Tag Archives: MySociaLife

New program launches to ‘teach the teachers’ about technology, social media and digital potential

The rise of e-learning means educators need to upskill on digital risks while inspiring students to reach their ‘digital potential’

On World Teachers’ Day, October 5th, MySociaLife, South Africa’s leading program in schools focusing on online safety, media literacy, and digital potential, has announced the launch of a program to ‘teach the teachers‘ around the latest challenges and opportunities of a life spent increasingly online. 

The 75-minute online course uses a web-based ‘log in and learn’ approach to reveal what’s happening regarding social media, apps, trends, cybersecurity, scams, mental health and essential privacy settings. From this foundation, they can approach their students with a greater understanding and deeper interest to find what excites them in the digital space.

Dean McCoubrey, Founder of MySociaLife, which was last week shortlisted for Startup Company of other Year at the GESS Awards in Dubai, explains, “We know the majority of teens and pre-teens are online more, so how are we guiding them to look behind the right doors with that screen time? While social media, apps and games are entertaining, there are also amazing websites, apps and resources to help educate, inspire, and, even make money from. It’s evident that there is a skills gap in our country already. We have to start earlier to mentor students in finding multiple interests in this rapidly evolving world of technology. Some of these students will only enter higher education in the middle of this decade, and then graduate into the workplace in 2030. Jobs will be fiercely contested and relevant skills will be central. It’s a little like retirement, the earlier you start and the better the guidance, the returns will be greater.”

“By teaching the teachers, we can help them guide their students to other ways of using smart devices that may open doors for them, ones which can lead to a love of photography or programming or analytics. If you take the amount of time spent online by GenZ and borrow just 10% of it per day and direct it towards a passion or hobby, you can generate fresh momentum. It can also help with mental health too, given the deeper purpose that students find,” McCoubrey adds.

Tough times

However, most teachers do not feel equipped to deal with the diverse aspects of a digital social life, and McCoubrey says it can feel like it’s a vast online landscape to understand, while others admit to being overwhelmed during an uncertain and difficult 18 months. “They need training that is concise and relatable, given the pressures,“ he says. 

Accessibility 

The program seeks to first explain the different dimensions of life online for students between Grades 4 to 6 and also Grades 7 to 11 – latest trends, social apps, gaming, cyberbullying, fake news, privacy and security issues. “Increased screen time can also mean increased risk so you have to know what’s in front of you as a teacher first, so you can navigate the space with these age groups,” he says. 

“Having taught this exact module myself in schools for several years and now moving teach it online, I am so delighted to make this accessible, not just to teachers in South Africa, but to other African countries. We have received interest from Namibia, Zimbabwe and Kenya for our program. The simplicity of our learning management system (LMS) means that educators can first download a lesson plan, plus a teacher pack of tips and tools before they watch the six instructional videos. It’s all about simplicity and accessibility.”

The vantage point of listening 

MySociaLife approaches the education of digital risk and digital potential using a four-prong approach of teaching students, their teachers, their parents and psychologists, the first on the continent to do so, giving them a unique vantage point of listening to all groups and helping to bridge the technological divide. The approach has seen them shortlisted this month as ‘StartUp Company of the Year’ at the GESS Awards in Dubai, with winners to be announced on November 15th. 

Ironically e-learning, with all its benefits, has also increased the need for foundational digital citizenship skills. McCoubrey concludes: “We have seen a real increase in attention from schools this year. They have come to the realisation that e-learning, social media, gaming and smart devices are not going away. They are also more nervous of the reputational damage that can hit their schools if they don’t take a more active role. The only solution is to bring together the adults and the students in a more united approach to the challenges and the opportunities of this evolving space. 

From there, we can point students in the direction of their passions, so they can develop skills beyond their peers. You cannot see that path unless someone lights up the way.

World Youth Skills Day: Unemployment driving unrest in South Africa

Is there a way we can reverse youth unemployment in this country? 

In the midst of South Africa’s deep unrest, 15th July is World Youth Skills Day. Tragically, the country’s youth unemployment rate reached a new record of 32.6%, the highest since the quarterly labour force survey began in 2008, totalling 7.242 million people out of work. Employment lies at the centre of many socio-economic ills, given its capacity to fill time, provide purpose, generate income and drive greater equality. But employment can only be driven by skills training.  

Africa is burdened with an additional challenge: many struggle with literacy, due to the poor delivery of basic education. So, where might hope and inspiration be found in the next decade?

In our pockets.

MySociaLife 1

Smart device costs continue to come down, and new manufacturers are bringing in devices at lower costs, as well as data prices slowly dropping, meaning increasing access as we move through this decade, and more opportunity to upskill via online learning on a phone, with a growing resource of training platforms which offers free training programs like Coursera, Udemy, Udacity and Khan Academy.

But, explains Dean McCoubrey, Founder of MySociaLife, South Africa’s leading digital education and media literacy program, “There are many promises various governments have made about their promise of leadership in the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR), but how many understand the foundational digital skills required? You can’t just jump into robotics or coding, you need to understand what it is to be a digital citizen to embrace the free resources of the internet. Without it, you are driving a vehicle without a licence, or a map. How do you explore and grow safely?”

McCoubrey explains that the foundation is required in the same way previous generations were taught at length to hold a pencil and use those words they create more wisely. By contrast, increasingly, the internet is seeing spikes of misinformation and cyberbullying.

“With the basics in place of media literacy – understanding media, its power and influences, and fake news – as well as digital literacy such as privacy, cybersecurity and handling technology carefully, we can shift gear into exploration and expansion. We can find avenues of income. MySociaLife shows teens where they can learn photography for free, for example, and then show them where to sell their photos or videos,” adds McCoubrey.

Teens and pre-teens use the apps and devices so intuitively, and it’s a huge advantage. Some children are poor in school but brilliant online, which means there could be an alternative for young South Africans that could transcend the lack of quality basic education.

“We stand at a doorway to vault over other African countries, but we need guidance to know which keys will open it and prepare GenerationZ for a 4IR future. We need to focus on basic digital education as well before it’s too late and we miss a glaring opportunity.”

Looking at TikTok and other social media and gaming platforms, popular culture has youth fascinated and motivated, with approximately 60% of its 1bn users globally found in the GenZ age range. We already sing, dance, shoot videos and photos, why not build on this, and start to use these skills? What if we taught them how to do it safely, intelligently and with purpose. Minecraft For Education, for example, is a way to game and code at the same time, learning a new “language”.

MySociaLife approaches the challenge by not only teaching kids foundational digital skills but also their teachers and parents on how to direct youth to opportunities and realise potential, while at the same time ensuring online safety too – “two sides of the same coin.” A South African EdTech training platform, it allows schools to simply log in and learn using eight hours of video training for learners aged 8 to 18 including subjects such as online safety, privacy, cybersecurity, digital footprint, bullying and intimidation, fake news, and ways to build skills and generate income online.

The World Economic Forum listed its top 10 skills for “The Future of Work in 2025” and these included technology monitoring, use and control, and also technology design and programming, critical thinking, social influence, reasoning and stress tolerance. “We teach many of these skills to kids in schools and they respond with such energy and enthusiasm. It’s something that ignites them.”

“On World Youth Skills Day, this is a call to the government to understand both the challenges and the opportunities of media and digital literacy – and to accept how much they need to quickly grasp with regard to evolving popular culture, pre-teen and teen usage of devices simply because of the generational divide and technology divide. It could deliver a huge shift in employment, direction and momentum over time. We are completely missing this right now,” says McCoubrey.

“Even kids that are literate and have unlimited access are not fully utilising their devices and media platforms to their full potential. The outcome of digital citizenship is a more aware and responsible society because it reduces the negativity and polarity online, increases people’s ability to choose their next action, embracing the net for what it can offer – to share, to inform, to educate, to deliver income, to support, and much more. It’s apparent we would greatly benefit from this right now,” he concludes.

Animation Helps SA Educators Fill COVID-19 Learning Gaps

The impact of COVID-19 on education could be felt for as long as ten years. By the end of 2020, it was estimated that despite efforts made in both the private and public schools, “children lost a full six months of learning and even now they’ve gone back, it’s patchy because they can only go one or two days a week,” a statement made by education expert, Professor Nicky Roberts.

Furthermore, South Africa is not unique. According to the UNESCO Monitoring Report, 192 countries had implemented nationwide closures, affecting about 99% of the world’s student population, and a total of 1.75 billion learners.

Simultaneously, the pandemic forced disruption in ways of learning. Innovators accelerated blended learning, distance learning and open educational applications to reduce disruption to education, following a suggestion by UNESCO, and in so doing, propelled e-learning by three to five years. characters

With the third wave of COVID-19 currently hitting Europe, open schools may once again be under threat with online education as the only real alternative. The challenge for parents and educators is sifting through the mountain of new digital education programs on offer – from maths and science to coding and drone technology. How does a parent or school discern the quality, credibility and differentiators of each education platform? It’s not easy. Meanwhile, education companies need to work harder to stand out in the tsunami of content in this evolving industry.

Steve McDonald, the co-founder at animation and video studio, 3rdfloor, explains, “The industry is in total flux. Online education platforms are desperate to stand out. They want to catch the attention of learners and educators and hold it. Their websites and social media are their shop window, so that initial impression really matters. Google Analytics shows that the bounce rate – the percentage of people who land on your website and then leave without visiting another page – is almost 57%. In other words, you have to make it count.”

Animated videos help businesses and organisations simplify their message and show their target audience who they really are. A good video will draw on a number of tools from the animation toolbox – animated infographics, custom character design and a style that is made to catch the attention of the viewer you are speaking to.

“Animated videos are also extremely versatile: we often make multiple versions in different languages, edit videos into bite-size ‘cut downs’ for various social platforms, pull out gifs and images and even offer a full digital asset library which our clients can use across their entire brand,” he adds.

3rdfloor is currently creating a series of animated videos for MySociaLife, the South African digital life skills program which teaches online safety, media literacy and social media awareness in schools.

MySociaLife’s founder, Dean McCoubrey, says, “We educate students and parents, teachers and psychologists, and we teach eight different modules about the complexity of life online. It’s a lot to explain: we didn’t believe that our story could be told in 90 seconds. The animated explainer encapsulates it all so concisely, and the animated characters make the program memorable. The feedback has been phenomenal.”

Warren Willmott, Animation Director at 3rdfloor, adds: “Every client is different, so we conceptualise and design the entire visual universe according to the brand and message that your video needs to convey. Not only does this help you stand out from the crowd, but it also gives your message longevity.”

He also proposes some considerations for educators looking to produce animated videos:

  1. Focus on the story: You can’t have an engaging video without an engaging script. Spend time on this part of the process and make sure you get it right.
  2. Keep it short: We usually say 90 seconds is a good duration, but if you can tell your story in less then go for it. Anything that doesn’t perform a function must go.
  3. Be brave. Be bold: A little humour and quirkiness go a long way. So does the choice of music, voice artist and the use of sound effects. Don’t be afraid to go with cool ideas that are different – go with them because they’re different.
  4. You get what you pay for: There are no shortcuts, good work takes time. So before you choose your supplier, look closely at their body of work and the level of detail they offer.

The making of the animated video is here: https://vimeo.com/528828133
“To stand out in the digital noise that is the media environment of today, you really have to be able to tell a story on multiple levels. It’s visual, informative and emotional, and if you can strike the right balance, your video will connect with people and be remembered.”

For more information, contact Kaeleigh Elliott at newsdesk@mediaweb.co.za
To see 3rdfloor’s work, visit: 3rdfloor.tv