in English.” As indicated by the latest cognitive research “If you want to have native-like knowledge of English grammar, you should start from up to 10 years old.”[ii]
  • The current implementation preference in most South African public schools, which is the option to use mother-tongue instruction as opposed to English instruction in grades one, two and three, generally leads to better English learning in the long run.[iii]
  • We need to ensure that the best practices to improve and develop reading skills are accessible to all our South African learners.

How can you do your part?

PARENTS

  • Parents should read to their young children-  preferably beautiful stories in their home language.
  • Children in Grade 1, 2 and 3 should read to their parents from their school workbooks.
  • Parents should ensure that there are books available at home.

SCHOOLS and other organisations

  • Schools must take up the responsibility to ensure that accurate strategies for literacy intervention and development are deployed at ALL levels.
  • TVET colleges and universities should empower all their students with the necessary skill sets to be able to interact effectively with the information they have to study.
  • Colleges and universities should ensure access to the best training courses available for teachers, facilitators and parents.
  • Government and private sector should work together to ensure that more libraries in our communities are established giving learners access to books.
  • Companies and individuals can sponsor students, schools and NPO’s with the implementation of a system like LAB-on-line (contact us at office@lectorsa.com for more information)

“At Lectorsa, we have a proven strategy. In the schools where we have implemented our solution, educational outcomes improved, learners’ self-confidence increased and growth was evident. We are ready to do our part in ensuring the next ten years see a major change in literacy levels in our nation.”

Excited about the future, Marshall said, “Transforming South Africa is possible.  Together we can make a real and sustainable difference. Join our movement – #yesican literacy campaign and be part of the solution.”

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Zoom In interactive content now available through Snapplify

An exclusive partnership between leading local educational publisher, Oxford University Press South Africa, and global edtech company, Snapplify, has made the publisher’s interactive content series, Zoom In, easily available to thousands of learners. Both Snapplify and Oxford University Press are members of ADESSA and it is great to see strong partnerships between its members.

Covering the major South African subjects for Grades 10–12, in both English and Afrikaans, the Zoom In interactive products are designed to help learners tackle tough exam concepts, giving them the confidence to conquer all their exam questions. Interactive resources are integrated throughout, providing opportunities for self-assessment, as well as increased engagement, leading to deeper understanding of the subject matter.

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For those signed up to Snapplify’s e-learning platform, Engage, free samples are downloadable, with all additional content available to check out via the digital library. The full series is also available to purchase by individual learners (through Engage or Snapplify’s online store), or in bulk via a school-wide licence.

‘Snapplify is committed to improving access to quality digital educational content, so we’re especially pleased to be distributing the Zoom In series, which really takes digital study to the next level. Using a range of interactive features, such as simulations, animations, games and activities with immediate feedback, videos, and more, Zoom In truly provides learners with the opportunity to get to grips with key concepts in the curriculum,’ said Snapplify’s Operations Director, Mark Seabrook.

The launch of the series comes at an exciting time, following President Cyril Ramaphosa’s announcement that all public schools will adopt digital education over the next six years – a project in which Snapplify and other stakeholders have been actively involved.

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

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.

ADESSA AGM 2019
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.