EDUCATION: Digital Education is Set to Be Highlighted at An Apple in Education Awards Competition This Year.
Recent Western Cape Business News
Apple distributors the Core Group announced on Monday that the competition is planned to recognise innovation in using Apple products in educational projects.
"Our partner schools, through the use of Apple technology, are creating learning environments that truly engage and motivate this generation of students. The Apple in Education competition recognises and rewards these teachers and students. The awards are not about technology for technology’s sake - but technology to serve the purpose of enriching learning," said Michelle Lissoos, managing director of ThinkAhead Education Solutions, a division of Core Group.
Digital education is received a significant amount of attention in SA, following the shift to tablets in both Europe and North America.
"While poor infrastructure might be a challenge, we've seen impressive statistics around mobile usage, even amongst teenagers, with the numbers only increasing," George Burgess, CEO of Gojimo, has previously told Fin24 about the shift in SA.
Burgess founded the firm while still at school as a way to distribute educational content and recently launched the application in SA.
But one of the major factors in limiting the roll-out of technology in education is the training of teachers.
"Training, training and then some more training of teachers, as well as education department officials. The major reason for under-utilisation (or in many cases, non-use) of technology in schools is the lack of understanding on the part of teachers of the way in which technology is to be employed in the classroom," Kobus Van Wyk, head of e-Learning at Mustek told Fin24.
Van Wyk was responsible for the Khanya Project which was tasked with equipping schools in the Western Cape with computer technologies.
In the decade that the project ran, he spent a budget of R1bn and trained 27 000 teachers to use technology in the classroom.
The Cape Town Science Centre makes extensive use of digital education. (Duncan Alfreds, Fin24)
The Gauteng Education department recently announced that it would spend R17bn on hardware to facilitate technology in education.
However, international experience shows that hardware alone is not always an efficient solution to drive digital education programmes.
The BBC reports that schools in Los Angeles are suing Apple for $1.3bn over allegations that a project to give 120 261 students iPads failed to live up to expectations.
It emerged that an incomplete digital curriculum allowed students to bypass security systems on the Apple devices.
Despite some setbacks digital education continues to find traction.
Vodacom recently launched its e-school portal at a cost of around R5m where learners are able to download content and engage with the platform at zero rated data charges if they have Vodacom SIM cards in their mobile device.
A large component of the programme consists of teacher training and Vodacom has trained over 1 000 in the use of ICT.
Watch this video on the Vodacom e-school programme.
According to Gartner, technology solutions not specifically designed for education will make their way on to school desks in the near future.
"An increasing number of technical innovations and technology trends are emerging from within the industry, but most will emerge outside the industry, driven by major forces such as digital business and the consumerisation and industrialisation of IT," said Jan-Martin Lowendahl, Gartner vice president and analyst.
That increase in technology use implies a proportional 2.3% increase in digital education spending, set to reach $67.8bn in 2015, the research company said.
Although hardware is often easy to use on a personal level, Van Wyk said that teachers need additional support to use the technology in the classroom.
"With close to 400 000 teachers in South Africa, it should be clear that the training (perhaps we should call it up-skilling) of teachers is a massive task. It will be an expensive and a labour intensive exercise. But unless it is done in tandem with the roll-out of technology devices in schools, there will be minimal return on the technology investment."
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