In February 2019, President Ramaphosa announced in his state of the nation address his plans to digitise the public school education system over the next six years.
For many South African teachers, especially those who teach at grossly underfunded public schools, it’s easy to feel sceptical about these plans. Some schools can’t even get textbooks – now the government is going to hand out tablets?
Well, yes and no.
Digital education offers many opportunities for students, as e-learning will equip our young people with the necessary skills to thrive in today’s rapid digital development. For disadvantaged schools, the effects of this new system should be even greater. Schools that have struggled with access to resources will now have thousands of e-books available to them. Another bonus is a much easier procurement process.
Ordering and buying physical textbooks can be difficult – deliveries take time, titles go out of stock, new editions are tricky to keep up with. E-books, however, can be purchased or borrowed from a digital library at the click of a button. This future isn’t so hard to imagine when we know that half of South Africa’s population (51%) is online. In some places, having a smartphone is more common than electricity.
For schools that aren’t connected 24/7, there are other solutions. Snapplify’s Snappbox offers a way to deliver e-learning to disconnected classrooms. The Snappbox can be preloaded with digital content, which can be locally downloaded from the box instead of the internet.
We know the benefits of e-learning – how can educators prepare for it?
South Africa has already developed a ‘Framework for Skills for a Changing World’ and different Provincial Education Departments (PEDs) are at various stages of implementation to ensure that teachers and learners are exposed to a range of skills and competencies that will equip them for the 21st Century.
Professional Skills Development
Give yourself (and your CV) a head start by completing CPTD activities, courses, and conferences listed by professional development providers. There are plenty of courses listed on Teacha’s SACE directory, which will help you become comfortable and confident with technology in the classroom. These courses cover the use of Microsoft, Google, Android devices, social media, tablets, and more. Here are just some of the available courses:
This course uses examples of previous lesson plans to explore how e-learning has been implemented in different contexts in the past, and how to improve going forward.
This course offers three sessions for beginner, intermediate, and advanced levels.
It can be easy to have a can’t-do attitude when it comes to technology, but learning these skills is not as difficult as it may appear. Just as we encourage our students to have open minds and to just try, we must do the same.
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